Friday, February 12, 2021

DEC winter recreation tips: Food and water storage

thermosWinter recreation is fun and exciting. It can also be challenging and dangerous. Whether you’re going for a hike, a ski, snowmobiling or ice fishing, Hike Smart NY can help you prepare with a list of 10 essentials, guidance on what to wear, and tips for planning your trip with safety and sustainability in mind.

Food & Water Storage

Proper nutrition and hydration are key to a safe and successful hike, but winter’s cold can bring challenges. In extremely cold temperatures food and water can freeze in your pack. This makes it hard or even impossible to consume what you need to stay hydrated and energized. To avoid food and water freezing, try the following:

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Monday, February 8, 2021

Skiing conditions are prime; outdoor rec continues to boom

Foxy Brown ski trail

This spring, when New York State was in a lockdown due to the pandemic, it was unclear what that meant for the Adirondacks. Would the outdoor tourism industry thrive or falter? Would people still be hitting the trails? Would small businesses survive?

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Monday, February 8, 2021

DEC Recreation Highlight: Ice Fishing on Lake Champlain

ice fishingIce fishing is a great way to experience the outdoors during the winter months, and the Adirondacks boast an excellent variety of ice fishing destinations. One of the most popular places is Lake Champlain.

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Saturday, February 6, 2021

Flag Up! Ice Fishing: Have Fun, Stay Safe 

Very few northern New Yorkers believe that cold weather is a reason to stay indoors. In fact, for most North Country families, winter is fun! For kids, it’s the season of snowballs, snow forts, snowmen, snow sculptures, snow angels, sledding, tobogganing, tubing, and ice skating. And for family activities, there’s snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, winter hiking, winter camping, winter carnivals, dog sledding, and ice fishing.

 Ice fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. You can even bring the dogs. Think of it as a day at (or should I say on) the lake, a picnic, or a tailgate party. Just bring a grill or a camp stove, some food and your favorite beverages (hot and/or cold), lawn chairs, and a heater or portable fire pit. A tent is optional.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Paul Smith’s re-launches alpine skiing program

2015 Whiteface Skiing Season - Fox Trail on Nov 24, 2015 - ORDA / Whiteface PhotoFor over a year, Paul Smith’s College has been on a mission to include more competitive sports within its 14,000-acre campus in the Adirondacks while colleges all over the country drop their varsity sports programs. Their latest endeavor, on top of Nordic skiing, biathlon, hockey and trap shooting, is in the form of alpine skiing. The new program will begin during the 2021-2022 school year, bringing the school to a total of 27 varsity sports programs.

In the 1980’s and 90’s, Paul Smiths had a dominant alpine skiing program that saw the then two-year school program reach the national junior college championship of 1991. Paul Smith College’s skiing history dates as far back as 1952 when they hosted the US Olympic trials prior to the Winter Games in Oslo.

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Friday, January 29, 2021

DEC Recreation Highlight: Seven Things to Do This Winter

Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center Cross-Country Ski TrailsWhether you’re a snow sport enthusiast or new to winter recreation, there is something for everyone to enjoy outdoors this season. Don’t let the cold and snow keep you indoors until spring. Bundle up, prepare for the weather and conditions, and try one of these fun winter activities:

Seven Things to Do This Winter

  1. Fat Tire Biking
  2. Cross-Country Skiing
  3. Winter Tracking
  4. Winter Hiking
  5. Ice Fishing
  6. Snowshoeing
  7. Snowmobiling

Photo: Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center Cross-Country Ski Trails/DEC

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Good conditions for short hikes

Black MountainEditor’s note: This first appeared Jan. 14 in Mike’s weekly “Backcountry Journal” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

It’s been a mild and dry winter so far in the Adirondacks, so when I headed to the Lake George region on a recent Sunday for a hike, I suspected I wouldn’t need snowshoes.

Instead, I grabbed my microspikes for the 5-mile round trip up Black Mountain, located on the eastern side of the lake. As it turned out, that was the right choice. The trail was hard-packed and the base was fairly thin and very icy at times.

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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Rescue at Cobble Hill

wilderness rescueTown of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Jan. 18 at 8:57 a.m., Forest Ranger Acting Lt. Burns was notified of a hiker with a possible hip dislocation on Cobble Hill in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest. Three Forest Rangers responded to assist. Once on scene, Forest Rangers evaluated the 52-year-old woman from Lake Placid. After placing her in a vacuum splint, the Rangers packaged the subject into a litter and sled. The hiker was brought to the trailhead and transferred to the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service for additional medical treatment. All Rangers were back in service 10:24 a.m.

Photo: Wilderness Rescue in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest/DEC

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hike Smart NYAdirondack Backcountry Information and Catskill Backcountry Information webpages for more information.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hiker gets lost on Erebus Mountain

forest ranger reportsLatest NYS DEC Forest Ranger actions:

Town of Dresden
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Jan. 9 at 5:16 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 28-year-old hiker from Ballston Spa who became disoriented and lost the trail while hiking Erebus Mountain. Three Forest Rangers responded to assist. Ranger Hess entered the Lake George Wild Forest at the end of Shelving Rock Road while Rangers Donegan and St. Claire entered by boat from the Green Island Maintenance Center. At 9:30 p.m., Rangers located the lost hiker and proceeded to warm her and assess her injuries. The hiker was safely escorted down to the boat for transport back to the maintenance center and given a courtesy ride back to her vehicle at the trailhead. Rangers were cleared of the scene and back in service at 10:55 p.m.

