online, but note this is a physically demanding activity. Caleb Davis, proprietor of Tremolo, creates handcrafted canoe paddles. He is a former shop teacher and a member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. Tremolo is both a vocation and a passion for Caleb, whose enthusiasm towards the art of both canoeing and paddle making is contagious; all it takes is five minutes with Caleb to make you want to pick up a blank and craft that perfect paddle, then to jump into your solo or tandem canoe and master traditional flatwater paddling techniques.
Davis is a skilled instructor and continues to enhance his skills with course work and certifications. His past and current certifications include: Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association Instructor, Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association Instructor, Eastern Professional Ski Touring (XC) Instructor, United States Rowing Association Coach, League of New Hampshire Craftsman – Canoe Paddles, American Canoeing Association Flat Water Tandem Instructor, American Canoeing Association Flat Water Solo Instructor, Traditional Flatwater Canoeing Association.
What follows is the March-June Forest Ranger Activity Report for DEC Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack region. Although not a comprehensive detailing of all backcountry incidents, 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.
Yellow-Yellow, a shy black bear with a yellow tag on each ear, became famous in 2009 as the one bear in North America who could open a food canister specifically designed to baffle her kind. She’s still at large, still popping the occasional can, but a truce seems to have settled over the Adirondack High Peaks.
The 18-to-20-year-old bear came out of hibernation this spring and continues to roam near South Meadow, Klondike Notch and thereabouts, reports Ben Tabor, a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wildlife biologist. Tabor will discuss black bears in a free lecture at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks Information Center in Lake Placid. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding campers, hikers and homeowners to take precautions against unwanted encounters with black bears (Ursus americanus). There are approximately 4,000 – 5,000 bears in New York’s northern bear range, primarily in the Adirondacks. Bear populations have been increasing in number and expanding in distribution over the past decade. Ten nuisance bears have been euthanize over the past two years in the Adirondacks, primarily from areas around the Fulton Chain, after be unwittingly fed by visiting campers. » Continue Reading.
Last weekend, the Mountaineer sponsored an annual footrace that passes through the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area in Keene. It’s a popular event that benefits local charities.
This year, as in the past, I received an e-mail at the Adirondack Explorer from Jim Close contending that the race is illegal.
Close argues that competitive races violate the letter and spirit of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, which defines Wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man” and which offers “outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.”
“It is no more appropriate to hold competitive running events in the wilderness than it is to play baseball in the Sistine Chapel,” Close wrote the Explorer.
Since the state Department of Environmental Conservation issues permits each year for the Great Adirondack Trail Run, it obviously disagrees with Close (who, incidentally, works at DEC). The department also has issued a permit for the Wakely Dam Ultra in July, a 32.6-mile race through the West Canada Lake Wilderness.
Close may be something of a gadfly, but he is not alone in his criticism. Earlier this year, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve called on DEC to prohibit such events in Wilderness Areas as well as in Primitive and Canoe Areas. And several years ago, the historian Philip Terrie published a piece in the Adirondack Explorer contending that races violate management guidelines for Wilderness Areas.
“The spirit, the ethos, of the State Land Master Plan makes it clear from the outset that the state seeks to protect a certain kind of experience, one that involves serenity, getting away from the life of city and suburb, and a personal engagement with nature,” Terrie wrote. “All of these are fundamentally disrupted when an erratic procession of runners comes barreling down the trail.”
Apart from the interpretation of the State Land Master Plan, there are two basic concerns: (1) Do these competitions damage the environment? (2) Do they detract from the wilderness experience of hikers and other recreationists?
In a letter to DEC, Adirondack Wild asserts that “organized events which concentrate human use on the Forest Preserve demonstrably do a lot of damage to natural resources.”
However, DEC says there is no evidence that the Great Adirondack Trail Run or the Wakely Dam Ultra inflicts lasting damage on the Forest Preserve.
As to the second question, it’s true that some hikers might be annoyed by passing runners. The fact is, though, that DEC has received no complaints from hikers in the years it has permitted the trail runs. It’s possible that hikers were annoyed but didn’t lodge a complaint. Still, the lack of an outcry suggests that the annoyance to hikers is more hypothetical than actual. And it must must be weighed against the real benefits that races bring to the community and to the competitors.
Judging by the evidence, then, it appears that trail races do no harm and bother no one (in the field, at least). If the evidence turns out to be wrong, DEC should reconsider its position. Otherwise, the argument against these races relies on the interpretation of the State Land Master Plan, which is not explicit on the matter.
