Tuesday, April 22, 2014

David Thomas-Train:
Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine Work To Save Ranger Trail

Thomas-TrainThe Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine have been working since 1997 to restore the fire tower and trails on that mountain. The group is a coalition of Adirondack Architectural Heritage, the town of Chesterfield, Champlain Area Trails (CATS), the Mountaineer, local summer camps and businesses, several Adirondack Mountain Club chapters, and hundreds of individuals who know and love the mountain.

The fire tower was fully restored as an interpretive site in 2005. Educational displays showcase fire-tower and local history and the land uses within the viewshed of the mountain. Since 2002, the Friends have employed tower stewards for the summer hiking season.

We have redeveloped the Ranger Trail as an interpretive trail with eleven numbered stops keyed to a brochure on the human and natural history of “Poke-O.” We also worked with the Adirondack Nature Conservancy to guarantee access to a second trail, the Observers’ Trail, which was the original vehicle route to the fire observer’s cabin below the summit. » 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 most of The Rite of Spring in Switzerland; where more than mountains does spring evince such characteristics?  For that matter he might as well have written it while experiencing spring in the Adirondacks, the full ritual force of which was on display this week at Lost Brook Tract. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Adirondack Winter Search And Rescue Report

DEC Forest RangerThe most recent Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Report for DEC Region 5 includes most of the Adirondack region. Although not a comprehensive detailing of all backcountry incidents, these reports are issued periodically by the DEC and printed here at the Almanack in their entirety. They are organized by county, and date. You can read previous Forest Ranger Reports here.

These incident reports are a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry and always carry a flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

The Adirondack Almanack reports current outdoor recreation and trail conditions each Thursday evening. Listen for John Warren’s Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report on Friday mornings on WSLP (93.3) and on the stations of North Country Public Radio.
» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dan Crane: The Northville-Placid Trail Experience

Bushwhacking Fool near South PondThe Northville-Placid Trail is getting a face-lift. The initial 10-mile stretch that started at the west end of the bridge over the Sacandaga River along State Route 30 is no more, or at least soon will be. Instead, the famous trail will soon officially start in the village of Northville and mostly stick to State Forest Preserve for the first ten miles all the way to Upper Benson.

This is not the only recent change for the famous trail. Combined with other alterations over the last few years, the singular long trail of the Adirondacks is going through a transition, giving it a whole new look; one that makes it wilder and more remote.

At least as far as I am concerned.
» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Springtime Adirondack Nature Programs for Children

NewcombVICspring_newApril is a tricky time of year to be accessing Adirondack paths and trails, though not impossible.  Some places still have snow enough for skiing while other trails are already knee-deep in mud. Staying off trails during mud season is always the best option as it allows trails to rejuvenate, alleviates trail erosion and protects native plant life.

There are options available so families can choose to still get out in nature without damaging trails or harming themselves. Spring is the perfect time to try the low trails and have a different experience looking for spring wildflowers or migrating birds.  I understand “wanting to get” that elusive 46er, but please make sure that springtime trail conditions are agreeable. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

The High Peaks From Hurricane Mountain

IMG_5140

Spring is in the air in the Adirondacks. Saturday was a picture perfect day on Hurricane mountain. The summit provides unique views of the High Peaks. The Green Mountains of Vermont and Lake Champlain are also visible to the east.



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 was a novice.  Like me he had been going to the Adirondacks all his life and adored them, but he was relatively new to the High Peaks region and its glories.  We planned a six day trip in order to really take it in.

Michael remembers the details for the trip much better than I do, so I will liberally quote from the reminiscences he recently shared with me. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Rules For Boating In The Adirondacks For 2014

Stillwater REsivoir in 1973 (Anne Labastille)As more moderate weather arrives across the Adirondack boaters and anglers are beginning to take advantage of the abundance of recreational waterways the park has to offer.

This is a good time to review recently enacted laws and regulations about boating, particularly those related to boat operators and aquatic invasive species. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dewey Mountain’s New Lodge Funraising Campaign

photo-3My daughter recently turned eleven and in lieu of gifts, once again asked her friends to give money to the organization of her choice. We have always encouraged our children to choose ways to give back to our community whether it’s volunteering or raising funds. This year the non-profit of her choice was the Dewey Mountain Lodge campaign.

