Posts Tagged ‘Pok-O-Moonshine’

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

David Thomas-Train:
Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine Work To Save Ranger Trail

Thomas-TrainThe Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine have been working since 1997 to restore the fire tower and trails on that mountain. The group is a coalition of Adirondack Architectural Heritage, the town of Chesterfield, Champlain Area Trails (CATS), the Mountaineer, local summer camps and businesses, several Adirondack Mountain Club chapters, and hundreds of individuals who know and love the mountain.

The fire tower was fully restored as an interpretive site in 2005. Educational displays showcase fire-tower and local history and the land uses within the viewshed of the mountain. Since 2002, the Friends have employed tower stewards for the summer hiking season.

We have redeveloped the Ranger Trail as an interpretive trail with eleven numbered stops keyed to a brochure on the human and natural history of “Poke-O.” We also worked with the Adirondack Nature Conservancy to guarantee access to a second trail, the Observers’ Trail, which was the original vehicle route to the fire observer’s cabin below the summit. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, January 31, 2013

Easement Protects Over 1,300 Acres In Essex County

Johnson Family PropertyThe Open Space Institute has announced that a private landowner has donated a conservation easement that will protect a nearly 1,400-acre forest in the northeast corner of the Adirondack Park. The property borders the western shore of Butternut Pond and is bisected by several brooks, most of which feed into Auger Lake, which in turn empties into the Ausable River and eventually into Lake Champlain.

The parcel, a largely wooded Essex County tract owned by the Johanson family, buffers state lands, including Pokamoonshine Mountain, and sits within the viewshed of the historic firetower on the summit of Pokamoonshine, a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers and cross-country skiers.
» Continue Reading.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thatcher’s Peak Finder for Fire Towers

“Thatcher’s Peak Finders for Ten Historic Fire Towers in the Adirondacks” is now available. The new Peak Finder deck identifies the summits and landmarks seen from ten popular Adirondack fire towers: over 8,000 square miles of mountains, lakes, history, and watersheds, including 42 of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks.

“Steel fire towers were installed on these ten Adirondack peaks almost 100 years ago, and they have been a destination for hikers of all ages ever since,” said Thatcher Hogan, designer and publisher of the popular series of Peak Finder guides. “But only now is there a guide to help hikers identify what they are looking at.” » Continue Reading.



Monday, May 24, 2010

Governor George Clinton and Pok-O-Rushmore?

Untouched scenic vistas and natural landscapes are treasured in the Adirondacks. Seventy years ago, a popular landmark, since admired by millions, was nearly transformed into something far different from its present appearance.

It all began in 1937 with the editor of the Essex County Republican-News, C. F. Peterson. Formerly a Port Henry newspaperman, active in multiple civic organizations, and clearly pro-development and pro-North Country, Peterson was a force to be reckoned with.

Just how influential was he? The Champlain Bridge that was recently blasted into oblivion probably should have been named the Carl F. Peterson Bridge. In fact, efforts were made to do exactly that. Peterson originated the bridge idea, and as Vermont and New York debated whether to locate it at Ticonderoga, Crown Point, or Rouses Point, it was Peterson who put his all into promoting the Crown Point site.

Still not convinced? This should help. At the grand opening of the bridge in 1929, Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt summoned him to the reviewing stand and said, “Peterson, you have done a great work. I am proud of what you did and you have every reason to be very happy. This is your bridge because, without your zeal, it is very doubtful whether it would be here. You sold the bridge to New York State and Vermont, both of which should, and do, feel grateful.”

When Peterson talked, people listened, and eight years later, when he urged the Essex County Board of Supervisors to action, they took him at his word. The 200th anniversary of the birth of New York State’s first governor, George Clinton, was approaching. To honor the occasion, Peterson pushed for an appropriately lasting memorial to an undeniably great American.

The board responded with a succinct message to state leaders: “The resolution requests the legislative body at Albany to name a commission for the observance next year, asking that the group should consider the feasibility of perpetuating the memory of Governor Clinton by the carving of his likeness on the side of Pok-o-Moonshine Mountain.”

Seeking support for his proposal, Peterson framed the idea in patriotic terms, and it worked like a charm. Among the first to jump on the bandwagon was Senator Benjamin Feinberg of Clinton County (the library at Plattsburgh State -— Feinberg Library -— was named in his honor).