Some people might object to trail races—or even solo trail running—on aesthetic grounds. How can a person appreciate nature while dashing through the forest? This question was asked in 2002 when Ted “Cave Dog” Keizer, in a highly publicized effort, set a speed record (later broken) for climbing all the High Peaks. Last week, Sheryl Wheeler set a record by completing the 122-mile Northville-Placid Trail in 35 hours 15 minutes. After we posted a link about her feat on the Explorer’s Facebook page, one person commented, “Wow way to enjoy nature.”
As someone who occasionally runs on trails (though not for 122 miles), I can address this point. First, running through the forest is a way to enjoy nature. It’s just different from hiking, say, or birding. Second, if I am at all typical, most trail runners are also hikers, paddlers, cross-country skiers, etc. Running is just one way they enjoy nature, not the only way. The suggestion that trail runners don’t appreciate nature is a canard. Third, if someone wants to run on a trail, as opposed to walk, skip, or ride a bike, so what?
Those of you who do enjoy trail running may be interested in a new online venture called Xoona (ZOO-na), begun by Peter Fish and Allan Rego, two outdoors enthusiasts from Lake Placid. The Xoona website contains a number of routes for trail running (as well as other outdoor pursuits). Participants run the routes at their convenience— alone or with friends — and post their times. It’s a way of competing without the hassle or expense of organized races. And without the legal questions.
You can learn more about Xoona in an article by Susan Bibeau in the July/August issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Click here to read it online.
Photo by Susan Bibeau: a trail runner on a Xoona course.
Those that believe the expense, need and usage isn’t warranted are often pitted against nostalgic train riders who want to ride the rails. For now the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is running full steam ahead for the summer season. For parents wishing for a different type of experience, perhaps this is the way to go. I have never been sure what made my son stop in his tracks when he heard a train’s whistle. Is it a taste of magic, new destinations or a promise of adventure? For us as we board the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and hear the conductor yell “Ready to button up,” it is a bit of each. With our busy lives this is one Adirondack family activity where we really do get to sit and watch clouds go by. » Continue Reading.
On Sunday over 200 cyclists participated in the Wilmington/Whiteface 100 K race. While some were hoping just to complete the challenging 57-mile course, others were aiming to qualify for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race (LT100). People from all walks of life competed in this event, from professionals to Olympic athletes.
The Leadville 100 was created in 1994 and participants previously had to gain access by using a lottery system; now, athletes hoping to complete in the prestigious race can qualify through one of the qualifying races in Wilmington, Tahoe, and Crested Butte. Each of the three races allow 100 racers to qualify for spots in the LT 100; 50 of these slots are based on age group performance, while the other 50 with a drawing among the athletes who finished within the time standard. Wilmington’s race, along with the other two in the western part of the country, is one of the inaugural races, as 2011 is the first year ever to allow athletes to qualify. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will begin developing a unit management plan (UMP) for the 42,408-acre unit called Tug Hill North. The Unit is located in the Lewis County towns of Harrisburg, Martinsburg, Montague and Pinckney and the Jefferson County towns of Lorraine, Rodman, Rutland and Worth just outside the Adirodnack Park.
An open house meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, from 7-9 p.m. at the Copenhagen Central School. Before the meeting, from 6 to 7 p.m., the public will have an opportunity to meet one on one with DEC planning staff and offer comments regarding the future management of the area. Additional opportunities for public review and comments will be available after a draft is prepared. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack backcountry users and the state’s natural resources will both receive a higher level of protection following the creation of a Backcountry Stewards Internship Program, a new partnership between New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA), and the reinstatement of the Assistant Forest Ranger program. The Backcountry Stewardship Program expands on a long-running partnership between SCA and DEC that began more than a decade ago in the Hudson River Valley and the Adirondacks. Funding from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) will be matched by contributions from SCA to hire college-aged students to work on state lands. » Continue Reading.
Baseball has its World Series, football the Super Bowl and mountain biking has the Leadville Trail 100. The Leadville 100 (LT 100) is legendary. Since 1994, the 103 mile long race, set 13,000 feet up in the treacherous Colorado Rocky terrain has tested each rider’s determination. Among those tested at LT 100 have been seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and Levi Leipheimer, the 2006 winner of the Dauphiné Libéré, and 2005 Deutschland Tour champion.
For the first time, one of the LT100 qualifying races will take place this Sunday, June 19, in Wilmington. The inaugural Wilmington/Whiteface 100k is expected to bring more than 300 top cyclists to the area, each hoping to grab one of 100 coveted spots into the LT 100. The race is part of the second Wilmington/Whiteface Bike Fest, a four-day event which also includes the Whiteface Uphill Road Race and the “Brainless Not Chainless Gravity Ride.” The Bike Fest is expected to bring an additional 4,000 bike enthusiasts to the Wilmington area. » Continue Reading.
