Thursday, July 14, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (July 14)

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), WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack also publishes a weekly Adirondack Hunting and Fishing Report.


** indicates new or revised items.

Trails in exposed areas are drying out but trails in deep woods, near water and in lows spots may still contain mud and water on trails. All trails may be wet and muddy following heavy rain events. Hikers should be prepared for mud and water on trails by wearing waterproof footwear and remembering to walk through – not around – mud and water to prevent eroding and widening the trail.

All rivers in the region are running at or below normal for this time of year with the Sacandaga and beaver rivers running notably low. Occassional storms can quickly raise the level of rivers so consult the latest streamgage data.

Advocates of combating invasive species in the Adirondacks are hoping local residents and visitors will become familiar with invasive species during the 6th annual Adirondack Invasive Species Awareness Week which continues through Sunday (July 16). Look for events highlighting the threat of invasive plants and animals, ways to prevent their spread and management options. Interpretive walks and paddles, identification support, invasive species talks, workshops for all ages and more are planned throughout the Adirondacks [calendar of events. Invasive species are a growing threat in the Adirondacks, making their early detection increasingly important to combating their spread. Adirondack Almanack regularly covers the issue of invasive species in the Adirondacks [link].

A number of secondary roads and backcountry roads remain closed including some in the Lake George and Moose River Plains Wild Forests. Rock Dam Road, the Cedar River Gate and the Wakely Dam camping area at the eastern end of the main road of the Moose River Plains Road remain closed at this time. Other closed roads include The Jessup River Road in Hamilton County; Haskell-West River Road along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest; Old Farm Road near Thirteenth Lake, preventing motor vehicle access to the trailhead; and Lily Pond Road near Brant Lake. The Wolf Lake Landing Road from McKeever on Route 28 east toward Woodhull Lake is passable only with high clearance vehicles. There is no time table for the needed bridge and road repair work on Haskell-West River Road; DEC Region 6 is currently awaiting construction funds.

Trees may be toppled on and over tails and campsites, especially in lesser used areas and side trails. Expect blowdown in the Western High Peaks Wilderness and in the Sentinel and Seward Ranges. A hiker had to be rescued this summer from Mount Emmons in the Seward Range after losing his way while negotiating blowdown [LINK].

It is “Bug Season” in the Adirondacks so Black Flies, Mosquitos, Deer Flies and/or Midges will be present. To minimize the nuisance wear light colored clothing, pack a head net and use an insect repellent.

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.

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.

Due to active peregrine falcon nesting rock climbing routes remain closed at the Labor Day Wall in Wilmington Notch and at the Lower Washbowl. Routes at Willsboro Bay Cliff and on the Nose of Pok-o-Moonshine Mountain have reopened. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

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. An order closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population expired on March 31. DEC is reconsidering whether continuing the closing to protect the bat population is warranted. At this time it’s best to stay out of caves that may contain bats.

Boaters on Adirondack waterways will be a lot more likely to be questioned about whether they are transporting invasive species at local boat launches this year. Watershed stewards will stationed throughout the region to inspect boats, canoes, kayaks and other craft entering and exiting the water for invasive species, remove suspicious specimens, and educate boaters about the threats of invasive species and how to prevent their spread. Aquatic invasive species are a growing threat in the Adirondacks, making such inspections increasingly important to combating their spread. At least 80 waters in the Adirondack Park have one or more aquatic invasive species, but more than 220 waters recently surveyed remain free of invasives. The inspections are currently voluntary, but more than a half dozen local municipalities have passed or are considering aquatic invasive species transport laws.

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.

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.

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

Fire Danger: LOW

** Central Adirondacks LOWER Elevation Weather

Friday: Sunny, high near 79.
Friday Night: Clear, low around 47.
Saturday: Sunny, high near 82.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, low around 55.
Sunday: Sunny, high near 83.