A man of great power and influence, Feinberg wrote this in a letter to Peterson: “Your suggestion … is a good one. Undoubtedly, some action will be taken by the Legislature to fittingly observe this anniversary, and I shall be glad to aid in carrying out such a plan. The carving of the likeness of Governor Clinton on the side of Pok-o-Moonshine would not only be a great attraction to visitors, but would commemorate the birth of the first Governor of the state in a magnificent manner.”

With Feinberg on board, the idea gained momentum. Soon the Essex County branch of the American Legion adopted a resolution in support of the memorial. The idea also received the unanimous backing of the Adirondack Resorts Association.

After all, it sounded like a great cause and a fine way to express patriotism. Widespread approval was expected, and it didn’t hurt that the idea coincided with the pending completion of a national monument—the one on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

An editorial by the Plattsburgh Daily Press added this supportive comment: “We can think of no son of the State who has deserved better from the hands of the people, and it is sincerely to be hoped that the Legislature will show its recognition of this by providing for this statue on rugged old Pok-o-Moonshine Mountain.”

The gung-ho beginning preceded a period of thoughtful consideration; then, dissent began to surface. In January 1938, a Ticonderoga organization passed their own resolution, stating in part: “ … it is the considered opinion of the Ticonderoga Kiwanis Club that the forests, streams, lakes, and mountains of Essex County constitute the county’s greatest asset … and that unnecessary artificial alteration of the natural state of these resources irreparably diminishes their value to our citizens … Be it hereby resolved that the Ticonderoga Kiwanis Club is unalterably opposed to the said requested legislation and to any attempt to alter or deface the natural beauty of Pok-o-Moonshine Mountain…”

The letter was sent to several officials, including Governor Lehman and Senator Feinberg. The Kiwanis were soon joined by Ti’s Chamber of Commerce, the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the Keene Valley Garden Club. All supported the observance of Clinton’s birthday, but opposed the altering of Poko’s steep cliffs. One alternative proposal was a “super-improved highway through this region, to be known as the Governor Clinton Memorial Highway.”

Though many protests against the plan had surfaced, the danger to Pok-o-Moonshine was real. In March, among the final rush of bills passed by the legislature was the Feinberg-Leahy bill (by Feinberg and Assemblyman Thomas Leahy of Lake Placid). It called for a $5,000 funding package to prepare a celebration in Clinton’s memory.

With the state and the nation still struggling to recover from the Great Depression, many bills were vetoed, and that same fate befell Feinberg-Leahy. In April, Governor Lehman vetoed a second bill “designed to bring about the carving of a memorial to Governor George Clinton, the state’s first chief executive, on the face of Pok-o-Moonshine Mountain in Essex County.” Supporters were disappointed, certain the carving would have been a great tourist attraction.

No one in opposition was suggesting Governor Clinton wasn’t worthy of such honor. He was widely revered as one of the state’s greatest citizens. After serving under his father in the French and Indian War, George Clinton practiced law and held various public offices. A staunch defender of the colonial cause for independence, he was selected as a member of the Second Continental Congress.

Clinton voted in favor of the Declaration of Independence, but missed the signing, and for good reason, having been urgently dispatched to serve as brigadier-general of the militia by his good friend, George Washington (so good, he named his children George and Martha).

Clinton saw action at White Plains and other locations. He eventually served as governor of New York for 18 consecutive years, and 22 years in all, the longest of any New York governors. He was vice-president under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, one of only two vice-presidents to serve under two different presidents. He also became the first vice-president to die in office, succumbing to a heart attack in 1812.

Perhaps the governor’s carved likeness would have been a great tourist attraction, but Poko today gets plenty of attention for other reasons: spectacular cliffs clearly visible from Interstate 87; its peregrine falcon nests; the climbing trail leading to magnificent views; the preserved fire tower; and a reputation as one of the most popular rock-climbing sites in the Adirondacks.

Photo Above: The cliffs of Pok-O-Moonshine.

Photo Below: NYS Governor George Clinton.

Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Springtime Bicycle Rides

Learning to ride a bicycle has as many stages as learning to walk, though walking seems to come with less drama. First the scooter stage (quad-cycle,) then on to the tricycle, which leads to training wheels. Finally that two-wheeled sense of freedom is achieved. Each stage brings a different challenge. For my family, each stage was clung to with white-knuckled intensity.

While learning to ride a two-wheeler, my children weaved their way through parked cars and were incredulous that I would ask them to look both ways when crossing the road. Surely, they felt, looking one way was enough.

For anyone living in or visiting a rural community following an inexperienced biker on a busy road can be daunting. While the New York State fine-tunes its budget and decides which campgrounds and historic sites are slated for closure, off-season campgrounds are still a good way for a young or old person to learn how to ride a bike.

