Almanack Contributor Pete Nelson

Pete Nelson

Pete Nelson has been a lover of the Adirondacks since his family discovered Blue Mountain Lake in 1954 and made it a family summer destination. As the years have passed, his love for unspoiled territory has changed his focus to wilder areas in the Central and Western Adirondacks and the High Peaks.

Pete recently purchased an Adirondack in-holding and writes about his adventures exploring it.

When not in the Adirondacks Pete is a college math teacher, musician and professional stilt walker in Madison, Wisconsin.




Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pete Nelson: Who is NYCO?

WollastoniteA month ago I wrote a column advocating that we create and maintain a regional memory of the NYCO amendment process and all that comes from it. My argument is that by doing so we will be better able to prevail in future battles against amendments that propose to take from the Forest Preserve for private gain. At the end of that column I said my starting point would be to ask who NYCO really is, in contrast to the picture of NYCO given by its own claims, by pro-amendment advocates and by popular assumption.

At the moment we need no assistance recalling the amendment controversy since NYCO is once again all over the regional news. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Great American Wilderness: Two Tragic Anniversaries

Snowy Mountain from the Jessup River Wild ForestI have noticed some opinions floating through the media lately calling into question the extent to which the Adirondacks really qualify as a wilderness.

As I write this, on July 10th, a sad and sobering anniversary has arrived. Then in September we will mark the seventieth anniversary of another tragedy, one of many plane crashes that have occurred in the park, this one remarkable for the longevity of its mystery. Both anniversaries remind me just how formidable a wilderness the Adirondack region really is.



Monday, June 30, 2014

Commentary: A Utility Land Bank Amendment

Burtons Peak and Utility LinesWe just went through an election season that featured not one, but two Adirondack-related amendments to the New York State Constitution. One was complicated and one controversial. Both were the subject of intense local debate and media coverage. The controversial one is still in the news.

The Adirondack region could be forgiven for having a little amendment fatigue. Yet I think we ought to do it again and as soon as possible. So do a number of people who have been working hard to do just that: to give us another proposed amendment to ponder. What could they possibly be thinking? Allow me to explain.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Trail Etiquette, Revisited: Lessons from Chile

Lost-Brook-Tract-Ridge-Trail-300x225Last week’s column on trail etiquette provoked quite a range of reactions. Setting aside the number of you who decided from the column’s sarcasm that you knew me well enough not to ever want to meet me on the trail (a remarkable feat of judgmental sleuthing, that there is), there were quite a variety of strong opinions registered. I must say this intensity caught me by surprise. Coupled with the heated exchanges about dogs on the trail from previous columns, I sensed a pattern.

What struck me is that for some reason trail etiquette clearly intersects with questions of humanity, culture » Continue Reading.



Monday, June 16, 2014

NYCO Amendment Commentary:
We Need A Regional Memory

NYCO-Minerals-Wollastonite-Mine-Nancie-B-PhotoThis week has seen the most recent amendment to Article XIV of the NY State Constitution, known colloquially as the NYCO Amendment, return to front page news.

Just last Friday the Adirondack Park Agency approved an amendment to the Jay Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP) to allow NYCO Minerals to conduct exploratory drilling on the 200 acre parcel known as Lot 8. This drilling will allow NYCO to determine whether they want to swap Lot 8 for other land to be given to the State, as authorized by the amendment.



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Commentary: Adirondack Trail Etiquette

wall of moss on way up to the topLast week I wrote a column about dogs in the back country and the need to keep them leashed while on the trail. This led to the issue of trail etiquette in general, a topic I have decided to address.

I’m trying to think of an Adirondack subject that annoys me more than behavior on trails and it isn’t coming to me. My experience of various hikers on trails is one of the primary motivators in my ongoing quest to actively dislike the majority of humanity. Trail etiquette is more important than most people think and it less followed » Continue Reading.



