Almanack Contributor Dan Crane

Dan Crane

Dan Crane writes regularly about bushwhacking and backcountry camping, including providing insights on equipment and his observations as a veteran backcountry explorer. He has been visiting the Adirondacks since childhood and actively exploring its backcountry for almost two decades. He is also life-long naturalist with a Master of Science in Ecology from SUNY ESF and 10+ seasons working as a field biologist, five inside the Blue Line.

Dan has hiked the Northville-Placid Trail twice and climbed all 46 High Peaks but currently spends his backpacking time exploring the northwestern portion of the Adirondacks. He is also the creator of the blog Bushwhacking Fool where he details his bushwhacking adventures.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dan Crane: Where Have All The Good Campsites Gone?

Not a good campsite along Crooked LakeWoolgathering is a frequent activity while I bushwhack through the Adirondack backcountry. My recent trip exploring between the South Ponds and Crooked Lake was no exception in this regard. My thoughts often revolved around how this area may be the loneliest part of the Five Ponds Wilderness, as evidence of recent visitors was scarce to non-existent. Instead of enjoying the seclusion, some nagging concern kept intruding upon my thoughts; I could not quite put my finger on its exact nature other than it involved an absence of some feature in the backcountry. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

To Live and Die in the Adirondacks

Pleasant Last Resting PlaceThere are plenty of reasons people enjoy spending time in the Adirondack wilderness. The reasons include the mental, spiritual and physical benefits of being surrounded by and immersed in the diversity of life. Few think about the flip side of life, as the backcountry is full of dangers, many of which can easily lead to, gulp, death.

For the grim reaper often wears hiking boots.

This struck me after reading about an incident where a hiker passed away in the High Peaks Wilderness recently. A 63-year old man, apparently in good health, collapsed and died a mile below the summit of Mt. Marcy just over a week ago. Unfortunately, this is not the first time such an incident occurred, as deaths often occur in the Adirondack backcountry. Whether these deaths come from over exertion or just some accident, thankfully, they do not happen too often.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

People Not Welcome: A New Land Classification?

Forest near Middle South PondSome recent events started me thinking about land classifications in the Adirondacks, and their possible inadequacy to preserve biological diversity in the future. With the twin threats of climate change and invasive exotic species, new strategies may be necessary. One such strategy is a new land classification, one where human beings will no longer be welcome.

I started thinking about the necessity of a new land classification when I read recent articles by Bill Ingersoll and Pete Nelson proposing their own new classification categories. Where their proposals were for a new category wedged between the current Wilderness and Wild Forest classes, mine would be the most restrictive land class in the Adirondacks, essentially preserving the land exclusively for the use of the other living organisms. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dan Crane: Classify New State Lands Wilderness

Essex ChainLast Friday was the deadline for submitting comments on the classification of the former Finch, Pruyn properties that New York State recently purchased from the Nature Conservancy. Fortunately, I got my email off to the Adirondack Park Agency with a couple hours to spare. For me, deciding between the seven proposed alternative classification plans was a no-brainer.

Can you guess my recommendation? Come on, I know you can!

True to form, I recommended implementation of Alternative Plan 1B, the plan calling for the largest Wilderness area among all seven proposed alternatives. I realize this puts me in the minority, as even the majority of environmental groups within the Adirondacks do not support this position.
» Continue Reading.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Drinking The Water: Is Giardia A Real Threat?

Sitz PondGiardia has long been considered the scourge of the backcountry, where every water body was assumed to contain a healthy population of these critters or some other related pathogen. Ingestion of this parasite often results in giardiasis, popularly known as beaver fever, a common form of gastroenteritis, characterized by a combination of diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramping.

Although most backcountry explorers deal with the threat of giardiasis and other illness-inducing pathogens by some combination of boiling, chemical treatment or filtering, some chose to disregard all warnings and drink directly from natural water sources.

Are they insane? » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Oswegatchie River’s Carpet Spruce Swamp

P6189641 Middle Branch Oswegatchie River confluenceTrying something new is often rewarding, although potentially anxiety producing as well. Unfortunately, finding a new area to explore within the northwestern Adirondacks is swiftly becoming more difficult, forcing me further and further off the beaten track. Even months-long injuries have failed to slow this trend.

Although difficult, there remain a few places yet for me to explore. Recently, I narrowed the number of places when I explored a remote portion of the Five Ponds Wilderness where I only had limited experience. This overlooked backcountry gem is bordered by the South Ponds to the west, Riley Ponds to the north, the odd-shaped Crooked Lake to the east and the Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie River to the south.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dan Crane: Returning To The Adirondack Backcountry

Cropsey PondReuniting with an old friend is usually a fulfilling experience. Today, social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and the like, make it easier than ever to keep in contact with people regardless of their location. Unfortunately, I fell out of touch with a close friend of a different nature entirely, and it does not use a phone, have access to the Internet or have the ability to come see me for a quick drop-in.

