Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Moose on the Loose in Indian Lake

There are so many festivals in the autumn that it is easy to be overwhelmed with the various opportunities. One reason that I do favor these annual events for my family is the variety of activities at each festival. As my children get older they want to have more input in the activities that we do. We find a festival offers a little bit of everything for my family of four. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

After Irene: Paddling The New Duck Hole

A few days after Hurricane Irene, I hiked to Duck Hole to see how the place looked after the breach of the old logging dam. Although the pond lost most of its water, there were streams running through the resultant mudflats and a pool remained at the base of the waterfall on east shore.

Earlier in the year, I had carried my canoe to Duck Hole and had a ball paddling around and admiring views of High Peaks. Now I wondered if anyone would ever want to bring a canoe to Duck Hole again.

Well, someone already has: Adirondack guide Joe Hackett. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Natural History: The Season’s First Frost

It is inevitable. Regardless of how nice the summer has been, a time comes in September when the first frost of the season coats every exposed surface with a layer of ice crystals and brings about the official end of the growing season.

While this event causes gardeners to panic about harvesting nearly ripened vegetables, and homeowners to cover up, or bring in their delicate flowering plants, it also brings about the demise of the many forms of life that are unable to tolerate freezing conditions. While there are numerous living entities in our region that can’t survive temperatures below 32 degrees, most are capable, after developing special adaptations that allow them to deal with the changes that are soon to come. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Naj Wikoff: Digging Out in Keene

What follows is a guest essay by Naj Wikoff, a member of the Keene Flood Recovery Fund steering committee.

“The hardest thing I had to do this week was let three employees go today,” said Rob Hastings, owner of Rivermede Farm in Keene Valley. He and I were standing amongst a crowd of over 200 residents attending a pig roast, block party and benefit for the Keene Flood Recovery Fund on Market Street in Keene Valley Friday, September 9.

The event, which raised over $21,000, was further buoyed by the news that Route 73, the hamlet’s vital artery to the Northway that had been closed since Irene’s 11 plus inches of rain washed away major sections, would open on Monday. Just seven days earlier Governor Cuomo, countering DOT estimates that the roadway might be opened by Columbus Day but possibly not till December, stated that unless it was opened within 10 days, “Wheels will roll or heads will roll,” a statement followed by his suspension DOT and DEC restrictions on construction, such as requirements of going out to bid for contracts. Since then in a near 24-hour cycle DOT trucks have poured in with load after load of boulders, gravel and other road foundation materials.

The closure of 73 as well as 9N north to Upper Jay, and DEC media and web announcements that all trails in the eastern High Peaks were off limits to hikers, brought visitor traffic in Keene Valley to a dead stop and caused dozens of cancellations of room reservations during Labor Day weekend, the second busiest holiday of the year for local stores. Thanks to a massive volunteer effort that put hundreds of people at McDonough’s Valley Hardware and elsewhere scraping off mud, pumping out basements, cleaning shelves and merchandise, most stores, B&Bs and restaurants had managed to reopen, but what was missing was the people.

“Road Closed” said the sign to Keene Valley. “Don’t even think of going there” was the message. The hamlet of Keene was hardly better off as it was the center on incoming politicians and state officials, the media, National Guard, DOT trucks and Labor for Your Neighbor volunteers so that what visitors made it through the gauntlet scurried west to the relatively untouched Village of Lake Placid, though a fleet of water ski boats sank during the storm and River Road and Snowslip Farms were certainly torn up.

No question the attention by Governor Cuomo, who visited the hamlets on two successive weekends, and the outpouring of volunteers, the National Guard and DOT transformed the hamlets along with Upper Jay, Jay and Ausable Forks bringing them back from what appeared to be war zones to a somewhat sense of normality, though deep scars and uncertain futures remained.

Knowing this outcome likely to occur, a grass roots effort was launched while the rains were still falling and fields flooding to create the Keene Flood Recovery Fund with perhaps a greater sense of urgency than the media’s scramble to film the unfolding disaster. Jim Herman and Dave Mason, the soon to become president and vice president of the Keene Community Trust, lead the effort. Working in partnership with the Adirondack Community Trust (ACT) a small team was assembled. The goal was simple; raise as much money as fast as possible and begin giving it out in grants to local residents and business to help cover critical needs not met by FEMA, other government sources, insurance or sweat equity.

The process was not unlike the building of the Continental railroad wherein the trains followed the rails as they were built. The public relations and fund raising effort was launched simultaneously with the recruiting of five people to serve on the allocations committee while application and funding guidelines were being written, the Keene Valley Trust board reorganized, agreements with ACT negotiated, and web and Facebook sites created.

