Monday, March 10, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Bushwhacker

Blowdown near Confluence of Middle Branch Oswegatchie RiverPeople often ask me what exactly I do in the Adirondack backcountry during a bushwhacking trip, as if it involves engaging in some arcane art from long ago. I always find this line of questioning a little befuddling, and to this day, I still find myself lacking an adequate response. For the most part, my day remains much the same as any commuter’s, except for the excessive effort involved in struggling through blowdown, hobblebush or other natural impediments, instead of navigating traffic.

A day in the life of a bushwhacker is an interesting one indeed, but not that different from a typical commuter’s. We sleep, eat, defecate and work much like other people, but a bushwhacker’s commute is shorter and a lot more pleasant. Of course, any description of a typical day in the Adirondack backcountry fails to include a rain delay, a trail hike, or other out of the ordinary conditions, despite these happening much more often than we care to admit.
» Continue Reading.



Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Lake George Land Conservancy’s Hike-A-Thon

3_2013HikeAThon_Cook MtThe early-bird registration period is now open for the Lake George Land Conservancy’s (LGLC) annual Hike-A-Thon, set for Saturday, July 5, 2014. The public is invited to register as participants of the Hike-A-Thon, free of charge. Early-bird registrations made until April 30 also come with free event t-shirts for each registered participant.

The Lake George Hike-A-Thon is a one-day event on July 5th, created to showcase LGLC’s parks and preserves around Lake George as free public resources, and to promote a healthy, active lifestyle and appreciation for the outdoors. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Current Mount Marcy Backcountry Ski Conditions

Summit of Marcy in Winter (Phil Brown Photo)I skied Mount Marcy from Adirondak Loj on Friday. Conditions were very good below tree line; above, there was a lot of wind slab and ice. Bring MicroSpikes or crampons if you are headed to the actual summit. The last signpost was about six feet above the snow. In a good winter it’s buried, or nearly so. Thanks to Ron Konowitz and his helpers for removing blowdown on the ski trail below Indian Falls and shoveling snow to improve conditions. Ron is the president of the Adirondack Powder Skier Association.



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Steve Signell: A Recreation Web Portal Fail

PortalFailThe Adirondack Recreation Web Portal was released at the end of January with much back-slapping and horn-tooting from Governor Cuomo and other involved parties.  Upon closer inspection, however, it is clear that this web ‘portal’ falls far short of expectations.

In an Almanack post last October I described the project and outlined some of the expected functionality of the new site, including what I described as “a strong mapping component, rather than the menu/catalog driven approach used by most Adirondack recreation sites.”  The opportunities afforded by modern online search and mapping technologies presented an incredible chance to build a truly useful, fun-to-use, map-based virtual gateway to the Adirondacks.

» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winter Mountaineering:
Bushwhacking Santanoni Mt. via Twin Slide

The title of this post could also be called “Santanoni Snow Slog” or “Snow Swimming up Santanoni”. Conditions were not good, but those are the chances you take when planning this type of outing. The avalanche probability had been high for a few weeks which delayed plans over and again for this trip. I can’t really complain since conditions were stellar during several of my outings over the past couple months. I secretly hoped to find frozen cascades and at least a bit of ice-entombed slab during this trip as well—inside I knew better.

Alan Wechsler and I decided to explore Twin Slide on February 22nd with the foreknowledge that we might be turned back if conditions seemed too avalanche prone. He hoped to add another peak to his winter list while I simply needed an adventure.

» Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 1, 2014

46 Winter High Peaks in 10 Days: One Man’s Success

Neil Luckhurst on Dix Mt.Neil Luckhurst (age 58), vice president of the ADKHighpeaks Foundation, embarked upon an ambitious 1-man fundraiser on February 18, 2014. His goal was to climb each of the 46 High Peaks in just 12 days—a quest he dubbed “Project 46”. Dedicated friends and family members supported Neil in a variety of fashions ranging from company on the trail to preparing hot meals and snacks. Meanwhile, others watched his progress on their computer via Neil’s SPOT tracking beacon.

He showed no signs of slowing and by Thursday, February 27th; he’d completed the goal in a staggering 10 days—two days ahead of schedule. When all was said and done, he’d hiked 213.6 miles (344 km) with 69,500 feet  (21,184 m) of elevation gain while braving a mixed bag of winter weather conditions. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ski Jumping in Lake Placid: For the Love of Flying

Karl Schulz & Grand Pa“I really like the sensation of flying through the air,” said Will Rhoads, winner of the Art Devlin Cup. “There is nothing better than having a really good jump and having the feeling you are never going to come down.”

