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.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Verplanck Colvin Built First Tower On Stillwater Mt.

The famed surveyor Verplanck Colvin built the first tower on Stillwater Mountain way back in 1882. The hole that once held his copper marker is still visible on the summit bedrock.

Colvin’s tower is long gone, but a steel tower built in 1919 still stands, and last week the state nominated the structure — along with the fire observer’s cabin and some other buildings — for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to read the state’s application. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Former Newcomb Supervisor George Canon, 77

George Canon, the longtime supervisor of Newcomb, died at Glens Falls Hospital on Sunday morning. He was 77.

Canon served 13 terms as town supervisor, from 1990 to 2015. He was known as a fighter for his town and often clashed with environmental activists whom he regarded as anti-development.

As supervisor, he fought for the preservation and restoration of Camp Santanoni, which some people wanted to be torn down or abandoned. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Don’t Be Fooled: Big Brook Is Not Flatwater

I took this photo of Big Brook early Friday evening while driving between Tupper Lake and Long Lake on Route 30. If you’ve driven that highway, you’ve probably admired this scene. And if you’re a canoeist, you’ve probably wondered if the brook can be paddled. It certainly looks inviting.

Several years ago, I succumbed to curiosity. At the time, I was researching my guidebook Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures. I thought Big Brook might make the cut. It turned out to be a dumb idea.

Continue reading at Adirondack Explorer.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Fritz Wiessner’s Historic Climbs Are Still Challenging

The legendary Fritz Wiessner established more than a dozen rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks, according to the authors of Adirondack Rock. I’ve written about a few of the better ones, including Empress on Chapel Pond Slab, Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl Cliff, and Old Route on Rooster Comb Mountain.

One reason I’m drawn to Wiessner routes is their historical interest. Arguably, Wiessner was the strongest rock climber in the United States during the 1930s. Indeed, the authors of Yankee Rock and Ice suggest that the German immigrant “was so far ahead of what others were willing to try that he did not significantly improve the general standard.” In other words, few of his contemporaries could repeat his harder routes. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

DEC Opens Part Of Road To Boreas Ponds

Boreas Ponds in the Adirondack MountainsThe state has reopened Gulf Brook Road on the Boreas Ponds Tract as far as the interim parking area created last year.

As a result, the public can drive 3.2 miles up the dirt road. From there, hikers must walk another 3.6 miles on roads to the southern end of Boreas Ponds. Mountain bikers will once again be able to ride as far as the ponds, but no farther. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

State To Buy Trembleau Mountain, Champlain Shoreline

The Open Space Institute has purchased a 618-acre parcel along Lake Champlain, including 4,000 feet of shoreline, and plans to sell it to the state to be added to the forever-wild Forest Preserve.

The property lies across from Schuyler Island, an undeveloped island already in the Forest Preserve, according to the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.

OSI bought the land, which includes Trembleau Mountain, from the Gellert family for $500,000. It offers views of the High Peaks, Lake Champlain, and the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Department of Environmental Conservation plans to create trails after the state acquires the property.

Click here to read the full story.

 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

State Buys Huckleberry Mt Land, Completes Marion Carry Deal

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the state has purchased 848 acres on Huckleberry Mountain in the town of Warrensburg from the Open Space Institute for $410,000, just a day after completing a deal to add the Marion Carry to the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

A news release says the views from Huckleberry include the Hudson River and nearby peaks. The property had been a large in-holding within the Lake George Wild Forest, complicating management and public access. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Fight Brewing Over High Peaks Lodging Facilities

Aerial Boreas Ponds, Adirondacks, summerEnvironmental groups are alarmed by a conceptual proposal floated by the Cuomo administration to establish lodging facilities near Boreas Ponds — in an area they believe should be classified as “untrammeled” Wilderness.

The groups say they would fight any such proposal vigorously, contending that it would violate both the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and Article 14, the section of the state constitution mandating that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest land.”

State officials have not released details of the proposal, but they have discussed it with the Park’s green groups. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

State: Adirondack Rail Trail Possible Despite Deed Questions

Opponents of the state’s plan to remove 34 miles of tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake have questioned whether the state owns the rail corridor.

As it turns out, the state doesn’t own two parcels in the corridor: a half-mile stretch in Saranac Lake and a smaller parcel at the end of the line in Lake Placid. The state says it owns the rest of the corridor.

