Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Open Space Institute Preserves Historic Wilderness Camp

The Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced the acquisition of Camp Little Notch, a 2,346- acre former Girl Scout camp in the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park in the Town of Fort Ann. The Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, purchased the property from the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York (GSNENY) “to ensure its long-term protection, and continued use for wilderness recreation and education” according to the OSI’s Communications Coordinator Jeff Simms.

OSI is partnering with the Friends of Camp Little Notch, a new nonprofit created by former Little Notch campers, counselors and supporters from around the U.S. and abroad that intends to operate the camp as an outdoor education facility, according to Simms. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Local Named Adk Council’s Director of Conservation

The Adirondack Council has announced that Allison M. Buckley of Piercefield, St. Lawrence County, has been chosen to replace John Davis as the organization’s Director of Conservation. Davis is due to leave his post at the end of the year.

“We are very pleased to welcome Allison Buckley to the Council’s Program Team,” said Executive Director Brian L. Houseal. “She has a degree in Environmental Science from SUNY Plattsburgh, and a master’s degree in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. Allison has experience working for a land trust, a watershed watch group, a winter resort and for the Village of Lake Placid. This summer, she filled in for a vacationing staff member at our Albany office and did a great job. She will now be stationed at our headquarters in Essex County.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Some Early-Season Adirondack Ski Trips

I got back from a long holiday weekend Sunday night to find a few inches of snow in my driveway in Saranac Lake. It won’t be long before the cross-country-ski season begins in earnest.

So far, I have been out only once—on the Whiteface highway, the traditional first ski of the season in the Adirondacks. The highway needs only a few inches of snow to be skiable.

A few years ago, the Adirondack Explorer published an article by Tony Goodwin—the author of Ski and Snowshoe Trails in the Adirondacks — on other places to ski that don’t require a lot of snow. He came up with ten early – season suggestions in addition to the Whiteface road.

Click here to read Tony’s story. You’ll find some other old favorites, such as the road to Camp Santanoni, as well as lesser-known destinations, such as Bum Pond in the Whitney Wilderness.

If you have other ideas for early-season ski trips, let us know.

And if you’re planning ahead for trips later in the season, bookmark this site. I’ll be adding links to more ski trips as they become available.

Photo by Phil Brown: A skier on Whiteface Memorial Highway.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Monday, November 29, 2010

High Peaks: Active Search For Missing Man Ends

The search for Wesley “Wes” Wamsganz in the High Peaks Wilderness switched to a “limited continuous status” Sunday according to an announcement by Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) spokesman David Winchell. DEC Forest Rangers, after consultation with Wamsganz’s family, have ended the extensive ground search that began Monday, November 22, Winchell said.

Wamsganz, of Saranac Lake, hadn’t been seen since Saturday evening, November 20th when he left work at the Downtown Diner in Lake Placid. He is believed to have been spotted by hikers at Marcy Dam last Saturday evening. Between Mary Dam and Lake Colden Wamsganz’s green Carhartt jacket was found last Sunday. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 29, 2010

A Few More North Country Swindles

The Adirondacks have seen all kinds of swindles, past and present. The swindler, often referred to in the 1800s as a “Sharper,” routinely tried to obtain signatures under false pretenses. As noted in last week’s piece, trickery (and sometimes carbon paper) was used. The “personal signature” scam was again adjusted in 1892 to incorporate new and devious ideas.

Slick-talking Sharpers arranged all sorts of deals, and on the spot, they devised contracts that were read and signed. The contract paper was normal, but the Sharper used a double-fountain pen. The victim’s signature was recorded with permanent ink, but the contract was written with the other end of the pen, from a reservoir of “ink that faded away in a day or two.” Once the contract ink faded, the perp was left “with nothing but a signature over which he can write a note and easily turn it into cash.”

