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Adirondack Quest finish --- 6/17/17

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  • Adirondack Quest finish --- 6/17/17

    This past Saturday I completed a hiking challenge that was eight years in the making. My hikes to three different waterfalls in the Silver Lake Wilderness was the final day trip that I listed and submitted to complete the Adirondack Quest. For those of you unfamiliar with this challenge it is sponsored by the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club and has been around for nearly twenty-five years. In order to qualify for recognition in the form of a patch, certificate, and inclusion in the member roster on the chapter's web site you must make fifty (50) total day trips to the Adirondacks. Easy enough, right? Well... the devil is in the detail. In those fifty trips you must visit at least fifteen Wilderness Areas and fifteen Wild Forests with no more that two trips to the same area. Any kind of recreation qualifies: hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, etc. Start figuring out where all your hiking trips have taken you and you'll quickly realize it's all a bit more difficult than it sounds.

    To reach fifty day trips I hiked in seventeen (of 19) Wilderness Areas and seventeen (of 26) Wild Forests while revisiting sixteen of those thirty-four areas a second time. And it wasn't easy to get them all given the way I worked the list. I tried really hard to get them all organically. That is, the hikes I submitted were in service to some other list or just for fun rather than planning a hike to an area just to cross it off the Quest list. Unfortunately, I had to do three hikes of that ilk over the last few months when I thought I was short on the required number of wilderness areas and visited those areas just for the sake of visiting. They turned out to be very fun days in places I would never has visited otherwise so I'll count them as wins, but I'm happy it was only three times. This was not a quick hit, finish the list in one day kind of challenge like some of the easier hiking challenges in the Adirondacks so the fewer those kind of days the better in my opinion. And while I may have pushed some hikes to the top of my to-do list to finish the Quest more quickly I tried not to go too far out of my way to complete the challenge. By the by, my fifty qualifying hikes were pulled from a list of over 150 hikes. I had so many repeats of areas I hiked in that I couldn't use for the Quest list that I ended up utilizing less than one-third of all my hikes to submit for this challenge.

    Only 94 people have officially finished the challenge since its inception a quarter century ago. Barring some flood of submissions before mine is received and processed I will be #95. I really don't know why there have not been more finishers. Not a highly enough publicized challenge? Perception that it takes too long to finish or is too complex? That the area within the blue line is so large that geographic constraints and distance of travel required keeps people from visiting every corner of the park? Indifference from hikers working other higher priority lists to them? Not enough cachet associated with the challenge? That people who love and regularly visit all different parts of the Adirondacks don't give a hoot whatsoever about working a list? It's probably a little bit of everything but one of the great benefits of working any list is that it pushes you to go out and explore areas of the Adirondacks that you might never get to see. And visiting all of these areas wasn't the only enriching and edifying activity associated with the challenge for me. The amount of time I spent poring over maps of the various forest preserve units within the park gave me a whole new appreciation for how vast and how many incredible recreation opportunities are available in the mountains we all love.

    I'm certainly not so delusional to think there haven't been dozens and dozens of other folks, perhaps hundreds more, that have visited every nook and cranny of the Adirondack Park and would qualify to be recognized for completing this challenge. I don't think my #95 means much more than I'm the 95th person who had the desire to work the list and to fill out the 4-page submission form, but I am very happy to have successfully completed the challenge and invite others to do so as well. I know there has to be a lot of you forum members that are prime candidates to complete the Quest. If you're reading this and have worked on the ADK46, the Fire Tower Challenge, Saranac 6, some of the ADK Hundred Highest, and completed a few of the other easier hiking challenges sponsored by towns throughout the ADKs then you're probably within striking distance of finishing the Quest if you haven't already. Perhaps this report and my urging will encourage you to look at where you have been and see if you are a Quest finisher or soon could become one. What's stopping you?

    For more info on the Adirondack Quest...

    A nice article in the last issue of "Adirondac" magazine and also posted on the Adirondack Mountain Club's web site ( ) discusses the Quest and will hopefully raise some awareness of the challenge as well.

  • #2
    I think it has something to do with the fact that most ADK chapters have a local challenge, and ours has a distant one. It's probably changing now with the bigger emphasis on lists and patches but I have a feeling this one is even more obscure away from ADK-GVC as it is in this chapter itself...
    ADK 46*/46 CATS 5/35 FT 4/28 Saranac 0/6 Bristol 6/6


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Perhaps. But the Glens Falls/ Saratoga Chapter has the Fire Tower Challenge and that's all over the ADKs and the Catskills and is very well known.

      Maybe that there's not an huge emphasis on peak-bagging for the challenge? I don't know. FWIW only 6 of the 50 hikes I submitted were lowland kind of hikes. Some to waterfalls. A few to lakes or ponds. The other 44 were to summits of mountains. It can be a peak-bagging challenge if that's how you want to approach it.

