Monday, November 8, 2010

Adirondack Economics: How Hikers Help Wanakena

I recently unearthed strong evidence that hikers, like other visitors to the Park, spend money.

As noted in an earlier post, some local politicians deride hikers, paddlers, and similar riff-raff as “granola-eaters” who seldom part with a dime while inside the Adirondack Park.

Try telling that to Rick Kovacs, who took over the Wanakena General Store this year. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Nov. 4)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

Newly Opened Roads
A number of roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted DEC’s ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season. All roads typically open in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest are now open. Lily Pond Road in Horicon, Gay Pond Road in Warrensburg, and Dacy Clearing Road (on the east side of Lake George) have reopened. Jabe Pond Road in Hague, Buttermilk Road Extension in Warrensburg, Scofield Flats Road, Pikes Beach Access Road and the Bear Slides Access Road in Luzerne all remain temporarily closed.

Snow and Ice, Cold Wet Weather
National Weather Service is predicting rain and snow for Friday and Saturday. Night-time and morning temperatures below freezing can be expected, especially in higher elevations where day time temperatures may be below freezing. Snows may be found in higher elevations and summits are a mix of snow and ice. Carry instep crampons or stabilicers and wear when them when conditions warrant.

Rivers Running Above Normal
USGS streamgages are reporting well above normal flow on the Raquette, Sacandaga and Indian rivers. Paddlers and others should use care and consult the latest streamgages data.

Personal Flotation Devices
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Wet & Muddy Conditions
Lower and mid-elevation trails are wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.

DEC Campgrounds Are Now Closed
All DEC campgrounds in the Adirondacks are closed until next season.

Whiteface Has Started Making Snow
Whiteface Mountain ski area began making snow Tuesday night November 2nd, far ahead of last year (November 16th, which pushed opening day to December 5th). 35 guns began blowing snow from the mid-station down, laying the based for an expected Friday, November 26th opening, weather permitting.

Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Rain, sleet and snow; high near 42. Summits obscured in clouds.
Friday Night: Rain and snow, low around 25.
Saturday: Snow showers; high near 35. Summits in and out of clouds, then cloudy.
Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy; low around 18.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 34.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

Fire Danger: LOW

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Landlocked Salmon Returning to Champlain Tributaries
Fish and wildlife officials from New York, Vermont and the Federal Government working to restore native landlocked Atlantic salmon and lake trout in Lake Champlain are calling progress “encouraging,” with returns of salmon to various tributaries in 2010. This fall, 51 adult salmon returned to the Willsboro Fishway on the Boquet River, the most salmon collected in the Fishway in more than a decade. A fish lift on the Winooski River in Vermont had similarly strong returns.

Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
With waterfowl hunting seasons open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.

Motorists Alert: Moose
There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.

Hunting Seasons
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game have begun. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Starting this multiple furbearer hunting and trapping seasons are now open including bobcat, weasel, mink, muskrat, fisher, martin, opossum, raccoon, fox, and skunk. This would be a good time to keep pets leased and on the trails. A reminder that body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure after December 11, 2010.

Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected this regulation.

Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

HIGH PEAKS

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season.

The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.

Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

Upper Works to Duck Hole: All the foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and the Duck Hole have been replaced and the trail has been cleared.

Moose Pond Horse Trail: The bridges on the Moose Pond Horse Trail have been replaced, horse drawn wagons can access the trail to Ermine Brook.

Newcomb Lake – Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Crews have constructed and marked a reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail around an area flooded by beaver activity between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Water levels remain higher than normal. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Adirondack Canoe Route: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.

Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Otter Brook Road, to the Otter Brook Gate, and the Indian Lake Road have been reopened with the assistance of the Town of Inlet, the Town of Indian Lake and Hamilton County highway departments. Previously, with their assistance, the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), Rock Dam Road and Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge, had been opened. Currently all roads that had typically been open to motor vehicle traffic in the Moose River Plains are open again.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness / N-P Trail: The bridge over Mud Creek, on the Northville-Placid Trail northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

** Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels remain higher than normal. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Gore Mountain: The Schaeffer Trail to the summit of Gore Mountain, has undergone a significant reroute. The new trailhead is located at the parking lot for Grunblatt Memorial Beach in North Creek. From there the trail leads southwest and then north, looping around the North Creek reservoir before continuing southwest to the summit.

Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Horicon, Warren County has been reopened. The Town of Horicon Highway Department provided assistance with grading and fill material and the Town will continue to provide assistance with garbage removal, cleanup and inspection for the remainder of the year

** Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County has reopened. The South Warren Snowmobile Club covered the cost of several new culverts to replace ones that had failed and been crushed under the road. DEC staff is undertaking the work to replace the culverts and to provide fill and grade the road, with completion expected by this weekend.