There was no Internet back then, but scammers of long ago still knew the value of reaching out to thousands of potential victims in the hopes of finding a few patsies. A scam that is still heavily used today via e-mail was prevalent in the 1890s. To reach large numbers of people, the scammers sent official-looking notices to post offices, asking them to post the letters for the public. The letters assured that several persons in the immediate area were entitled to large sums of money. To obtain it, all they had to do was send $25 “for preliminary expenses.”

The ploy always received many responses, even though $25 in the 1890s is equal to $600 in 2010. The lure of getting something for nothing, or a lot for comparatively little, was irresistible, just as it seems to be today. In 1893, that swindle was described by the Post Office Department as “constantly increasing in numbers of victims.” Most of us have received the same offer by snail mail or e-mail many times, and for one good reason: it still works.

Two other scams that regularly made the rounds in the Adirondacks caught my attention. In 1895 in the Potsdam area, trickery was employed by a liniment salesman. His concoction was said to cure hearing loss, and he gave wonderful demonstrations to prove it.

With great fanfare, a watch was placed close to a sufferer’s ear for several seconds and then removed, after which a quantity of liniment was applied and massaged into the ear and surrounding skin.

For some time, the swindler continued rubbing the oil in while touting the wonders of his product. Finally, the watch was once again introduced to the person’s ear, and the results were amazing. The ticking was much louder and clearer. Obviously, another cure!

That usually generated many sales, and as soon as the purchasing pace slowed, another person was selected for the cure. The key to success was having two watches—one with a faint tick, and one with a strong tick—and keeping them at the ready in the same pocket.

It was a terrible way to cheat people, but less distasteful than a scam that was popularized in 1901 in northern New York. Unscrupulous crooks paid close attention to the obituaries. Shortly after an individual died, close relatives were sent overpriced books, magazine subscriptions, or other items, along with a notice that the deceased had recently subscribed or ordered them. In most cases, the bereaved family made the inflated payments or paid for phony subscriptions without question.

Many of today’s scams were common well over a century ago, and some have hardly changed at all. There is one constant — plenty of rotten apples. It’s sad, disturbing, and amazing how hard some people will work to steal the results of other folks’ hard work.

Photo: 1882 advertisement touting the latest deafness cure.

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, November 29, 2010

Dave Gibson: A Greenhorn at Hunting Camp

When I was wet behind the ears, in an Adirondack sort of way, Paul Schaefer took me to the sturdy cabin at the edge of the wilderness that he had built sometime in the early 1960s in the Town of Johnsburg. Paul had located his cabin, named Beaver House, on high ground with a distant view of Crane Mountain, but in the shadow of Eleventh or Cataract Mountain which lay in silhouette immediately to our west. It was November and somewhere below Eleventh Mountain in the gathering gloom of a wilderness afternoon lay a hunting camp populated with men who Paul had recruited into the Cataract Hunting Club years earlier. In fact, the original club members, including fathers and grandfathers of the current generation, dated to around 1931 when Paul hired a teamster to take them in by horse and wagon. In 1987 they were still going in that way courtesy of local teamster Earl Allen.

By 1987, the knees of the 78 year-old conservationist and hunter Paul Schaefer no longer supported his tall frame on the several mile tramp over rough terrain to reach the Cataract Club’s camp on Diamond Brook. So Paul did the next best thing. He sat in Beaver House before a roaring fire talking about the history of the region, its people, conservation history, hunting experiences, and the Siamese Wilderness he knew so well.