Friday, January 8, 2021

DEC Recreation Highlight: Foxy Brown X-Ski Trail

The Foxy Brown X-Ski Trail is a 5.6-mile trail located within the Jessup River Wild Forest. After traveling along the Piseco Airport runway, the trail routes users primarily through a northern hardwood forest. To complete the loop, users must cross the runway, so be sure to check for oncoming aircraft before traveling back to the trailhead and parking area.

In 2019, DEC entered into a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement with Piseco Lake Association (PLA) allowing PLA to maintain the trail. During the 2020 field season, DEC Lands & Forest staff and PLA volunteers made the following improvements:

  • Construction of a 150’ ski bridge
  • Replacement-in-kind by the PLA board of a 25’ ski bridge
  • Repairs to an existing bridge
  • Brushing and blowdown removal on the 6.2-mile trail
  • Installation of new signage and trail markers, including mileage markers every quarter-mile
  • Removal of foot snags and large rocks from the trail tread

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Man falls 30-feet on Giant Mountain trail

Recent NYS DEC Forest Ranger actions:

Town of Keene Valley
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Dec. 28 at 9:58 a.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 51-year-old male from Forest Mills had sustained injuries from a 30-foot fall on the Giant Mt. Ridge Trail. While Forest Rangers Lewis, Mecus, Praczkaljo, and Evans responded to the trailhead, Lt. Burns conducted a phone interview with the reporting party and determined the incident a medical emergency response. Rangers requested Essex County Emergency Service to deploy a Critical Care Technician to assist with medical care. Icy trail conditions warranted an additional five Forest Rangers, two members of the DEC trail crew, and eight members of the Keene Valley Backcountry Rescue Group to assist with a steep-angle technical rescue. At 12:30 p.m., the hiker was stabilized and packaged into a litter for a two-mile carryout to a waiting ambulance. At 3:15 p.m., the injured hiker was out of the woods, turned over to Keene Valley Rescue, and transported to a local hospital for further medical treatment. All personnel were clear of the scene at 3:30 p.m.

Keene Valley Rescue, DEC photo

Monday, January 4, 2021

Adirondack Land Trust Buys Last Unprotected Shoreline on Thirteenth Lake

The Adirondack Land Trust has purchased 17 acres of land on the Thirteenth Lake’s 4.5-mile shoreline, marking the conservation of the last unprotected shoreline on Thirteenth Lake. The Lake is a headwater of Upper Hudson River and the largest body of water within the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.

New York State Forest Preserve borders the land on one side, while the Garnet Hill Property Owners Association borders the other. The latter is taking advantage of restrictive use covenants to ensure its lake shore property is protected.

The Adirondack Land Trust will be working along side the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to integrate the Thirteenth Lake land into the 114,010-acre Siamese Ponds Wilderness, allowing for it to become public, and thereby protected under the Forever Wild clause of the NYS constitution.

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Thursday, December 31, 2020

First Day Hikes in 2021

This New Year’s Day, the 10th anniversary of First Day Hikes is taking place in New York State parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails, and public lands across the North Country (With some minor limitations for COVID-19).

The event includes options for hikes ranging from self-guided to small staff and or volunteer-led hikes on Friday the 1st, or the following Saturday or Sunday of January. The extended hiking schedule is to allow hikers time and space to social distance while enjoying nature.

All hikes are family-friendly, ranging from one to five miles dependant on location and conditions. Hikes are being offered at 61 state parks, historic sites, DEC state lands, wildlife areas, Forest Preserve trails and environmental education centers.

A full listing, including details and pre-registration requirements, can be found at  and

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Bonding through canoes: Memories of Peter Hornbeck

Since Peter Hornbeck died on December 26 social media has been flooded with remembrances, including the Hornbeck Boats Lovers Facebook page and the Almanack.

I want to share mine.

In 1991 I witnessed a middle-aged woman lift  a small canoe from the top of her car, carry it down an embankment to Lake Durant, slide onto the bottom of the canoe with ease, and paddle away. “I want that!” I said to my friends who were with me at the time. My first introduction to a Hornbeck Canoe.

Shortly thereafter I visited Peter Hornbeck in his house, where his office was located. The boats were manufactured in the near-by barn. I ordered the only model he was making commercially at the time – the 10.5-foot Lost Pond Boat weighing 15 pounds. I was ecstatic.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Rangers help out during Winter Storm Gail

In anticipation of Winter Storm Gail, Forest Rangers, along with other DEC staff, were deployed to various staging areas across the state to assist with the State’s response. Forest Rangers were assigned to Dutchess County and Oneonta on Dec. 16, and to the High Peaks rest area, Warrensburg, Saratoga, Northville, and Lowville on Dec. 17. Resources were moved as needed due to the changing track of the storm, including providing coverage to the Capital Region and I-81 corridor north of Binghamton. Following the closure of the highway, two crews patrolled and performed welfare checks on stranded motorists and helped shovel out tractor trailers and other vehicles.

Forest Rangers help during winter storm Gail

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