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The Adirondack and Finger Lakes regions offer plenty of peaks and trails for hiking, and Fort Drum Soldiers have been exploring them this summer with the BOSS5 Hike Club. The Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program has offered a summer hiking series called the BOSS5 Hike Club, which challenged Soldiers to complete five Adirondack peaks. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)


Soldiers discover thrill of hiking the Adirondacks


Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs


FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 12, 2021) – As far as outdoor adventures go, there is something to be said about taking on the challenge of a good hike. Fortunately, New York has the Adirondack and Finger Lakes regions where there are plenty of peaks and trails to explore.

Soldiers with the Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program have spent part of their weekends this summer discovering this for themselves with the BOSS5 Hiking Club – a series of hikes culminating with Mount Marcy, the tallest in the Adirondacks.

Spc. Vincent Vue, 1st Brigade Combat Team BOSS representative, hiked with a group of 15 Soldiers to Owls Head Mountain in Long Lake. He said that it wasn’t a difficult hike, and it was made better by good company.

“This was a good bonding experience, because you got to meet people from different units and different backgrounds,” he said. “I think it was fun.”

Spc. Chris Jones, Fort Drum BOSS president, also participated in one of the hikes this summer, but his real initiation into hiking happened a year earlier.

“I did Mount Marcy last year, and it was my first-ever hike in New York,” he said. “I picked the highest peak, and it was brutal.”

Jones said that he did a little research online to familiarize himself with the Adirondack peak.

“I knew it was going to be hard, based on what I read online and seeing the reviews,” he said. “But I guess I didn’t fully grasp how hard it would be until I did the hike myself.”

Jones said that Mount Marcy was a full-day hike that gradually increases in difficulty along the way.

“Once you hit a certain point, it’s all uphill and rocks,” he said. “So you’re just climbing from rock to rock, and there are little plateaus where you can rest a little bit. But after that, it’s a constant uphill battle. I was feeling it the next day.”

As tough as the incline can be, the descent can be equally challenging. With fatigue set in, hikers can lose focus or coordination, which sometimes leads to falls.

“For me, going down was harder because I was tired after hiking all day,” Jones said. “We got there early in the morning, but by the time we finished it was already dark out. It was a gorgeous hike, though, just beautiful. But for my first hike, it was brutal.”

For people interested in hiking the Adirondacks for the first time, Jones recommends doing what he failed to do – start with one of the easier peaks.

“If you do that, I would say most people will fall in love with it after that,” he said. “Just because of the beautiful scenery, and it’s really peaceful. I think it is something everyone should try at least once.”

Pvt. Clayton Libberton, with D Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, earned the distinction of being the only 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldier to complete all five peaks in the BOSS5 Hike Club challenge.

“I did two of them with the club, and then the other three on my own,” Libberton said. “I prefer solo hikes a bit more because I like to keep moving at a faster pace. I don’t really stop at all. When I did Mount Marcy, it took me 10 hours to get up and down, with minimal breaks.”

While participating in the BOSS challenge, Libberton said he became intrigued by the Adirondack 46ers – a group of people who have summited all 46 high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains.

“When I started hearing about it, I got excited to do that,” he said. “I’ve done eight or nine right now, and it’s been real fun. My goal is to hike all 46.”

The BOSS5 Hiking Club will continue this fall with another series of hikes. For more details, visit https://drum.armymwr.com/programs/boss or call (315) 772-7807.

For more information about hiking, visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s webpage on hiking at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/351.html. If planning a hiking trip to the Adirondacks, visit www.lakeplacid.com/travel-updates.