A light rain was falling outside, but the light was fading much faster. I was really getting comfortable in the warmth of that room, listening to Paul, when out of the blue he said: “now, Dave, reach into the pocket of my jacket and take out the piece of paper.” I gave him the paper. “I need you to hike into the wilderness and hand over this camping permit to the boys in camp. If the ranger shows up and they don’t have this permit, they could be in a lot of trouble. So, you’d do me and them a big favor by hiking in there.” My heart jumped. I had never been into hunt camp before. “How do I reach their camp, Paul?” Paul gestured with his big right hand, his head cocked, emphasizing. “Go down the trail here to the junction, and then follow the wagon trail west, keeping the mountain always on your left. A mile in, you’ll reach the height of land. Stop right there. A tall red spruce stands ahead on a rise. Don’t go past it. Bear left, keep the mountain on that side and follow the stream down another mile. You can’t miss it. And tell the boys I may try to go in there tomorrow, but I’m not promising.” He gave me a rain slicker and a flashlight, and a hearty “You’ll be back in no time.” With the camping permit in my pocket, my heart pounding, but my voice full of confidence, I headed out the cabin door.
The rain was falling steadily, and afternoon light had all but faded as I tried to determine if I had reached the height of land. I had gone up and down. Height of land seemed a frustrating matter of impression in these big woods. Trying to keep the mountain in sight I veered left and trusted to luck. I suddenly realized my jeans were soaked through. Trudging on, the trees were noticeably larger, including red spruce. How could horses drag a wagon full of gear all the way back here, I remember asking myself. But I was on a mission for Paul. Stumbling on and on down the rough wagon trail, crossing innumerable small streams, I finally smelled wood smoke. Excited, I went uphill into some balsam and spruce, following my nose. In the gloom below, the long tent appeared. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I had made it. I heard muffled laughter. Then my mouth dropped. In the glow of my flashlight, a huge antlered deer hung from a pole. I found the tent entrance, pulled the tent flaps open and walked in. I remember the hissing of those kerosene lamps. All conversation ceased, as ten hunters looked up at me from the chow they were eating on a long table. “Gosh, Dave,” someone said, “you look kind of wet. What can we do you for”? “Guys, Paul sent me in with your camping permit.” At that, I reached into my jeans and out came the paper, dripping wet. Nobody said a word. Bill broke the silence. “Give this to me straight. Paul sent you in here tonight to give us that?” I nodded. The tent erupted in roars of laughter. Dave got up and gave me something warm to drink and a place by the stove. The good natured kidding went on for a while. I felt a whole lot better about life and a bit dryer, and with new found confidence headed back to the cabin. I did leave that permit. The cabin lights were like a port in a storm as Paul welcomed me back with that enormous handshake, and a plate of food. “Take a seat and tell me how the boys are doing.” As I ate, I knew that I had passed some test that mattered to Paul, the first of many to come.

Photos: Cataract Club members Dave Conde, Bill Townsend and Doug Miller (l-r) at Beaver House before heading into camp; Beaver House, the cabin Paul Schaefer built near the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Clearing: Hadley, 1969

After skiing into Bushnell Falls that March of ’69, our intention was always to move to the Adirondacks as permanently and as soon as we could. Keene and the high peaks were the grail. Soon, however, my college friend, the actress Ellen Parker, told me that her parents, Joe and Sophie, who had been looking for a place in the Adirondacks to start a restaurant, had bought a local bar along the Sacandaga River in Hadley and might need some help.

Joe Parker was a sculptor and painter, and Sophie, who was French, a chef. I had been to their house in Dobb’s Ferry and been treated to the best food and wine of my college-kid life, in an atmosphere of garlic and red wine and art conversation with a French accent.

Joe soon arranged for us to occupy a clearing amid plantation pines on Niagara-Mohawk land across the road from the restaurant—the first Chez Sophie, now a Saratoga institution. In return we hired out as part-time slaves in the remodeling and start-up of the new restaurant, the first “bistro” of any authentic type in the Adirondacks, and to other restaurants, bars and contractors in the area. Gail Stern, Sam Lewis, Pete Groff and I erected a fanciful geodesic structure of interlocking plywood and two-by-four tetrahedrons in the clearing beside the river, on the principles of Buckminster Fuller, and covered it with plastic.

