Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The History of the ’90-Miler’ in Rochester

A special program, “The History of the 90-Miler” will be held on May 5, 2011 in Rochester. Adirondack Museum Curator Hallie Bond will share the history of the “90-Miler” at the Midtown Athletic Club from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The fee for the program is $10 per person, and includes a cocktail reception.

The “90-Miler” or Adirondack Canoe Classic is a canoe and guideboat race that celebrates the era of human-powered boats in the Adirondacks. The race begins in Old Forge, N.Y. and proceeds up the Fulton Chain of Lakes into Raquette Lake and on to the Saranac Lakes, finishing in the Village of Saranac Lake. In its 28th year, the event is so popular that registration is capped at 250 boats.

Special guest Nancie Battaglia will share photographs of the race, including her award winning aerial photo of the 90-miler chosen as one of Sports Illustrated‘s 2009 Pictures of the Year. A renowned Lake Placid, N.Y. based photographer, Nancie Battaglia is a regular contributor to the New York Times and Adirondack Life magazine and shot the 2010 Winter Olympics in
Vancouver.

The ninety-mile water route from Old Forge to Saranac Lake forms what was known a century and a half ago as the “Great Central Valley” of the Adirondacks. It was the best route through the wilderness at the time – easier travel than roads, which were distinguished by quagmires, corduroy, steep inclines, and rocks. The key to traveling via waterway was the Adirondack guideboat. The Great Central Valley is no longer the most efficient way to get through the Adirondacks, but still has tremendous appeal to people who follow it to experience the woods and waters as the original travelers did.

The Adirondack Museum invites all those who have taken part in the 90-Miler, to come and share your own stories of adventure.

Reservations must be made directly with the Midtown Athletic Club by calling (585) 461-2300.

Hallie E. Bond has been Curator at the Adirondack Museum since 1987. She has written extensively on regional history and material culture including Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks, published by Syracuse University Press in 1995 and ‘A Paradise for Boys and Girls’: Children’s Camps in the Adirondacks, Syracuse University Press, 2005.

Photo: Paddlers in the 90-Miler by Nancie Battaglia.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inlet’s Woods ands Water Outdoor Expo

Inlet’s Woods and Waters Outdoor Expo will share information about outdoor recreational opportunities and products on Saturday and Sunday June 4th and 5th 2011. The event will be hosted by the Inlet Area Business Association (IABA) on the Arrowhead Park Lakefront.

The free public event is expected to be a multi-themed outdoor recreational event hosting booths containing products for power sports, paddling, mountain biking, hiking, camping, and fishing. Not for profit Organizations from the many fitness events, environmental organizations, and tourism councils throughout the Adirondack Park are expected to attend. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ADK Offering NYS Guide License Training

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) is offering a training program for outdoor educators and leaders who want to obtain a New York State Guides License. The three-day course provides all certification courses needed for the guide license, plus additional workshops to prepare you for the guide license exam and to hone your skills in leading others in the backcountry.

Sonny Young, long-time president of the New York State Outdoor Guides Association (NYSOGA), will be the instructor for First-Aid, CPR and Basic Water Safety certifications. He will also make a presentation about NYSOGA. A New York forest ranger will speak about state regulations, and ADK Outdoor Leadership Coordinator Ryan Doyle will speak on backcountry preparedness, outdoor leadership skills and Leave No Trace outdoor skills and ethics. The training program will be held May 16-18 at ADK’s Heart Lake Program Center in the Adirondack High Peaks region.

The cost of the program is $179 for ADK members and $197 for nonmembers.

For more information about the program, call Ryan (518) 523-3480 Ext. 19 or send an e-mail to workshops@adk.org. To register, call (518) 523-3441. Information about the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Licensed Guide Program is available at www.dec.ny.gov/permits/30969.html.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to the protection of New York’s Forest Preserve. ADK is a nonprofit membership organization that helps protect the Forest Preserve, state parks and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation. More information about ADK is available at www.adk.org.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gear Review: Highlite Sleeping Bag

Having an effective sleeping system is crucial to any backcountry explorer. After a full day of hiking or bushwhacking it is essential to get a good night’s rest. The sleeping bag is the most important part of any sleeping system as it provides insulation from the cooler evening temperatures allowing for a restful night’s sleep.