Saturday, June 7, 2014

Commentary: Dogs in the Adirondack Back Country

Henderson is sure he heard something he needs to chase.A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column asking which back country behavior readers most hated (my choice is trail eroders). I got a lot of comments, but most of them were participants in a major brouhaha over dogs in the back country: whether they should be on leash or off leash and when, or even if they should be allowed at all. This got me motivated to write a column, your average dog being one of my favorite and most admired features of all the universe.

My canine ruminations got caught up in a » Continue Reading.



Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Visit To Liquids and Solids in Lake Placid

Liquids and Solids ExteriorStick with this review, kids: Liquids and Solids is something else.

A couple of weeks ago I took a whirlwind weekend trip with my in-laws from Wisconsin to the Adirondacks to look at a house we’re considering. We rose at 3:30 AM on a Friday and drove straight to Lake Placid, arriving late.  We were tired in that road-weary way that invites impatience along with fatigue.

We desired a good late dinner without any more driving, so I suggested the always-reliable Lisa G’s right down the block.  Unfortunately it was closed for cleaning. But I remembered that on a recent visit to Lisa G’s the waitperson had recommended Liquids and Solids across the » Continue Reading.



Saturday, May 17, 2014

What Back Country Behavior Do We Hate The Most?

IMG_0013I’ll never forget the last few yards of my five-day fiftieth birthday mega-hike in late May of 2011. I had just come through the worst conditions I have ever experienced: six to seven feet of snow above Slant Rock on the way out and a nearly impossible slog up to the Four Corners on the loop back, with torrents of water rushing beneath unconsolidated snow, post-holing up to my armpits, my boots getting sucked and dragged down slope; and in between, three days of rain, drizzle, fog, frost and slush… in short, a brutal trek over a massive Adirondack dome of deteriorating snow pack the likes of which I’d never seen. And on top of the » Continue Reading.



Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Peak Envy

Blue MountainDuring our recent spring adventure to Lost Brook we enjoyed three uncommon views that celebrated the prominence of three dominating Adirondack Peaks, plus a fourth view that is common but remains one of my favorites.  The common view was Blue Mountain from the crest of Highway 30 between Tupper Lake and Long lake.  I love this view because it is a true vista, which gives a greater sensation of size and vertical.  Vistas are rare in the Adirondacks, at least vistas that render a higher mountain in all its glory.  Blue was already largely snow free but its characteristic bulk from that Route 30 vantage point never fails to draw a breath from me in » Continue Reading.



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lost Brook Tract in April: Adirondack Rite of Spring

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn September of 1911 the great Russian composer Igor Stravinsky began work on music for a ballet that we now know as the Rite of Spring. Stravinsky’s score, with its polytonality, its violent, dissonant upheavals, its ritualistic, pagan pulses and its raw, almost vulgar power, changed the face of music.  It also vividly recreated an ancient, primeval interpretation of spring that swept away the bucolic, peaceful, benevolent image of spring depicted by the impressionists.   In Stravinsky’s conception spring is not peaceful; rather it is a primitive and powerful eruption of nature, savage and dynamic, evoking the deepest and most prehistoric human notions of fertility and mortality.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Stravinsky composed » Continue Reading.



Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: Wrecked by the Wild

Collapsing AdirondacLate one June afternoon in the Year of Our Lord 1995 I checked into the Lake Placid Econo Lodge with my brother, spent a comfortable night and left in the morning.  I have not been back since (through no fault of Econo Lodge).  It’s just as well – if Econo Lodge has any sort of institutional memory I will never again get another room.

In the summer of 1995 I took a long –and long awaited – backpacking trip with my nephew Michael.  Michael and I are roughly the same age and we are close, so “brother” serves us as a more proper salutation.  By the mid 1990’s I was an experienced backpacker but Michael » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: Blown Away

Harris_LakeI’ve been writing about the central role our Eureka Wind River 4 tent played in our family’s life.  One reason for its prominence in our stories is its longevity.  That sucker was the most resilient tent I’ve ever owned.  I mean we beat the hell out of it for more than twenty years and it never failed us.  It survived every extreme of Adirondack weather you can imagine plus a couple of doozy storms out west.  It survived five people (sometimes six), a dog and various gear crowded in, often sardined up against the walls.  It survived inexperienced winter campers learning the hard way that you bivouac tents, not pitch them directly on snow. Even during » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: Henry

