Thursday, December 18, 2014

Backcountry Gear Choices: Tent Or Tarp?

Campsite on MacDonough MountainFew backcountry gear decisions seem as daunting as picking a shelter. Some prefer to sleep John Wayne style (under the stars), others prefer lean-tos, but most carry a shelter of some sort on their back – tents or tarps.

Tents are easier to set up (though I’ve seen exceptions), but are often heavier to carry. Compared to tarps tents offer less ventilation, critical when sharing the space with an aromatically challenged companion. Free standing tents are easier to set up and move – an important consideration in locating a good tent site while bushwhacking.  On the other hand, tarps are better in rain. Erecting the tarp over your gear in an emergency can keep you and your gear drier.  An open tarp provides more ventilation, which also allows for quicker drying.

A tarp system reigns supreme in the weight department, but smaller poles and hi-tech fabrics on new tents continue to chip away at the weight differential.

My history with shelters reads like something out of “A Christmas Carol”, with ghosts of shelters past, present and future. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Dec 18)

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This weekly Adirondack outdoor conditions report is issued on Thursday afternoons, year round.

Get The Weekly Outdoor Conditions Podcast

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

 

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

» Continue Reading.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Wood-Pellet Projects: Paul Smith’s College

Photos of Paul Smith's College  ©Paul Buckowski 2006Paul Smith’s College is installing a state-of-the-art wood-pellet boiler system, which will heat its three academic buildings.

This project is one of the first uses in New York State of a high-efficiency and low-emission wood pellet boiler heating system to heat multiple buildings.  Paul Smith’s is one of five new sites in the North Country planning to install the technology including the Olympic Regional Training Center in Lake Placid, North Country Community College’s Sparks Athletic Complex in Saranac Lake, the Indian Lake School and the North Country School in Lake Placid. High efficiency wood boilers were pioneered in the Adirondacks by The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Solstice Will Be Marked With Meteors

TOS_WinterSolsticeEvery year, I eagerly await the winter solstice, which this year falls on this Sunday, December 21. My anticipation is driven not from an affection for winter, but a hunger for sunlight. I want the ever-shrinking days of autumn to be over and done and the slow, steady march towards late-evening sunsets to begin. So really it’s not the winter solstice I await, so much as being on the other side of it.

But this December I’ve decided to pay attention and learn more about the day itself. Turns out to have been a good choice, as this year’s solstice proves to be more interesting than most. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Plaintiffs In Tupper Resort Suit Lose Final Appeal

cranberry pondEnvironmentalists challenging the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake have lost their bid to continue their lawsuit against the developer and the Adirondack Park Agency.

The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal, today rejected a motion by Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club seeking permission to appeal a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit.

The green groups contended, among other things, that the project violated the APA Act by fragmenting timberlands into “Great Camp” estates. The APA, which approved the project in January 2012, maintains that the project is legal.

“We’re very disappointed in the decision,” Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect, told Adirondack Almanack. “It takes thousands of acres of timberlands and puts them on the chopping block.”

» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

John Todd’s ‘Long Lake’ Recalls The 1840s

Long Lake Church in the WildernessThe Long Lake Historical Society has voted to acquire a first edition of John Todd’s book, Long Lake.

First printed in 1845, this small volume was written after Todd’s fourth trip to Long Lake. He first arrived in September, 1841 and found eight or ten families “scattered along towards the head of the lake. . . .They lived in their little log houses, and their little boats were their horses, and the lake their only path.” » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Trip To Moody’s For The Perfect Christmas Tree

MoodyFarm_newOur Christmas tree tradition always involves sturdy boots, a saw, braving the cold and most likely a snowball fight that ends with someone crying.

There are many places around the Adirondacks to find the perfect Christmas tree. Every year my family has an open invitation to explore our neighbor’s property, but most of the time we enjoy walking the fields of one of the nearby tree farms. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mississippi Firm Now Largest Adirondack Landowner

100_1126Molpus Woodlands Group has purchased the 112,238-acre holdings of The Forestland Group.  A price was not disclosed. The purchase makes Molpus, of Philadelphia, Mississippi, the Adirondack Park’s largest private landowner at more than 273,000 acres.  [Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Molpus is in fact the largest private landowner – in recent years Lyme Timber Company has sold 121,000 acres and now owns 239,500].