A good backcountry sleeping bag should be light weight, compressible, insulating, and durable. Western Mountaineering’s Highlite down sleeping bag meets all those criteria and is an ideal bag for the Adirondacks from late spring to early fall. The Highlite is incredibly light-weight, compresses down to the size of a loaf of bread and is worthy of Western Mountaineering’s reputation for impeccable quality.

Everything about the Highlite has been designed with reducing weight in mind. In fact, this sleeping bag is the lightest one on the market. The Highlite comes in three different sizes based on a person’s height and weighs from 15 to 17 ounces depending on the size.

The sleeping bag is rated down to a temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It is insulated with 850+ goose down and has a total fill weight of 7 to 9 ounces (depending on the size).

The down is wrapped in a .9 ounce ExtremeLite™ shell fabric purported to be the lightest and densest (measured by threads per inch) on the market. This fabric appears to be dense enough to prevent the sleeping bag from losing any but a small amount of it precious down feathers. But with any light-weight fabric special care is necessary to avoid ware and tear.

The zipper is the weakest part of this sleeping bag. The one-way zipper is small and cut to half of the bag length to cut down on weight. Although the zipper works well but zips apart at the bottom, which can be irritating when it happens in the middle of the night and it becomes difficult to zip it up to avoid a mid-night chill.

The bag is cut in such a way as to reduce both excess weight and internal volume and thus increase the internal heating rate. This allows the bag to heat up more quickly, which can be greatly appreciated on a chilly evening.

The Highlite is purple on the outside and black on the inside. The dark colors make it easier to dry the sleeping bag in the sun on long trips.

As a bonus the Highlite is made in the good ole U.S. of A.

The Highlite is an awesome sleeping bag for the spring to fall seasons in the Adirondacks. This sleeping bag has been my go-to bag for many years. I have found it always comfortable and rarely needs any supplements like a silk liner or wearing extra clothing.

Although some people might hesitate using a down bag in the Adirondacks where the risk of rain is ever present but if one takes the required precautions (e.g. using a waterproof stuff sack, pack liner and/or pack cover) there should be no problem with the Highlite.

For a light-weight, warm, comfortable and well made sleeping bag for any backcountry adventure you cannot go wrong with Western Mountaineering’s Highlite sleeping bag. It will keep you comfortable on those chilly Adirondack evenings in most conditions but it will not weigh down your backpack or take up too much space.

Photos: Highlite sleeping bag by Western Mountaineering.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ADK to Host 15th Annual Black Fly Affair

ADK’s 15th annual gala and auction will be held from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday, May 21, at the Hiland Park Country Club, 195 Haviland Road, Queensbury. The Black Fly Affair is ADK’s signature event and largest fund-raiser. Recommended attire is formal dress (black tie) and hiking boots, although the dress code will not be strictly enforced.

“Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball” features one of the region’s largest benefit auctions – an opportunity to shop for bargains on original artwork, outdoor gear, jewelry, weekend getaways, tickets to cultural events and more. Proceeds from the event support the Adirondack Mountain Club’s conservation and outdoor education programs.

Stan Hall, president of the Cooperstown Brewing Co., is the honorary chairperson. Radio personality Gregory McKnight will be master of ceremonies. There will be food, beverages and dancing to the music of Standing Room Only. Cooperstown Brewing Co. will provide samples of its premium ales, porters and stouts.

ADK boasts one of the largest silent auctions in the region in addition to its very lively live auction. Jim and Danielle Carter of Acorn Estates & Appraisals will conduct the auction. A preview of auction items is available online.

Tickets are $45 per person until May 13, and $55 after May 13 and at the door. For reservations, call (800) 395-8080 Ext. 25 or register online. Discounted room rates for Black Fly attendees are available at Clarion Inn & Suites, 1454 Route 9, Lake George. Hiland Park Golf Club is offering Black Fly participants a special deal on a round of golf before the event. Call (518) 793-2000 for tee times.

Corporate sponsors of Black Fly Affair are the Times Union, Jaeger & Flynn Associates, TD Bank, Cool Insuring Agency, Price Chopper Golub Foundation and JBI Helicopter Services. To donate an auction item or to become a corporate sponsor, contact Deb Zack at (800) 395-8080 Ext. 42.