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]



** Due to deterioration and damage of the “Flume” bridge, the last stringer on the bridge crossing over the Chubb River on the Northville-Placid Trail north of Wanika Falls is very dangerous. For safety, hikers may want to wade the river to cross at this point. The bridge will be replaced this summer.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers. Bridge replacement is expected to begin this fall and be completed in summer, 2012.

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. The Wakely Dam Camping area is closed.

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.


** Waters have returned to normal.

Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks,

** Duck Hole Dam: The bridge over the dam has been removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water.

No Fires in Eastern High Peaks: Fires of any kind are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks

Bear Resistant Canister 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.

** New Beaver Brook Mountain Bike Trails – Wilmington Wild Forest: A 3.5-mile system of multi-use trails has been opened for mountain biking and hiking on the Beaver Brook Tract off the Hardy Road in the Town of Wilmington. More information and a map is now available online.

Little Porter Mountain: The bridge has been replaced over Slide Brook on the Little Porter Mountain Trail.

Giant Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Upper Washbowl Cliffs have reopened. Peregrine falcons are nesting at the Lower Washbowl Cliffs and they remain closed. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

** Johns Brook Valley: The Deer Brook Lean-to has been relocated 100 yards up the brook from its former location. A sign at the former location directs campers to the new location. The Bear Brook Lean-to has been removed and will not be replaced.

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. The Owen Pond Trailhed located on Route 86 between Lake Placid and Wilmington has been relocated approximately 0.2 miles north (towards Wilmington) of its former location.

East River Trail: The first bridge on the East River Trail has been washed away, high waters make crossing risky.

Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail, just north of the Feldspar Lean-to is nearly impassable due to mud and water. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after heavy rains or during prolonged 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.

Algonquin Mountain: Significant amount of blowdown is present in the higher elevation of all trails on the mountain.

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.

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.

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.

Caulkins Creek Truck Trail/Horse Trail: While the blowdown has been cleared from the Caulkins Creek Truck Trail from Corey’s Road to Shattuck Clearing, bridge crossings between Corey’s Road and Shattuck Clearing may be unsafe for horse traffic – use caution.

West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake

** New Bob Marshall Wild Lands Complex Map: Local and state officials have announced a cooperative effort among 24 villages and hamlets in the western Adirondacks to promote the half million acre Bob Marshall Wild Lands Complex. “The Bob”, as it is also known, is a mix of public and private land larger than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and almost as large as Yosemite. The Bob includes more than 100,000 acres of Old Growth forests; More than 1,400 lakes and ponds; hundreds of miles of flat and white-water paddling including portions of the Moose, Independence and Oswagacthie rivers; More than 400 miles of hiking trails; and blocks of private land, including remote interior communities like Big Moose, Conifer, Stillwater and Beaver River. The Bob encompasses a number of preexisting management ares, including the Five Ponds, Pepperbox, William C. Whitney, Round Lake, Pigeon Lake and Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness areas together with the Aldrich Pond, Watson’s East Triangle, Fulton Chain, Sargent Ponds, Independence River and Cranberry Lake Wild Forest areas. The Bob is named after Robert Marshall, who first proposed special protection for the area in the 1930s. The only travel corridor that bisects the entire Bob is the former Adirondack Railroad line that stretches from Remsen (north of Utica) to Lake Placid. More information can be found online.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) remains closed at the Cedar River Headquarters end. The Limekiln Lake road at the western end near Inlet is open to the Lost Ponds access road. Also the Otter Brook Road is passable to motor vehicles to the Icehouse Pond trailhead. Rock Dam Road, the Cedar River Gate and the Wakely Dam camping area at the eastern end of the main road remain closed at this time. The open section of the road provides access to 30 roadside campsites and numerous waters popular with anglers including Icehouse Pond, Helldiver Pond, Lost Ponds, Mitchell Ponds and Beaver Lake.

