Posts Tagged ‘High Peaks’
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.
I’d say we got at least a foot in Saranac Lake. That would be in line with North Country snowfall totals reported by the National Weather Service: 16 inches in Duane Center (northern Franklin County), 14 inches in Malone, and 13 inches in Tupper Lake.
Michael Muccilli, a meteorologist with the service, said the northern parts of Herkimer and Hamilton counties got 6 to 12 inches.
There is a date fast approaching, a twentieth anniversary about which I have thinking a long time. It is a date – a singular moment, really – that changed me from a lost person to one battered but once again harboring a dare somewhere inside, a dream of possibilities. That may sound dramatic but I could not possibly overstate what I experienced. That moment was a saving; those of you lucky enough to have had a moment of saving will understand.
The anniversary date is March 17th, 1994, Saint Patrick’s Day, and the singular moment is when my future wife Amy, having arrived at a party she had chosen to drop in on at a whim, spied a morose, sad-looking man sitting by himself in a corner and decided up do something about it by striding up to him and introducing herself.
It didn’t take long for Amy and I to figure out we wanted to be together. That summer Amy came with me to the Adirondacks for the first time, camping at Blue Mountain Lake and climbing Mount Colden. From there, the Adirondacks became utterly intertwined with our joint destiny, leading to all that has come, especially Lost Brook Tract. Soon our ultimate goal will be met: we have every intention of moving permanently to the Adirondacks within eighteen months, maybe sooner. » Continue Reading.
The title of this post could also be called “Santanoni Snow Slog” or “Snow Swimming up Santanoni”. Conditions were not good, but those are the chances you take when planning this type of outing. The avalanche probability had been high for a few weeks which delayed plans over and again for this trip. I can’t really complain since conditions were stellar during several of my outings over the past couple months. I secretly hoped to find frozen cascades and at least a bit of ice-entombed slab during this trip as well—inside I knew better.
Alan Wechsler and I decided to explore Twin Slide on February 22nd with the foreknowledge that we might be turned back if conditions seemed too avalanche prone. He hoped to add another peak to his winter list while I simply needed an adventure.
Neil Luckhurst (age 58), vice president of the ADKHighpeaks Foundation, embarked upon an ambitious 1-man fundraiser on February 18, 2014. His goal was to climb each of the 46 High Peaks in just 12 days—a quest he dubbed “Project 46”. Dedicated friends and family members supported Neil in a variety of fashions ranging from company on the trail to preparing hot meals and snacks. Meanwhile, others watched his progress on their computer via Neil’s SPOT tracking beacon.
He showed no signs of slowing and by Thursday, February 27th; he’d completed the goal in a staggering 10 days—two days ahead of schedule. When all was said and done, he’d hiked 213.6 miles (344 km) with 69,500 feet (21,184 m) of elevation gain while braving a mixed bag of winter weather conditions. » Continue Reading.
I’ve been preoccupied with Adirondack vistas of late. Two recent copies of Adirondack Life had pictures with Burton’s Peak in them: one was a cover picture and the other placed in the 2014 Photo Contest (those of you who are savvy about my Lost Brook Dispatches and have followed the clues can see if you can identify it).
Like so many of us, I cherish beholding a corker Adirondack view perhaps more than any other experience in the park. There is something magical about the combination of grandeur and intimacy in wild Adirondack vistas, studded with lakes, ponds and streams and infused with a dark, raw primeval power impossible to capture in words. Quite frankly I have never experienced a stronger sense of wild harmony and beauty anywhere else I’ve been. » Continue Reading.
The decision is final: Marcy Dam will be torn down.
As reported last month on the Almanack, the state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to dismantle the dam, which was damaged in Tropical Storm Irene, over the next five years. At the time, though, the department was waiting to hear from the public on the proposal.
Recently, I submitted a freedom-of-information request to review the public comments. Given the popularity of the dam, I was surprised to learn that DEC heard from only two people—and both agreed that the dam should be removed.
One of the writers, Wallace Elton, suggested that a dam failure would damage the environment downstream and put people at risk. “The expense of rebuilding the dam to today’s safety standards cannot be justified with current funding limitations,” he wrote. “Beyond that, this is an opportunity to re-wild a key area in the heart of the Forest Preserve.”
The body was located near the summit of Scarface Mountain in the town of North Elba shortly after 11 a.m. State Police forensic investigators were flown to the mountain by State Police helicopter.
No signs of foul play have been determined in the initial investigation. Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw authorized the removal of the body.
The body was then transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake by New York State Police Aviation. An autopsy will be performed by Dr. C. Francis Varga on January 16, 2014, to determine the cause and manner of death. » Continue Reading.
When Tropical Storm Irene damaged Marcy Dam, draining most of the pond behind it, hikers debated passionately whether the dam should be rebuilt to restore an iconic vista enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors over the years.
It looks like it won’t be.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently decided to dismantle the wooden dam in stages over the next five years.
DEC spokesman David Winchell said the cost of rebuilding the dam to modern standards would have been too costly and may have conflicted with the management principles for the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Those principles seek to minimize the presence of man-made structures. » Continue Reading.
After four nights at Lost Brook Tract with Amy, two adult sons and our irrepressible dog Henderson, I’m raring to go for another year of Almanacking, though my contributions will be a little less frequent as I bear down with more purpose on the book I’m undertaking.