That was the beginning of three or four years of seasonal—May to October—occupation. We slept there, swam and fished in the river, entertained visitors. At various times we grew vegetables or kept bees, but other than that there was little attempt to maintain a “commune.” It was more like a loose affiliation and seasonal outdoor headquarters for our various widespread friends in Montreal, California, Albany and Schenectady. We had no electrical power so no ability or inclination to have loud parties. We nevertheless became known within weeks as the Hadley hippies, for our hair, jug band, nude bathing, and politics (rather bland, really).

The restaurant grew. The menu changed each evening depending on the availability of fresh ingredients. Gail worked with Sophie in the kitchen, I stood by as kitchen help, dishwasher or bus boy—though I was quickly dismissed as being too dreamy for any duty in the front room. Joe, with his cheery round face and moustache, tended bar. He had studied with Fernand Leger in Paris, where he met Sophie, and his paintings and welded rod sculptures were displayed around the room. At the end of the shift we would go out front into the restaurant where Sophie served us tournedos, Cornish hens, or roast chicken. Sometimes late customers hung around after closing and the conversation expanded, carried along on wine and summer ease, turning often to Nixon and Vietnam or to the young men and the woman who helped the hosts and what they thought they were doing living in nature without power or running water, abandoning suburban life and the duties of middle-class adulthood.

In my own case the choice had to do with memories of childhood summers combined with a romantic identification with the wilderness writings of the Beats, Thoreau, various fishing and nature writers and Noah John Rondeau. I thought that if I could deepen my experience in nature and place I could do in the Adirondacks what other writers were beginning to do in the Pacific Northwest and Montana. What I didn’t know was that it entailed as devoted a commitment of energy and time to craft as it did to fishing, hiking and hunting. I had always written and believed I could accomplish publishable adult work in ecstatic outbursts of creativity—as Kerouac supposedly had with On the Road.

I was also the one among us most committed to the idea of place and “going back” to some prewar wilderness Arcadia. With Sam Lewis I entertained fantasies of logging as the poet Gary Snyder had, growing up in the Pacific Northwest among the old labor anarchists of the twenties and thirties who had found a home in the logging industry. There Snyder had learned the value of work, of living on and with the land within a deeply western vein of frontier self-reliance. But he belonged to perhaps the last American generation to have access to an experience of that sort so unmediated by modernity.

I was hopeless as a roughneck, anyway, at least at first. And it’s safe to say the Snyder-Woody Guthrie-Bulgakov brand of anarchism didn’t translate to the Adirondacks, no matter how many philosopher-woodsmen I met who worked in the woods in one capacity or another or how many of them adopted points of view and ways of life consistent with the deepest American vein. Some eventually came to recognize how an idea like the Adirondack Park Agency Act could protect their freedom to live in a way that most closely replicated and continued that of the mythical Northwoods. But not many.

In those days we viewed reality primarily through the prisms of our cleverness, history and politics. That summer we heard little support for the proposed agency among the old-timers we had coffee with in the morning in Lake Luzerne and beers with in the evening, but whom we idealized and emulated nevertheless. You could always talk about fish, animals, water levels, stumpage prices, weather or land. Late afternoons when the Conklingville Dam shut off we’d wade out on the bare rocks of the pre-rafting Sacandaga and cast flies for the plentiful smallmouth. For trout we drove up the Stony Creek Road to Wolf Creek, with its Hudson-fattened browns, or Stony Creek itself. In August we made our annual trek to Mount Colden via the trap dike. The days seemed to justify themselves beyond all other considerations.

The war went on, along with the violence in the cities and on campuses. When Woodstock happened that summer it already seemed far away, as if some vital link to anything “down below” had been severed, for me at least.

