Saturday, September 25, 2010

19th Annual Oktoberfest at Whiteface

The 19th annual Whiteface Oktoberfest, in Wilmington, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2-3. During the two-day festival, the Olympic mountain dusts off its lederhosen, fires up the oompah band and enjoys a tall mug of German beer. But it’s more than that… it’s fun for the entire family with activities including original vendors, arts and crafts, children’s rides including the popular hayride and inflatables, Bavarian food, drink, entertainment.

New this year, volleyball, horseshoes and 60-second challenges for great prizes. Also get ready for the upcoming skiing and riding season at Whiteface with ski shop sales in the Ausable Room.

Of course the Whiteface Oktoberfest offers great traditional German music from Die Schlauberger, performing under the entertainment tent outside the base lodge each day, the Lake Placid Bavarians, who have been performing traditional Bavarian music in the north country for the last 19 years, and Ed Schenk on the accordion. The Cloudspin Lounge will also feature music from Schachtelgebirger Musikanten (Scha-Musi) and performing at their second Oktoberfest will be Spitze and The Alpen Trio.

As America’s #1 German band die Schlauberger is a powerhouse of musical expertise. From the moment they step on stage until they have wrung the final note from their last song, die Schlauberger has the audience up and dancing to their powerful renditions of German favorites and other crowd pleasing tunes.

Spitze will also get the audience involved with their amazing alpine show which features cowbells, the alpine xylophone, and the alphorn and of course – yodeling, while the Alpen Trio will greet Cloudsplitter Gondola passengers at the summit of Little Whiteface with the alphorns.

Finally, Whiteface also welcomes back Schachtelgebirger Musikanten for the sixth year to our Oktoberfest. The lively duo will be performing in the Cloudspin Lounge on Saturday and on Sunday.

Other entertainment to be found during the festival include the Alpenland Taenzer, nominated and accepted as members of the “Gauverband Nordamerica,” a nationally and internationally known organization promoting German Heritage throughout the United States and Canada, and “Kindergruppe,” comprised of 8-10 couples ages 3-19. Older members of the Kindergruppe also dance in the adult group.

Guests can also drive the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway and enjoy spectacular 360-panaromic views of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada from the top of the state’s fifth highest peak.

Oktoberfest will be held Saturday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. A complimentary shuttle service will be provided both days. Departure from the Olympic Center Box Office in Lake Placid takes place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Departure from Whiteface to Lake Placid takes place at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m. (Sunday only), 6 p.m. (Saturday only), and 7:30 p.m. (Saturday only). From Wilmington pick-ups are at noon both days with the return shuttle leaving Whiteface at 5 p.m.

Admission is $15 for adults, $9 for juniors and seniors and gondola rides are $12. More information about ORDA’s 19th annual Oktoberfest can be found online.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Strategies for High Peaks Communities Workshop

The High Peaks communities are developing a regional strategy for community revitalization, sustainable economic development, enhanced public access and promotion of the High Peaks waterfronts as an important resource for recreation and tourism.

A workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 28th at 6:30 PM at the Town of Wilmington Town Hall at 7 Community Center Circle. The goal of this workshop will be to present the vision, goals and key projects and initiatives for community and regional revitalization identified by the High Peaks communities in the Revitalization Strategy. Participants will be asked for their input on the goals and priority projects.

The revitalization strategy includes the following communities:

* The Town of Keene including the hamlets of Keene Valley and Keene;
* The Town of Jay including the hamlets of Upper Jay, Jay and the Essex County portion of Ausable Forks;
* The Town of Wilmington; and
* The Town of North Elba and the Village of Lake Placid.

The strategy lays out a vision and set of goals to create a prosperous shared future for the High Peaks region including:

* Revitalization of hamlets and downtowns
* Developing a plan for cycling facilities and safe biking routes
* Creating more access to the Ausable River for locals and tourists
* Protection of the Ausable River and other water bodies
* Enhanced tourism amenities and marketing
* Investigating sources of alternative energy including hydro-electricity
* Developing a plan for trail head improvements and creating new local trails and pedestrian connections
* Protecting cultural and historic resources

The project is funded by a grant from the NYS Department of State through the Environmental Protection Fund and financial support from the participating communities.

For more information contact Melissa McManus, Project Coordinator (518) 297-6753.


Friday, September 24, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Fee Hikes to Pay for LG Island Trash Collection

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation appears willing to give way on its plan to discontinue the collection of campers’ garbage from the islands of Lake George.

After meeting on September 17 in Bolton Landing with state legislators, county supervisors, the Lake George Park Commission and the heads of lake protection organizations, DEC staff agreed to seek an increase in camping fees large enough to cover the costs of collecting garbage from three locations and transporting it to Glen Island.

State Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, who proposed the alternative to the state’s planned “Carry in/Carry Out” policy at the meeting in Bolton, said they would sponsor an item in next year’s state budget designating the new revenues as fees for removing garbage from the Lake George islands.