Fish Creek Pond Campground in Saranac Inn features a 5-mile paved loop that circles the campground. In the summer it can become a literal parking lot of cars and movement as RVs and day visitors swarm for the perfect waterfront real estate. Spring though finds it pleasantly empty with an added bonus of no parking fee.

If you do not have a bicycle and want to learn to ride try the website Freecycle. This nonprofit network asks people to recycle and reuse. It is free to register, just look for a place near your community. List what you have or see if someone in your area is looking for something that has been collecting dust in your garage.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has a complete list of campgrounds and the amenities. Some campgrounds are slated for closure in 2010. Below is a partial list of NYS Adirondack campgrounds that promote bicycling.

Brown Tract Pond, Raquette Lake
Buck Pond, Onchiota
Eagle Point Campground, Pottersville
Fish Creek Campground, Saranac Inn
Lake Durant, Blue Mountain Lake
Lake Eaton Campground, Long Lake
Lake Harris near Newcomb
Poke-O-Moonshine, Keeseville (was closed for camping in 2009 but a portion remains available for Forest Preserve public access.
Nicks Lake in the Black River Wild Forest
Rogers Rock, Lake George
Rollins Pond Campground
Sharp Bridge, Schroon River



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ice Climbing: Reflections on the Season’s End

A few days after we had climbed the Chiller Pillar, a one-pitch ice route near Whiteface Mountain, my ice-climbing partner Steve Goldstein of Latham called me up.

“If I had seen this article in Rock and Ice, I might not have led that route,” he told me.

“What article?”

“A climber was critically injured in Colorado. He was climbing an ice pillar and it collapsed under him.”

“Oh. Would that have kept you from climbing the route?”

“I dunno,” he said. “Maybe.”

It’s easy to ponder the transitory nature of ice when you’re climbing it. Rock-climbing routes rarely change. You can climb a face once, come back ten years later and the holds will still be the same. In fact, a critical hold breaking off a popular route often makes news in climbing circles.

Ice routes change not only year to year but week to week. In fact, ice can change even as you’re on it, turning softer and wetter from the sun. And it’s quite common for large pieces of ice to fall off as you ascend, hacking and skewering your way up the face.

Ice climbing is surely more dangerous than rock, and never more than when the temperature goes up. In February, 2002 a climber was killed at Pok-O-Moonshine while climbing the Adirondack classic testpiece Positive Thinking. The route detached from the wall when the climber about a hundred feet off the ground.

The first pitch is thin to begin with. It’s more of a veneer of ice, pasted to a featureless rock slab for a hundred feet. It also faces east. “A few hours of strong sunshine causes the ice to detach from the smooth, crackles rock,” reports Don Mellor in the book Blue Lines, the region’s ice-climbing guidebook. Even in the best weather, he adds, “the first pitch is often a frightening, crackless shell.”

As the weather warms, ice routes disappear. At this point, there’s only a few routes left – thick, protected from sunshine and at higher elevations, according to Rock and River’s climbing site. We climbed at Pitchoff Mountain’s North Face last Saturday, in fact, and Central Pillar was in fine condition, albeit soaking wet.

Warm-weather ice climbing has its advantages. Pick placements are easy to make in the soft ice, and you don’t risk frostbite while belaying. On the down side, you get sponge-wet gloves from dripping routes. And routes tend to disappear quickly.

Yet with an end to the season well in sight, it’s hard to say no to one more trip.

Which brings me back to Steve and the article he saw in Rock and Ice, a popular climbing magazine. The article told of a severe injury on The Fang, a freestanding pillar of ice near Vail, Co. A climber, who had spent 15 years preparing to ascend this Rocky Mountain jewel, fell a hundred feet when the six-foot-wide ice formation collapsed beneath him.

It was a dangerous route, but very different from Chiller Pillar. Still, it was just as well Steve hadn’t read the story yet. And we approached our route with caution.

The Pillar had a strange look to it – more like white frosting than blue water ice. And there was a horizontal crack only a few feet from the top, which meant the climb had settled at some point, detaching from the final few feet.

Yet is was a cool day, with no sunshine to cause undue melting. The route was thick, and tapered from the bottom to the top. The wall around it looked dry, and the ice itself held the test-screws we placed at the base.

“You can top-rope it,” I told Steve. That meant we could scramble up an easier way and set up a rope on the top, which would hold him in case the ice collapsed.

“I should be OK,” he said, and began to tie into the rope to prepare to lead.

