Almanack Contributor Guest Contributor

Guest Essayist

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with a biding interest in the Adirondack Park.

Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Courage and cowardice: Now’s the time to act

By Chris Morris

I begin this commentary stating three facts: Black lives matter; systemic racism is real and deeply woven into every fabric of this country; and it is not safe for Black, African American and persons of color to navigate daily life in the Adirondacks and North Country. Whether it’s the very real possibility of being murdered at the hands of the police, or experiencing daily microaggressions and unconscious biases, life for non-white peoples is often precarious.

Since the death of George Floyd, and subsequent protests condemning and denouncing police brutality, I have sat with my thoughts, searching for something to put in words, carefully considering whether my voice is necessary or if it’s taking up space.

Over the weekend, I watched Saranac Lake High School valedictorian Francine Newman stand in front of her peers, parents and teachers to deliver a thoughtful, forceful and deeply personal speech highlighting the racism she experienced growing up as an Asian American in Saranac Lake.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Great Camp Sagamore updates resources for its historic trail network

By Jen Maguder, Great Camp Sagamore’s Program Director

Big Slope BridgeIn mid-May, seasonal staffers Lily Whiteman and Charles Sykes returned to work remotely for Great Camp Sagamore. Their positions are supported by the Payroll Protection Program, introduced by the federal government to encourage workforce retention and hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lily and Charles are helping to upgrade our online resources for visitors to the Historic Great Camps Special Management Area (HGCSMA).

It’s a long title, so we’re calling Lily and Charles’ work the “trails project” for now.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

We All Have A Part Protecting From Invasives

Adirondack Watershed Institute steward watches over the Second Pond boat launch near Saranac LakeBy Walt Lender, Executive Director, Lake George Association (LGA)

A recent release from the Adirondack Council states that virtually all of the trailered boats on the Northway passed right by the boat inspection station set up at the rest area south of Exit 18, which was located there to stop the spread of invasive species throughout the Adirondacks.

It is disturbing news as we head into the busy summer season in northern New York, and as  recognize New York’s Invasive Species Awareness Week (June 7-13).

 

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

‘Celebrate Paddling’ month to forge ahead, in new ways

celebrate paddlingJune is Celebrate Paddling month in the Adirondacks, but it will look a lot different this year because of COVID-19. Starting three years ago, outfitters, guides, community leaders, students and more have teamed up each June to participate in clinics, guided trips, races and river clean-ups across the Tri-Lakes region of the Adirondack Park.

The goal of Celebrate Paddling ADK is in the name — it’s an occasion to acknowledge the incredible role that paddling plays in communities across the Adirondacks and the Northern Forest as a whole. Paddling supports local economies, strengthens our bond with nature and keeps us physically and mentally healthy.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Neighbors Helping Neighbors: The Hamilton Helps Initiative

Earlier this winter, as the Blue Mountain Center (a social justice oriented conference center and artist residency in Blue Mountain Lake) began considering the possibility of cancelling its spring/summer programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff began to think about how to best re-orient to serve the local Adirondack community.

As the severity of the crisis became clear, the creation of Hamilton Helps, a partnership between BMC, Hamilton County services, community leaders and residents, was set into motion. Beginning with seniors and residents in need, the project seeks to ensure first and foremost that Hamilton County residents have access to food. The project has now grown, and Sawyer Cresap (originally hired to join the BMC staff as an innkeeper/cook) has adopted the position of community coordinator. 

Sawyer (pictured here) spends much of her time working with local organizations like the Indian Lake Community Development Corporation and Hamilton County Community Action,  plugging into projects from all over the region — everything from applying for funding to support local food security initiatives, to arranging for a loaned chest freezer to be moved from Eagle Nest to the Indian Lake Theater (where it now sits packed with food for use by a local food pantry,) to collaborating with local mask making efforts and news outlets to ensure that residents are updated about available services and support. 

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

In search of spring salamanders

By Thompson Tomaszewski, Lead Naturalist, Paul Smith’s College VIC

Every resident of the Park marks the changing of the seasons in their own way. We all joke about the “12 seasons of the Adirondacks” that include second winter, false spring, mud season (followed by third winter) and so on as if we are bothered by the seasonality of our landscape, but that is far from the truth. Us blue-liners have come to terms with our seasonal lives, and find excitement in the signs of seasonal changes.

The call of spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) (pictured at left) is by far my favorite sound; no noise of any other critter compares. I could sit and listen for hours on end to their high pitched peeps. This, to me, is the song of spring in the Adirondacks.

Laced into this soprano song is the clucking call of the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). Their rough tune is starkly contrasted with that of their neighbor’s but is equally a part of this choir that I’ve come to know and yearn for each April.