By September the imperatives of place had asserted their hold, and the only choices seemed to be whether or not to move farther north, deeper into the woods, in to wildness and the soon to be protected reality of unmediated experience.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adirondack Stats: Wild Turkey

Average height and weight of a mature male (tom) wild turkey: About 2.5 feet tall and 18 to 20 lbs (up to about 25 lbs)

Average weight of a mature female (hen): 9 to 12 lbs

Decade in which the last original wild turkeys disappeared from New York: 1840’s

The year wild turkeys from a small remnant population in northern PA crossed the border into western NY: 1948 » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Adirondack Ice: Cultural and Natural History

Adirondack residents know ice. They shovel it, sand and salt it, fish through it, skate and snowmobile on it, carefully craft sculptures out of it, run Zambonis over it, but mostly, they probably slip and fall on it, or fret over its disappearance. Today ice is more inconvenience, than local convenience; more of a hazard, than a habit.

Caperton Tissot’s Adirondack Ice: A Cultural and Natural History (2010) recalls a time when life was more intricately entwined with ice. It wasn’t long ago that much of wintertime work and play was dependent on thick natural ice. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Adirondack ice industry was substantial. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 26, 2010

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 3,000 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, November 26, 2010

Tom Tom Shop: A Lake George Village Institution

Of all the businesses in Lake George Village, only a few have been owned and operated by the same family for fifty years or more.

That short list includes Fort William Henry, the Lake George Steamboat Company, the Stafford Funeral Home and Mario’s.

Those businesses were joined this year by the Tom Tom Shop, the Canada Street gift and souvenir shop founded in 1960 by Sam and Dorothy Frost and owned today by their son, Doug Frost.

“To have survived fifty years, that’s something to be proud of,” said Doug Frost. “Of course, I’m proud that I’ve been able to carry on a business started by my family. And I’m even more proud of what got us here. You don’t survive for fifty years without earning the trust of your customers, your vendors and the community.”

Those relationships begin with the customers, many of whom visited the shop in its early years and still return, first bringing their children and now returning with their grandchildren.

“The same families come in to shop summer after summer, generation after generation,” says Doug’s sister, Dorothy Muratori, who works in the store in the summers.

A gift shop in a resort village is unlike anything found in a suburban mall or on a city street, says Frost.

“People want something that will remind them of the experience of being on Lake George,” he said

Shopping at the Tom Tom Shop, he said, becomes a memorable experience in itself, one that draws people back.

“We’re here to make people happy,” he said.

Although the Tom Tom Shop sells a variety of gifts and souvenirs, it’s best known for its Native American jewelry, art, crafts and clothing.

“That’s part of our identity, but it’s also what appeals to people. Maybe people connect with Native American arts and crafts because it compensates them for the lack of connection with environment,” said Frost.

The Frosts’ interest in Native American arts and crafts began with Sam Frost’s mother, Loretta Frost.

She made annual trips out west to collect pottery and jewelry. In 1952, she helped Sam and Dorothy Frost start Indian Village, a Lake George attraction on Bloody Pond Road.

“Every summer, we brought entire families of Hopi, Chippewa or Sioux Indians to Lake George, where they would live until Labor Day,” said Sam Frost.

Rather than a theme park, Indian Village was an encampment that people could visit, watch ritual dances and ceremonies and listen to Native Americans discuss their history and lives, Sam Frost explains.

Indian Village burned in 1958. In 1955, the Frosts opened a souvenir shop called the Indian Trading Post on Route Nine.

Before the Northway was built, Route Nine was, of course the gateway to Lake George and the Adirondacks, and the Trading Post’s Teepee was a famous roadside attraction.

But according to Sam Frost, owners of attractions on Route 66 told him that the approaching interstate would divert most of his traffic, and he began looking for a shop in Lake George Village.

The Mayard Hotel burned in 1959, and in 1960 Lake George’s first mall opened on the site.

The Frosts leased the mall’s largest and most prominent store, the one fronting Canada Street. (Doug Frost now owns the mall and the adjacent parking lot.)

“Customers’ tastes haven’t changed that much since the store first opened,” said Sam Frost. “We used to sell a lot of Reservation jewelry, but that’s become too expensive.”

“I don’t buy what I want, but what I know my customers will want,” said Doug Frost.