The Saranac Lake parcel is adjacent to North Country Community College and owned by Franklin and Essex counties. The Lake Placid parcel is owned by the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society, which operates a museum in the depot there. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rail-Trail Advocates Join Adirondack Railroad Lawsuit

Adirondack Scenic RailroadAdirondack Recreational Trail Advocates filed a friend-of-the-court brief this week in the lawsuit over the state’s plan to remove 34 miles of railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake and create a trail for bicycling, hiking, snowmobiling, and other pursuits.

ARTA joined the suit on the side of three state agencies being sued: the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Transportation, and the Adirondack Park Agency.

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, based in Utica, contends the plan to divide the state-owned Adirondack Rail Corridor into an 85-mile rail segment and a 34-mile trail segment is illegal. DEC and DOT developed the plan, and the APA approved it. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

State Considers Buying Adirondack Rail-Trail Parcels

The state is considering buying the only two parcels it doesn’t own in the 34-mile rail corridor between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, which would remove a legal impediment to replacing the train tracks with a recreational trail. Another option is to obtain an easement that would allow the public to use the parcels.

Evidently, though, some kind of agreement with the landowners needs to be reached for the state to go ahead with its controversial plan to remove the tracks.

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which for years has operated a seasonal tourist train out of Lake Placid, has gone to court to block the removal of the rails.

After a hearing in late January, acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Main Jr. asked the state to provide more information on the ownership of the corridor. Assistant Attorneys General Marie Chery-Sekhobo and Nicholas Buttino complied with the request in a memorandum of law sent to the judge last week. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Adirondack Ice Climbing: Laying Siege to the Tower

phil brown crystal ice towerIf you’ve done any rock climbing at Chapel Pond Gully Cliff, you’ve probably passed a steep granite wall on your way to the routes. It’s wet, dark, and manky, nothing you’d want to get on in summer.

In winter, however, the wall is transformed into the beautiful Crystal Ice Tower, one of the oldest and most popular ice-climbing routes in the region.

The tower is just one pitch, about eighty feet long, but it’s possible to keep climbing for three more pitches all the way to the top of Chapel Pond Gully Cliff. The route above Crystal Ice Tower — a mixture of snow and ice — is known as White Line Fever. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Historian Testifies In Forest Preserve Snowmobile Trail Lawsuit

Protect the Adirondacks offered its first witness Wednesday in a civil trial that could clarify the meaning of Article 14, the section of the state constitution that declares that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.”

Historian Philip Terrie spent several hours on the stand, establishing his credentials and testifying about the meaning of timber circa 1894, the year Article 14 (then Article 7) was approved.

Article 14 mandates that timber on the Preserve shall not be “sold, removed or destroyed.”

Protect the Adirondacks contends that the state’s construction of “community connector” snowmobile trails violates this provision and will destroy tens of thousands of trees. The nonprofit group is suing the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Boreas Ponds: A Rare Addition To Forest Preserve

Boreas Ponds photo by Carl Heilman IISome might wonder: What’s the big deal about Boreas Ponds? Yes, it boasts a fantastic view of the High Peaks, but you can paddle the waterway in less than an hour. And then what?

Unlike Lake Lila, Boreas Ponds has no sandy beaches where you can loll in the sun or go for a swim. Nor is there a nearby peak to climb for a lookout (though you could bushwhack to the top of Boreas Mountain).

Nevertheless, Boreas Ponds is a big deal. It’s one of our last chances to add a sizable water body to the Forest Preserve and declare it motor-free.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Climbing: The Lure of Thin Ice at Poke-O-Moonshine

Jeff Lowe is one of the greatest American mountaineers of his generation. A native of Utah, he has climbed all over the world and put up hundreds of first ascents — on rock, ice, and alpine peaks. So when asked for his favorite climb in North America, he had many to choose from. Such as Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, Bridal Veil Falls in Colorado, or the Keeler Needle in the High Sierra.

He chose Gorillas in the Mist, an ice climb on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain right here in the Adirondack Park.

Since Lowe did Gorillas in the Mist in 1996 with Ed Palen, the owner of Adirondack Rock and River in Keene, the route has attained near-mythic status. It has been repeated only once, just a few days after the first ascent. That was twenty-one years ago.  “Everyone wants to do it. Anyone with the skill set, of course they want to do it. It’s famous,” said Matt Horner, a Keene resident who is one of the Adirondacks’ strongest ice climbers. » Continue Reading.


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