Almanack Contributor Guest Contributor

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Film Review: Foragers, final film in a series for Palestine; screening set for May 7

Plants, People and Apartheid graphic.

By Tyler Barton

Who decides how land is used? That’s the question at the heart of so many conversations happening in Adirondacks today about housing, zoning, water rights, indigeneity—hell, even the emergency services building. It’s also the question at the heart of “Foragers” (2022) by Berlin-based artist, Jumana Manna.

Her documentary film is screening for one night only at the St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid this Tuesday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. “Foragers” is an intimate look at how Palestinians living in Israel and the West Bank preserve their culinary heritage by enduring surveillance, harassment, detention, extortion, and dozens of smaller but no less dreadful injustices.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Paying for climate-proof infrastructure

discussion graphic

Editor’s note: This commentary is in the May/June 2024 issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine, as part of our “It’s Debatable” feature. In this regular column, we invite organizations and/or individuals to address a particular issue. Click here to subscribe to the magazine, available in both print and digital formats:

The question: Should fossil fuel companies pay for infrastructure that withstands climate forces?

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Watching the eclipse, in all its glory

eclipse watchers in Lowville

Story and photos by Mark Marchand

In those low-tech pre-internet days, I was often called upon as a Verizon spokesman to relate how world events affected phone call volumes. Two of my favorite happenings were the OJ Simpson trial verdict in 1995 and the 1981 wedding of Luke and Laura on the soap opera General Hospital. In both cases, phone call traffic dropped off considerably as viewers watched the events on TV, then rose sharply afterward as people called each other to talk about what they had witnessed. It was, I mused to reporters then, a way of taking the pulse of the country.

We now have a new piece of data that helps us understand the world around us and, even better, how we live.

Earlier this week millions of us gasped in awe as we watched a unique celestial event. Temporarily abandoning the flickering light, persistent beeps, TikTok videos, social media postings and “urgent” emails on our computer screens, we walked outside – or even drove hundreds of miles – to watch our moon totally block out the sun for a few minutes.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Taking food & nutrition beyond the table 

Amy Kohanski presenting at the Food Justice Summit.

By Amy Kohanski, The Heart Network

National Nutrition Month (March) is now behind us, however, the team at The Heart Network has been thinking a lot about this year’s theme, “Beyond the Table,” and how that ties into work happening here in the North Country. The Heart Network looks at food and nutrition as a public health issue.

A key aim of our Creating Healthy Schools & Communities program, which is funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Health, is to increase the availability of healthy foods in school, worksite and community settings. We also strive to help individuals take control of their health through better management of chronic disease — a big part of that involves making healthy food choices.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

National Youth Service Leader Comes to Cranberry Lake

Rodney Smith Jr. with landmower

By Susan Sweeney Smith

The Cranberry Lake North Shore HUB is pleased to announce the visit of Rodney Smith Jr. of Mowing for A Cause, founder of Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service. Rodney will meet us at the HUB later in April (target date is April 22) to mow our lawn and help spread the word about his outreach program. He and his board encourage young people across the country to become volunteers through free lawn mowing for senior citizens, veterans, the disabled, single moms, and anyone in need. The Cranberry Lake North Shore HUB, located on Route 3 in Cranberry Lake, is a local not-for-profit that purchased and restored an 1898 Presbyterian Church.  

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Paddling group urges safety, environmental responsibility during eclipse

 NFCT Board Chair Warren Whitney

By Northern Forest Canoe Trail Board Chair Warren Whitney

The April 8 total solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event that will be viewed by millions, many of whom will flock to remote wilderness and rural areas, including much of the Northeast — an exciting moment, to be sure, but also one that warrants responsible use of our wild spaces, and some advance planning.

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) spans 740 miles of waterways and trails from Old Forge, NY, to Fort Kent, Maine; the entire trail aligns with the path of the solar eclipse. As the nonprofit responsible for stewardship of this trail, and an organization that promotes paddling to people of all backgrounds, we’re excited about the eclipse. We also strongly urge people to take extra heed of Leave No Trace principles, as unusually high traffic can have a negative impact on the environment.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Cranberry Lake: Giving is our nature

Aerial shot of Cranberry Lake.

By Susan Sweeney Smith

I live in a very small town in the northwestern Adirondacks – the hamlet of Cranberry Lake.  Year rounders are an increasingly small percentage of the population here — at last count 136 folks live here year round.  The population swells in the shoulder season of spring and grows again over summer… abating in the fall and dropping off dramatically back to our 136ish year rounders come winter.

We have an abundance of natural beauty from lakes to ponds to rivers to waterfalls to mountains to bogs to nature trails.  We all talk about the natural beauty as defining for this place.  And, of course, it is….

But there is something human happening here that is really amazing.  

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A trek for science: Students journey the length of the Hudson

By Tim Keyes, Joe Dadey, Greg Morrissey, John Barnhardt

The Concept:

A chance meeting in Saranac Lake incubated the expedition. Joe Dadey of Adirondack Hamlets to Huts (AHH) was minding the Trails Center when relatives of Greg Morrissey of Mountain Goat Movement (MGM) popped in. AHH facilitates guided and self-guided trips throughout the Adirondack Park. MGM, out of New Jersey, leads area high-schoolers on epic adventures – climbing Kilimanjaro, skiing in Greece, surfing in Costa Rica, etc. AHH and MGM allied and with student input, agreed to partner on a big regional project in July 2023. Connecticut-based Evergreen Business Analytics (EGBANA) supports non-profit Community Science and became the third leg.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Nature’s Healing Touch: Exploring Mindfulness in the Adirondacks

A Spring Beauty flower

By Emily Bohnet

Nestled amidst the breathtaking Adirondack Mountains lies a haven of tranquility, inviting us to bask in the warmth of nature’s embrace. In this enchanted realm, where the whispering pines sway in gentle rhythms and the rivers run powerful and free, we are invited to explore mindfulness and discover calm and quiet around us. 

