Friday, January 14, 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 4,500 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, January 14, 2011

Lake George Park Commission Supports NYS Invasives Law

The Lake George Park Commission has approved a resolution supporting legislation drafted by the state’s Invasive Species Council that would make it illegal to transport an invasive species from one water body to another.

The proposed law would create regulations stronger than any currently in place on Lake George, said Mike White, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 14, 2011

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

Each Friday morning Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the previous week’s top stories. You can find all our weekly news round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 4,500 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.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Jan. 13)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to sometimes drastic changes.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS
Winter conditions exist throughout the area. Expect to encounter one to two feet of snow in the lower elevations with several feet above 2300 feet and ice on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. Daytime temperatures below freezing can be expected at all elevations, with wind-chill below freezing as well. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 10 inches of new snow has fallen during the past 24 hours for at total of 25 inches of snow at the cabin. Many people are traveling on the ice on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden but caution is recommended around inlets and outlets.

** Snowmobiles
Gates have been open on all snowmobile trails. Snowmobiles are operating on these and other designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

Thin Ice Safety
Ice has formed on water bodies and people have been observed on the ice at numerous locations. Always check the thickness of ice before crossing. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Each year a number of people fall through thin ice. One has already died. Use extreme caution with ice.

Carry Extra Winter Gear
Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

Know The Latest Weather
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.

Fire Danger: LOW

** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Mostly cloudy, high near 18. Wind chill to zero.
Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, low around -1. Light and variable wind.
Saturday: Light snow, cloudy, with a high near 20.
Saturday Night: Light snow, cloudy, with a low around 10.
Sunday: Chance of snow showers, cloudy, with a high near 20.
Sunday Night: Cloudy, with a low around -3.
M.L.King Day: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 16.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

** Snow Cover
This week’s storm contributed mightily to the region’s snow cover. There is one to two feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park, with the highest amounts in the Northeast part of the park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 10 inches of new snow has fallen during the past 24 hours for at total of 25 inches of snow at the cabin; snow can drift to a more than several feet deep at higher elevations. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The southeast part of the park, in Northern Warren and Eastern Essex County including the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks, finally received about 8 to 10 inches this week. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.

** Downhill Ski Report
All mountains (including Hickory in Warrensburg, and Big Tupper) will be open this weekend with plenty of snow (except at Hickory, where it’s reported that skiing is good on the lower mountain only).

** Cross Country Ski Report
All cross country ski areas will be open this weekend with a six to 10 inch base. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about 8 to 15 inches of base [conditions].

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all backcountry trails, though there are still some rocks to be avoided on narrower trails. Avalanche Pass is now skiable, as is the hiking trail to Marcy Dam, although still somewhat thin. The Marcy Truck trail is the better skiing approach. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 10 inches of new snow has fallen during the past 24 hours for at total of 25 inches of snow at the cabin. Many people are traveling on the ice on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden but caution is recommended around inlets and outlets. Snowshoes or skis now required for all High Peaks travel.

** Ice Climbing Report
Climbable areas include Chapel Pond (the pond is now frozen), Cascade Pass, and the North side of Pitchoff, Multi-Gulley, and Poke-O-Moonshine. Chillar Pillar and the Mineville Pillar are in, but only for top-roping. There is no report for Roaring Brook Falls. Palisades on Lake Champlain went out in the thaw last week, and was rebuilding at last report (last week). In the backcountry, there is climbing at Underwood Canyon and Elk Pass. It’s believed some climbs must be in at Avalanche Pass, and Pharaoh Mountain, though no reports yet. Nothing yet on the north face of Gothics. NOTE: Mountainfest takes place this weekend in Keene and Keene Valley. Expect heavier than normal use both Saturday and Sunday at the Quarry, Pitch-Off Right, Lions on the Beach and Positive Reinforcement. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.

