Friday, April 22, 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.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (April 21)

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.

** SPRING / WINTER CONDITIONS
Spring conditions and the Mud Season have arrived at elevations below 2,500 feet across the Adirondacks, but winter conditions still exist in the High Peaks where there is two feet of snow on the ground at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Trails in lower elevation may be hard and icy in the morning, but, as temperatures warm, muddy and wet later in the day. Likewise trails in the higher elevation are hard packed snow and ice early, but with softer snow conditions found in the afternoon and off the trails. Boots and gaiters are suitable up to 2500 feet, snowshoes and crampons should be carried and used whenever warranted in higher elevations. Expect temperatures below freezing at night at all elevations and below freezing during the day at high elevations. Higher elevations waters are opening-up. No ice on water surfaces should be assumed safe to traverse. Brooks and streams are running high and crossings without bridges may be impassable. Lower elevation waters are now open.

** HIGH WATERS
All waters in the region are running well above normal for this time of year and are near flood stage, there are scattered areas of flooding and closed roads. The Independence River is running at 98% of the flood stage. Crossings may not be possible where trails cross streams and brooks except on bridges. Waters levels will be higher in the afternoon as temperatures and snowmelt increase. Water crossings that are easily passable during the morning may not be passable in the afternoon. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Reservoir and lake levels are above normal even for this time of year, docks and low-lying waterfront properties, may be flooded. High waters have pushed some rivers beyond their usual channels, onto farm fields, flood plains, and roads and properties. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

** SNOWSHOES OR SKIS
The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks where ever snow depths exceed 8 inches, as is currently the case above Marcy Dam. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

** THIN ICE SAFETY
Low elevation waters are now open, opening or have very thin ice. Ice on higher elevation waters is thinning. No ice on water surfaces should be assumed safe to traverse.

** WET AND MUDDY CONDITIONS
Lower and mid-elevation trails, those below 2,500 feet, are wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.

** ROADS CLOSED FOR MUD SEASON
DEC has closed most roadways for mud season. Gates on roads designated for motor vehicle traffic will be reopened when conditions warrant.

** ANNIVERSARY OF APRIL 19-20, 1983 SNOWSTORM
Major snowstorms are rare in the second half of April, but they do happen. 28 years ago this week, a storm dumped 1-2 feet of heavy wet snow throughout the Adirondacks, central New York, the Catskills and down into the Poconos. Read more about the storm here.

BEAR CANISTERS NOW REQUIRED IN HIGH PEAKS
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, and recommended throughout the Adirondacks, between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.

EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails, especially lesser used trails which have not yet been cleared.

MIGRATING BIRDS
Thousands of birds are currently undertaking their seasonal journey along the Atlantic Flyway from their southern wintering grounds. Flocks of migratory waterfowl like geese, ducks and swans are among the first to arrive, as songbirds like the red-winged blackbird, Eastern bluebird, Eastern meadowlark and American robin take up residence and build their nests. Over the next few weeks, grab your binoculars to watch the spectacle of birds arriving this spring. Visit DEC’s Watchable Wildlife site to find a place near you for great bird and wildlife viewing opportunities.

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
NOTE: We’re entering the state’s historically high fire risk period from mid-March until mid-May.

** Central Adirondacks LOWER Elevation Weather

Friday: Sunny, a high near 49.
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers, low around 26.
Saturday: Breezy, rain and snow, becoming all rain after 2pm. High near 47.
Saturday Night: Chance of rain and snow showers, mostly cloudy, low near 32.
Sunday: Chance of rain and snow showers, partly sunny, high near 49.

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
Snow is all but gone outside the High Peaks where there is still two feet of snow on the ground at Lake Colden and more in higher elevations. Conditions there still require snowshoes or skis above Marcy Dam and crampons on exposed areas such as summits.

** Downhill Ski Report
All downhill mountains are now closed for the season. The last day for Gore and Whiteface was April 17th. Whiteface had 138 days and 247 inches of natural snow and 12 days in the sides (their average is 200 inches). Gore had 134 days and 150 inches (the level of their long-term average; 30 inches over last year’s total). The Hudson Chair at eth North Creek Ski Bowl was open until the last weekend of March.

** Cross Country Ski Report
The region’s cross-country ski areas have all closed. There may still be some isolated skiing on the wooded section of the Jack Rabbit Trail above Whiteface Inn Lane, but the rest of the trail is no longer recommended for skiing.

