Overuse in portions of the High Peaks is a real and growing problem, exacerbated by trends in social media and the expanding desire to count-off summits. It has been documented extensively here in the Almanack. But in the last few weeks these discussions have reached a rolling boil with a bit too much hyperbole for me. A range of ideas has been raised, a number of them falling under the general concept of limiting access to the High Peaks, including permit systems, licensing schemes, daily caps and so on. Some of these limiting suggestions have been accompanied by exclusionary rhetoric with which I strongly disagree, along the lines of “Why are we trying to get more people here?” or “I like my (town, street, access) the way it is, without all the visitors.” I agree that increasing use in parts of the High Peaks is a real issue, and I have written about various aspects of the problem for several years. But the exclusionary sentiments I’m starting to hear are where I draw the line. » Continue Reading.
I love the fact that there is always something new to observe in nature. Take goldfinches, for example. I have often watched them devour milkweed seeds from an acrobatic, upside-down position. Recently, I spotted several bright yellow males perched atop dandelion stems, plucking the seedheads at a frenzied pace. Previously, I had only seen them snag dandelions in mid-air.
Of all our native songbirds, American goldfinches (Spinus tristis) are perhaps the most consistent vegetarians. Thistles are a favorite food source and nest material. Sunflower seeds are another top meal choice, something you have probably observed if you offer these popular seeds in a feeder. Aside from our freebies, goldfinches also eat seeds from grasses, weeds, teasel, mullein, and ragweed, along with birch and alder buds, maple sap, and berries. An uncommon agility allows them to extract seeds from any position. Their short, pointed, conical bills are well-suited to crack open hulls and other tough packaging. » Continue Reading.
One of the greatest landscape photographers during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century was William Henry Jackson (April 4, 1843 – June 30, 1942). A native son of the Adirondacks Jackson was born in Keeseville, New York to George Jackson and Harriet Allen. Harriet was a talented water-colorist and William inherited her artistic flair. His first job as an artist in 1858 was a re-toucher for a photography studio in Troy New York.
In 1866 after serving in the Civil War, Jackson boarded a Union Pacific train to the end of the line in Omaha, Nebraska. There he entered the photography business. The Union Pacific gave him a commission in 1869 to document the scenery along their routes for promotional purposes. It was this work that was discovered by Ferdinand Hayden who invited Jackson on the 1870 U.S. government survey (predecessor of the U.S. Geologic Survey) of the Yellowstone River and Rocky Mountains. He was also on the 1871 Hayden Geologic Survey which led to the creation of Yellowstone as America’s first National Park. It was Jackson’s images that played an important role in convincing Congress to establish the Park in 1872. » Continue Reading.
Less than five years after The Wild Center in Tupper Lake welcomed its first 500,000 visitors, on July 18th, 2017 just after 12:30 pm it celebrated eight-year old Andrew Chrien of South Carolina as the one-millionth person to walk through the Center’s doors.
Andrew, accompanied by his siblings Tyler, 6, Laura 4, and Mattie, 2, as well as his mother, Colleen Chrien, and grandparents, Charlie and Laurie Wall, was visiting The Wild Center for the first time. Upon finding out they were the millionth visitor, Andrew experienced a flash mob by staff of the Waggle Dance, a figure-eight dance usually done by honey bees, and received a celebratory gift basket, including a two-year family membership which equates to just over 1,000,000 minutes of Wild Center experiences. Andrew and everyone else visiting also received honey sticks and seed packets in honor of the Wild Center’s Summer of Pollinators and partnership with the Adirondack Pollinator Project. The celebration wrapped up with cake for all. » Continue Reading.
Cooking stoves are crucial backcountry gear. They allow for cooking those high-calorie meals, the lifeblood of any hiker after spending hours trudging through forest, field and/or wetlands. However, stoves are only as good as their fuel, for without some type of combustible material, they are just a useless trinket cluttering up your backpack.
Determining the amount of fuel to carry is often more art than science – not enough, you have to force down soggy uncooked oatmeal, too much, and you beat yourself up for carrying the extra weight. Fortunately, Solo Stove has solved this dilemma by creating an attractive line of stoves that burns a fuel that is so readably accessible in the Adirondacks that there is almost never a reason to carry it.
» Continue Reading.