** Municipal Ice Skating Rinks Are Open
Most municipal outdoor skating rinks are now open. Call ahead for specific opening days and times.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, but ice conditions vary widely by location. Anglers have been observed on Rollins Pond, Lake Colby, and Lake Clear and Kings Bay and Catfish Bay on Lake Champlain. Some of the bays in Lake George have iced over but are still very thin. Many smaller local lakes have 6 inches or more of ice. Ice anglers are traveling on foot thus far and motor vehicle traffic is not recommended on the ice at this point. Due to the softness of the road, the gate at the Kings Bay Wildlife Management Area has been closed. Tip-ups may be operated on waters through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
The regions snowmobile trails made major progress with this week’s snow, and grooming has begun, HOWEVER, trails are still fairly fragile in fair to good condition with about a 6 to 8 inch base, across most of the region. DEC has opened the gates to snowmobile trails throughout Franklin County. The exception is in Warren and Eastern Essex County, where many trails have yet to open. Riders everywhere should show restraint and use extreme caution. The connector trails between Newcomb, Long Lake, and Indian Lake are expected to be open this season and links to the east are in the works. Conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** Nearly All Rivers Running Normal
Waters in the region are running at normal levels for this time of year with the exception of the Raquette River, which is now running just above normal, and the Indian River, which is now running just below normal. Ice has formed on nearly all flat waters and is forming on swift waters as well. Paddlers should use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

Hunting Seasons
Although fall hunting seasons for big game and waterfowl are over in the Adirondack region, some small game hunting is still underway. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Some furbearer trapping seasons remain open. This would be a good time to keep pets leased and on the trails. A reminder that body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.

Upper Benson to Whitehouse: About 1.8 miles north of the Silver Lake lean-to and just south of the Canary Pond tent camping area, the trail is flooded and may require wading through water and mud. Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.

West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About a half mile north of the Lake Durant trailhead at Route 28/30 the trail crosses several flooded boardwalks. Use extreme caution as the boardwalk is not visible and may shift. Expect to get your boots wet and use a stick or hiking pole to feel your way along to avoid falling off the boardwalk.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond the trail is flooded by beaver activity. The reroute to the east is now also flooded in spots.

Duck Hole to Averyville Rd. and Lake Placid: Beaver activity has flooded the trail about 3 miles south of the Averyville trailhead and will require a sturdy bushwhack.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

Ice: Ice has formed on all waters.

Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

HIGH PEAKS

** Snowshoes Required: Snowshoes are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC will be working to clear trails as soon as possible.

Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes are needed. There is aprox 3 feet of snow near the summit. (12/23)

Wright Peak: Snow shoes are necessary on Wright Peak and full crampons will be required for the final 1/4 mile approach to the summit as there is thick ice on bare rock.

Jackrabbit Ski Trail: Improvements have been made to the Jackrabbit Trail, a 24-mile cross-country ski trail that runs between Saranac Lake and Keene. There has been a reroute of the popular six mile section between McKenzie Pond Road outside Saranac Lake to Whiteface Inn Road outside Lake Placid. The rerouted trail avoids some hilly terrain at the start of this section and also avoids the ball field, and some private property. Trailhead parking is expected to be expanded in this area later this year.

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

Wilmington Wild Forest: Snowmobiles may be operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Blue Ridge Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crews have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: South Inlet Loop (no bridge at stillwater be cautious crossing ice) and the Sagamore Loop Trail

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: All designated snowmobile trails in the Moose River Plains are now open. DEC Forest Rangers and trail crews have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Limekiln Lake Ski Routes, Bug Lake Trail (open to snowmobiles, be cautious), the north side of the Black Bear Mountain Loop (blow down still present on south side), the trails to the summits of Rocky Mountain and Black Bear Mountain are also well marked (snowshoes & crampons may be necessary).

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Shelving Roack: All gates on snowmobile trails in the Shelving Rock area are now open.

** Tongue Mountain: Tongue Mountain has snow cover from base to summit, snowshoes or skis and ice crampons should be carried and used whenever conditions warrant. There is some minor blowdown on the trail.

