Award winning author Lorraine Duvall writes of her paddling adventures in the book, In Praise of Quiet Waters: Finding Solitude and Adventure in the Wild Adirondacks. Some experiences from her memoir, And I Know Too Much to Pretend, led her to research a woman’s commune north of Warrensburg, resulting in the 2019 book, Finding A Woman’s Place: The story of a 1970s feminist collective in the Adirondacks. Duvall lives in Keene and is on the board of Protect the Adirondacks.
In 1991 I witnessed a middle-aged woman lift a small canoe from the top of her car, carry it down an embankment to Lake Durant, slide onto the bottom of the canoe with ease, and paddle away. “I want that!” I said to my friends who were with me at the time. My first introduction to a Hornbeck Canoe.
Shortly thereafter I visited Peter Hornbeck in his house, where his office was located. The boats were manufactured in the near-by barn. I ordered the only model he was making commercially at the time – the 10.5-foot Lost Pond Boat weighing 15 pounds. I was ecstatic.
How to celebrate a birthday on a chilly, rainy, late autumn day during Covid-19? Visit the waterfalls on the Grass River in the Tooley Pond Tract, of course.
It was not raining when Bruce and I left our house in Keene that mid-October day. A drizzling rain began falling after arriving in Saranac Lake, becoming more intense at Cranberry Lake. The rain had let-up some by the time we reached the trail to the first waterfall, Copper Rock.
I have such gratitude for the Adirondack woods and waters during this Covid-19 pandemic. Paddling my solo canoe is the best. When I’m with friends, we easily keep our social distance as we float on the open waters and maneuver up a stream bed.
Keeping six-feet away from the crowds at canoe access sites this summer is another matter. Often it’s difficult finding a parking spot with enough room to keep clear of others walking around their cars while lifting canoes and kayaks. My friends and I wear our masks, but not all do. Families are relieved that their kids can run around, which they do in the parking lots and beaches that serve as canoe and kayak put-in and take-outs. I stick with water access points that are maintained for use by cartop water craft, rather than launching sites appropriate for motor boats.
The New York Broadband Program recently announced the Phase 3 award of $389 million for “public/private broadband investment, covering 134,757 homes and other locations across the State. This represents the third and final phase of the Program, and the successful completion of the historic effort to connect all New Yorkers to high-speed Internet.” Some New York residents beyond the reach of cable or fiber options are offered two service plans to provide satellite internet service from HughesNet. The least expensive is $60 per month for a 20 Gigabyte Plan and $130 per month for a 100 Gigabyte Plan, with bonus data for off-hours. Both plans include 25 Megabit-per second download speeds, and 3 Megabits upload speeds.
At our house in Keene (in the 5% in the town that is not serviced by broadband), we are now paying $70 a month to HughesNet for the capability that is included in this Phase 3 award for $60 per month. This is hardly adequate in normal times, but certainly not now during this pandemic. It’s easy to use up 20 Gigabytes halfway through the month with increased video conferencing and the need for uploading data to communicate with the outside world, to supplement social distancing. Our download speeds are then reduced significantly to 2 Mbps, down from 25Mbps. To give HughesNet some credit, during this pandemic they have been increasing their download speeds from 25 Mbps to 40-50 Mbps, which allows adequate streaming with the result of using up the data bytes faster. They give away what they call free tokens for increasing the data allocation. These don’t last long.
In March 1848 a colleague of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harrison Gray Otis Blake, sought out Henry David Thoreau to help him on his spiritual pilgrimage, recognizing Thoreau’s need to live a “fresh, simple life with God.”
Thoreau wanted to live his life free from the trappings of the commercial world, enabling him to enrich his inner life. He escaped to his Walden Pond to experience “nature as goodness crystalized.” » Continue Reading.
