As a college senior standing on the precipice of the “real world,” I felt lost. Much like a trekker without a compass, I couldn’t find my personal true north. Listlessly applying to graduate schools didn’t fill me with any sense of purpose, so I called home. “Tyler,” my mom paused, “what do you love?”
“Hiking!” I blurted the answer without trepidation. Finally, something authentic. I waited with bated breath for my mom’s response…
Finding my dream job as the Adirondack Mountain Club Wilderness Trip Leader was a culmination of a lifetime of scattered micro-adventures. I grew up in the heart of the largest protected area in the Lower 48 States. Many people are surprised that at 6.1 million acres, the Adirondack Park is bigger than 5 of our most-heralded National Parks combined: Grand Canyon, Glacier, Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. Even the entire state of Vermont could fit inside the Park’s borders! You can’t ignore that the wildness of the Adirondack Park is what makes it inherently charming.
After 28 years of adventure in the Adirondacks, I loaded up my Osprey pack and embarked on a 7,000-mile hiking quest across three long-distance trails. In 13 consecutive months from 2015-2016, I walked the entire Pacific Crest Trail, Te Araroa across New Zealand, and the Appalachian Trail. Experiencing wilderness in remote backcountry settings helped me develop a deep connection with our rare wildlands. It was an emotional, grueling, and incredibly gratifying journey sprinkled with tomfoolery, trail magic, and endless vistas.
This spectacular trip awakened my appreciation for the natural world. While hiking along the Appalachian Trail, I was shocked to witness the encroaching hum of civilization across the East Coast of the United States. Wilderness is becoming exceedingly rare in our country, especially in areas east of the Rocky Mountains. You might be wondering why this matters?…
- Only 2.7% of the contiguous Lower 48 States is currently classified as Federal Wilderness.
- 10% of the world’s remaining wilderness has been lost in the past 20 years.
- You have the rare opportunity to advocate for the EXPANSION of a wilderness area in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. But you only have until December 30th to contribute your opinion!
The Boreas Ponds Tract sits inside one of the last vestiges of wildness in the Northeast. It abuts to the Adirondack High Peaks, and if classified as Wilderness it would ensure as western-scale motor-free region in New York State for generations to come. Fortunately, you don’t have to walk 7,000 miles to develop a strong wilderness ethic. You simply have to have a passion for protecting wild spaces for people and animals to enjoy forever, and this current wilderness crisis is one you can act on…
While I may have felt lost during my college years, bushwhacking through the woods eventually led me to my preferred path. Let’s keep the world wild so that future hikers have a chance to lose themselves in the luxury of the forest. I hope you’ll voice your own wilderness ethics with me today!
Written by: Tyler Socash