** Lake George Wild Forest (East Side): The Dacy Clearing Road has been reopened. DEC installed two culverts so that vehicles may safely two streams; cut down and/or removed numerous hazard trees from the road and trimmed brush along the road with the assistance of inmate crews from the Department of Correction Services.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Jabe Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All All lands, including the trail to The Pinnacle, are closed to all public recreational access until December 31st. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291.

** Second Pond Boat Launch: The Second Pond Boat Launch will be closed for repairs on Tuesday, November 9, with a rain date for the repair work on Wednesday, November 10. The one day closure will allow DEC to make needed repairs to the launch ramp.

** Docks have been removed for the season from the Tupper Lake, Long Lake and Raquette River Boat Launch Sites.

** St. Regis Canoe Area: Work on campsites has been completed for the season. 14 new campsites were created, 18 campsites were closed and rehabilitated, 5 campsites were relocated to better locations, 5 campsites were restored to reduce the size of the impacted area and to better define tent pads, and one lean-to was constructed. DEC is appreciative of the hard work done by crews from the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) Adirondack Program. Next summer DEC and SCA will create 7 new campsites, move 3 campsites and close 5 campsites. As described in the St. Regis Canoe Area Unit Management Plan this work is needed to bring the campsites into compliance with the quarter-mile separation distance required by the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and to address negative impacts that have occurred through use of the campsites. A map of current campsites will be posted in the near future.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The DEC has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways and has sent adjacent landowners a letter asking them to remove the cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras put in place to deter the public from using the canoe route. If they fail to comply, the department warns, the matter could be referred to the state attorney general for legal action. “The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” the letter dated September 24th said.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.

** Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

——————–
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Illegal Tree Cutting on Cat Mountain

When out in the backcountry I tend to bushwhack through areas that receive little human traffic so I rarely encounter examples of illegal tree cuttings. But this past summer I went on an eight-day trip hiking and bushwhacking through the heart of the Five Ponds Wilderness from Stillwater Reservoir to Cranberry Lake where I discovered tree cutting on the top of Cat Mountain on my final night.

This put a slight damper on an evening highlighted by watching multiple Independence Day fireworks displays and culminating with sleeping under the stars on the cliffs. The cut trees were located around the single large campsite just off the cliffs to the north. This site is obviously very popular with campers given the fire ring and the large, flat, open area perfect for pitching tents.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whiteface Begins Snowmaking

You don’t need to be a meteorologist to know that it’s been cold the last several days and nights, ideal for dusting off the hoses and guns and making snow at Whiteface. “We saw an opportunity to take advantage of some good temperatures,” said Whiteface general manager Bruce McCulley. “We’ll keep watching the weather and the temperatures over the next several days and make snow when it makes sense so that we have a good product for opening day.”

This season’s snowmaking is far ahead of last year’s, when the mountain didn’t make its first snow until Nov. 16, pushing back opening day until Dec. 5. Starting at about 6 p.m. last night, 35 guns began blowing snow from the mid-station down, laying the based for the Friday, Nov. 26, opening, weather permitting.

The early snowmaking also should serve as a reminder to skiers and riders that Thursday, Nov. 18, is the deadline to purchase discounted 2010-11 season passes for Whiteface and Gore.

Whiteface boasts the greatest vertical east of the Rockies, 283 skiable acres and 86 trails and was recently named the number-one ski resort in the eastern United States by readers of SKI Magazine. The mountain also received high marks for its Après-Ski (#2), Dining (#2), Family Programs (#2), Scenery (#2), Terrain/Challenge (#2), Lodging (#4) and Overall Satisfaction (#5). And for the 18th consecutive year, Whiteface/Lake Placid was chosen number-one for its Off-Hill Activities, thanks to its array of Olympic-style sports including bobsledding, ice skating, cross country skiing, ski jumping, as well as events such as World Cup racing, shows and concerts.

Whiteface was also chosen by SnowEast Magazine readers as the East’s favorite resort. Whiteface topped such resorts as Sugarloaf and Sunday River, both in Maine, and even Killington, in Vermont. More than 3,500 readers took part in the poll and they also tabbed Whiteface as the most scenic resort and their favorite destination village.

Photo: Snowmaking at Whiteface, from Mid-station down. Photos courtesy of Whiteface/ORDA.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

McCauley Mountain Consignment Sale Saturday

McCauley Mountain and the Polar Bear Ski Club will hold their annual Season Ski Pass Sale and Consignment Sale this Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 9 am until Noon at McCauley Mountain Ski Area in Old Forge. From 10 am until Noon the Ski Patrol will be demonstrating chair lift evacuation. Spectators are welcome.

There will be new equipment vendors on site for the event, as well as used equipment by consignment. Items for the consignment sale should be at the McCauley Mountain Chalet between 8 am and 9 am on Saturday morning.

Season Passes purchased on the day of the sale include a free lunch. Season Ski Passes will be processed and issued immediately. Season Pass sale prices are $239 for an adult, $179 for juniors ages 18 and under, $99 for seniors ages 60-69. There is a special maximum family price of $836. There is also a Five-Day Pass good for any five days for $119 each.

