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Stewards reach 400,000 milestone

September 23, 2015
By staff , Lake Placid News

The Adirondack Mountain Club summit steward program reached a milestone this week when it interacted with its 400,000th hiker.

Summit Stewards are naturalists who work at the top of mountains in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks educating hikers in an effort to prevent them from walking on or otherwise damaging New York's rarest plants, those of the alpine zone. Some of the species they protect are so rare they exist in just a few places in the world. Summit Stewards provide education and build rock walls and cairns to help keep hikers off these low-growing plants.

The program began in 1990 and will reach an estimated 28,000 hikers at the tops of Mount Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, Colden, Cascade, Haystack, Giant, Gothics, Basin and Saddleback this year.

Article Photos

ADK summit steward Maddie Grant, left, explains ways to protect fragile alpine plants in the Adirondack High Peaks to hiker Kendra Ormerod.
Photo — Seth Jones

The milestone was reached during a week of spectacular weather, which helps to draw larger crowds of less experienced hikers into the High Peaks.

In addition to their conservation work, summit stewards also help educate hikers about how to respond to conditions, which can change rapidly in the mountains. They provide band-aids and help walk out dehydrated or sick hikers who need assistance to get back down the mountain. This season they facilitated the helicopter rescue of three injured hikers and helped capture photos of six marriage proposals.

"Since 1990, 400,000 hikers have had a casual conversation with a summit steward on one of our high peaks and have chosen to walk on the rocks, rather than on the plants, in order to protect alpine vegetation," said ADK Education Director Julia Goren. "We're absolutely astounded by this milestone number. There is no better way to protect these plants than by being up at the top where we can show people why it's important to stay on the rocks and enlist their help. These plants wouldn't exist on our Adirondack alpine summits today without hikers carefully choosing where to place their feet."

The High Peaks Summit Steward Program is a partnership of ADK, the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and state Department of Environmental Conservation.


ADK announces scholarship winner

Pheobe Evans, 16 is the first winner of the Maegan E. Spindler Education Scholarship, awarded by the Adirondack Mountain Club. Evans is from Webster and plans to use her scholarship to attend the 16-hour wilderness first-aid course provided by ADK and Wilderness Medical Associates. The course will prepare Evans to respond to emergency situations while she is in the backcountry and provide other life skills.

The Maegan E. Spindler Scholarship was created by friends and family of the late Ms. Spindler in recognition of her passion for outdoor recreation. Spindler was a 25-year old graduate of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry working for the US Department of Fish and Wildlife when she was killed by a drunk driver. The scholarship supports high school and/or college students to participate in one of ADK's education programs: backpacking courses, canoe trips, aquatic stewardship programs, skills workshops, or first aid courses.

Evans was selected as the winner based on the strength of her essay and personal journey to complete hikes on 46 of the highest peaks in the Adirondacks, a feat recognized by the 46ers club. In her essay, Ms. Evans described beginning her journey on Dix Mountain when she was just 13 years old. Over the last three years she completed all but a few of the required ascents and describes her experience as, "the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life."

Evans goes on to describe how doing the hikes brought her closer to her father, taught her to appreciate nature and gave her a sense of accomplishment in a way she had not found before. Learning first-aid skills will help Evans as she completes the 46 peaks and sets new goals for herself.

Donations to the Maegan E. Spindler Scholarship Fund can be made online at and by mailing checks to ADK at 814 Goggins Road Lake George, NY 12845. Scholarship applications for being accepted for the 2016 season and are available at Contact Seth Jones at 518-523-3480 for more information.


Northville-Placid Trail reroute completed

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Wednesday, Sept. 23 that more than 23 miles of new trail on the Northville-Placid Trail route are open for public recreation. The new trail re-routes eliminate 15.5 miles of road walking along the route.

"The Northville-Placid Trail, one of the premier long trails in the Northeast, now provides an improved hiking experience for day users and through-hikers," DEC Regional Director Robert Stegemann said. "DEC and the Adirondack Mountain Club - the original builders of the Northville-Placid Trail - worked together to get hikers off the road and into the woods."

The now 135-mile Northville-Placid Trail traverses the heart of the Adirondacks from the village of Northville in Fulton County in the south to the village of Lake Placid in Essex County in the north. Along the way it passes through or near the communities of Piseco, Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake.

"The Adirondack Mountain Club is proud to have had the opportunity to design and build the last major re-route of the Northville-Placid Trail," said ADK North Country Operations Director Wes Lampman. "Building the N-P Trail was the first major project that ADK undertook in 1922. This 8.5-mile reroute into Shaker Mountain Wild Forest and away from paved roads brings the trail closer to the original vision of a premier long distance trail through the wilderness of the Adirondack Park."

ADK completed the Northville-Lake Placid Trail 91 years ago after two years of construction.

The most recent section of reroute, completed this summer, replaces 7.6 miles of walking along state Route 30 and the Benson Road in the towns of Northampton, Fulton County and Benson in Hamilton County with an 8.6-mile trail through a tract of the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest.

In 2014, 2 miles of walking along Benson and Godfrey roads in the town of Benson was replaced with a 7.3-mile trail in the Silver Lake Wilderness. Additionally the trailhead for the southern terminus of the Northville-Placid Trail was moved to Waterfront Park in the village of Northville.

The first reroute, completed in 2009, replaced 5.9 miles of walking along the Cedar River Road, in the Town of Indian Lake, Hamilton County with 7.6 miles of trail through the Blue Ridge Wilderness.



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