Friday, June 13, 2014

East Dix Renamed In Honor Of Grace Hudowalski

Grace HudowalskiFor years, Adirondack Forty-Sixers have been referring to East Dix as Grace Peak, but now the name change is official.

On Thursday, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted to rename the 4,012-foot peak after Grace Hudowalski, the first woman to climb all forty-six of the High Peaks and the longtime historian of the Forty-Sixers organization.

Doug Arnold, chairman of the group’s Grace Peak Committee, worked twelve years to get support from local and state officials for the name change.

“Mountain naming is not a frivolous thing,” he said. “Ultimately, she was proven worthy, and I think that is a testament to the Forty-Sixers.” » Continue Reading.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Neil Luckhurst: Climbing Basin’s East Face

IMG_6802My friend (who goes by the nick-name NangaParbat) and I descended the well-known cliffs of Saddleback and shortly thereafter cut left into the woods. Within 10 minutes we found ourselves out in the open with huge views on the Saddleback South slide. This must be a very old landslide because the once-exposed rock is now mostly covered in moss. Small trees are beginning to grow in. Lower down on the slide the water flow increases and the rock slab is exposed but we found it to be very slippery and stuck well to the edges.

Over to our right was Basin’s East Face, our ultimate destination. In between the slide and Basin lies a most impressive feature that I know as “Big Pink”, which is a huge, bare slab of pinkish smooth rock.   We walked along the 60 degree base of Big Pink and then we picked up the drainage that runs down from the East Face of Basin. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dewey Mountain Recreation Center New Lodge Update

10380761_10152182607074352_691117286085729620_nDewey Mountain Friends, the all-volunteer group dedicated supporting and enhancing Dewey Mountain Recreation Center, announced that more than 550 households and businesses have contributed $350,000 to the successful capital campaign to construct a new base lodge.

Dewey Mountain Friends is currently working with the town of Harrietstown – which owns the year-round, multi-use recreational center – to prepare the base lodge area for construction. Demolition of two defunct existing structures is expected to take place in June, and the new lodge will be in place by next fall. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Adirondacks Are More Than Just The High Peaks

View from Cat MountainThe Adirondack State Park is a huge place, encompassing approximately 6.1 million acres. It stretches from Lake Champlain at its eastern end, almost all the way to the Black River valley in the west, and from nearly the Canadian border in the north to the doorstep of the Mohawk River valley in the south. It is the largest state park in the contiguous United States, and, in fact, larger than several states. It is even larger than the combined area of Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Great Smoke Mountains National Parks.

Its size is not the only unique aspect about the Park. Within its borders lies almost unimaginable beauty. Nature’s bountiful gifts take many different forms, including a near infinite number of lakes and ponds, more swamps than one can shake a stick at, acres upon acres of dense primeval forests, and of course, more than a few majestic mountains.

Yet there are those that would reduce the Park to a mere fraction of its size. These are not those people who routinely decry the restrictions and regulations, who seem to want to cut, build and pave their way across this beautiful park; these individuals love the natural beauty of the Park, although apparently, only a small portion of it. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DEC Deploys Backcountry Stewards, Assistant Rangers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFollowing a week of training, a group of 40 backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers are now deployed on state lands and wildlife management areas across New York to protect the state’s natural resources and help visitors enjoy a safe and rewarding outdoor experience according to state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens.

The training was conducted through the Backcountry Stewardship Program, a long running partnership between DEC and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) that began more than a decade ago.  The majority of backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers were in the field starting Memorial Day weekend and will serve through Labor Day, with some working through Columbus Day. » 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 different thread that built up at the same time around a column about the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. This comment thread was a debate about the meaning of wilderness and a challenge to our romanticized notion of wilderness as a pristine thing apart, a challenge that was most notably posed by William Cronon in his landmark essay The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.

The relevance to dogs is this: dogs are not “native” to the Adirondacks. They have no natural ecological place in pristine wilderness; they are highly bred constructs, walking four-legged artifices. But as Cronon famously asked, is the pristine notion of wilderness not itself an artificial construct, wrought of nineteenth century romantic idealism? Do we gain anything by considering wilderness apart from all things we deem not of the pure faith, dogs included? » Continue Reading.



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Annual Feeder Canal Alliance Paddle Saturday

Glens Falls Feeder CanalThe Annual Feeder Canal Alliance 5 mile Canoe/Kayak Race and Recreational Paddle will be held on Saturday June 7th with registration beginning at 8:30 am the day of the race and the race going off promptly at 10 am.

