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New ADK chapter puts spotlight on NPT

April 6, 2011
By MIKE LYNCH, News Outdoors Writer
LAKE PLACID — Despite being a great destination for overnight backpacking trips, the Northville-Placid Trail is often overlooked by Adirondack hikers, who often favor places such as the High Peaks.

Tom Wemett is hoping to change that.

Wemett recently spearheaded an effort to form the newly created Northville-Placid Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). The club approved the chapter on March 26, making it the 27th.

Wemett first discovered the Northville-Placid Trail while hiking with the Genesee Valley Chapter of ADK in 2004 and immediately knew he had found something special.

“I fell in love with it,” Wemett said. “I was looking for something different rather than day hikes. I was looking for something where I could experience a backpacking experience similar to what the Appalachian Trail might be like.”

In the fall of the following year, he hiked the entire 133-mile trail with his son, Mike. Around that time, Wemett also moved to Lake Placid and opened up a photography and framing business in the Alpine Mall. He also led an effort to form a subcommittee of the Trail Committee to focus on the trail.

Wemett has since moved from Lake Placid to Orange, Mass., but he’s still connected to the trail. In November 2010, he launched a website dedicated to it. The formation of the chapter followed that last month.

“(The chapter) is the natural next step in order to bring focus, resources to the Northville-Placid Trail, to maintain it, to get it to be the premier trail that the founders envisioned in 1922,” Wemett said.

The Northville-Placid Trail traditionally starts in Northville in the southern Adirondacks and ends in Lake Placid. It was the first trail project undertaken by ADK. The club finished the trail in 1924. Then in 1927, it turned over to the Conservation Department (the predecessor to the state Department of Environmental Conservation) for maintenance and upkeep.

The new chapter will be dedicated to helping the DEC maintain and promote the trail. The chapter will also work in conjunction with ADK’s Schenectady Chapter, which has been responsible for doing some work on the trail and handing out patches for hikers who complete it.

The new chapter will funnel resources in the direction of the trail, financially and in the form of voluntary manpower. Chapter dues will go directly to trail maintenance. Wemett has also been working diligently to coordinate stewardship activities. He recently has secured stewards for all sections of the trail to help with its upkeep and to report conditions.

The website is one of Wemett’s most important tools. He uses it to post trail conditions, activities and other relevant information.

One unique aspect of this new chapter is that it won’t consist of residents from one geographical region, like most of the other chapters do. ADK does have an Adirondak Loj Chapter that is similar to the Northville-Placid Chapter and is more purpose-driven instead of geographically driven. ADK members belonging to other chapters can join the Northville-Placid Trail Chapter as an “affiliate,” for a fee of $25 a year, while maintaining membership in current chapters.

The Northville-Placid Chapter is the third one that ADK has added in recent years, with others being created in Binghamton and also the foothills region of Gloversville and Johnstown. ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth said the new chapters are a sign of people’s continued interest in outdoor recreation.

“While a lot of other organizations were losing membership, ADK was not only holding its membership but actually growing in the last two or three years during the recession,” Woodworth said. “I think people view outdoor recreation and hiking, kayaking, paddling to be a healthful pastime that is quite reasonably priced.”

With that continued interest in outdoor recreation, many people believe it is important to spread out where people go into the backcountry to places like the Northville-Placid Trail that traditionally attract less traffic. One of those people who buys into that philosophy is former ADK president Curt Miller.

“Most of the focus in terms of hiking in the Adirondacks is always on the High Peaks,” Miller said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the High Peaks from an environmental perspective, but it also sidelines people from some of the more beautiful areas. The Northville-Placid Trail just runs from north to south right through a value route with high peaks and low peaks, beaver impoundments, ponds, every kind of flora and fauna you want to see in the Adirondacks. And I think it deserves to have the spotlight on it.”

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Article Photos

Mike Lynch/Lake Placid News
From left: Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Director of Field Programs Wes Lampman, ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth, DEC Regional Forester Tom Martin and DEC Supervising Forester Rick Fenton celebrate the opening of a rerouted section of the Northville-Lake Placid Trail in Hamilton County on Aug. 27, 2009.



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