Many people say it’s the Eagle Slide in the west cirque of Giant Mountain. If you look at the cirque from the Ausable Club, the slide resembles an eagle with its wings outstretched.
The guidebook Adirondack Rock gives the Eagle five stars, its highest rating for the overall climbing experience. It offers 1,300 feet of open rock, with ever-expanding views of the High Peaks. In the Yosemite Decimal System, the Eagle is a fourth-class climb. Wikipedia defines a fourth-class climb as follows: “Simple climbing, with exposure. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal.”
So an ascent of the Eagle should not be undertaken lightly. I’ve climbed it in hiking boots and in rock-climbing shoes. I recommend the latter.
Is the Eagle better than the Trap Dike, another fourth-class route that rates five stars? That’s a tough question that’s best evaded: although the Trap Dike climb finishes on a slide on the northwest side of Mount Colden, the dike itself is not a slide. So it’s in a different category.
Most of the popular slides in the Adirondacks are third-class climbs. Wikipedia defines third class as: “Scrambling with increased exposure. A rope can be carried but is usually not required. Falls are not always fatal.”
I suspect one reason the Eagle Slide has a five-star rating is precisely that it’s more dangerous and therefore more exciting. If you’re new to slide climbing, you’d be smart to start off on something easier. Some of my favorites are the slides on Dix, Nippletop, and Whiteface (bearing in mind that a fall in the wrong spot on any slide can have consequences). If there are any slide aficianados reading this, what are your suggestions?
By the way, I can attest to the perils of the Eagle. A few months ago, I slipped on a steep section and started sliding down the rock. Fortunately, a ledge prevented me from tumbling to the bottom (I landed standing up). The rock scraped the skin off most of my fingertips, but I was able to continue climbing.
I wrote an article about this trip for the November/December issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Accompanying me were the photographer Carl Heilman II and Eli Bickford, a twelve-year-old kid with a passion for slide climbing.
Carl took some spectacular photos. We used one of them for our cover. He also shot two short videos: one of me climbing, the other of Eli expounding on the allure of slide climbing.
You can find the story and videos on our website by clicking here.
Photo: Carl Heilman on the approach to the Eagle Slide, by Phil Brown.
The subject of tough ol’ Adirondackers came up recently when I was reworking material for the fourth printing of a book I did in 2004—Lyon Mountain: The Tragedy of a Mining Town. The soul of that book is a series of interviews I conducted around 1980 with a number of folks who were in their 80s and 90s. George Davies (1892–1983) of Standish was among them.
George was a good man. The stories he told me seemed far-fetched at first, but follow-up research in microfilm archives left me amazed at his accuracy recounting events of the early 1900s. His truthfulness was confirmed in articles on items like strikes, riots, injuries, and deaths.
When I last interviewed George in 1981 (he was 88), he proudly showed me a photograph of himself as Machine Shop Supervisor in the iron mines, accepting a prestigious award for safety. I laughed so hard I almost cried as he described the scene. George, you see, had to hold the award just so, hiding the fact that he had far fewer than his originally allotted ten fingers. He figured it wouldn’t look right to reveal his stubs cradling a safety plaque. In matter-of-fact fashion, he proceeded to tell me what happened. Taken from the book, here are snippets from our conversation as tape recorded in 1981: “I lost one full finger and half of another in a machine, but I still took my early March trapping run to the Springs. I had a camp six miles up the Owl’s Head Road. While I was out there, I slipped in the water and nearly froze the hand. I had to remove the bandages to thaw out my hand, and I was all alone, of course. It was just something I had to do to survive.
“When I lost the end of my second finger in an accident at work, I was back on the job in forty-five minutes. Another time I was hit on the head by a lever on a crane. It knocked me senseless for ten minutes. When I woke up, I went back to work within a few minutes. [George also pointed out that, in those days, there was no sick time, no vacation time, and no holidays. The union was still three decades away, and the furnace’s schedule ran around the clock.]