There are many places in the Adirondacks where one can get away from the crowds but few as remote as the Cowboy Beaver Meadow in the northwestern corner of the Pepperbox Wilderness.
The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a series of beaver swales along the Alder Creek. Nearby one can find a lovely unnamed pond and several beaver created wetlands. But if you expect to find any crowds then think again; this is a rarely visited place. Other than the occasional bushwhacker or hunters during the fall this place probably rarely gets many visitors. The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is an ideal place for those contemplating exploring the backcountry beyond the trails and trying their hand at bushwhacking. Bordered on the east and south by the Alder Creek, north by a dirt road south of Spring Pond and west by the Herkimer/Lewis county line this area allows for testing one’s navigation skills while providing enough natural/man-made landmarks to remain oriented on a map.
The origin of the name for these beaver meadows along the Alder Creek remains unknown. According to a posting on the Adkforum website, the beaver meadow was named after a mysterious cowboy who made his residence in the area around the time of the Civil War.
Gaining access to the Cowboy Beaver Meadow is a challenge. The easiest access is from the west out of Croghan via Prentice Road, a gravel road that eventually turns south and becomes the Main Haul Road. This is a fairly decent dirt road suitable for most cars but caution is required due to the occasional ATV traffic.
Although the Main Haul Road continues to the Soft Maple Reservoir, the Cowboy Beaver Meadow parking area lies at the end of Sand Pond Road located just south of the Sand Pond parking lot. Do not expect a sign or register here, although an old “Parking Area” sign nailed on a tree is present, it is now mostly obscured by new growth.
Historical topographic maps show the area once had a more significant human presence than it does today. An unimproved road once followed along the Alder Creek through the beaver meadow on its way from Long Pond to Crooked Lake. In addition, another road left the beaver meadow and headed up along Pepperbox Creek. A winding, low rock ridge resembling a beaver dam made of boulders that crosses the Alder Creek between beaver ponds is probably the remnants of this old road.
In addition to the rare human artifact there are numerous natural landmarks to investigate in this area, including the many beaver ponds along the Alder Creek, an unnamed pond and a hill with steep forested cliffs.
The unnamed pond provides an attractive place for camping while visiting the area. Several islands exist within the pond although they are merely muddy, slightly raised areas covered with semi-aquatic grasses, sedges and other vegetation. Beavers and hooded mergansers frequent this pond and its islands.
Many dead trees choke the shoreline of the pond. Along the west shore sits a large, stick nest located at the top of one of these snags near the shoreline. This nest may belong to either a great blue heron or possibly an osprey but remained unoccupied during the late summer.
An elevated area between the pond and the beaver swales along Alder Creek provides an opportunity to gain some perspective on the area. The forested cliffs provide a destination but do not expect much in the way of views. Although the hills to the east beyond the Alder Creek can be seen through the tree canopy these minimal views are merely a tease since a clear view of the Cowboy Beaver Meadow remains elusive. A better view may be available during the autumn months after most of the leaves have descended from the canopy.
The Cowboy Beaver Meadow is the main attraction of the area. This meadow is a series of beaver swales following along the Alder Creek as it meanders toward the Beaver River to the south.
The meadows range from wide and relatively dry open, shrubby areas to just a narrow corridor surrounding the creek. Most of the creek is slow moving with many pools along its length but at some points, the tannin-rich water flows swiftly over bare rock with frequent small waterfalls. Opportunities for crossing the stream and exploring to the east of the creek are plentiful in late summer.
For those wanting to experiment with bushwhacking in a seemingly remote area should consider the Cowboy Beaver Meadow area within the northwestern Pepperbox Wilderness. The area provides a beaver pond, a series of beaver swales along the Alder Creek and human artifacts from bygone days. So, saddle up and enjoy!
Photos: Beaver pond within Cowboy Beaver Meadow, unnamed pond and rocky portion of Alder Creek by Dan Crane.
Team Placid Planet, a cycling and multisport club based in Lake Placid and the High Peaks Region, will host the 4th Annual Wilmington-Whiteface Road Race on Saturday, June 11th and the 3rd Annual Saranac Lake Downtown Criterium (NYS Criterium Championships) on Sunday, June 12th. Both races are sanctioned by USA Cycling, the national cycling sanctioning body, and provide opportunities for men, women, and youth of a variety of experience levels as well as first-time racers to participate.
More than $4,600 in cash and merchandise prizes, medals and trophies will be awarded. A portion of the proceeds from the race will be donated to local charities in Wilmington and Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.
