Thursday, March 1, 2012

10th Adirondack Back Country Ski Fest This Weekend

Glen Plake is skiing into Keene Valley from Chamonix, France to join The Mountaineer’s 10th annual Adirondack Back Country Ski Festival on March 3rd and 4th.

The annual charity event supports the Adirondack Ski Touring Council and the New York Ski Educational Foundation and allows back country ski enthusiasts a chance to demo equipment take clinics and enjoy an evening with Glen Plake on Saturday night at the Keene Central School’s “Beaver Dome” in Keene Valley at 7:30 pm.

Plake will be here compliments of Julbo, the glacier and fashion sun glass company. Other sponsors who are supporting the event and providing raffle items for Saturday night include Back Country Ski magazine, Dynafit, Primaloft, Voile-USA, Marmot, Madshus, Garmont, Scarpa, Mammut, G3, and adkbcski.com. A ski tour and Intermediate and Advanced back country ski clinics are guided by Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides of Keene Valley.

The event’s sponsors will also be providing demos for on snow testing from 10 to 2:30 on Saturday. Plake will be on hand and there will be free telemark, skinning and avalanche beacon clinics. The demo event location will be announced on the 27th.

Call The Mountaineer at 518 576 2281 or visit www.mountaineer.com for details.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Phil Brown: Don’t Bill Hikers For Rescues

Last week I interviewed Steve Mastaitis at the Adirondack Medical Center, where he was recovering from frostbite and hypothermia after spending a night curled up in a snow hole near the summit of Mount Marcy.

The story, posted on the Adirondack Explorer website, generated a lot of discussion on my blog and in hikers’ forums. A number of people criticized Mastaitis, saying he was unprepared to hike Marcy in winter, and some suggested that he and others like him should be forced to pay for their rescues. Click here to read my original post. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: East Cove, Lake George

Either this is just getting too easy, or the East Cove in Lake George is a great place to go on a Tuesday afternoon in February. You know what? The East Cove is a great place to go on a Tuesday afternoon in February! Pam had been away for two consecutive weekends, creating absences in our tavern attendance. Our Adirondack Almanack deadline looming, Pam skipped out of work ten minutes early so that we could meet at East Cove, review the bar, and still have time to write our review for the Almanack by Wednesday afternoon.

Driving along Beach Road, Kim noted the setting late afternoon sun as it cast its golden glow on distant mountain peaks surrounding Lake George. Low shadows crept across the water’s edge, rendering the choppy waves a deep Prussian blue. Pam was waiting in the East Cove parking lot, observing the signs related to Early Bird specials and Happy Hour. Happy Hour offers 1/2 priced drinks from 4:30 until 6:00 p.m. Dinner isn’t served until 5:00 p.m., but you can get into the bar at 4:30. Something not found in too many other establishments, the East Cove offers a late-night Happy Hour Sunday through Thursday from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m. Open every day during the summer season, the East Cove is closed on Mondays during the off-season.

Only moments after we arrived, Pam was already getting reacquainted with old friends, formerly of her Garrison days. We chatted easily with the handful of affable patrons as owner Pete Smith organized menus on the bar, occasionally peering over his glasses to answer questions and offer comments. Kim ventured to the end of the bar where she could examine the half-dozen taps, finding three local brews from the Adirondack Pub and Brewery, Blue Moon, Yuengling and Sam Adams seasonal. A very well-stocked bar offers a liquor selection which includes numerous flavored rums and vodkas. The wine list is extensive as well. Pam, not sure what she wanted, asked bartender Shannon if the East Cove features any unique drinks. Though the white chocolate espresso martini is the signature drink at East Cove, Shannon suggested a tangerine cosmo and Pam quickly acquiesced: Finlandia tangerine vodka, Cointreau and cranberry juice, served in a martini glass and garnished with an orange slice.

Shannon led Kim on the grand tour, the two pausing for reference photos in the adjacent sitting room and private upper dining room. The East Cove’s rustic interior of log cabin walls, with its fishing and nautical theme, is alluring and cozy. Scenic and historic postcards, lithographs and watercolor prints by Loren Blackburn showcase a pictorial history of Lake George Village. Framed photographs offer a glimpse into more than a century of Lake George’s past, including a photo of the Colonel’s Table, the East Cove’s former identity, the facade little changed since it was built in 1947. A shelf in the corner of the dining room holds a display of local pottery. Overhead, a ship’s wheel chandelier hangs suspended from richly-stained log beams, casting soft light on the dining tables below. Sunlight pours in through the large window in the bar area. The L-shaped bar is punctuated with ten aged and unusual barstools, their wooden backs shaped like curly brackets. An adjoining room houses soft brown stuffed sofa and chairs facing a TV for the East Cove’s Sunday football and NASCAR fans, and another dining room is located upstairs.