“When I started working down here, the work day was twelve hours per day, seven days a week, and the pay was $1.80 per day for twelve hours [fifteen cents per hour] around the year 1910. That was poor money back then. When they gave you a raise, it was only one or two cents an hour, and they didn’t give them very often.
“In one month of January I had thirty-nine of the twelve-hour shifts. You had to work thirty-six hours to put an extra shift in, and you still got the fourteen or fifteen cents per hour. It was pretty rough going, but everybody lived through it. Some people did all right back then. Of course, it wasn’t a dollar and a half for cigarettes back then [remember, this was recorded in 1981].
“Two fellows took sick at the same time, two engineers that ran the switches. They sent me out to work, and I worked sixty hours without coming home. Then the boss came out to run it and I went and slept for twelve hours. Then I returned for a thirty-six hour shift. No overtime pay, just the rate of twenty-five cents per hour.” Now THAT’s Lyon Mountain toughness.
The tough man had also been a tough kid. “When I was thirteen years old, I worked cleaning bricks from the kilns at one dollar for one thousand. On July 3rd, 1907, when I was fifteen, I accidentally shot myself in the leg. I stayed in Standish that night, and on the next day I walked to Lyon Mountain, about three miles of rough walking.”
His father was in charge of repairing the trains, and young George climbed aboard as often as he could. “I was running those engines when I was sixteen years old, all alone, and I didn’t even have a fireman. I always wanted to be on the railroad, but I had the pleasure of losing an eye when I was nine years old. I was chopping wood and a stick flew up and hit me in the eye.
“I pulled it out, and I could see all right for a while. Not long after, I lost sight in it. The stick had cut the eyeball and the pupil, and a cataract or something ruined my eye. The doctor wanted to take the eye out, but I’ve still got it. And that’s what kept me off of the railroad. That was seventy-nine years ago, in 1901.”
Next week: A few of George Davies’ remarkable acquaintances.
Photo Top: George Davies.
Photo Middle: A Main Drift in the Lyon Mountain iron mines, 1933.
Photo Bottom: Aerial view of Lyon Mountain’s iron mining operations, with several piles of ore tailings.
Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
Commendations to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for its recently released Policy Perspective found on their website [pdf]. It is a substantive policy update and, for a government report, a pretty strong communication piece to the general public as well as to “stakeholders.”
What I especially liked about the APA report and Chairman Stiles cover letter are that:
A. They strongly make the case that the environmental quality of the Adirondack Park is a fundamental prerequisite to a stronger economy.
B. They state in several places APA’s fundamental statutory purpose, upheld by older and very recent court decisions, which is “to serve a supervening state concern transcending local interests.”
The only problem is it’s reactive, not proactive, genesis. The restrained but pointed cover letter from APA Chairman Curt Stiles to Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board (LGRB) Executive Director Fred Monroe makes it clear that Policy Perspective is in reaction to the LGRB paper released two weeks earlier under the kind of catchy headline most nonprofit advocacy groups dream of using, APA: Under the Influence and in Need of Detoxification.
Now, which report do you think the media covered? You’re right! Under the Influence wins the coverage. Of course, LGRB led with its report, and APA reacted, which makes one hope that the APA could be more proactive, and issue substantive annual policy updates about what they are doing to fulfill their mandate.
Section 804 of the APA Act requires the Agency to “report periodically to the governor and the legislature on the conduct of its activities but no less than once a year, furnishing a copy of each such report to the clerk of the county legislative body of each county…and to the review board.” The APA’s published annual reports have probably fulfilled this minimum requirement, but in all honesty these tend not to be overly substantive.
LGRB’s Under the Influence admirably served its statutory purpose of “periodically reporting” about the administration and enforcement of the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan to “the Governor and the Legislature, and to the country legislative body of each of the counties.” Of course, I take issue with much of what the LGRB reports says, and how it says it.