The Nature Conservancy provided the forum for committees to form, meet, and stayed energized with hot coffee available morning till night. Critical was the early blessing and support by Keene supervisor Bill Ferebee, agreement by the Keene Community Trust to take on a project of such scope, the talent pool assembled, and the full support of the Adirondack Community Trust, aided in no small measure that their president Vinny McClelland and donor recognitions officer Melissa Eissinger were residents of Keene. Another was the sheer mass of community development knowledge stored in the brain of Henrietta Jordan, who could draft funding guidelines the way some can cast a dry fly into an eddy on their first try.

As of this writing about $100,000 has been raised and the first wave of grants has already been approved, but the amount needed to raise is far, far higher if they are to reduce layoffs like those already done by Hastings. While to the casual observer the hamlets might not look so bad, the damage done has been severe. Over a dozen families are not able to move back to their homes and are in need of temporary housing, just two businesses lost over $200,000 in inventory, the Keene Firehouse has to be relocated and rebuilt, the public skating rink replaced, the Keene Library, which also houses the Food Pantry, needs an aggressive abatement program to keep mold from settling in, and one third of Rivermede Farm’s sugaring lines have to be replaced along with all their storage tanks and two greenhouses. The first 12 applicants’ losses, which does not include many of the previously listed, have totaled over $2.5 million, this before FEMA and insurance are factored it.

Meanwhile a recently constituted Keene Business Committee (aka chamber of commerce) is attempting to stop plummeting income and lure back visitors. Led by Rooster Cob Inn owner, masseuse and rustic furniture salesperson Marie McMahon, they have taken on the DOT, DEC and later the State Police to change their signs that announce the closing of High Peaks trails, detour visitors to Placid via Plattsburgh and other actions that discouraged traffic to local businesses. Plans are underway to host events over Columbus Day and a conference for high school and college geology professors to showcase the wide array of major environmental changes that include the largest landslide in recorded state history, 22 new slides in the high peaks, and the rerouting of streams and waterfalls creating what can be best described as moonscapes in some locales.

“Our goal is to help the community come out stronger,” said Herman. “One benefit of all these landslides, rerouting of streams, and other environmental changes is that there are many new features for hikers, geologists and environmentalists to see and experience. We are trying to get the word out that now is the best time to come see them while they are fresh. We have some new vistas of Giant that didn’t exist before and old streambeds that have been hidden for centuries are now revealed. New growth will cover them up. The time to see them is now.”

Another benefit was the Governor discovering that Keene Valley had no cell phone coverage. “Where can I get cell service?” Cuomo asked Ron Konowitz, a local volunteer fireman and on-the-ground coordinator of volunteers. Konowitz told the governor not only that he would have to travel three miles down the road and stand in the middle of Marcy Field to pick up a signal, but in fact there was a cell tower in place, had been for four months, though had yet to be turned on by Verizon, a consequence that had hampered communication amongst all the various state agencies, volunteers, rescue workers, civic leaders, the media and one governor and the outside word. The piercing brown eyes of the wheels-will-roll governor swiveled and locked on the “Frankenpine” hidden amongst the tall White Pines behind the Neighborhood House. Two days later a frantic Verizon worker stuck his head in the Birch Store asking if anyone could help him locate their cell tower. Pam Gothner did and the next day the hamlet had cell service.

The Keene Flood Recovery Fund can be reached at www.keenerecoveryfund.org

Photo: Keene Valley flooding during Tropical Storm Irene; Volunteers at work.

Naj Wikoff, a member of the Keene Flood Recovery Fund steering committee, is local artist, columnist for the Lake Placid News, president of Creative Healing Connections, which organizes healing retreats for women living with cancer, women veterans, and other special audiences, and arts coordinator for Connecting Youth and Communities of Lake Placid and Wilmington (CYC).


Monday, September 12, 2011

Hamilton County’s Dueling Sheriffs Face Off

Through a technicality in a poorly written election law, B. Frank Kathan was renamed Sheriff of Hamilton County in 1901 despite having lost by forty votes. Jim Locke, initially declared the winner, had already moved into the jail. When the decision was reversed, he stayed put, and the county had two men who claimed to be sheriff. Kathan pursued court options, while Locke armed his men and refused to surrender the jailhouse.

At the time, Hamilton County had two prisoners—one held by Locke in the jail, and one held by Kathan in his home. Kathan angrily demanded the right to take office, but Locke remained entrenched, defying anyone to remove him from the building.