Next thing we knew, George suggested a shot, and Pam launched into inventing the “drink of the day”. They settled on Stoli apple, Cointreau and cranberry juice, and dubbed it the East Cove Slammer. Invigorated with nostalgia, Pam suggested a game of Liar’s Poker and lined Kim up with a “coach” to help her in understanding the nuances of lying. Poker-face Pam ended up winning, but Kim is better educated now. And poorer.

Owned for the past 43 years by Pete and Debbie Smith, the East Cove has changed very little since the late ’70s, when we would stop in for breakfast at 4 a.m., but has obviously been very well maintained. Dinner is the main attraction here, luring local and seasonal residents and visitors. Early eaters can enjoy special pricing ($11.99 to $14.99 including soup and salad) from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. The East Cove also caters and hosts banquets with a number of menu plans. The dinner menu, moderately-priced for the area, is most noted for its seafood and includes steaks, chicken and pasta dishes, a vast selection of desserts, and a kids’ menu.

The East Cove is another of the pleasant surprises we’ve discovered nearly in our own back yard. Patrons are welcoming and sociable, and Shannon’s easy-going, warm personality and sense of humor undoubtedly contribute to the comfortable atmosphere. When she asked if we were looking for help, as people often do, we were tempted to take her aboard. The pay is lousy, but the benefits are well worth the effort. And places like the East Cove really do make work easy for us.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Philosophy: A New Vision for Old Woods

Something has had men heading for the interior, long before Henry David Thoreau publicly declared “I am leaving the city more and more, and withdrawing into the wilderness.” And as men of a certain tradition in 19th century America began to make their private pilgrimages public through written and artistic records, their excursions and revelations became canonized.

These meditations contributed to a change in national ideas about the value and fragility of nature and “man’s” place within it.

I understand the importance of reaching back into our histories to understand the cultural touchstones like these that have come to signify certain ideas and ideals, certain styles of thought and ideologies. After all, our histories are our foreground and they mark the path that we took to get here. Yet, from time to time in the midst of what can seem like a tireless reminiscence on the trope of the vigorous and steadfast wayfaring male archetype depicted through art and literature in the wilderness; I can hear a sucking sound like my boot makes when I’ve gone walking in mud season.

Since its creation, advocacy for and against conservation and preservation within the Park boundary has called on these and other similar images to underscore qualities like individuality, independence and virility in the midst of a seemingly untamed and unspoiled country. Guided by certain American philosophers and artists we enter into a stylized landscape, one that was politically manufactured through legislation and philosophically manufactured through the proliferation of 19th century ideals.

When popular literature and art combine to illuminate different parts of the same story, the impact often resonates outside the original medium of paint or narrative and into the larger cultural landscape. In the case of 19th century landscape art and literature, the story that fine art and prose conspire to tell transcends the cultural period and becomes part of one collective identity. Artists and writers who have become signs themselves of this aesthetic, and of a singular set of values, labored under a shared vision of wild America. These artists and scholars illustrated an ideal landscape beyond increasingly industrialized cities, and the legacy of this movement is largely responsible for our 21st century conception of the natural ideal.

Yet, this ideal only represents those who are drawn into its frame. But ours are stories (plural) and histories (as in many) so what would it take to shift the emphasis from one tone of voice to another? When old signifiers dominate a changed contemporary scene, we risk losing our way by walking backwards into the present.

Photo courtesy of the Adirondack Museum

Marianne Patinelli-Dubay is a philosopher, writing and teaching in the Adirondack Park


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Forests: The Blight of Beech Bark Disease

For more than fifty years, woods walkers in the Adirondacks and elsewhere have learned not to take the beautifully smooth, “thin-skinned” bark of the American beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) for granted. Our grandparents grew up suddenly missing the American chestnut as the blight of 1900 quickly decimated that species as a dominant tree in our eastern woodlands, along with its innumerable cottage and industrial uses, and its sustenance for so much of our native wildlife. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Skiing McCauley Mountain

Even with the lack of winter snow we have plenty to do to keep our family active outside. We’ve managed to use our Microspikes and crampons so much on every winter hike that my children automatically grab a pair to explore the icy parts of our yard.

