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.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

DEC Chief Refuses To Renew Cunningham’s Guide License

cunningham-300x246State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos has refused to renew the guide’s license of Patrick Cunningham, the owner of Hudson River Rafting Company in North Creek.

Cunningham has run afoul of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s regulations on several occasions. In June 2015, DEC staff refused Cunningham’s request to renew his license.

Cunningham appealed that decision, but it was upheld by Administrative Law Judge Michael S. Caruso the following November after a hearing. Caruso said the department had ample reasons for denying Cunningham a guide’s license.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rock Climbers Discover Boreas Ponds Tract

Kittens and RainbowsThe newly acquired Boreas Ponds Tract has been touted as a destination for backpackers, paddlers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, and snowmobilers. As it turns out, some of the earliest users of the land have been rock climbers.

Within a few months of the state’s purchase of the tract in April, rock climbers established nine technical climbing routes on the southwest face of Ragged Mountain, a small peak that lies less than a mile from County Route 84.

The Adirondack Rock website awards Ragged four out of five stars for the overall quality of the climbing. Most of the routes are hard, with ratings from 5.10 to 5.13 in the Yosemite Decimal System, which ranges from 5.0 (easy) to 5.15 (nearly impossible).

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

With Road Open To Vehicles, Boreas Ponds Sees More Visitors

When I lugged my boat more than six miles to paddle Boreas Ponds in early June, I saw exactly no one. That wasn’t the case this past Labor Day weekend.

Evidently, more people are willing to visit the ponds now that the state has opened up the first 3.2 miles of Gulf Brook Road to motor vehicles.

When my girlfriend Carol and I arrived at the new parking lot on Sunday morning, there were already seven other cars. We biked to Boreas Ponds, as allowed under an interim-access plan released last week, and then hiked for several miles on old logging roads in the vicinity of the ponds. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Parts Of Boreas Ponds Tract Opened To Motor Vehicles, Bicycles

Boreas interimIn a long-awaited interim-access plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract, the state has opened to motor vehicles part of a former logging road leading to Boreas Ponds and opened all of the road to bicycles.

The future of the dirt thoroughfare, known as Gulf Brook Road, has been the subject of several articles and much debate on Adirondack Almanack and in the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.

Gulf Brook Road starts at County Route 2 (also known as the Boreas Road or Blue Ridge Road) and leads in 6.7 miles to the dam at Boreas Ponds. On Wednesday afternoon, state Department of Environmental Conservation announced that the first 3.2 miles will be open to motor vehicles and that mountain bikers will be able to pedal all the way to the dam.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Group Seeks More Wilderness Around Boreas Ponds

AWA-Draft-Map-20160803Three wilderness advocates have banded together to garner public support for adding nearly all of the Boreas Pond Tract to the High Peaks Wilderness and keeping out motor vehicles.

Adirondack Wilderness Advocates, as they call themselves, has created a website where people can sign a letter to the Adirondack Park Agency calling for statewide hearings on the classification of the Boreas tract. People can also sign up for the group’s emails.

The founders of the Adirondack Wilderness Advocates are Bill Ingersoll, publisher of the Discover the Adirondacks guidebooks; Brendan Wiltse, a photographer and scientist employed by the Ausable River Association (his work is unrelated to his involvement with AWA); and Pete Nelson, a teacher who frequently writes for Adirondack Almanack.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Judge Refuses To Halt Work On Snowmobile Thoroughfare

Peter Bauer measures a snowmobile trail near Newcomb.A judge has denied a request by Protect the Adirondacks to prohibit the state Department of Environmental Conservation from cutting Forest Preserve trees for a snowmobile trail while the trail’s legality is being contested in court.

State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly ruled that Protect failed to demonstrate that it is likely to prevail in its lawsuit against DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Former Finch, Pruyn Lodge At Boreas Ponds Demolished

Boreas lodge webA large lodge at Boreas Ponds built by Finch, Pruyn & Company has been demolished, removing one thorny issue facing state officials responsible for drafting a management plan for a recently acquired tract of Forest Preserve.

The Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy, which sold the ponds to the state this year, hired a contractor to dismantle the lodge. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) agreed that the lodge should be removed — even though local officials wanted it to stay.

Rob Davies, director of DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests, told Adirondack Almanack that it was not feasible to keep the lodge, partly because of the cost of maintenance, partly because it was a “non-conforming structure” in the Preserve. He said the project, including removal of debris and rehabilitation of the site, should be complete this month.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Forest Preserve Advocates Modify Boreas Ponds Proposal

Proposed_Expanded_High_Peaks_Wild_July2016-2-1024x659A coalition of environmental groups that includes the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, and Adirondack Wild has significantly altered its proposal for the recently acquired Boreas Ponds Tract, calling for less of the region to be classified Wilderness.