Wakley Dam Area Closed: Wakley Dam is being refurbished and significant damage from flooding to the Cedar River Road and the camping area has forced the closure of the Wakely Dam Area. It’s believed the project will be completed in September. The Wakely Dam camping area at the eastern end of the main road of the Moose River Plains Road is currently closed. Workers are at the dam during the week and block the trail with equipment during non-work hours and on weekends.

Black River Wild Forest – West Canada Creek: Haskell-West River Road is closed along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest. There is no time table for the needed bridge and road repair work on Haskell-West River Road; DEC Region 6 is currently awaiting construction funds.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers. Bridge replacement is expected to begin this fall and be completed in summer, 2012.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: The Jessup River Road remains closed due to washouts and soft spots, preventing motor vehicle access to the Spruce Lake trailhead.

** Independence River Wild Forest: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced its plans to amend the Independence River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP). The Independence River Wild Forest includes over 79,000 acres in Lewis and Herkimer counties. The draft amendment proposes the rerouting of several trails or trail segments to reduce environmental impacts and the designation of several old roads as new snowmobile trails. Additionally, the amendment will classify all snowmobile trails as Class I, Secondary Trails or Class II, Community Connector Trails, as defined in Adirondack Park Snowmobile Management Guidance [pdf]. A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Lowville DEC sub-office located at 7327 State Route 812. The public will have an opportunity to offer comments regarding the draft amendment. Comments will be received until August 3, 2011. The proposed amendment can be found by visiting the DEC website and navigate to the UMP webpage.

The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

** The Ausable Point Day Campground Reopens: More than 90 of the 123 campsites at the Ausable Point Campground on Lake Champlain will be open Friday July 15th. The Ausable Point Day Use Area with its large beach and picnic pavilion opened last week. The campground, the day use area and the access road were underwater for almost two months during the historic flooding of Lake Champlain. The waters and wave action caused extensive erosion and other damage. The area was inaccessible during this period. Once the water levels receded below flood stage, DEC staff began clean up and repair of flood damage on the road, the campground, beach and other facilities. Many of the campsites have been previously reserved for this weekend. It’s recommended that campers call ahead at 518-561-7080 to learn the availability of campsites.

** Lake Champlain Bass Tournament Dispersal Study
Growing interest of Lake Champlain’s bass fishery has led to a new study that will analyze bass dispersal after release during tournaments held in Plattsburgh. Scientists from the Lake Champlain Research Institute at SUNY Plattsburgh are tagging bass during 2011 and 2012 tournaments with external plastic tags and internal radio transmitters. Researchers will be tracking tagged bass in the lake to assess fish movement patterns. Anglers who recover tagged fish are encouraged to send an e-mail to the address on the tag, and indicate the date, tag number, and approximate location of recovery (i.e., Main Lake, Missisquoi Bay, Northeast Arm, etc.). Please release any tagged fish back to the lake if possible. Questions about the study may be directed to Mark Malchoff at SUNY Plattsburgh (; 518-564-3037).

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: There is a culvert out on Old Farm Road preventing motor vehicle access to the trailhead – park at the snowplow turnaround. The bridge over Chatiemac Brook on the Second Pond Trail as is the bridge over William Blake Pond Outlet on the Halfway Brook/William Blake Pond Trail. DEC will be replacing both bridges with natural log bridges. The southern end of the East Branch Sacandaga Trail was brushed out this spring from Eleventh Mountain to Cross Brook. Beavers have a built a dam directly above the foot bridge over Cisco Creek, both ends of the bridge may be flooded at times. The Puffer Pond – Kings Flow Trail (Upper Trail) to Puffer Pond is blocked by beaver ponds. A temporary reroute has been marked to the north and upstream of the beaver dam. Hikers can also take the King Flows East Trail to the Puffer Pond Brook (Outlet) Trail to reach Puffer Pond.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The bridge over a small stream just north of Fish Ponds on the Bartman Trail is out. The bridge over Georgia Creek on the Cotter Brook Trail is under water due to beaver activity as is the Pine Orchard Trail .5 mile south of Pine Orchard. The Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake. During low water conditions crossing can be made by rock hopping. The Murphy Lake Trail is brushy and difficult to follow along the east shore of the lake from the lean-to to the outlet and is also flooded at the north end of Murphy Lake.