In terms of content, I’ll select just three of the many topics covered in these reports:
1. Does the APA, as the LGRB alleges, sneakily expand its authority by secretly issuing regulations at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve? No. I remember the exhausting TAL (Technical Advisory List) meetings of APA stakeholders following the 1995 report of the Task Force on the Administration of the APA. If there was ever a never-ending “stakeholder” review process on regulations, APA demonstrated it from that day to this. LGRB attended every one of those meetings, and influenced the outcomes. Then, Governor Pataki introduced GORR, the governor’s office of regulatory reform. Every draft APA regulation undergoes months of additional scrutiny.
As to the 2010 boathouse regulation (which was under review for nearly a decade), at the last moment APA bent over backwards for developers, wealthier shore land owners, and the LGRB. The regulation should have been far stronger on behalf of all the other critters that use the shoreline, but who don’t answer to the word “stakeholder.”
2. Is there truly “no official local government role in the APA appointment process?” That is what the LGRB claims. Actually, LGRB has pretty effective influence, as the evidence bears out. All eight citizen commissioners must be confirmed by the State Senate. In thinking about the late Senator Stafford and now Senator Little, it’s hard to say that the Adirondack local government interests are poorly represented in that elected body. And many of those confirmations have been for deeply rooted Adirondackers. John Stock of Tupper Lake served the APA for decades. John was the chief forester for Litchfield Park and I remember the pride with which local leaders viewed his participation on the agency. Former APA Chairs John Collins and Bob Flacke were deeply involved with affairs in Blue Mountain Lake, Long Lake and Lake George respectively, and still are. Today, former Johnsburg Town Supervisor Bill Thomas, Lake Pleasant Town Supervisor Frank Mezzano, Webb activist Lani Ulrich, and North Elba businessman Art Lussi comprise four of the eight citizen APA members and all enjoy strong local government support.
The Town of Minerva’s viewpoint apparently didn’t matter to the LGRB. Minerva voted to endorse Gov. Paterson’s nomination of Pete Hornbeck, one of that Town’s esteemed residents, a former member of its planning board and a successful businessman. LGRB didn’t like that nomination, and Senator Little has so far blocked Hornbeck’s confirmation.
Twelve years ago the LGRB was given a non-voting role at the APA table each month, and invited to comment on every agenda item at every meeting. Other organizations and individuals, lacking a statutory role, wait for Friday afternoons every month to communicate in person to the Agency.
Requiring the governor to select solely from a list of people endorsed by local governments in the Park would be dismissive of the interest all New Yorkers have for consideration of people with a broad array of talents, life experiences and motivations to uphold the intent of the APA Act.
3. Are APA enforcement fines against violators regularly unfair and egregious, as LGRB alleges? No. First, there are many potential violations out there, and only a handful of enforcement officers. The facts in APA’s report suggests that most violators who come to the agency’s attention want to do the right thing, and most APA enforcement staff want to work with these people in a respectful, fair and personal manner to heal environmental damage. Civil penalties in 2009 ranged from $100 to $4,000. LGRB hardly makes a strong fairness case here. The cases LGRB raises concern not the “little guy,” but a few high profile landowners whose purpose is to wage a legal and public relations campaign against the APA.
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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the submission of a regulation to the state Environmental Board for consideration at its October 25 meeting that will set stringent performance standards for new outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) sold in New York State. If approved, the regulation would go into effect 30 days after its filing with the state Secretary of State. The stricter guidelines are designed to ensure that new OWBs burn at least 90% cleaner than older models. “This is a positive and necessary step in our goal to improve air quality in New York State and protect the health of our residents,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said before being fired by New York Governor David Paterson, explaining that DEC limited an earlier proposal in response to comments received during an extensive public outreach effort. “DEC staff carefully reviewed and took into account all the concerns that were expressed during the rulemaking process and has developed this regulation to ensure that new outdoor wood boilers are cleaner and that existing boilers have a reduced impact on air quality.”
