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Researching Hikes using Trip Reports

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  • Researching Hikes using Trip Reports

    You're new to hiking the Adirondacks, discovered this great forum, and asked some questions.

    But after having been told: "Do your proposed route clockwise, counterclockwise, and report back ... Take your dog up Mt. Baxter ... Read Fluffernutter's Trip Report about that hike ..." And then falling into a deep rabbit-hole on the merits and demerits of various fabrics, ...

    You decide to wade into the Trip Reports for yourself, and find something like this:
    "Not far beyond the Express HP cairn, on the blue trail re-route (Nice work, guys. thanks!) I found the turn for the Panther HP, and went over the new beaver dam, skirting left of the old HP. I filled up at the head of the brook, dropped packs at Herald Square, did Panther, then hit Times and onto Couchy via the mudhole. It wasn't so bad, but later coming back from Santa, almost missed the cairn leading down to the rope."

    Other trip reports (TRs) are filled with personal musings, tales of people encountered on the trail, digressive accounts of getting lost and unnecessary bushwhacks, etc. Nothing wrong with that. Trip reports are personal, enlivened with the hiker's emotions, reactions, etc. (My own TRs are a case in point.) So, TRs are not meant to be authoritative Trail Guides, like the ADK publishes. They are what they are.

    So, how does one use the forum's Trip Reports?
    • First, study a trail map and trail guide, familiarize yourself with trailhead locations, possible routes, junctions, and perhaps a few landmarks, before you start digging into trip reports. (h/t Makwa.)
    • Do a Google site-specific search, " Santanoni Express" for example, or whatever terms you're researching.
    • Click on the TRs that come up, and skim them over.
    • Find one that is comprehensive and reasonably current, such as any of the TRs by Telemarkmike. Note that, like many hikers, Telemarkmike puts his full TRs on his own blog, but don't worry, you can find them from Read and bookmark one comprehensive TR that makes sense to you, one that includes some helpful landmark pictures (cairns, junctions, signs, etc.). Note the date.
    • Now go back to the others, and read them more carefully, fitting them into the context of the first TR. You will soon find 2 or 3 more that are also comprehensive. Bookmark, or make a note of them too.
    • You will encounter a lot of jargon and abbreviations. They quickly become understandable. "HP" means 'herd path,' not Hewlett-Packard. Beyond that, you're on your own.
    • You will most likely find that some part of the trip still isn't quite clear. Back to Google, with something like " Bradley Pond re-route." By now, you'll have a decent knowledge of the trails, the location-specific jargon, and some of the recent changes on the ground. Keep an eye on the dates of the TRs; when people are talking about recent or proposed changes, dates matter.
    • Make your own notes or maps summarizing what you've found, in any format you find useful.

    Most of trip reports make sense, and are useful, if placed in context. You'll learn to skim through the non-route-related stuff, and to skip entirely the TRs from posters whose style doesn't help you.

    Good luck on your arduous journeys - both on the net and in the mountains.
    Last edited by stephenesherman; 10-20-2012, 09:21 PM.

  • #2
    The above post generated an interesting discussion which I put into its own thread. Click here to view that thread.