“The most difficult thing in the retail business is the ability to make changes, to be able to look at something and know if it will appeal to your customers. If I know what I’m doing, it’s because I learned it from my parents,” Doug Frost said.

Frost has worked at the store from the moment he could be of use, he said.

“I grew up in the business; my father said I should learn the business from the bottom up, and I did, working in the stock room, marking merchandise, stocking the shelves. I learned every aspect of the business. Once you put every aspect together, you can run a business successfully,” he said.

Frost also learned from his father that running a business is a full-time commitment.

“Dad always said, you have to be there, in the shop, or you’ll discover you have partners you didn’t know existed,” he said.

But however committed Frost is to his business, he recognizes the value of the slower-paced off-season.

“We’re blessed,” he said. “We stay open year round, but I still have time for my family and the community. And we’re on Lake George, the most beautiful place on earth.”


Friday, November 26, 2010

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.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Nov. 25)

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

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

SEARCH FOR MISSING MAN IN HIGH PEAKS
DEC Forest Rangers and others are currently searching for a 22 year old male in the High Peaks Wilderness. Wesley ‘Wes’ Wamsganz has been missing since Saturday, November 20, and is believed to be somewhere in the High Peaks Wilderness. He is 6’3″ 180 lbs, has buzz cut short blond hair, and blue eyes. He is believed to wearing a Black Bob Marley zip up hoodie, jeans or tan Carhart pants, basketball sneakers and a yellow, red and green striped brimmed beanie. You may encounter search efforts while hiking in the High Peaks. Please do your best not to interfere with the search effort and follow the instructions of searchers. If you encounter Mr. Wamsganz please notify DEC Forest Rangers at (518-897-1300). If you can’t call, seek out a forest ranger, interior caretaker, other searcher or stop at the ADK’s High Peaks Information Center.

Fire Danger: LOW

Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Rain, chance of snow; high near 37. Gusty winds, summits obscured by clouds.
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers. Cloudy, low around 18.
Saturday: Snow showers. Cloudy, with a high near 28. Summits obscured by clouds.
Saturday Night: Cloudy, with a low around 15.
Sunday: Cloudy, with a high near 30.

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 and Ice, Colder Weather
Night-time and morning temperatures below freezing can be expected, especially at higher elevations. Snows may be found in higher elevations and summits are a mix of snow and ice. Carry instep crampons or stabilicers and wear when them when conditions warrant.

Wet & Muddy Conditions
Some lower and mid-elevation trails are still wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.

Expect Blowdown
Recent heavy winds have caused blowdown throughout the Adirondacks. Trees, limbs, and branches may be found over and in trails, especially lesser used side trails.

Some Rivers Running Above Normal
Most waters in the region are still running above normal for this time of year. Low water crossings may not be accessible and paddlers should consult local stream gauges. Well above normal flow is being reported for the Beaver River. The Indian, Hudson, Sacandaga, AuSable, and Bouquet rivers are still running above normal as well. Paddlers and others should use care and consult the latest streamgages data.

Motorists Alert: Whitetail Deer
The peak period for deer-vehicle collisions is October through December, with the highest incidences occurring in November. This corresponds with the peak of the annual deer breeding cycle when deer are more active and less cautious in their movements. Approximately 65,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur throughout NYS each year and two-thirds of the annual collisions occur during this three month period. Most of the collisions occur between 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Motorists are advised that the best way to avoid a collision with a deer is to reduce speed and be alert for their presence on or near the highway.

Motorists Alert: Moose
There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.

Hunting Seasons
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game are 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
Starting this multiple furbearer hunting and trapping seasons are now open including bobcat, weasel, mink, muskrat, fisher, martin, opossum, raccoon, fox, and skunk. 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 after December 11, 2010.