November 6th is also a volunteer workday to help prepare the slopes for the upcoming winter ski season. Participation of area youth is requested, and all volunteers are welcome. For additional information, call McCauley Mountain at 315-369-3225.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ADK Club Honors Adirondack Almanack

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) honored former State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash, Adirondack Almanack founder John Warren and other “champions of New York’s wild places” at the group’s 10th annual Presidents’ Dinner last Saturday.

Ash, who recently resigned her position as Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, received the David L. Newhouse ADK Conservation Award and delivered the keynote address. John Warren, founder of the online journal Adirondack Almanack received the Eleanor F. Brown ADK Communication Award, “in recognition of outstanding talent and journalistic achievement in building an online, independent news source about the Adirondacks.”

At the same event, John Schneider, long-time coordinator of ADK’s Adopt a Lean-to Program, received the ADK Trailblazer Award. Also, the Department of Environmental Conservation, The Nature Conservancy and Adirondack Mountain Club received the Arthur E. Newkirk ADK Education Award for the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, and ADK Community Outreach Coordinator Thea Moruzzi received the Marie Lynch Haberl ADK Staff Award.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to the protection of the New York Forest Preserve. A nonprofit organization with more than 28,000 members, ADK helps protect the Forest Preserve, state parks and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation.

Photo: Adirondack Almanack founder John Warren (l) and Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth. Photo courtesy John Kettlewell, ADK.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Oct. 28)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

Newly Opened Roads
A number of roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted DEC’s ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season. All roads typically open in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest are now open. Lily Pond Road in Horicon has already reopened. Gay Pond Road in Warrensburg will be open by this weekend. Details on the openings can be found below. Jabe Pond Road in Hague, Buttermilk Road Extension in Warrensburg, Dacy Clearing Road in Fort Ann, Scofield Flats Road, Pikes Beach Access Road and the Bear Slides Access Road in Luzerne all remain temporarily closed.

Cold Wet Weather
National Weather Service is predicting a chance of rain and snow showers for Friday and Saturday. Night-time and morning temperatures below freezing can be expected, especially in higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves or mittens. Take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat.

Wet & Muddy Conditions
Snows are gone at this time, but may return any time. Currently trails are wet and muddy at all elevations. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.

Most DEC Campgrounds Are Now Closed
Now that Columbus Day has passed the only DEC campground open in the Adirondacks is the Fish Creek Campground, all the others are closed until next season. The Fish Creek Campground will close Sunday, October 31st.

Do Not Feed Bears
In mid September a bear broke into a home in Inlet and had to be euthanized by DEC Forest Rangers. In late August a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Bears fed by humans (intentionally or incidentally) grow to not fear people. For this reason, two bears have now been killed this year; eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer. The Inlet and Old Forge corridor has traditionally had problems with bears.

Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Chance of rain and snow showers, gusty winds; high near 41.
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers; gusty winds; low around 22.
Saturday: Chance of afternoon snow showers, mostly cloudy; high near 38.
Saturday Night: Chance of snow showers; cloudy, with a low around 27.
Sunday: Cloudy, with a high near 42.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

Colder Weather
Colder temperatures have arrived in the mountains. Night-time and morning temperatures in the 20s or colder are likely, especially at higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves.

Darkness Arriving Earlier
Autumn has arrived and daylight hours have decreased. Know when sunset occurs and plan accordingly. Always pack or carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

Fire Danger: LOW

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
With waterfowl hunting seasons open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.

Motorists Alert: Moose
There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.

Hunting Seasons
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game have begun or will begin shortly. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Starting this multiple furbearer hunting and trapping seasons are now open including bobcat, weasel, mink, muskrat, fisher, martin, opossum, raccoon, fox, and skunk.

Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected this regulation.

Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.

** Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

HIGH PEAKS

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season.

The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.

Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

Upper Works to Duck Hole: All the foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and the Duck Hole have been replaced and the trail has been cleared.

Moose Pond Horse Trail: The bridges on the Moose Pond Horse Trail have been replaced, horse drawn wagons can access the trail to Ermine Brook.

Newcomb Lake – Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Crews have constructed and marked a reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail around an area flooded by beaver activity between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.

Adirondack Canoe Route: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.

Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Otter Brook Road, to the Otter Brook Gate, and the Indian Lake Road have been reopened with the assistance of the Town of Inlet, the Town of Indian Lake and Hamilton County highway departments. Previously, with their assistance, the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), Rock Dam Road and Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge, had been opened. Currently all roads that had typically been open to motor vehicle traffic in the Moose River Plains are open again.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness / N-P Trail: The bridge over Mud Creek, on the Northville-Placid Trail northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

** Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Gore Mountain: The Schaeffer Trail to the summit of Gore Mountain, has undergone a significant reroute. The new trailhead is located at the parking lot for Grunblatt Memorial Beach in North Creek. From there the trail leads southwest and then north, looping around the North Creek reservoir before continuing southwest to the summit.

Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Horicon, Warren County has been reopened. The Town of Horicon Highway Department provided assistance with grading and fill material and the Town will continue to provide assistance with garbage removal, cleanup and inspection for the remainder of the year

** Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County has reopened. The South Warren Snowmobile Club covered the cost of several new culverts to replace ones that had failed and been crushed under the road. DEC staff is undertaking the work to replace the culverts and to provide fill and grade the road, with completion expected by this weekend.

** Lake George Wild Forest (East Side): The Dacy Clearing Road has been reopened. DEC installed two culverts so that vehicles may safely two streams; cut down and/or removed numerouse hazard trees from the road and trimmed brush along the road with the assistance of inmate crews from the Department of Correction Services.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Jabe Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All All lands, including the trail to The Pinnacle, are closed to all public recreational access until the end of the big game hunting season. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291. The gate to The Pinnacle has been locked.

** Docks have been removed for the season from the Tupper Lake, Long Lake and Raquette River Boat Launch Sites.

** St. Regis Canoe Area: Work on campsites has been completed for the season. 14 new campsites were created, 18 campsites were closed and rehabilitated, 5 campsites were relocated to better locations, 5 campsites were restored to reduce the size of the impacted area and to better define tent pads, and one lean-to was constructed. DEC is appreciative of the hard work done by crews from the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) Adirondack Program. Next summer DEC and SCA will create 7 new campsites, move 3 campsites and close 5 campsites. As described in the St. Regis Canoe Area Unit Management Plan this work is needed to bring the campsites into compliance with the quarter-mile separation distance required by the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and to address negative impacts that have occurred through use of the campsites. A map of current campsites will be posted in the near future.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The DEC has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways and has sent adjacent landowners a letter asking them to remove the cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras put in place to deter the public from using the canoe route. If they fail to comply, the department warns, the matter could be referred to the state attorney general for legal action. “The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” the letter dated September 24th said.

——————–
Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

DEC Region 5 Forest Ranger Report (Sept-Oct 2010)

What follows is the September and October Forest Ranger Activity Report for DEC Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack region. These reports are issued periodically by the DEC and printed here at the Almanack in their entirety. They are organized by county, and date. You can read previous Forest Ranger Reports here.

These incident reports are a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry and always carry a flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

The Adirondack Almanack reports current outdoor recreation and trail conditions each Thursday evening. Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report on Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and on the stations of North Country Public Radio. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let it Snow: A Look At The Local Downhill Scene

Not long ago, as much as a foot of snow fell in the mountains of the Adirondacks and other high places in the Northeast. It was a rare early notice that winter is just around the corner.

For those of us who enjoy playing in it, that means it’s time to sharpen and wax our skis or boards and get ready to begin the season.

And that, too, is just around the corner. Whiteface plans to opens about a month from now, on Nov. 26, with Gore expecting to start around that time as well.

That means it’s also time to start thinking about how to save on those expensive ski passes. Fortunately, there are a number of options. For frequent skiers, Gore and Whiteface are selling their season passes (good for both resorts) at $825 before Nov. 19, $175 cheaper than normal.

For day-visits, Whiteface only will continue their discounted Sundays program, offering $35 adult tickets on Dec. 12, Jan. 2, Feb. 6, March 13 and April 3. In addition, every Wednesday at both mountains, adults can buy a ticket for $38 after presenting a Coca-Cola product at the ticket window (yes, you can drink it first).

Meanwhile, the smaller resorts in the Adirondacks continue to work on volunteer power. Both Oak Mountain in Speculator and Big Tupper in Tupper Lake will be operated mostly by volunteers. Outside Warrensburg, Hickory Ski Center — which reopened last year after a long hiatus — has already been organizing volunteer work crews to prepare the slopes. Expect all these hidden gems to begin operation around Christmastime, or perhaps a bit earlier if the snow cooperates.

And let’s not forget the tiny Mt. Pisgah in Saranac Lake, where many locals learn to make turns for the first time.

In Old Forge, McCauley Mountain will continue to be operated by the Town of Webb. They’re planning to open on Dec. 11.

Need some gear? Check out the annual Ski and Snowboard Expo at Albany’s Times Union Center on Nov. 5 to 7. It’s a great place to pick up terrific deals on ski equipment and clothing. And the first 400 people on line Saturday and Sunday get a free ticket to Gore, West or Whiteface (with, admittedly, pretty stiff blackout dates from late December to early March). For more info, click here.

I’d suggest you get there an hour ahead of the 10 a.m. opening time if you want a close-enough place in line!

The Adirondack Sport and Fitness Magazine is planning its own Winter Expo at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Nov. 20 and 21. Admission is free, and a hundred exhibitors will be there representing all facets of winter sports and travel.