Under the original proposal, about 15,000 of the tract’s 20,758 acres would have been added to the High Peaks Wilderness. This included land north and south of Gulf Brook Road, a durable logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds. The road itself would have been designated a Primitive Corridor, allowing visitors to drive as far as LaBier Flow, some six miles from County Route 2.

Under the new plan, Gulf Brook Road and the land south of it would be Wild Forest, a less-restrictive classification that allows motorized use. Thus, it would not be necessary to designate Gulf Brook Road a Primitive Corridor to allow people to drive to LaBier Flow. Some 13,000 acres north of the road would be Wilderness.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Phil Brown: A Journey To Boreas Ponds

boreas pond journeyIn early June, I enjoyed one of my most memorable canoe trips in the Adirondacks: I spent the morning paddling around lovely Boreas Ponds, taking in breathtaking views of the High Peaks.

I had the place all to myself. This might seem surprising, given that the state had only recently purchased Boreas Ponds from the Nature Conservancy. Usually, such a magnificent acquisition to the Forest Preserve will attract curiosity seekers. Yes, it was a weekday, but my guess is that the explanation lies in the difficulty of getting there — especially with a canoe. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

DEC Sweetened Pot With Champlain, Lake George Lands To Close Raquette Lake Land Deal

Marion_RiverAs part of an effort to resolve a century-old dispute over the ownership of land near Raquette Lake, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has agreed to acquire not only the Marion River carry, but also more than 1,400 acres of land in other parts of the Adirondack Park.

In a letter to Assemblyman Steven Englebright, DEC chief Basil Seggos said the state is committed to buying from the Open State Institute 836 acres on Huckleberry Mountain in Warren County and 616 acres along Lake Champlain, including 4,000 feet of shoreline.

In addition, Seggos said DEC will be buying “some or all” of the following properties: » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Via Ferrata: Enjoying Mountains The Italian Way

DaveThe Dolomites in northern Italy are mountains, but they’re not like the Adirondacks. For one thing, they’re a lot bigger. The tallest mountain, Marmolada, rises to nearly 11,000 feet, more than twice as high as Mount Marcy. They’re also more civilized than the Adirondacks.

By civilized, I mean developed. In the Adirondacks, we prohibit cabins on the Forest Preserve. In the Dolomites, you’ll find lodges, known as rifugios, on many of the mountains. In the Adirondacks, there are only two ski resorts on the Forest Preserve, on Whiteface and Gore. In the Dolomites there are ski resorts all over, with chairlifts and gondolas running in summer (for sightseeing) as well as winter.

And then there are the via ferratas. Whereas Adirondack rock climbers might argue over the placement of a bolt on a crag, many cliffs in the Dolomites are outfitted with steel cables, ladders, stemples (giant metal staples), and bridges. The idea is to give non-climbers a climbing experience

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hiker Dies In Fall From Top Of Roaring Brook Falls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA hiker from New York City died after falling 80 to 100 feet from the top of Roaring Brook Falls in St. Huberts on Saturday afternoon.

State Police identified the victim as Joann N. Restko, 37, of Staten Island. Troopers said Restko, who was hiking with a friend, slipped while taking photos.

State forest rangers got an emergency call about 12:40 p.m. They found Restko lying face down in a pool of water, already dead. An autopsy concluded she died from multiple injuries suffered in the fall. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Lows Ridge Bike, Hike, Swim and Climb

Lows-upper-dam-1Carol says I come up with my best trip ideas at the breakfast table. Since this was the last day of her Adirondack vacation, I felt the pressure to suggest something special. She likes to swim, I like to rock climb, and we both like to bike and hike. If I could combine all four of those activities, I might win her affection for all eternity.

It’d be worth a shot, anyway. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rock Climber Badly Hurt In Fall From Pitchoff Cliff

Pitchoff Chimney CliffA rock climber was flown to a Vermont hospital after suffering severe injuries in a 60-foot fall from a cliff on Pitchoff Mountain on Monday afternoon. State Police identified the victim as Kyle R. Ciarletta, 22, of Eagleville, PA.

Ciarletta fell after climbing a difficult route known as Roaches on the Wall, said David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Winchell attributed the accident to miscommunication between Ciarletta and his belayer, a 23-year-old woman from Norristown, PA.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Bike Trip To The Forgotten Pine Lake

Pine Lake near Essex ChainThe Essex Chain Lakes and Boreas Ponds have been hogging much of the publicity over the state’s acquisition of the former Finch, Pruyn lands. That’s understandable, for both waterways are jewels that are sure to become popular paddling and hiking destinations.

Lost in all the hoopla is Pine Lake, another handsome body of water located a little south of the Essex Chain. In another time, Pine Lake by itself would have been a celebrated acquisition.

» Continue Reading.