As an advocate for quiet waters, on August 18, 2018, I joined with 36 canoes and guide boats on a Canoe-In to Weller Pond and Little Weller Pond to lobby for no motors on these pristine bodies of water (cul-de-sacs of the Saranac Chain of Lakes.) As we paddled toward the channel to Weller Pond nine powerboats lined the shore of nearby Hungry Bay. We chanted “All we want is 2%: You have 98,” referencing the amount of the waters open to motors on these lakes. The entire 17.5- mile route from Lower Saranac to Upper Saranac Lake allows for the unlimited use of motorboats.
The motor-boaters held signs urging that Weller be kept open to them. After hearing about the Canoe-In, they had sponsored an advertisement in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on August 11 encouraging “Motorboat owners and boat enthusiasts to come and show your support in preserving and protecting our rights on the water.” » Continue Reading.
We paddlers are impatient to be on the water now that the lakes, ponds, and rivers are becoming free of ice. One paddling enthusiast recently shared photos of his kayak in the snow in Lake Placid, on the path from Averyville Road to the Chubb River, with a view of the open waters of the Chubb.
“Couldn’t the Adirondack Park be considered an Intentional Community?” I asked Ma’ikwe Ludwig at her presentation November 1st at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center. She said she did not know enough about the Park to address the possibility, but a few of the 40 students, professors, and community attendees thought the idea was intriguing. “Many of us live in our communities ‘intentionally’,” said a woman from Saranac Lake. “I try to live cooperatively with my neighbors, look out for our joint welfare, and live responsibly for the planet by keeping my carbon footprint at a minimum.”
I attended this talk by Ludwig, a longtime sustainable community activist, because of my interest in the history of Intentional Communities, specifically those located in the Adirondacks. » 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.
In honor of the tenth anniversary of Women’s History Month, I want to recognize the work of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a national grassroots organization dedicated to protecting wilderness and wild lands. This organization was conceived by older women who love wilderness, giving voice to the millions of older Americans who want to protect their public lands as wilderness for this and future generations. The group prides itself on the thousands of hours (37,857 last year) people volunteer to care for the environment. Based in Durango, Colorado, their on-the-ground work happens throughout the country, with 36 active chapters in 16 states. » Continue Reading.
My favorite activity is paddling quiet waters. I cherish the experiences I’ve had on the lakes, rivers, and ponds in Adirondacks, including canoeing on the Boreas Ponds. I think the spectacular view of the high-rising peaks to the north is unmatched.
I also believe that reasonable access to these waters is in the best interest of the public, while minimizing harm to the environment. However, the definition of reasonable access and minimizing harm varies among the stakeholders, primarily centered on the use of the existing Gulf Brook Road – a 6.8 mile gravel road from Boreas or Blue Ridge Road (County Route 84) to the ponds.
A couple of weeks ago I drove up Gulf Brook Road for 3.2 miles as allowed by the state’s interim access plan, which is 2.5 miles from the ponds. I wanted to orient myself to the access issues raised in the many articles in the media, including the Adirondack Almanack. I parked my car at the parking lot, skirted the stop sign, and walked about a half-mile toward the ponds. Looking at the trail register I saw the names of two friends who had been to the ponds recently, and decided to email them, asking how they experienced the 2.5-mile carry on the road and the ponds. » Continue Reading.
At Boreas Ponds, access is an issue, as it has been with most of the publicly-owned lands and waters that contain valuable natural resources. Restoration (or preservation) of these resources into a wilderness or near-wilderness condition requires careful thought.
An Interim Access Plan recently announced by the DEC will allow public access to the ponds by opening the Gulf Brook Road to motor vehicles for 3.2 miles from the state highway, Boreas – Blue Ridge Road. A gate will prevent further motor vehicle travel to the ponds. » Continue Reading.
A few hundred water enthusiasts showed up last week at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts for the Reel Paddling Film Festival hosted by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters. We watched two hours of the daring adventures of canoeists and kayakers battling North American rivers and the Alaskan wilderness. I learned of a way to test how to hold my double-bladed paddle to fit my upper torso and fitness level. At the raffle of donated goods by local sport shops and the NFCT organization, we won a copy of the three-hundred-page guidebook for the 740 mile paddling trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. » Continue Reading.
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