The agreement, however, must win the endorsement of DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis.
According to Doug Bernhard, DEC”s general manager of Forest Parks, approximately $50,000 would need to be raised every year to maintain the policy of picking up garbage and recycleables from three locations in the Lake George Narrows, Glen Island and Long Island campsite groups.

Last year, DEC issued 6,680 permits for 387 campsites on 44 islands, said Gary West of DEC’s Warrensburg office. By raising the fee for a daily camping permit by as much as $5, Senator Little said, enough funds would be raised to pay for garbage collection. “It will be understood that it is an increase in fees to keep the lake beautiful,” said Little.

If the fee hike is approved, the cost of a permit could rise to $30 for New York State residents and $35 for non-residents. “These campers have expensive boats; they won’t object to a few extra dollars for a permit, and it’s still an incredible deal,” said Bill Van Ness, a Warren County supervisor and a Lake George Park Commission marine patrol officer.

“There’s broad support from business owners, environmentalists and local governments for this fee hike,” said Peter Bauer, the excutive director of the Fund for Lake George.

The decision to abandon the policy of collecting garbage and to rely instead upon campers to carry their garbage with them when they leave was made after the DEC’s budget for non-personnel expenses was cut by 40%, said Bernhard.

“Asking campers to take their garbage to the recycling centers was a highly successful program, winning 90% compliance, but we no longer have the resources to support it,” said Bernhard, who added that other popular campground programs, such as nature education activities, had also been abolished.

Opposition to the plan to terminate garbage collection services, however, surfaced almost as soon as it was announced. The Towns of Bolton, Hague and Lake George, as well as the Warren County Board of Supervisors, adopted resolutions opposing the plan. “The end result will be garbage in the roadway and in the lake,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, who organized the meeting. “If we fail the lake, we fail ourselves.”

Members of the Lake George Park Commission also opposed the plan, said chairman Bruce Young, who argued that discontinuing the collection service would diminish the experience of camping on the islands, thus costing the state in revenues and harming the local economy. “This is the goose that lays the golden egg,” said Young. “The Lake George Island campsites generate $700,000 a year in revenues to DEC. I hate to see you shortchange this asset in order to take care of others.”

While a carry in/carry out policy is used at other island campsites in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, Young and others argued that it could not be successfully applied to Lake George. “Not picking it up is not an option, it won’t work,” said Young. “Lake George island campers are not backpackers.”

The Lake George Association’s executive director, Walt Lender, said, “While we agree the campers should be responsible for their own garbage, we know that island camping is not wilderness camping; these boats are floating Winnebagos.”

“Their coolers, their children, their barbecues, they boat it in as though they were going to a land-based campsite,” said Ron Conover. According to DEC officials, 231 tons of garbage was removed from the islands last year.

The Lake George Island Campers Association supports the recommendation, with some reservations, said Cindy Baxter, a New Hampshire resident who helped establish the advocacy group. “We would prefer to see all the funds generated by the Lake George islands be returned to Lake George for the care and maintenance of the campsites. But if that’s not possible, a fee increase is a price we’re willing to bear if that’s what it takes to protect Lake George,” said Baxter.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, September 24, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

Each Friday morning Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the previous week’s top stories. You can find all our weekly news round-ups here.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Sept. 23)

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

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report on Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and on 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. Hikers and campers should be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

DO NOT FEED BEARS: Recently a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Wildlife biologists believe the yearling had been fed by campers and grown not to fear people. This is the first bear killed so far this year by the Department of Environmental Conservation; eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer.

Fire Danger: LOW

Central Adirondacks Weather
Friday: Mostly sunny, high near 79; windy, chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Friday Night: Cloudy, windy, likely showers, thunderstorms; low around 52.
Saturday: Chance of showers, cloudy and breezy; high near 56.
Saturday Night: Chance of showers. Cloudy, low around 38.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 54.

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]

Very Close Approach of Jupiter
The planet Jupiter will pass 368 million miles from Earth late Monday, its closest approach since 1963; it won’t be as big or bright again until 2022. Jupiter can be seen low in the east around dusk and directly overhead around midnight as an incredibly bright star – three times brighter than the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. Binoculars and telescopes will dramatically improve the view of Jupiter and its many moons.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

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.

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.

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.

Sporting Licenses On Sale
The new sporting license year will begins October 1. Find out how to purchase a sporting license on the DEC website. Information about the 2010 Hunting Seasons is also available online [pdf].

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.

** Sacandaga Lake (Near Speculator, about 20 miles north west of Great Sacandaga Lake): Warning! The spiny water flea, an aquatic invasive species, is has been confirmed present in Sacandaga Lake in the southern Adirondacks near Speculator. It was previously confirmed in Great Sacandaga Lake in 2008, Peck Lake in 2009, and Stewarts Bridge Reservoir earlier this year. It is not clear when the spiny water flea was introduced into each of the lakes. It is clear that the initial introduction, and very likely the others as well, were through adult, larvae, or eggs being transported to the waters by bait bucket, bilge water, live well, boat, canoe, kayak, trailer or fishing equipment. Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species – INSPECT, DRY and CLEAN all fishing and boating equipment between waters. See advice in the “Do Not Spread Invasive Aquatic Species” webpage.

