I have always felt that there were three prevailing dispositions towards statistics: professional – by those who know how to use statistics and do so legitimately; political – by those who use (or typically misuse) them for propaganda; and cynics. Cynics have an attitude toward statistics best captured by the aphorism popularized by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” » Continue Reading.
Making the Adirondack Park more attractive to youth of all backgrounds and preferences was the focus of the second Towards a More Diverse Adirondacks Symposium on August 15th at SUNY-ESF in Newcomb. We had a robust discussion, and the bulk of our time was given to the voices of high school and college-age students, from inside and outside the Adirondacks.
There has been a long-held belief about Newcomb among many Adirondackers visitors and residents alike – there’s nothing there. I’ve heard this about Newcomb on and off for thirty years. It’s Nonsense!
Sure, I don’t deny that the Newcomb area could benefit from more places to dine and stay the night. But I can’t think of any place better equipped to appeal to one class of tourist the Adirondack region has so far mostly ignored: ecotourism. » Continue Reading.
Last Wednesday was the day that my wife Amy and I finally closed on our Adirondack house in Keene. The morning of the closing I awoke to a cloudy, fogged-in day and an overwhelming need to get my head right and reconnect to this place I have so come to love. I decided to hike up Big Crow, a substantial promontory that rises from one of the ridges of the Hurricane Mountain complex, directly behind our new house. Big Crow has a lot of open rock and a rise of several hundred feet facing the Keene Valley, promising a huge view of the High Peaks beyond. As I began my ascent visibility was a few dozen yards at best. This circumstance is my favorite for an Adirondack climb: I knew the clouds would break as the morning progressed, to spectacular effect. I determined to take in the theater from the summit no matter if it took all morning. » Continue Reading.
I was in the Adirondack Park last week and while I did not have a chance to visit Lost Brook Tract I did get into the back country, climbing Mount Adams (which I highly recommend) and doing a little bushwhacking in the newly acquired MacIntyre East Tract. But it was another place, not as remote as the MacIntyre tract yet as far removed from the world at large as any place I’ve ever been, that called to my consciousness in my hour of need. No such call could resonate more deeply in me than that of Osprey Bay. » Continue Reading.
In the summer of 2001 my family and I undertook an adventure deep into the floor of Indian Pass. The lore related to its unexplored talus cave passages and its rumored near-impassibility had sparked our imaginations for years. Expecting that the journey would be challenging we equipped ourselves with climbing rope, headlamps and a first aid kit. After a good hour of work and having dealt with a number of dangerous obstacles we came to a pile of stacked boulders that rose precipitously from the floor, well above the surrounding trees. With the massive rampart of Wallface towering above us, all we could think about was to climb this talus pile and be lofted into the space above us where surely the best view in the Adirondacks awaited. » Continue Reading.
Last week I was doing a little research for a book project when a web search returned an interesting line from a Wikipedia entry on the Hudson River. It piqued my curiosity, going as it did against conventional wisdom. Wikipedia being Wikipedia I wasn’t about to take it as gospel, but it provoked me to start digging around just for fun. After all, if one learns anything in research and the sciences it is that conventional wisdom or historical tradition are no sure bets.
In this case, both conventional wisdom and historical tradition say that Lake Tear of the Clouds, nestled between Mounts Marcy and Skylight in the Adirondack High Peaks, is the source of the Hudson River. Thus has it been generally accepted ever since Verplanck Colvin determined it to be so, on his second visit to Lake Tear in August of 1873. For generations of hikers Lake Tear has been a special destination, an upward trek to the ultimate source of one of America’s greatest rivers. But is it? » Continue Reading.
I have been thinking a lot lately about Route 28. From the moment it branches off from Route 12 at Alder Creek just southwest of the Adirondack Park, until it branches again at Blue Mountain Lake, it runs sixty-one miles through the very center of my heart. It is and will always remain the fundamental representation for me of what it is to take a journey. But it is more than that: it is an emblem for the magical transition from urban and suburban America to the higher state of wilderness, to the experience of “Freedom in the Wilds,” as artist and Adirondack lover Harold Weston called it. For as long as I can remember I have longed to be able to take that journey from civilization to the Adirondacks and not have to return. » Continue Reading.
A month ago I published a little survey on mountain biking in the Adirondacks. Since the issue of mountain biking is front and center in the ongoing discussion of land use and in potential amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), I was curious to take the pulse of Almanack Readers.
What were the prevailing opinions? Did they bear resemblance to the claims various interest groups put forth about public support for mountain biking in the Park? » Continue Reading.
Back in September I wrote a series of three articles about the efficacy of driving electric cars (EV’s) in the Adirondacks. My overall conclusion was that electric cars had a definite, practical future in the Adirondacks.
All of my driving experience however, was in summer and early fall, which accounts for only about a quarter of an Adirondack year. The $64,000 question then, was how would an electric car perform under real winter conditions? With the January we’ve had in Wisconsin I’m ready to report.
It is possible that in a past column or two I might have made reference to my mother-in-law; further it is possible that in said reference or references there might have been a maligning whiff in the air. Believe not a word of it! She is a shining paragon of virtue, a sweet, pleasant creature of generous heart, evocative of nothing so much as a gentle summer breeze.
It’s my father-in-law Howard who is the problem. » Continue Reading.
A month ago I published a little survey on mountain bikingOne of the focal points of recent efforts revise the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) has been where and how to allow mountain biking, specifically in the Essex Chain of Lakes. This has generated a lot of discussion about the appropriateness of mountain biking in the Forest Preserve.
New York State is clearly promoting it: the Adirondack Park Agency has signaled an interest in allowing mountain biking in the Essex Chain (which would require new policy, as currently mountain biking is prohibited in Wilderness and Primitive areas) and DEC is opening the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Unit Management Plan to amendments that would support their conceptual mountain bike plan for a 100-mile single track trail system. » Continue Reading.
There has been some old-school rancor in the Adirondacks lately. From management of the Essex Chain to the opening of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) for review to the fate of Lot 8 and NYCO’s drilling, some of the traditional disputes between advocates for preservation and advocates for increased access, recreation and development have been heating up.
These tensions have never been absent, but in an era when many are talking about “common ground,” things have been getting surprisingly vitriolic of late. This spike in old fashioned hostility hit an undistinguished apex with the unanimous approval by the Essex County Board of Supervisors of a resolution supporting Denton Publications’ flame-throwing, editorial calling for the abolition of environmental advocacy group Protect the Adirondacks.