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is no longer suitable for skiing below Marcy Dam, and above snow cover is starting to wane and get patchy, there remains about 10 inches to two feet and more at higher elevations. This will probably be the last weekend for skiing on on the upper reaches of Mount Marcy – anyone making the attempt should use extreme caution. Avalanche Lake should no longer be assumed safe for crossing. The bridge is out on the trail to Marcy, see below for details.

** Ice Climbing Report
The season has ended for ice climbing in the Adirondacks.

Rock Climbing Closures
All rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, on Moss Cliff in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness, and on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain are closed, except for the routes between “Opposition” and “Womb with a View” at Pok-O-Moonshine, to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, but recent warm weather have left very little solid ice at any elevation. Low elevation waters are now open, opening or have very thin ice. Ice on higher elevation waters is thinning. No ice on water surfaces should be assumed safe to traverse. Tip-ups may be used on waters through next Saturday, April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
The snowmobiling season has now ended in the Adirondacks. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

Whitewater Rafting Season Has Begun
The whitewater rafting season has begun on the Moose, Black and Sacandaga rivers. The Hudson River Whitewater Derby will run May 7-8 2011. The event includes novice slalom, giant slalom, and more.

** Trout Season Opened April 1st
Trout (brook, rainbow, brown and hybrids, and splake) and landlocked Salmon season open April 1st, but has been off to a slow start with some snow and ice on the banks of local streams, and this weekend’s high and cold waters. Stocking was delayed in the Adirondacks but began this week in earnest. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.

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: 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.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

** High Waters – Cold Temperatures: Water levels are high and water temperatures are low. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris.

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

HIGH PEAKS

** Day Glow South Camping Area: Campsites in the Day Glow South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam, including the McMartin lean-to, are once again available for use.

** Opalescent Lean-to: The Opalescent Lean-to remains unusable due to the amount of snow and ice in and around it.

** Preston Pond Trail: The first bridge west of Henderson Lake on the trail to Preston Ponds and Duck Hole went out with an ice jam and is now impassible.

** John Brook Valley: The Bear Brook Lean-to has been removed and will not be replaced.

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

Giant Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

** Snowshoes or Skis: The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks when snows are at least 8 inches deep, as is the case above Marcy Dam. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

** Johns Brook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. The Deer Brook lean-to is currently closed while it’s being moved.

Marcy Brook Bridge: The Marcy Brook Bridge, below the junction of the Avalanche Pass and Lake Arnold trails, was damaged by ice during the recent thaw. The bridge is still usable but one of the railings is bent making the path over the bridge narrow. Skiers may have some problems crossing.

Opalescent Cable Bridge: The cable bridge over the Opalescent River on the East River/Hanging Spear Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water periods.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down along the Corey’s Road, and in most areas accessed from the that road, including the Seward Trail, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.

** Sentinel Range Wilderness: The Copperas Pond/Owen Pond Loop Trail was impacted by serious winds resulting in significant blow down. While most of the blowdown has been cut out, some downed trees and limbs are still present.

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 and crampon are needed.

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.

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

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Moose River Plains Road System is closed for mud season. Gates have been closed at the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake. The road system will be reopened once they have dried out and all necessary maintenance and repairs have been completed.

** Ferris Lake Wild Forest: The West Lake Boat Launch was impacted by rains and floods last August. 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.

** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Gates have been closed on all roads for the mud season. The roads will be reopened once they have dried out and all necessary maintenance and repairs have been completed.

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

EASTERN / SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Ausable Point Campground & Day Use Area: The entry road to the Ausable Point Campground and Day Use Area is closed until further notice due to flooding. DEC has placed barricades at the end of the road and will be patrolling the area to ensure the public is abiding by the closure. The road will be reopened once the waters have receded and it is determined the road can handle motorized traffic without further damage.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Town of Fort Ann has closed the Shelving Rock Road for mud season.

** Western Lake George Wild Forest: The following roads have been closed for spring mud season: the Bear Slides, Scofield Flats, Pikes Beach, Darlings Ford in the Hudson River Special Management Area, Palmer Pond Access Route, Gay Pond Road, Lily Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road.

** Hammond Pond Wild Forest: The Lindsey Brook Trail is closed due to flooding by beaver activity.

** Hoffman Notch Wilderness: Some stream crossings do not have bridges and may be difficult to cross in high water conditions.

Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area: The DEC is holding a public meeting to discuss the proposed Unit Management Plan for the 38,500 acre Hoffman Notch Wilderness in the Towns of North Hudson, Minerva and Schroon Lake in Essex County. The plan includes an analysis of the features of the area and the ability of the land to accommodate public use. The meeting will start at 6:30 on April 26 at the Schroon Lake Town Hall. For directions and more details on the draft management plan, read the DEC press release.

