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Hiker’s guide to the lesser-known mountains

November 16, 2011
By MIKE LYNCH, News Outdoors Writer
Spencer Morrissey’s hiking resume is impressive. The Long Lake native has not only hiked the 46 High Peaks, but he’s bushwacked them. He has climbed the Adirondack’s 100 highest mountains and more than 350 overall in the Park.

Morrissey is also the author of “The Other 54,” which was released as a second edition this past summer.

“The Other 54” is Morrissey’s first guidebook. The first edition was printed in 2007 after four years of hard work on Morrissey’s part.

Overall, this is a worthwhile book if you’re looking for places to hike outside the traditional 46 High Peaks. Morrissey is a knowledgeable writer who works in the outdoors industry. He had worked at Eastern Mountain Sports in Lake Placid off and on for several years and recently received a degree at the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry’s ranger school in Wanakena in the northwestern Adirondacks.

As its name implies, this guidebook is about mountains that are often forgotten by the public. The title refers to the 54 mountains that fall behind the traditional 46 High Peaks in the top 100 highest Adirondack peaks.

These mountains are often less traveled and 39 of them don’t have established trails, according to the guidebook. But that’s why this author was attracted to them.

“If someone is trying to do the 100 highest, the biggest draw to them is the seclusion, the travel and the lack of other hikers,” Morrissey told Embark in a recent interview.

Morrissey said one of his favorite regions of the Park is the “Little High Peaks” region near Indian Lake, consisting of mountains like Buell, Snowy, Panther and others. He said many of these mountains don’t have great views (Snowy does), but they offer “rugged terrain” and “seclusion.” For Morrissey, these are great qualities.

“Sure, there are lots of guidebooks that give descriptions for the trailed mountains,” Morrissey writes in the book’s introduction. “Try to find one with a description of a route in the challenging Sentinel Range and you’ll be looking for a long time. So, to fill that gap, and with a little persuasion from friends, I came up with ‘The Other 54.’”

In Morrissey’s book, he explores these regions and others, offering basic directions for making your way through the woods to these peaks. Some chapters offer multiple routes to one destination and each mountain (or range) has a topographical map. Black and white photos are scattered throughout the book.

While this book is a good starting point for those looking to bushwhack, it should not be considered an end all. Before heading into the woods, one needs to get a normal-sized topographical map for the mountains without trails and, of course, normal navigating essentials like a compass.

Most of the trails Morrissey describes aren’t like the ones in the Adirondack Mountain Club hiking guidebook series, which are popular and well-marked trails.

“This book can be used whether in the woods or your favorite easy chair,” Morrissey writes. “But please read the entries carefully. Off-trail hiking should not be undertaken lightly and I’ve included a number of common sense and safety precautions any backwoods traveler would be smart to heed before heading out.”

In the book, Morrissey has made numerous improvements from the first edition. He’s done a better job of grouping the chapters. They are now organized by geographic region as opposed to listed by height. He also eliminated some lesser quality hikes in favor of better routes.

New trails in places like Lyon Mountain have been added to the book. The writing has also been tightened up with some special attention paid to the copy editing.

For more information about “The Other 54” visit the website at www.incapahchowildernessguides.com.

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