Saturday, September 17, 2022

Witnessing 90-Miler start, crossing paths with a toad after Woodhull Fire Tower lighting

No hummer seen today [Monday, September 12] but there may be some stragglers coming through, so we leave the feeders up for several days and if we don’t see them for about five days, we call them gone. They sure have been a treat this summer, as they have buzzed around the front porch doing touch and go practice out on our five feeders. Going back to last weekend, my grandson Jake and I went up to the Woodhull Fire Tower on Saturday night to light up the tower. I was glad to have the company, and the sunset was beautiful. As the night sky crept in, we could see that looking east was going to be a problem as haze moved in with the darkness.

Looking west, we could see the Oneida County Airport in Rome, windmills around Lowville and to the south we could see part of Woodhull Lake and the windmills to the south down toward Herkimer. As it got closer to lighting up the tower, we could see headlamps moving up the trail to the Bald Mountain Tower and then again( just like last year) there was a fireworks display along the north shore of First Lake under the tower. Then their lights came on (as did Stillwater Tower), but to the east we couldn’t see Blue, Wakely or Snowy Mountain Towers like we did the last couple years, as they hid in the haze. The only thing we saw in the trail was a small American toad that jumped out of our way coming back down. My grandson got some photos on his cell phone of the tower lit up, as I could never do that being the only one up there.


The 90-Miler Canoe Classic start was put off half an hour because of fog on the Fulton Chain that morning [September 9]. As the sun got higher so did the fog, and off went about 225 canoes, guide boats and a couple paddle boarders. The weather was great with very little wind. It did get a little warm all three days, but no rain until it was all over. I talked to a few locals who were racing and many others who had done the race [before, but weren’t participating] this year. Some know when it’s time to hang up their paddles or oars.

Sunset over Woodhull Mountain. Photo by Gary Lee.

Right after the start of the race, I went over to the library to set up for the Old Forge Garden Club Annual Plant Sale. We had over two hundred plants on the tables when the sale began, and they moved off quickly. It was all-hands-on-deck, as greenery was flying off the tables in all directions. These plants were all potted by club members from their wildflower gardens which survive the local deer marching from garden to garden. Some [plants] are completely deer resistant, and other [plants are treated] with the egg in water mixture, which really does work.


Speaking of deer, they do have some wild food to eat this time of year. The black cherry trees seem to be having a good year, with all the ones I see on the ground under my trees. Many of the apple trees are full of apples, but it takes a while before they fall to the ground where the deer can find them. Not much of a nut crop around here this year. With the spongy moth situation working on the oaks, there probably won’t be much of an acorn crop this year either. The deer will be working on the fiddleheads of the ferns when there is a shortage of nuts to eat.


Last night [September 11], we traveled down to our hometown of Ballston Spa for Karen’s 60th High School Class Reunion. The graduation Class of ’62 was 105, and there were about 35 [people there], some with spouses who came to the very good reunion dinner at Augie’s Restaurant in downtown Ballston Spa. Many stories were told of events and happenings that went on around the school and the town during their high school years. One that I had never heard about was herding of beef cattle from a nearby farm of Richard Rider (a class member) into the back doors of the school one weekend. I guess that was kind of a mess, and the first time I ever heard of that incident. I was a class ahead of Karen, but I knew most of the folks from this class. I had to retake a few classes with them where I didn’t quite make the grade that first time around, history was my downfall. It was a great evening, and the ride down and back were nice.

Woodhull Tower lit up. Photo by Jake Bills.


The full moon chased back home, as it came in-and-out of the clouds the whole way. The bull moose are already on the move looking for cows, so be on the lookout as you are out and about. A few have been reported back in the Moose River Area, and the last trip through I saw moose tracks in the road in the flat stretch by Helldiver Pond. They may be feeding in the pond at night, and you might even catch them there in the early mornings. Another was reported seen on the Rockdam Trail, which is right next to the cuttings on the Adirondack League Club where there is a lot of young browse for them to eat. Indian Lake will be having their Moose Festival again this year on September 23 – 25 with lots of events planned, check their website for more details.


Lots of monarchs in the air heading west to Mexico, and lots more hatching every warm day, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: 90-Miler Canoe Classic start. Photo by Gary Lee.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

3 Responses

  1. KC2WI says:

    Radio communications for the 90 Miler are provided by volunteer Amateur Radio operators.

  2. Worth Gretter says:

    Gary, you mentioned egg in water as deer repellent. Here is the recipe I use.

    Homemade Deer Repellent

    2 eggs
    2 tablespoons Murphy’s Oil Soap
    water to make 2 liters

    Beat the eggs thoroughly with a little water, to eliminate any chunks that would clog the sprayer. An immersion blender works well for this, or the beaten eggs can be poured through a strainer.

    Put the eggs and oil soap in a 2-liter soda bottle, fill most of the way with water, and shake vigorously. Allow to sit for a couple of day, or better a couple of weeks, for the eggs to rot, as rotten egg is what makes the spray effective.

    Shake well before filling your spray bottle, and shake the sprayer well before each use.

  3. Fred Knauf, FFLA says:

    Gary, nice write up. I did see your light atop Woodhull from Wakely for a brief while before, as you mentioned, the fog or haze came up from the forest. Looking forward to another September to light the towers once again in honor of all observers and rangers who served our public good.

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