I had the great pleasure of meeting up with John Davis, Executive Director of the Rewilding Institute and Tricia Bhatia, Coordinator, of the Eddy Foundation recently to explore the trails and lodging opportunities from Westport to Willsboro as I map out a viable and appealing hut-to-hut route in this corner of the Adirondacks. My day with John and Tricia was a follow-up venture to my previous week’s visit with Dillon Thomas Klepetar of Echo Farm, Alex Caskey of Bobolink Farm, and Lauren Murphy of Heritage Properties of the Adirondacks, LLC. These good folks helped me gain insights into what is and what may be possible in terms of trails and lodging toward the actualization of the Westport-Willsboro Circuit.
Adirondack Hamlets to Huts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to create, manage and promote an internationally-acclaimed Adirondack hamlet-to-hut system that fosters vibrant communities by advancing economic development, conservation and wellness. The routes we are creating will start, pass through and finish in Adirondack communities and provide hikers and other self-powered trekkers the opportunity to travel lighter because they won’t have to carry a tent, stove, pots and pans, fuel and sleeping pad. The reservable lodging that we will incorporate as affiliates into our network of hamlet-to-hut routes will keep guests warm, dry and out of the bugs and run the gamut from high-quality cabin tents, yurts and cabins, to bed & breakfasts, motels, hotels, and inns.
As part of our day’s travels, John, Tricia and I hiked to the top of South Bouquet via the Wildway Overlook Trail where we were able to fully take in the Split Rock Wildway and get a great perspective of the wooded wildlife corridor that meanders from Lake Champlain westward north of Coon Mountain. As a turkey vulture floated by at our eye level, John noted to us that these raptors had only reappeared from their winter haunts the preceding week. Despite the snow that still blanketed much of the ground underneath our feet and the broader landscape in our view, spring was unfolding and the return of the turkey vulture with its teetering flight was but one harbinger. He also pointed out from our airy viewpoint several tree branches that were stripped of their bark and noted that these markings were signs of a hungry porcupine securing a meal.
My mind was filled with all sorts of possibilities and excitement as I thought about the rich experiences that a hamlet-to-hut route linking Westport and Willsboro would provide hikers traveling the route, from the magical timelessness of migrations and the signs of wildlife all around us to the great variety of natural features, working farms, and charming communities that characterize the uniqueness of the Champlain Valley.
I came away from my day with John and Tricia much energized by all the good ideas they shared with me about how best to maximize trekkers’ enjoyment of a Westport-Willsboro hamlet-to-hut circuit and grateful for the amazing work done by Chris Maron of CATS and all of his people that makes something like the Westport-Willsboro Circuit even remotely possible.