If pushed further by the courts, Locke promised to subpoena all the voters in the county to confirm the intent of each individual ballot. The expense to poor, huge, and sparsely populated Hamilton County would be enormous.

On March 12, the judge issued a confusing order. He refused to impose punishment on Locke for taking over the jailhouse, but also ruled that Locke had no jurisdiction, no legal right to the office of sheriff, and no power to carry out civil or criminal processes.

Still locked out of the jail under threat of violence, Kathan established a second sheriff’s office and bided his time. With further court action pending, he finally made his move a few weeks later. There are two variations of what happened next, but the violent version was recounted in May when the case went before the state supreme court.

On April 1, Kathan and a few of his men went to Lake Pleasant and staked out the county jail. When darkness arrived, he attempted to enter the building. Surprised to find the outside door unlocked, he stepped inside and faced off against Al Dunham, the lone jailer present.

Kathan, described as “a large and powerful man,” dropped Dunham with one punch and commandeered the office. (A second version of the story was much more benign. It claimed Kathan found the jailhouse unoccupied and simply took over.)

Now Locke was himself locked out. He countered by establishing a sheriff’s office in William Osborne’s hotel at Speculator—and the battle of the dueling sheriffs continued.

One of the sheriff’s duties was contacting jurors on behalf of the county. When the juror list was presented to Kathan (since he was the most recent court-approved sheriff), Locke obtained a certified copy from the county clerk’s office.

Jurors on the list received official notices from both Kathan and Locke, and both men submitted billing to the county board of supervisors for their work. To clear up the mess, the board tried to declare Locke the official county sheriff, but that directly violated the judge’s earlier order.

In response, the judge issued a summons demanding an explanation as to why the board itself should not be cited for contempt of court. It seemed like nobody agreed on anything (sounds suspiciously like today’s political environment).

Locke then filed a proceeding that required Kathan to prove he was entitled to the office. The significance of that move wasn’t lost on Kathan: Locke indeed planned to subpoena all of the county’s voters to court where they could verify the intent of every single ballot cast.

Meanwhile, the state appellate court finally ruled on Kathan’s original filing and declared him the sheriff of Hamilton County. Locke, true to his word, remained in the courthouse and began sending subpoenas to hundreds of county residents.

However, just a few days after the appellate court’s ruling, an unexpected tragedy took much of the fight out of Jim Locke. His write-in candidacy had been initiated by William Osborne, and his sheriff’s office was in Osborne’s hotel. Will Osborne had a reputation as the most fearless man in Hamilton County, a title earned, in part, for suffering a head wound in an intense gun battle during which he shot and captured a very dangerous criminal.

In mid-August, Osborne had been injured in a baseball game. In September, during Locke’s struggle to remain as sheriff, came a stunning announcement—Osborne had died of his injuries. After burying his close friend, Locke resumed the fight, but soon decided on a compromise based on leverage he now held—more than half the county voters had already been subpoenaed.

To avoid the great expense of continued litigation, which one writer said “would have almost swamped the county treasury,” Locke demanded compensation for having served as sheriff for the year since he was elected. The agreement also said, “It is understood that, in withdrawing from the case, Locke was not a loser through any previous legal proceedings.”

It was a confusing decision, but the county and Kathan agreed to the terms. Locke’s office was disbanded and the deputies he had appointed were dismissed. It had been a long, tempestuous year, but Hamilton County finally had one official sheriff. And, hopefully, a new set of rules governing write-in votes.

Photo: A few of the many wild headlines generated by the sheriff controversy.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Astronomy: The September Night Sky

This month I am changing the format of this a bit to include more than just some deep sky objects that you can make out faintly with your naked eye. This time and from now on I will try to include the Moon, planets, and some constellations.

Here are some naked eye objects for the month of September. All of these objects, although small, should be visible without the help of binoculars or a telescope, so long as you have clear dark skies.

Light pollution is a killer for seeing these objects with your naked eye. To find out how dark your location is, use the Google Map Overlay of light pollution. If you are in a blue, gray or black area then you should have dark enough skies. You may still be able to see some of these objects in a green location. If you aren’t in a dark sky location you may still be able to see these objects with a pair of binoculars or telescope.

You can find help locating the night sky objects listed below by using one of the free sky charts at Skymaps.com (scroll down to Northern Hemisphere Edition and click on the PDF for September 2011). The map shows what is in the sky in September at 9 pm for early September; 8 pm for late September.