** Jabe Pond Road: The Jabe Pond Road gate is open and the road is open to snowmobiles, skiers, and snowshoers.

** Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Dacy Clearing Road is a designated snowmobile trail, has been reopened. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice is forming on all waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Due to logging operations the Madawaska Road and Conversation Corners Road will be closed to snowmobiles and the Snowmobile Corridor C8 has been rerouted.

Saranac Lakes Chain: The lower locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain have been shut down for the winter. The locks are closed and made inoperable every winter to avoid unsafe situations for users and to prevent damage to the locks. Operation of the locks in icy conditions in the past was the cause of damage to hoses, hydraulic rams, and the hydraulic control mechanism. The repair of these damages is costly and stops boater traffic in the highly utilized area while the locks are being repaired. DEC does not officially close the upper locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain. They are manually operated and become inoperable when ice forms. Unlike the lower locks, there is no hydraulic equipment that can be damaged. The lower locks will be reopened after the ice goes out in the spring.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Gates have been open on the old D & H railroad bed (Snowmobile Corridor C7B). Skiers and snowshoers using this designated snowmobile trail should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobilers are required to slow down when passing skiers, snowshoers or other snowmmobiles on trails.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Numerous cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities exist on the Public Use Areas and Linear Recreation Corridors open to the public. Skiers and snowshoers are asked not to use the groomed snowmobile routes. Signs on the trails and maps of the snowmobile routes instruct snowmobilers on which routes are open this winter. Portions of these routes may be plowed from time to time so riders should be cautious and aware of motor vehicles that may be on the road. These route changes are a result of the cooperation of Chateaugay Woodlands, the landowner of the easement lands, and their willingness to maintain the snowmobile network. The cooperation of snowmobilers will ensure future cooperative reroutes when the need arises.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A parking area has been built on Goldsmith Road for snowmobile tow vehicles and trailers. The southern terminus of Linear Recreation Corridor 8 (Liberty Road) lies several hundred feet to the east of the parking area and connects to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) via Linear Recreation Corridor 7 (Wolf Pond Mountain Road). Construction of the parking area was a cooperative effort of the landowner, the Town of Franklin, and DEC. The Town of Franklin donated time, personnel and equipment from their highway department and will be plowing the parking area.

Sable Highlands / Old Liberty Road / Wolf Pond Mountain Road Snowmobile Trail: Due to planned logging operations by the landowner on lands north of Loon Lake, the western portion of the snowmobile trail (Old Liberty Road/Wolf Pond Mountain Road) that connected with the C7 Snowmobile Corridor Trail (the utility corridor) just north of Loon Lake near Drew Pond and lead to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) has been closed this winter. The eastern portion of that snowmobile trail (Wolf Pond Mountain Road) now connects to Goldsmith Road near the parking area. Snowmobiles planning to travel between Franklin County and Clinton County using the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail must access C8A at the junction with C7 or use Goldsmith Road and the trail from the Goldsmith Road to C8A (Wolf Pond Road).

Sable Highlands / Mullins Road: The Mullins Road has been opened to snowmobiles to connect County Route 26 (Loon Lake Road) to C7. The road is located approximately halfway between the intersections of Route 26 with C8 (Debar Game Farm Road) and Route 26 with C7. (12/23)

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring 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.

Personal Flotation Devices Required
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Cave And Mine Closings
White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.

Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

——————–
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

15th Annual Adirondack International Mountainfest

The 15th annual Adirondack International Mountainfest takes place this weekend, January 14-16, 2011. This year’s event will kick off with a slide show by Freddie Wilkinson on Friday night. Saturday’s speaker will be renowned Exum guide and mountaineer Mark Newcomb, and Sunday’s entertainment is Vermont’s star climber Matt McCormick.

Freddie, Mark and Matt will join local guides Chuck Boyd, Emilie Drinkwater, Jeremy Haas, Carl Heilman, Matt Horner, Chad Kennedy, Colin Loher, Don Mellor and Jim Pitarresi to lead instructional clinics on ice climbing, mountaineering, snowshoeing and avalanche awareness on Saturday and Sunday. All Participants must register in advance.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beaver: Bushwhacker’s Boon or Bane?