Rhoads was in Lake Placid for the U.S. Ski Jumping Cup, held on the 90 meter at Intervale on Wednesday, February 12 that included a Juniors and Open class. In addition, he an a number of the competitors were in the running for the Art Devlin Cup that combines the results of three meets, the US Cup, the Flaming Leaves, and the July 4th competition. The U.S. Cup was the next to last of nine meets held across the country with the final scheduled for Park City, Utah.

While the twin towers on the 90 and 120 (aka 100 HS and 134 HS) jumps in Placid remain icons of the village and the most dramatic emblem of the 1980 Games, they are sadly out of date and the 120 no longer meets FIS regulations. “Jumps are being designed flatter to make it harder to jump further,” said Blake Hughes, assistant coach for the US Ski Jumping team. “Because of changes in the equipment and the way the sport has progressed jumping here is easier than in Sochi.” » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Don Mellor On Post-Thaw Ice Climbing Conditions

Don first pitchYesterday I complained about the deterioration of backcountry-skiing conditions caused by last week’s rain and thaw. But what has happened to ice-climbing conditions?

I am a novice ice climber. In my mind, I figured a little rain and a little melting followed by subfreezing temperatures would improve conditions. More water means more ice, right?

Not necessarily, according to Don Mellor, author of Blue Lines: An Adirondack Ice Climber’s Guide.

Mellor has been climbing and studying ice for more than thirty-five years and has found that it is frustratingly unpredictable. Just because one route has good ice doesn’t mean another route will.

That said, Mellor thinks certain routes—particularly those in gullies, which hold a lot of ice—may have been helped by last week’s thaw. “Gullies have enough substance to weather a lot of abuse. I climbed Chouinard’s [above Chapel Pond] with my daughter on Saturday and found it fine. As I would have predicted,” Mellor told me yesterday.

» Continue Reading.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: Skiing The Botheration Trail

Siamese-Ponds Botheration Trail headI had lots to do on Saturday, but just couldn’t say ‘no.’  The blue sky and 40 degree weather was too much of a siren call, so I grabbed my skis and headed to the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area.   This may be my last chance to ski for the season, so the errands will just have to wait.

The Siamese Ponds area is deservedly one of the most popular spots in the southern Adirondacks for backcountry skiing, containing routes for skiers of all abilities.  My late start and the impending darkness meant that today’s choice would have to be short and fast, so I picked Botheration Pond as my destination.  I started at the Old Farm Clearing parking lot, where skiers compete each weekend for the 30 or so parking spaces, but today there are only a few other cars.  I won’t see any of their occupants though – for the next two hours, I’ll share the trails with only chickadees and an occasional squirrel. » Continue Reading.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Checking Out Ski Conditions After The Thaw

Phil at VICLast week’s rain and thaw bummed out backcountry skiers, but things could have been worse. We still have a solid base, but we could use several inches of powder on top of it.

Unfortunately, there are no sizable snowstorms in this week’s forecast. We got a dusting of snow last night, and we may get a total of an inch or so over the next few days. Small snow showers also are predicted later in the week.

The Adirondack Ski Touring Council is recommending that skiers stick to groomed trails until we get more snow. “The only exception is that it never warmed up all that much at the elevation of Lake Colden, so skiing there is still pretty good—just not so good getting there,” the council says on its website.

I went skiing both Saturday and Sunday to check out the post-thaw conditions.

» Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hickory Mountain: Skiing The Old-Fashioned Way

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI put the Pomalift disc between my thighs and waited.  Within a second, I was airborne and launched six feet forward, then settled back to Earth.  At Hickory Ski Center, sliding up the mountain can be as exciting as the trip down.

The first thing you’ll notice about Hickory is the large percentage of skiers with telemark gear or powder planks.   Snowboarders are welcome, but you’ll rarely see them.  This is a skier’s mountain.  No matter what they have on their feet, almost everyone here is an expert or aspires to be one.  That’s a hint.  Hickory is for those that have developed their skills at lesser venues, not for neophytes. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sitz Pond In The Five Ponds Wilderness

Sitz PondThe Adirondack backcountry contains a plethora of natural gems, such as ponds, lakes, mountains, bogs and beaver meadows. Although many are reachable by trail, the vast majority are islands of remoteness, surrounded by a sea of near-impenetrable forest, just waiting for a human bold enough to venture away from the marked trails to discover them. Few humans ever visit these gems, which undoubtedly suits both the gems themselves and the meager number of visitors just fine.

One of these gems is a small pond found in the southwest corner of the Five Ponds Wilderness. Sitz Pond is its name, and as attractive backcountry ponds go, it ranks up there with the best.
» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Backcountry Skiing A Pair Of Adirondack Passes

Tim-in-Whales-Tail-Pass1We just finished our March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer, so I took Tuesday off to go backcountry skiing and take advantage of the recent snowfalls (before a looming thaw sets in).