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.

** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels are high and water temperatures are low. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. 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.

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

** Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Gates have been closed on all snowmobile trails.

** William C. Whitney Wilderness/Lake Lila: Little Tupper Lake remains iced over.

Taylor Pond Wild Forest: All of the rock climbing routes on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain are closed, except for the routes between “Opposition” and “Womb with a View”, to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave has been reopened to the public following the expiration of the cave closing order on March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. DEC is considering whether to close all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population. It’s best to stay out of caves at this time.

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, April 21, 2011

Adirondack Amphibians: The Wood Frog in Spring

The awakening of the many forms of life that passed the winter in a deeply dormant state begins with the melting of the snow, the retreating of the ice sheet covering our waterways, and the thawing of the soil. Because of fundamental physiological differences among the species and the various preferences that each creature has for a wintering site, some animals are quicker to respond to the onset of favorable spring conditions than others.

In the forested regions of the North Country, the wood frog is among the first to return to an active state and announce with a distinct chorus of voices that spring has come to the Adirondacks.

Unlike other frogs in the Adirondacks, the wood frog does not spend the winter embedded in the muck that covers numerous bodies of water. Rather, this amphibian burrows deep into the leaf litter that covers the forest floor to protect itself from the frigid conditions of this long season. Also, unlike many other cold-blooded vertebrates, the wood frog fails to get below the frost line.

This small, forest dwelling frog with the black mask across its face is among the very few forms of vertebrate life that can experience freezing without perishing. The body of this frog has adapted by producing several substances that allow for a lowering of the freezing point of the water molecules within its body.

Additionally, even if the actions of these compounds fail to prevent ice crystals from forming, the wood frog will not die. With the formation of ice in its body, the wood frog’s heart stops beating, its blood no longer circulates throughout its systems, and oxygen fails to be delivered to its cells. In this type of cryogenic state, the wood frog can remain alive throughout the winter and awaken once its body warms to a temperature that is above freezing.

As soon as the upper layer of soil thaws, releasing the wood frog from its icy tomb, it spends a few days acclimating to an active state before heading to the small, vernal pool of water that serves as its breeding ground. Upon arriving at such a seasonal body of water, the males begin to announce their presence by emitting a clacking noise that is described by some as several ducks that are not quite “on-key”.

Within a span of a few days, such small bodies of water may contain dozens of wood frogs. While these amphibians can be heard anytime of the day, late afternoon is when more voices are added to the chorus, and by evening on those occasions when the temperature is well above the freezing point, every male is contributing to the unique noise that can carry for nearly a hundred yards. Additionally, the intensity of this sound increases during times of warmer weather. Sunny days which can elevate the temperature of these small, seasonal pools can also make the wood frog more active and vocal.

While some amphibians, like the spring peeper, persist in announcing its presence for well over a month, the wood frog seldom remains in its breeding surroundings longer than a week to ten days. Shortly after the last females have had their egg masses fertilized, these temporary occupants abandon the pools and begin their travel to their summer ranges. Wood frogs are reported to migrate up to a half mile to reach a favorable spot on the forest floor in which to spend the summer.

Spring is a season of sound in the Adirondacks. While birds have the most musically complex songs, and the most melodious calls, the voices of several amphibians add to the diversity of this springtime, vocal ritual. It is impossible to state which amphibian produces the most appealing mating call; however, it is certain that the love serenade of the wood frog is the first to grace the air and signal that the spring peepers will soon be calling here in the Adirondacks.

Tom Kalinowski has written several books on Adirondack nature and is a regular contributor on natural history here at the Adirondack Almanack.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gear Review: Highlite Sleeping Bag

Having an effective sleeping system is crucial to any backcountry explorer. After a full day of hiking or bushwhacking it is essential to get a good night’s rest. The sleeping bag is the most important part of any sleeping system as it provides insulation from the cooler evening temperatures allowing for a restful night’s sleep.

A good backcountry sleeping bag should be light weight, compressible, insulating, and durable. Western Mountaineering’s Highlite down sleeping bag meets all those criteria and is an ideal bag for the Adirondacks from late spring to early fall. The Highlite is incredibly light-weight, compresses down to the size of a loaf of bread and is worthy of Western Mountaineering’s reputation for impeccable quality.

Everything about the Highlite has been designed with reducing weight in mind. In fact, this sleeping bag is the lightest one on the market. The Highlite comes in three different sizes based on a person’s height and weighs from 15 to 17 ounces depending on the size.