Beaver are one of the very few mammals in the Adirondacks to transform their physical environment to meet their own needs (man being another more extreme example). These transforms can prove to be either a boon or a bane to a bushwhacker exploring the backcountry without the aid of a trail or path.

The most famous behavior of beavers is their propensity to build dams to pond water for protection from predators and to float wood, their chief source of sustenance. These dams offer the bushwhacker an unmatched resource for crossing wet area with a greatly reduced risk of soaked feet. These structures are so valuable that I have traveled a significant distance out of my way to cross one on more than a few occasions rather than ford across a bone-chilling cold, mucky stream.



After building a dam and flooding an adjacent area, beavers tend to clear most of the hardwood trees in the vicinity of their new home. Often this results in areas clear of most of the understory vegetation since beavers appear to prefer the succulent younger trees. Bushwhacking through these areas is often a welcome relief from fighting one’s way through thick coniferous vegetation.

Additional benefits from these beaver ponds results from the quest these large rodents participate in just to obtain a good meal. Often they journey far from the pond to find the exact type of trees they prefer and in the process they leave significant paths throughout the forest. Although these trails prove of little value within mature forests, they provide unmatched assistance to a backcountry explorer in blow down areas adjacent to beaver constructed water bodies. For such industrious animals the beaver finds the path of least resistance through even the most disorganized jumble of downed trees.

Another benefit these mammals provide to the bushwhacker is the channels of water they often produce at the point where they exit from their beaver ponds. These areas usually provide a narrow and deep canal of undisturbed water ideal for filtering. This is often a great benefit around water bodies with indistinct shorelines where finding a deep enough spot close to shore is virtually impossible.

Not all of the habits of the beaver produce conditions helpful to a backcountry adventurer. When these adverse conditions are encountered the backcountry explorer might very well conclude the beaver is more foe than friend.

The most dangerous of these buck-toothed mammal’s habits is its tendency to leave behind the remnants of the saplings it feasted upon. These Punji sticks are often covered in leaf sprouts and thus difficult to detect until one of these spikes has been embedded into an unprotected knee. And heaven forbid if one should slip and fall backwards in such an area. Now THAT would be a million to one shot, Doc!

Although the area around a recently formed beaver pond can be cleared of a significant amount of woody hardwood vegetation (making it easier to travel through), over time this can result in an area thick in conifers many years after the pond has been long abandoned. For anyone who has ever struggled through these young coniferous forests can attest to the painfully slow progress these areas afford. The scratches, scrapes and nearly poked out eyes hurt too!

Unfortunately beaver dams often result in flooding that is not represented on a bushwhacker’s map or personal GPS. This may require an explorer to make significant changes to their plans when they encounter a flooded area where once their favorite campsite was located.

Finally, one of the beaver’s most shocking habits is its mode of announcing its annoyance with one’s presence. This tail slapping on the surface of the water can be so loud and unsuspecting that it has startled me on more than a single condition even when I knew the beaver was near. Only an air horn could possibly be more disturbing or unsettling.

The beaver by the nature of its habits has shown itself to be both boon and bane to backcountry explorers regardless whether they are a hiker finding his/her favorite trail flooded, a backcountry enthusiast crossing a stream on a dam or a bushwhacker doing his/her best to avoid Punji sticks surrounding the shore of a beaver pond. So depending on your circumstances you may find yourself calling the beaver a friend or foe on your next jaunt into the Adirondack backcountry.

Photos: Beaver dam, beaver activity and beaver tail splash by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frazil Ice at Hudson River Ice Meadows

Just North of Warrensburg in the Adirondacks, South of the Glen, along the Hudson River is a unique habitat. This microhabitat is 16 miles and a sparse 115 acres, part of which is protected by the Hudson River Shoreline Preserve. This unique preserve goes by another name: The Ice Meadows. The only natural grasslands in New York State can be found here. What makes the Ice Meadows so special are the rare species of plants and insects that can be found in this cooler microclimate habitat.

