Earlier this summer, my old friend and outdoor partner, Yukon Tom Van Pelt, and I sat down and talked about some past adventures in the Adirondacks and Alaska. Obviously a lot of things have changed, including tools or how to prepare for adventures. However, as we responded with memories of times and journeys and the excitement that many of them brought, we knew the times were over for most of them.
But it wasn’t just this realization that made us realize that the time for many of these trips was over. If you look around at the technological innovations, there are so many that we never dreamed of when we were young. For example, our trip to Anan Bay, Alaska was based on the minimalist equipment that reduced the weight of our plane flight in really inclement weather. Today there are super light, high-performance sleeping bags and clothing that even fit into the bottom of a backpack for hiking or biking. Additionally, carefully planned and rationed dehydrated foods will fill the fare for many trips.
Keep in mind that the old standard aluminum canoe that weighed 90 pounds has been relegated to camp use by newer, lighter canoes that weigh in at 15 to 39 pounds. Shoes made of neoprene, leather, or a blend of synthetics offer lightweight comfort, warmth, and waterproof comfort. Except in Alaska, where Xtratuff wellies are standard for 95% of the population! Compound bows are a prime example of technological change.
Lightweight and waterproof clothing is a matter of course these days. But of course that makes a big difference if you’re going to cover any route in bad weather. And of course the use of modern smartphones with all their features and apps has really revolutionized communication and travel – whenever there is a signal. But of course, that remains a big “if” for many of the Adirondacks.
Dependence on satellite signals and battery power have been limiting factors in many Adirondacks. This also applies to GPS devices. I’ve had to use my goose calls to lead fellow hunters out of a hellish swamp a few times. Dark days, overcast conifers and other things interfere with the signals. Still, pinpointing your location, overlaying map grids, and sharing your position with others is reassuring.
But this is not a dirty word against technology or the “younger generation that is soft or unskilled”. Time and technology move on. The key is that we understand it and try to use it even if you are not up to date.
In fact, we should keep our other outdoor skills and observational skills in mind. Think about the situation about 20 years ago when Mike Seymour and I were fishing in western Alaska and our guide got lost on the tundra. We were in an Argo (oversized ATV) 30 miles from the Bering Sea with no compass, GPS or landmarks. It was also cloudy, so there was no way to orientate yourself by the midnight sun.
After driving around aimlessly for an hour or two, I suggested that there might be a break in the clouds to the east. For the last few nights we sat on the porch at camp and Mike commented on the downpour but based on the great bend in the Nushagak River which was to the east while our weather was from the Bering Sea, 30 miles west. Since we had nothing else to do, we hesitantly set off. Riding the tundra is like riding in a room full of basketballs, but around 2am. Finally we heard a glorious sound of civilization: the generator from one of the other fishing camps on the Nushagak River!
By 3:30pm we were safe but exhausted back at camp (thanks to a little woodwork from some guys from upstate New York).
Since then I have carried and used GPS in the Rocky Mts. In Colorado or remote areas of the Adirondacks. Knowing where we stand in a satellite-imposed grid provides an illusion of certainty, security, and control. But staying wired changes the whole context of wilderness and how we perceive wilderness. The whole point of wilderness seems to be shifting beneath us. If you don’t believe that, next time leave those electronics at home and see how that feels.
Recent changes to NYS firearms
Frequently Asked Questions New gun laws. With Supreme Court rulings, the passage of new firearms regulations in New York, etc., there has been a lot of confusion. Keep in mind that there will inevitably be lawsuits, judgments, etc., which can simplify – or add to the confusion. For now, here’s a simplification from the NYS Conservation Council, at least as far as hunters go.
1. How does the new gun law affect hunting?
The new gun law will NOT affect legal hunting in New York. The law provides exceptions to allow lawful hunting in areas otherwise restricted due to their listing as “sensitive” or “restricted” areas. However, it can interfere with other activities, such as storing your hunting guns.
2. Will the new gun law affect where I can hunt?
Hunting is still permitted on DEC lands, wildlife refuges, and state forests, including those in the Adirondacks or Catskills. Many state parks will continue to offer hunting opportunities. Check state park websites.
On private property, you must obtain personal permission from each property owner you wish to hunt on before setting off.
3. How should I store my gun when traveling by car to hunt?
If you accidentally leave your firearm in your vehicle, it must be locked in a secure hard case and hidden from view. A suitcase is not required when an adult stays in the vehicle to ensure safety.
New Adirondack Shuttle Route
DEC and Essex County Launch New Adirondack Shuttle Route: Frontier Town Gateway Shuttle Provides Free Transportation from North Hudson for Through Walkers and Fall Foliage Viewers. Service on select weekends in August and October is designed to promote safety on roads and popular trailheads.
The DEC and Essex County are launching a new shuttle to manage sustainable and safe visiting of upstate destinations in the Adirondacks. It will build on the existing Route 73 shuttle and provide access to some of the most scenic locations in the region.
On August 8th and 15th, visitors can board the shuttle at Frontier Town Gateway to begin their night camping trip with a hike through one of the most unique wilderness areas without the burden of having to park a vehicle at either end. The shuttle will drop off riders at Adirondak Loj in North Elba to allow access to the High Peaks. Visitors would then hike and camp overnight for up to three nights and four days as they make their way across the High Peaks Wilderness to Tahawus
Start of the Upper Works trail in Newcomb. The shuttle will pick up the participating rides at 2:00 p.m. each day before returning them to the Frontier Town Gateway.
The shuttle can accommodate up to 20 people and advance booking is required for August rides. Sign up on the Love Your Adirondacks website.