As Albany ADK’s new chair, I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself and talk about what the chapter has meant to me. I joined ADK ten years ago and have enjoyed countless skiing, hiking, paddling and backpacking outings ever since. Hiking and being outdoors were not new to me, and our family was often at Five Rivers and many other parks and preserves, both near and far. We’d hike nearby mountains such as Hadley and Overlook, took vacations at national parks and annually spent a week or two at Rollins Pond when our boys were growing up.

Initially I joined Albany ADK with a limited agenda. I was taking a first stab at retirement after a 30-year career in state government and was interested in backcountry XC ski trips. The retirement didn’t last—other jobs followed, including serving three terms as town supervisor in Bethlehem—but my love of backcountry XC skiing did. What’s more, my interests quickly broadened as Albany ADK opened new worlds of outdoor exploration. I became a dedicated winter backcountry guy, including skiing, snowshoeing and winter peak climbing. I returned to overnight backpacking trips (last done at age 12) and the frequency of our family’s hiking and camping experiences accelerated. After years of listening to my ski buddies talk about paddling, I succumbed to peer pressure and became a regular paddler and canoe- camper. My family has also enjoyed ADK activities and been on outings. Everyone was having so much fun that five years ago we bought a camp in Garnet Hill (near Gore Mountain) and now also belong to the Cold River ADK chapter which covers that area.

I’m very grateful to Albany ADK. Beyond acquiring new skills and enjoying more time outdoors, I’ve made a lot of friends. The outings, skill building, advocacy and stewardship are all great and I’m glad to be in a position to pay back an overdue debt to the chapter.

ADK activities are more important than ever because being outdoors in a safe environment with others is perhaps the best possible tonic during the pandemic. This year there are many more than usual newbies out on the trails and ADK is an invaluable resource to help guide and educate people. Teaching skills, safety and leave no trace is vital as more people join in appreciating and enjoying the natural environment. It’s a great place to be.

— John Clarkson, Albany Chapter Chair