Earlier this spring, I asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation for a list of lesser known hikes in the Adirondacks in an effort to provide people with options outside of the more popular trails. (As I recently wrote about the challenges that surround social distancing on well-traveled routes.) Part of that list ran in the May-June issue of the Adirondack Explorer, but the entire list can be found below. Many of the trails are relatively flat and go to ponds, a type of route that tends to attract few people but can be just as rewarding as a summit hike.
This list will provide you with the hikes. You can use other tools to find the details of each hike, such as maps, guidebooks, and the DEC’s website.
Anyone paying attention to the rapid rise of tick-borne diseases has heard the advice on avoiding tick bites. The advice we are hearing is not wrong, just very incomplete.
Most information to the public suggests wearing light colored clothing, tucking your pants into your socks, and checking your body carefully after possible exposure. The intent is to keep ticks away from your skin, and to remove them promptly if they succeed in attaching. This was sufficient when Lyme disease was the only real worry, since research has shown the Lyme disease organism is not transmitted until the tick has been attached for hours.
Town of Bolton Warren County Wilderness Rescue: On April 29 at 4:30 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 75-year-old man from Gansevoort who became disoriented while hiking on Thomas and Cat mountains and was unsure about which path to take to get back. After obtaining the disoriented hiker’s cell phone number, Forest Ranger Evan Donegan contacted him and gave instructions on how to return to the trailhead on the north side of the mountain. Meanwhile, Ranger Donegan made his way into the woods to intercept the man and assist him the rest of the way out. At 6:28 p.m., Ranger Donegan reached the mountain’s summit, but had not found the hiker. Forest Ranger Joe Hess also responded to start in from the southern trailhead at Edgecomb Pond. At 7:09 p.m., the hiker’s daughter called Dispatch reporting her father was back on the trail with her husband. Ranger Donegan was notified and reached the two men by 7:19 p.m. He escorted the pair back to the trailhead and all Rangers were cleared from the scene.
19-year-old Garrett Beckrich from Grand Rapids, Minn., member of USBA’s Junior National Team and Top Biathlete has enrolled in Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks. Beckrich is a member of the USBA’s Junior National Team and has been participating in biathlon since 2017. He has competed in three Youth/Junior world championships.
Beckrich intends to pursue a degree in biology, and to keep up with his training at Paul Smith’s in the hopes of traveling overseas to compete in races without too much academic interference.
Tim Burke, four-time Olympian from Paul Smith’s, and Director of Athlete Development for the US Biathlon had this to say about Beckrich’s enrollment in the college: “Garrett has always been known for his hard work. I look forward to seeing this pay off both on the field of play and in the classroom.”
Getting fresh air is more important than ever this coming summer during the public health crises, but it would be wise to remember that both ticks and people are going to be active and outside. Laura Harrington, a professor of entomology, vector biologist, and Director of the CDC Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases (NEVBD) has shared some tips on how to avoid ticks.
A bacterial infection that causes Lyme disease is the most important tick-borne human infection in the U.S., with around 200,000-300,000 reported cases per year. The blacklegged tick or ‘deer tick’ is the vector of Lyme disease in most of the U.S. It can also transmit other pathogens to people and pets, including the agents that cause babesiosis, anaplasmosis and Powassan disease. Blacklegged ticks are most common in forested areas and shaded trail edges with abundant leaf litter and shrubby plants, Harrington says.
Harrington recommends a few personal protection measures to keep ticks from biting, such as tick repellent, first and foremost. She also recommends light-colored clothing, and to tuck your pantlegs into your socks. It also wouldn’t hurt to treat your clothing with permethrin, or to purchase permethrin-treated clothing. Remember to check yourself for ticks often as well, both while hiking and after you get home! It only takes 24-48 hours after the tick attaches before it can begin to transmit Lyme disease. For other pathogens like the Powassan virus, transmission can happen quickly, so it is good to check as often as possible.
Check for ticks all over your body, including your back, neck, and hairline. If you happen to find a tick, carefully remove it with sharp tweezers by grasping as close to the point of attachment as possible and pulling. Once you are back inside, place your clothes in the dryer for at least 20 minutes, and take a shower (a good place to perform a tick check). You can also place your clothes in a sealed garbage bag to dry later.
A new campaign aims to educate and inspire users of the Adirondack Park to recreation in an environmentally responsible way. The “Love Your ADK pledge” and corresponding website has been organized and launched in a collaboration of the Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Council, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST).
The Pledge is a list of eight values which tourists, visitors, and residents are asked to consider while in the Adirondacks. Taking the pledge indicates the user’s commitment to follow the principles of the pledge, to support responsible environmentally friendly recreation, and to learn and follow “Leave No Trace” guidelines.
Town of Lake George Warren County Wilderness Rescue: On April 24 at 4:29 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from two 21-year-old women from Saratoga who became disoriented while traversing the Berry Pond Loop in the Lake George Wild Forest Area. Forest Ranger Chuck Kabrehl responded to their location, hiked into the woods, and located the women at 6:20 p.m. He then escorted them out to the trailhead where they had parked. The women told Ranger Kabrehl that they had started the hike around 4 p.m., and became lost at about 4:30 p.m. The incident concluded at 7 p.m.
