QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) is never one to shy away from a challenge. A steward of the Adirondack Park and its 2,000+ miles of trails, ADK posed a challenge to the park’s hikers, bikers and visitors at large over the summer. In 2023, that same challenge is returning, at a bigger scale than ever.
ADK has announced the return of its 100 Mile Challenge, kicking off on New Year’s Day. Originally conceived to celebrate ADK’s 100-year anniversary in 2022, the challenge prompts outdoor enthusiasts to cover 100 miles of outdoor activity in the name of the organization. It’s a way to raise money for the club’s conservation work, but also a motivator for those looking to spend some more time outdoors.
“During the pandemic, people were very interested in supporting things like the Adirondack Mountain Club – but not by going out to something like a bike race,” said ADK Communications Director Ben Brosseau. “Supporters can’t always make those kinds of things.”
And so, for all who take it on, the mission is thus. From New Year’s Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day (Oct. 9, 2023) the challenge is open to travel 100 miles while enjoying the outdoors. That can include activities like walking, running, hiking, boating and biking, just like in 2022. New this year, the length of the challenge also encompasses winter events like skiing and snowshoeing.
The challenge also doesn’t have to be completed in the Adirondacks. Anyone can sign up online, and report their progress from wherever they’re getting active. Last year, ADK heard from one hiker who completed the challenge by scaling Mt. Whitney in California.
All those who register to tackle their 100 miles are encouraged to donate if they’re able – and raise money on their own. ADK is hoping to raise $100,000 over the season, and runs sponsorship levels that will net donors commemorative water bottles, t-shirts, hats and more.
The money all goes to keeping the Adirondack Park’s trails in as good shape as possible – which is harder than it might sound. The infrastructure of the Adirondacks has gotten boosts, with Gov. Kathy Hochul putting aside $8 million for the forest reserve. For the next year, ADK is asking for $10 million.
“All of this money is for trail work,” said Brosseau. “Many of them are falling apart, between increases in use and design issues. They weren’t designed for the amount of use they’re seeing today.”
The degradation is something that can be felt by any frequent hikers. In 2021, the Adirondack Council published a study showing a need for many trails to be rerouted due to severe erosion, due in many cases to proximity to rivers and streams.
The money raised by ADK will also go into education. The mountain club operates a variety of outdoor programs, many of which give youth and teens hands-on opportunities around the mountains and water bodies of the Adirondacks, in order to cultivate the next generation of conservationists. If challenge participants want to pitch donors on why they should give to ADK, it’s as good a reason as any.
“Ultimately, people want to donate and know where the money will be spent,” said Brosseau. “It’s all about improving our environment, and its recreational opportunities.”
Signups for the 2023 100 Mile Challenge are open now. Brosseau himself intends to participate, as he did last year. Lately, he’s been spending time in the central and southern Adirondacks, including plenty of time in the West Canada Lake Wilderness, west of Speculator and North Creek.