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Hunters and skiers hope for snow; many ways to promote Saranac Lake

December 7, 2009
By Joe Hackett, Enterprise outdoors columnist,

The big-game hunting season comes to an end this Sunday, after a fresh snow early in the week. While there was not a significant accumulation, the mere prospect of a fresh tracking snow has hunters enthusiastic.

Backcountry skiers, like the early birds that took to the Whiteface Toll Road last weekend, are hoping for a major dumping to start the season.

For many hunters, this weekend marks the last chance to fill their tag. Hunters are consistently calling this season poor. It appears the take was down considerably this fall.

Autumn's unseasonably warm weather patterns again disrupted the hunting season and stunted the movement of wildlife.

Warmer temperatures and a lack of consistent snow have now become standard across most of the Adirondacks in the fall.

In such conditions, it's difficult for any North Country hunter to question the realities of climate change.

Change is evident underfoot, where what used to be white is now brown for the majority of the season.

For many hunters, it has been a successful season, regardless of the take. The hunt is really about the memories of time spent in the woods and on the trail in the company of longtime hunting companions. It's about another season of friendships renewed and stories told. The season will end when the lingering smell of camp coffee finally exits the cabin and the stove is no longer hot. It is nearly time to pack away the camouflage and blaze-orange clothing, clean and oil the firearms and close up camp until next year. Small repairs to patch the roof, seal the windows and rodent-proof camp will eventually be squeezed in between Christmas shopping, getting a tree and putting up the decorations.

For those who want more deer hunting, continued opportunities will remain in the Southern Tier for another few weeks.


Saranac Lake Destination Marketing Plan unveiled

On Tuesday evening, Dec. 1, the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce unveiled its new Destination Marketing Plan.

The new marketing effort is intended to allow Saranac Lake to stand alone, while still remaining part of the Adirondack brand.

Bob Harvery of Egret, a tourism marketing firm, revealed components of the effort and explained that tourism is a quality-of-life issue.

While tourists need a place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors, their presence should have a positive impact on the communities in the area.

The Saranac Lake Chamber is working to define the town and the region. Efforts to differentiate the community from others in the Park are an important component of building the Saranac Lake brand.

Saranac Lake has a long and proud heritage as a cure resort, as an outdoor playground and as a fun, safe and family-oriented vacation destination.

In an increasingly virtual and synthetic world, the village has managed to retain its small-town charm. Saranac Lake offers an inviting, safe and friendly community and it provides visitors with a haven from the stress and woes of more urban environs.

Over the years, the Saranac Lake region has morphed into a world-class paddlesports destination and outdoor adventure center.

The Saranac Lake community was the birthplace of the Adirondack Guides Association, and the Saranac Lake region's lineage includes a tradition of hospitality, Great Camps and guided adventures.

In an effort to recapture this heritage, the marketing effort will focus on wellness, history, hospitality and the arts.

Stewardship of the land will be matched by stewardship of the community and its citizens.

The historic downtown shopping district and the River Walk will be keys to efforts to grow tourism and create a quality experience for visitors.

Tourists will have a richer experience with guided adventures, which serve to protect both the guests and the environment and allow novice guests to get deep into the backcountry in a safe way.

Other essential elements that will help to insure a quality experience for visitors include superior modern lodging facilities, enhanced nightlife, increased accessibility, a variety of recreational and educational guided tours, consistent public transportation and improved fine dining options. One of the key components of the effort will include the development and enhancement of offerings intended to capture a burgeoning market for "learn to" vacations or edu-vacations.

While the edu-vacation concept has been around for years, recent market trends indicate a growing interest in this type of family travel.

With nearly 100 million potential visitors located within a day's drive of Saranac Lake, there's room for growth.

Saranac Lake's thriving arts community also offers promise for the edu-vacation concept, with the potential for marketing special events, music, art, traditional crafts and more.

The village has a huge resource in its thriving arts community. It has already demonstrated the potential of the arts with the success of Plein Air Painting Festivals.

In a "Back to the Future" effort, the plan's emphasis on guided "learn to" adventures incorporates one of the few surviving indigenous occupations of the region.

Adirondack Foothills Guide Service of Saranac Lake has been providing educationally based guided adventures for many years. Operated by Sonny and Sheila Young, the company offers workshops, retreats and events such as the Beyond the Outdoor Woman programs, hunter safety education, intro to ice fishing and map and compass training.

There are numerous other guide services in the region that offer guided instructional and educational tours with names such as "Intro to Rock and Ice Climbing," "Backcountry Ski Touring" and "Search and Rescue Training."

The Edu-vacation model has also been embraced by big players: L.L. Bean and Orvis now offer customers an extensive list of edu-event options; Bass Pro Shops host skill-based edu-vacation events at their stores nationwide.

The Lake Placid Eastern Mountain Sports outlet embraces learning vacations: This summer, EMS staff adventure guides began offering "Peak Bagging Programs" in the High Peaks area. With a base at Camp Peggy O'Brien in the John's Brook Valley, the groups tackled the peaks in the area over the course of three days.

At High Peaks Mountain Adventure Center In Lake Placid, Brian Delaney and his staff of guides have provided skill-based instructional programs for youth and family groups for many years. High Peaks programs have included "Advanced Mountain Bike Skills," "Backcountry Skiing," "Ice Climbing" and "Global Positioning Systems Instruction and Navigation."

ElderHostel, which used to have a summer program at Paul Smith's College, has revamped its image in an effort to capture the educational vacation. Renamed Exploritas, the company is no longer for retirees 55 and older. The new organization caters to adults with children and grandchildren.

The new breed of skills-based, edu-vacational offerings isn't really new at all. The concept of using a vacation to reconnect with the wild has been around for millenia, but it is being rediscovered and renamed by a new generation of travelers seeking adventures with a purpose. The Adirondack region, with its history of satisfying the visitors' cravings for adventure, wilderness, relaxation, scenic wonder, hunting, winter sports, etc., is well positioned to take advantage of this "new" market.

Travel always presents opportunities for learning: Learning should be an inherent part of the experience. In this region, edu-vacational opportunities always include our Olympic legacy and related sports activities, the Saranac Lake Cure Industry, the heritage of the Great Camps, John Brown, wildlife, environmental studies and on and on. The clear blue Adirondack sky is the limit.



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