On June 21, a large group of hikers gathered on the summit to celebrate—with champagne and cake—the renaming of the 4,012-foot mountain from East Dix to Grace Peak in honor of the late Grace Hudowalski, the longtime historian of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.
Posts Tagged ‘hiking’
Hiking is often a messy business, especially in the Adirondacks. Beaver flooding, natural seeps and deep, rain-filled ruts are just a few of the reasons for wet and muddy trails. Sometimes, just for a change of pace, a nice hike on a relatively dry upland trail is just what the doctor ordered. On these dry jaunts, a clunky, over the ankle pair of full-grain leather hiking boots is often overkill.
Hiking shoes are a fine alternative for these drier situations. They are lighter weight and dry faster than conventional leather hiking boots, which allows for more miles with less stress on your legs and back. After all, the old adage goes, “a pound on your feet is like five on your back.”
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After five particularly soggy days, cooped up inside our smallish house on Chateaugay Lake with four antsy kids—Micah, age eighteen; Dominic and Parker, both sixteen; and Zoe, eleven—and my outdoorsy sweetheart Jack, I needed to climb a mountain before I climbed the walls. The whole family did! The weather forecast was still far from perfect, but when the deluge abated, I ordered everyone to put away Monopoly and put on their hiking boots. We were heading up Debar Mountain.
Named for John Debar, a Canadian fur trapper who traveled through the area in 1817, Debar Mountain had been on my sizable bucket list of hikes in the Adirondacks for a number of years. I checked off most of those hikes while researching my guidebook Hiking the Adirondacks but never made it up Debar. When selecting the peaks in the northern region of the Adirondack Park for my book, others nearby were bigger, balder, and/or more well-known. Debar would certainly have made the cut a half-century earlier when it still had a fire tower on its summit, but I was barely writing my ABC’s, not guidebooks, back then. » Continue Reading.
As I write this, on July 10th, a sad and sobering anniversary has arrived. Then in September we will mark the seventieth anniversary of another tragedy, one of many plane crashes that have occurred in the park, this one remarkable for the longevity of its mystery. Both anniversaries remind me just how formidable a wilderness the Adirondack region really is. » Continue Reading.
They say variety is the spice of life. This is certainly true of backcountry adventures as anything else. Every few years, I diverge from my comfort area of the Five Ponds and Pepperbox Wilderness and venture out into other parts of the Adirondacks. Recently, I took a six-day sojourn into the Jay Mountain Wilderness, the smallest Wilderness Area in the Adirondacks.
The main impetuous for the trip was my desire to see Lot 8 in all its unspoiled glory, before saw, drill, bulldozer and explosives leave it nothing more than a giant hole in the ground. » Continue Reading.
Every June I try to make it up to the summit of either Algonquin or Marcy to take in the vibrant colors of the first alpine flowers in bloom. I usually see lapland rosebay, a pink alpine rhododendron, or Diapensia, a deep green mound with petite white flowers. If I make it over to Skylight I might even get a glimpse of the alpine azalea, a small, deep pink flower only found on Skylight’s summit. I also usually see another alpine flower, one even more rare and colorful than the ones already mentioned.
This flower will talk to you about her special, fragile home and even answer your questions about which jagged peak you see off in the distance. To many, this alpine flower’s name is Julia Goren, a human, but in the alpine ecosystem of New York, she could be considered the rarest and most beautiful alpine flower of them all. » Continue Reading.
Last week’s column on trail etiquette provoked quite a range of reactions. Setting aside the number of you who decided from the column’s sarcasm that you knew me well enough not to ever want to meet me on the trail (a remarkable feat of judgmental sleuthing, that there is), there were quite a variety of strong opinions registered. I must say this intensity caught me by surprise. Coupled with the heated exchanges about dogs on the trail from previous columns, I sensed a pattern.
What struck me is that for some reason trail etiquette clearly intersects with questions of humanity, culture and self esteem in a different way than, say, campground etiquette (where the rules are better understood and apparently tolerated as a matter of course, there being accepted norms for standard campground functions and behaviors). » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency has approved the adoption and rerouting of a trail up Goodman Mountain (2,176 feet) in the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest (part of the Bog River Complex) in honor of Andrew Goodman, a civil rights worker murdered on June 21, 1964.
Local historian William Frenette of Tupper Lake led a successful effort to have the peak named Goodman Mountain in 2002. The Goodman family built and lived in a stone house near the outlet of the Bog River at the south end of Tupper Lake that still stands today.
Goodman was helping register African Americans to vote near Philadelphia, Mississippi, as part of the Freedom Summer project of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) when he was abducted by members of the Ku Klux Klan along with Mickey Schwerner and James Chaney. » Continue Reading.
Last week I wrote a column about dogs in the back country and the need to keep them leashed while on the trail. This led to the issue of trail etiquette in general, a topic I have decided to address.
I’m trying to think of an Adirondack subject that annoys me more than behavior on trails and it isn’t coming to me. My experience of various hikers on trails is one of the primary motivators in my ongoing quest to actively dislike the majority of humanity. Trail etiquette is more important than most people think and it less followed than most people think as well. Not only that, in my experience there is surprisingly little understanding about what proper trail etiquette is. » Continue Reading.