As regular readers of my contributions to the Adirondack Almamack know, I endured a year-long separation from the Adirondack backcountry due to a mysterious knee injury. During that time I did my share of woolgathering, staring into space wondering how bad the biting insects were, whether the morning bird chorus remained as intense, or how many new dams the beavers erected. Thankfully, I recently discovered the answer to those and so many other questions when I reunited with the Pepperbox Wilderness for the first time in two years.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gear Review: PurifiCup Water Filters

PurifiCupWater is everywhere in the Adirondack backcountry; swinging a dead blackfly is impossible without getting wet. Unfortunately, it is not clear how much of this water is safe to drink. For that reason, most backcountry enthusiasts treat their water, thus avoiding the possibility of bringing home a unfriendly aquatic pathogen surprise that could unwrap itself as a putrid rear-end explosion days after returning home.

There are many different ways of treating questionable water sources, the most common being boiling, adding a chemical or filtering it through a permeable membrane. These days most backcountry explorers go the filter route, as it is often the cheapest, most practical and convenient way to ensure safe drinking water.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dan Crane On Becoming An Adirondack Guide

P5159195 Guides License BadgeThe name is Fool. Bushwhacking Fool. Licensed to guide.

Guiding is a time-honored occupation in the Adirondack region and beyond. Guides, with their vast backcountry skills and knowledge, can safely navigate others through remote areas, saving the time and expensive of learning through trial and error. Years ago, guides were highly prized by the urban elite wishing to experience the wilderness on its own term, albeit with many of the luxuries of the day. The advent of guidebooks, like the Adirondack Mountain Club’s series, greatly diminished the importance of personal guides as they allowed many to go it alone in the most remote areas.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Absence From The Backcountry

Sunshine PondAbsence makes the heart grow fonder.

Although this statement’s author remains shrouded in mystery, its profoundness cannot be understated. Despite its original intent, probably pertaining to lovers, it can equally apply to once familiar places or things now long absent. For me, as spring emerges from an obstinate winter, it applies to the Adirondack backcountry, whose absence has left a void in my life for the past year.

An unfortunate and mysterious injury to my left knee, nearly a year ago, forced upon me a compulsory convalescence lasting more than five months. During much of this time, simply walking was mildly painful, let alone anything as arduous as bushwhacking. Sadly, this period of recovery coincided with prime backpacking season, lasting into the late summer of last year. A recuperatory period followed for many months, leaving me finally feeling capable of braving once again the beauty and rigor of the remote and trail-less backcountry. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

High Peaks Nostalgia: Stories I’ll Never Forget

Frozen Colden and MarcyRecently an article about the end of another Adirondack custom caught my eye.  Apparently, the Adirondack Forty-Sixers are ending their traditional journal requirement for aspiring members. Typically, these colorful entries chronicled each member’s personal journeys while climbing the High Peaks.

The Forty-Sixers is a hiking organization, requiring the climbing of the forty-six Adirondack High Peaks for membership. The High Peaks were first designated by George and Robert Marshall, and defined as any summit of 4,000 feet or more above sea level elevation, with at least 300 feet of vertical rise on all four sides and at least 0.75 miles from the nearest peak. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Anxiety Of An Empty Backpack

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring is the season of rebirth, but as any mother can tell you, birthing comes at a painful and messy cost. Although slightly warmer temperatures, longer days and the return of some feathered friends occur early on, the potential of the season unfolds slowly. Yet, the spring remains the harbinger of summer and for most a more active backcountry exploring season.

Spring is a chaotic month with many extreme conditions, as waning winter and waxing summer fight for dominance, a battle that summer has historically never lost (except on the backend, where it has never won). The uncertain weather conditions make it a challenging season to pack for any backcountry adventure, as one day requires shorts and the next a parka and hat. Too bad no outdoor manufacturer has created a line of clothing with modular amounts of insulation for such occasions.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

GPS in the Adirondack Backcountry

Moshier Reservoir at dawnWhere am I?

An age-old question asked by more than a few explorers, navigators and backcountry adventurers. In the past, a map and/or charts combined with a sextant, compass or other such instrument could calculate one’s location. In the digital age, a new instrument has emerged, the handheld GPS receiver, and backcountry navigation will never be the same.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dan Crane’s Backcountry Digital Device Guidelines

Wolf Pond lean-to siteThe encroachment of cellphones, the Internet and Wi-Fi into the backcountry was the impetus of my last Adirondack Almanack article. Before long, this encroachment shall transform into the inevitability of an all-out invasion, barring any lethal worldwide epidemic, nuclear winter, asteroid collision or zombie apocalypse. Since it would be imprudent to rely on such unlikely occurrences happening in the near future, guidelines governing the use of these digital gadgets appear sorely needed.

Rules and regulations abound for electronic gadgets in the frontcountry, so why not in the backcountry? Driving while texting or talking on a cellphone is illegal on our roads, despite the flagrant disregard for this law surpassed only by that of the stated speed limits, so why not institute similar policies for the Adirondack trails?
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dan Crane: Adirondack Information Supertrailway

Toad PondOccasionally escaping technology is essential for maintaining one’s peace of mind, especially as high tech gadgets increasingly invade every facet of modern life. From incessantly checking email, the ever-present Internet surfing temptation and the constant threat of an irritating cellphone ringtone disturbing every moment, it is important to find a refuge before becoming mental roadkill on the information superhighway.

The Adirondack backcountry used to be such a refuge, but it may not remain so for much longer.

Recently, the Washington Post, among others, reported about a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) plan to create a super Wi-Fi network, so powerful it could “penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees.” And presumably, into the interior of the Adirondack backcountry. Worse yet, it would be free for public use.
» Continue Reading.


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