This choir is my favorite for two reasons: 1) it’s pleasing to the ear, and 2) it means that salamanders are getting ready to move.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 30, 2020

Ode to an outhouse, and gatherings with old friends

By Susan Hennessey

There are many things that bring joy to my life; the majesty of the Adirondacks, the deep cold lakes nestled in those mountains, the endless trails for hiking, the smoke that unfurls from the chimneys of the sweet cabins that dot the woods, and believe it or not my girlfriend Margie’s outhouse. 

Yes, her outhouse is like no other. Located at the foot of Whiteface Mountain on the outskirts of Margie’s summer campsite sits the most darling outhouse. It was built from love and a whole lot of hard work.

My high school girlfriend Margie and her husband Brian were fortunate enough to have inherited a plot of land near Whiteface that they have been developing for 30 something years into the most efficient, adorable, campsite. LL Bean and Campmore would rival to have its photograph on the cover of their yearly catalogues. Blood sweat and tears have driven this project.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Quarantine reads: Excerpt from ‘Mountain Shadows’

Set in 1925, Mountain Shadows (written by Lake Placid native Patti Brooks) tells the tale of a poor, young couple, Joe and Alice Devlin, who come to the Adirondacks seeking a cure for the wife’s tuberculosis. Alice is placed in a “cure cottage” in Saranac Lake. Joe, a wiz of an auto mechanic, lands a job in the Lake Placid Club’s garage. Finding that Alice’s treatment costs far more than the Club can pay him, Joe takes up with bootleggers who are running liquor from the Canadian border through the Adirondacks to the big cities farther south.

(Introduction to the excerpt:  Joe Devlin has been accosted and left for dead on his walk from NYC to Saranac Lake in order to be with his wife who is taking the TB cure.)

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Permethrin key to avoiding ticks

Deer TickAnyone paying attention to the rapid rise of tick-borne diseases has heard the advice on avoiding tick bites. The advice we are hearing is not wrong, just very incomplete.

Most information to the public suggests wearing light colored clothing, tucking your pants into your socks, and checking your body carefully after possible exposure. The intent is to keep ticks away from your skin, and to remove them promptly if they succeed in attaching. This was sufficient when Lyme disease was the only real worry, since research has shown the Lyme disease organism is not transmitted until the tick has been attached for hours.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Poetry: Confined

Author’s note: The first weekend in May is my usual time for a backpacking trip. It is usually the best time of the year for it. No bugs, few others around and reasonably good weather. However, this year it pains me to know it is best to stay home no matter how much the mountains and lakes call me. Instead, I wrote about past snapshots of experiences on this weekend. — Wade Bittle

» Continue Reading.


Friday, May 1, 2020

Birding in Socially Distant Times

American OspreyFrom the Lake Placid Land Conservancy:
Have you ever stepped outside and wondered what bird just flew by or is chirping at you from a tree overhead? Perhaps you’re looking for a new way to spend more time outside or a fun activity to do while social distancing? Birding is a perfect activity to do while hiking locally and spring is an especially wonderful time to start!

Bird activity is on the rise in April and May, as many species migrate to their summer habitats either in the Adirondacks or to points north. In our neck of the woods, we excitedly anticipate seeing the silhouette of common loons on the chilly lakes. The loons are noisily welcomed by the distinctive calls of Red-winged Blackbirds and osprey along with the lovely, melodic songs of Lincoln’s Sparrows, Palm Warblers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, to name a few.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Where Do Snakes Go In Winter?

snakes in winter by adelaide tyrolDuring the summer, I often spy common garter snakes sunning themselves in my garden. As the snow piles up through winter, covering the landscape in cold white, I wonder where these warmth-seeking creatures have gone.

Without fur or fluffed-up feathers for insulation, how do these ectotherms survive the long months between autumn’s fading warmth and spring’s arrival? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 5, 2020

A Glimpse of Adirondack Lynx

Canada Lynx by Jacob W Frank National Park ServiceBig cats such as panthers, tigers and lions are often featured in popular media. With their great strength, size, and seemingly endless confidence, these felines command attention. There are other members of the Felidae family however that go more unnoticed.

Bobcats (Lynx rufus), Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), although dispersed throughout most of the world, appear to share a similar ancestor, Lynx issiodorensis or Issoire lynx, which went extinct more than 12,000 years ago. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Life At 39 Degrees

ice fishing adelaide tyrolOn a picture-perfect winter morning last year, 20 Saint Michael’s College students and I visited Vermont Fish and Wildlife scientists for ice fishing at Knight’s Point on Lake Champlain. We drilled holes, baited hooks, learned about ice safety, identified fish – and even caught a few. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Frozen Frogs Underfoot

frog in winter by adelaide tyrolEvery once in a while, as I’m tramping through the winter woods on my snowshoes, it occurs to me that I am walking on top of frogs.

In winter, our thoughts naturally turn to the species who remain within our sight – the chickadees at our feeders or the foxes who leave records of their travels in the snow – but any creature whose life spans more than one season, and who cannot fly away to warmer climes, must find a way to endure the cold. In February, our amphibians are all still here. They’ve just tucked themselves away for safekeeping. » Continue Reading.



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