Safe ice climbing is about knowing the conditions, and making judgment calls. At the end of the day, though, there’s a bit of faith involved. You believe you are strong enough to climb to the top, and you believe the ice is strong enough to hold you up.

In this case, both climber and ice rose to the occasion. But I stood far back from the route as I belayed him. Just in case.



Monday, February 15, 2010

Two New Land Deals:Finch Re-aquires TNC Lands, OSI Aquires Land at Pok-O-Moonshine

Two new land deals were announced this week closing to the public 1,700 acres returned to Finch Pruyn, and protecting 1,400 acres in an Open Space Institute (OSI) conservation easement deal.

In a deal announced late last week, Finch Paper re-acquired from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) a 1,700-acre tract in Indian Lake, Hamilton County that was part of the 161,000 acres TNC purchased in 2007. Finch retained the right to re-acquire the parcel as a condition of the 2007 agreement. The land will not be open to the public.

In a second deal, also announced late last week, the OSI acquired through donation a conservation easement on 1,400 largely wooded acres in the northeast corner of the Adirondack Park from the Johanson family. The parcel includes lands along the shoreline of Butternut Pond and on Pok-O-Moonshine Mountain, a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers and cross-country skiers. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, October 4, 2009

ADK Releases Free Eastern Region Guide Supplement

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has released online a 24-page supplement to its guidebook “Adirondack Trails: Eastern Region” which features twelve additional trails at ten locations in the eastern Adirondacks, mostly along Lake Champlain; half of the routes are in Wildlife Management Areas. The routes traverse marshland, woodland, meadow and island habitats from the Lewis Preserve Wildlife Management Area in the northeast to Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve in the southeast.

According to an ADK media release “some, like the alternate access to Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, are relatively new; others, like the bucolic Lewis Preserve north of Chazy Lake, are visited only infrequently. Noblewood Preserve offers spectacular views of Lake Champlain; other sites have special appeal for birdwatchers, paddlers and skiers.”

The supplement was written by David Thomas-Train and is available as a free downloadable PDF file online at www.adk.org (downloadable PDF file), or for $1 at ADK’s Lake George and Heart Lake properties. It may be ordered by sending $1 to Eastern Region Supplement, 814 Goggins Road, Lake George, NY 12845. The supplemental material will be included in the next printing of the Eastern Region guide.



Saturday, May 9, 2009

DEC Revises Adirondack Campground Closure Plan

The DEC has announced that under the new plan, it will operate four of six campgrounds previously slated for closure for shortened seasons, from June 26 through Labor Day. In addition, after partnering with local officials, DEC will substitute one Piseco Lake-area campground in Hamilton County on the closure list for another. At the campgrounds that will remain closed, DEC will allow use of its hiking and horse trails and climbing routes.

In DEC’s own words:

“New York is facing tough economic times and closing campgrounds was not an easy choice. With the help of local officials, DEC has devised a way to soften the impact,” Commissioner Grannis said in a press relase. “Each of the targeted facilities historically suffered from low occupancy over the course of a full season. By shortening the season, we can open the campgrounds during traditional peak occupancy periods. This plan will help local tourism and provide opportunities for affordable getaways while still reducing our annual operating costs.”

The revisions for the 2009 season are:
In the Catskills

Beaverkill, Roscoe, Sullivan County.

The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day. DEC will operate the facility with assistance from Sullivan County, upon adoption of a cooperative agreement.

Bear Spring Mountain, Walton, Delaware County.

The previous decision to close the camping area within this facility remains in effect. However, numerous horse and hiking trails and associated trailhead parking areas at this popular Wildlife Management Area will continue to be available for public use. There will be no fee for parking.
In the Adirondacks

Point Comfort, Arietta, Hamilton County.

The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day. However, DEC will not open Poplar Point, which is also in the Piseco Lake area, for 2009. DEC will explore options to work cooperatively with Arietta officials to continue to potentially offer a day-use facility at Poplar Point in future years.

Sharp Bridge, North Hudson, Essex County.

The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day.

Tioga Point, Raquette Lake, Hamilton County.

The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day.

Pok-O-Moonshine, Keeseville, Essex County.

The previous decision to close this facility remains in effect. Hikers, rock climbers and other recreational users will be able to access hiking trails and climbing routes by parking in the entrance area. No fee will be charged for parking.

DEC will work closely with ReserveAmerica, the state’s camping reservation service contractor, to contact visitors whose reservations were previously cancelled, to offer them their original reservations and to re-open the camping site inventory to them before it is made available to the general public. DEC will cover the cost of the reservation fees to lessen the impact to the visitors that will be affected.

