Contributed by Haley Gerarde
Story first published in the LGLC’s FY19 Annual Report
When visiting “The Queen of American Lakes”, one can find themselves with access to many different outdoor experiences right at their fingertips. From the history at the battlefield, to abundant hiking experiences, to free beaches and the opportunity to cruise up north from the southern tip, it might be hard to find a reason to leave. If it is your hometown, though, it might be taken for granted.
After growing up in (and growing a great appreciation for) Lake George, I figured there must be more to see out in the “real world.” Lake George is incredible, but how would I know, I haven’t even lived anywhere else! Well, a semester in Australia, and a job in the Sierra Nevada’s later, I can confidently say there is nowhere I would rather grow my family than home—Lake George, NY.
Since before I can remember I was camping on Lake George. We were catching sunnies and learning how to ski. We were hiking Cat and Thomas Mountains, stopping at the cabin to have lunch. Before I knew what conservation meant, or how much the conservation of Lake George would mean to me, I was hiking alongside LGLC volunteers at their very first Hike-A-Thon.
The more and more that I got involved with this staff, the more I realized that Lake George wouldn’t remain the same for future generations without some love from the community.
I began looking at the land and the lake a little differently. I noticed if someone had left a can along the trail, or carved their name on a tree or a sign. I noticed that some people weren’t signing in at trailheads, and in addition to being concerned about their safety (like I was taught when I was little), I began to worry that the land would no longer be preserved because nobody would be able to prove (beyond erosion) that it was being used. It was then, when I realized that my love for home would have to be supported by actions in order to protect it, that I began to volunteer with the LGLC.
Through many hours of signing people in for the LGLC’s Living Lands series over the summer, filling bags for hikers involved in the Hike-A-Thon, and leading many of those hikes, that I realized my love for the conservation of Lake George was just as big as my love for the land and lake itself.
Fortunately for me, my love for the lake is supported in both my personal, and my professional lives. The land preserved by LGLC to create the Pinnacle Preserve is the most significant example of this.
When I was in college, I started a sustainability initiative. An acquaintance from home was far more involved and supportive than I ever imagined him to be. We had never gotten together outside of our friends, but I found myself wanting to get to know him better; so we hiked the Pinnacle. After this hike, we began dating. Fast forward some time, he proposes. Where do we go to celebrate? The Pinnacle. Fast forward yet again, our daughter, Josephine (Jojo), is born. I challenge you to take a guess as to what our first hike as a family was. Her first hike walking on her own two feet? You guessed it—the Pinnacle.
The Pinnacle has quite literally been what we believed to be “the pinnacle” of our life…many times. In my professional life, as the Director of the Lake George Teen Center, I am able to reflect my value of the outdoors by bringing them to this preserve. This year we completed our second annual fall foliage hike with Monica, LGLC’s conservation manager, to connect them with the outdoors, and learn a little bit more about what we can do to conserve our home. We were even able to make it to the LGLC office to learn about many different species that are protected on LGLC property.
As I envision my future, it involves one in which my daughter, and eventually my grandchildren, share with me my love for not only Lake George, but the conservation of it.
We are able to hike together, because someone has made those trails accessible and safe to us. We are able to swim in, and drink the water from Lake George, because the effort has been put in to keep it clean. We are able to volunteer our time together to raise awareness of the importance of conservation, because someone has created events to discuss the matter while having a fun time.
The LGLC is a vital piece of this vision, and I am ever grateful for the work that their staff and volunteers have and continue to put into keeping that dream alive.