This year, visitors can try an indoor luge set up by USA Luge, which will offer free, wheeled rides on a tiny track. Got dreams of Olympic glory? The team will be looking for luge talent in kids as they try their luck down the “slope.” For more info, click here.

 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Hunting Season Safety

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

When I first moved to the Adirondacks I never took in consideration hunting season as having an effect on my outdoor activities. Yes, I realize that was naïve of me but I have no experience with hunting and had only hiked in the summer. During those warm months gun safety is not on a non-hunter’s radar. Since I can’t be the only person in this predicament, here are some simple rules to keep in mind.

There is room enough in a six-million-acre park for hunters and hikers. My children are well aware of what they need to do to be safe. We unpack our blaze orange vests and hats and stick to the trail. It is this time of year that I encourage them to talk loudly and stick together.

1) Don’t be afraid; be cautious.

2) Be informed of what is “in season.” There are a variety of hunting seasons from muzzleloading and bowhunting to rifle season. For the Northern Zone, Big Game (deer and bear) “regular” hunting season starts the last Saturday in October and runs through the first Sunday in December.

3) All state land is open to hunters.

4) As much as fluorescent clothing is an 80s fashion faux pas, it should be a hiker’s Vitamin C – as in “very good for your health.”

5) Keep in mind that hunters are not hunting you but wear bright colors as a precaution.

6) Keep to the trail. Assume hunters are aware of where the trails are.

7) If you are still worried, choose a safe place to hike like the Adirondack Mountain Club Reserve (AMC) or the Adirondack Visitors’ Center in Newcomb where no hunting is allowed.

8) If you hike with an animal remember to dress the dog in highly visible gear. An orange bandana and vest usually does the trick.

9) There are a lot of areas that are not laden with game so choose those places to go hiking and keep away from really popular spots. If a parking lot or road side is lined with cars with gun racks, take that as being popular.

10) Talk in a loud voice if you feel that you are in a dangerous spot. If you have children this shouldn’t be an issue, at least not with mine. They are rarely silent so any “game” would either cling to them for safety or is long gone.

Most importantly enjoy yourself and know that with a little bit of knowledge there is room for all to enjoy a hike in the woods.

Photo by Holly Garner-Jackson and used with the permission of Woodwind Gallery in Machias, ME


content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Eagle: Best Slide Climb in the Park?

What’s the best slide climb in the Adirondacks?

Many people say it’s the Eagle Slide in the west cirque of Giant Mountain. If you look at the cirque from the Ausable Club, the slide resembles an eagle with its wings outstretched.

The guidebook Adirondack Rock gives the Eagle five stars, its highest rating for the overall climbing experience. It offers 1,300 feet of open rock, with ever-expanding views of the High Peaks.

In the Yosemite Decimal System, the Eagle is a fourth-class climb. Wikipedia defines a fourth-class climb as follows: “Simple climbing, with exposure. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal.”

So an ascent of the Eagle should not be undertaken lightly. I’ve climbed it in hiking boots and in rock-climbing shoes. I recommend the latter.

Is the Eagle better than the Trap Dike, another fourth-class route that rates five stars? That’s a tough question that’s best evaded: although the Trap Dike climb finishes on a slide on the northwest side of Mount Colden, the dike itself is not a slide. So it’s in a different category.

Most of the popular slides in the Adirondacks are third-class climbs. Wikipedia defines third class as: “Scrambling with increased exposure. A rope can be carried but is usually not required. Falls are not always fatal.”

I suspect one reason the Eagle Slide has a five-star rating is precisely that it’s more dangerous and therefore more exciting. If you’re new to slide climbing, you’d be smart to start off on something easier. Some of my favorites are the slides on Dix, Nippletop, and Whiteface (bearing in mind that a fall in the wrong spot on any slide can have consequences). If there are any slide aficianados reading this, what are your suggestions?

By the way, I can attest to the perils of the Eagle. A few months ago, I slipped on a steep section and started sliding down the rock. Fortunately, a ledge prevented me from tumbling to the bottom (I landed standing up). The rock scraped the skin off most of my fingertips, but I was able to continue climbing.

I wrote an article about this trip for the November/December issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Accompanying me were the photographer Carl Heilman II and Eli Bickford, a twelve-year-old kid with a passion for slide climbing.

Carl took some spectacular photos. We used one of them for our cover. He also shot two short videos: one of me climbing, the other of Eli expounding on the allure of slide climbing.

You can find the story and videos on our website by clicking here.

Photo: Carl Heilman on the approach to the Eagle Slide, by Phil Brown.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Oct. 21)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

Newly Opened Roads
A number of roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted DEC’s ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season. All roads typically open in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest are now open. Lily Pond Road in Horicon has already reopened. Gay Pond Road in Warrensburg will be open by this weekend. Details on the openings can be found below. Jabe Pond Road in Hague, Buttermilk Road Extension in Warrensburg, Dacy Clearing Road in Fort Ann, Scofield Flats Road, Pikes Beach Access Road and the Bear Slides Access Road in Luzerne all remain temporarily closed.