**Adirondack Balloon Festival: The morning and evening skies of Queensbury and Southern Lake George will be home to some 90 hot air balloons during this weekends Adirondack Balloon Festival. The event also includes live bands, children’s activities and fireworks. Expect heavier than usual traffic.

**Schroon Lake: Expect a large number of runners for the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival this weekend, September 25 and 26. The Course loops around Schroon Lake and some roads there will be closed to accommodate runners.

Lake Champlain Tributaries: The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative (Cooperative) will be applying lampricide to portions of five tributaries to Lake Champlain during the month of September. Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be treating the Salmon River, Little Ausable River, Ausable River, and Putnam Creek in New York, and Lewis Creek in Vermont. Treatments are scheduled to begin in New York on September 14th and finish in Vermont by the end of the month. These treatments are part of the Cooperative’s long-term sea lamprey control program for Lake Champlain. Temporary water use advisories will be in effect for each of the five treated rivers to minimize human exposure to affected waters. Each state’s Department of Health recommends that the treated river and lake water not be used for drinking, swimming, fishing, irrigation, or livestock watering while the advisories are in effect.

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.

Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower: The firetower on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain is now closed for the season

Blue Mountain Wild Forest: Forest Ranger Greg 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.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest: The Blue Mountain Fire Tower is open to the public including the cab. The fire tower was restored a few years ago. The DEC intern present during August to greet the public and educate them about fire towers and the forest preserve is no longer available however.

Raquette River Boat Launch: Rehabilitation of the Raquette River Boat Launch on state Route 3 outside Tupper Lake, also known as “The Crusher”, is complete. DEC expended approximately $190,00 from 2009 EPF Parks Capital Fund to upgrade the parking lots, install a new concrete boat ramp and floating dock, construct a separate launch area for canoes and kayaks and the improve the site so it is accessible for people with mobility disabilities. Paddlers are encouraged to use the canoe and kayak launch and retrieval area which is located just 50 feet upstream of the boat launch ramp.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Rock Dam Road and the campsites along it have reopened. The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), the Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge will also be open this weekend. Gates to other side roads, including Indian Lake Road, Otter Brook Truck Trail, and Otter Brook Road, remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time.

** Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road: DEC Contractors have finished constructing a bridge over Sumner Stream on the main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road). All locations within the Moose River Plains are accessible from either the Cedar River or Limekiln Lake entrance.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is under construction on the lake’s north shore. 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.

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, Lily Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road, Gay 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.

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. Also, DEC and Student Conservation Association crews have been working throughout the summer to move 8 campsites, close 23 campsites and create 21 new campsites [online map]. Please respect closure signs. Work is occuring during the week, and only on one or two campsites at a time.

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.

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.

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.

High Peaks/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.

Calamity Dam Lean-to: Calamity Lean-to #1, the lean-to closest to the old Calamity Dam in the Flowed Lands, has been dismantled and removed.

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.

Upper Works – Preston Ponds Washouts: Two foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and Preston Pond were washed out by an ice jam. One bridge was located 1/3 mile northwest of the new lean-to on Henderson Lake. The second bridge was located several tenths of a mile further northwest. The streams can be crossed by rock hopping. Crossings may be difficult during periods of high water.

Duck Hole: The bridge across 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.

Northville-Placid Trail: Beaver activity has blocked a section between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing. Hikers can use a well used, but unmarked, 1/4 mile reroute around the flooded portion of the trail.

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.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is also affecting the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, particularly 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.

——————–
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.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

American Revolution Authors Signing at Fort Ti Saturday

In conjunction with the Seventh Annual Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution, Fort Ticonderoga will host a book signing on Saturday, September 25 at 1 p.m. at the Museum Store. Seven authors will be signing copies of their books and are among the speakers at the annual seminar running throughout the weekend.

According to Beth Hill, Executive Director, “The weekend event highlights the newest historiography on the American Revolution. Visitors and participants will be able to interact with the authors and learn more about the pivotal stories that shaped our nation.”

The authors include:

Thomas Barker and Paul Huey, authors of German Maps and Myths about the War for Independence;

Steven Bullock, author of Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840;

Douglas Cubbison, author of The American Northern Theater Army in 1776: The Ruin and Reconstruction of the Continental Force;

Michael Gabriel, author of Quebec during the American Invasion, 1775-1776;

Nancy K. Loane, author of Following the Drum: Women at the Valley Forge Encampment;

Richard M. Strum, author of Henry Knox: Washington’s Artilleryman and Causes of the American Revolution;

Gavin K. Watt, author of A dirty, trifling, piece of Business: The Revolutionary War as Waged from Canada in 1781.

Copies of the books are available at Fort Ticonderoga’s Museum. No admission fee is required for the book signing.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

4th Artist at Work Studio Tour This Weekend

This weekend the 4th Artist at Work Studio Tour takes place in the tri-lakes region of the northern Adirondacks: Jay, Wilmington, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Gabriels, Paul Smths, and Tupper Lake. 50 artists at 41 locations (21 of which are located in Saranac Lake) open their studios and galleries to the public. This event showcases the varied creative skills and media of the resident artists of the region and is free.

