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ADIRONDACK LIVING: A world of outdoor education for Jason Smith

November 2, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - Jason Smith grew up hiking, skiing and paddling in central Pennsylvania, but it wasn't until 1995 that he saw the Adirondacks for the first time.

"I was psyched," he said. "Driving in through Watertown, I started seeing high peaks and not a lot of houses. It was secluded wilderness, which is what I wanted. It didn't take long for me to decide I'm going to live here."

After living in the Blue Line for only a week, Smith participated in the 30-day outing trip with the Wilderness Leadership program at North Country Community College. The trek had a group of students and their guides travel from Newcomb to Coreys in Tupper Lake and then paddle to Paul Smiths. There were no stops for showers, just the occasional dip in a lake.

Article Photos

Jason Smith, of Saranac Lake, gets his canoe ready for a paddle on Rainbow Lake.
(Photo provided)

"It was simple living for 30 days," he said. "You take only the necessitates, and you carry it all on your back. That led me into guiding and really opened up the door of outdoor education for me."

Smith now owns the Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters, which specializes in paddling activities, and he manages the Dewey Mountain Recreation Area, both in Saranac Lake.

No matter the season, Smith finds a way to recreate. In the summer, he does plenty of canoeing and kayaking. He doesn't pick favorites, but he does have a list of lakes and ponds he frequents.

"I'm always going to hit Middle to Lower Saranac Lake," Smith said. "I'm always going to paddle Raquette River every summer. You always hit those top places every year and then say, 'Oh, you know what, I've never gone down to Henderson Lake or the Fulton Chain of Lake. Let's go do that.'"

For skiing, Smith likes to hit places such as Avalanche Pass, the Jackrabbit Trail section in Keene and Mount Marcy, which can be a seven-hour trip on some days.

"Skiing something like McKenzie Pond several times a week is a regular thing in the winter," he said.

Smith also met his wife, Zoe, on that 30-day trip with NCCC. The couple has two children that often join them on paddling and skiing excursions.

"We're always in a boat," he said. "We're always looking for a place to stop and swim and be in the water as much as on the water."

Smith's son and daughter are now 17 and 14, respectively, so getting them to go on long paddles and cross-country ski trips is easy, as long as their schedules match up.

"The great part now with them being slightly older is we can go farther," Smith said. "You know, it's not like having 6-year-old and a 9-year-old and our ski is limited in length. Now we're actually being outskied by our kids."



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