If you are not familiar with what you see in the night sky, this is a great opportunity to step outside, look up, and begin learning the constellations. The sky is beautiful and filled with many treasures just waiting for you to discover them. Once you have looked for these objects go through the list again if you have a pair of binoculars handy, the views get better!

The Moon
The Moon will be full on September 12th in the East from sunset and setting in the West around sunrise.
On the night of the 15th and the 16th Jupiter will be roughly 7° below the moon. On the 16th find the moon in the East around 11pm and Jupiter will be 7° to the right.
The 23rd Mars will be about 5° up and to the left of the Moon in the early morning before sunrise.

Mercury
Mercury will be visible early in the morning, about 45 minutes before sunrise until the 18th of September, slowly getting closer to the horizon.

Mars
For the month of September Mars is still a morning planet not rising in the East until 3am just below the constellation Gemini.

Jupiter
Jupiter is rising earlier in the evening around 10:30pm. If you happen to have a pair of binoculars handy this is a great object to point them at. Even a typical pair of binoculars 10×50 should show you four of Jupiters moons; Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. You can actually watch them orbit around Jupiter if you watch them all month long.

Lyra the Harp, Cygnus the Swan and Aquila the Eagle
Directly overhead after sunset, around 7:30pm. These three constellations contain 3 of the brightest stars in the summer sky which form what is called The Summer Triangle. The star Vega in Lyra, Deneb in Cygnus and Altair in Aquila. If you are in a really dark area you should be able to see the Milky Way passing through the constellations Cygnus and Aquila. Again, if you have a pair of binoculars and want to be wowed (even from a light polluted spot) look towards the Milky Way and look at all the stars that pop out at you.

Delphinus
If you have spotted The Summer Triangle, look to the left (East) of the star Altair to find a small kite shaped constellation called Delphinus, the Dolphin.

Andromeda
Although it may be easier to view later in the night around midnight or later – The Andromeda Galaxy cataloged as M31 is visible to the naked eye in the northeast. The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest galaxy to the Milky Way lying about 2.5 million light-years away. If in a dark enough location the light produced by this galaxy is roughly the diameter of 5 moons in our sky.

Perseus
The Double Cluster, cataloged as NGC 869 and NGC 884 is a beautiful cluster that shows quite a group of stars with the naked eye. M34, which you may need to wait until around 11pm for it to be high enough to see is nearly a moon-diameter wide and is a fairly easy to see open cluster.

Sagittarius
M8 is an open star cluster and nebula complex, also known as the Lagoon Nebula . Visible to the naked eye as a small hazy patch. Bright enough that it is visible even in suburbia. It may look small with the naked eye, but it is actually quite large nearly two moon diameters across. I’m not sure if any of the other objects are visible to the naked eye, although Sagittarius is a beautiful sight as it lays in the Milky Way.

Aquila
The Great Rift is a non-luminous dust cloud that can be seen splitting the Milky Way in two separate streams. It stretches from Aquila to the constellation Cygnus although it is more prominent in the constellation Aquila.

Hercules
Messier Object 13 (known as M13) is a globular cluster. It will have a small hazy glow to it. Hercules is getting lower in the sky so M13 may be difficult to spot through the haze of the atmosphere.

Cygnus
North America Nebula (NGC7000) – The unaided eye sees only a wedge-shaped star-cloud which may be quite dim, or not visible at all. In dark skies it should pop out a bit. Located near the star Deneb. M39 an open cluster patch of stars northeast of the star Deneb. The Northern Coalsack spans across the sky between the stars Deneb, Sadir, and Gienah in the northeastern portion of Cygnus. If you don’t know which stars of Sadir and Gienah just find Deneb with the map and look to the east northeast.

Ursa Major
Mizar and Alcor is a double star in the handle of the Big Dipper. Was once used as a test of good eyesight before glasses. Mizar resolves into a beautiful blue-white and greenish white binary (double star system). They are labeled on the map I linked to above.

Photo: The Summer Triangle in a Wikipedia photo showing the constellations and stars that make up the Summer Triangle.

Michael Rector is an amateur astronomer with his own blog, Adirondack Astronomy.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Adirondack State Campground Camping

What follows is a guest essay contributed by the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership, a coalition of Adirondack organizations building on the Leave No Trace philosophy:

Picture this… the weather forecast is for a beautiful weekend, spring camping has begun and you have a reservation for your favorite site at the campground you camped at as a child. Your grandparents have reserved the site next to you and they will have their boat in the water and the fishing poles put together before you arrive. Your kids are excited about getting to the perch hole they fished last year.