The Adirondack Mountain Club is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to the protection of the New York Forest Preserve. ADK helps protect the Forest Preserve, state parks and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation. More information is available at www.adk.org.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Books: Best Easy Day Hikes

Saranac Lake native Lisa Densmore has just published her second Adirondack guidebook within the past year: Best Easy Day Hikes: Adirondacks, a selection of twenty-two hikes, most of them under four miles.

Densmore chose the hikes from her longer book, Adirondack Hiking, reviewed here . The descriptions have been condensed and the photos dispensed with. As a result, the new book is slimmer (126 pages), more compact (4¼ by 7 inches), and less expensive ($9.95). It fits easily into a backpack.

All of these hikes are worth doing. People may differ on how easy they are, as all of them involve climbing to a summit or lookout. Perhaps Best Short Climbs would have been a more accurate title.

Half of the hikes are less than three miles. The easiest is probably Bald Mountain outside Old Forge: a two-mile round trip with only 353 feet of ascent. Only four hikes are longer than five miles. The hardest is Noonmark Mountain in Keene: 6.3 miles round trip with 2,100 feet of ascent.

At the top of each chapter, Densmore lists the following facts about the hike: total distance, type of hike (“out and back” or loop), highest point, vertical gain, hiking time, and canine compatibility. Each chapter also includes a map, driving directions (with GPS coordinates), and a list of waypoints along the hike, such as trail junctions, with their distances from the trailhead.

Densmore is a good writer who packs a lot of trail details into a small space (“the canopy opens briefly as you wind through a small clearing of ferns”), giving hikers a good sense of what to expect. She also identifies trees and wildflowers that grow alongside the trails and weaves in historical tidbits when appropriate.

The hikes are spread throughout the Adirondacks, though there is a heavier concentration in the High Peaks region. Ten of the trails lead to fire towers.

If you’re looking for an introduction to the Adirondacks, Best Easy Day Hikes is a good choice at a low price. Eventually, you may want to buy a more comprehensive guidebook, such as Densmore’s earlier book (both were published by Falcon Guides) or one of the others on the market.

Click here to read about a hike up Loon Lake Mountain that I took with Lisa while she was working on her first Adirondack guidebook.

NOTE: This review will appear in the May/June issue of the Adirondack Explorer, which we are about to send to the printer. The magazine also will include articles about the financing of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort, the continued decline of bats, the local-food scene, a family camping trip on Forked Lake, and the death of Jim Goodwin, among other subjects. Our centerspread is a gallery of wildflowers that paddlers are apt to see on Adirondack streams and ponds.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Adirondack Legend Jim Goodwin Has Passed

James A. Goodwin, 101, passed away peacefully April 7 at Adirondack Medical Center of complications of pneumonia. Born March 8, 1910 in Hartford, CT, his parents were Howard Goodwin and Charlotte Alton Goodwin. His long association with the Adirondacks began when he spent his first three summers at his grandfather Charles Alton’s resort, Undercliff, on Lake Placid. After a few summers in Connecticut, the family returned to the Adirondacks and spent many summers in Keene Valley, starting at Interbrook Lodge on Johns Brook Lane when Jim was nine. By the age of 12, Jim was guiding parties to Mt. Marcy – a career that only ended on Saturday, March 26 when he was the guest of honor at the New York State Outdoor Guides Rendezvous luncheon.

Jim attended Kingswood School in Hartford, CT, graduating in 1928. He then graduated from Williams College in 1932 and went on to receive an M.A. in English from Harvard in 1934. After Harvard, Jim returned to teach at Kingswood (later Kingswood-Oxford) School, teaching there until his retirement in 1975.

During the 1930′s, Jim made many trips west to climb in the Canadian Rockies, ascents by which he gained admission to the American Alpine Club. He also continued to climb in the Adirondacks, making the first winter ascent of Mt. Colden’s Trap Dike in 1935 and becoming Adirondack 46-R #24 in 1940.

In 1941, Jim married Jane Morgan Bacon, daughter of Herbert and Isabel Huntington Bacon. After Pearl Harbor, Jim enlisted in the 10th Mountain Division where by virtue of his membership in the American Alpine Club he served as a rock climbing instructor, first in Colorado and later at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. Afterwards, he served as a medic during the division’s combat in Italy. Discharged in 1945, Jim returned to teaching at Kingswood School where he was instrumental in starting a ski team and an outing club.