Henry at the EurekaMy first marriage was a troubled one.  There were good moments but it seems that each day held pain and conflict.  The ups and downs finally led to a violent dissolution in 1992.  But for a brief time in the mid 1980’s there was hope and even some progress.  Two acquisitions, one for Christmas of 1984 and one in the following summer, marked that progress.  The summer purchase, a Eureka Wind River 4 tent, was an emblem of that progress.  The Christmas purchase, a puppy we named Henry, was the very cause.

Anyone who ever met Henry would tell you that he was an extraordinary dog.  He was half Golden Retriever, half Irish » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: End of an Era

T-Bar Lift Whiteface, early 1950'sAmy and I are putting a lot of resources into fixing up our house these days in order to get it on the market.  As part of that we have begun to wade into the accumulated years of clutter that have accreted to us.  The walk-in cedar closet in which we store all our camping gear is packed from floor to ceiling with an ungainly array of equipment ranging from our current go-to gear to remnants of bug spray untouched for a decade and random utensils we have not taken on a trip since before the millennium (apropos of nothing, I have a powerful urge to have a contest with Dan Crane » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Betrothed on Indian Head

Amy and Pete at Indian HeadThere is a date fast approaching, a twentieth anniversary about which I have thinking a long time.  It is a date – a singular moment, really – that changed me from a lost person to one battered but once again harboring a dare somewhere inside, a dream of possibilities.  That may sound dramatic but I could not possibly overstate what I experienced.  That moment was a saving; those of you lucky enough to have had a moment of saving will understand.

The anniversary date is March 17th, 1994, Saint Patrick’s Day, and the singular moment is when my future wife Amy, having arrived at a party she had chosen to drop » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Diversity and the Adirondacks: Moving Forward

DiversityToday I wrap up my series on Diversity and the Adirondacks.  The response has exceeded my expectations, even as it has – not unexpectedly – raised some troubling voices.

I have always believed that the initial step in addressing a deep and difficult issue – especially one that is controversial – is recognition: we must first understand that something matters; that it is real; that it affects people’s lives.  Without recognition, without an embrace of the importance of an issue, we risk what will likely be at best a display of sturm und drang when we try to talk about it, signifying nothing but ego and personality.  Yet despite the sometimes perfunctory dismalness of on-line comments, » Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Adirondack Diversity: More with Carol Cain

John Brown FarmhouseTwo weeks ago I posted my initial interview with noted travel writer and blogger Carol Cain.  That column set a record for comments here at the Almanack.  My own reaction to those comments taken as a whole is that they persuasively demonstrate the need for this conversation (fortunately the off-line discussions that have been spurred by this issue are leading to some productive initiatives… more on that in the future).

Subsequent to my first interview with Carol I asked her a series of of follow-up questions.  I share her answers today.  These questions were formulated previous to the posting of the first interview, thus not » Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Best Vista in the Adirondacks

Wallface in SnowI’ve been preoccupied with Adirondack vistas of late.  Two recent copies of Adirondack Life had pictures with Burton’s Peak in them: one was a cover picture and the other placed in the 2014 Photo Contest (those of you who are savvy about my Lost Brook Dispatches and have followed the clues can see if you can identify it).

Like so many of us, I cherish beholding a corker Adirondack view perhaps more than any other experience in the park.  There is something magical about the combination of grandeur and intimacy in wild Adirondack vistas, studded with lakes, ponds and streams and infused with a dark, raw primeval power impossible to capture in words.  Quite » Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Adirondack Diversity: A Conversation with Carol Cain

CainAs we debate diversity and the future of the Adirondack Park it is high time to hear from another voice besides mine.  Today I bring you a subject matter expert: traveler and travel writer Carol Cain.

Born in Brooklyn to a Dominican-Puerto Rican family, Carol lived and studied in the Dominican Republic as a teenager before returning to New York City to pursue a career in public relations.  She speaks three languages.



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