Ice Fishing Tip-Ups Can Now Be Used
Tip-ups may be operated on waters of New York State starting November 15, 2010 and continuing through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

Fewer Fish Stocking Expected
Conservation Fund Advisory Board chairman Jason Kemper, told the state Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee last week that there will be fewer fish stocked throughout New York state next spring due to cuts to the DEC’s budget. Kemper said that for the first time since the 1970s, eggs were not taken from Raquette Lake this year. This is expected to result in 115,000 fewer lake trout being stocked throughout the Adirondacks. Also impacted will be egg takes at the Adirondack fish hatchery in Lake Clear, which stocks landlocked salmon, and that will result in 700,000 fewer Atlantic salmon being stocked throughout the state.

Historical Note: 1950 Blowdown
The Adirondacks is prone to powerful windstorms, isolated tornadoes, and occasional hurricanes, and microbursts. The second most destructive of these in modern Adirondack history (next to the 1998 Ice Storm) occurred 60 years ago. The Big Blowdown of 1950 brought heavy rains and winds in excess of 100 mph. In a single day – November 25th – more than 800,000 acres of timber was heavily damaged. The storm caused a complete shutdown of the roads and trails across large swaths of the park, a historic suspension of the State Constitution, a temporary glut in the spruce market, and a political impact that continues to this day. You can read more here.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

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.

Whiteface Mountain Opens Friday, Nov. 26
Whiteface will open for its 53rd ski and ride season on Friday, Nov. 26, at 8:30 a.m. Snow guns have been making snow since Thursday, Nov. 18, in preparation for opening day. The Cloudsplitter Gondola will carry intermediate and above level skiers and riders to the summit of Little Whiteface to access Excelsior, Upper Valley, and the Summit Express. Skiers and riders will then load the Little Whiteface chair to return to the summit of Little Whiteface. At the conclusion of their day, they will then download on the Cloudsplitter Gondola. The Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl trails are expected to open for the season Saturday for top to bottom skiing and riding.

Gore Mountain Opens Saturday, Nov. 27
Gore Mountain is expected to open Saturday, November 27 at 8:30 am. Terrain will include approximately 2 miles for intermediates and experts, with a route combining Ruby Run, Sunway, Quicksilver, 3B, & Jamboree. Snowmakers are hard at work on Topridge as well.

DEC Campgrounds Are Now Closed
All DEC campgrounds in the Adirondacks are closed until next season.

Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected by this regulation.

Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

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.

Changes to Game Harvest Reporting
A new regulation effective November 17 extends the game harvest reporting deadline from 48 hours to 7 days. Successful hunters of deer, bear, and turkey are required to report their harvest through DEC’s online reporting system (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html) or by calling 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778). The change will allow hunters who hunt in remote areas more time to report their harvest, a crucial step in the management process that provides data on when and where an animal was taken and estimates for the number of animals harvested each year throughout the State.

Newly Opened Roads
A number of roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted DEC’s ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season. All roads typically open in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest are now open. Lily Pond Road in Horicon, Gay Pond Road in Warrensburg, and Dacy Clearing Road (on the east side of Lake George) have reopened. Jabe Pond Road in Hague, Buttermilk Road Extension in Warrensburg, Scofield Flats Road, Pikes Beach Access Road and the Bear Slides Access Road in Luzerne all remain temporarily closed.

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.

Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
With waterfowl hunting seasons open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

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. For more information is available online.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

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.

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

High Waters: Water levels remain higher than normal. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected 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.

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.

Eighth Lake Takeout: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.

HIGH PEAKS

** 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 Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season.

The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.

Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.

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

Newcomb Lake – Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by 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.

Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

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.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.

Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

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.

Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels remain higher than normal. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected 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.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Jabe Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All All lands, including the trail to The Pinnacle, are closed to all public recreational access until December 31st. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

** Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: There have been important developments; see new information here. Paddlers may want to avoid paddling through private land until the matter is resolved. Although DEC has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways and has sent adjacent landowners a letter asking them to remove the cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras put in place to deter the public from using the canoe route, the landowners have recently sued Phil Brown, editor of Adirondack Explorer, for trespass. DEC has warned them that failure to comply would require them to refer the matter to the state attorney general for legal action. “The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” the letter dated September 24th said.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.