The sleeping bag is rated down to a temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It is insulated with 850+ goose down and has a total fill weight of 7 to 9 ounces (depending on the size).

The down is wrapped in a .9 ounce ExtremeLite™ shell fabric purported to be the lightest and densest (measured by threads per inch) on the market. This fabric appears to be dense enough to prevent the sleeping bag from losing any but a small amount of it precious down feathers. But with any light-weight fabric special care is necessary to avoid ware and tear.

The zipper is the weakest part of this sleeping bag. The one-way zipper is small and cut to half of the bag length to cut down on weight. Although the zipper works well but zips apart at the bottom, which can be irritating when it happens in the middle of the night and it becomes difficult to zip it up to avoid a mid-night chill.

The bag is cut in such a way as to reduce both excess weight and internal volume and thus increase the internal heating rate. This allows the bag to heat up more quickly, which can be greatly appreciated on a chilly evening.

The Highlite is purple on the outside and black on the inside. The dark colors make it easier to dry the sleeping bag in the sun on long trips.

As a bonus the Highlite is made in the good ole U.S. of A.

The Highlite is an awesome sleeping bag for the spring to fall seasons in the Adirondacks. This sleeping bag has been my go-to bag for many years. I have found it always comfortable and rarely needs any supplements like a silk liner or wearing extra clothing.

Although some people might hesitate using a down bag in the Adirondacks where the risk of rain is ever present but if one takes the required precautions (e.g. using a waterproof stuff sack, pack liner and/or pack cover) there should be no problem with the Highlite.

For a light-weight, warm, comfortable and well made sleeping bag for any backcountry adventure you cannot go wrong with Western Mountaineering’s Highlite sleeping bag. It will keep you comfortable on those chilly Adirondack evenings in most conditions but it will not weigh down your backpack or take up too much space.

Photos: Highlite sleeping bag by Western Mountaineering.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tupper Lake 2011 Woodsmen’s Days Set

The Tupper Lake Woodsmen’s Days Committee has announced some new features for this year’s event, which is scheduled for July 8-10th at the Tupper Lake Municipal Park. The traditional welcome event on Friday night will be an informal family friendly BBQ at the Park with live music by the band Movin’ On. This year’s parade will kick off Saturday’s events at 10:00 am with the theme “Dreams, Wishes & Imagination.”

In addition to the traditional lumberjack competitions, chainsaw carving, equipment contests and the area’s largest horse pull, there will be live music playing throughout Saturday afternoon by Winter Camp, led by local musician Jamie Savage. Kids’ games will also be scheduled throughout the entire weekend with a grand finale magic show on Sunday afternoon.

Also new this year, will be weekend passes available for pre-sale at discount prices.

Anyone interested in participating in the parade or wanting more information should contact the Tupper Lake Woodsmen’s Association at 518.359.9444 or email tlwoodsmens@gmail.com or cmccandlish@roadrunner.com.

The Tupper Lake Woodsmen’s Association is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1983. Their annual event, the Woodsmen’s Days, is held the second weekend in July. Any proceeds from the event are used to make contributions back to the community, including: Adirondack Medical Center; March of Dimes; Tupper Lake Rescue Squad; Castles of Toys; Tupper Lake Food Pantry; the Piercefield Fire Department; the local S.A.D.D. program; and Hospice.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Timberwolf and Black Bear

Our first daily double. On Saturday, we visited two bars: the Timberwolf Pub in Schroon Lake and the Black Bear in Pottersville. Originally, we had planned to start at the Wells House in Pottersville, which is currently closed, but rumor has it that it will reopen soon. We decided to start in Schroon Lake.

The Timberwolf Pub has an interesting architectural design which I will call Bavarian style. The interior is open and well-lit, with several ceiling fans with lights. The large bar could accommodate 15 to 20 people; several tables throughout the room even more. The walls are tongue and groove pine with a shelf around the whole room displaying a multitude of ceramic houses. A brightly lit alcove over the restroom doors display a plethora of Easter decorations. Helen, the owner and bartender on duty, informed us that she decorates this area according to every occasion. In addition to this display, several stuffed wolves, a fisher and a grinning fox, stand silently, watching over the bar. Too many stiff drinks?