The event will begin at the Feeder Dam, located at the end of Richardson Street in Queensbury, only 1.2 miles from exit 18 on the I87 and finish at the Martindale Boat Basin located on Martindale Avenue in the village of Hudson Falls. The race passes through Queensbury, Glens Falls and Hudson Falls, providing paddlers with unique views of local parks, neighborhoods and the Feeder Canal itself. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Celebrate The Northville-Placid Trail On National Trails Day

On the first Saturday of June the American Hiking Society celebrates National Trails Day. Now commemorating its 22nd year, National Trails Day continues to bring attention to the extensive network of outdoor trails across the Unites States as well as the wide array of activities those trails provide.

This year the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has designated the historic Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) trail as its main volunteer project this Saturday, June 7. Paired with the Northville Merchants Association and Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber, ADK will have over 100 volunteers installing rock steps, retaining walls and rerouting the Northville section to a new archway at Northville’s Waterfront Park.

According to Northville Merchant Association’s President Michael Intrabartola this year’s National Trails Day will kick off a two-day festival celebrating 90 years on the NPT. The 133-mile trail that stretches between the towns of Northville and Lake Placid was started in 1922 and the first project taken on by the then fledgling Adirondack Mountain Club. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DEC Launches New Outdoor Recreation Mobile App

DEC Mobile AppThe NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has launched a new outdoor recreation tool – The New York Fish & Wildlife  App.

The app is a useful interactive tool that provides information about outdoor sporting and recreation in the palm of your hands. It features species profiles, rules and regulations, important permits and licensing details, and interactive GPS mapping capability that even allows you to store maps for use when out of cell service range.   » Continue Reading.



Monday, June 2, 2014

Day Hikes: Goodnow Mountain In Newcomb

PanoramicI glance at my watch. 11:22 a.m. It feels like 7 a.m. on this early September morning. The first hint of fall is in the invigorating fifty-degree air. Goosebumps cover my legs below my shorts, and my breath exhales in faint misty tendrils as I start up the sun-dappled Goodnow Mountain Trail. Some days it feels good to go hiking. This is one of them.

I’ve hiked Goodnow Mountain only once before, while working on my guidebook Hiking the Adirondacks. I wonder if anything has changed in the five years since. I chose Goodnow Mountain, elevation 2,694 feet, on this fine day not to find out but to simply get out, or perhaps I should say “up,” as getting a view from the top of this mountain is my goal. The sky is haze-free and as blue as a mountain bluebird’s feathers. I don’t want an epic day in the High Peaks, just a nice walk in the woods to stretch my legs and get my heart rate up, with a 360-degree panorama to reward my effort. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Phil Brown Paddles The Hudson River Gorge In A Ducky

phil_raft-600x388From time to time I’ve played with the idea of putting together a list of quintessential Adirondack adventures. It would include, for example, climbing the Trap Dike on Mount Colden, skiing Mount Marcy on a bluebird day, and scaling the eight-hundred-foot cliff on Wallface.

Last summer, I ticked off another adventure on my bucket list: rafting the Hudson Gorge.

My friend Mike got me into this one. He arranged a trip with North Creek Rafting Company with the intention of writing an article for the Associated Press. I readily agreed to shoot some photos and video.

Our Hudson Gorge outing differed from most in one important respect: instead of riding in rafts, we piloted inflatable kayaks, known as duckies. These vessels are open, like canoes, but as in a kayak, you maneuver with a double-bladed paddle and sit with your legs stretched out.

“It’ll be like going down the river in a lawn chair,” remarked Nate Pelton, the thirty-eight-year-old owner of North Creek Rafting.

Sure … if the lawn happens to be experiencing a 6.0 earthquake. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Connecting A Rail Trail With The Northville-Placid Trail

Rail Trail With Northville Placid Trail Connection MapA reader of my recent blog post “A Proposal For Rail AND Trail” asked the question, “Is it feasible to connect the Northville-Lake Placid Trail to a trail alongside the railroad tracks?”

I took a look at the map and sure enough it would be quite easy to extend the Northville-Lake Placid Trail 1.25 miles across the Averyville Road through the Saranac Lake Wild Forest and have it join the rail corridor. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New State Lands: Paddling the Upper Hudson River

Marty Plante on Ord Falls, Hudson RiverMount Marcy to the left;  NY City to the right.

As I entered the upper Hudson from the outlet of Lake Harris, the sign was more utilitarian than it appeared at first glance.  The coffee colored water was completely still, with no discernible current, and boaters exiting the lake could easily become confused about which way to go.

