Posts Tagged ‘High Peaks’
Sometimes you just get lucky. Waking up at 2 am to hike Algonquin Peak to watch the sunrise is always a bit of gamble. I’ve done it on several occasions and more than once I arrived on the summit only to find the entire view obscured in clouds. Weather forecasts are only reliable to a certain extent in the mountains. On this particular day the view was clear, except for distance clouds on the eastern horizon. This had the effect of filtering much of the sunlight, allowing one to observe the sun in great detail. I was glad I had brought a short telephoto lens with me this morning as the composition with the hills in the foreground was much more compelling than a wide angle view.
On a warm September day in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed what is now recognized as one of the most significant legislative acts in American environmental history. This was the national Wilderness Act. Before then, federal lands, even those protected as national parks or national forests were expected to serve a variety of functions. The national forests, for example, permitted logging, mining, and grazing. The national parks were often centered on opulent hotels and other all-too-civilized amenities. The idea of setting aside part of the public domain as wilderness, even though this word was and is difficult to define, was radical then, and it remains controversial today. It was a monumental step, and its roots lie in the Adirondacks.
How European-Americans have thought about this amorphous thing we call wilderness has been a complicated, often torturous story. (How Native Americans navigated these shoals is another story altogether, but their views have seldom if ever been consulted as this country has gone about the process of setting land-use policy.) If we go back far enough, we find a pervasive hostility to what many of us now treasure. In 1620, for example, the Pilgrim William Bradford contemplated the forests of eastern Massachusetts, which seemed to stand between his band of cold and hungry settlers and any sort of security, and declared despairingly that nothing lay before them other than “a hideous and desolate wilderness.” Wilderness, in other words, was the enemy. If these people expected to survive, let alone prosper, the wilderness had to be eliminated as soon as possible. » Continue Reading.
The Olympian skier Betty Woolsey climbed in the Adirondacks and Gunks with such pioneers of rock as Jim Goodwin, John Case, and Fritz Wiessner. Circa 1950, she put up the first Adirondack route led by a woman—the Woolsey Route on Rooster Comb Mountain.
The guidebook Adirondack Rock says it’s not exactly clear where Woolsey’s route went, but it most likely followed a corner near a climb established by Wiessner known as Old Route. It is rated 5.8 on the Yosemite Decimal System scale, a tough climb for its time and considerably harder than Old Route.
Trudy Healy was another woman who took to climbing decades ago. She wrote the region’s first climbing guidebook, Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks, which was published by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1967. According to Adirondack Rock, Healy participated in at least two first ascents in the Adirondacks: Four Plus (rated 5.5) on the Brothers near Keene Valley, in 1965, and a variation (another 5.5) of the Wiessner-Austin Route on Big Slide Mountain in 1970. In both instances, she was following the leader.
It would be a few more decades before an all-female party made a first ascent in the Adirondacks, a route now considered a classic climb.
Most people who know me are familiar with my fascination with Panther Gorge. Its isolated location draws me annually like a moth to a flame. The site is home to some of the most intriguing and rugged Adirondack terrain—technical cliffs, beaver ponds, tranquil streams, shadowy talus fields and a beautiful slide that sparked my initial curiosity.
If you have climbed Mt. Haystack then you may be familiar with Grand Central slide, at least from a distance. This predominantly southeastern aspect slide delineates the east face slab from the steeper cliffs farther north in the gorge. Its release point begins in a sea of dense evergreens near the crest of Marcy’s southeast ridge. It ends 700 vertical feet below at the top of a cliff split by a right-leaning crevasse with a waterfall. Like nearly all venues in the gorge, the view from its curving track surpasses words. » Continue Reading.
As a general rule it is best to avoid taking landscape shots in the middle of the day. The harsh light and lack of contrast across the landscape doesn’t usually make for interesting shots. That said, you need to know when to break the rules as well. This shot of Avalanche Lake was taken mid-day, but the ominous clouds in the distance added a lot of mood to the scene.
On Thursday, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted to rename the 4,012-foot peak after Grace Hudowalski, the first woman to climb all forty-six of the High Peaks and the longtime historian of the Forty-Sixers organization.
Doug Arnold, chairman of the group’s Grace Peak Committee, worked twelve years to get support from local and state officials for the name change.
“Mountain naming is not a frivolous thing,” he said. “Ultimately, she was proven worthy, and I think that is a testament to the Forty-Sixers.” » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack State Park is a huge place, encompassing approximately 6.1 million acres. It stretches from Lake Champlain at its eastern end, almost all the way to the Black River valley in the west, and from nearly the Canadian border in the north to the doorstep of the Mohawk River valley in the south. It is the largest state park in the contiguous United States, and, in fact, larger than several states. It is even larger than the combined area of Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Great Smoke Mountains National Parks.
Its size is not the only unique aspect about the Park. Within its borders lies almost unimaginable beauty. Nature’s bountiful gifts take many different forms, including a near infinite number of lakes and ponds, more swamps than one can shake a stick at, acres upon acres of dense primeval forests, and of course, more than a few majestic mountains.
Yet there are those that would reduce the Park to a mere fraction of its size. These are not those people who routinely decry the restrictions and regulations, who seem to want to cut, build and pave their way across this beautiful park; these individuals love the natural beauty of the Park, although apparently, only a small portion of it. » Continue Reading.