Booklets with maps, illustrations, and directions are available from most art venues in the area. The Adirondack Artists’ Guild, 52 Main St., Saranac Lake, is headquarters for the event and more information can be obtained through their web site, adirondackartistsguild.com or by calling 518-891-2615. The Studio Tour also provides a great opportunity to enjoy fall foliage and perhaps bring home an original work of art.

Photo: Saranac Lake artist Tim Fortune at work.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dan Crane: Adirondack Bushwhacking Safety

There is no way around it, bushwhacking in the Adirondacks is an inherently dangerous activity. The aggressive terrain, vast amount of wilderness, frequently changing weather conditions and the lack of wireless communication access makes dealing with any emergency situation a challenge. Although it is impossible to make backcountry exploration a completely safe endeavor, the principles of risk management can be used to identify, prevent and, if everything fails, ameliorate some of the possible negative impacts of those risky elements associated with bushwhacking.

Although much of what can be said about safety in the backcountry applies to both trail hiking and bushwhacking, the remoteness encountered by a bushwhacker makes safety precautions an even higher priority. The bushwhacker is typically far from assistance and therefore must be prepared to handle any conceivable emergency situation, or deal with the consequences. Managing the inherent risk involved in exploring the backcountry can be accomplished by being prepared for an emergency and taking the proper precautions should such an emergency present itself.

Whoever coined the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” must have been referring to bushwhacking. And prevention of any problem in the backcountry starts with physical training. Any training for bushwhacking should include both endurance training and core strengthening. Endurance training, such as running, swimming, walking or hiking is essential to prepare for the exertion necessary to bushwhack over steep terrain for many hours a day, not to mention crawling through blowdowns, stepping over logs and struggling through tangles of witchhobble. Core strengthening involves working the thighs, hips, abdominal and back muscles. These muscles assist with handling heavy backpacks, balance when stepping over logs or crossing beaver dams and navigating through rocky terrain. Preventing injury by preparing your body for the effort involved while bushwhacking is worth more than a whole backpack full of first aid equipment.

My training consists of endurance training four to six days per week augmented by resistance training on four of those days. The endurance training typically consists of running a minimum of three to four miles each day although I sometimes experiment with cross-training by biking, stair-stepping or using an elliptical machine instead. The resistance training consists of one to two hours of either core strengthening (i.e. chest, legs, back) or arms and shoulder strengthening. Each of the two training styles (i.e. core and arms/shoulders) is repeated twice per week. I perform my training year round since it is easier to remain in good physical condition than to get back into such condition.

Physical training is not the only way to reduce the inherent risks involved with bushwhacking. Traveling in groups, leaving a trip itinerary with someone and avoiding unnecessary risks are age-old backpacking precautions that should be heeded when possible by the bushwhacker. Typically a group size of 3 or more is ideal so at least one person could go for help while another can stay with the injured person. Although ideal, it is not always possible to find enough people interested in bushwhacking to assemble such a large group. Bushwhacking in smaller groups (or even solo) should not be avoided but the risks involved will be greater and one should take extra precautions to reduce such risks.

Leaving an itinerary with a responsible person along with the day you plan on exiting the backcountry are standard safety precautions that should be adhered to by the bushwhacker. It is best to give a detailed itinerary with the route planned and camping site locations although conditions on the ground often make it difficult to stick to such a plan. At the very least geographic landmarks should be given to define the area being explored (e.g. west of Moshier Creek, south of Pepperbox Creek and east of the county line). This narrows the search of the 6.1 million acres of the Adirondack down to a more manageable level.

Needless to say, unnecessary risks should be avoided as much as possible. When traveling through difficult areas, such as blowdowns, rocky conditions, stream crossing, etc. it is best to slow down and take your time, especially during wet conditions. At any point where you find yourself hurrying through difficult circumstances, it is best to stop and take a short break before restarting at a slower pace. This will drastically reduce the probability of an injury and reduce the chance of having to use your first aid kit.

I always leave an itinerary with someone I can trust before heading out into the backcountry. The itinerary consists of my planned route plus some side trips just in case I have some extra time. In addition, I always register at the trailhead since I typically start my bushwhack off an existing trail system. And I never pass on the opportunity to register in any lean-tos I encounter on my trip too. In areas where registers are not available I tend to write my initials and the date in small pebbles at key locations along my planned route just in case anything should happen along the way. I take these extra precautions since most of my bushwhacking adventures are lengthy solo trips which involve inherently greater risks.

Carrying a well-stocked first aid kit is essential for any bushwhacker. The ingredients of a suitable first aid kit for a bushwhacker are identical as those of the typical backpacker. There is a plethora of pre-packaged first aid kits available on the market to choose from. A cheaper alternative would be to create your own homemade first aid kit by purchasing those items necessary should an injury occur during an outdoor adventure. Some ideas for items to be included in a homemade first aid kit can be found here, here, here and here. It is not enough to carry a well-stocked first aid if one lacks the knowledge to use it in an emergency. For that reason it is a good idea to take a class in wilderness and remote area first aid. These courses are given by the American Red Cross and the Adirondack Mountain Club. Carrying a first aid kit and having the knowledge how to use it in the case of an emergency should leave you in good stead if an injury occurs while in the backcountry.