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.

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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, November 25, 2010

Whiteface Opens for 53rd Season Friday

Whiteface is ready to open for its 53rd ski and ride season on Friday, Nov. 26, at 8:30 a.m. Snow guns have been making snow since Thursday, Nov. 18, in preparation for opening day.

The Cloudsplitter Gondola will carry intermediate and above level skiers and riders to the summit of Little Whiteface to access Excelsior, Upper Valley, and the Summit Express. Skiers and riders will then load the Little Whiteface chair to return to the summit of Little Whiteface. At the conclusion of their day, they will then download on the Cloudsplitter Gondola.

The Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl trails are expected to open for the season Saturday for top to bottom skiing and riding.

Whiteface boast the East’s greatest vertical drop and was recently chosen by readers of SKI Magazine as the #1 ski resort in the Eastern United States and #1 for 18 years straight for Off-Hill Activities. Readers of SnowEast Magazine also tabbed the Olympic mountain the East’s favorite resort.

Opening day lift tickets are $47 for adults (20-64 years old), $37 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), and $24 for juniors (7-12) and Seniors (70 and older). Children six and under ski and ride for free any day of the season. These prices will be in effect through Friday, Dec. 3. Early season prices begin on Saturday, Dec. 4, $57 for adults (20-64 years old), $47 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), $34 for juniors (7-12) and $38 for skiers and riders 70 and older.

“We have great coverage on Excelsior and Upper Valley, and with a few more cold nights we should cover the Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl for Saturday,” said mountain manager Bruce McCulley. “This will give us 2.5 miles of skiing for Thanksgiving weekend, which is a great start to the season.”

Opening day will also feature the final installation of the 80-foot long mural in the lower tunnel of the Main Base Lodge, created by local area youth entitled “Seasons.” The mural features over 300 individually painted leaves and snowflakes and skiers are riders are encouraged to attend the 10 a.m. ceremony.

Throughout the 2010-11 season, skiers and riders can enjoy super savings on lift tickets with programs including Super Sundays presented by Bud Light, Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesdays” and the Vertical Club.

The five Super Sundays are scheduled for Dec. 12; Jan. 2; Feb. 6; March 13 and April 3. During those five selected Sundays, tickets prices to ski and ride Whiteface’s 3,430 feet of vertical will be $35 for adults 20 years and older, $30 for teens and just $25 for juniors. The themes include Stylin’ Sunday (Dec. 12), Island Madness (Jan. 2), Super Football Sunday (Feb. 6), Shamrock Sunday (March 13) and Retro Sunday (April 3).

Every non-holiday Wednesday is a Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesday” at the Olympic mountain. A one-day lift ticket is just $38 when a skier or rider brings a Coca-Cola product.

The Vertical Club allows skiers and riders the opportunity to save every time they visit Whiteface or Gore. As a Vertical Club member your first visit is free and it’s $15 off future visits to Whiteface to Gore. Use the card five times and your sixth visit is also free, plus Vertical Club members can cash in on extra savings days announced throughout the season at both Whiteface and Gore. The card must be purchased three days in advance and is available on-line at http://www.whiteface.com/summer/tickets/wf_special.php.

Photo: Making snow on Whiteface on Sunday, November 21st.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A New Website For The Northville Placid Trail

The Northville-Placid Trail Subcommittee of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Trails Committee has announced the creation of a new website devoted to the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT).

The NPT, which stretches 133 miles through some of the wildest and most remote parts of the Adirondack Park, was the first project undertaken by the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) after it was formed in 1922. ADK publishes “Adirondack Trails: Northville-Placid Trail,” the definitive guide to the trail, which includes a detailed topographical map of the NPT. The website was developed by Tom Wemett, chair of the Northville-Placid Trail Subcommittee and a self-described “NPT fanatic.” » Continue Reading.


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