With the recent dumping of snow it is with great pleasure to exercise our downhill muscles and toss our Microspikes to the bottom of our bag. We’ve gone downhill skiing this winter but our outings were not met with the same enthusiasm that 16” of fresh snow can bring.

For a family mountain, Old Forge’s McCauley Mountain can’t be beat. With an elevation of 2,330’ McCauley has something to offer everyone in our family.

The terrain park is the first thing we see as we pull into the parking area but we quickly pass it to the lifts and make the most of the day. There is one double chairlift and one T-Bar that access all 20 trails and a Rope Tow for the Mighty Mite. The second T-Bar is at the terrain park area. My kids are well past the Mighty Mite but it is still sweet to see that special place right in the middle of the mountain for those beginner skiers.

There is also the spectacular view of the Fulton Chain of Lakes. The Fulton Chain of Lakes is a portion of a river system that extends to Lake Ontario and was first dammed in the late 1700s. According to the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association the present dam at Old Forge holds back 6.8 billion gallons of water. Lower Fulton Chain starts at Old Forge Pond and travels to First Lake, Second, Third, Fourth Lakes to the Towns of Eagle Bay and Inlet and ending sequentially with Eighth Lake.

If you still have time or energy after riding the lift, there are 20 km of XC ski trails that can be accessed right at the base of the main lodge. For the month of March you can access the trails for free.

With March coming in “like a lion” we are looking forward to making the most out of the rest of this Adirondack ski season. Don’t forget that every Friday is “Crazy” at McCauley with $12 lift tickets.

McCauley Mountain is located in the center of Old Forge. From Route 28 (Main Street) follow the signs to McCauley Mountain. The road is very well marked. McCauley Mountain is located at 30 McCauley Road in Old Forge.

photo of McCauley Mountain Ski Area used with permission of Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities in Lake Placid and the High Peaks. Her second Adirondack Family Time Four-Season guide for the Champlain Valley from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga will be in stores in summer 2012.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Honey Bee Numbers Drop: Native Bees Rejoice?

In recent weeks, there have been several news reports concerning the large scale devastation of honey bee colonies this past winter throughout the Northeast. While these losses are described as catastrophic by those that rely on these insects for the production of certain agricultural crops, other individuals note that the honey bee has only a minimal impact on the Adirondack environment, and a few may profess that a serious decline in honey bee numbers could have a positive effect on some of the native species of bees that reside within the Park. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Depot Theatre Welcomes New Managing Director

The Adirondacks’ professional theatre company, the Depot Theatre, has announced the addition of Angel Wuellner as its new Managing Director.

“We are thrilled to welcome Angel into our theatre family,” said George Davis, president of the Depot Theatre Board of Trustees. “She was a standout in the executive team’s national search, with ample industry experience and terrific energy.”

Wuellner has worked in the theatre industry for the past twenty years, as an administrator, stage manager, director, and actor. Most recently, she worked at Actors’ Equity Association in the Auditions Department. She has also worked with The Vineyard Theatre (NYC), Clarence Brown Theatre, Actors Co-op, Tennessee Stage Company, and Smoky Mountain Shakespeare Festival. Wuellner is the founder of PromCon, an organization that collects prom dresses for underprivileged young women. She is a graduate of NYU’s Performing Arts Administration Masters’ Program and of Northern Kentucky University’s theatre department. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Sandy Hildreth: Exploring Adirondack Landscape Art

In 1997 I was fortunate to receive a Summer Fellowship for Independent Study in the Humanities from the Council for Basic Education, part of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For the next few months I will post excerpts from the research, writing, and painting I did for that project.

The broad, former jeep trail ran straight as an arrow, cutting a path through the massive beech and maples of a mature Adirondack forest. While the trail was clear, the woods were tangled with downed trees from the great “microburst” storm of July ‘95 and huge, scattered boulders, the ancient remnants of the last ice age. Soon the trail narrowed and passed through a grove of evergreens, their rusty brown fallen needles silencing my steady steps. To the right, the forest climbed; to the left, it dropped into a swampy area. Now and again the trail veered from its straight course as it followed the uneven contours of the ascent. The dense shade of the green canopy was occasionally broken where the force of the summer wind storm two years ago had snapped hundred year old trees off like they were toothpicks.

It was a hot, humid July day and I had just delivered two of my paintings to the Arts Center in Old Forge. Heading home, since I was in the midst of my Independent Study in the Humanities project, I checked my maps and chose an alternative route, a back road that would perhaps lead to some interesting or scenic place. My study topic was “A Personal Investigation of Contemporary and 19th Century Landscape Painting of the Adirondacks and St. Lawrence Valley”.