The lands are in Lewis, St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, and include frontage on several northern-flowing rivers, including the St. Regis and the Grasse.  Prior to The Forestland Group, the lands were owned by Champion International.  Molpus had owned only 30,000 acres (near Saranac Lake) until its January 2014 purchase of nearly 131,000 acres in St. Lawrence, Clinton, Franklin and Lewis counties from Rayonier Forest Resources. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hazard Mitigation Info Session Planned

Land SlideOn Thursday January 8, 2015, the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Warren County Office of Emergency Services (OES) will present a program on Hazard Mitigation from 6 to 7 pm in the Christine L. McDonald Community Room at the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls.

In Warren County significant natural events impact communities and residents including flooding from severe rains, and beaver dam failures, land slides and high winds. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Benny Rolfe: ‘World’s Greatest’ Trumpeter

4A  BARolfeHatIn 1918, pioneer of silent films Benny Rolfe left Metro Pictures (later MGM) and formed his own Rolfe Productions, quickly scoring a coup by signing Harry Houdini to a film contract. The hugely popular escape artist was featured by Benny in The Master Mystery, a “super-serial” produced in fifteen parts. After viewing the first installment, Billboard reported: “This enthralling picture will be followed eagerly from week to week and will draw like a house afire. Has unlimited advertising possibilities. Grab it quick.”

The business appeared to be flourishing, but cash flow was becoming a problem. Rolfe’s extravagant productions were expensive, and the battle against other companies to secure actors resulted in costly bids for their services. Benny was losing money, forcing the reduction of an ambitious schedule that had led to the completion of more than fifty films. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 15, 2014

New Report Considers Future Of Lake Trout

Spawning-Lake-troutSince the retreat of the glaciers, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) have been the top native predator in Adirondack waters. These northern fish require true cold (less than 55°F) and move downward when surface waters warm in late spring and summer. Consequently, they are isolated to the largest and deepest Adirondack lakes – most of them deeper than 30 feet – where they stay in the dark chilly depths all summer and early fall. The species name namaycush is believed to be an Algonquin term for “dweller of the deep.”

This need for very cold, clean, high-oxygen water can bring to light otherwise invisible changes beneath the surface. Water quality in the Adirondack interior, where we don’t have much industry or farming, can be  abstract. You usually can’t see it, touch it or even taste it. But lake trout make the health of our coldest lakes real and tangible. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 15, 2014

Wildlife Animosity: Crows and Owls

crowsAnimosity is an emotion not solely restricted to humans, as several forms of wildlife occasionally display an outward aversion to specific creatures, even through such an antagonistic attitude seems to have little to no value to their current survival.

Perhaps the best example of such an overt repulsion of one animal for another is the crow’s reaction to seeing an owl at this time of year. Upon detecting one of these round-faced predators, a crow quickly starts producing a squawking caw designed to summon any other crows in the immediate area. It is believed by some naturalists that a crow, upon hearing this alarm sound, will relay the information to others unable to hear the initial call that an owl has been spotted. This is an attempt to assemble as sizeable a mob of birds as possible. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 15, 2014

On The Lookout For Invasive Species

Eurasian watermilfoil is an aquatic invasive plant that spreads by fragmentation to form dense populations.   This summer and fall, by land and by water, I was on the lookout for invasive insects at the Sacandaga Campground and invasive plants in Lake Algonquin.  Surveys are one component of a suite of tools that help protect the Adirondacks’ natural resources.  When infestations are detected in their early stages, fast action can be taken for management or even eradication.

Invasive species cost the United States billions of dollars each year.  Without the checks and balances found on their home turf, they can rapidly reproduce to outcompete native species.  Invasive insects can threaten maple syrup and baseball bat production, nurseries, agriculture, and forest health.  Infested trees are costly to remove and limbs may fall on power lines, homes, or cars.  Aquatic invasive plants can degrade water quality, inhibit boating, and overrun fish habitat. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Running Solo: Thoughts Ahead Of My Feet

valley_view_jaschwartzI’ve been called the Pippy Longstocking or Punky Brewster of running. Pick your generation, I suppose. I get myself into and out of my own troubles, and I tend to run in whatever multitude of clothing layers I can cobble together on a cold day.  The only article of clothing I find indisputably important is the sports bra. It’s my whole support team. (Oof. I’ll take that rim shot now!)

