Chair Archive


Jul 1, 2018

John Barron

On Memorial Day weekend, I attended my final meetings as Recording Secretary of the Adirondack 46ers. Nine years have gone by since Tom Wheeler first appointed me to that office, at the start of his own term as President. Much has changed since those days, and it seems a good time to reflect.

The number of people hiking in the High Peaks has grown enormously, and the number of recorded 46ers has mirrored that fact. The number of finishers in the past few years has been: 2014 - 531; 2015 - 606; 2016 - 712; 2017 - 735. By contrast, 176 finished in 2008.

The 46ers have gone through an impressive evolution to keep pace with this volume. They still maintain the tradition of corresponding with hikers on the quest; but while typewritten letters from one person, Grace Hudowalski, accomplished that task for decades, now there are many personal correspondents aided by advanced technology.

The 46ers have always tried to “give back to the mountains”. They encourage financial donations, which are forwarded as grants to organizations promoting wilderness. High on the list has been the ADK, which has benefited by funding of the pro trail crew’s preseason sweep, the summit steward program, and rehabilitation of specific trails. A very effective collaboration has evolved among the 46ers, the ADK, and the DEC, with each contributing funds, supplies, transportation, and/or (often volunteer) labor to mee t requirements.

The 46ers also have their own volunteer trail crews, which seem to accomplish more each year. There is the volunteer-run Outdoor Skills Workshop that promotes safe and responsible outdoor recreation. A new program off to a great start this year is the Trailhead Steward program, in which 46er volunteers greet hikers at popular trailheads, chat about their planned routes and have sometimes suggested alternatives, and hand out Leave No Trace information and supplies.

It’s been a tough balancing act, and doesn’t show signs of getting any easier. But on the upside, more finishers, well motivated, can make greater efforts on behalf of the mountain wilderness. I’ve been very fortunate to have watched this evolution. I hope that all involved in the preservation of wilderness can continue to enable as excellent an experience as I have enjoyed.