My first aid kit includes numerous self-adhesive bandages of all different sizes and shapes, gauze bandages, moleskin, alcohol pads, Spenco 2nd Skin® (for blisters and burns), waterproof surgical tape, a small elastic bandage and single-use Neosporin® packets. Also, I carry multiple doses of 200 mg ibuprofen tablets, Benadryl® antihistamine tablets, loperamide hydrochloride tablets (for diarrhea), pink bismuth tablets (for upset stomach) and 75 mg diclofenac sodium tablets (a prescription anti-inflammatory for my back). A space blanket, strike anywhere matches, birthday candles, a water filter straw, a needle and thread, several safety pins and some string round out my kit. In addition, I carry an emergency whistle, a small jackknife (with a blade, scissors and tweezers), sunscreen, lip balm and bug repellent in a separate stuff sack, which I keep in the outside pocket of my backpack for easy access.

Although a first aid can be effective for many types of injuries it is of limited usefulness if the injury is serious enough to prevent one from evacuating the backcountry. This is especially true for those who engage in solo bushwhacking adventures. In the case of a broken leg, sprained ankle or other incapacitating emergency it is wise to carry a personal locator beacon (PLB) when traveling alone. Personal locator beacons are tracking transmitters which aid in the detection and location via a satellite system. They can be used to determine the location of an individual in an emergency leading to an efficient and timely extraction from the backcountry. A personal locator beacon is one of the most important (and expensive) pieces of equipment a bushwhacker should carry when traveling alone but hopefully never use. It is essential the PLB transmit GPS coordinates so that a search and rescue can be reduced to a simple rescue. A PLB should only be activated during a dire emergency where the situation is grave and the loss of life, limb, or eyesight will occur without assistance. But remember, a PLB cannot assist you unless you are conscious enough to activate it, so carrying one should never be used as an excuse to undertake risky behavior.

Three popular manufactures of personal locator beacon products are ACR Electronics, Inc., SPOT, Inc. and McMurdo, Ltd. They typically range from $150 to $400 and some require the purchasing of a subscription service for specific functionality.

Personally, I carry an ACR MicroFix 406 GPS Personal Locator Beacon, a recently discontinued product. It weighs about 10 ounces and cost considerably more than the current products on the market. I cannot comment on how well it works since thankfully I have never had the occasion to use it. But it gives me the peace of mind knowing I have some way to communicate with the outside world in case of a life-threatening emergency.

Hopefully this discussion of the necessary precautions one should take while bushwhacking has not frightened anyone from heading off the trail. Although it is prudent to be as prepared as possible for any emergency it is still fairly safe being in the backcountry. The most dangerous aspect of any trip is most likely the drive to and from the trailhead. It is important to be prepared but not lose sight of the fact that bushwhacking is supposed to be fun and exciting. So get out there, get off the trail and enjoy yourself but be ready just in case.

Photo: Blowdown by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking experiences at http://www.bushwhackingfool.com/.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

APA Approves Telecommunications General Permit

At the September Adirondack Park Agency (APA) meeting, the agency board authorized general permit application 2010G-1 designed to further streamline telecommunication project approvals. General Permit 2010G-1 fast tracks review of new or replacement cellular towers proposed for locations in proximity to previously approved agency sites.

This is the second general permit developed by agency staff to expedite telecommunication project approvals. Since 2005, cellular companies relied heavily on General Permit 2005G-3R to co-locate equipment on existing tall structures. The general permit process is less rigorous and results in cost savings for cellular companies.

In 2010, the APA issued fourteen permits to date resulting in 6 new towers, 6 replacements, and 2 co-locations. Fourteen additional applications are under review. In 2009, the agency approved 31 applications. This included 14 new towers, 14 co-location projects, 1 replacement and 2 replacement/co-location permits.

Additionally this year, APA participated in the Technical Assistance Center’s organizational meeting in support of their Wireless Clearinghouse Project. Project goals include the identification of tall structures throughout the Park for potential co-location sites to foster more cellular company investment in Park communities.

Cellular coverage will improve as approved projects are undertaken. Construction has not started however on many permitted tower sites located in Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Warren Counties. A number of these permits were issued in 2009.

Chairman Curtis F. Stiles said, “The APA realizes comprehensive coverage along travel corridors and near population centers is only possible with planning and additional capital investment. We’ve worked diligently with the carriers to approve over 125 permits throughout the Park resulting in increased coverage in this topographically challenging region of New York State. We remain committed to working with carriers as they plan for this critical infrastructure.”

Executive Director Terry Martino stated, “The APA fully understands the importance of cellular and broadband technology to support economic development and public safety. The horizontal co-location general permit will provide carriers the opportunity to improve cellular coverage while reducing their capital expenditure costs. We appreciate their input on this application and their continued commitment to implement wireless technology in accordance with state law.”

