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Stay out of the High Peaks

Editorial

One of the most photographed vistas in the Adirondack Park is the view of the High Peaks from Route 73 near Lake Placid. Please, enjoy the view; it’s the closest you’ll get to these mountains for a while.

In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has wisely closed the eastern section of the High Peaks Wilderness Area, the Giant Mountain Wilderness and the Dix Mountain Wilderness indefinitely. There is untold devastation in the backcountry here, untold because we still don’t know the extent of damage to the woods, waters, trails and infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the DEC is faced with a daunting task — keeping people out of these wilderness areas during one of the busiest hiking weekends of the year, Labor Day weekend. Try telling hardcore backpackers, who have been planning their weekend trips for months, to stay out of the woods. It’s nearly impossible.

But everyone who reads these words can help. Either postpone your High Peaks hike if you have one, or help suggest alternative hiking/camping destinations for tourists determined to hike the tallest mountain in the state — Mount Marcy — or others nearby.

Luckily, most of the major trailheads are unreachable right now. We just hope hikers heed the “Road Closed” and “Trails Closed” signs.

The biggest trailhead in the Adirondack Park, and the main access point for the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, is the Adirondak Loj, operated by the Adirondack Mountain Club. It is currently isolated; the bridge crossing the West Branch of the AuSable River on Adirondack Loj Road is gone.

Another popular access point to Mount Marcy and the High Peaks is The Garden trailhead near Keene Valley. It is unreachable. The Johns Brook bridge on the road to The Garden is gone. It’s a 3.5-mile hike to ADK’s Johns Brook Lodge, which is now cut off from the world.

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