The regulation before the Environmental Board also includes fuel restrictions and stack height standards for existing as well as new OWBs which will reduce the impact of their emission plumes on neighboring property owners. New OWBs will be required to be set back a minimum of 100 feet from neighboring properties. A provision in an earlier proposal to phase out the use of older OWBs has been removed and will be addressed through a new public stakeholder process to develop a revised regulatory framework to address concerns of residents impacted by the operation of such units.
The rule shortens the period when OWBs cannot be used in the Northern Heating Zone – which includes all counties north and west of Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan counties — to the period from June 1 through August 31. The seasonal restriction for all other areas of the state will run from May 15 to September 30.
The text of the final rule before the Environmental Board is available at on the DEC website. The complete rule package will be available on the DEC website after the Environmental Board meets on October 25.
Hoping to capitalize on the trend for organizations to go green Paul Smith’s College has launched a new program in natural resources sustainability. The program is hoped to produce graduates with the tools needed to compete for a growing number of jobs that call for skills spanning the sciences, business and policy.
“Whether it’s green construction, sustainable agriculture or energy development, we’ll be providing students with hands-on experiences as they develop the skills they’ll need to lead this growing conversation on sustainability,” said Dr. David Patrick, a Paul Smith’s College professor who is coordinator of the new program. “Our location in the Adirondacks is an ideal place for students to work on these challenges.” The program joins a host of sustainability measures taken by Paul Smith’s College in recent years: officials have pledged to eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, and all new construction is to be built to LEED standards. Today the college will take the wraps off a bottle-and-can redemption machine, so students can collect deposits on their recyclables without leaving campus.
Patrick said that the program’s curriculum crosses over several disciplines and is designed to prepare students for jobs in a wide range of fields, such as conservation and sustainable development, environmental planning and management, green business practices, and sustainable energy and energy efficiency.
As many as 60 students are expected to enroll in the program within a few years. The program was developed in response to the growing number of green-sector jobs. A 2009 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, for example, found that jobs in the clean energy economy in the United States grew 2.5 times faster than all other jobs between 1998 and 2007; other studies project similarly robust growth in the field as clean energy sources take hold.
The Adirondack History Center Museum is offering ghost stories, haunting music and a book signing on Saturday, October 30 at 4:00pm. The program begins with stories of Essex County ghosts by storyteller Karen Glass. Ms. Glass is Keene Valley town librarian and a member of the Adirondack Storytellers’ Guild and the League of New England Storytellers.
Haunting music will accompany the storytelling. Following the ghost stories, there is a book signing by author Cheri Farnsworth of her book Adirondack Enigma: The Depraved Intellect & Mysterious Life of North Country Wife Killer Henry Debosnys. Henry Debosnys was the last person hanged in Essex County in 1883. His skull, noose, drawings and a pass to his execution are exhibited at the museum. Cider and donuts will be served at the program. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for members. Students 18 and under are free. Please call the museum for reservations at (518) 873-6466.
Ah, October; the month when summer has truly fled and winter can be felt in the air. Leaves explode in color and then lose their grip on life. Geese and other waterfowl beat a hasty retreat for warmer climes. Some flowers we typically see in the spring are apparently confused and put out a few end-of-season blossoms. And everywhere we turn, yards and businesses are decorated for Hallowe’en.
In keeping with this time of year, I’ve decided to bless you all with a series of articles about one of my all-time favorite animals: bats. I know, I know – I say this about so many animals, but truthfully, bats do top the list. Perhaps this is because they are so reviled by the majority of people and I love to root for the underdog. In fact, this was probably why my interest was piqued in the first place. But as I learned more and more about bats, I discovered just how fascinating these winged mammals are. » Continue Reading.
This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change.
Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions 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
Newly Opened Roads A number of roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted DEC’s ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season. All roads typically open in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest are now open. Lily Pond Road in Horicon has already reopened. Gay Pond Road in Warrensburg will be open by this weekend. Details on the openings can be found below. Jabe Pond Road in Hague, Buttermilk Road Extension in Warrensburg, Dacy Clearing Road in Fort Ann, Scofield Flats Road, Pikes Beach Access Road and the Bear Slides Access Road in Luzerne all remain temporarily closed.
Cold Wet Weather National Weather Service is predicting snow showers mixed with rain Friday night and Saturday morning – snow showers only in the higher elevations and summits. Night-time and morning temperatures below freezing can be expected, especially in higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves or mittens. Take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat.
Snow Above 3000 Feet Snow can be found on trails and summits over 3000 feet. Although there is a foot or more of snow on the ground in some locations, lesser amounts will be found on trails. Due to below freezing temperatures at night trails will be crusty in the morning. Snowshoes or skis are not required at this time but instep crampons are recommended as summits and other open areas are icy.
High Waters Water levels continue to be high. Some waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.
Special Blowdown Notice Recent storms and high winds have resulted in a good deal of blowdown. Limbs, branches and trees may be found on and across trails, especially on lesser used side trails. Strong winds are expected Friday and Saturday.
Most DEC Campgrounds Are Now Closed Now that Columbus Day has passed the only DEC campground open in the Adirondacks is the Fish Creek Campground, all the others are closed until next season. The Fish Creek Campground will close October 31st.
Do Not Feed Bears In mid September a bear broke into a home in Inlet and had to be euthanized by DEC Forest Rangers. In late August a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Bears fed by humans (intentionally or incidentally) grow to not fear people. For this reason, two bears have now been killed this year; eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer. The Inlet and Old Forge corridor has traditionally had problems with bears.
Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather Friday: Slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, breezy; high near 37. Friday Night: Slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, breezy, low around 25. Saturday: Slight chance of snow and rain. Partly sunny; high near 48. Saturday Night: Chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy; low around 32. Sunday: Chance of rain and snow showers. Cloudy; high near 52.
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 Above 3000 Feet Snow can be found on trails and summits over 3000 feet. Although there is a foot or more of snow on the ground in some locations, lesser amounts will be found on trails. Due to below freezing temperatures at night trails will be crusty in the morning. Snowshoes or skis are not required at this time but instep crampons are recommended as summits and other open areas are icy.
Colder Weather Colder temperatures have arrived in the mountains. Night-time and morning temperatures in the 20s or colder are likely, especially at higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves.
Darkness Arriving Earlier Autumn has arrived and daylight hours have decreased. Know when sunset occurs and plan accordingly. Always pack or carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.
GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS
Fire Danger: LOW
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.
Waterfowl Consumption Advisory With waterfowl hunting seasons open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.
Motorists Alert: Moose There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.
Hunting Seasons Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game have begun or will begin shortly. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.
Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected this regulation.
Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.
Firewood Ban Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.
Bear-Resistant Canisters The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.
Low Impact Campfires Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].
ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS
** indicates new or revised items.
Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.
** Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season.
** The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.
Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.
Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.
Upper Works to Duck Hole: All the foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and the Duck Hole have been replaced and the trail has been cleared.
Moose Pond Horse Trail: The bridges on the Moose Pond Horse Trail have been replaced, horse drawn wagons can access the trail to Ermine Brook.
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.
Northville-Placid Trail: Crews have constructed and marked a reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail around an area flooded by beaver activity between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing.
Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.
Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.
Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.
Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS
Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.
** Adirondack Canoe Route: Water levels remain higher than normal due to recent rains. Waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.
Adirondack Canoe Route: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.
Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.
Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.
** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Otter Brook Road, to the Otter Brook Gate, and the Indian Lake Road have been reopened with the assistance of the Town of Inlet, the Town of Indian Lake and Hamilton County highway departments. Previously, with their assistance, the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), Rock Dam Road and Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge, had been opened. Currently all roads that had typically been open to motor vehicle traffic in the Moose River Plains are open again.