Oddly enough my daughter isn’t our child that skis as part of the Dewey program. We tried her in the Nordic program, but she just enjoyed skiing the trails at her own pace. (I think it is more likely that the racing and games cut into her time on the nearby playground.) I do know she really enjoys warming up at Pisgah’s Ski Lodge so it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to believe she has visions of watching her brother race next winter from the inside of the new Dewey Lodge. » Continue Reading.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Jack Drury: A Proposal For Rail AND Trail

Rail.locator (2)(1)I’ve been an advocate of more recreational trails throughout the park for a long time. I also feel that we’ll be cheated if we don’t try our damnedest to try to have a rail and trail, side by side where possible and intersecting when not.

In a March 16 letter to the Utica Observer Dispatch respected trail advocate Tony Goodwin noted that a rail with trail, “… is not physically possible” and that:  “Periodically leaving the corridor is so far just talk. A year ago, Tupper Lake rail supporters formed a committee to look at a parallel trail from Tupper Lake to the campground at Rollins Pond. I know committee members made field inspections, but so far there’s no plan showing that a parallel trail could feasibly be built.”

I decided to take a deeper look. I talked with some folks from Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake who have explored the rail corridor in greater detail than I have. I took their information and combined it with my own experience and I made a map of a possible trail from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake.  » Continue Reading.



Saturday, April 5, 2014

Brendan Wiltse: Spring Skiing In The Backcountry

adirondack backcountry skiing

Last weekend we got a few inches of wet heavy snow, followed by a week of blue bird days with temperatures well above freezing.  This made for nearly perfect conditions for backcountry skiing.  A telephoto lens allowed me to capture this shot of a skier descending a slide in the backcountry.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Otter Creek Horse Trails in Winter

Otter Creek Horse TRails in winterA few Sundays ago a few hardy souls snowshoed to the Independence River scenic overlook on the Elbow Trail of the Otter Creek Trail System (located on the Independence River Wild Forest and the Independence River and Otter Creek State Forests).

To reach the overlook, we parked along the road at the Bailey Road Snowplow Turn-around.  The trail continues down the road, which had been packed recently by some snow sleds. We turned north onto the Old #4 Trail for a short distance and then took the Elbow Trail.  We were breaking trail but did not find the task strenuous and the scenery was stellar.

This year the Independence River is frozen over where as last year at this time the river was open.  The trail follows the river for a short distance before veering away and wandering through some pines. Finally, the trail re-joins Bailey Road for the return to the snowplow turn-around.  The entire trek took a leisurely two hours. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dan Crane: I’m Addicted To Outdoor Gear

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExploring the Adirondack backcountry requires tenacity, perseverance and great deal of fortitude, as climbing over blowdowns, crossing beaver dams and struggling through hobblebush is an arduous way to spend the day. These personal qualities are not the only necessities for enjoying the backcountry however, having the proper gear is equally important. Backpacks, shelters, sleeping bags and numerous other items are tools of the trade for any intrepid soul that leaves societal comforts behind to enjoy some time surrounded by trees, furry animals and all the other creepy-crawlies in the great outdoors.

Sometimes the need for the proper gear quickly becomes a compulsion for owning the latest and greatest equipment on the market. For these people, the satisfaction of owning adequate gear is not enough; instead, the desire for the lightest or flashiest item becomes overwhelming. Whenever a new “superior” piece of equipment comes to their attention, whether it is lighter-weight or just a better way of fulfilling some backcountry need, the desire to own it gnaws at them. They want it. They need it. They must have it.
» Continue Reading.



Monday, March 31, 2014

The Wrong Way to Ski Wright Peak

Ron ascending Wright Peak“We can’t go wrong with Wright” was Ron’s proposal for an early spring backcountry ski destination. At seven miles, round trip, a ski tour to the summit of Wright Peak is one of the shorter trips in the High Peaks. But shorter isn’t easier and, as we soon found out, things can go wrong.

Our plan would require a combination of skills: we would start by cross-country skiing on the rolling terrain of Algonquin Trail, a narrow hiking trail starting at the Adirondak Loj parking lot. When the pitch became too great, we would put climbing skins on our skis for awhile, then replace our skis with crampons for the final push to the summit. For the descent, we would ski down the newly-fallen powder on the Wright Peak Ski Trail using alpine techniques.