Tongue Mountain: In the Tongue Mountain Range, signs and markers for the Fifth Peak lean-to at the junction of the Blue Trail and Yellow Trail were replaced in May. Several large trees down on the Tongue Mountain Trail have been removed from the trail.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Dacy Clearing Parking Area and Dacy Clearing Road remain closed due to washouts. Work continues to reopen the road and parking area in the near future.

** Western Lake George Wild Forest: All ADA accessible roads are now open for motor vehicle access to people with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD). Permit holders must remember to check the allowable vehicle type and call the Warrenburg office (518-623-1209) for the current combination and conditions. Recently opened MAPPWD roads include: Scofield Flats, Pikes Beach, Darlings Ford, Huckleberry Mountain Route, and the Palmer Pond Access Route.

** Hudson Recreation Area: The two designated accessible campsites at Scofield Flats and the two designated campsites at Pikes Beach are open for camping. People with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD) may access these campsites with motor vehicles. Call the Warrenburg office (518-623-1209) for the current combination and conditions. See the Hudson River Special Management Area webpage for more information and maps on the facilities, including ADA accessible facilities, in this area.

** Hudson River Recreation Area: River Road and Buttermilk Road, town roads in the Hudson River Recreation Area, remain muddy and rutted. It is recommended that only high clearance vehicles use the roads at this time.

** Hudson River Recreation Area: Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Recreation Area is open, but the road is still in rough condition. 4-wheel drive and other high clearance vehicles are recommended.

** Western Lake George Wild Forest: Gates on Lily Pond Road remain closed but are expected to open soon.

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.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: Lean-to #6 was recently destroyed by fire. You can see video here. This is a stern reminder to properly extinguish fires and never leave a fire unattended.

Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

** Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A new accessible fishing/waterway access sites has been constructed on Fishhole Pond. The facility is compliant with the American Disabilities Act and provides outdoor recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. The features that provide accessibility for people with disabilities include: universally accessible parking area designed to accommodate up to five vehicles; ADA compliant access ramp; and universally accessible platform designed for getting in and out of boats, canoes and kayaks. Contact the Region 5 Lands & Forests Office (518-897-1291) for more information and directions to these facilities.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Peregrine Falcons are nesting on the Labor Day Wall. All rock climbing routes on Labor Day Wall are closed. Climbing routes on Moss Cliff are open. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

Connery Pond Road – Whiteface Landing: Connery Pond Road is open, however hikers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the newly developed and paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road.

Moose Pond: The Town of St. Armand has opened the Moose Pond Road, the waterway access site can now be accessed by motor vehicles.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The gate on the Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road is open, but due to the condition of the road, until further notice it should only be used by pickup trucks, SUVs and other vehicles with high clearance. This road is used to access Meadow and St. Germain Ponds.

St. Regis Canoe Area: Significant work on campsites was conducted last year. 14 new campsites were created, 18 campsites were closed and rehabilitated, 5 campsites were relocated to better locations, 5 campsites were restored to reduce the size of the impacted area and to better define tent pads, and one lean-to was constructed. This summer DEC and the Student Conservation Association will continue work on this project, but the number of campsites involved will not be as significant. As described in the St. Regis Canoe Area Unit Management Plan this work was needed to bring the campsites into compliance with the quarter-mile separation distance required by the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and to address negative impacts that have occurred through use of the campsites. Maps depicting the current location of campsites are available online [Map 1 – Long Pond Region (PDF) and Map 2 – St Regis Pond Region (PDF)].

St. Regis Canoe Area: A section of the canoe carry about half way between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers. This will required a short paddle across the beaver pond.