When school is out for the summer, you’ll spend even more time camping and your kids will earn the newest patch in the Junior Naturalist Program. In the past they have had so much fun completing the activities and the bonus is how much they have learned about conservation and the environment. Someday they’ll be bringing their children camping and you will be the grandparent.

In the Adirondack Park there are 42 public campgrounds administered by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. These campgrounds provide a wide variety of experiences, including island camping, tent and trailer camping, boat launching facilities, hiking trails, beaches and day use areas with picnic tables and grills. There are no utility hook-ups at these campgrounds.

For more information about DEC operated campgrounds call (518) 457-2500 or www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/camping.html. To make a reservation call Reserve America, at 1-800-456-CAMP (1-800-456-2267), or reserveamerica.com

More than 100 private campgrounds are also available in the Adirondacks. They generally offer a wider variety of services, including utility hook-ups. For a listing of private campgrounds contact the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council at (518) 846-8016 or www.VisitAdirondacks.com and click on the camping link.

This guest essay was contributed by the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership, a coalition of Adirondack organizations building on the Leave No Trace philosophy. Their goal is to provide public education about the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easements with an emphasis on how to safely enjoy, share, and protect these unique lands. To learn more about AFPEP visit www.adirondackoutdoors.org.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Adirondackers Go To War: 1861-1865

Understanding and appreciating the events of the Civil War will come alive the weekend of September 9-11 in North Creek as the Johnsburg Historical Society commemorates the 150th anniversary of the start of that war in 1861.

Saturday, September 10th at 7:30 pm and on Sunday, September 11th at 2:00 pm local author Glenn L. Pearsall will present “Johnsburg Goes to War: 1861-1865” in the auditorium of the Tannery Pond Community Center. During this special two hour “one man show” with extras, Glenn will share his two years worth of research on the 125 men from Johnsburg who went off to war.

Pearsall’s talk will feature over 100 historic photographs including some pictures of those men from Johnsburg and the places they fought as they look today. Re-enactors in uniform will read from the diaries and journals that Pearsall has discovered to give a real sense of what the war meant to small Adirondack hamlets like Johnsburg in 1861. His talk will cover army life in the 22nd, 93rd, 96th and 118th NY Regiments who recruited men from Warren, Washington, Clinton and Essex Counties here in the Adirondacks.

From August 26 to September 21st the Widlund Gallery of Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek will feature a display of pictures of some of the men from Johnsburg who went off to war including historical photographs, period flags and a display on Mathew Brady, noted Civil War photographer born in Johnsburg.

On September 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on September 11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. a dramatic living history re-enactment will take place at the town Ski Bowl on NYS Rt 28. (The re-enactors will not be open for business Friday). Several professional re-enactment groups will represent the lives of men in the 118th NY, the 123rd NY, 95th NY and 76th NY. The park’s ideal location offers spacious grounds, fresh water, restrooms, and ample parking.

Jim Hunt, contact for the re-enactors, indicates that “The camp setup will be a living history. All items used are authentic reproductions. We will camp in canvas tents, cook over an open fire and dress in period correct attire. We will converse with the public and answer questions about life 150 years ago. We will have display items for people to look at and touch. We will conduct ourselves in camp as they would have done. We will do firing demonstrations all day long so people can see and hear what a musket sounds like. The public will be able to hold the muskets but not fire them. We will conduct a military drill and manual of arms (probably at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) and we will be having a Civil War wedding. This will be an actual wedding of two of our members. The camp will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sunday.”

For more information or to reserve a ticket for Glenn Pearsall’s program on either Saturday at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m., call 518-251-5788 and leave a message. Tickets must be picked up by ten minutes before the programs. Adult tickets are $10 and children’s tickets are $6 for the benefit of the Johnsburg Historical Society. This entire Civil War commemoration is made possible by the Rivendell Foundation, Stewart’s Shops and friends of the Johnsburg Historical Society.

Photo: Monument to the War Dead of the Town of Queensbury, Warren County, New York. Located at the intersection of Glen, Bay and South Streets in Glens Falls, New York.


Friday, September 9, 2011

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 7,000 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Adirondack Events This Weekend (September 9)

Visit the Almanack on Fridays for links to what’s happening this weekend around the Adirondacks.

The Almanack also provides weekly backcountry conditions and hunting and fishing reports for those headed into the woods or onto the waters this weekend.

Region-wide Events This Weekend

Around & About in Lake George This Weekend

Lake Placid Region Events This Weekend

Old Forge Area Events This Weekend


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