The APA, working with stakeholder groups, developed a “Telecommunication and Tall Structure Policy” in 2002. The policy was established to expedite implementation of critical telecommunication infrastructure in conformity with the statutory requirements of the Adirondack Park Agency Act. The policy has resulted in improved cellular coverage for Adirondack communities especially along highway corridors and in population centers.

The policy includes guidance for telecommunication companies to ensure successful implementation of projects. Guidance includes: avoiding locating facilities on mountaintops and ridge lines; concealing any structure by careful siting, using a topographic or vegetative foreground or backdrop; minimizing structure height and bulk; using color to blend with surroundings; and using existing buildings to locate facilities whenever possible.

2010 Cellular Permit Activity by Carrier

8 Verizon Wireless:

5 new towers
3 replacement/co-location

4 AT&T:

1 co-location
3 replacement/co-location

2 T-mobile:

1 new Towers
2 replacement/co-location

14 applications under review:

2 Chester (Independent Towers/Verizon Wireless)
1 Clinton (Verizon Wireless)
1 Chesterfield (Verizon Wireless)
1 Minerva (Verizon Wireless)
1 Fine (Verizon Wireless)
1 Dresden (Verizon Wireless)
1 Port Henry (Verizon Wireless)
1 Dresden (Independent Towers)
1 Bolton (Independent Towers)
1 Duane (Verizon Wireless)
1 Caroga (Independent Towers)
1 Horicon (Independent Towers)
1 Hague (Independent Towers)

The general permit applications are available online.

Photos: Above, a mass of communication towers atop Prospect Mountain overlooking Lake George (John Warren). According to APA spokesperson Keith McKeever, the tower farm on Prospect includes pre-existing towers (pre-1973, no APA approval) and two towers approved in the 1980s when the agency’s towers policy was weak (essentially, approve towers where pre- existing ones stood without much concern for the height). Under the 2003 towers policy, the APA implemented “substantial invisibility” and tower heights came down. Below, the Cell Tower recently sited near Exit 29 in North Hudson (APA Photo).


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Fisher: Amazing Adirondack Weasel

It’s a baby bear! It’s a black panther! It’s a wolverine! No, it’s none of the above – it is the fisher, sometimes called fisher cat, a member of the marten genus, and the largest land weasel in New York (I’m considering otters to be amphibious).

We have a terrific fisher mount here at the Newcomb VIC that was donated a few years ago. This particular animal is exceptionally large; according to the gentleman who donated it to us, it weighed about 19 pounds. The largest fisher on record was 20 pounds. Most fishers weigh significantly less: males average 8-11 pounds, females 4-6 pounds. In our minds, however, they are much larger, as most predators seem to be.

Lots of misinformation surrounds the fisher, and not just concerning its size. The name alone is the cause of quite a bit of confusion, for it seems logical that anything called a fisher must have something to do with fish. Surely it hangs out near the water and eats fish. In truth, the fisher is an animal of the deep woods, and while its diet is incredibly diverse, the only accounts I have found of it actually eating fish are those where it stole fish that was used to bait traps for martens.

The best explanation I have found for this weasel’s name is really quite simple (and common): corruption of a foreign word. It is believed that “fisher” was originally “fichet,” a word the French used for the pelt of the European polecat (another weasel). This makes complete sense when one considers that some of the earliest European fur traders/trappers on this continent were French; they would have called things by names with which they were familiar. Over time, fichet became fisher; no fish were involved.

The 19th and early-20th centuries were tough on fishers. They faced a double-whammy survival-wise thanks to two human endeavors: trapping and logging. Both activities reached their peak by the late 1800s and early 1900s, declining by the 1930s.

When it came to trapping, fishers, especially the females with their significantly softer furs, were popular for scarves and the trim of coats and such. Prices rose steadily, which encouraged more folks to run trap lines. By the 1920s, fisher pelts were bringing in well over $100 apiece.

At the same time, logging was going full steam. Fishers are animals of the deep woods – they do not like open spaces such as farms and clearcuts. Between trapping pressure and loss of habitat, fishers were soon extirpated from much of their historical range in the US and Canada. By the 1930s, the Adirondack Park was one of the very few places that had a remnant fisher population.

In an effort to preserve the remaining animals, the fisher trapping season was closed. Enough fishers remained in intact ecosystems for the population to recover, and by 1949 New York opened the fisher season once more.

Today fishers can be found across much of New York State. This is due in part to decreased trapping pressure (a fisher pelt may get $30 to $50 today, a far cry from the nearly $800 price tag of the mid-‘30s), and in part to agricultural lands reverting to forest.

Over the years, I have followed many fisher tracks in the Adirondack woods. Their preferred gait, a lope, looks like a mysterious three-legged animal has cruised through the snow. Although fishers can easily climb trees, they prefer to stay on the ground, often using downed logs as their highways. Because they are solitary animals, you will rarely find fisher tracks grouped together, unless it is mating season.