Jim’s heart, however, was always in the Adirondacks where he spent most of his summers until moving to Keene Valley permanently in 2002 and living in the cabin he built in 1940. Starting in 2007, he was a resident of the Keene Valley Neighborhood House. During his summers in Keene Valley he both cut new trails and maintained existing ones while also guiding many aspiring 46-Rs on the peaks. The new trails he cut include Porter Mt. from Keene Valley (1924), Big Slide from the Brothers (1951), Hedgehog(1953), Ridge Trail to Giant (1955), and the Pyramid Gothics Trail(1966). His long association with the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society, as both director and trail maintainer, led to the new, 1998, trail to Rooster Comb being named in his honor.

Jim’s memberships included the Adirondack 46-Rs, Adirondack Mountain Club, American Alpine Club, and NYS Outdoor Guides Association. At the time of his retirement in 1975, Bill Dunham, then AMR President made him an honorary member of the AMR. In that same year he assumed the presidency of ATIS, an office he would hold for a total of eight years between 1975 and 1987. Jim also served as the AMR’s field representative in the extended negotiations that led to the 1978 land sale.

He is survived by sons James, Jr.(Tony) and wife Emily Apthorp Goodwin of Keene and Peter and wife Susan Rohm Goodwin of Wolfeboro, NH. Additional survivors are nephews James and Christopher O’Brien of Clifton Park and Troy as well as grandchildren Morgan, Robert, and Liza Goodwin of Keene and Hunt and John Goodwin of Wolfeboro, NH. He was predeceased by Jane, his wife of 50 years, as well as his sisters, Margaret (Peg) O’Brien and Charlotte Craig.

There will be a memorial service on Saturday, April 23 at 3 PM at the Keene Valley Congregational Church with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Kingswood-Oxford School, 170 Kingswood Road, West Hartford, CT 06119 or Keene Valley Neighborhood House, P.O. Box 46, Keene Valley, NY 12943.

Photo: Jim Goodwin, age 9, on top of Hopkins Mountain.

Editor’s Note: The obituary was posted at adkhighpeaks.com. Hat tip to Drew Haas’s blog.

Almanack contributor Phil Brown wrote about Jim Goodwin just last year when he turned 100.

NCPR’s Brian Mann interviewed Jim Goodwin last year about his experiences with the 10th Mountain Division here.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Books: A History of the High Peaks and The 46ers

A remarkable book of Adirondack history has been published. Heaven Up-h’isted-ness! The History of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and the High Peaks of the Adirondacks is a collection of well-researched essays on the highest Adirondack peaks, written by 18 members of the storied Adirondack 46ers, along with a short history of the club.

Part meticulously footnoted history of the mountains, trails, and the club itself, and part trail guide, this new volume is a landmark in Adirondack history. Heaven Up-h’isted-ness! is a significant update of Russell Carson’s Peaks and Peoples of the Adirondacks, first published in 1927.

The book is a bit of an homage to the popularity of Carson’s earlier work and the three subsequent 46er volumes that followed, as much as it is to the 46er legends who grace its pages. Tony Goodwin (#211), son of Jim
Goodwin (#24), offers an Introduction that provides insight into why this book is so important. With a hat tip to Carson, who was instrumental in spreading the 46er gospel and “who research gave life to the peaks we all climb”, Goodwin points out that new research opportunities and the rich history since the 1920s “has allowed authors to provide the reader with the most comprehensive histories of the peaks ever written.” I agree.

In a series of in-depth profiles of each of the 46 High Peaks, each author draws on a range of sources from reports, journals, and diaries of the explorers, scientists, philosophers, writers, and other anecdotes describe the geology, history, flora, and fauna. The book is illustrated with a remarkable collection of over 150 photos and illustrations.

It’s not all high peaks. In a substantial first section Suzanne Lance surveys the history of the Adirondack 46ers beginning in 1918 with Bob and George Marshall and their guide Herb Clark, who was recognized with the first spot in 1939 when “the list” was created. When the first three began their 46, not only were there still trail-less peaks, many had yet to be named, and a few remained unclimbed altogether.