The basic question I was seeking an answer to was why had landscape painting suddenly become so popular in 1825, as well as why I have always personally felt so drawn to the land. On that hot July day, with the air conditioner working overtime, I’d actually driven past the small brown trail marker before I skidded to a dusty stop on the gravel road. Backing up, I found the small parking area of the trail head to Black Bear Mountain. While it was only two miles to the summit, it wasn’t even marked on the map in my booklet of short day trips in the Adirondacks.

I’d already made one climb that day, Rondaxe Mountain, but for several reasons, it had been quite uninspiring. It was only a one mile hike, located right alongside a major highway, and it had been crowded. Obviously a popular outing, there were many small groups and families on the trail, and what probably would have been scenic views of the Fulton Chain of Lakes were masked by the haze and humidity of the day. Much of the summit area was barren, open expanses of ancient Adirondack rock, worn down to its current level by eons of glaciers and tens of thousands of years of wind and rain and snow.

It is said the Adirondacks are among the oldest mountains on the planet, once surpassing the Himalayas in altitude. Now, Rondaxe Mountain was not much more than 2000 feet in elevation. The most disturbing part of the hike, however, were the scrapes and skid marks along those bare summit rocks, left by enthusiastic mountain bikers. It just seemed a shame that these rocks had withstood the forces of nature for so many million years, only to be scarred by humanity in less than a generation.

But the trail to Black Bear Mountain was quiet. No other vehicles had been at the trail head, and while it was evident others had used the trail, I met no one. Perhaps it was the threat of afternoon thunderstorms. The easy walk began to climb, twisting around tumbles of boulders and the tangled branches of broken or uprooted trees. Sometimes it went down, always to turn and climb even higher, following now what appeared to be a dry stream bed. I could imagine the rush of torrent crashing over the boulders during the spring run-off season.

Then the trail narrowed further, turned away from the rocks, and climbed steadily through dense spruce and pine. It was now just a foot path, worn through the thin fragile loam of the forest floor to the bedrock below. Gnarled roots grasped tenuously to the rock, and the air was noticeably cooler. Feeling the whispering breeze of open sky, I knew I was nearing the summit area. Is this what it was like for Thomas Cole, the young artist who had hiked into the Catskills in 1825, then returned with sketches to his New York City studio to produce his now famous paintings of the pristine wilderness?

I’d been wondering why it seemed like Americans had waited until then to notice the beauty of the landscape of the New World. My own heart was pounding harder, due to the increased altitude as well as the anticipation of what I would discover at the end of the trail. Winding through small, stunted spruce, I could sense the approach of the summit as there was now nothing but bare rock in front of me. Eagerly climbing it, my breath was taken away by the vast solitude that greeted me.

Directly ahead, across the valley that separated us, was another densely forested mountain, with additional peaks and ridges stretching back, one behind the other, all the way to the horizon. I supposed the tallest, distant ones to be the High Peaks of the central Adirondacks. To the right, the valley and mountains continued unbroken. To the left, the valley spread and opened up to a meandering stream and what appeared to be a beaver meadow. Further on was a second clearing, then mountains once again climbing to the horizon. Nowhere was there evidence of humanity. It was incredible to think this is what Verplanck Colvin had witnessed as he surveyed the Adirondacks for the first time in the 1830’s. A raven glided along the currents above the tree tops in the valley below me, arcing up to circle back towards the rocky cliffs. The silence was only broken by the gentle hissing of the wind in the branches of the pines clinging to the summit rocks. I could have been the only human being in the world.

This was the start of my personal exploration. The painting shown here, “View from Black Bear Mountain,” was based on a second hike up the mountain in late August of 1997.


Monday, February 27, 2012

A St. Lawrence County Trust Buster, Peace Advocate

The Potsdam area of St. Lawrence County is home to many citizens of great accomplishment. The achievement list is extensive: a US Secretary of State; a Nobel Peace Prize winner; a judge on the World Court; an attorney known as the “Trust Buster” for defeating multiple gigantic corporations, including Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company; and a man who was the force behind the historic Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928.

There’s more, including a senator from Minnesota and a US Ambassador to Great Britain. By any standard, that’s an impressive list. What makes it truly mindboggling is one other fact: those are all the accomplishments of a single North Country native.

