Beginners Advice

Cascade from Pitchoff

Cascade is the easiest of the 46 High peaks to climb.

I will update this section as I think of things

Email: Received 10/1/99

Planning a first time hike/camping trip in the Adirondacks next summer/fall 1) Is there any advice you could give a beginner? 2) can you please warn me of the dangers that are relevant while hiking in the high peaks wilderness. Most sites just rave on how much fun hiking is, but I know there are dangers that they never mention. I need to be aware of them before I begin hiking the Adirondacks.


Both guides (The ADKs & Discover series) have the basic rules and regulations and many helpful suggestions. I cannot go into every detail of camping/hiking. But I will give as many of my "hands on" observations you will not find in any book as possible.

Here are some things to remember in no particular order

1) If possible go with someone who has hiked the Adirondacks, If that is not possible make sure someone in your group has experience in camping in the outdoors. The Adirondacks are not the place for "Virgin" campers. Unlike most areas on the East Coast the Adirondacks is true Wilderness, meaning when you go out into the woods you are on your own. If you get into trouble finding a ranger is next to impossible especially at night. If it's your first time in the Adirondacks I would suggest you camp near your car or camp at a public campground.

2) Number #1 rule in camping. Bring tons of socks, 3 times as many as you think you need. This is especially important in the High Peaks where muddy and wet trails are the norm. Add the fact that it is cool and little sunlight gets into the valleys between the Mountains where you will be camping means wet socks will not dry. Before I go camping I go out and by all new socks then pack ALL my old socks to go on the trip. I cannot emphasize how important this is, you can not have enough socks. Wet, cold feet will make your trip very miserable.

3) When Climbing a Mountain. Keep in Mind the time of Sunset and make sure you have an "Abort" time before the midpoint of your day (i.e. if the Sun sets at 6:00pm and you start at 12:00pm, make sure you are heading down at 2:30pm whether you make the top or not). Do not count on being able to "Get Down" the mountain faster then you went up because sometimes really steep rocky trails can take just as long going down as up and as fatigue sets in you walk slower. Because Mountains Block out the Sun remember that it gets dark real fast coming down and at the bottom of the mountain where you will be camping especially if you are on the East side of the Mountain or there is another big mountain to the west of you. 

4) Bears have become a big problem in the High Peaks in the last few years. They seem to have lost all fear of humans. Do not eat food in your tent and do not wear clothes that you wore while eating to bed. If you are camping hang a bear bag. Try some of my suggestions in the Bear section in FAQ.

5) Bring a portable stove for cooking. Due to crowds already taken it all you will not find any burnable wood left in the High peaks. Also fires will most likely be banned in the High Peaks next year.

6) Bring a Tent. Lean Tos are on a first come first serve basis and there always seems to somebody who beats you to it.