In search of paths less traveled
The August 21 issue of New York Outdoor News has news story by Jane Anderson in which she reports on the amount of traffic and congestion at popular hiking trailheads. I took the accompanying photo with that article this past spring following a morning turkey hunt on some private land nearby in the Lake George region of the Adirondacks.
After the hunt, I drove by a couple of popular hiking trailheads where forest rangers were turning people back and ticketing those who had parked illegally who were partially blocked the road, despite signage saying “no parking.”
Hiking was hugely popular even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s kicked up a few notches this summer; something that is expected to continue well into the fall. As Jane pointed out in her article, hunters are about to enter the mix – at least those of us who utilize public lands – and things sure could get interesting.
For the early morning hunter that shouldn’t be an issue, other than having some company on the way out of the woods. This will be much to the chagrin of hikers who will have a few less parking spots when they show up later in the morning.
But hikers and hunters alike who tend to wait until the afternoon to do their thing may be in for a surprise, especially it is a beautiful fall day. ‘Best to have an alternative option, and they are out there.
I enjoy a good hike in the woods as much as anyone, in fact, it is an important component in preparing for the upcoming hunting season. Our hunting group, the Iron Sight Gang, makes deer drives in the Adirondacks and we average around 4 miles a day, sometimes more, with plenty of climbing in the mix. Bagging a few 5 or 6 mile hikes before deer season sure helps in terms of getting a middle-aged body in shape.
In recent years I’ve done a lot of hiking with some folks who are now my former co-workers. Along with the unbearable heat this summer, and trailhead congestion, it’s been hard to put hikes together. However, a few of us recently found an alternative and are starting so strategize a late- summer hiking schedule that might include evening outings during the week, and less-popular destinations on the weekends.
We recently enjoyed a short hike at a preserve managed by the Lake George Land Conservancy that is surely flying under the radar of the hiking community. For us it was a “leg-stretcher” walk of about 3 miles, round trip, through a gorgeous wetland and then up a steep ridge to a partial lookout; enough to get the heart pumping and leg muscles working.
In the Adirondacks, and I presume in other parts of New York, it seems like 80% of the hikers visit 20% of the destinations. The High Peaks region is basically unapproachable, but there are others, especially around Lake George and Old Forge, that experience the same type of pressure.
This fall, we hunters may want to plan on getting a little earlier start on those weekend hunting days. And both hunters and hikers should overall be looking for the paths less traveled. Again, they are out there.