Whitney Wilderness/Lake Lila: The Lake Lila Road is open but rough in some areas – use caution. Do not block the gate at the Lake Lila Parking Area.

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.

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 DEC Trails Supporter Patch is 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, July 14, 2011

Envisioning a Future for the Adirondack Park

The Common Ground Alliance of the Adirondacks will meet in Long Lake this Wednesday, July 20, for an interactive forum that will focus on future scenarios to assist the Park’s communities, their economies and the environment.

More than 100 participants are expected to attend the event, including local, state and federal officials, small business owners, non-profit leaders and citizens from across the Adirondack region.

Local businessmen and scenario experts Dave Mason and Jim Herman will present six possible scenarios for the future of the Park. Mason and Herman are the entrepreneurial team that brought affordable broadband telecommunications to Keene and Keene Valley. “We hope to stimulate people to think more strategically about the difficult and complex issues facing the Park”, Mason said. “We want people to think hard about what they want the Park to become in the future.” “Scenarios are a great way to expand the scope of ideas under consideration and improve the conversation” according to Jim Herman. » Continue Reading.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Exhibit Honors Theme Park Designer Monaco

A new exhibit, “IMAGINING MAKEBELIEVE: An Exhibition Honoring Arto Monaco” will open with a reception at the Tahawus Lodge Center (14234 Rte 9N, Main St, Au Sable Forks, NY) on Friday, July 22, 2011, 6-9pm.

From 1954 to 1979, the Land of Makebelieve captivated visitors young and old. This summer, the Arto Monaco Historical Society invites you to remember the Land of Makebelieve, an enchanting, child-sized theme park, and its creator, Arto Monaco.

Born in Ausable Forks in 1913, Monaco designed not only the Land of Make Believe but Santa’s Workshop and Charley Wood’s Storytown and Gaslight Village. The Arto Monaco Historical Society was created after Monaco’s death in 2003 to preserve his legacy.

The exhibition in Au Sable Forks will feature images and artifacts from the original theme park, formerly located in Upper Jay but now closed to the public. The exhibition will also include plans for a new park that’s under consideration for the former Land of Makebelieve site.

Photo: The Land of Makebelieve in 2006 before volunteers began work on the abandoned theme park.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Adirondack Brewing Co. Lake Placid

Having left Zig Zags on that Thursday night, day 1 of Happy Hour in the High Peaks’ Lake Placid Summit Tour, we went straight down Main Street to stop #2, The Great Adirondack Brewing Company.

We immediately introduced themselves to Tom, the General Manager of 15 years, and let him know that Rob Kane, co-owner with his parents Edward and Joan Kane, had sent us. This bar is part of the Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood Restaurant, which has been in business since 1982.

Wood, wood and more wood sets the scene inside the bar and restaurant area, from the oak bar to the richly stained pine paneled walls, bead board ceilings, and peeled log beams. Movie posters, sports memorabilia, a golf ball collection and winter sports gear create a confusion of decoration throughout the pub. Law enforcement and firefighter badges surround the bar, representing protective service from around the country. Delicious smells fill the air, tempting patrons to enjoy a fine meal.

Customers come and go, many apparent regulars who exchange friendly greetings, some curious about the two women in matching hats. The first bar to introduce Pam to grape rum, they offer drink specials featuring their best brews and a variety of “rum runner” drinks. A blackboard lists several beers on tap. Kim opted for the Abbey Ale, with a rich, fruity aroma and sweet flavor. She sampled the porter as well, claiming it tastes “Just as a porter should.”

Open every day year round, the best best time to visit the Great Adirondack Brewing Company is in the summer months, but winter weekends and holidays can be special too. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The bar seats about 12 people, with additional tables along the perimeter. The bartenders are attentive and very professional. Posted on the walls in several areas are notices banning cell phone use. They have had problems with loud cell phone use, but advise that polite usage is generally tolerated.

