Here comes a busy summer season
The summer season has arrived and with it, comes more and more people. If you live, or more importantly, recreate in a place that attracts outdoor-types, don’t expect to have it to yourself anytime soon. School’s out, July 4 weekend is looming and things are going be busy well into autumn.
Summer outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking and even fishing have been picking up in participation throughout the COVID pandemic, and that’s only expected to continue. But it was happening even before the crisis.
I live on a road that goes into a popular hiking area, or for guys like me, a pretty good hunting area too. There’s thousands of acres of public land here. Two or three years ago I was turkey hunting in the area on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. I was hunting within earshot of the road. About 7 a.m. things started getting busy. By the time I walked out of the woods that morning, the trailhead parking lots were nearly full.
It’s been the same at boat launches. Again, it was happening prior to the pandemic and is only intensifying now. DEC is often handed the task of keeping swimmers and picnickers away from boat launches, many of which are specifically designated for (and funded by) the angling community. Neighboring Vermont is having the same problem. Plain and simple, most boat launches are strictly deemed for that purpose.
Still, folks are simply looking for a place to go, something to do and are finding it in the outdoors. They’re discovering outdoor attractions on the Internet, where websites and social media are surly exploiting them; intentionally, or not. On one hand, it’s nice to see people enjoying the outdoors, while on the other, it’s a challenge when things get crowded.
So what can we do about it?
DEC and special outdoor interest groups have active campaigns going in an effort to direct outdoor traffic to lesser-used areas. In the Adirondacks, for example, they’re raising awareness among visitors to the over-used High Peaks region to let them know that there are hundreds (thousands, actually) of other places to hike, and some fine rewards to be had.
It’s the same on the water, with the more popular lakes across New York being inundated with boaters of all levels, with others seeing little pressure.
As for getting out there? The key is go early if you’re going to use a public resource. Not only will you get a parking spot, you won’t be hiking in single file with other hikers. Late last summer, on a camping trip, I got on a hiking trail at 6 a.m. When I was on my way down the mountain, after nearly having it all to myself, I met dozens of other hikers going up.
Be careful on the water. We anglers are morning and evening dwellers by nature, and it’s advised to keep it that way. I do a lot of kayak fishing and simply stay off the busier boating lakes in the summer and a I avoid the hectic mid-day hours as well.
While summer is the busiest, the pressure stays on during fall weekends and sometimes that conflicts with hunting seasons. Again, the early bird gets the deer, turkey, or whatever it is you’re after. And by nature, we’re in the woods long before the hikers arrive.
Make the most of the summer season. And if you happen to have a “honey hole” where you can go to avoid the crowds, cherish it.