On a chilly day, it was warm and comfortable in the Timberwolf Pub. We received a friendly greeting by a local at the bar upon entering and, believe it or not, that hasn’t been the case in our adventures so far this year. An over sized, handmade hat labeled “TIPS” sat at the end of the bar. Naturally, Kim couldn’t help remarking that someone has lofty goals. Helen chuckled and informed us that someone had volunteered to play music the night before “just for tips”. She discreetly tucked the hat behind the bar. While we were there, a patron had a package delivered to him at the bar. I had a sense of the smallness of the community and the hominess of the Timberwolf.

On weekends they have a DJ on one night and karaoke on the other. Quick Draw and scratch off tickets are available for amusement as well. The Timberwolf Pub does not have a happy hour, but does offer two drink specials – Carbomb consisting of Jaegermeister and Red Bull and the Long Island Iced Tea made from a variety of liquors combined with Coke that somehow achieves the iced tea flavor. They are open year round, seven days a week, catering to locals and tourists. The menu is broad, with basic pub fare and home style dinner specials, all very reasonably priced. Although the Timberwolf Pub has been under the same ownership for ten years, it does have a fresh look.

Next stop, the Black Bear Restaurant and Bar…

Just off Exit 26 of the Adirondack Northway, the Black Bear Restaurant and Bar have occupied this corner on Route 9 for over half a century. Walking into the Black Bear is like stepping back in time.

The red and black checkerboard linoleum-tiled floor is well worn by decades of dog-tired working-class feet. The bar is no nonsense; green formica topped and wood framed, with purse hooks beneath, kind of like church, though the similarity stops there. The bar mysteriously wraps around into a large adjoining room, spacious enough to accommodate occasional performers, Friday night karaoke and, rarely, a band.

According to the North Warren Chamber of Commerce website, Quick Draw, Lottery games, OTB and EZ Bet are also available here. The decor is decidedly early garage sale: beer posters and signs, a jukebox, photo collages spanning many years, ’60’s retro “big-eyed” children prints identify the restrooms, and a stuffed black bear wearing bunny ears and carrying an Easter basket. The Black Bear bears all the evidence of a home away from home, open seven days a week.

Surprisingly, no draft beer, but 30 bottled choices and the liquor staples suffice. They don’t appear to have a happy hour but their regular prices already beat most happy hours. I had a 12 ounce bottle of Sam Adams, which the bartender poured into a pint glass. Oddly enough, it filled the glass. There were perhaps eight or ten other people in the bar; most seemed to know one another. Like most hometown bars, the Black Bear seems like a quiet, friendly place to spend a lazy afternoon watching NASCAR on the modest TV and exchanging good-natured insults with friends.

Last week’s review stirred up some controversy over the food at Flanagan’s vs. the Black Bear, so we had to eat. The bar and the restaurant are separate entities, though we were able to order and eat at the bar. Order the wings hot if you want medium, medium if you want mild, and mild if you want sweet, we were advised by the bartender. We ordered hot, which were indeed medium, but they smelled and tasted delicious. We also split a burger, which arrived clad in a soft, fresh kaiser roll, topped with lettuce and tomato, with a generous side of fries. No complaints; it was quite satisfying.

Whether it was the dreariness of the day, or the funk between seasons, our enthusiasm was lacking. In a way, it’s great to visit places when it’s the off-season, but we look forward to a having a few more people around. We know. Careful what you wish for.

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.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ADK to Host 15th Annual Black Fly Affair

ADK’s 15th annual gala and auction will be held from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday, May 21, at the Hiland Park Country Club, 195 Haviland Road, Queensbury. The Black Fly Affair is ADK’s signature event and largest fund-raiser. Recommended attire is formal dress (black tie) and hiking boots, although the dress code will not be strictly enforced.

“Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball” features one of the region’s largest benefit auctions – an opportunity to shop for bargains on original artwork, outdoor gear, jewelry, weekend getaways, tickets to cultural events and more. Proceeds from the event support the Adirondack Mountain Club’s conservation and outdoor education programs.

Stan Hall, president of the Cooperstown Brewing Co., is the honorary chairperson. Radio personality Gregory McKnight will be master of ceremonies. There will be food, beverages and dancing to the music of Standing Room Only. Cooperstown Brewing Co. will provide samples of its premium ales, porters and stouts.

ADK boasts one of the largest silent auctions in the region in addition to its very lively live auction. Jim and Danielle Carter of Acorn Estates & Appraisals will conduct the auction. A preview of auction items is available online.

Tickets are $45 per person until May 13, and $55 after May 13 and at the door. For reservations, call (800) 395-8080 Ext. 25 or register online. Discounted room rates for Black Fly attendees are available at Clarion Inn & Suites, 1454 Route 9, Lake George. Hiland Park Golf Club is offering Black Fly participants a special deal on a round of golf before the event. Call (518) 793-2000 for tee times.