Boaters on Adirondack waterways will be a lot more likely to be questioned about whether they are transporting invasive species at local boat launches this year thanks to a boost in funding for two water steward programs. The Watershed Stewardship Program at Paul Smith’s College will nearly quadruple its workforce across the central Adirondacks this year while the Lake George Association is also expanding its coverage at Lake George.
With the help of a grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Paul Smith’s stewards will help protect three major recreational areas: Saratoga Lake; the Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake region; and the Fulton Chain of Lakes in the Old Forge area. The Lake George Association’s Lake Steward Program on Lake George will also significantly expand over last year’s level thanks to new funding provided by the Lake George Park Commission. » Continue Reading.
Were it not for the fact that we couldn’t find the Bear Trap, we wouldn’t have discovered the Indian Lake Restaurant and Oak Barrel Tavern.
After driving by three times, we decided to stop, out of both curiosity and the need for directions. The handful of cars in the large parking lot didn’t inspire high hopes, but at least they were open. The entrance to the tavern is separate from the restaurant entrance, but we managed to find the correct door and were immediately and cheerfully greeted by Kristen, the bartender. A few small groups of patrons dotted the long, narrow bar; some nodding their greetings. So far so good. The beautiful antique bar of ornate columns and mirrors immediately catches the eye and looks somewhat out of place in the otherwise ordinary-looking space. Pam asked about it and was directed to read the story, printed and framed on the wall, a few customers chiming in with additional facts. She returned to her seat and gave Kim a brief synopsis, but had to go back and read it again when Kim posed more questions. By that time, she aroused the curiosity of some of the patrons and began her usual banter. They wanted her to notice the twenty-one point mounted deer head recently added to the same wall. “Oooh, that’s a very impressive moose,” she taunted. “It’s a deer,” several of them immediately corrected. “You could pass it off as a moose to some people from the city,” Pam chided. Again, the ice was broken and they proceeded to share the story of the deer with her. We’re sure they will share the story with you when you visit.
The Oak Barrel Tavern bears evidence of several influences, evolved over many decades. The bar and shelving behind it were originally part of the historic Old Nassau Tavern in Princeton, NJ. A restoration project in downtown Princeton called for demolition of the tavern, and a contractual agreement was drawn requiring that the bar be moved 250 miles outside the New York City area. Purchased in the 1930’s, the bar was carefully dismantled and brought to Indian Lake, where it was reassembled at Farrell’s Tavern and remains today. An old photo post card we found on eBay of Farrell’s Tavern shows that little of the interior of the Indian Lake Tavern has changed since the 1940’s.
While at the North Creek Beer Fest last Saturday we met Jeff and Nina who provided us with more background on the Oak Barrel. Jeff is currently working on a book about the history of rafting in the area and told us that the Oak Barrel was “ground zero” for rafting companies and outfitters centered in Indian Lake in the 1980’s, and a favorite meeting place for post-rafting adventurers to relive their experiences “rivering on the Hudson”. A couple of framed rafting photos corroborate the rafting influence. Jeff also made mention of “whipped cream incidents” and “flashing”, though would not elaborate.
Draft beer choices were limited to LaBatt Blue, Michelob Light and Blue Moon (which they were out of at the moment). There were, however, 24 bottled choices on the menu. Because the name immediately caught her attention, Kim chose a Lake Placid 46er Pale Ale. Not a big fan of pale ale, this one was different from most. A warm copper color, creamy and somewhat thick, with an earthy, slightly sweet toffee flavor and faint citrus notes, the 46er is less bitter than other pale ales. A generous wine selection including reds, whites, sparkling and dessert, Pam was happy to find a white zin. The adjoining liquor store offers many more wine choices, which, with a $10.00 cork fee, can be purchased and consumed with dinner.
We weren’t really there to eat, but the menu deserves mention. Appetizers consist of typical bar fare, but at closer inspection, a more extensive and creative selection emerges, all very reasonably priced. Burgers and sandwiches are all priced between $6 and $8. Four pasta choices including the interesting “Absolutely Shrimp and Sausage” range from $12 to $16, along with salads, steak, seafood and chicken entrees and even meatloaf and shepherd’s pie; none over $20.
Since the Indian Lake Restaurant and Tavern was not our target destination, we didn’t get all our usual information, but we’re really glad we found it. The staff and patrons created a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, earning a Happy Hour in the High Peaks “thumbs up”.
Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog.
A recent weekend in the northwestern Adirondacks during May gave me a new perspective on surviving black fly season in a year with a prodigious amount of rainfall. The size and intensity of the swarm continuously hovering around my head not only necessitated a plethora of insect repellent but the frequent use of a piece of equipment that rarely sees the light of day: the head net.