West Canada Lakes Wilderness / N-P Trail: The bridge over Mud Creek, on the Northville-Placid Trail northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out.
Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.
Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.
Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.
** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels continue to be high. Some waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.
Gore Mountain: The Schaeffer Trail to the summit of Gore Mountain, has undergone a significant reroute. The new trailhead is located at the parking lot for Grunblatt Memorial Beach in North Creek. From there the trail leads southwest and then north, looping around the North Creek reservoir before continuing southwest to the summit.
** Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Horicon, Warren County has been reopened. The Town of Horicon Highway Department provided assistance with grading and fill material and the Town will continue to provide assistance with garbage removal, cleanup and inspection for the remainder of the year
** Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County will be open by this weekend [10/23-24]. The South Warren Snowmobile Club covered the cost of several new culverts to replace ones that had failed and been crushed under the road. DEC staff is undertaking the work to replace the culverts and to provide fill and grade the road, with completion expected by this weekend.
Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Dacy Clearing Road, Jabe Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.
Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.
** Adirondack Canoe Route: Adirondack Canoe Route: Water levels remain higher than normal due to recent rains. Waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.
** Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All easement lands are closed to public hunting as of September 1 and will be closed to all public access during the big game hunting season, which begins October 23. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291. The gate to The Pinnacle has been locked. The public may still walk the road and the trail until this Saturday, October 23, after which it will be closed for the big game hunting season.
** Raquette River Boat Launch: DEC will be removing the floating dock at the Raquette River Boat Launch on Route 3, also known as “The Crusher”, within the next week.
St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.
Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.
** Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The DEC has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways and has sent adjacent landowners a letter asking them to remove the cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras put in place to deter the public from using the canoe route. If they fail to comply, the department warns, the matter could be referred to the state attorney general for legal action. “The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” the letter dated September 24th said.
——————– Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation 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.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Florence Mulhern will discuss The Last Lambs on the Mountain, a novel set at Trudeau Sanatorium during its final years, when she was a patient there.
Jean Mason, of Ryerson University and a native of Saranac Lake, will introduce Mulhern and her book in the John Black Room of Historic Saranac Lake’s headquarters, the former Trudeau tuberculosis lab at 89 Church Street. Mason is a scholar of tuberculosis narratives and health communication. Mulhern, who lives in Annapolis, MD, will talk about her book and about her experience as one of the last tuberculosis patients in Saranac Lake in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She will also read an excerpt. The program is free and open to the public. Any books sold will benefit Historic Saranac Lake.
Those looking for an area with outstanding bushwhacking potential in the Adirondacks would be well rewarded by checking out the Pepperbox Wilderness Area, located in the northwestern Adirondack Park just northwest of Stillwater Reservoir.
At only 22,560 acres, the Pepperbox is one of the smallest of the Adirondack’s designated Wilderness Areas. It is bordered roughly by the West Branch of the Oswegatchie River to the north, the Herkimer County border on the west, the Beaver River to the south and Raven Lake Road to the east. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up with in its remoteness, containing mostly forested rolling hills and extensive wetland complexes. The few state trails here are all located in the northern portion. The Pepperbox is named after one of its many scattered unproductive water bodies, which total about 270 acres. The remoteness, lack of marked trails and limited use makes the Pepperbox a bushwhacker’s paradise. The Pepperbox’s western half is characterized by extensive beaver meadows and small beaver ponds while its eastern half contains larger water bodies such as Sunshine Pond and the Moshier Ponds. The central part contains extensive unbroken forest with Moshier Creek roughly bisecting the wilderness down the middle. The northern portion, with its two miles of trails and in-holding access roads, is a more recent addition to the wilderness area and can be considered its “civilized” part. The bushwhacking opportunities here are less due to these trails and roads and therefore this part of the Pepperbox is given less mention in this article.