Corporate sponsors of Black Fly Affair are the Times Union, Jaeger & Flynn Associates, TD Bank, Cool Insuring Agency, Price Chopper Golub Foundation and JBI Helicopter Services. To donate an auction item or to become a corporate sponsor, contact Deb Zack at (800) 395-8080 Ext. 42.

The Adirondack Mountain Club is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to the protection of the New York Forest Preserve. ADK helps protect the Forest Preserve, state parks and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation. More information is available at www.adk.org.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adirondack Philosophy: Our Divided Interests

The 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume may seem like an unlikely lens through which to interrogate our Adirondack situation, except that all of our contemporary discord over public versus private land ownership and conflict over the need to manage natural resources in order to ensure human and other-than-human flourishing for generations to come, all sounds vaguely familiar.

Hume makes an impassioned argument for the commons when he writes of a world where resources “would be used freely, without regard to property; but cautiously too” after all he asks “why raise land-marks between my neighbor’s field and mine, when my heart has made no division between our interests” (Hume, 1777). » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Celebrating Earth Day 2011

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Earth Day is every day, I get that and I do hope I live that way. That doesn’t mean that I don’t need a few nudges. Having an Earth Day celebration is like giving your own mother a card for your birthday and letting her know that you really appreciate the 22 hours of labor she went through. (So far my children only hear white noise when I mention that.)

So here are a few ideas to help make Mother Nature’s job just a bit easier.

For anyone in Essex County that wishes to “dump the pump” on Earth Day, the Essex County Transportation Bureau is offering free bus rides for everyone on April 22nd.

On April 23rd, Judy’s Computer Support will be at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise‘s parking lot from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. as part of a Community Computer Recycling Day to collect used computers, printers, laptops, monitors, faxes and computer cords.

You can spend a few hours before going on a hike and clean up a trailhead parking lot. Sadly, I am always surprised by the amount of garbage we pick up. Remember to bring gloves and a bag because some of the stuff we’ve found is just plain nasty. This activity has made such an impact on my children that they are more mindful of their own wrappers. It has even sometimes altered their purchasing decisions when they now recognize excess packaging.

Last year we made a B’ Earth Day Cake for my daughter but there is no reason why Mother Nature can’t share in the calories plus it’s an exercise in geography. It was refreshing to hear my son say ”I think we need to move South America a bit more to the right.”

In Saranac Lake, The Adirondack Green Circle continues to sponsor their Wake-Up! Film Fest with a showing of Blue Gold tonight (April 19th) at Upstairs at the Waterhole on Main Street with the next film offering being the comedic documentary How to Boil A Frog on May 3rd (same time, same location). The other dates are set but films are being decided for May 17 and 31st. Please call 518-891-7230 for more information.

Recycling electronics, computers and your grandmother’s TV (that wouldn’t sell on eBay even though you listed it as “antique”) can now be taken away for free. On May 2nd from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Lake George residents and small businesses can recycle their old, used or broken electronics for free at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing.

On May 3rd Cornell Cooperative Extension in Hudson Falls will offer a free lecture on ways to reduce energy bills through no-cost/low-cost actions.

A wonderful inside activity, while waiting for the last of the Adirondack snow to melt, is planting seeds. Nothing connects children more to the earth than seeing the miracle of a tiny seed growing into something they can eat. Remember that some flowers are edible, too. It doesn’t always have to be about the vegetables.

Finally, the weekend of April 29 to May 1 is the “Build a Greener Adirondacks” Expo at the Wild Center with training workshops for everyone from contractors to home owners. The Wild Center will then reopen to the public on May 1st with GreenFest, a day packed with family activities, animal encounters and green crafts for kids.

I am sure I’ve missed a few and will gladly amend this post to make sure all favorite Earth Day options are listed.

Photo and 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, April 19, 2011

‘Owner’s Manual’ for Landowners Available Free

When you buy a car or a refrigerator, you receive an owner’s manual. But when you buy a piece of land, you’re on your own. Until now, that is. A new owner’s manual is now available for New York landowners, and it’s free.

Cornell Cooperative Extension is working with the publishers of Northern Woodlands magazine to distribute this new publication that will provide New York landowners with essential information for taking care of their land and getting the most out of it. The guide, called The Place You Call Home: A Guide to Caring for Your Land in New York, is being distributed free of charge to people who own 10 or more acres in New York. » Continue Reading.


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