      Hopefully the recent article and getting some folks talking about it will remove this challenge from obscurity. It's a good one.

  • #3
    Just discovered this list a few months back. Love the idea, especially living in the SW corner of the park, many areas either literally out my back door, or in the NW or NE corners that normally would not explore. Took the trips from other lists (46, Hamilton County, Indian Lake, etc other challenges and began to populate. Think you 1/3 estimate is about right to mine. Will definately be in other areas exploring by foot, snowmobile, skis, snowshoes, kayak, bike, etc. Also agree the challenge is in marketing. Lived in the park for over 20 years and just heard about it through the source you mentioned. Hard to believe less than 100.


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Nice. Good luck with your Quest.

  • #4
    What a cool challenge! Congrats! SO awesome to spread impact around more and check out some of the less traveled parts of the park!
    Crepuscular Rays: Dissolve into evergreens

    There's always gonna be another mountain
    I'm always gonna wanna make it move
    Always gonna be an uphill battle
    Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
    Ain't about how fast I get there
    Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side...
    It's the climb
    -Miley Cyrus


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      One of the incredible benefits of visiting the less-traveled areas are the small crowds. Outside of the High Peaks and some of the more popular fire towers I had many trails and mountains all to myself. Easy parking. Complete solitude. What's not to like? And spreading impact around a little more as you noted.

  • #5
    Makwa -- Congratulations on completing the Adirondack Quest and for your inspirational post. My wife and I met a Quest finisher about a decade ago who told us about his many adventures in areas all across the Adirondack Park. At that time, we started a Quest spreadsheet, quickly realized that we had a long way to go, and promptly forgot about it. The years passed as we made over 200 trips to the Adirondacks to complete the Adirondack 46, Fire Towers, Saranac Lake 6, and to go on camping and fishing trips, etc. During that time we weren't all that mindful that we were making progress on the Quest challenge. Fortunately, we kept track of all our activities in a spreadsheet.

    Then along came your post. It was just the boost that we needed to get serious about finishing. Associating our activities with wilderness, wild forest, and primitive areas was no easy task. After about thirty hours of studying maps and updating our spreadsheet, we were amazed to discover that we were actually pretty close to finishing. The Quest became our prime objective; we weren't going anywhere unless it was to a new Quest-qualifying area. We finished a few days ago and submitted our paperwork.

    Here are some great benefits of the Quest challenge:

    1) Many of the trips are out to beautiful areas of the Adirondack Park that one might not visit otherwise.
    2) Some of the hikes are out to lakes, ponds and waterfalls, which is a nice break from mountain climbing.
    3) Often one can pull into an empty trailhead at just about any hour of the day. Try arriving at a High Peaks trailhead at 11 am on a weekend!

    It will be nice to get the patch. More importantly, during the process of matching activities with Quest regions, I was able to identify 50+ new hikes that my wife and I have never done. We will now continue with our own personal quest.


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Congratulations!! It's nice to hear that my post got at least a few people interested in looking at the Quest again. And welcome to the forum!

      Glad you mentioned how much time you spent studying maps and updating spreadsheets. I spent forever figuring out where all my hikes actually took me. There are so many trailheads that you think are in one area but the trails cross into other areas, or through lands that aren't wilderness or wild forest. I threw out a bunch of hikes because I just didn't know if they were proper to count. Then I had the whole question of Hurricane Mt Wilderness and Hudson Gorge Wilderness. Those are dependent on the dates you hiked there. Both were once Primitive Areas that were reclassified. I had to exchange a few e-mails with the folks at the ADK Chapter to clear those up. That was one of the reasons I thought I was short on the number of Wilderness areas as I mentioned in my original post. The Quest is a lot of record keeping and map study if you're a stickler for details. I really wanted to make sure my submission was accurate. It's not like a peak list where you climbed a mountain or you didn't. This list was studying every route you took on every hike.

      Oh... and for the record I ended up at #96.

  • #6
    Makwa and ADK Jeff,
    ​I'm a bit late contributing - I couldn't remember my password and was a bit lazy to look it up. I also had much fun doing the Quest. Generally I used it (and the Firetower Challenge) as an excuse to hike something a bit on the short side and on the way back from a trip to the high peaks. I enjoyed seeing a broader range of the park - both in the woods and by car. Sometimes I felt a bit mixed regarding the car travel. I tried not to go far out of my way, and did feel some of my excursions didn't have a good 'time in the woods' to "time in the car' ratio.

    ​Like Jeff indicated, I recently hiked something I had previously mapped out for the Quest but never got to for one reason or other. There are a few of them and they are still on my personal list (which I am now finding much more motivating than anything else).