The Adirondacks are a highly coveted destination for newbie and experienced hikers alike. Anyone who has traversed their peaks knows the anticipation of waking up early in the morning to get a good start and the thrill of finally reaching a summit. The Adirondack 46ers in particular love the region, having submitted all 46 Adirondacks High Peaks. Whether you aspire to join them or merely have fun hiking, you’ll enjoy this mountainous region of Northeast America. Mercedes Matzen, a business analyst for Capital District Physicians Healthcare, has reached the top of the Giant as well as Cascade Mountain and has some suggestions on how to safely enjoy your own hikes.
Respect the Adirondacks’ wilderness.
“I’m a big believer in ‘Leave No Trace,’” Mercedes says. “It’s important that any hiker leave the Adirondack wilderness in pristine condition. Please pack out your trash as well as that of any other hikers.”
Make sure you know where you’re going in the Adirondacks and communicate this to other people.
It is crucial to make sure that someone knows where you are so that in case of an accident, that person will be able to communicate your intended hike to authorities. “I never hike without a compass or GPS,” says Mercedes. “I try to have all my bases covered so that no matter what happens on my hike, I can handle it. Maps are a given, of course.”
The sun in the Adirondacks can be brutal – bring protection.
Even on cloudy days, come prepared with sunscreen, a hat, lip balm, and sunglasses. “You can get sun poisoning, or a blistering sunburn, if you don’t protect yourself while hiking in the Adirondacks,” says Mercedes. “Keep putting it on throughout the hike, especially if you sweat, and you’ll lower your risk of getting burned.”
Be ready for weather changes in the Adirondacks and the possibility of being on the trail in the dark.
It can get cold in the Adirondacks even during the summertime, so the wise hiker brings layered clothing to cover all possibilities. “Think jackets, sweatshirts, sweatpants – anything that can be peeled off or quickly put on,” Mercedes advises. “It’s amazing how quickly the weather can change from warm and pleasant to cool.” She also recommends extra batteries and several strong flashlights. “Divide those up between you and your hiking buddy so that the crucial equipment is not carried just by one person.”
No hiker in the Adirondacks should ever set out without a first-aid kit, tools to start a fire, and other supplies.
Make sure that you have all the essentials in your first-aid kit and that you know how to use them. “I try to keep mine very organized,” Mercedes says, “so that if there is ever an emergency, I can easily find what I need. Also, let the first-aid kit be the last thing you pack in your backpack. If you sprain an ankle or cut yourself, you don’t want to have to search through your backpack to find your first-aid kit.
Mercedes keeps her matches in a Ziplock bag to protect them from getting wet. “I keep my Swiss Army knife in there, too, because it helps me find it more easily. Otherwise, it would just slide down to the bottom of my backpack and get lost.”
Carefully choose the food you’ll bring on your hike in the Adirondacks.
Think vegetables, nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruit, and the old, reliable favorite: peanut butter and bananas. “I like a lot of variety,” Mercedes says, “but whatever I bring, I try to make sure it balances well with all the other gear I’ve got in my backpack. Even food can be heavy if you bring too much of it.”
Water will bring the most important thing you bring on your Adirondacks hike.
“How much you bring will depend on how hard the hike is,” Mercedes explains. “It’s recommended that you bring a ½ liter per hour of moderate exercise, but that will increase the more strenuous the hike becomes. Just remember to keep drinking so that dehydration doesn’t hit you.”
Remember to hike with a buddy in the Adirondacks.
As you take off on your epic hike in one of the most beautiful regions of America, remember one final thing: never hike alone. “Safety always comes first,” says Mercedes. “So, take at least one person with you so that you are never alone. You’ll have a wonderful time hiking the Cascade or the Giant together.”