For over 30 years, Tony Goodwin has been the go-to source for Adirondack guidebooks.
So when employees at the local Stewart’s in Keene tell him that customers are always asking for hiking advice or guidance, he has one recommendation.
“You can point over to the wall and say, ‘There’s a map you can buy,’” Goodwin said of his latest edition of Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks Trails. “That’s their way to deal with the people who come in and ask random questions of a clerk in a Stewart’s shop.”
Since 1984, Goodwin, a Keene resident, has been editor of the High Peaks guidebook, the main book in ADK’s Forest Preserve Series. The book offers insight on the trails, and Goodwin himself observes new developments in the area to offer updates every few years. His latest update, the 15th edition, includes a segment on 47,000 acres of Forest Preserve that have been added to the area since 2012’s 14th edition first hit shelves.
“It’s an incentive to get out and see some new places that you wouldn’t necessarily otherwise go to,” Goodwin said of the book. “And there’s also a satisfaction in, you know, seeing people out in the field actually using it.”
The latest edition of the guidebook was released earlier this month, and is Goodwin’s fifth edition since he started as editor. At first, when he inherited the book, he said his inaugural edition as editor took the most work to update, having measured 400 miles of trails and high peaks in the process. While he hasn’t had to do anything as extreme since, he prioritizes making the book as informative as possible, while keeping all the information that he includes as understandable as he can. The editor before him was an aircraft engineer, so he joked that he wrote trail descriptions like jet engine tests. Goodwin, on the other hand, tries to make it easier for readers.
“The details are details that I believe hikers can actually relate to when they judge their pace or appreciate what’s coming as they hiked the trail,” Goodwin said.
For the new edition, Goodwin said the biggest changes include a new trail to Wolf Pond, additions to the Champlain Valley trail network, some Boreas Ponds access information and a new Northwestern section.
“I’ll decide to go hiking if I sense that there’s a change or hear about a change,” Goodwin said. “So I kept notes between the 14th and the 15th editions and then it was about a year ago that I moved forward to actually write up all of these changes. And trying to figure out when certain regulations would actually be implemented was somewhat of a guessing game.”
Another major change is the size of the book — this year it’s significantly smaller to fit in the pockets of hikers.
“Hikers definitely were looking for a book that fit either in a big pocket or sitting reasonably in the pack,” Goodwin said.
During a time when pulling up maps on cell phones has become the standard for a lot of hikers, Goodwin said that he has his own acronym for hikers who can’t keep off their phones.
“As long as everything goes well, and the signs and the markers are in place, they seem to get where they’re going and back again [with phones]. If they get to a junction, and the signs are down for some reason, they tend to be pretty clueless. And, in fact, I have an acronym for the typical hiker walking along looking at his smartphone as he walks in, he’s a ‘chump,’ a clueless hiker using a mobile phone.”
Still, he said he knows that most stick to their phones to navigate a trail. But maps and guides offer an experience like no other.
“We need to get people more educated,” Goodwin said. “And I tell the clerks at the Keene Stewart’s that when the supply goes down, you’ve got to reorder up, because this is their last chance to get the guide where they go hiking.”