The weather that day was not conducive to outdoor seating, but ample outdoor space, semi-privately tucked back from the sidewalk, provides at least 15 tables on the patio, easily accomodating a large crowd on a sunny day or warm evening. They do occasionally feature outdoor acoustic music on the patio.

Located in the Village of Lake Placid, the Great Adirondack Brewing Company is definitely not to be missed. If you’re a beer drinker, you probably can’t leave without purchasing a growler. Kim had been eyeing the decorative bottle with pewter handle and swing top lid and Pam was sure they wouldn’t be leaving without one of those filled with Abbey Ale. She was correct. Not only did the Abbey Ale come home with us, we traded two of our HHHP hats with a couple of brewers for an additional growler of porter and posed for a photo op. (Pam optimistically hoped at least one bottle was full of grape rum.) Hopefully, the brewers will be sporting our hats when you visit the Great Adirondack Brewing Company.

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Extreme Adirondacks: Surviving the 1995 Microburst

During a recent adventure into the heart of the Five Ponds Wilderness in the northwestern Adirondacks I found myself struggling through some blow downs and thinking about the 1995 Microburst. This devastating storm occurred on July 15, 1995 but its impact on the northeastern Adirondacks is still evident today and will remain so for a very long time.

But the storm’s impact is not on the land alone but on the people who experienced the storm as well. Since I was one of those individuals trapped in the backcountry on that day, I thought I would share my memory of the experience on the storm’s sixteenth anniversary. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Something Slimy: Adirondack Algae

Have you ever wondered what that slimy green/ brown stuff covering rocks or floating in the water was? What you were looking at was algae. Algae, like plants, use the sun to make energy (photosynthetic organisms), and are food for a variety of animals including fish, bugs, and birds. Algae differ from plants by not having true roots and leaves.

Also like plants, algae need light and a food source to grow. Algae loves phosphorus and nitrogen that enter the water. If these nutrients enter the water excessively, algae can bloom and become a nuisance and potential health hazard. When algae blooms it can become toxic, clog intake pipes and discourage swimming and other recreational activities.

Algal blooms have been found in bodies of water throughout the Adirondacks, some of the most noted in Lake Champlain where blue/green algae or cyanobacteria can be found. These algae can form toxic blooms that can harm humans, pets and wildlife. Not all algae produces toxins, in fact most algae does not.

Lake George has been also been experiencing algal blooms. Algae there is found in the littoral zone, or near shore and is mostly green algae with very little blue/green. Generally algal blooms within Lake George are caused by lawn fertilizers washing into the lake, faulty septic systems, and storm water.

Excessive amounts of algae can also cause a dead-zone within a lake, an area of the water that has no oxygen and thus no fish. If you see an algal bloom in Lake Champlain contact the Lake Champlain Committee at (802) 658-1414 and report time of day, location and a description. Algal bloom in Lake George should be reported to the Lake George Waterkeeper.

While excessive amounts of algae are bad, it is a natural part of the aquatic environment. Algae can also be used by a trained scientist to determine if a body of water is healthy.

There are a variety of types of algae that can be seen in almost any body of water, including your fish tank. One of the more interesting types, looks like a ribbon twisting in a glass bottle. This form is often found in Lake George.

Photos: Above, spirogyra; Middle, cladophora; Below, mixed diatoms. Courtesy of Corrina Parnapy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Small and Seldom Seen Pygmy Shrew

The vast expanses of conifer and mixed forest that exist in the Adirondacks serve as home to numerous forms of wildlife. While many of these creatures are easy to recognize and lead lives that have been well studied by researchers, others are still shrouded in mystery. Among the mammals that are difficult to identify and which have not been well researched is a tiny creature believed to be widespread across the Park – the pygmy shrew.