DEC is responsible for managing 52 campgrounds and 7 day-use areas in New York’s Adirondack Park and Catskill Park.



Saturday, February 21, 2009

DEC Closes Four Adirondack Campgrounds


View Larger Map
According to a Times-Union story, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will close four campgrounds within the Blue Line. The four campgrounds are:

•Sharp Bridge in North Hudson on the Schroon River;
•Poke-O-Moonshine in Chesterfield;
•Tioga Point on Raquette Lake;
•Point Comfort on Piseco Lake.

The move is a cost-saving measure, targeting low-traffic campgrounds. None of the 38 remaining DEC Adirondack campgrounds will be affected.

ReserveAmerica, the company handling DEC campground reservations, will contact anyone holding reservations at the four campgrounds to offer alternatives.



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Adirondack Cell Towers Approval Details

Local news is reporting that construction has begun on four new new cell towers: Warrensburg, North Hudson, Schroon Falls and Lewis. They are expected to be working by the end of the year.

The following list is from a document called “Adirondack Park Agency Status Update on Cellular Projects in the Adirondack Park.” It includes the status of cellular carrier projects approved, currently under review, or projects submitted but deemed incomplete. It does not include other related tower projects such as TV, radio, or emergency services systems. It does however include a historic look at towers and concludes the surprising fact that 59 new cellular carrier permits have been issued since 1973 – missing of course is any indication of permits denied, which I suspect is none or close to none.

Here are the details:

The Agency Board approved the Independent Towers LLC/RCC Atlantic Inc application (Town of Lewis, Essex County). This project was the first cell tower application submitted specifically designed to accommodate multiple cellular carriers. AT&T was a co-applicant and will provide service from this site. There is room for three additional carriers. The tower will provide Northway coverage south and north of exit 32.

The Agency Board will consider approval for Verizon’s proposed tower in the Town of Chesterfield, Essex County at its September 11-12 meeting. This project is located near Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain between exits 32 and 33.

Staff is reviewing the fabrication designs for the Schroon Falls (Town of Schroon, north of exit 28) Verizon tower. This tower will be a simulated Pine tree.

Staff is seeking additional information for a second Verizon tower submitted in the Town of Lewis, Essex County.

Agency staff monitored visual analysis for the Verizon cellular application proposed for the Town of Keene, Essex County. Visual analysis was also conducted for a site in Keene Valley. Staff is awaiting submission of the visual analysis for the Keene site and an application for the Keene Valley site.

Verizon’s application submitted in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County remains incomplete.

Staff is reviewing a permit amendment to upgrade an antenna on a preexisting tower in the Town of Moriah, Essex County.

The Agency approved a general permit application from T Mobile (AT&T) to co-locate cellular panel antennas on a 145-foot tall existing tower. The project is located in the Town of Fine, St. Lawrence County.

Cellular carrier activity since January 1, 2008:

4 cellular carrier permits approved for new towers

2 cellular carrier general permits approved for co-location

3 cellular carrier application for new towers incomplete

1 cellular carrier application for upgrades to an existing tower remains incomplete

1 cellular carrier application currently being reviewed for Board consideration

1 cellular carrier permit amendment being reviewed

0 cellular carrier applications submitted for temporary towers for I-87

Cellular carrier activity May 1973 through present:

59 new cellular carrier permits approved authorizing 65 activities:

11 new free standing towers

13 tower and/or antenna replacements

21 co-locations on free standing existing towers

6 co-locations on existing buildings

6 co-locations on water tanks

3 co-locations on existing fire towers

2 co-locations on Olympic ski jump

2 co-location on smokestack

1 temporary tower and a second renewal (Town of Mayfield, Fulton County)

20 cellular carrier permit amendments issued authorizing 21 activities:

10 tower and/or antenna replacements

7 co-locations on free standing existing towers 2 co-location on fire tower

1 co-location on existing building

1 co-location on Olympic ski jump



Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Another Adirondack Fire Disaster On The Way?

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most terrible Adirondack years on record. Forest fires ravaged the region in 1908 and led to a widespread system of fire detection. The recent California fires point up the danger Adirondackers face as global warming tends the region to increasing episodes of drought such as that that occurred this fall and contributed to the historically low levels at the Hinckley Reservoir.

According to the APA:

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fires raged out of control in the many of New York State’s vast wooded areas. The years 1903 and 1908 were particularly disastrous, and because of public outcry for protection from the devastation, the state began a rigorous fire and prevention and control program, including the building of fire towers. » Continue Reading.