Fishers mate in late March or early April, about a week after the female has given birth. This would seem to suggest that gestation lasts almost a whole year, which would be odd for an animal of this size. In fact, fishers enjoy delayed implantation, where the fertilized eggs remain in a state of suspended animation for about ten months, at which time they are implanted and official gestation begins, ending in the birth of one to six young about 50 days later.

Blind and helpless at birth, the young remain in the hollow tree den for several weeks. By the time they are five months old, the mother can no longer take the squabbling of the young and kicks them out of the family circle. Within a year, the offspring will have established their own ranges, and another generation of fishers takes on the world.

One of the comments I most frequently hear when visitors look at our fisher mount is something along the lines of “these are mean animals.” I make a point of telling them that “mean” is a human characteristic. Fishers are fishers. They are weasels, they are predators. They are, out of necessity, efficient hunters that can take down a porcupine almost as easily as a squirrel. If cornered, any animal will fight – a fisher may be just a bit more aggressive because it is a predator and used to taking on others. Does this make the animal mean? No – it makes it a successful hunter.

That said, it is best to keep your cats and poodles inside at night. Fishers have been known to snack on pint-sized pets that are left outside. But otherwise, having a fisher in the neighborhood is kind of a nice thing. I’ve only seen fishers three or four times – and each time the animal was dashing across the road, seeking the shelter of the deep woods. I find it comforting to know that this medium-sized predator has done well in the Adirondacks, a link to a past where primeval woods covered most of the eastern US.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wallface: A Formidable Climb in Indian Pass

The speed record for climbing the Diagonal route on Wallface Cliff is 3 hours, 14 minutes. I climbed the same route last weekend and I can tell you that the record was never in any danger of being broken by us.

The speed record was set by local climbers Don Mellor and Jeff Edwards, who ran six miles from Adirondack Loj to the cliff, climbed the 700-foot-high route in a half-hour by simul-climbing (with a rope) and placing only a minimum of gear between them for protection. Then they speed-bushwacked back to their car (they were in a hurry because it was their children’s nap time, and presumably their wives didn’t know they had left them alone), according to the book Adirondack Rock.

Since neither myself nor my partner Steve Goldstein have young children, we were in less of a hurry. And that was a good thing, because Wallface is a big, remote place, and if you visit as a climber you should plan to spend the day. Unless you’ve left your kids alone.

Wallface may be the biggest cliff in New York state, but there’s a reason it sees few visitors. The is located deep in the wilderness at Indian Pass, four miles from Upper Works parking lot near Newcomb and six miles south of Adirondack Loj. It’s the deep gash visible to the west from Algonquin and other nearby High Peaks.

I don’t know about the northern approach, but the route from the south has to be one of the worst trails in the Adirondacks — a never-ending slog through mud pits until you get to the climbers’ herd path.

There’s other reasons besides the approach that Wallface isn’t popular: it’s not a pristine cliff. Climbers like clean routes — vertical, devoid of loose rock or vegetation, an obvious line up. Wallface has none of these. It’s a discontinuous face of granite, in some areas chock full of vegetation and loose, low-angle rock, at other spots overhanging and completely lacking in holds. Even finding the base of most climbs is difficult.

Clearly, it’s not a user-friendly area for climbers. “This cliff,” warns Adirondack Rock, the region’s Bible for rock climbers, “must be approached with an adventurous spirit.”

Yet Wallface does have its attractions. For ultra-hardmen, there’s the stiff route called Mental Blocks. For sport climbers, there’s several difficult, bolted routes on a pristine face nicknamed The Shield (Free Ride, rated a hard 5.11, is said to be the “best face climbing on the East Coast”).

And there’s the Diagonal, the most popular moderate route up the 700-foot-high cliff.

After years of talking about it, my climbing partner Steve Goldstein and I finally decided to pack our own adventurous spirits and hoof it into Wallface — the Diagonal our destination.

We left at dawn. After the aforementioned slog, we reached the base around 9 a.m. We eyed our route from below. The Diagonal is rated 5.8, which is just a bit tougher than the average beginner can climb. But most of it is quite easy, and the first third is rather dull.

It follows broken, discontinuous bands of rock up the lower part of the face. Once we roped up, we navigated as best we could through the choss, eventually ascending to the cliff’s most interesting feature.

The Diagonal is named for a 300-foot-high ramp that is the middle part of the route. It’s an easy section, low-angle and chock full of features. Some sections are pockmarked with tiny holes, like coral or cooled lava, which Steve figured were carved by tens of thousands of years of water drops falling from the overhanging rock above. And out before us was the ever-expanding view of the High Peaks.

The ramp ended at a grassy ledge, which brought us to the third section of the route — two pitches of vertical climbing up cracks and corners. I gratefully handed the lead (and the rack of jingling climbing gear) to Steve, the stronger member of our two-man team. And he gracefully made his way up until he was out of sight, cursing at the wet sections along the way.

I followed him up through some interesting and challenging features until I reached him high on a ledge. He had climbed further than the route description called for.

“Sorry,” he said. “I think I stole about half of your pitch.”