The strength of this section is in illuminating the contributions of folks like Ed Hudowalski (#6), Grace Hudowalski (#9), and the Troy minister Ernest Ryder (#7) in the growth and of the club, but also the recognition and response of the club to the impacts of the many Adirondack peak-baggers they helped inspire. The full roster of 46ers now includes more than 7,000.

By the 1970s, as visitors began to flood into the High Peaks, Glenn Fish (#536) and Edwin “Ketch” Ketchledge (#507) helped shepherd the club away from its strictly social approach toward a stewardship role. Summit ecology and alpine environments, wilderness conservation education, trail maintenance and management, and search and rescue have all benefited from the subsequent efforts of dedicated Adirondack 46ers.

Copies of Heaven Up-h’isted-ness! are available online.

Until you get your copy, you’ll have to settle with this short excerpt on the formation of the Forty-Sixers of Troy:

During the early 1930s Bob Marshall’s booklet, “The High Peaks of the Adirondacks,” and Russell Carson’s Peaks and People of the Adirondacks captured the attention of a small group of outdoor enthusiasts from Grace Methodist Church in Troy, in particular the church’s pastor, the Rev. Ernest Ryder (#7), and two parishioners, Grace Hudowalski (#9) and Edward Hudowalski (#6)…. Ed and the Rev. Ryder had not, originally, intended to climb all 46. According to Ed, their goal was 25 peaks, but when they hit 27 “by accident,” they decided to climb 30. After reaching 30 they decided to climb all of them. The two finished arm-in-arm on Dix in the pouring rain on September 13, 1936. They shared a prayer of praise and thanks for their accomplishment.

Less than six months after the Rev. Ryder and Ed finished their 46, the duo organized a club, comprised mainly of Ed Hudowalski’s Sunday School class, known as the Forty-Sixers of Troy. It was Ryder who coined the name “Forty-Sixer.” The term first appeared in print in an article in the Troy Record newspaper in 1937 announcing the formation of the hiking club: “Troy has its first mountain climbing club, all officers of which have climbed more than thirty of the major peaks in the Adirondacks. The club recently organized will be known as the Forty-sixers…


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mud Season: Sloshing Through Wet Trails

April and May are traditionally considered the messiest part of mud season in the Adirondacks. This designation ignores the fact that any month in the Adirondacks without snow cover could be classified as such. Mud season offers significant challenges to any backcountry adventurer regardless of whether they stay on hiking trails or venture off-tail into areas less traveled.

Although April is considered the beginning of mud season, the actual season can shift significantly from year to year depending on the winter’s snow pack, and the average temperature and amount of liquid precipitation during the early spring. Elevation effects the arrival of mud season with it occurring earlier at low elevations and much later on mountaintops. But regardless of when it starts the results are eventually the same: wet and muddy trails, boots and legs.

There are many challenges for the backcountry explorer during this messy time of the year. These challenges require additional planning, preparation and in some cases caution. But there are a few benefits to being in the backcountry this time of the year as well. In addition, there are some important environmental impacts of hiking in mud season that need identification and management so as to ameliorate their negative impacts.

One challenge of hiking during mud season is the weather. The months of April and May often display the most variable weather both from day-to-day and year-to-year. This variability requires being prepared for almost any type of conditions imaginable from deep snow to driving rainfall. This often requires carrying a vast array of equipment for both the winter and summer seasons.

Depending on the situation crampons and/or snowshoes (see a review of perfect lightweight snowshoes here) may be necessary and an effective pair of gaiters is a must (see a review of a great pair of gaiters here). A good sturdy pair of hiking boots, preferably with a waterproof layer, will help keep your feet dry even in the muddiest of conditions especially in combination with gaiters.

I have some first-hand experience with the variability of the weather during spring conditions. Once while backpacking within the Five Ponds Wilderness during early-May I sloshed through a substantial snowfall. I was clearly unprepared for such weather conditions since I brought only my summer equipment for the most part.

Crossing streams in the early spring can be very challenging regardless of whether hiking on or off trails. In early spring, ice jams can cause extensive flooding while later in the spring streams can become swollen with runoff from the melting snow pack and the saturated soils. Look out for floating logs and flooded boardwalks as both can be frequent hazards on trails through wetlands during this time of the year.

