The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter is making upgrades to its Boquet River Nature Preserve trail network in the town of Willsboro. This summer, professional trail builders have been constructing a 1.5-mile loop trail in the uplands portion of the 110-acre preserve. When completed, this multi-use trail is expected to be the longest accessible forest trail in the region designed and built to meet the Federal Trail Accessibility Guidelines under the Architectural Barriers Act.
The new trail will have a minimal slope and a crushed stone surface that can accommodate walkers, runners, bikers, strollers, and wheelchairs. » Continue Reading.
Many moons ago, not too far north of Old Forge, there was a tourist trap that — apparently believing that honesty was the best policy — gave itself the name of The Tourist Trap. It sold the usual fare of balsam-scented incense burners in the shape of a log cabin, birch-bark lamps and every piece of junk imaginable with a picture of a loon on it — all destined, in time, for some North Carolina yard sale.
As a child in search of a meaningful memento costing south of 75 cents, I invested in a “paperweight” that was a river pebble that had been covered with postage stamps and apathetically lacquered. This artifact stayed with me for a remarkably long period of time, serving not as a reminder of the Adirondacks, but as a reminder to stay out of tourist traps. » Continue Reading.
Work to develop the final design and construction plan for the Adirondack Rail Trail began in the rail corridor between Tupper and Lake Placid this week.
DEC announced that “that personnel involved in developing the final design and construction plan for the Adirondack Rail Trail will be working in the corridor,” starting Monday, “for periods of times at various locations over the two months doing various work.” More specific schedules are expected to provided to adjacent landowners via notification letters in the coming weeks.
Personnel from DEC, Creighton Manning, and other consultants are expected to be in the rail corridor between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid “assessing, investigating, and surveying infrastructure, natural areas, and other places in the corridor to prepare for permitting, designing, and constructing the multi-use trail. The work will be undertaken over the next many weeks and includes, but is not limited to engineering surveys, wetland delineations, geotechnical explorations, and property boundary survey.” The historic railroad transportation corridor remains the subject of ongoing litigation. » Continue Reading.
There has been detailed documentation in the Adirondack Almanack about ongoing recreational pressures and resulting damage to parts of the High Peaks Wilderness Area, the largest Wilderness unit in the NYS Forest Preserve (and in most of the country).
Severe impacts have resulted to some adjacent trailheads, highways, roads, and parking areas, and certain areas of the interior. NYS DEC personnel, Summit Stewards, and town governments, indeed all of us, feel the pressure from large numbers of us enjoying the Eastern High Peaks, and in some cases requiring search and rescue. What to do about it all has been debated in this space by various stakeholders, including DEC Forest Rangers, with much good information exchanged and good comments and suggestions.
However, current comments and conditions feel like déjà vu all over again. I refer to the 17 year-old document that very specifically guides our public land manager, the NYS DEC, in addressing recreational user pressure on the High Peaks and how to keep the High Peaks as wilderness.
The 1999 High Peaks Wilderness Complex Unit Management Plan (UMP) is that guiding document. I propose that we spend more time addressing this plan, its management recommendations and actions to date, and how the UMP might be updated to reflect the era, conditions and user pressures we are now encountering. » Continue Reading.
It’s been a busy summer so far for Adirondack Forest Rangers. Rangers responded to six rescues since Thursday, after an especially busy week that included the recovery of a deceased hiker in the High Peaks.
What follows are reports, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. You can find all Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Reports here. » Continue Reading.
“Where do those trails go?” I wondered. The map showed a small trail system, whose outline looked like a loopy, potbellied cartoon character riding a unicycle. Sure, there was Pole Hill Pond at the upper end, but the trail swung far and wide of it twice, a hugely indirect route. What was the dinky little loop down at the foot? I’ve been looking at Adirondack trail maps most of my life and could not decipher this weird pattern of black dashes.
Yet here it was, on the National Geographic trail map that accompanies my Adirondack Mountain Club’s Guide to Eastern Trails, so I could explore it for work. How did those trails get there? Who knew about them? What was that pond like? They were on a new parcel of state land, so the state Department of Environmental Conservation couldn’t yet have built them. Itching to check all this out, I headed for the top of Lake George’s Northwest Bay, above Bolton Landing. » Continue Reading.