During this time of year, the magic happens that makes the Ice Meadows what they are. Within the Hudson River, a collection of loose ice crystals are forming that look like slush in the water, this is called frazil ice. Frazil ice forms in super cooled water.

When frazil ice groups together, it forms pancake ice. Like the name suggests, it looks like yummy pancakes with upturned edges. These pancakes can be as large as 10 feet across. When the pancakes group together, they will cover the surface of the river with a skin of ice. This skin will grow and can reach a thickness of glacial proportions, as high as 15 feet.

The ice grows and pushes up on the shore and will scour the shoreline of the Ice Meadows depositing organic matter and removing trees. The thick ice can take into April to melt, which shortens the growing season, which maintains the cooler climate. This allows the unique alpine species to grow.

At least 5 endangered plant species and 5 threatened plant species are known to live in the Ice Meadows. These include: Ohio Goldenrod, Auricled Twayblade and the Dwarf Sand-cherry. A species of special concern is the dragonfly: the Extra-striped snaketail. There are other species found only in this unique habitat, they are common to alpine habitats and are generally dwarf species.

There are so few occurrences of the Ice Meadows in New York, that they need to be protected. Major threats include: invasive species, development and trampling by visitors. Little research has been conducted on this unique habitat that truly not much is known. There are only between 10-20 known Ice Meadows throughout New York State, they can be found along the upper portions of rivers near mountains.

If you want to view the Ice Meadows, they can be visited by the trail system that is just north of Warrensburg on Golf Course Road, or by visiting the canoe access site at the Warren County Fish Hatchery. For more information on the Ice Meadows or NY, check out the NY Natural Heritage Program website. Enjoy your visit into a unique world of glacier like ice shelves and miniature plants.

Photo’s: Top; Ice Meadows on the Hudson, Middle; Frazile Ice in the Hudson, Bottom; Glacier in the Adirondacks, Courtesy Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regulalry about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Adirondack Youth Archery Program Offered

The Warren County 4-H Shooting Sports program will be conducting an archery program on Thursday, February 3, 10, and 17th at 6pm, location TBA. Children 9 years and over will learn all fundamental safety steps for handling a bow. Bows, arrows, tabs, arm guards, and targets will be provided for this event.

As with all NYS 4-H Shooting Sports programs, Warren County instructors are either State or nationally certified in their area of discipline. Safety is always the primary focus of the program.

All participants must be registered 4-H members to participate for insurance purposes. There is a $5.00 fee for non-members which includes a membership in Warren County 4-H. Class is limited to 18. Pre-register by calling 623-3291 or 668-4881.

Photo: Dunham’s Bay 4-H Shooting Line, recurve bows.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Clarkson University Researching Luge Sled Design

Two engineers from Clarkson University will work to design a faster, more aerodynamic sled for the United States Luge Team, which it hopes to use at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Mechanical engineering professors Douglas G. Bohl and Brian Helenbrook will use computer models and wind tunnels to speed up the sled and reduce drag.

Bohl got involved after his now 13-year-old son tried out for the USA Luge development team last year. While traveling to the luge track in Lake Placid with his son each weekend, Bohl met sports programs director and two-time Olympic medalist Mark Grimmette, at which point he proposed the idea for a research project to reduce aerodynamic drag on the sled.

“We’ve wanted to do this for years, but did not have the resources,” says Gordy Sheer, director of marketing and sponsorship for USA Luge. “We also needed someone who understood the sport and its nuances.”

“As athletes become better, equipment plays a bigger part in winning,” says Bohl. “I don’t know if there’s a ‘silver bullet,’ but I think we can make a difference.”

Luge is the only Winter Olympics gravity sport measured to 1/1000th of a second, so very small changes in drag can greatly affect times.

“We’ll build a computer model of a sled with a slider on it, compute the drag, examine the flow going past and finally put an actual sled in Clarkson’s wind tunnel to make drag measurements,” says Bohl.