What Makes Mindfulness So Special?

Mindfulness is not just a practice; it’s a way of life—a gentle reminder to savor each moment, to cherish the simple joys, and to embrace the beauty that surrounds us. In the Adirondacks, mindfulness takes on a magical quality, inviting us to slow down, breathe deeply, and connect with the soul-stirring wonders of the natural world.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Day Four: A rescuer’s account of a hiker’s baffling survival

The route of the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team

By James Mason, UVWRT Safety Officer

On a chilly night in early May 2009, the pager sounded. New Hampshire Fish and Game (NHFG) summoned our Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team (UVWRT) to assist with a search. A man in his 60s was missing on or around Franconia Ridge in the White Mountains. NHFG officers and two other rescue teams had already searched the steep area without finding him or identifying any clues that might lead to refining their search strategy.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Prohibition’s most audacious con

old newspaper headline

By Dave Waite

In October of 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act, legislation enforcing the ban on alcohol in the United States. With Prohibition enacted, enforcement became a part of the daily work of state and federal police across the country. In New York, the sixty-four-mile land border with Canada offered nearly unlimited opportunity for those on foot, horseback, and motorized vehicles to transport illegal alcohol for delivery to major cities through New York and the East Coast. Called Bootleggers, a term first used during the Civil War for soldiers sneaking liquor in their boots, these men, and occasionally women, risked fines, jail, and even death to carry their cargo south.

When federal and state enforcement agencies endeavored to stem the tide of this illicit activity, the criminals would attempt to outrun the law or simply abandon their vehicles and flee on foot. Rarely did they put up violent or deadly resistance when cornered. This changed over the years as criminals realized that waylaying the bootleggers and relieving them of their load was more profitable than carrying them across the border themselves. The country even took up a slang term for these thieves: High Jacker, likely a shortening of “Highway” combined with the word Jack, which carried the meaning of “one who robs.” These criminals, sometimes posing as law enforcement officers, were willing to use violence and had no concern over endangering innocent lives.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Snow Trains of the 1930s

People exit a snow train at the North Creek station

By James M Schaefer, Schenectady Wintersports Club 

This year, 2024 will be the 90th Anniversary of the Snow Trains that took many skiers and winter sports enthusiasts from Schenectady to North Creek in the southern Adirondacks! But that Snow Train had to wait until March 4th, 1934 to make its historic run. A lack of natural snow was the reason!

Following the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, the Schenectady Wintersports Club was organized to spur efforts to get trains to transport skiers to snowy destinations. My father, Vincent Schaefer and his friends, were leaders of the Club. Their 1932-1933 effort started with getting hundreds of Schenectadians, to sign petitions showing interest in a Snow Train.

They convinced the passenger agent of the Boston & Maine Railroad to run several day-trips from Schenectady to the mountains around Wilmington, Vermont. But Old Man Winter did not cooperate!

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Quoting King: The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right

MLK photo

By Melanie Reding, Adirondack Diversity Initiative Associate Director

On Monday, January 15, people across the United States celebrated Martin Luther King (MLK) Day. Our social media channels were full of feel-good MLK Jr. quotes about love and light and doing the right things. Few posts and shares contained words from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

In that letter, the lines written are uncomfortable for most. It takes us — specifically the White us and religious us — to task. He calls us out on our silence, slow progress, and our inability to acknowledge the genocide, slavery and White Supremacy our nation’s institutions and systems were built on. That’s not what we want to experience and feel on a “holiday.” It’s not what we want to feel in the face of a world that seems more chaotic than calm.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Adirondack Council’s testimony regarding transportation portion of Executive Budget

Kevin Chald at a state budget hearing

Greetings Chair Krueger, Chair Weinstein, Chair Kennedy, Chair Magnarelli and honored legislators. My name is Kevin Chlad, and I am the Director of Government Relations for the Adirondack Council. Thank you for the opportunity to testify at the public hearing today [Jan. 24] on an issue of critical public and environmental health facing the Adirondack Park and North Country.

The Adirondack Council is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. We do not accept any state grants. We envision an Adirondack Park with clean air and water, large ‘forever wild’ wilderness areas, working forests and farms, and vibrant, safe, inclusive communities.

We offer the following testimony in response to the transportation portion of the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal for the 2024-2025 fiscal year.

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

How we should approach road salt

road salt truck

By Phill Sexton

Let’s give road salt a new identity, a new purpose of conservation, innovation and responsibility.

Salt is an Environmental Protection Agency-designated pollutant that we are allowed to apply unregulated. Unnecessary and copious applications of salt (and sand) on surfaces we walk and drive on has progressively increased for decades—an epidemic that is getting worse.

Slip and fall claims and vehicle accidents are framed as the primary reason for oversalting. Liability is a legitimate concern based on my experience as a contractor forced by insurance companies to settle out of court for bogus claims. But we must stop expecting roads and surfaces to be slip-free, which is unachievable.

Solutions for reducing road salt use will be achieved through awareness – education and outreach campaigns – and at an operational level by following sustainable winter management standards. These are monumental outcomes given society’s current appetite for immediate gratification and their right to drive and go wherever they want, whenever they want.

» Continue Reading.

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