A US Army Corp engineer completes work along Erie Canal
US Army Corp of Engineers complete work along Erie Canal

Adventure News of the Week: ‘Empire State Trail’ Opens, Climbing Legend Dies, and More

From the inspiring to the tragic, ‘Adventure News of the Week’ presents a wrap-up of top news in the world of exploration and adventure.

TRAILS: New York Finishes Work on 750-Mile Empire State Trail. This weekend, New York state officially wrapped up work on its massive local Empire State Trail network.

“Completing the trail involved building more than 180 miles of new off-road trail and [linking] 400 miles of existing trails,” reported Governor Cuomo’s office. The multiuse trail spans from NYC to Canada and attracts millions of hikers, runners, and cyclists each year. The trail reopened to visitors on Jan. 1.

DEATH: Legendary Climber, Who Made First Ascent on El Cap, Dies. George Whitmore, a member of the first team of climbers to conquer Yosemite’s El Capitan, died on Jan. 1 due to complications from COVID-19. He was 89.

Whitmore and two other climbers, Warren Harding and Wayne Merry, made the first ascent of El Cap’s The Nose on Nov. 12, 1958. The effort required 45 days of fixing pitches and 12 days on the final push to the top. You can read Gripped.com’s full tribute to Whitmore here.

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NORDIC: Backcountry Becomes Official Partner of USA Nordic Ski Team. As of last month, Backcountry is serving as the official online retail store of licensed USA Nordic apparel and will provide all USA Nordic athletes with official Backcountry attire for the 2021 season.

“Backcountry’s strong presence in the U.S. market will give USA Nordic a solid platform to strengthen and build our relationship with fans, thanks to a wider variety of products and Backcountry’s ability to provide a seamless retail experience,” said USA Nordic Executive Director Billy Demong.

backcountry nordic team
Members of the USA Nordic Team

USA Nordic’s exclusive Backcountry team apparel includes puffies, ski jackets, and more. You can find the whole Nordic Team collection here.

HUNT: South Dakota Extends Pheasant Hunting Season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Commission has extended its state’s 2020 pheasant hunting season. “This is in hopes of giving hunters a chance to space out their time during the pandemic,” reported KELO. The season, which usually ends in December, will now go through Jan. 31.

MISSING: Friends Continue to Search for Missing Fort Collins Woman. Christine Cummings, 32, was last seen in Fort Collins on Dec. 29. Her black Jeep Compass is also missing — license plate number EOL 263.

Friends and family of Cummings believe she went out for a hike by herself, possibly to Rocky Mountain National Park. Police haven’t officially launched a search yet, but those close to Cummings insist they “do not believe that she is just on a trip or ‘off grid'” and have posted across multiple social channels requesting information. RMNP rangers have been notified and are also looking for her vehicle.

Friends are asking those in the area to keep an eye out in remote locations and at trailheads. If you have any information, contact the Fort Collins Police Department at 970-221-6540 or the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office at 970-416-1985.

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Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.