Almanack Contributor Lorraine Duvall

Lorraine Duvall

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.


Thursday, July 28, 2022

Stoney Creek & Us: Proof you are never too old to paddle

paddling

I saw a friend at the farmer’s market the other day who asked if we still paddled. “Sure, three of us went out Friday,” I said. She remembered that I wrote about hiring guides to help our group of aging canoe buddies continue to enjoy the waters of the Adirondacks. Sometimes younger friends come with us to help schlep our boats.

When we are without such help, we select trips that have shallow beaches to launch our solo canoes, do not require carries from one pond to the next, and lack beaver dams and other obstructions we have to maneuver over and around.

Not this time, though.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 28, 2022

Telling Our Stories: The Adirondack Story Project

We are blessed to have quality news outlets in the Adirondacks – local newspapers and magazines, social media, and including, of course, the Adirondack Almanack and Explorer. These resources are place-based and provide us with the current news and events. They also serve as archival records for future generations.

Since 2014, I’ve shared a number of my stories on the Adirondack Almanack. There are more avenues for telling one’s stories now, eight years later, primarily through the perfection of online resources because of the Covid-19 pandemic and our resultant isolation.

I want to introduce readers of the Almanack to a project for recording audio stories which began a few years ago through the Keene Valley Library. To date, this Adirondack Community Story Project has collected over 250 three-to-five-minute audio stories on the historical and social cultural history of the Town of Keene.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 12, 2021

Church Community Addresses the Climate Crisis

keene valley congregational church

Connecting to our environment

“Our oldest unity is our relationship with the earth,” writes John Philip Newell, an internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher and author. He calls for us to reawaken to the sacredness of the earth and challenges us to take transformative action. Our environmental groups in the Adirondacks are taking action as are inter-faith communities.

Since May 2020 members of the Keene Valley Congregational Church (KVCC), under the auspices of the Creation Justice Church Task Force, have continued to address what we can do as a faith-based community. When commissioning this seven-member Task Force, Rev. John Sampson, pastor of KVCC, asked us to reflect upon and lead the congregation through a time of listening for how God may be calling us.

To encourage this listening, the Task Force sponsored spiritual-based explorations in the Adirondack woods and waters – a number of silent paddle trips and Forest Bathing gatherings. Using our senses, these events helped to deepen our personal connection with the natural environment.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Remembering Irene, 10 years later: The Flooding of Styles Brook

Ten years ago Tropical Storm Irene’s torrential rains devastated the Ausable River Watershed. I tell my story of the first day living near one of its tributaries.

During the afternoon of August 28, 2011, we watched a ditch uphill from our house become a ranging stream on our property that borders Styles Brook. The gravel on our driveway washed away. It was not until our closest neighbor from Highland Farm called late afternoon that we realized the seriousness of the rain storm from Tropical Storm Irene. Our neighbor asked if we wanted to stay at their house after informing us that a nearby bridge had just succumbed to the roaring waters of Styles Brook.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Bonding through canoes: Memories of Peter Hornbeck

Since Peter Hornbeck died on December 26 social media has been flooded with remembrances, including the Hornbeck Boats Lovers Facebook page and the Almanack.

I want to share mine.

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.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Paying a visit to Debar Pond Lodge

Our Covid-19 socially distanced excursion last week took us to the Debar Tract on NYS Route 30, north of Paul Smith’s College and south of Malone. I wanted to see this area for myself after reading about the controversy over removal of the historic buildings on the shore of Debar Pond. (Click here for the latest article from Adirondack Explorer.)

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Chasing waterfalls

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.   

The Tooley Pond Tract includes a Forest Preserve parcel of 6,000 acres, including 20 miles along the South Branch of the Grass River in the northwestern Adirondacks. Our goal was to explore the six waterfalls along the route, an area an Adirondack Explorer article called “A cascade of riches,” noting that most of the falls cannot be viewed from the road. I first visited the falls shortly after reading this 2004 article written by Mark Bowie that welcomed readers on a waterfall hopping venture. Going again after all these years was on my bucket list. 

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Paddling and Covid-19

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.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Internet Access – What it is like to be in an underserved area 

Lorraine DuvallThe 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.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Lorraine Duvall: A Visit to Paddle Boreas Ponds

mountains and trees at Boreas Ponds“I’m from Canajoharie, the others from Albany and Catskill,” a women said when I saw her with two friends on Boreas Ponds last week.

“We met through the Facebook page ‘Paddling in the Adirondacks’ and we’ve been going on trips together ever since,” she said, “often driving hours, as we did today.”

These three middle-age women in their colorful kayaks were among the twenty or so paddlers I saw on the a trip to Boreas Ponds on a partly sunny, 60-degree Fall day. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Lorraine Duvall: Why We Seek Wilderness

letters to a spiritual seekerIn 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.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Lorraine Duvall: Weller Pond Protests and Quiet Waters

Weller Pond canoe inAs 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.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Paddler Looks To Spring, Quiet Waters

The trail to the Chubb River 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.

Somewhat too cold for me still, but with my wetsuit, I’ll be out soon. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Is the Adirondack Park an Intentional Community?

Together Resilient“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.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Being There: Forest Bathing and River Walking

riverwalk“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.



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