The pygmy shrew ranks among the smallest mammals in the world as this miniature creature has a weight of only a tenth of an ounce. This is about the same as that of a hummingbird, or a penny. However, this fuzzy beast is substantially larger than a copper coin with its body measuring about two and a half inches from the tip of its long, wedge-shaped snout to the base of its wiry tail. By comparison, this is about half the length of a mouse, and only one-eighth its weight.

While it would seem that a mammal of this incredibly small size is easy to identify, confusion exists because a related species, the masked shrew, can be nearly as small, and has almost identical external features. Only a detailed dental analysis can positively tell the pygmy shrew from an immature masked shrew.

Since very few studies involving this ultra-small mammal have ever taken place in the Adirondacks, little is known about most aspects of its life history here in the Park, as well as its current status. Almost all of the scientific information regarding the pygmy shrew’s life comes from just a handful of studies that were undertaken in Alaska, Canada and a few other locations where stands of timber exist, especially in northern regions.

Because the masked shrew forages along the forest floor, as do many other shrews, it can be collected by researchers using certain ground traps. The pygmy shrew, however, is reported to spend more of its time in narrow, crayon-diameter tunnels that exist just below the soil’s surface. This prevents the pygmy shrew from being routinely captured by conventional methods whenever surveys of small mammals are performed. Also, since a live specimen captured in a trap is nearly impossible to properly identify in the field, reliable scientific data on the abundance of this species has been a challenge for wildlife biologists to collect.

Like all shrews, the pygmy shrew feeds heavily on invertebrate matter. Spiders, grubs, worms and caterpillars are routinely harvested by this active predator as it probes the nooks and crannies on the forest floor. The pygmy shrew is believed to concentrate more of its time just below the surface in the burrows of voles, moles, earthworms and in tunnels which it makes itself as it pushes its wedges-shaped head into the spongy layer of dead matter that covers the ground. In this way, the pygmy shrew does not compete directly with the masked shrew for food, as this slightly larger species prowls more just above the soil’s surface. While both species are believed to coexist in the same location, and may occasionally utilize the same travel corridors under fallen logs, pieces of rotted bark and partially uprooted stumps, little is known about the interaction between these two species.

While there is evidence to suggest that the pygmy shrew exists in most types of northern woodlands, this creature does show a preference for stands of evergreens that are close to a source of water. The prolific presence of conifers in the Adirondacks, along with the abundance of fresh water would seem to make our wilderness a perfect retreat for the pygmy shrew; however, there is very little hard evidence to indicate that this species of shrew exists in the Park.

It is hard for some people to believe that in the 21st century there still exist creatures, like the pygmy shrew, about which we have learned very little – at what time of the year do they breed, how many litters do they have during a single year, what kind of social structure do they have, how long do they live, and how do they manage to survive northern winters? While sacked out in a sleeping bag at a campsite, there could easily be one or several pygmy shrews only an arms length away engaging in activities that are unknown to anyone.

The wilderness of the Adirondacks is a great place to explore, and there are still many facets of our environment that have yet to be examined.

Tom Kalinowski has written several books on Adirondack natural history.

Tuesday, July 12, 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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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Astronomy: The July Night Sky With The Naked Eye

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

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

You can find help locating the night sky objects listed below by using one of the free sky charts at (scroll down to Northern Hemisphere Edition and click on the PDF for July 2011). The map shows what is in the sky in July at 10 pm (for early July; 10 pm for late July).

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

A few new items added to the list to view this month, along with some of the previously mentioned ones from June.


The Asteroid Vesta is visible to the naked eye in the constellation of Capricornus. The Dawn Space Craft is on it’s way to Vesta as I type this, and should start it’s orbit around Vesta on July 16, 2011 for one year. You may not see Vesta moving across the sky, but if you track it all month long you will notice it’s change of position in the sky.

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

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

Messier Object 7 (M7) is an open star cluster near the stinger of Scorpius is a small, hazy patch known since antiquity. Visible enough that the Greek astronomer Ptolemy cataloged it. M6 an open star cluster is nearby to the north of M7 and is a little smaller and fainter. M6 is also known as the Butterfly Cluster.