As we approached the top, the towering trees of the lower elevations were replaced by the dwarfs of the Krumholtz zone, where the stunted and deformed trees looked like a bonsai garden.

At tree line, we met a couple of Canadian skiers who warned us of the treacherous winds and ice-covered rocks above. Rather than hike over the top of the mountain, Ron suggested that we follow the contour around the peak, traversing between the Lilliputian trees until we intersected the ski trail on the other side. » 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 that vicious final foray on Marble Mountain, it held together.  But there was one night in July of 1993 that it survived only by the narrowest of luck. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Skiing Round Pond from Sharp Bridge Campground

Top_roundPond-600x388It was a nearly perfect day for a ski tour. The sun was out, and fresh powder covered the trail and coated the branches of evergreens along the way. Kim Martineau was especially happy to be here.

“This is one of my favorite trails. It’s just beautiful,” she remarked as we headed into the woods next to the Schroon River. “And you never see people.”

Kim and her husband, Ethan Rouen, joined me in early January for an eight-mile round trip from the Sharp Bridge State Campground to Round Pond in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest. Although she and Ethan had hiked the trail in other seasons, neither of them had skied it, and both were curious to see if it would be as satisfying in winter. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Whiteface Mountain’s Newest Trail Officially Opens

03_25 Rands Last Stand Opens Jay RandWhiteface Mountain officially opened its 87th trail for skiing and riding when the ribbon was cut on Tuesday for “Rand’s Last Stand.”

Whiteface Mountain enthusiasts James Hunter, Jeff Tompkins, Brian Winfield and Jack Yanchitis each helped to name the glade when the mountain held a Facebook trail naming contest last August. The 4.7 acre and 1,500 foot long expert glade, named for former Whiteface Mountain general manager and 1968 Olympic ski jumper Jay Rand Jr., is located half-way down Hoyt’s High and connects skiers and riders to both the Summit Chair lift and Lookout Mountain chair lift. » Continue Reading.



Monday, March 24, 2014

A Lucky Backcountry Ski Trip Near Irishtown

Sign - 723compressedBetter late than never. I had wanted to ski the Irishtown Trail on St. Patrick’s Day because, well, it just seemed appropriate. But as Robert Burns observed, the best laid schemes of mice and men don’t always go as planned. My trip was postponed by a few days, but the delay was a blessing in disguise, since the trail was now topped by a few inches of fresh dry powder from a post-St. Patty’s snow shower.

Starting on Route 28N, the trail traverses Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest for six miles, passing several ponds, and terminating at Irishtown. My goal, though, was to turn around at Stony Pond, a four-mile round trip that climbs about 700 feet. Beyond the pond, the trail is frequented by snowmobilers who access it from Irishtown, and skiers are advised not to compete with them for the trail. For a longer trip, a better option is to ski on the frozen surface of Stony Pond, circumnavigating its shoreline. » 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 Setter and he got the best of both breeds.  As a puppy he looked indistinguishable from a purebred Golden – in other words, irresistibly adorable – but as he grew, the color, strength and stature of his father, an unusually large Setter, became his.  He eventually filled out at nearly a hundred pounds, no fat, in height nearly a head above any Golden I’d ever seen.  Physically he was simply a stunning animal, burnished red-gold, strong nose, rippling muscles under his coat, a head-turner everywhere he went. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Planning an Adirondack Bushwhack

Crooked LakeHaving a plan is always a good idea. From managing finances for retirement to baking a cake, a plan brings structure and allows for measuring progress. Journeying into the Adirondack backcountry is no different. A plan or itinerary is even more crucial when venturing off trail and into the remote wilderness. It often means the difference between a fantastic experience and a miserable nightmare.

The similarities between planning for a bushwhacking and traditional trail hiking trip are surprisingly many. Both require getting past the anxiety of an empty backpack and selecting the proper gear for the trip. Putting together an itinerary is essential, regardless of the nature of the trip, since it allows for notifying others of the planned destinations and provides a deadline for when others can expect your exodus from the backcountry.
» Continue Reading.



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