There are several points of access into the Pepperbox Wilderness. From the north there are several trails which enter the Pepperbox and allow access to the few water bodies located there. Such small lakes as Jakes Pond, Spring Pond, Tied Lake or Greigg Lake are all accessed via foot trail or dirt road mostly from Bear Pond Road. Trailhead parking is available for access from the east out of Stillwater Reservoir, in the west from Sand Pond Road near the county boundary (Lewis/Herkimer) and from the south via Moshier Falls Road. With a canoe one could access the southern border via the Moshier Reservoir along the Beaver River.
The northeastern portion of the wilderness area is characterized by a plentiful number of larger water bodies. This area is best accessed from a parking area at the end of Necessary Dam Road via the hamlet of Stillwater Reservoir. A trail register is located here for recording your planned trip, which is an excellent idea when bushwhacking through a trackless wilderness like the Pepperbox. Although the road continues over the Beaver River as a well-maintained dirt road, it is gated at the bridge and available for driving by the owners of an in-holding on Raven Lake only. The road, now referred to as Raven Lake Road, is a convenient jumping off point for bushwhacking adventures into the Pepperbox from the east. Raven Lake Road acts as a border separating the Pepperbox from the southern portion of the extensive Five Ponds Wilderness (the southern Five Ponds offers outstanding bushwhacking opportunities in its own right).
A perfect way to access the Pepperbox off of Raven Lake Road is an old hunting trail situated between the first main stream crossing and where the road turns east. Although this trail is unmarked it is easily followed along its southern end. It passes just south of a large beaver vly and then turns north following along the eastern side of the same stream crossed back on the road. The trail passes to the east of the beaver pond feeding the stream before taking a sharp turn to the northwest. At this sharp turn it is very easy to lose the trail as many dummy trails at this point can testify. While navigating over a bog along the south shore of a beaver pond south of Sunshine Pond watch for chicken wire nailed between two logs on the bog mat to avoid wet feet and guide you to the trail again on the opposite side. After several attempts I have yet to be able to follow the trail after reaching the western shore of this beaver pond. Despite the lack of a trail beyond this point a bushwhacker is well situated to explore the many water bodies in this portion of the Pepperbox. Sunshine, Deer, Moshier, Duck and Pepperbox Ponds and the surrounding area will provide days of exploring for the intrepid bushwhacker. Click here, here, here and here for my trip report in this area back in May 2010.
A parking area at the end of Sand Pond Road allows access to the northwestern portion of the Pepperbox. This area appears to get little use, evidenced by the lack of a register here. A short old logging road from the parking area provides access to a brushed-out state property boundary that can be followed east over a hill and through a fern-dominated wet area to the border of the Pepperbox’s western boundary.
This part of the Pepperbox is dominated by a single unnamed pond and the Cowboy Beaver Meadow. The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a series of old beaver vlys along the Alder Creek with little evidence of human activity. There are numerous places to cross the Alder Creek if one wishes to explore the steep rise on the opposite side. Between the pond and Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a hill with some steep cliffs to the east which should provide impressive views into the Cowboy Beaver Meadow below during the autumn and winter months when the tree foliage is absent. Keep an eye on the Bushwhacking Fool this winter for a trip report on my adventure through this area on Labor Day 2009.
The southwestern portion of the Pepperbox contains the extensive Threemile Beaver Meadow, numerous unnamed beaver ponds and a series of unusual glacial ridges. A parking lot and trailhead register are available here along Moshier Falls Road. Although the sign in the parking lot implies the trail to the Pepperbox leaves the parking lot, the true trail is across the street where it crosses bridges on both the Sunday Creek and the Beaver River.
