Almanack Contributor Phil Brown

Phil Brown

Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.


Friday, September 14, 2018

New Map Of Adirondack Mountain-Bike Trails

The Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA) has published a full-color map of more than 75 miles of moutain-bike trails in Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Wilmington, and Elizabethtown.

In all, the map shows trail networks in 10 locations: Mount Pisgah and Dewey Mountain in Saranac Lake; Brewster Peninsula, Henry’s Woods, and the woods near the Lake Placid Club and Craig Wood golf course in Lake Placid; the Flume and Hardy Road trails in Wilmington; and Blueberry Hill and Otis Mountain in Elizabethtown. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Adirondack Rock Climbing Rendezvous Sept 28-30

High Peaks Cyclery of Lake Placid is sponsoring the second annual Adirondack Rock Climbing Rendezvous the weekend of September 28-30. The agenda includes climbing clinics, tours of local cliffs, slide shows, and music.

Colin Loher, a climbing guide and one of the organizers, said the goals of the three-day rendezvous are to promote safe climbing and to celebrate the region’s  natural resources – “the  vast constellation of cliffs, walls, and precipices that bejewel the Adirondack Park.”

Not to mention have some fun. » Continue Reading.


Friday, June 29, 2018

Adirondack Explorer Publishes 20th Anniversary Issue

Explorer anniversaryWe just received our July/August issue in the Adirondack Explorer office. It’s our twentieth anniversary issue and packed with good stuff, including a timeline featuring milestones in the history of the Explorer.

Carl Heilman II took the cover photo, an aerial shot of the old titanium mine in Tahawus. The Explorer partnered with Lighthawk, a nonprofit organization, to fly over the High Peaks and the mine. The photos illustrate an in-depth story by our new watchdog reporter, Michael Virtanen, on the history and future of the mine. Incidentally, the flight confirmed that the controversial tanker cars have been removed from the railroad tracks leading to the mine. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Adirondack Explorer Publishes Outings Guide

The Adirondack Explorer recently published a special edition of its Annual Outings Guide in commemoration of the magazine’s twentieth anniversary.

The 2018 guide is larger than previous outings guides, with a more durable cover to ensure that it will last as a resource for years to come.

One hundred pages long, the Annual Outings Guide reprints thirty-one stories about outdoor adventures that appeared in the Explorer over the past decade—hikes, paddles, ski tours, slide scrambles, rock climbs, biking, and whitewater rafting. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 5, 2018

APA Proposal Would Allow Other Rail Trails

The Adirondack Park Agency’s proposal to amend its definition of a Travel Corridor was prompted by the state’s desire to build a rail trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, but the change also could affect another rail corridor in the news.

We mean the line between North Creek and Tahawus. This is where Iowa Pacific Holdings has been storing used oil-tanker cars, much to the consternation of state and local officials.

As reported in the March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer, local officials and others are now talking about someday converting this corridor into a rail trail. However, the story points out that there are legal questions, among them: since the corridor passes through forever-wild Forest Preserve, would it be lawful to create a rail trail suitable for road bikes? » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Adirondack Historian Publishes Essay Collection

Philip Terrie bookThe historian Philip Terrie has come out with a new book that collects nearly sixty articles that have appeared in the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine over the past two decades.

Seeing the Forest: Reviews, Musings, and Opinions from an Adirondack Historian covers a wide range of subjects: Adirondack art and literature, the history of the Forest Preserve, the scourges of acid rain and climate change, the meaning of wilderness, and the saga of a cougar that trekked from South Dakota to the Northeast.

Terrie, who lives in Ithaca and Long Lake, is retired from teaching American studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Seeing the Forest is his fourth book. His previous works also dealt with the Adirondacks. His best known is Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks. He also is the author of Forever Wild: A Cultural History of Wilderness in the Adirondacks and Wildlife and Wilderness: A History of Adirondack Mammals.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Legal Case Against Storing Tank Cars In Adirondacks

A lot of people in New York State, including the governor, are upset that Iowa Pacific Holdings is storing empty tank cars on tracks in the Adirondacks. But what, if anything, can be done about it?

Iowa Pacific says that railroads are overseen by the federal government and so the state doesn’t have legal grounds to stop the storage.

But Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, argues that storing rail cars has nothing to do with rail transportation and so the state can assert jurisdiction. And he believes the state can take steps now to force Iowa Pacific to remove the cars. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 30, 2017

New Book Tells History Of Park’s African-Americans

It’s obvious to anyone who spends time here that the vast majority of people who live in or visit the Adirondack Park are white. This could have consequences for the Forest Preserve, because the Preserve belongs to all New Yorkers and its future is in their hands.

