On Friday I hiked Grace Peak (formerly East Dix) from Route 73 in Keene Valley. Look for the stone bridge that crosses the Boquet River, there is small parking area right after the bridge. The herd path starts along the South side of the river and continues along the North and South Fork. The path is unmarked but very easy to follow. This part of the Dix Mountain wilderness is beautiful open forest with mostly flat terrain. To reach the summit you can take the slide or continue along the herd path to the col between Grace and Carson (South Dix).
In the New York Times of February 11, 1877, appeared the obituary of a North Country native, Theodorus Bailey, who was born in Chateaugay in 1805 and moved to Plattsburgh with his family around 1811. The Battle of Plattsburgh took place three years later, on September 11, 1814. Although Theodorus was just nine years old, that historic event made quite an impression. His obituary, in fact, pointed out that Bailey “accepted as his pet hero Commodore Macdonough, the American commander in the battle,” and was thus inspired to seek a career in the navy.
It’s also interesting that among the War of 1812 battles that are considered pivotal, Plattsburgh has often been overlooked in favor of three others: Baltimore, Lake Erie, and New Orleans. And yet this same Theodorus Bailey was lauded as a hero of the Battle of New Orleans.
How can that be? Well, there were actually two Battles of New Orleans, but because the name was already taken during the War of 1812, the second one, which occurred during the Civil War, is often referred to as the Capture of New Orleans. » Continue Reading.
It’s been a few months now since President Obama signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014. You probably remember hearing about it under another name: the (long overdue) Farm Bill. There was much hoopla in the press when, after a delay of over a year, it finally became a law. OK, I can sense your eyes glazing over or darting to the next article. But wait! Just bear with me.
The Farm Bill (as we shall refer to it from here on out) is chock full of some good news for the local food movement and, whether or not you realize it, many parts of this legislation will affect you. I’m going to break this article up into two parts to address all the positives that will be supported by this Farm Bill, so let’s begin part 1! » Continue Reading.
On August 29th, I visited the Gull Lake and Chub Pond trails in the Black River Wild Forest. I photographed all sorts of trail and wetland damage from All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) use on these trails. ATVs are not allowed on these trails, but the Black River Wild Forest area has a history of illegal ATV use, and I thought that the damage to these trails reflected more of the same.
I had received reports about ATV damage in this part of the Forest Preserve earlier this year. The previous week I had spent time in the Ferris Lake Wild Forest inventorying trail damage from ATVs and photographing ATV side-routes around various barrier gates put up by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It appeared that the damage to the Chub Pond and Gull Lake trails was also caused by illegal trespass. The usual telltale signs of illegal trespass and recreational riding were evident. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the current (2013-14) freshwater fishing regulations will extend through March 31, 2015. New freshwater fishing regulations will take effect April 1, 2015 and a new regulations guide will be available from all license sale vendors at that time.
“This change was made based upon the change to the effective dates of our freshwater fishing licenses,” DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said in a statement announcing the change. “In the past, fishing licenses, like our hunting licenses were effective October 1 thru September 30. Fishing licenses are now effective 365 days from the date of purchase and it made sense to adjust the effective dates of our fishing regulations to coincide with the April 1 opener of the statewide trout season which is our traditional kickoff to the freshwater fishing season.” » Continue Reading.
“This is a $200,000 piece of property that we’re getting for a fraction of that price. Nothing is more important than our water supply, and we’re protecting it through a wonderful partnership between the town, the Lake George Land Conservancy and a local resident,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover.
The Lake George Land Conservancy’s easement on the property, which protects it from any development, reduced the price to the town by more than $100,000, said Nancy Williams, the Conservancy’s executive director. » Continue Reading.
My friend Theresa Mitrovitz from Tupper Lake has a small marvel in her yard this week which, if replicated in thousands more backyards, could help save the Eastern migration of the monarch butterfly. I hounded Teresa and her husband John into joining AdkAction.org, a non-profit for which I volunteer, and soon after Theresa jumped with enthusiasm to help with the organization’s project to conserve Monarchs and the milkweed so crucial to their lifecycle.
For twenty years Monarch numbers have been declining steeply. Last year no monarch butterflies were reported in the Adirondacks, and none were sighted in the annual butterfly count at Lake Placid. This year Monarchs have shown signs of a comeback in the North Country and elsewhere, but they have a tough period ahead if they are to continue their age-old flight back and forth to Mexico where they winter. » Continue Reading.
Local climbers have been eagerly awaiting the second edition, and it’s now evident that their eagerness was justified: although the first edition, published in 2008, is an excellent guidebook, the new one is a major improvement.
Most important, it contains 1,240 new climbing routes and adds a number of cliffs not found in the first edition, including Sugarloaf Mountain (acquired by the state this year), Shelving Rock on the east side of Lake George (72 routes), and Silver Lake and Potter mountains (a combined 150 routes). In addition, the new guidebook documents more than 200 new routes at Crane Mountain, largely the work of Jay Harrison and his cohorts.
All told, Adirondack Rock describes about 3,100 routes (with more than 4,000 pitches) on 320 cliffs scattered around the Adirondack Park. As Tad Welch, one of the region’s most prolific climbers, notes in the foreword: “That’s over 65 miles of climbing, in case you’re wondering.”