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.
My friend (who goes by the nick-name NangaParbat) and I descended the well-known cliffs of Saddleback and shortly thereafter cut left into the woods. Within 10 minutes we found ourselves out in the open with huge views on the Saddleback South slide. This must be a very old landslide because the once-exposed rock is now mostly covered in moss. Small trees are beginning to grow in. Lower down on the slide the water flow increases and the rock slab is exposed but we found it to be very slippery and stuck well to the edges.
Over to our right was Basin’s East Face, our ultimate destination. In between the slide and Basin lies a most impressive feature that I know as “Big Pink”, which is a huge, bare slab of pinkish smooth rock. We walked along the 60 degree base of Big Pink and then we picked up the drainage that runs down from the East Face of Basin. » 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.
Following a week of training, a group of 40 backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers are now deployed on state lands and wildlife management areas across New York to protect the state’s natural resources and help visitors enjoy a safe and rewarding outdoor experience according to state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens.
The training was conducted through the Backcountry Stewardship Program, a long running partnership between DEC and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) that began more than a decade ago. The majority of backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers were in the field starting Memorial Day weekend and will serve through Labor Day, with some working through Columbus Day. » Continue Reading.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column asking which back country behavior readers most hated (my choice is trail eroders). I got a lot of comments, but most of them were participants in a major brouhaha over dogs in the back country: whether they should be on leash or off leash and when, or even if they should be allowed at all. This got me motivated to write a column, your average dog being one of my favorite and most admired features of all the universe.
My canine ruminations got caught up in a different thread that built up at the same time around a column about the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. This comment thread was a debate about the meaning of wilderness and a challenge to our romanticized notion of wilderness as a pristine thing apart, a challenge that was most notably posed by William Cronon in his landmark essay The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.
The relevance to dogs is this: dogs are not “native” to the Adirondacks. They have no natural ecological place in pristine wilderness; they are highly bred constructs, walking four-legged artifices. But as Cronon famously asked, is the pristine notion of wilderness not itself an artificial construct, wrought of nineteenth century romantic idealism? Do we gain anything by considering wilderness apart from all things we deem not of the pure faith, dogs included? » Continue Reading.
The app is a useful interactive tool that provides information about outdoor sporting and recreation in the palm of your hands. It features species profiles, rules and regulations, important permits and licensing details, and interactive GPS mapping capability that even allows you to store maps for use when out of cell service range. » Continue Reading.
I glance at my watch. 11:22 a.m. It feels like 7 a.m. on this early September morning. The first hint of fall is in the invigorating fifty-degree air. Goosebumps cover my legs below my shorts, and my breath exhales in faint misty tendrils as I start up the sun-dappled Goodnow Mountain Trail. Some days it feels good to go hiking. This is one of them.
I’ve hiked Goodnow Mountain only once before, while working on my guidebook Hiking the Adirondacks. I wonder if anything has changed in the five years since. I chose Goodnow Mountain, elevation 2,694 feet, on this fine day not to find out but to simply get out, or perhaps I should say “up,” as getting a view from the top of this mountain is my goal. The sky is haze-free and as blue as a mountain bluebird’s feathers. I don’t want an epic day in the High Peaks, just a nice walk in the woods to stretch my legs and get my heart rate up, with a 360-degree panorama to reward my effort. » Continue Reading.
A reader of my recent blog post “A Proposal For Rail AND Trail” asked the question, “Is it feasible to connect the Northville-Lake Placid Trail to a trail alongside the railroad tracks?”
I took a look at the map and sure enough it would be quite easy to extend the Northville-Lake Placid Trail 1.25 miles across the Averyville Road through the Saranac Lake Wild Forest and have it join the rail corridor. » Continue Reading.
This scenario is familiar to any backcountry enthusiast, regardless of whether they prefer the well-worn trails of a popular area or the trailless expanses that see more moose and black bear than they do people. Surrounded by forest, a multitude of birds singing in the canopy, a frog’s occasional throaty call emerging from a nearby wetland, it is as if there is not another living soul within miles around, and there may not be. Just as this feeling of remoteness engulfs the mind completely, the unnatural color of something on the ground assaults your senses, dispelling any fanciful notion of being in the only person in an unbroken wilderness.
Whether it is a candy bar wrapper, an old glass bottle, or a Mylar balloon, it does not matter. It does not belong here. It is not natural. It is litter. And it just shattered a finely-honed illusion of wilderness.
What is litter anyway? Why does it anger many backcountry enthusiasts so?
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A few years ago I spent several hours skiing some informal trails in the Forest Preserve along the Bog River in Tupper Lake. I liked the trails so much that I wrote an article describing the experience.
I got some heat for the article, because after it was published the state Department of Environmental Conservation removed the trails’ home-made markers and signs. I also wrote an article for the Adirondack Almanack that can be read here.
But there may be a happy ending to the story: DEC is proposing to adopt and maintain the trails.