My neighbor Tim Peartree and I skied through two mountain passes. The first, Avalanche Pass, is one of the most popular ski trips in the Adirondacks. From Heart Lake, it’s about four miles to the top of the pass and an additional 0.6 miles to Avalanche Lake. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cross-Country Skiing:
An Adirondack Nocturne at the Paul Smith’s VIC

Twilight at the VIC, S. Hildreth

Nocturne: a work of art dealing with evening or night especially; a dreamy pensive composition for the piano that has a soft and somewhat sad melody.  – 2014 Merriam Webster Dictionary

It was Valentine’s Day, about 8 pm, and I walked out the back door, stepped into my x-country ski bindings, put on my gloves and slipped my hands through the straps on my ski poles, flipped on my headlight and silently glided into the stillness of the night. As I looked up the trail, snowflakes filtered down glittering into the beam of my light.

It was the Full Moon Friends of the VIC Ski Party and this was the evening after the big Nor’easter dropped about 10 inches of fresh snow on what was already a good solid base. There was a nice crowd at the Paul Smith’s College VIC, live music by Split Rock lighting up the great room, but I might as well have been a solitary skier. I met two other skiers coming back to the building right as I started out, and then just two more as I skied across the floating bridge on Heron Marsh. The rest of the evening was mine alone, and it was magical. » 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 frankly I have never experienced a stronger sense of wild harmony and beauty anywhere else I’ve been. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ski Discounts in the Tri-Lakes Area

Skiing Whiteface (ORDA Photo)Downhill skiing around the Tri-Lakes of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake without a season pass can put a dent in a parent’s pocketbook. So here are a few tips and discounts available if you plan on skiing Whiteface, Titus and Big Tupper.

Though Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington has been making snow since November, there is finally some fresh power on the trails. My family was there this past weekend working the Empire State Games and was thankful for each run that was squeezed in between races. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Signs of an Unstable Snowpack in the Backcountry

Adirondack AvalanchesWhile out skiing yesterday afternoon I saw several signs that the snowpack is unstable and extreme caution should be used if you are tempted to head towards the slides after this recent snowfall.

I came across numerous small slides, such as the one in this photograph, on N and NW aspects at slopes as low as 25 degrees.

Whooping and shooting cracks were prevalent. I was skiing the trees but any turns made near a convex roll produced a small slide.  If you venture into avalanche terrain make sure you have the knowledge to assess the risk, know proper travel techniques, and are carrying a beacon, probe, shovel, and the knowledge to use them.



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mythical Backcountry Adventures

View from Cat MountainSome backpacking trips go beyond the ordinary backcountry adventure. Whether due to a single outstanding wildlife sighting, a series of unlikely events, a special chemistry between participants, a scenic location or any combination of these, some trips become legendary, recounted time and time again. These legendary trips eventually develop their own mythology, combining equal amounts of actual events and fictitious hyperbole.

These legendary backcountry trips are not common, but almost anyone who spends enough time in the Adirondack backcountry can expect to experience at least a few during their backpacking career. Typically, these trips involve groups, the dynamics between the participants contributing not only to the memorable trip activities, but also to the numerous retellings where the events morph into the mythological.

This is how tall tales are born.
» Continue Reading.



Monday, February 3, 2014

Marcy Trail Needs More Snow For Skiing

Unbroken-trail-600x4501Well, I couldn’t wait any longer. After we got a few inches of snow Saturday night, I decided to ski Mount Marcy.

From Adirondak Loj Road, I started by skiing up South Meadow Road. On Saturday afternoon, I had skied the road and the Marcy Dam Truck Trail as far as Marcy Dam. The road had been in great shape for skiing, but the truck trail had a lot of exposed rocks.

What a difference a day makes. The extra snow was enough to bury virtually all the rocks. Also, Forest Ranger Jim Giglinto cut through the worst of a tree that had fallen across the trail. It’s now possible to slide over the tree with skis on. After a few more inches of snow, you probably won’t even notice it. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Guide: The Trans Adirondack Route

Logo transparentWith six million acres of valleys, lakes, peaks, and passes, the Adirondack Park of is a big place ripe for big adventures, and no adventure could be bigger than hiking across the entire park, from top to bottom.  This 235-mile opportunity to traverse the Adirondacks is being dubbed by former Adirondack Park backcountry ranger Erik Schlimmer the “Trans Adirondack Route”.

Schlimmer’s Trans Adirondack Route pieces together hiking trails, abandoned pathways, snowmobile trails, and dirt and paved roads to travel from Ellenburg Center near the Canadian border to southern Fulton County near Gloversville.  During its course the route crosses five wilderness areas, visits fifty bodies of water, climbs three summits, and runs through three settlements.  Highlights of the route include Whiteface Mountain, the High Peaks, the Cold River, and Long Lake. » Continue Reading.



Page 5 of 49« First...34567...102030...Last »