I had wanted to paddle this section of the Hudson ever since I read in the Adirondack Explorer last year that the adjacent land had been acquired by the State.  Starting at Lake Harris in Newcomb, two trips are now possible.  The shorter one ends near the Hudson’s confluence with the Goodnow River, the other near the confluence with the Indian.  My attempt to round up a group of paddling buddies last autumn was thwarted by low water levels.  This year’s snowmelt and April showers raised the level, but the access roads to the two take-outs had been closed by the DEC due to muddy conditions.  A fortuitous combination of events finally gave me the opportunity I sought:  the access road for the shorter trip was opened, the water level was just right, there was a one-day break in the rain, and my darling wife consented to spending four hours in the car shuttling my boat and me on her day off from work. » Continue Reading.



Monday, May 19, 2014

DEC Plans To Adopt Ski Trails Near Tupper

Bog River skierA few years ago I spent several hours skiing some informal trails in the Forest Preserve along the Bog River in Tupper Lake. I liked the trails so much that I wrote an article describing the experience.

I got some heat for the article, because after it was published the state Department of Environmental Conservation removed the trails’ home-made markers and signs. I also wrote an article for the Adirondack Almanack that can be read here.

But there may be a happy ending to the story: DEC is proposing to adopt and maintain the trails.

» 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 snow? Black files, hovering and swarming. Of course. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Adirondack Paddlefest and Kayak Demos

With springtime finally here in the Adirondacks, it is time to think about water sports. My family is in the market for a few kayaks, but our pocketbook doesn’t always match our expectations. I do what research I can, test friends’ kayaks and ask question upon question.

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to go to Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters Kayak and Canoe Free Demo Days at the Lake Flower boat launch in Saranac Lake. Though most of the kayaks were out of our budget, it was with welcome relief when a representative started by asking very specific questions regarding my family’s supposed usage and what my expectations are. This mini survey helped narrow down my options and helped me focus on my quest. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Climbing: A Rock-fall At Shipton’s Arete

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other day my neighbor Tim Peartree and I went to Shipton’s Arete overlooking Chapel Pond for some early-season climbing. When we got there we found mud, stones, and a few broken trees at the base. It was the debris from a huge rock-fall that wiped out much of the wooded area above the cliff.

We moved a tree and several branches from the base before beginning to climb. I climbed a 120-foot route called Shipton’s Voyage with the intention of setting up a top rope. Upon reaching the top, I discovered that the rock-fall had damaged the cedar tree used as a belay and rappel anchor. The tree had three trunks, and one of them had been sheared off, leaving a jagged stump. » Continue Reading.



Monday, May 12, 2014

New State Lands: Sugarloaf Cliffs Open For Climbing

Sugarloaf Cliffs Carl HeilmanI recently got my first close look at the cliffs on Sugarloaf Mountain near Indian Lake, which are now open to rock climbers as a result of the state’s latest acquisition of former Finch, Pruyn lands.

The second edition of Adirondack Rock—due out later this year—lists eighteen routes that were put in over the years (presumably without the landowner’s knowledge), but there is potential for many more. The climbing portion of the cliff is 450 feet high and more than a quarter-mile wide.

Last Thursday, I visited Sugarloaf with Will Roth, an EMS climbing guide and instructor in North Country Community College’s outdoor-recreation program. Will had his eye on Heroes, a 400-foot route on the right end of the cliff. The guidebook gives it three stars out of five for the overall quality of the climbing.

Heroes is rated 5.8 on the Yosemite Decimal System scale of difficulty. Thus, it’s considered a moderate route—easy for Will, difficult for me.

» Continue Reading.



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Wilmington Bike Fest Set for June 20-22

Wilmington-Whiteface Bike FestWith a mix of uphill, downhill, serious competition and family fun, the 5th Annual Wilmington Whiteface Bike Fest is set for June 20-22. The weekend will feature the Wilmington/Whiteface 50 and 100K  mountain bike races, the 13th annual Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race, a beginner mountain bike program, the popular jump jam with the Krusher Stunt Team, a “poor man’s” downhill, beach party, food, games, lives music, a “best calves” contest, and more.

The bike fest is designed to promote and showcase the variety of cycling opportunities in and around Wilmington which includes the Whiteface Bike Park, the Beaver Brook Mountain Bike Trail System (on Hardy Road), the Flume Trail System, and others. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 8, 2014

DEC Issues High Peaks Muddy Trails Advisory

DEC LogoIt is the start of a new season of outdoor hiking and recreation on public lands in the Adirondacks and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) urges hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 3,000 feet until early June, the agency announced today.

DEC is asking hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant and High Peaks Wilderness Areas in the northern Adirondacks, due to muddy conditions and the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and soft ground. » Continue Reading.



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