This stay at Lost Brook Tract was the best ever. The weather conditions and quality of light were the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced in the Adirondacks, to which the photo can attest. It was truly luminous. There was less snow than in past years but no less winter. The temperatures ranged from a positively balmy 35 degrees on the first afternoon to properly Adirondack zero-and-below readings the last two days. For New Year’s Eve I served a bottle of Prosecco we’d carried in. It was frozen. That’s cold. I can report that thawing Prosecco by positioning it next to a flaming birch log flattens it into tepid watery juice faster than any other method I know. Oh well, we had hot chocolate too. And the salmon pasta was “spiced” with a little rye, which thanks to its higher alcohol content resolutely maintained its golden liquidity to the bitter end. » Continue Reading.
In my opinion Mount Jo has one of the highest reward per effort ratios of any mountain in the Adirondacks. I’ve hiked all of the High Peaks, but none of them are my favorite mountains. Standing on a “lesser” peak affords one a better perspective of the topography of the landscape. While Mount Marcy has a wonderful and enjoyable summit, something is lost when you are looking down on all the mountains, rather than at – or up – at them.
This Thanksgiving unfolded for me in traditional and typical fashion, promising that the standard playbook would be executed all the way through: take the family to my in-laws, help cook a massive meal for twenty, monitor my Mother for too much wine or too much stimulation (Mom is 92 and can overload either way), overeat, get teary looking at my wife and drive seventy miles home while fighting indigestion and narcolepsy.
By early afternoon all was going to form. How could I possibly have known that an earth-shaking revelation was about to completely overwhelm me? How could I be prepared for the sheer jubilation, the exaltation this imminent moment was going to bring, this profound thunderclap completely sweeping away all the usual familial mediocrity?
But then it happened. The setting was innocent enough: I was in the snowy yard with my brother-in-law Dan, exercising Henderson with a stick, talking about our favorite mutual subject, the Adirondacks. Amy and I were planning to be at Lost Brook Tract just after Christmas and Dan, who had considered coming along and doing some skiing was telling me that his winter visit would have to wait until the following year. “We’re all coming next winter, he said. We’ll come up to your land for a couple days but we’ll get a place for a week. Shay’s a little worried about snowshoeing up there.”
There it was. » Continue Reading.
The late, extraordinary forest educator, Dr. Edwin H. Ketchledge, started an exhibit of native Adirondack trees at the base of the Whiteface Memorial Highway in Wilmington, and wrote to all who would listen how important it would be to properly interpret the natural history of the mountain from the base of the road to the mountain’s summit. Of course, Dr. Ketchledge had interpreted this route in hundreds of ways during his career as a teacher, and was hopeful that his legacy would continue.
Governor Andrew Cuomo just made it a lot safer to accomplish Dr. Ketchledge’s vision as a result of the state’s commitment to expend $12 million to rehabilitate the road and the summit’s facilities. This is welcome news indeed for Wilmington, the Olympic Authority and many Adirondack residents and visitors who marvel at what they feel, see and learn from this mountain road. » Continue Reading.
The nearly mile long track is filled with diverse and beautiful characteristics including open slab, boulders, overhanging outcrops, double-fall lines and cascades.
All good things come with a price. In this case challenging bushwhacks guard the slide at both the top and bottom. » Continue Reading.
One hundred years ago this September the Keene Valley faced the second massive fire to threaten it from the south since the dawn of the young century. The irrepressible artist Harold Weston, then a young man of nineteen, was on the front lines along with his family; his father, secretary of Adirondack Trail Improvement Society (ATIS) at the time, was chief adviser to the Army platoon that President Woodrow Wilson had sent to help fight the fires.
In his collection Freedom in the Wilds Weston recounts the progress of the fire up the ridge of Noonmark and over the southern part of Round Mountain to Chapel Pond as crews of men, pressed beyond the point of exhaustion, tried to stop it with fire lines and back fires set at the edges of the 1903 fire’s advance. » Continue Reading.
A year ago last April I wrote about the Spring 1903 fire season during which nearly half a million acres burned in multiple fires throughout the Adirondacks. The largest fires were in Keene and North Elba; these had a personal relevance to me as they ringed Lost Brook Tract. The one sweeping into the heart of the High Peaks from the north came within six minutes of consuming the entire tract before drenching rains stopped it.
Thanks to meteorological luck as much as the brave and exhausting work by men and women fighting their advance, the 1903 fires did not result in major losses to towns or settlements. But there were incredibly close calls: the same drenching rains that saved Lost Brook Tract also saved Keene and Keene Valley from certain destruction: so imminent were the blazes in at least two directions that their heat could be felt and ash blanketed the hamlets. Residents had buried their belongings and fled; only fate gave them homes to which to return » Continue Reading.
Work has began this week on a stream and habitat restoration project at Johns Brook in Keene Valley. This first phase of restoration, addressing the lower third of the impacted reach, should be complete by the end of this month and is intended to speed the stream’s return to pre-Irene character and function, reduce bank erosion and improve wildlife habitat.
In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011, nearly half a mile of Johns Brook was dramatically altered by local officials from its natural state – from the Route 73 bridge upstream. The work was done in the spirit of public safety to remove stream blockages and protect property. Unfortunately, flattening (removing cascades and filling in pools) and straightening the stream channel reduced its ability to dissipate the water’s energy and the faster moving water causes additional flooding and erosion problems. Furthermore, the stream’s trout habitat was drastically diminished. » Continue Reading.