There are some negative environmental impacts to hiking during mud season. The chief environmental damage from hiking in mud season is erosion. Although erosion can occur anywhere it is more extensive within the mountainous and heavy trafficked areas within the High Peaks. Soils tend to be more susceptible to erosion in the spring due to the alternating warmer temperatures during the day and colder temperatures in the evening.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation often issues a voluntary trail closure for areas above 3000 feet in the Eastern High Peaks. These closures are issued to protect trails from erosion as well as to protect fragile alpine vegetation during this time of the year. The effectiveness of these closures on trail use in this area is questionable.

When encountering muddy trails one should avoid walking around sloppy portions of a trail to avoid the muck. Typically, avoiding walking through ankle deep (or deeper!) mud just seems like common sense but it is best walk right through the mud to avoid trail creep and damaging nascent vegetation growing along the trail’s border. These fragile early-season shoots can be easily damaged by the aggressive tread of a hiker’s boot.

Because of all the negative issues of navigating through mud season I typically avoid any backcountry hiking in the month of April in the Adirondacks. Usually my own backcountry adventures start around mid-May although this is highly dependent on the prevalent weather conditions during mid to late spring.

Although there are many challenges and some negative environmental factors of hiking during mud season there are a couple of advantages to the adventurous backcountry enthusiast.

One advantage of exploring the backcountry during April is the lack of a certain plentiful Adirondack pest. Typically April is the last totally biting bug free month in the Adirondacks until the following autumn. At some point in late May the bane of the Adirondacks, the black fly will reemerge from the stream and rivers, and attack anything warm-blooded with a pulse. Soon other biting flies will join in on the fun and most will be present until the end of summer.

Another benefit of hiking in the early spring is the lack of foliage. Although many may see this as a disadvantage due to the lack of shade, the absence of the scent of fresh foliage and the comforting rustle of the wind through the leaves there is a real benefit to be enjoyed. Without leaves blocking one’s views some outstanding vistas once obscured now becomes visible. This is especially true on rolling hills where the trees often grow thickest.

Hiking through the backcountry during mud season offers the ambitious explorer some real challenges and a few advantages over some other seasons in the Adirondacks. It is important to be prepared for any and all weather conditions but the season offers some pleasant bug-free hiking with some seldom seen awesome views. But the more fastidious explorer should sit this season out and wait for the warm winds of summer to dry up the trails.

Photos: Muddy trail on Mt. Colden, muddy and wet Adirondack trail, flooded trail near Cranberry Lake by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adirondack Ice: Iceboating, Hard-Water Sailing

The allure of iceboating (hard-water sailing or ice yachting) in the Adirondacks dates back to the mid-1800s, though its peak surge of popularity was the 1940s to the 1970s. While iceboats have scooted across a variety of lakes, Lake George, Lake Champlain and Great Sacandaga Lake allow for the longest trips while offering the advantage of strong winds which not only propel the boats along at a good clip but also sweep the ice clean of snow.

One can imagine that “flying” across the ice at high speeds is not for the faint of heart. Goggles prevent the eyes from tearing up and protect them from stray ice chips; warm clothing staves off the biting wind. Should the boom suddenly snap across the boat, or the craft capsize on the hard ice, operators will appreciate the advantage of wearing helmets. For an adrenaline rush, this sport rates high on the list.

These craft, riding on three steel blades and propelled by large wind-filled triangular sails plus the additional breeze created by the boat’s forward motion, can travel two to four times the velocity of the wind, some reaching speeds of 120 mph and higher.

Records reveal the names of some earlier Adirondack sailors: around 1900, Lee Palmer built and sailed a boat on Lake George, and Ernest Stowe built and sailed one on Upper Saranac Lake. Charles “Juddy” Peer of Bolton Landing built another one of these early boats in 1936; a bow-steerer which he claimed could reach 100 mph. By the late 1930s, numbers of them began to appear as the sport caught on in the region. Sometimes iceboats were even used for cargo transport.

A large variety of iceboat designs have been seen at one time or another on our Adirondack lakes. Some of these are as follows:

– One Offs: small homemade, mostly rear-steering iceboats built and sailed at the north end of Lake George from 1935 to 1945. Each was a bit different from the other, thus the name.

– Scooters: 300 to 500 pound, shallow, moderately heavy hulls which sprout a sturdy bowsprit. Boats carry mainsail, smaller jib and four shallow keel-like runners which have a rocker shape so that, by shifting his weight, an operator can slide the boat out of the water and up onto the ice, then back into the water if necessary.