Cold Wet Weather
National Weather Service is predicting snow showers mixed with rain Friday night and Saturday morning – snow showers only in the higher elevations and summits. Night-time and morning temperatures below freezing can be expected, especially in higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves or mittens. Take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat.

Snow Above 3000 Feet
Snow can be found on trails and summits over 3000 feet. Although there is a foot or more of snow on the ground in some locations, lesser amounts will be found on trails. Due to below freezing temperatures at night trails will be crusty in the morning. Snowshoes or skis are not required at this time but instep crampons are recommended as summits and other open areas are icy.

High Waters
Water levels continue to be high. Some waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

Special Blowdown Notice
Recent storms and high winds have resulted in a good deal of blowdown. Limbs, branches and trees may be found on and across trails, especially on lesser used side trails. Strong winds are expected Friday and Saturday.

Most DEC Campgrounds Are Now Closed
Now that Columbus Day has passed the only DEC campground open in the Adirondacks is the Fish Creek Campground, all the others are closed until next season. The Fish Creek Campground will close October 31st.

Do Not Feed Bears
In mid September a bear broke into a home in Inlet and had to be euthanized by DEC Forest Rangers. In late August a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Bears fed by humans (intentionally or incidentally) grow to not fear people. For this reason, two bears have now been killed this year; eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer. The Inlet and Old Forge corridor has traditionally had problems with bears.

Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, breezy; high near 37.
Friday Night: Slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, breezy, low around 25.
Saturday: Slight chance of snow and rain. Partly sunny; high near 48.
Saturday Night: Chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy; low around 32.
Sunday: Chance of rain and snow showers. Cloudy; high near 52.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

Snow Above 3000 Feet
Snow can be found on trails and summits over 3000 feet. Although there is a foot or more of snow on the ground in some locations, lesser amounts will be found on trails. Due to below freezing temperatures at night trails will be crusty in the morning. Snowshoes or skis are not required at this time but instep crampons are recommended as summits and other open areas are icy.

Colder Weather
Colder temperatures have arrived in the mountains. Night-time and morning temperatures in the 20s or colder are likely, especially at higher elevations. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves.

Darkness Arriving Earlier
Autumn has arrived and daylight hours have decreased. Know when sunset occurs and plan accordingly. Always pack or carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

Fire Danger: LOW

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
With waterfowl hunting seasons open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.

Motorists Alert: Moose
There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.

Hunting Seasons
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game have begun or will begin shortly. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected this regulation.

Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.

HIGH PEAKS

** Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season.

** The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.

Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

Upper Works to Duck Hole: All the foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and the Duck Hole have been replaced and the trail has been cleared.

Moose Pond Horse Trail: The bridges on the Moose Pond Horse Trail have been replaced, horse drawn wagons can access the trail to Ermine Brook.

Newcomb Lake – Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Crews have constructed and marked a reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail around an area flooded by beaver activity between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Water levels remain higher than normal due to recent rains. Waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

Adirondack Canoe Route: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.

Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Otter Brook Road, to the Otter Brook Gate, and the Indian Lake Road have been reopened with the assistance of the Town of Inlet, the Town of Indian Lake and Hamilton County highway departments. Previously, with their assistance, the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), Rock Dam Road and Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge, had been opened. Currently all roads that had typically been open to motor vehicle traffic in the Moose River Plains are open again.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness / N-P Trail: The bridge over Mud Creek, on the Northville-Placid Trail northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.

Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

EASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels continue to be high. Some waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

Gore Mountain: The Schaeffer Trail to the summit of Gore Mountain, has undergone a significant reroute. The new trailhead is located at the parking lot for Grunblatt Memorial Beach in North Creek. From there the trail leads southwest and then north, looping around the North Creek reservoir before continuing southwest to the summit.

** Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Horicon, Warren County has been reopened. The Town of Horicon Highway Department provided assistance with grading and fill material and the Town will continue to provide assistance with garbage removal, cleanup and inspection for the remainder of the year

** Lake George Wild Forest (West Side): The Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County will be open by this weekend [10/23-24]. The South Warren Snowmobile Club covered the cost of several new culverts to replace ones that had failed and been crushed under the road. DEC staff is undertaking the work to replace the culverts and to provide fill and grade the road, with completion expected by this weekend.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Dacy Clearing Road, Jabe Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Adirondack Canoe Route: Adirondack Canoe Route: Water levels remain higher than normal due to recent rains. Waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters.

** Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All easement lands are closed to public hunting as of September 1 and will be closed to all public access during the big game hunting season, which begins October 23. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291. The gate to The Pinnacle has been locked. The public may still walk the road and the trail until this Saturday, October 23, after which it will be closed for the big game hunting season.

