This is a modified version of the foreword that appears in my book, The Kosher Backpacker, as an introduction to this site.
– Brian Kresge, aka “Strings Attached”
I saw a mountain lion in the Adirondacks.
It was a long, humid weekend in the early 2000s. My late Labrador Retriever, Max, and I took in a backpacking trip in the High Peaks. The humidity became rain. This seemed to discourage too much backcountry travel, as Max and I had the woods and peaks to ourselves. The ceiling was still low enough to command decent views, so we still ascended Lower Wolfjaw.
Coming down Bennies Brook Slide was shaping up to be a monotonous, slippery mess. I happened to glance back up towards the peak, and I saw a brown shape saunter out of the woods on the right side.
It looked at me.
I looked at it.
You hear sightings like this year after year, but none of them are proof that the Eastern Mountain Lion is not extinct. I know what I saw, but I had a suboptimal digital camera, the kind that barely took decent resolution photographs, and in those days, I kept it in the top of my back, not easily accessible. I cannot prove what I saw, and even if I had taken a picture, my candid-capable camera would have produced a questionable fawn splotch against the gray and green background.
It’s still one more mountain lion than I’ve seen observant Jews on “the long trail.”
When I’ve hiked through the northeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York sections of the Appalachian Trail, or in the Catskills, or when I’ve been on hikes through popular areas of the White Mountains, I’ve met families of religious Jews. In all cases, it was a day hike.
I have yet to meet a Torah-observant Jew on a thru-hike. I don’t believe it’s because Jews don’t have a relationship with the outdoors, or our summer camps wouldn’t be as central to young Jewish identity as they are. This also isn’t to say there aren’t any or haven’t been any—after all, if you’re reading this, you know of at least one. We may not literally have crossed paths.
This website is designed to be a compliment to The Kosher Backpacker, but also as a resource to Jewish and non-Jewish hikers alike. Kosher recipes, halachic guidance on aspects of hiking and thru hiking. We’ll even help you with your own trail journal. We have a suite of apps for kosher backpackers, including a GPS-enabled Appalachian Trail guide. We will, as time permits, add Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trail guide apps as well.
Last modified: May 1, 2018