The latest census data indicate that about 18 percent of the state’s population is African-American (another 19 percent is Hispanic or Latino).

Although few African-Americans live in the Adirondacks, our region is not without its own black history. Most people will think of John Brown’s farm in North Elba and Gerrit Smith’s effort to relocate black farmers. But there is much more to the story.

Sally E. Svenson tells the rest of the story in Blacks in the Adirondacks: A History, a new book published by Syracuse University Press. As it turns out, African-Americans lived and worked in the Park as miners, loggers, musicians, waiters, and baseball players, among other things.

The historian Philip Terrie gives a favorable review to Svenson’s book in the November/December issue of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Adirondack Tradition Opposes Wilderness Huts

On July 15, 1932, two giants of wilderness preservation met on top of Mount Marcy: Bob Marshall and Paul Schaefer. Marshall was partway through a marathon hike that would take him to the summits of thirteen High Peaks. Schaefer was taking photos for a campaign against a proposal to allow cabins in the Forest Preserve.

Schaefer’s account of the chance meeting appears in an appendix to my book Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, a collection of Marshall’s writingsWhen told of the cabin proposal and various assaults on the Forest Preserve, Marshall became agitated and paced back and forth on the summit of the state’s highest mountain.

“We simply must band together — all of us who love the wilderness. We must fight together — wherever and whenever wilderness is attacked,” Marshall declared to Schaefer. A few years later, Marshall founded the Wilderness Society with some like-minded colleagues

Continue reading on Adirondack Explorer website.

Photo: Greenleaf Hut below Mount Lafayette, by Phil Brown.

 


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Should Campfires be Banned on the Adirondack Forest Preserve?

The Giant’s Washbowl seen from Nubble Cliff Recently, I was returning from Nubble Cliff in the Giant Mountain Wilderness when I passed a tent on the southeast shore of the Giant’s Washbowl and heard someone breaking branches or dead trees, presumably gathering wood for a campfire.

Campfires are an Adirondack tradition. Who doesn’t like a fire when sleeping under the stars? Nevertheless, I couldn’t help thinking that this was not good for the environment. Rather, it was destructive. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Verplanck Colvin Built First Tower On Stillwater Mt.

The famed surveyor Verplanck Colvin built the first tower on Stillwater Mountain way back in 1882. The hole that once held his copper marker is still visible on the summit bedrock.

Colvin’s tower is long gone, but a steel tower built in 1919 still stands, and last week the state nominated the structure — along with the fire observer’s cabin and some other buildings — for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to read the state’s application. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Former Newcomb Supervisor George Canon, 77

George Canon, the longtime supervisor of Newcomb, died at Glens Falls Hospital on Sunday morning. He was 77.

Canon served 13 terms as town supervisor, from 1990 to 2015. He was known as a fighter for his town and often clashed with environmental activists whom he regarded as anti-development.

As supervisor, he fought for the preservation and restoration of Camp Santanoni, which some people wanted to be torn down or abandoned. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Don’t Be Fooled: Big Brook Is Not Flatwater

I took this photo of Big Brook early Friday evening while driving between Tupper Lake and Long Lake on Route 30. If you’ve driven that highway, you’ve probably admired this scene. And if you’re a canoeist, you’ve probably wondered if the brook can be paddled. It certainly looks inviting.

Several years ago, I succumbed to curiosity. At the time, I was researching my guidebook Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures. I thought Big Brook might make the cut. It turned out to be a dumb idea.

Continue reading at Adirondack Explorer.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Fritz Wiessner’s Historic Climbs Are Still Challenging

The legendary Fritz Wiessner established more than a dozen rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks, according to the authors of Adirondack Rock. I’ve written about a few of the better ones, including Empress on Chapel Pond Slab, Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl Cliff, and Old Route on Rooster Comb Mountain.

One reason I’m drawn to Wiessner routes is their historical interest. Arguably, Wiessner was the strongest rock climber in the United States during the 1930s. Indeed, the authors of Yankee Rock and Ice suggest that the German immigrant “was so far ahead of what others were willing to try that he did not significantly improve the general standard.” In other words, few of his contemporaries could repeat his harder routes. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

DEC Opens Part Of Road To Boreas Ponds

Boreas Ponds in the Adirondack MountainsThe state has reopened Gulf Brook Road on the Boreas Ponds Tract as far as the interim parking area created last year.

As a result, the public can drive 3.2 miles up the dirt road. From there, hikers must walk another 3.6 miles on roads to the southern end of Boreas Ponds. Mountain bikers will once again be able to ride as far as the ponds, but no farther. » Continue Reading.