Today was a cold, bluebird day. Beautiful. Crisp. Just under 20 degrees when I set out, with the sun blazing overhead, tricking me into thinking I was warmer than I was. Truth be told, I’d only been running about 15 minutes when I could no longer really feel my legs. Just a slightly rough sensation as I rubbed one wool-covered hand across one reddened thigh. Oh yes. I was wearing shorts. Seemed like the right thing to do. Sunny = shorts. Right? Shorts and a-burst-of-color knee-high socks, socks that, having lost some of their elasticity, would slide slowly down to mid-calf every second mile or so. Annoying. Yet illustrative of the wearisome state of always being “on.” My socks, strangely enough, were telling me, nagging me to relax. I just know they were. Let go, they pestered. Slide a little, slouch, exhale. What a tease. » Continue Reading.


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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Adirondack 102: A Guide to Adirondack Towns

Adirondack 102 ClubThe Adirondack 102 Club: Your Passport and Guide to the North Country has just been published by Martin Podskoch. The 102 Club encourages travelers to visit all of the towns and villages of the Adirondack Park.

The idea for the 102 Club began after Podskoch read about Dr. Arthur Peach’s story in Vermont Life magazine suggesting an informal group, the 251 Club, “to discover the secret and lovely places that main roads do not reveal.” He felt that every part of Vermont had its beauty, history, attractions, traditions, and interesting people.

Podskoch stated in the book’s introduction, “Since 2001, I traveled to all of the 102 towns and villages in the Adirondacks gathering stories for my five books on the Adirondack fire towers, the Civilian Conservation Corps camps, and Adirondack lore. In my travels people have taken me in for the night and shared their home, food, and stories. I have met so many wonderful people and seen so many interesting places that I want to share my experience. » Continue Reading.


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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Mysterious Benchmark At Station 77

Colvin Division of Levels - Measurement of Whiteface MountainIt was late on the afternoon of November 4th, 1875.  A party of men worked feverishly in dense fog and deepening Adirondack frost, chiseling into the hard summit stone of Mount Marcy, New York’s highest point. They had been working since the first hint of daylight without the benefit of food or water, pressing on to finish their work as conditions worsened.  They turned their attention to setting a benchmark – chipping into anorthosite so tough that it had destroyed scores of their drill bits and chisel points.

Their leader Verplanck Colvin had just completed the final rod and level measurement in a series that had begun weeks before, many miles away on the shore of Lake Champlain. At last the height of the mightiest peak in the Empire State was determined with accuracy: 5344.311 feet above mean tide.

The benchmark they laid on Marcy in the growing darkness and cold that afternoon was number 111 in a long sequence rising from Westport. » Continue Reading.



Friday, December 12, 2014

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights



Friday, December 12, 2014

Slide Climbs: The Icy East Face Of Giant

Sunset on the summit of Giant Mountain.Giant Mountain offers a diversity of ascent options, but I’ll admit to playing favorites. Ascending the Ridge (Zander Scott) Trail and climbing the expansive East Face sets the stage for a day with breathtaking views on approach and a challenging slide climb as the main event. The steep dominant ledges that traverse much of the face set this apart from many other slides.

I’ve scaled the great scar several times over the years so finding new ways to breach the crux becomes part of the fun as I plan each outing.  For crying out loud, the beast is over ¼ mile wide and 1,200 high so the choices are as diverse as one’s imagination and comfort level.

Giant’s proximity to Route 73 also makes it a good option when seeking a late start as my partner, NP, and I had planned. My trips often begin at 5 am.  Here I can begin hours later and still return before dark. We parked near Chapel Pond and ascended the Ridge Trail under a bright morning sun. Conditions were perfect with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees at elevation.  There were stunning vistas from the southwest ridge. » Continue Reading.



Friday, December 12, 2014

The View From Pottersville This Morning

Pottersville (Shannon Houlihan)



Friday, December 12, 2014

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories



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