Eventually, a sled will be built based on the Clarkson team’s research and taken to the low speed (sub-sonic) wind tunnel at the San Diego Air and Space Technology Center where USA Luge sleds are tested.

“We’re looking for evolution, not revolution,” says Sheer. “The Clarkson team will be looking at the aerodynamic shell and aerodynamic shape of the sled as a whole.”

Placid Boatworks, a custom canoe shop in Lake Placid, N.Y., builds the pods or shells, which act as a seat for the athletes. The kufens, which are the bridge between the steel runners and the pod, are hand carved from ash and wrapped in fiberglass.

“There is lots of artistry in luge sled design,” says Bohl. “Art will direct you to good solution through natural selection, but basic sled designs haven’t changed in 10 to 15 years. Scientists and engineers might be able to bring some new ideas into play.”

Bohl, Helenbrook and their team of students will receive no monetary compensation for their research.

“We won’t get technical papers or money out of this, but we’re helping the U.S. team,” says Bohl. “That’s a cool benefit of being at a University. It’s a lot of fun to do projects like this and Clarkson’s location near the Adirondacks and Lake Placid gives us the opportunity. We’re really excited.”

Photo: Douglas G. Bohl (right), a Clarkson University engineering professor, discusses luge design with Gordy Sheer, a 1998 Olympic silver medalist in luge and director of marketing and sponsorship for USA Luge.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dave Gibson: Common Road Salt is Toxic

Outside my house, and in the forest back beyond the land is carpeted with crystalline beauty, affording quietude, serenity, thermal shelter for critters, and some nice ski runs. Out on the county road, just two hours after the recent storm the pavement is bare – right on schedule with transportation departments’ standard for road maintenance and safety. To accomplish it, a corrosive pollutant will be laid down in quantity – 900,000 tons of road salt will be used across the state this winter according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) website. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DEC Seeks Comments on Temporary Revocable Permit Policy

The DEC is taking comments through January 14, 2011 on a proposed revision of the Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) Policy, which sets forth the procedure for issuing permits for the temporary use of DEC’s State lands, including, but not limited to DEC’s: Wildlife Management Areas, State Reforestation Areas, Forest Preserves, campgrounds, boat launches/waterway access sites, tidal wetlands, and conservation easements).

DEC issues TRPs for activities that are in compliance with all constitutional, statutory and regulatory requirements; the Adirondack and Catskill Park State Land Master Plans; adopted Unit Management Plans and Recreation Management Plans; and that have negligible or no permanent impact on the environment.

You can review the draft policy online [pdf]. You can find additional policy details and information on submitting comments here.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities’ Diane Chase: Long Lake E-lumination

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

Long Lake native and artist Matt Burnett is bringing one element of his art back to his hometown with fellow artist Scott Fuller. Each has enjoy their own personal artistic successes within their favored medium but continue to stretch personal boundaries with the use of nature’s elements to mold snow and ice with light to create a temporary outdoor art exhibit.

“We like to find a way to represent the flow of nature. I like to do something that will stir up the pot and make people think about what is natural and what is artificial,” say Burnett. “The exhibit will be in two to three locations around Long Lake. It is nice to be able to bring something back to my hometown. They are supportive of new ideas in this small community.”

Burnett and Fuller have collaborated in the past with using winter elements as with the Community Spiral in Saranac Lake in 2008, a large-scale public ice sculpture. This outdoor ice sculpture involved ice bricks and hundreds of lighted tea candles.

According to Burnett the Long Lake project has been over a year in the planning. Already many hours have gone into the concept of E-lumination from the molded geometric snow forms to testing equipment for the projected images. Now the two artists, with the help of volunteers will take the next three days on site to install the outdoor exhibit to create glowing multicolored orbs that will surprise and delight travelers and locals alike.

“I like to create something that appeals to anyone,” says Burnett. “Not everyone is going to ever see the same thing when looking at art. Art can sometimes be viewed as exclusive. I want to work on different levels and the challenge is to be able to relate to as many people as possible.”

Matt Burnett has garnered accolades for his paintings, multimedia studies and environmental events. He is also the co-director of the Graphic and Multimedia Design program at SUNY Canton where he teaches studio art, photography and design.