The trail continues across the Beaver River and through a power line right-of-way before reaching the Pepperbox’s southern border where a sign warns that there are no marked trails beyond. As if mocking this official sign there is a well-used trail marked with gray paint slashes winding north into the unbroken forest. This trail remains easy to follow all the way to a large beaver vly east of the largest pond in the Threemile Beaver Meadow. North of this vly the trail loses its gray slashes and becomes less distinct though rumor has it one can follow it all the way to Bear Pond. I have tried this myself in the past with only limited success though I did manage to reach Bear Pond by bushwhacking a significant amount of the way.
Along the trail before reaching the large beaver vly there are several side trails to the west which gives access to the extensive Threemile Beaver Meadow. The Threemile Beaver Meadow is a beautiful and extensive series of beaver ponds and meadows well worth exploring.
A good bushwhacker can find many old herd paths in the Threemile Beaver Meadow area and there are even a few hunters’ camps scattered about, some recently used and others vacant for many years. This area appears to be heavily used during hunting season, and for good reason, as I have never seen a higher density of deer in the Adirondacks. Click here for a trip teaser about my recent bushwhack through the Threemile Beaver Meadow in September 2010.
To the north and west of the Threemile Beaver Meadow are a series of beaver ponds scattered about giving a bushwhacker numerous opportunities for exploration. For those interested in glacial landforms there is a series of steep and narrow ridges to the west of the beaver meadow. These ridges tend to end abruptly so one should use caution to avoid getting stuck out on one. The remnants of an old fire tower exists on one the highest ridges. The site of this fire tower, now merely the foundation and a few scattered boards, makes an additional interesting destination while trekking through this area.
The combination of hunting trails and unbroken wilderness makes the Pepperbox an excellent area for the beginning and experienced bushwhacker. So if you are looking for an interesting area to explore via bushwhacking then you cannot go wrong with the Pepperbox Wilderness Area in the northwestern Adirondacks.
Photos: Alder Creek along Cowboy Beaver Meadow, Sunshine Pond and Threemile Beaver Meadow by Dan Crane.
Four additional Forest Preserve roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season.
Hamilton County and the Towns of Inlet and Indian Lake had partnered with DEC earlier to reopen and maintain roads and nearby recreational facilities in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest including Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge, and Rock Dam Road. “Big game hunting brings much needed economic activity to Hamilton County during the fall,” said William Farber, Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors. “We appreciate DEC’s willingness to work with us to reopen the roads in the Moose River Plains. “Commissioner Grannis deserves praise for his determination to open the roads despite the significant reduction in resources DEC has for maintaining roads and other recreational facilities in the Adirondacks,” he said.
DEC also utilized $250,000 of Environmental Protection Fund monies to replace inadequate culverts on the main Moose River Plains Road with bridges over Sumner Stream and Bradley Brook this past summer. This is continuation of major rehabilitation work in the Moose River Plains over the past several years. Over one million dollars has been invested in roadway improvements based on the findings of an engineering study of the Moose River Plains road system.
The additional newly reopened roads include:
Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Horicon, Warren County. The Town of Horicon Highway Department provided assistance with grading and fill material and the Town will continue to provide assistance with garbage removal, cleanup and inspection for the remainder of the year.
Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County. The South Warren Snowmobile Club covered the cost of several new culverts to replace ones that had failed and been crushed under the road. DEC staff is undertaking the work to replace the culverts and to provide fill and grade the road, with completion expected by this weekend.
Indian Lake Road and Otter Brook Road (between the Otter Brook Bridge and the Otter Brook Gate) in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest in the Town of Inlet, Hamilton County opened last week. The highway departments from Hamilton County and the towns of Indian Lake and Inlet replaced culverts, filled holes and graded the road.
Barry Hutchins, Supervisor of the Town of Indian Lake, praised DEC saying that “The Town looks forward to continuing the great working relationship we have developed with DEC and make the Moose River Plains a premiere Adirondack recreational destination for campers, hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, hikers, mountain bikers and others.”
Photo: The new Sumner Stream crossing on the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest (courtesy DEC). Additional photos of work done to the road are available online.
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