Regular Almanack readers are used to hearing me stress the importance of perspectives from outside the Adirondack Park. Today I’ve got one from way outside the Adirondack Park, specifically Norway, where my wife Amy and I are traveling for two weeks. While here I have enjoyed the geologic kinship Norway shares with the Adirondacks. I have also enjoyed the fact that my experiences so far have reinforced the sentiments I expressed in my last Almanack column, namely that we should not overreact to busy trails in the High Peaks. If you think we have a problem in the Adirondacks, you should see the hiking traffic here. And if you think that pervasive cultural experiences of pristine, wild places can’t place their fragile value at the heart of an entire society, you should see this country.
Yesterday Amy and I climbed Preikestolen, one of Norway’s most popular hiking destinations and a national icon. In some ways Preikestolen is Norway’s answer to Indian Head: a massive, open rock slab with a spectacular view, positioned far above a narrow body of water that is set between mountain ridges. However the scale is far greater: Priekestolen’s height above the water is three times that of Indian Head and the body of water is a sizeable fjord, not a small lake. For the purposes of this article, a better comparison is our own infamous Cascade Mountain. Cascade’s trail involves several hundred feet more vertical ascent than Preikestolen, but both routes are 2.4 miles and, more important, both trails are crammed with people who want an accessible but authentic regional mountain experience. Like Cascade, Preikestolen is a challenge that a neophyte hiker or ambitious family might take, an intimidating but doable workout with major parking problems down below and a show-stopper payoff on top. The difference, once again, is scale: Preikestolen’s foot traffic makes Cascade look like Allen Mountain. » Continue Reading.
Trails in the eastern High Peaks, to the Dix Mountains, and to Giant Mountain are extremely crowded on summer weekends. The following dozen hikes are recommended for those who want to have a hiking experience similar to a High Peaks hike, including great scenic views, with much fewer people. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that several restricted Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) will be opened to the public in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties from Saturday, August 12, through Sunday, August 27, 2017.
Portions of these WMAs are marked as “Refuge” or “Wetlands Restricted Area” to allow waterfowl and other listed species to breed and raise young without interference from people. » Continue Reading.
Recently, I was returning from Nubble Cliff in the Giant Mountain Wilderness when I passed a tent on the southeast shore of the Giant’s Washbowl and heard someone breaking branches or dead trees, presumably gathering wood for a campfire.
Campfires are an Adirondack tradition. Who doesn’t like a fire when sleeping under the stars? Nevertheless, I couldn’t help thinking that this was not good for the environment. Rather, it was destructive. » Continue Reading.
UPDATED 5:45 PM, Wednesday, 8/2: The body of Ralph W. ‘Skip’ Baker, 50, of Rochester, the hiker missing in the Adirondack High Peaks since Sunday, was found about 11 am Tuesday, August 1, 2017 in a ravine near the east branch of the AuSable River in the town of Keene. Mike Lynch at Adirondack Explorerhas the latest on that recovery.
The incident comes on the heels of another busy weekend for Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks during which they conducted several other successful searches, and several rescues. These included a 13-year old boy who survived a 25-foot fall at Shelving Rock Falls on the East Side of Lake George; three rescues by helicopter, including an overnight rescue from Bushnell Falls; and a carry-out from near the top of Bald Mountain.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. You can find all of DEC’s Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Reports here. » Continue Reading.
“We just completed our nature therapy training in May,” Helene Gibbons said when I met her last week at Origin Coffee in Saranac Lake. “We learned how to guide people to open their senses to the forest, to become immersed in the sights, smells, sounds and textures of the natural world.” As Helene is a yoga teacher, I saw how she could apply similar principles to meandering through the woods. She’s been guiding students through yoga poses and leading them into meditation for years.
“Suzanne Weirich and I traveled to Chicago for a seven day training at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois,” she continued. “With this Forest Therapy Guide Training we’re ready help people immerse themselves in the natural environment, called Forest Bathing.” » Continue Reading.
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