** Raquette River Boat Launch: DEC will be removing the floating dock at the Raquette River Boat Launch on Route 3, also known as “The Crusher”, within the next week.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

** Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The DEC has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways and has sent adjacent landowners a letter asking them to remove the cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras put in place to deter the public from using the canoe route. If they fail to comply, the department warns, the matter could be referred to the state attorney general for legal action. “The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” the letter dated September 24th said.

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Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pepperbox Wilderness: A Bushwhacker’s Paradise

Those looking for an area with outstanding bushwhacking potential in the Adirondacks would be well rewarded by checking out the Pepperbox Wilderness Area, located in the northwestern Adirondack Park just northwest of Stillwater Reservoir.

At only 22,560 acres, the Pepperbox is one of the smallest of the Adirondack’s designated Wilderness Areas. It is bordered roughly by the West Branch of the Oswegatchie River to the north, the Herkimer County border on the west, the Beaver River to the south and Raven Lake Road to the east. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up with in its remoteness, containing mostly forested rolling hills and extensive wetland complexes. The few state trails here are all located in the northern portion. The Pepperbox is named after one of its many scattered unproductive water bodies, which total about 270 acres. The remoteness, lack of marked trails and limited use makes the Pepperbox a bushwhacker’s paradise.

The Pepperbox’s western half is characterized by extensive beaver meadows and small beaver ponds while its eastern half contains larger water bodies such as Sunshine Pond and the Moshier Ponds. The central part contains extensive unbroken forest with Moshier Creek roughly bisecting the wilderness down the middle. The northern portion, with its two miles of trails and in-holding access roads, is a more recent addition to the wilderness area and can be considered its “civilized” part. The bushwhacking opportunities here are less due to these trails and roads and therefore this part of the Pepperbox is given less mention in this article.

There are several points of access into the Pepperbox Wilderness. From the north there are several trails which enter the Pepperbox and allow access to the few water bodies located there. Such small lakes as Jakes Pond, Spring Pond, Tied Lake or Greigg Lake are all accessed via foot trail or dirt road mostly from Bear Pond Road. Trailhead parking is available for access from the east out of Stillwater Reservoir, in the west from Sand Pond Road near the county boundary (Lewis/Herkimer) and from the south via Moshier Falls Road. With a canoe one could access the southern border via the Moshier Reservoir along the Beaver River.

The northeastern portion of the wilderness area is characterized by a plentiful number of larger water bodies. This area is best accessed from a parking area at the end of Necessary Dam Road via the hamlet of Stillwater Reservoir. A trail register is located here for recording your planned trip, which is an excellent idea when bushwhacking through a trackless wilderness like the Pepperbox. Although the road continues over the Beaver River as a well-maintained dirt road, it is gated at the bridge and available for driving by the owners of an in-holding on Raven Lake only. The road, now referred to as Raven Lake Road, is a convenient jumping off point for bushwhacking adventures into the Pepperbox from the east. Raven Lake Road acts as a border separating the Pepperbox from the southern portion of the extensive Five Ponds Wilderness (the southern Five Ponds offers outstanding bushwhacking opportunities in its own right).

A perfect way to access the Pepperbox off of Raven Lake Road is an old hunting trail situated between the first main stream crossing and where the road turns east. Although this trail is unmarked it is easily followed along its southern end. It passes just south of a large beaver vly and then turns north following along the eastern side of the same stream crossed back on the road. The trail passes to the east of the beaver pond feeding the stream before taking a sharp turn to the northwest. At this sharp turn it is very easy to lose the trail as many dummy trails at this point can testify. While navigating over a bog along the south shore of a beaver pond south of Sunshine Pond watch for chicken wire nailed between two logs on the bog mat to avoid wet feet and guide you to the trail again on the opposite side. After several attempts I have yet to be able to follow the trail after reaching the western shore of this beaver pond. Despite the lack of a trail beyond this point a bushwhacker is well situated to explore the many water bodies in this portion of the Pepperbox. Sunshine, Deer, Moshier, Duck and Pepperbox Ponds and the surrounding area will provide days of exploring for the intrepid bushwhacker. Click here, here, here and here for my trip report in this area back in May 2010.

A parking area at the end of Sand Pond Road allows access to the northwestern portion of the Pepperbox. This area appears to get little use, evidenced by the lack of a register here. A short old logging road from the parking area provides access to a brushed-out state property boundary that can be followed east over a hill and through a fern-dominated wet area to the border of the Pepperbox’s western boundary.