On Friday, Adirondack Experience (formally the Adirondack Museum) removed a familiar anti-Adirondack Park Agency sign on Route 9 at the north end of Warrensburg to add to their permanent collections.
The sign, seen by south-bound travelers, was erected by Ted Galusha in 2005 on the side of his house to protest the Adirondack Park Agency.
In a statement sent to the press from the Adirondack Experience, the museum said it was collecting this sign “because it is part of the ongoing conversation among Park residents, second-home owners, vacationers and conservation advocates about the future of the Adirondack Park.” » Continue Reading.
Where people who are active outdoors in the Adirondack Park go to the bathroom is of concern to all of us. Human waste – and don’t think it doesn’t happen on mountaintops, lakeshores, and any peaceful wooded area — can pollute water bodies and ruin the nature experience for other hikers.
One way to solve the problem is better education about poop etiquette. Bury it or carry it out. Better yet, go before you enter the woods.
The Ausable River Porta-John project is making that easier. Started 10 years ago, it expanded to the High Peaks last year. It now has eleven Porta-Johns at popular locations throughout the region (See map here) and is seeing good results, as in fewer incidences of poop and toilet paper left behind. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation began in 1998 and was run out of Executive Director Nina Schoch’s residence before moving in with Adirondack Hamlets to Huts in 2016. In April, the organization received its non-profit status and a new location for its center at 15 Broadway in Saranac Lake.
The new space will accommodate its growth – triple the number of full-time workers – and plans to expand education offerings. Here’s a look inside: » Continue Reading.
More than 1.5 miles of bike trails, including a new loop opportunity, have been added to the Beaver Brook Trail Network in the Adirondacks. The trails are part of the Wilmington Bike Trail Network located on Forest Preserve lands in the Wilmington Wild Forest in the town of Wilmington, Essex County.
The new trails were built under contract or agreement with and supervision of DEC. The new 1.0-mile Ante Up Trail was constructed by Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Crew (ADK Pro Crew) and Barkeater Trail Alliance (BETA) volunteers. The new 0.25-mile Beaver Brook View Trail and a new 0.3 mile section of the Lost Farm Trail were both constructed by BETA volunteers. DEC also contracted with the ADK Pro Crew to construct a bridge over Beaver Brook that completes the loop on the Lost Farm Trail. This summer an Excelsior Conservation Corps work crew will improve the Beaver Brook View Trail to meet accessible trail standards to provide access for people with mobility disabilities. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack History Museum will host a walking tour of the Crown Point Iron Company ruins on Saturday, July 29.
Local Historian and author Morris Glenn will lead the tour. One of the highlights of the tour will be discussion on the Penfield Forge Project. The projects includes plans to rebuild the replica of the first iron forge in Northern New York that was originally at Frontier Town.
In 2016, the replica forge was moved to the Penfield Museum in Ironville. The five-year project will recreate a facsimile of a working cold-blast iron forge that Major Skene operated in the initial colonial period prior up to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. The Skene forge was captured by the Colonial forces on Lake Champlain and then used by Benedict Arnold to build the first American Navy. » Continue Reading.
For over 30 years The New York City based Rebecca Kelly Ballet has made the Adirondacks its summer home, blending contemporary and classical dance with social and environmental commentary. In an ongoing series of works inspired by the environment, Rebecca Kelly Ballet is bringing parts of the Adirondack Elemental suite to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts for one show only.
“I have many ballets with an environmental theme, “says Rebecca Kelly Ballet founder and choreographer Rebecca Kelly. “This specific suite of shorter ballets takes a specific element in nature that we love about the Adirondacks. SNOW will premiere on Thursday at The Lake Placid Center for the Arts.” » Continue Reading.
Forest Ranger Rob Praczkajlo covers the district just east of the High Peaks Wilderness, namely the towns of Jay, Elizabethtown, and part of North Hudson. Due to the high rate of search and rescue operations in the adjacent High Peaks, he is just as likely to be found there as he is patrolling his own district.
The High Peaks district had more than 100 emergency incidents in 2015 and they do not occur in a vacuum. They are not handled exclusively by the half dozen rangers stationed there. Rangers from all parts of the Adirondacks, and the Forest Preserve they protect, are affected by the drain from so many incidents. The following chronicles one week in July for Ranger Praczkajlo. » Continue Reading.