“Fine with me,” I said, thinking of the strange and awkward move I had just wormed up, and glad he had gone first.

Then it was my turn to lead. I took the gear and climbed the last 50 feet, making a few well-protected but awkward moves that had me yelling “Watch me!” as I felt for a handhold that ought to have been there but wasn’t.

At the top, we shivered. The sun had long since disappeared behind the cliff, and a constant breeze left no doubt that we were deep in the mountains, not at some roadside crag with a warm car and cold beer waiting only a few minutes away.

Escape from the top of Wallface comes either from walking around (not recommended due to the thick underbrush and blowdown) or rappelling. The top of the Diagonal, being popular, has fixed anchors. You thread the ropes through and then rappel off, pulling the rope after you to set up for the next rap.

For many climbers, this is the sketchiest part of climbing, especially on long, remote routes. The possibility of stuck ropes is always present, and in this location, with darkness and cold temperatures only an hour away, that would have meant for a long and miserable night.

Fortunately, the ropes pulled smoothly and an hour later we were on the ground, warmer and ready for that beer.

Unfortunately, we still had a long way to go. We raced down the approach path and made the official hiking trail at darkness. Then we spent the next 90 minutes walking by the light of headlamps, searching for ways through the endless muck as Steve regaled me with tales of his misspent college years (“The coolest explosion I was ever involved in was when …”).

We reached the car at 9 p.m., making for a 14-hour day. That three-hour ascent record was safe — after all, we had taken five times longer. But that was fine with us. We had conquered Wallface.

And we wouldn’t be going back for a long time.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Adirondack Council Seeks New Conservation Director

After five years as Director of Conservation for the Adirondack Council, John Davis will be leaving his post at the end of the year to commence a conservation project aimed at improving the wildlife habitat connections between the Atlantic, Appalachian and Adirondack landscapes.

Wildlife migration is gaining in importance as climate change alters the locations of suitable homes for many species of animals and plants.

Davis’s departure creates a job opening on the Program Team at the Adirondack Council, a leading environmental research, education and advocacy organization based in Elizabethtown. Founded in 1975, the Adirondack Council has fourteen full-time staff members. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Diane Chase: Adirondack Family Activities Take Your Child Outside Week


By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Take Your Child Outside Week (annually September 24-30) started four years ago when Liz Baird, Director of School Programming at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, was inspired by Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods.”

“This is a movement to inspire people to take a pledge to go outside for unstructured play,” says Baird. “One barrier we have discovered is that some parents do not want their children to get dirty or parents just don’t know what to do outside.”

“If this week inspires parents and children to go outside then that is fine. If they want to do it again and again, that is wonderful,” says Baird. “Children being able to spend time outdoors is a right just as much as having clean water and clean air. It is their right to explore nature.”

When Baird started the movement she felt she would be fortunate to have ten organizations partner with her. She now has close to 400 partners representing all fifty states and four foreign countries helping children enjoy a healthy outdoor lifestyle. In the Adirondack Park, The Wild Center, Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center, The Adirondack Museum and the SUNY –ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center are part of this movement to connect children to nature.

So for those looking to get their children outside here are a few options to keep the costs to a minimum. If you are reluctant to go for a walk on your own, Smithsonian magazine is conducting their annual free museum day this September 25th.

The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake and the 1932/1980 Winter Olympic Museum in Lake Placid are participating. Fill out the form with the Smithsonian and you receive a free pass for two for September 25. Though there are plenty of inside activities at the Adirondack Museum, there are also chances to explore around the grounds as well. If you are reluctant to climb a mountain, this may be a good place to start.

The Olympic Museum is, well, inside. So the outside portion of the program would have to be conducted elsewhere. After exploring Lake Placid’s Olympic heritage, take children to the nearby town beach and explore the shoreline for the food chain.

In my family outings one thing we are always on the lookout for is what other animals are eating, whether insect or bird. Let children take time to explore the small details like witnessing hardworking ants preparing for winter or dragonflies catching insects. If parents don’t want to join in take a moment for yourself to relax. You may not get another opportunity for awhile.

September 25th is also designated as Nature Rocks Day where parents are encouraged to get outside with their families and explore natural habitats.

According to Baird she hopes that we eventually won’t need a week to get kids outside, that is, it will become an everyday occurrence.

“Wouldn’t that be exciting if we no longer needed a week designated to get children outside,” exclaims Baird. “ That would mean this disconnect with nature will be obsolete.”

Photo used with permission from Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time www.adkfamilytime.com


photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spiny Water Flea Confirmed in Sacandaga Lake

Spiny water fleas, an aquatic invasive species, have been found in Sacandaga Lake in the southern region of the Adirondack Park near Speculator, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. It was previously confirmed in the Great Sacandaga in 2008, Peck Lake in 2009 and Stewarts Bridge Reservoir earlier this year.

Native to Eurasia, the spiny water flea feeds on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton that are foods for fish and other native aquatic organisms, putting them in direct competition for this important food source. The tail spines of the spiny water flea hook on fishing lines and foul fishing gear. » Continue Reading.


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