This part of the Pepperbox is dominated by a single unnamed pond and the Cowboy Beaver Meadow. The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a series of old beaver vlys along the Alder Creek with little evidence of human activity. There are numerous places to cross the Alder Creek if one wishes to explore the steep rise on the opposite side. Between the pond and Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a hill with some steep cliffs to the east which should provide impressive views into the Cowboy Beaver Meadow below during the autumn and winter months when the tree foliage is absent. Keep an eye on the Bushwhacking Fool this winter for a trip report on my adventure through this area on Labor Day 2009.

The southwestern portion of the Pepperbox contains the extensive Threemile Beaver Meadow, numerous unnamed beaver ponds and a series of unusual glacial ridges. A parking lot and trailhead register are available here along Moshier Falls Road. Although the sign in the parking lot implies the trail to the Pepperbox leaves the parking lot, the true trail is across the street where it crosses bridges on both the Sunday Creek and the Beaver River.

The trail continues across the Beaver River and through a power line right-of-way before reaching the Pepperbox’s southern border where a sign warns that there are no marked trails beyond. As if mocking this official sign there is a well-used trail marked with gray paint slashes winding north into the unbroken forest. This trail remains easy to follow all the way to a large beaver vly east of the largest pond in the Threemile Beaver Meadow. North of this vly the trail loses its gray slashes and becomes less distinct though rumor has it one can follow it all the way to Bear Pond. I have tried this myself in the past with only limited success though I did manage to reach Bear Pond by bushwhacking a significant amount of the way.

Along the trail before reaching the large beaver vly there are several side trails to the west which gives access to the extensive Threemile Beaver Meadow. The Threemile Beaver Meadow is a beautiful and extensive series of beaver ponds and meadows well worth exploring.

A good bushwhacker can find many old herd paths in the Threemile Beaver Meadow area and there are even a few hunters’ camps scattered about, some recently used and others vacant for many years. This area appears to be heavily used during hunting season, and for good reason, as I have never seen a higher density of deer in the Adirondacks. Click here for a trip teaser about my recent bushwhack through the Threemile Beaver Meadow in September 2010.

To the north and west of the Threemile Beaver Meadow are a series of beaver ponds scattered about giving a bushwhacker numerous opportunities for exploration. For those interested in glacial landforms there is a series of steep and narrow ridges to the west of the beaver meadow. These ridges tend to end abruptly so one should use caution to avoid getting stuck out on one. The remnants of an old fire tower exists on one the highest ridges. The site of this fire tower, now merely the foundation and a few scattered boards, makes an additional interesting destination while trekking through this area.

The combination of hunting trails and unbroken wilderness makes the Pepperbox an excellent area for the beginning and experienced bushwhacker. So if you are looking for an interesting area to explore via bushwhacking then you cannot go wrong with the Pepperbox Wilderness Area in the northwestern Adirondacks.

Photos: Alder Creek along Cowboy Beaver Meadow, Sunshine Pond and Threemile Beaver Meadow by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking experiences at Bushwhacking Fool.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Breaking: DEC Defending Paddlers’ Rights

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways.

In a letter to the landowners, DEC asks them to remove cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras meant to deter the public from using the canoe route. If they fail to comply, the department warns, the matter could be referred to the state attorney general for legal action.

Christopher Amato, DEC’s assistant commissioner for natural resources, wrote the letter in September after negotiations with the owners failed to reach an agreement.

“The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” Amato said in the letter, dated September 24.

Amato told the Adirondack Explorer that DEC won’t take action right away. He hopes that the owners—the Brandreth Park Association and its affiliate, the Friends of Thayer Lake—will reconsider their position over the winter. Spokesmen for the owners declined to comment.

The Explorer will carry a full report in its November/December issue. The story is online now and can be read here.

The Explorer touched off the dispute last year by publishing my account of a canoe trip from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila. Instead of portaging around private land, I paddled down the three waterways. After that article appeared, the Sierra Club asked DEC to force the landowners to remove a cable and no-trespassing signs along the route. The landowners, however, put up a second cable and installed motion-activated cameras.

DEC contends that the public has a common-law right to paddle the waterways. The owners argue that the common law applies only to water bodies that have a history of commercial use (and the three waterways in question do not).

If the landowners stick to their guns, it’s likely that the dispute will end up in the courts.

Past posts to the Almanack on this topic, both by Mary Thill and myself, have generated much discussion. It will be interesting to see what readers on both sides of the debate have to say about this latest development.

Illustrations: Phil Brown on Shingle Shanty Brook by Susan Bibeau; a map of the Lila Traverse is online.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Alan Wechsler: Climbing at Shelving Rock

About a decade ago, I was riding a speedboat across Lake George — heading north to the Narrows — when I looked over to the eastern shore. There, right above the land formerly known as the Knapp Estate, was a series of large cliffs below Shelving Rock Mountain.

“I wonder if there’s climbing there?” I thought.

Turns out there is. It took a few years, but several local climbers have recently put up a variety of routes on the cliffs. According to Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Haas, authors of Adirondack Rock, there are six different cliff areas known together as Shelving Rock. » Continue Reading.