Saratoga PLAN (The Preserving Land and Nature land trust in Saratoga County) has received a $500,000 grant from the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund. The donation will go to the planning, design, and stewardship of over 20 miles of permanently conserved trails in the 40,500-acre Southern Palmertown Range, an area that stretches north of Skidmore college in Saratoga Springs to the Hudson River.
It is the largest private cash gift ever made to the 17-year old conservation organization.
Saratoga PLAN aims to design Friendship Trails that will provide enjoyment through an inclusive spectrum of outdoor activities: walking, running, wheelchairing, dog-walking, mountain-biking, horseback-riding, bird-watching, botanizing, forest-bathing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and learning about nature and local history. Saratoga PLAN will announce new trail segments as they open to the public over the next several years, beginning in late 2020 if public health restrictions are lifted.
The Town of Keene is prohibiting spill-over hiking parking, in order to reduce health risks during the governor’s “New York State on PAUSE” directive. Access to the Garden, a jumping off point for all major trails into John’s Brook Valley and the Great Range, will remain open to local hikers and visitors, but once the 46-car lot is full, no more parking will be allowed. There will be signs and barricades to mark where it has been made illegal to park and violators of the new restrictions will have their vehicles towed.
The DEC and State Park’s staff work every spring to install docks at all sites before the opening day of fishing season. Docks are being installed at boat launches statewide, and schedules for installations are dependent on water levels, weather, and ice conditions. Sites are still available for public use regardless of dock installations, but boaters are encouraged to call their regional fisheries office or the state park to check the status of a boat launch.
Restrooms will remain closed at these facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and boat launches at DEC campgrounds will remain closed as well.
Saranac Lake’s Lake Flower boat launch will remain closed due to ongoing construction.
This season the DEC wants to make sure that when boating or fishing, you follow the COVID-19 public health crises recommendations. Please avoid busy waters, congested parking lots and fishing spots, avoid contact and maintain 6 feet of social distance.
Town of Keeseville Essex County Protecting Peregrines: On April 11, Forest Ranger Sarah Bode cited two rock climbers for Failure to Obey a DEC sign. The tickets were written to a 31-year-old man from Bernardsville, New Jersey, and a 32-year-old woman from New York City for climbing closed routes on Poke O Moonshine. DEC wildlife staff closes certain cliffs and climbing routes to allow peregrine falcons to breed, select a nesting site, and encourage the birds to return to their nesting sites. Once nesting has begun, DEC wildlife staff work with Forest Rangers and other DEC programs in notifying the climbing community and public of these closures and may open climbing routes that can be used without disturbing the nesting falcons and their young. After the young falcons have fledged, climbing routes are opened. The rock climbing community has been cooperative with DEC’s efforts and climbers have volunteered to be observers, monitoring falcons and nesting activity. DEC last issued tickets to climbers for climbing on the closed routes in the early 2000s, and Forest Rangers continue to patrol and enforce these routes.
As we move closer to summer, many attractions that were closed last summer are looking ahead to reopening this year. Same goes with the many annual events that people have come to expect throughout the summer and fall months.
For example, The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. While they have been open, visitors have been limited to outdoor attractions such as the Wild Walk. The facility will close for maintenance in April and reopening in May. The museum will remain an outdoor experience through June and reopen on July 1.
“The summer is going to be chock-a-block full with outdoor activities, fishing experiences. We’ll have some surprises for people, but it will be another wonderful get-outside experience,” said Hillarie Logan-Dechene, deputy director. For now, the Wild Center will continue to use its ticket reservation system for people to schedule their visits in advance, and masks will still be required.
Here’s a look at what’s in store for some other attractions and events around the region.
Great Escape Water Park/Lodge (Queensbury) https://www.sixflagsgreatescapelodge.com/ – The lazy river, Tak-It-Eesi-Creek & children’s activity pool, Tip-A-Kanu-Beach are now open Friday through Sunday. The remaining attractions in the indoor lodge opened up March 26, Monday through Friday from 9am to 9pm.
After days of back and forth about the closure of privately owned boat launches and marina and what that means for state-owned facilities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday an easing of restrictions that were put into effect last week.
In a news release sent over the weekend, Cuomo, in conjunction with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers will be allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only, like anywhere else in the three states.
From the Department of Environmental Conservation:
Town of Dresden Washington County Wilderness Rescue: On April 11 at 7:35 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker reporting his brother was overdue returning from Black Mountain. The caller stated that they last saw the 15-year-old male from Hudson Falls on the summit of Black Mountain at 5:30 p.m., when he proceeded down the trail alone. The teen was reported as having only his cell phone and the clothes he was wearing. Forest Rangers Evan Donegan and Mark St. Claire responded to the location, and at 8:15 p.m., Dispatch established text contact with the hiker and advised him to call 911. Washington County 911 got coordinates from his call, which placed him by a stream off the trail but near a road. Ranger St. Claire proceeded down the road from the trailhead where he was able to see the hiker’s cell phone light. Ranger St. Claire located the hiker, escorted him out of the woods, and gave him a ride back to the trailhead where he was met by his family. All Rangers were cleared from the scene at 9:26 p.m.
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