– Skeeters: 30 foot long hulls carrying seventy-five square feet of sail and steered by a foot mechanism or wheel.

– DNs: modified versions of the winning entry in a 1937 ice boat contest held by the Detroit News; 12 foot long, thirty-six pound hulls with steeply raked 16′ masts carrying 60 square feet of sail.

– Lockley Skimmers: small steel-framed boats carrying 45 square feet of sail; built for one passenger and good for sailing on smaller lakes.

– Yankee Class: 18 foot long craft with side by side seating; carry 75 square feet of sail. One of these, built in 1950 by the famous ice boat designer and racer John Alden Beals (“Scruffy”), is on display at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. Another, “Still Crazy,” is currently owned and sailed by Dr. Dean Cook.

Unfortunately, iceboating is not practiced as much now as in earlier times, perhaps because there are fewer days when ideal ice conditions prevail. If you should spot a sail out on a lake, it will be well worth your time to pause a minute and drink in the sight of these delightful boats gliding across the ice, graceful, swift and beautiful. Thankfully, some folks are still keeping this North Country tradition alive.

Caperton Tissot is the author of Adirondack Ice, a Cultural and Natural History, published by Snowy Owl Press.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Madshus Epochs: Good Skis for Spring

Yesterday, the temperature climbed into the forties in Saranac Lake, and the sun shone all day. I saw people walking around in T-shirts. It was perfect weather for testing a new pair of skis.

Sue Bibeau, the designer for the Adirondack Explorer, and I did a round trip to Klondike Notch in the High Peaks Wilderness, a little-used trail that starts at the end of South Meadow Road and ends near Johns Brook Lodge.

I was trying out my Madshus Epochs, a waxless ski designed for backcountry touring. The Epochs have metal edges and are wide enough to provide stability for quick turns on downhills, though they’re not as beefy as most telemark skis.

The Epochs weigh 5 pounds 9 ounces. In comparison, Black Diamond Havocs (which I also own) weigh 8 pounds 6 ounces. Their lightness makes the Epochs a good all-round ski, ideal for tours that involve flats and rolling terrain as well as substantial downhill runs. A lightweight telemark boot is a good match.

Coincidentally, Sue was using essentially the same ski: Tenth Mountain Divisions made by Karhu, which is no longer in the ski business. The Tenth Mountains were in Karhu’s popular “XC Downhill” line of skis. The line’s four models, from narrowest to widest, were the Pinnacles, GTs (for “general touring”), Tenth Mountains, and Guides.

Last year, Madshus took over the XC Downhhill line. It dropped the Pinnacle but still manufactures the other three under different names (the GT is now the Eon, and the Guide is now the Annum).

Sue has owned her Tenth Mountain Divisions for a few years and loves them. She has taken them up Mount Marcy, Algonquin Peak, and Wright Peak, among other places. She says the skis are not ideal for the steepest terrain in the High Peaks, but they do work. If you plan to ski a lot of steep terrain, the wider Annums are a better choice.

I wouldn’t mind trying the Epochs on Marcy if conditions were right (light powder), but I’d be more comfortable on the difficult pitches on heavier skis, my Havocs or Karhu Jaks. Given that much of the 7.5-mile trail up Marcy is fairly mellow, I can see the appeal of going light. In fact, many people do ski Marcy with light skis and leather boots.

Because they’re waxless, the Epochs are a good choice for spring skiing (as are the Eons and Annums). Hard waxes do not work when the temperatures rise above freezing, so those with waxable skis must resort to klister or kicker skins to grip the snow while climbing or kicking and gliding.

I used klister only once, years ago. It was such a gloppy mess that I haven’t used it since. It’s like melted bubble gum, sticking to everything it touches, including fingers and clothing. I later bought a pair of kicker skins, but I don’t use them much. Kicker skins attach to the ski’s kick zone. The nylon nap grips the snow, sort of like wax. The problem I have found is that the metal piece at the front of the skins often digs into the snow, inhibiting glide.

With waxless skis, you don’t have to fuss with klister or kicker skins. But waxless skis have their limitations. If climbing a lot of steep terrain, you should bring a pair of full-length skins–just as you would with waxable skis. Or be prepared to herringbone or side-step.

