ADKHighPeaks.com & Adkhighpeaks Foundation History
In April, 2008, Both Neil and I made a decision that came after many months of soul searching. We both wanted to find a way to give back the Adirondack and the Forest Preserve lands that have given us so much. We decided that the best was was to use the educational and informational power of our forums to create a charitable foundation to enhance the wilderness community for its users. Either through monetary fundraising, or even volunteer efforts to help facilitate wilderness projects that need assistance. After securing legal representation, we started the process of becoming a recognized federal 501(c)(3) Not-for-profit entity. Shortly thereafter, we added longtime forum friends Dick Hihn, Jack Coleman and Alan Via to the team and planning was started in ernest.
In September of 2008, we began our first fundraising effort to raise money for the Keene Valley Fire Department SAR team. They are in need of some equipment upgrades and we hope that we will be able to assist them in their efforts. In November 2008, the forums tranferred from private ownership to the Adkhighpeaks Foundation. From humble beginnings....... we've come a long way
Not surprisingly, the history of adkhighpeaks.com is tied very closely with my own hiking history. I started hiking later in life, when my family and I began hiking together in 1997. My wife and I were 30 when we started hiking, but our children were only 7 and 4 years old. Given that our kids were so small we were limited to smaller peaks, until we hiked our first high peak (Cascade in August of 1999). We continued hiking whenever we were vacationing in Lake Placid but our hiking really did not take off until we entered the new millennium and the kids were a little older and able to hike farther and longer. These mountains are, and always have been, a family thing for us.
The seeds of this website began in late 2001 and it started with just a few pages of text and pictures about the Adirondacks on a small space my local ISP server provided. It was primarily just a way for family and friends to keep track of our hikes. By Spring of 2002, our family had decided to hike all 46 high peaks (at the time we had done 3) and I expanded my little site to include a few trip reports. It was still primarily a way to keep non-hiking family and friends in touch with our progress and to document our travels. It received next to no traffic. I posted my first trip report (Giant-Rocky Peak Ridge) In June of 2002. I knew next to nothing about the internet and my site showed it.
Over the next year, I continued to tinker and play around with the site. Some people like to tinker in the garden or the shop to â€œsoothe the soul,â€ and for me, it was my website that was my release. Living 275 miles from the mountains, it became my surrogate that would help make the long stretch between hikes bearable. I also had been participating in another internet forum (â€œViews From The Topâ€ a.k.a., â€œVFTTâ€) during this period and that would later contribute to the further development of this site. At the time it still only had about 100 visits a month, but still, I tinkered.
Adkhighpeaks.com was born in May of 2003, as a enhanced version of its former self. In reality, the only thing that changed was the address. The site still only consisted of primarily trip reports and pictures. Traffic continued to be minimal. Steadily though, over the next 13 months or so, traffic began to increase and I received more and more encouragement by strangers via e-mail. I also began to meet (and hike with) some of the friends that I had met through the site and through VFTT forming a core group of hiking friends. Late summer held some important milestones in the history of this site. In September of 2004, my family and I completed the 46 high peaks on Whiteface Mt. and in October of the same year I started the adkhighpeaks.com forums.
Those initial forums closed in January 2005 (after a screw up on my part) and I reopened again on April 4, 2005. They have grown steadily ever since. I am very proud of adkhighpeaks.com and am grateful to all those that make it what it is. In June of 2003 (the first month of the new site), we saw 725 total visits, from 209 unique visitors. In 2008, we regularly average 900+ visits a DAY (27-29,000 a month), from upwards of 7000+ unique visitors a month. We also average over 18,000 page views each and every day.
Adding a partner:
In late 2005, as the site grew, I needed help with moderation duties and I asked one of the regular members, Neil Luckhurst, to help me out. We'd met on the trails and we'd got along well, so it seemed like a natural fit. Neil, with his hard work and diligence, has weaved his way into the very fabric of this site. As a reward for his hard work, in June of 2007, I transferred half-ownership rights to this site over to Neil. We're so busy now, we "talk" electronically everyday almost, and I can say without question that not only is Neil a great partner, but I consider him a very good friend as well.
Largely on the convincing of another "forum friend", Alan Via, we opened a Catskill hiking area of the site in the fall of 2005, despite the fact that neither Neil or I had spent any time hiking there. It was obviously something that was desperately needed as the section exploded in growth. We now enjoy a very robust and vibrant Catskill based community to go along with our Adirondack one. In one place, we have connected the two largest areas of the NYS Forest Preserve.
Adding another forum:
Also in June of 2007, another friend of ours, Dick Hihn, who was the co-owner of another large Adirondack based forum (ADKForum.com) that we regularly participated in, asked if we wanted to take over ownership of that forum as well. We did, and since then we have owned that forum as well. ADKForum actually predates this forum by a year or so and has a slightly different feel, but a similar Adirondack recreation "base". The traffic and volume of information on that site is similar (but slightly greater) then here on ADKhighpeaks. It's not always easy, but it has been very rewarded to host two of the largest NY wilderness recreation based communities on the internet.
Timothy J Dubois