It is the start of a new season of outdoor hiking and recreation on public lands in the Adirondacks and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) urges hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 3,000 feet until early June, the agency announced today.
DEC is asking hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant and High Peaks Wilderness Areas in the northern Adirondacks, due to muddy conditions and the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and soft ground. » Continue Reading.
During our recent spring adventure to Lost Brook we enjoyed three uncommon views that celebrated the prominence of three dominating Adirondack Peaks, plus a fourth view that is common but remains one of my favorites. The common view was Blue Mountain from the crest of Highway 30 between Tupper Lake and Long lake. I love this view because it is a true vista, which gives a greater sensation of size and vertical. Vistas are rare in the Adirondacks, at least vistas that render a higher mountain in all its glory. Blue was already largely snow free but its characteristic bulk from that Route 30 vantage point never fails to draw a breath from me in any season.
The other three views benefited from the calendar. This time of year enhances the sense of a mountain’s scale, with earth tones and green on the lower slopes and plenty of white on high. The Adirondacks may not be perpetually snow-capped, but in late April or early May we can imagine they are and they seem much more lofty for it. » Continue Reading.
I’d guess anyone who climbs regularly in the Adirondacks has climbed Chapel Pond Slab. For beginners, it’s a great place to get a feel for the exposure and intricacies of multi-pitch climbing. For the more experienced, it’s a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the stone and the views of Chapel Pond Pass.
The most popular climb on the slab is Regular Route, with a half-dozen interesting and varied pitches. Not much is known about the history of Regular Route. The guidebook Adirondack Rock says it evolved from variations of an early route called Bob’s Knob Standard. The region’s first climbing guidebook, A Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks, says it was pioneered by the Alpine Club of Canada.
Adirondack summers for the Zahniser clan on Edwards Hill Road in Johnsburg were wonderfully and inextricably bound up with the Schaefer clan. Even these 40 years hence, memories of those years play, as Cub Schaefer told me in July 2000, like videotapes.
Many of those scenes come from summer in Bakers Mills in the 1950s with The Rainmakers, our young band of avid trout anglers that included Cub, Matt and Ed Zahniser, Johnny Hitchcock, Tommy Senate, and Tommy Taylor. We named ourselves The Rainmakers part way through the summer, realizing that every time we all went fishing, it rained.
The story opens with the whole troupe of us strung out along the diminutive stream through Johnny Robbins old place across Route 8 from Johnny Steve’s farm just beyond the road into the Oehser’s camp east of Bakers Mills. We are all looking for likely holes, meaning a pool deep enough to keep a trout’s dorsal fin from drying out. Willows overarch parts of the stream. All is idyllic until Matt Zahniser, the senior Rainmaker, comes crashing down the middle of the stream below some willows shouting “Bull! Run!” He wasn’t talking Civil War reenactment. » Continue Reading.
In September of 1911 the great Russian composer Igor Stravinsky began work on music for a ballet that we now know as the Rite of Spring. Stravinsky’s score, with its polytonality, its violent, dissonant upheavals, its ritualistic, pagan pulses and its raw, almost vulgar power, changed the face of music. It also vividly recreated an ancient, primeval interpretation of spring that swept away the bucolic, peaceful, benevolent image of spring depicted by the impressionists. In Stravinsky’s conception spring is not peaceful; rather it is a primitive and powerful eruption of nature, savage and dynamic, evoking the deepest and most prehistoric human notions of fertility and mortality.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that Stravinsky composed most of The Rite of Spring in Switzerland; where more than mountains does spring evince such characteristics? For that matter he might as well have written it while experiencing spring in the Adirondacks, the full ritual force of which was on display this week at Lost Brook Tract. » Continue Reading.
Late one June afternoon in the Year of Our Lord 1995 I checked into the Lake Placid Econo Lodge with my brother, spent a comfortable night and left in the morning. I have not been back since (through no fault of Econo Lodge). It’s just as well – if Econo Lodge has any sort of institutional memory I will never again get another room.
In the summer of 1995 I took a long –and long awaited – backpacking trip with my nephew Michael. Michael and I are roughly the same age and we are close, so “brother” serves us as a more proper salutation. By the mid 1990’s I was an experienced backpacker but Michael was a novice. Like me he had been going to the Adirondacks all his life and adored them, but he was relatively new to the High Peaks region and its glories. We planned a six day trip in order to really take it in.
Michael remembers the details for the trip much better than I do, so I will liberally quote from the reminiscences he recently shared with me. » Continue Reading.
Owl’s Head mountain offers a short hike to very rewarding views of the High Peaks area. The trail is right off 73 near Cascade lakes. The weather has been warm this weekend and a lot of the snow is melting in the area. This is also a great sunrise or sunset hike for the minimal distance to the summit.
Stunted and gnarled, it grows in rugged environments: cliffs, mountaintops, canyon walls. Often very old, it inspires us with its tenacity in the face of harsh conditions.
The word krummholz means “crooked wood” in German. In the Northeast, when we speak of krummholz, we’re talking about the matted, dwarfed trees that circle the tops of some mountains, separating lower elevation full-size forests and true alpine areas. Balsam fir, black spruce, and heartleaf birch are the dominant species, standing no more than eight feet high. Sometimes they’re only knee high. Sometimes only ankle high. » Continue Reading.