Almanack Contributor Phil Brown

Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Iowa Pacific: No Plans Now To Store Oil Cars

rail car 2Iowa Pacific is nearing an agreement to move waste rock from an old mine in Tahawus and has no immediate plans to store empty oil railcars on its tracks, according to Ed Ellis, the railroad’s president.

Ellis touched off a controversy in late July when he told a committee of Warren County supervisors that Iowa Pacific was exploring the possibility of storing hundreds of oil tankers on its tracks, which run twenty-nine miles from North Creek to Tahawus.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Judge Rules Against Paul Smith’s Name Change

Paul Smith's CollegeA state judge has ruled against Paul Smith’s College’s request to change its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College, a controversy that has roiled the college and its alumni for months.

State Supreme Court Justice John Ellis issued the ruling Tuesday.

Cathy Dove, president of the college, had pushed for the name change in order secure a $20 million gift from Weill, a wealthy philanthropist who once served as chairwoman of the college’s board of trustees.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

High Peaks: From Algonquin Over Boundary Peak To Iroquois

Algonquin-peakI learned that Emily wanted to do a big hike, something spectacular. It didn’t take me long to hit on the idea of climbing Algonquin Peak and Iroquois Peak and returning by way of Avalanche Lake.

We would go over the summit of the second-highest mountain in the state, follow a mile-long open ridge with breathtaking views, descend a steep but beautiful trail, and scramble along the shore of a lake whose sublimity never fails to astound.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Cuomo Nominates Basil Seggos To Head DEC

seggosGovernor Andrew Cuomo has nominated one his top advisers, Basil Seggos, to serve as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Seggos joined Cuomo’s administration in 2012. He has served as the governor’s deputy secretary for the environment since 2013.

If approved by the legislature, Seggos will replace Joe Martens, who resigned the post this summer. Marc Gerstman, who has been filling in as acting commissioner, will continue as executive deputy commissioner.

John Sheehan, a spokesman for the Adirondack Council, said his organization is pleased with Cuomo’s choice. “He cares about the environment, and he cares about communities,” he said.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Railroad Warns Bauer To Keep Out Of Corridor

rail car 2A rail company that wants to store used oil-tanker cars on tracks in the Adirondack Park is threatening to press charges against the executive director of Protect the Adirondacks if he returns to the rail corridor — even though the corridor runs through publicly owned Forest Preserve.

Iowa Pacific Holdings, which is based in Chicago, sent a letter to Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, warning him to stay out of the corridor after Bauer and Brian Mann, a reporter for North Country Public Radio, hiked a section of the tracks and posted photos of old railcars.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rail Explorers Finds A New Use For Tracks

Rail Explorers between Saranac Lake and Lake Clear on September 24, 2015Mary-Joy Lu and Alex Catchpoole worked in advertising in New York City for 20 years and decided to get out. This year they started a rail-biking business in Saranac Lake that has been successful far beyond their expectations.

Since opening Rail Explorers on July 3, they have sold nearly 10,000 tickets for a six-mile trip between Saranac Lake and Charlies Inn at Lake Clear Junction. In addition to themselves, Lu and Catchpoole employ 15 people (though the staff will be pared when they close for the season next month).

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rock Climbing: Old Route Up Rooster Comb

Rooster-combEach year hundreds of people hike to the summit of Rooster Comb for its great views. Far fewer reach the summit by scaling its cliffs, but the mountain has a long and storied rock-climbing history. Whether you hike or climb to the top, the 2,788-foot peak offers a wonderful vista of the lower Great Range, the Brothers, and Johns Brook valley.

Rooster Comb is one the trips chosen for the Adirondack Explorer’s new guidebook, 12 Short Hikes Near Keene Valley. Since I planned to hike Rooster Comb for the book, I figured I’d squeeze in a rock climb as well. My neighbor, Tim Peartree, agreed to come along.

Monday, September 14, 2015

900 Rail-Trail Comments, Few Endorse Compromise

Adirondack Scenic RailroadIt comes as no surprise that the state has received hundreds of comments on its two-part proposal to (i) replace 34 miles of railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake with a recreational trail and (ii) rehabilitate 45 miles of tracks south of Tupper Lake to Big Moose.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

High Peaks Oil Trains: A Primer On The Issues

Iowa Pacific oil trainsThe Iowa-Pacific rail company took state officials and environmental activists by surprise in July when it unveiled a plan to store hundreds of drained oil-tanker cars on its tracks near Tahawus on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness.

Ed Ellis, the president of Iowa Pacific, says revenue from storing the cars will help keep afloat its tourist train, the Saratoga & North Creek Railway, which has been losing money. Critics contend Iowa Pacific is creating a quasi-junkyard in the Adirondack Park.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Wallface Rescue Underscores Peril Of Remote Climbs

Wallface MountainA complicated and difficult rescue last month on Wallface—the biggest cliff in the Adirondacks—reinforces the lesson that climbing in the backcountry is indeed a serious endeavor.

On August 17, a climber fell 60 to 80 feet on the second pitch of Diagonal, the most popular route on the 700-foot-tall cliff. A state police helicopter, 12 forest rangers, and two volunteer climbers responded to emergency—and they were assisted by two other climbers who happened to be on the same route.

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