On our ascent of Klondike Notch, Sue and I gained more than a thousand feet of elevation. Since most of the trail is mellow, the scales on our skis usually provided sufficient grip. In a number of places, we did resort to herringboning or side-stepping, but these pitches were short. Skins would have been overkill and would have slowed our progress on the flats and small dips we encountered en route to the notch.

All in all, we had the right equipment for the job.

Click here to see a video of Ron Konowitz demonstrating the Karhu Guides (now Annums) on the Marcy Dam trail.

Photo by Phil Brown: Sue Bibeau carries her skis over South Meadow Brook.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wilmington to Host Major Bike Race Qualifer

The Town of Wilmington has announced that the region will host the Wilmington/Whiteface 100k on June 19, 2011. Wilmington will serve as one of three qualifier series race host venues for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race, the best known and most prestigious mountain bike race in North America.

The event’s schedule coincides with the annual Wilmington Bike Fest, which includes the Whiteface Uphill Bike Race, which will be held on Saturday, June 18. Wilmington/Whiteface 100k participants are invited to “Warm UP” by riding in the mountain bike division that is being introduced this year; a five mile race to the top of the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway.

“The event is a perfect fit for the destination, as it supports the Whiteface Region‘s brand as a biking destination, and will increase visitor activity during the typically slower shoulder season,” said James McKenna, President of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/Lake Placid CVB. “This is another event that resulted from the cooperative partnerships that were cemented in order to successfully host the Empire State Winter Games. Kudos to the staff at the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) who facilitated the connection with the event organizers that ultimately brought this event to Wilmington.”

Showcasing some of the best places to ride in America, the Leadville Qualifying Series races will be held in America’s great mountains with races in the Adirondacks, Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies. The other two qualifiers will be held in North Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on July 10 and Crested Butte, Colorado on July 31. Each qualifying race will provide 100 qualifying spots to the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race. The spots will be allocated partially on the basis of age-group performance and partly by lottery among finishers.

The Adirondack qualifier will traverse 100 kilometers of backcountry trails in the Towns of Wilmington and Jay and finish on Whiteface Mountain.

Since 1983, the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race has been the pinnacle of the mountain biking world. Currently 103 miles in length and 11,500 feet of climbing, the ultra-distance event is a single- and double-track-style mountain bike race on one of the world’s most challenging courses. The weekend event is produced by Life Time Fitness and challenges both amateur and professional mountain bikers to steep climbs and descents, with elevation topping out at more than 12,500 feet. More information on the Leadville Qualifier Series can be found online.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Northville-Placid Trail ADK Chapter Established

The newest chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) will focus on enhancing and promoting the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT).

The NPT, which stretches 133 miles through some of the wildest and most remote parts of the Adirondack Park, was the first trail project undertaken by ADK after it was formed in 1922. In November, Tom Wemett, a self-described “NPT fanatic,” launched a new Web site devoted to the trail. Tom also circulated a petition to create a new ADK chapter to help protect, preserve and promote the trail and to raise money to enhance and maintain it. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trout and Salmon Fishing Opens April 1st

Trout, lake trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon seasons all begin on April 1st, but unlike last year when opening day trout anglers were greeted with relatively tranquil conditions, this winter’s heavy snows and resultant high, cold stream conditions will not be friendly to early season trout anglers. Early season anglers should use caution, as ice melt can create swift flow in high waters, unstable ice layers and unstable hiking terrain – particularly in higher elevations where winter snow is returning Friday.

“After a long, cold and snowy winter, we know that anglers are anxious to hit the water,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Unfortunately, a good portion of the state remains covered with snow, which may restrict access to streams and cause very high stream flows making early season angling difficult.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Missing Woman Search in Moose River Plains

The search for a missing woman in the Moose River Plains area of the Adirondacks has entered its second day. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers assisted by members of the NY State Police, Town of Inlet Fire Department, the Town of Inlet Police Department, the Town of Webb Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff, and volunteer search and rescue teams continue the search. A helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit will join more than 50 searchers in today’s search.

A missing person alert for Kerry Young, 44, of Dewitt, NY was issued on Monday
evening, March 28, by the Town of Dewitt Police Department. Town of Inlet Police Department checked a vehicle they had noticed parked on the entrance road to the DEC Limekiln Lake Campground off the Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road. » Continue Reading.



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