Although a good head net is a necessity during black fly season, it probably should be carried at all times during the warmer months. A head net can sometimes come in handy beyond black fly season when camping in a mosquito-frequented area or anytime no-see-ums congregant on your head in large numbers. An effective head net should be black in color and have mesh small enough to keep away even the tinniest of blood sucking insects. An elasticized closure at the bottom of the head net is helpful to seal off the mesh around your neck. In addition, it should be compact and lightweight enough to easily and conveniently fit within an overstuffed backpack on a multi-day trip.
The dark color of the mesh has little to do with making a fashion statement. The dark color reduces the amount of glare from the sun when wearing the head net. This can be of critical importance if you plan on doing any birding while wearing the head net.
Despite their porous nature, head nets can be very hot when worn. Although this can be an advantage on cold days when a hat is not available, it is usually an added annoyance on warm days especially with a swarm of ravenous blood-sucking insects about your head.
On those days when the swarm is especially intense, drinking and eating can be done without taking off the head net. Drinking should be done right through the mesh but it is best to refrain from drinking anything other than water since any residue left behind may attract larger, and potentially more dangerous, wildlife.
Eating is also possible while wearing a head net. With the right type of head net, eating can be accomplished by placing the food inside the head net and then manipulating the food article with your hands from outside the head net. This is an excellent technique for keeping the swarm of insects from landing on and potentially ruining your meal as well. Take care not to attempt to eat anything sticky this way though, as any residue left behind will create the same problem as non-water drinks.
A lightweight head net will alleviate any associated anxiety of carrying a potentially extraneous piece of equipment for the extremely weight-conscious backcountry explorer. Compactness ensures the fine mesh does not get ripped during the packing process, preventing a potentially painful breach in your insect protection barrier (repairable with duct tape, if necessary).
Head nets tend to come in two different types. One resembles a mesh hood while the other tends to incorporate one or more rings into the mesh so as to keep the mesh away from one’s face. The hooded type should be avoided as the mesh tends to end up resting on one’s face more often giving the ingenious little buggers an opportunity to do some blood-sucking.
The head nets using rings are definitely superior to the hooded type. The rings, made of hard plastic, foam or metal, keep the mesh away from the face and therefore provide more effective protection. The rings’ material should not be too easily bent or anyone with even a moderate case of obsessive-compulsion disorder may spend many hours attempting to get them back into their original shape.
The Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net is a perfect example of the hooded type of head net. It is a very lightweight head net with a true black mesh that packs up into its own very small stuff sack. This head net weighs only 1.3 ounces and the typical prices online range from $8 to $10.
Unfortunately, this head net has one crucial flaw. With 500 holes per square inch the head net is completely ineffectual for no-see-ums. This flaw became painfully apparent to me on a trip to Big Shallow Pond in the Five Ponds Wilderness several years ago. This flaw makes the Sea to Summit head net ineffectual for use in the Adirondack for all those who do not enjoy no-see-um bites.
In contrast, the Outdoor Research Deluxe Spring Ring Headnet is one of the better ring head nets available from the major outdoor equipment manufacturers. The mesh is very finely woven; not even the runt of a no-see-um litter could possibly penetrate it. This head net packs down to a small size and is very lightweight, weighing a mere 2.2 ounces. This head net has a manufacturers suggested retail price of $19.
An important feature of the OR Deluxe Spring Ring head net is the aluminum ring sewn within the mesh located about chin-level. This ring keeps the mesh away from your face and therefore keeps the little bloodsuckers from biting you where the mesh rests against your skin. Unfortunately, it needs to be worn with a hat otherwise the blood suckers can easily bite your scalp through the mesh (and your hair) on the top of your head. When twisted this aluminum ring collapses into a smaller size so it can be packed within the attached stuff sack and stowed away in your pack.
One minor flaw of the OR head net is the color of the mesh. Although the mesh is dark in color, it is not quite black. It appears to be more charcoal in color and therefore does not provide all the reduction in glare possible. Unless the head net is going to be used in direct sunshine where glare can be an issue (e.g. birding), this should not be a major concern.
During the height of bug season it is important to use any means available to maintain your sanity when surrounded by hordes of blood-sucking insects such as black flies, mosquitoes and deer flies. A head net can be one of the best ways to protect your head and maintain your mental health during this time of the year. Just be sure to use one that is effective against all of the possible pesky blood-sucking insects present.
Photos: Outdoor Research Deluxe Spring Ring Headnet by Outdoor Research and Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net by Sea to Summit.
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