I’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.
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.
The 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.
I 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.
With 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.
It 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.
Two years ago, when Governor Andrew Cuomo revived the massive Finch, Pruyn land deal, first engineered by the Adirondack Nature Conservancy in 2007, he shifted the terms of a long-running debate over big land-conservation projects in the Park. Funding for open-space conservation had been under attack in Albany for years, including a moratorium on new spending. Even many Democrats were questioning the value to taxpayers of protecting more “forever wild” land in the Park.
The governor turned that debate on its head, arguing that vast tracts of new public lands would be a boon to the state’s tourism economy—rather than a costly burden—and would give struggling Adirondack towns a long-needed boost. “Today’s agreement will make the Adirondack Park one of the most sought-after destinations for paddlers, hikers, hunters, sportspeople, and snowmobilers,” Cuomo declared in August 2012 as he committed the state to spending $47 million on sixty-nine thousand acres of timberlands over five years.
Cuomo pointed to “extraordinary new outdoor recreational opportunities” that he asserted would spark investment and help revitalize the tourism economy in struggling mountain towns. » Continue Reading.
During 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 any season.
The other three views benefited from the calendar. This time of year enhances the sense of a mountain’s scale, with earth tones and green on the lower slopes and plenty of white on high. The Adirondacks may not be perpetually snow-capped, but in late April or early May we can imagine they are and they seem much more lofty for it. » Continue Reading.
I’d guess anyone who climbs regularly in the Adirondacks has climbed Chapel Pond Slab. For beginners, it’s a great place to get a feel for the exposure and intricacies of multi-pitch climbing. For the more experienced, it’s a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the stone and the views of Chapel Pond Pass.
The most popular climb on the slab is Regular Route, with a half-dozen interesting and varied pitches. Not much is known about the history of Regular Route. The guidebook Adirondack Rock says it evolved from variations of an early route called Bob’s Knob Standard. The region’s first climbing guidebook, A Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks, says it was pioneered by the Alpine Club of Canada.
The Adirondack backcountry is a fascinating place to visit. It provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, where slow traffic, demanding bosses and other aspects of the daily grind are left far behind for the relaxing solitude that is increasingly rare in the modern world. Tranquility, outstanding photographs and a satiation of peace and quiet are just a few takeaway benefits of spending time in the remote backcountry.
It is not all forest bathing and new age communing out there, as these positive aspects of a backcountry adventure are not the only things making their way home with us. There is a whole host of nefarious backcountry things that may show up in your gear, your home, or heaven forbid, yourself.
» Continue Reading.
There are so many times that I wish I could be in two places at the same time. Though my family is committed and looking forward to hiking The Grand Hike from Westport to Essex on May 3rd, the Adirondack Adventure Festival in North Creek is taking place around the same time.
According to Director of Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce Lisa Salamon this year’s Adirondack Adventure Festival will be hosting even more family-friendly activities on May 3-4, 2014. The event is bringing back its popular children’s trout fishing tournament along with more games, face painting and Adirondack crafts.
The complete journey totals 14 miles, but participants will be able to select from several shorter distances. The hike is divided into 5 segments, with 4 “oases” along the trail from which hikers can start or finish. Each oasis will provide port-o-potties, water, snacks, maps and complimentary shuttles to and from the Westport Hotel, Essex Inn and the Essex Ferry dock. » Continue Reading.
Since ski season ended, I had been looking forward to my first whitewater canoe trip of the season. The spring showers and melting snow had conspired to raise the river levels to dangerous levels, but they have now receded. For our inaugural trip of the season, Bob, Horst and I decided to run the Schroon River. » Continue Reading.
This summer Gore Mountain, in North Creek, N.Y. will replace its 30-year-old Adirondack Express with a new high-speed detachable quad. The new lift is expected to offer guests a smoother, faster, and more reliable ride out of Gore’s primary base area. The plan includes a new unloading zone near the mid-mountain Saddle Lodge which will be lowered and restructured for easier access to the slopes.
According to the Olympic Regional Development Authority, which manages Gore Mountain, the new Adirondack Express will have a capacity of 2,400 people per hour, 300 more than previously. The lift is expected to operate 38% faster than its predecessor, and to have eight fewer towers and padded chairs for a smoother ride. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency has some of the most skilled GIS (Geographic Information Sysytems) analysts at work in the park, and they have also been very proactive in sharing their mapping resources with the public. I thought Adirondack Almanack readers might be interested in some of the new additions to the agency GIS page found here: http://apa.ny.gov/gis/
Some of the new products include maps of Park Webcams (with links so you can see the live feed), USGS Stream flow stations, and a newly released (Feb 2014) version of their meticulously curated ‘Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan Map and State Land Map’ that now includes the newly classified land in the Essex Chain lakes between Newcomb and Indian Lake. » Continue Reading.
The premise is that the new state lands will attract more tourists. In the May/June issue of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine, Brian Mann takes a hard look at this notion.
Mann talked to regional politicians, local business owners, environmentalists, and economic researchers, among others. The consensus is that the Finch, Pruyn acquisition does present an opportunity, but economic growth won’t happen on its own. Like any tourist destination, the Finch, Pruyn lands must be marketed and well maintained.
If the lands are not properly marketed, it’s possible that they will simply “cannibalize” other parts of the Adirondack Park. In other words, all we’d be doing is shuffling the same tourist dollars around.
We’ll post Brian’s full story soon on Adirondack Almanack.
Though both my children are enthusiastic hikers, not much can easily pry my teenager out of bed for an early start. Nothing that is, except the promise of a second breakfast that doesn’t require him to cook or clean up. He compares the Champlain Area Trails (CATS) 14-mile Westport Inn to Essex Inn hike to a sandwich. I’m guessing that the bread is breakfast at the beginning of the walk and the block party dinner at the end, while the meat in the middle is hiking with our puppy.
In 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.
The 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.