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

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

Messier Object 13 (known as M13) is a globular cluster. It will have a small hazy glow to it.

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

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

Photo: Andromeda Galaxy in a Wikipedia photo taken with an H-Alpha filter which helps filter out artificial light and skyglow; Below, Screen capture from the astronomy freeware Stellarium showing where Vesta is located in Capricornus on July 9.

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

Guest Essay: The Rooftop Highway, A Bad Idea

What follows is a guest essay by John Danis, a member of a new organization (YESeleven) which hopes to put an end the long-standing proposal to build the Northern Tier Expressway (aka I-98 or the Rooftop Highway), a 175-mile four lane divided highway that would link I-81 in Watertown and I-87 in Champlain. The Almanack asked Danis to provide readers with some insight as to why they oppose the highway.

Several months ago, a group of concerned citizens began discussions aimed at forming YESeleven, an organization intended to educate the public in Northern New York about the misguided attempts by bureaucrats and politicians in the region to construct a 172 mile, limited access, high-speed interstate highway, from Watertown to Plattsburgh.

For the past 3 years, proponents of this so-called, “Rooftop Highway”, have been quietly and methodically lining up political support across the region to try and force the hand of the state and federal governments to finance the estimated 4-billion, (their number!), or more dollar cost of constructing what we felt was a massively transformational, destructive and financially overreaching plan for the entire region.

The Rooftop Highway, or what proponents refer to as I-98, is an idea with a history going back fifty years or more, to the era of the construction of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Periodically over these fifty or more years the notion of connecting the Maine seacoast with the Great Lakes Basin has ebbed and surged. The “Rooftop” highway concept was to be part of this, “Can-Am” highway, particularly the part that would connect I-81 and I-87, across the northern tier of New York State. Adjacent highway development on both sides of the US-Canadian border, have dampened enthusiasm for this grand concept in many regions, with the notable exception of Northern New York.

In 2008, the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), published a study, which had been three years in the making, called the “Northern Tier Expressway Corridor Study”. This study was an exhaustive and comprehensive view of the US Route 11 transportation corridor, the established and dominant corridor of economic activity across the region, (this study is available at our YESeleven website, The study looked at all aspects of life across the region and concluded that the vital Route 11 transportation corridor, with it’s myriad counties, towns, villages, businesses, farms and universities, as well as it’s environmental treasures, was best served by a plan that contemplated evolutionary and targeted upgrades and improvements to the existing corridor over twenty years. Moreover, it would be done at a tenth or less of the cost of what a new and competing economic development corridor could be built for. Further, the improvements would be made in the existing corridor, rather than destroying thousand of square miles of land, dividing the entire region, displacing hundreds of landowners, etc.

The DOT study was rejected out of hand by Rooftop Highway proponents and their political allies. Their rejection of the plan seemed to be based on the belief that the Route 11 upgrades were not good enough, that the region was owed and deserving of a full interstate highway, with four interstate connector spurs criss-crossing the St. Lawrence Valley.

YESeleven’s view is that their position is essentially creating, at phenomenal cost, what amounts to a 172 mile bypass of every economic center in the region. The development of an adjacent economic corridor can only serve to create winners and losers as interstate highways have done in so many other regions. The best argument that the Rooftoppers have put forth is that if we build it, surely, they will come. All other claims about job creation have been poorly documented, if at all.

One of our positions is that every time that this discussion has come up over the past fifty-plus years, it has sapped energy, focus and financial resources away from more immediate and essential maintenance and improvement needs to our existing highway infrastructure and economic activity.

In short, the Rooftop highway plan is an overreaching, pie-in-the-sky distraction and we need to set it aside, once and for all, and move on.

You can visit the YESeleven website to learn more about our positions on highway infrastructure needs and solutions in the Northern New York Region.

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