Frank Billings Kellogg had such a varied, successful career that even an outline of his life is very impressive. He was born in Potsdam in December 1856, the son of Asa Farnsworth Kellogg and Abigail Billings Kellogg. The family moved to Long Lake, New York, in 1857, and then relocated west to a small farm in Minnesota in 1865.

Five years later, Asa’s health problems forced fourteen-year-old Frank to quit school in order to run the farm. In 1872, the family moved to Olmsted County, where they assumed operations of a larger farm. These seemingly trivial events would play an important role in Kellogg’s career.

In 1875, when he was nineteen, Frank left the farm and moved to nearby Rochester, Minnesota, where he ran errands and did chores in exchange for the opportunity to read and study law in a local office. He worked on nearby farms to support himself.

Two years later, the young, self-taught lawyer was admitted to the bar, and within a year was appointed Rochester city attorney. In 1881, he became Olmsted County attorney, a position he held until 1887. During his tenure, Frank won an important case representing two townships against a railroad company, which helped establish his eventual career path.

He married Clara Cook in 1886, and in the following year became a member of Davis, Kellogg, and Severance, a new firm that for decades remained one of the top corporate law firms in the Midwest. Among their clients were some of the most powerful businessmen and politicians in the country.

For several years, Frank was a Minnesota delegate to the Republican National Convention, while also serving the party in several other capacities. In 1905, his reputation led to assignment as prosecutor of the Western Paper Trust for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. His efforts forced the company to dissolve in 1906, and Kellogg became known as a “trust-buster.”

During the next several years, Teddy Roosevelt appointed him to similar ventures against several railroad trusts and Standard Oil, the massive corporation owned by J. D. Rockefeller, the world’s richest man. In each case, Kellogg won, enhancing his public persona. His victory over Standard Oil solidified the perception that Frank was the nation’s top trust-buster.

In 1912, he was elected president of the American Bar Association. Kellogg left Republican ranks to support Roosevelt’s presidential campaign under the Progressive Party, but in 1916, he returned to the GOP and became the first Minnesota senator ever elected by popular vote.

After serving for six years, Kellogg lost his re-election bid. In 1923, shortly after leaving office, he began his first diplomatic mission, having been assigned by President Harding to the Fifth Pan-American Conference, held in Chile. Harding died later that year, and when Kellogg returned, President Coolidge appointed him as US ambassador to Great Britain, a position he assumed for two years.

In 1925, Coolidge named him Secretary of State, and through 1929 he represented American interests around the world. Kellogg was a strong proponent of arbitration rather than military involvement to settle international disputes. He signed a record number of treaties during his tenure (more than eighty). The most famous of all was the Pact of Paris, often referred to as the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

In the years following the horrors of World War I, French Foreign Minister Aristide Brand called for a treaty with the US, specifically denouncing war. Kellogg was less than enthusiastic initially, wary of making the US appear weak.

But the concept aligned with his own beliefs, and Kellogg seized the opportunity, offering a remarkable counter-proposal: a treaty “renouncing war as an instrument of national policy.”

He pushed the idea for all he was worth, and in August 1928, an agreement was signed. Eventually, more than 60 nations committed to the alliance.

Though war continued in the years to come, Kellogg’s efforts were lauded by many as an honorable, honest attempt at eliminating war as a tool for settling differences. Until the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, war had been accepted worldwide as a legal policy. There was no clause providing for punishment of violators, causing some to label the new pact as a futile effort. Others deemed it an idea well worth pursuing.

After leaving office in 1929, Frank toured Europe and America, receiving many honorary degrees and other laurels for his work towards ending international conflict. In addition to the French Legion of Honor medal, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929.

A year later, Kellogg was elected to the World Court, but resigned in 1935 due to health reasons. He passed away in St. Paul, Minnesota, on December 21, 1937, one day shy of his 81st birthday. Death spared him the great disappointment of seeing world war afflict the planet less than two years in the future.

Though some dismissed his efforts for world peace as misguided and unrealistic, many others admired Kellogg’s adherence to a noble, worthy cause. To not pursue the opportunity would have meant giving up hope.

And as a man who rose from the humble beginnings of a poor farm boy, a self-educated attorney who reached the top of his profession, and a man who performed for years on the world stage, Frank Kellogg knew a thing or two about hope.

Photos: Frank Billings Kellogg (circa 1900); in the East Room of the White House in 1929, standing are Calvin Coolidge, President Herbert Hoover, and Frank B. Kellogg, with representatives of the governments that ratified the Kellogg-Briand Pact; Frank Billings Kellogg (1912).

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Page 444 of 803« First...102030...442443444445446...450460470...Last »