It rained heavily the first time I had planned to go on a hawk watch, and the trip was cancelled. But the rain brought with it a weather front the next day that created the perfect conditions for fall hawk migration. And migrate they did. Hawks and falcons and eagles and vultures soared southward along mountain ridges in numbers I have never seen in the 30 years since then. Carried aloft by rising currents of warm air and light winds from the north, many of those birds may have traveled a hundred miles that day without ever flapping their wings.
Despite the diversity and impressive numbers of raptors, there was one species that stood out to all of the hawk watchers: the broad-winged hawk. It was a bird I had never seen before, and although it is a common nesting species in the forests of the Northeast, the total number of broad-wings I’ve observed since then doesn’t come close to the number that soared past us that day. Whereas most hawks travel alone or in groups of three or four, broad-winged hawks migrate in flocks called kettles that can sometimes number in the thousands. » Continue Reading.
Last week I discussed the general concept of electric cars in the Adirondacks and the possible types of electric car one might choose. I suggested that a pure electric car – that is, one with no gas engine backup – would not yet be practical in the park because the odds that one would use up their range and be potentially stranded are too high. But an electric car with gas backup is completely workable – and considerably better in terms of fossil fuel use than a hybrid.
This week I’d like to report on our experience driving a Chevy Volt in the Adirondacks. The Volt is an electric car with a gas engine that acts as a backup generator as needed, giving a total range comparable to typical internal combustion cars. As before, I do not endorse the Volt; it simply happens to be the car I own. However many of its features and the issues attendant to driving it in a vast, mountainous park would be common to any electric car. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Museum will present its 27th annual Rustic Furniture Fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14, with a comprehensive look at traditional and contemporary uses of the rustic aesthetic.
The museum’s festival celebrates rustic creations presented by nearly 50 of today’s artisans and artists, chosen by the museum for their unique interpretations of the genre, as expressed in hand-crafted furniture, household furnishings, and Adirondack paintings. Entrance to the fair is included with general museum admission.
All across the museum’s campus, rustic makers will talk with visitors about their design processes, raw materials, and tools, and they will also have creations available for purchase. » Continue Reading.
Known as Macintyre West, the tract includes 3,081-foot Mount Andrew and sixteen-acre Lake Andrew as well as Santanoni Brook, which flows into Henderson Lake, and Sucker Brook, which flows into Newcomb Lake.
“It’s an important part of the upper Hudson watershed,” said John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council. “We think it’d be a fine addition to the High Peaks Wilderness.”
He expects the tract will be used by hikers, hunters, and anglers.
Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio. A narrative version of this report can be found at Mountain Lake PBS.
During the summer of 2014, on the lawn at the Goodsell Museum in Old Forge, Kyle Kristiansen, using a metal detector, discovered a metal object. Digging it up, he uncovered a buried metal luggage tag containing the intials “F.C & R.L.S.B.CO.”
These letters stand for the Fulton Chain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Company, a short-lived and relatively unknown concern established for carrying passengers and cargo from Fourth Lake to Raquette Lake in the days before automobiles connected the region.
This is a history of that company and its successors to that trade. We will probably never discover how that item arrived on the lawn in the Town of Webb. » Continue Reading.
Merlin, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s free bird ID app, is now available for Android devices. Merlin presents you with a list of the birds that best match your location, time of year, and description of the bird.
“Merlin knows which birds are most likely to be within a 30-mile radius of where you saw the bird—at the time when you saw it,” said Jessie Barry at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “It’s the first app to tap into 70 million observations contributed by birders to the eBird citizen-science project, along with 3 million descriptors of birds to help match what you saw.” » Continue Reading.
As Americans pause today to mark the terrible events of 2001, it would be fitting to also mark a bicentennial of which few Americans are aware, but of which the North Country should be justly proud: the 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh.
These two momentous days, from across a span of nearly two centuries, share an importance that will forever be marked by historians.
Both are absolutely critical to the shape of the America we live in today. Both are fulcra, balancing a more innocent and vulnerable America of the past with a changed nation that confronted a vastly different future world. » Continue Reading.
Sometimes my choice of canoe-camping adventure in the Adirondack Park is based on the lowest chance of family mutiny. My husband Jack and our three teens, Parker, Dom, and Zoe, still reeled from the memory of a 1.25-mile carry around Raquette Falls during a two-nighter down the Raquette River a year ago.
Loaded down with heavy boats and an overabundance of unorganized gear, we had grossly underestimated the portage distance and the ferocity of welt-inducing mosquitos. I was loath to ask my clan to ever portage again, but when the opportunity arose to paddle from Hoel Pond to Long Pond in the St. Regis Canoe Area, the desire to introduce my family to this eighteen-thousand-acre, motorboat-free canoeist’s Eden was too great. » Continue Reading.
Raymond Scott, the electronic music pioneer, composer of film scores and classic cartoon music as well as jazz suites for big bands, and whose music will be performed at this year’s Lake George Jazz Weekend, is said to have been one of most lasting influences upon downtown, avant-garde rock composer John Zorn.
As it happens, some of the musicians who have played and recorded with Zorn and his shifting collective of jazz, rock and classical performers will also be at this year’s festival, which will be held September 13 and 14 in Shepard Park.
They include trumpeter Steve Bernstein, who has put together a combo called SexMob to play the music of Nino Rota, the composer who scored Fellini’s most famous films, and drummer Billy Martin, who replaced Anton Fier as the percussionist in the legendary Lounge Lizards. » Continue Reading.