About Mike DeSocio

Mike De Socio is a freelance journalist based in upstate New York. He covers cities/communities, climate change and the LGBTQ community.

Reader Interactions


  1. Mike says

    Thank you for the article. Ive been a 46er since the mid 90’s and many
    Times over since. My love for the high peaks region and experience in our beloved mountains stems from my relationship with an uncle, who served for many years as a ranger. Many a night around a campfire with uncle michael and his colleagues were spent listening to “tails from the trail”. Shortcomings of the state, headshaking cautionary tales of unprepAred tourist hikers in over their heads, and the tales of glory and serenity that called them
    To their post and ultimately kept them in the adks until their knees and backs unforgivingly insisted otherwise. As such i have a few insights. 1) no problem paying some stipend to offset the increase in demand for help. Not an issue. 2) those of us experienced backcountry enthusiasts who have seen the increase in traffic, particularly amongst those more likely to be unprepared, unfit, and ultimately in need of assistance are likely already doing a part. Last year alone i personally harnessed and hoisted and injured hiker out and down safely from pyramid/sawtweeth, cleaned, anesthetized and sutured and badly lacerated foot at the wolf-jaw lean too and provided warm clothing and headlamps to teenage hikers attempting a return to the amr in shorts/ shortsleeves with sub 40 temps And only a lighter to guide the path – which of course is NOT possible! ‍♂️
    My point is, we experienced outdoor enthusiasts, in one way or another are all, already doing our part. The money is nominal and a fine idea, but lets keep in mind we are all, already, pulling in the same direction when it comes to the safety of our less experienced neighbors and the preservation of our sacred mountain trails and forests! Stay safe

  2. Zephyr says

    I agree with what Mike says, and I have often provided instruction to lost people, have given dry clothing to soaked hikers, have put out campfires, have carried out other people’s trash, and have called in the rangers at times when something wasn’t right. Frankly, I think the increase in rescues has to do with numbers of people overall, and not that they are less knowledgeable than in the past. There have always been lots of unprepared people, but now rescue is just a phone call away. One suggestion I have is to post at some trailheads large maps that can be photographed so that people can take a smartphone photo and have some idea of where they are going. I think that is the #1 problem I see in the woods–lack of navigation skills and no map or guidebook. #2 is lack of good flashlights. I don’t think asking people to pay for ranger support will solve those oversights.


    I am concerned that charging people for rescue, will discourage people, who need to be rescued, to make the call until they are really in trouble.

    As a former EMT, we would ask: “When did this problem first appear? Invariably, we would be told that it started hours before they finally called. We do not need to encourage people to delay even more.

    We all agree, better education, skills and a lot more common sense would improve the situation.

  4. AdirondackAl says

    I recently returned from a trip to Wood Tikchik State Park In Alaska. It is a 1.6 million acre park with one ranger. The expectation is that if you’re going in, you need to be prepared to get out regardless oh what happens. While the ADKs are not Alaska, we need to create an expectation that the user needs to be self sufficient. Maybe a few high profile examples of reckless individuals having to pay for rescues would help to instill this message.

  5. Pete says

    Education is part of the solution, but if people know that a rescue could cost them money it might be an incentive for them to be prepared in terms of both knowledge and equipment. “Money talks.”

    • Zephyr says

      I’m not so sure the threat of fines will make people be more prepared. Fines don’t seem to prevent people from using their cell phones while driving, or driving drunk, or speeding. The people who aren’t prepared don’t really know what they don’t know. In other words, they have no idea they are unprepared, and the dangers are just not apparent to them. For example, I have talked to many people who just will not believe that their cell phone flashlight is inadequate or that a paper map might be needed because there is no cell service. They just do not believe these things that are totally alien to their normal lives.

  6. Dan says

    Hunters are required to learn firearms safety and have to prove they’d taken a hunter safety course before purchasing a license. Anyone venturing a certain distance in the woods (more than half mile, perhaps) should be required to have proof of map and compass training, or at least one person (leader) in a group. They should also be required to have a map and compass on them. Better yet, come up with a state required leadership course that focuses on map and compass, weather reading (without the cellphone), preparedness and survival skills.

    The next level would be a GPS, but it works best when you know how to use it in conjunction with map and compass. If you take a waypoint of where your vehicle is parked, and know how to use a map and compass navigate back, Forest Rangers will be a lot less busy.

    As for payment, I think when people make bad decisions the question of payment should at least come up. A few instances that come to mind are the guy who had to be rescued twice in the Oswegatchie when he got “froze in” first on a canoe trip, and next trying to retrieve it. The other was the couple who had to be rescued on Algonquin. Both made bad decisions, mainly concerning the weather, endangering themselves and others.

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