Scott Fuller continues to work in public installations and new media. Along with other awards, Fuller’s piece with Asherah Cinnamon, Reaching for Courage: Gateway to China was a finalist for the 2008 Bejjing Olympic Sculpture contest. Fuller is an Assistant Professor of Fine Art at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

“There will be a game involved. We are tying in elements of history to the region of Long Lake,” says Burnett. “ We are projecting images, some between 70-100 years old, that we hope will be special to the people of the Long Lake and to people that are just passing through. There will be a puzzle for people to try to name all the people and places that are to be projected for the week the project is up.”

Burnett and Fuller will be doing a similar outdoor installation at St. Lawrence University in Canton in February. The sculpture will be seen at the center quad and focus more on the environmental issues of St. Lawrence Univerisity instead of the regional history. Burdett will also conduct a lecture on public and environmental art.

For more information regarding Matt Burdett and Scott Fuller’s art, check out their respective websites. E-lumination is slated to be working this weekend, weather permitting, in time for Long Lake Winter Carnival.

Thie E lumination project is made possible in part from support from the following organizations: The Arts Council for the Northern Adirondacks, New York State Foundation for the Arts, The Adirondack Museum, The Town of Long Lake, and Gillis Reality.

Photo: The Saranac Lake Community Spiral, used with the permission of Matt Burnett.


content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

11th Northeast Natural History Conference

The 11th Northeast Natural History Conference (NENHC), including the founding meeting of the Association of Northeastern Biologists (ANB) will be held April 6-9, 2011, at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.

The conference promises to be the largest regional forum for researchers, natural resource managers, students, and naturalists to present current information on the varied aspects of applied field biology (freshwater, marine, and terrestrial) and natural history for the Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada.

It is expected to serve as a premier venue to identify research and management needs, foster friendships and collegial relationships, and encourage a greater region-wide interest in natural history by bringing people with diverse backgrounds together.

For more information visit: http://www.eaglehill.us/NENHC_2011/NENHC2011


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Newcomb Interpretive Center Transition

newcombtrails2It is easy during a transition to focus on the work ahead to the exclusion of the past. As the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry assumes control of the Adirondack Park Agency’s Newcomb Visitor Interpretive Center the college does not want that to happen.

The Newcomb center and her sibling center at Paul Smiths are both fabulous year-round facilities with beautiful trails through diverse and wonderful habitats. But they are beloved by visitors and park residents alike not just because of what they are, but because of “who” they are. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Almanack Welcomes Naturalist, Educator Paul B. Hai

It’s been a busy week couple weeks for new contributors and today I’ve got some more good news for our readers who enjoy the Almanack‘s natural history side.

Please join me in welcoming Paul B. Hai as our newest contributor. Paul is the Program Coordinator for the Northern Forest Institute for Conservation Education and Leadership Training of the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) and the leads the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb, the former Newcomb VIC, and now the educational outreach venue of the NFI. He is co-founder of Children in Nature, New York and serves on the Grassroots Leadership Team of the Children & Nature Network.

Paul is passionate about creating interdisciplinary programs using natural history, inquiry-based activities and outdoor experiences as the foundations for teaching the process of science, exploring the Adirondack experience, and for getting children outside. He says that his commitment to using informal science education as a vehicle for reconnecting children to nature will form one of the key programmatic themes of the Adirondack Interpretive Center.

Paul first “visited” the Adirondacks at three-months old, returning with his family to camp on the islands of Lake George two weeks each summer for the next 14 years. He also spent eight summers attending Adirondack Swim and Trip Camp on Jones Pond, an experience that took him by foot and paddle all over the region.

Paul and his wife, ecologist Stacy McNulty, Associate Director of the Adirondack Ecological Center, live in Newcomb with their two daughters. Prior to moving to Newcomb, Paul spent four years living in Bolton Landing and working in Chestertown and Warrensburg before moving to Syracuse to attend graduate school at ESF.


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