Monday, May 10, 2010

Rogers Rangers Challenge Triathlon Set For June 13th

The Rogers Rangers Challenge has been resurrected by its original co-founder, Dr. Dave Bannon and Rogers Island Visitors Center. The original Challenge began in 1991 and ended in 2001. The run, paddle, bike triathlon starts at the Hogtown trailhead on Buck Mountain in the Town of Fort Ann at 8:00 am on Sunday June 13th. Registration for the Challenge is due by May 23rd. This race is dedicated to the memory of Major Robert Rogers and his Independent Company of Rangers who lived on Rogers Island at Fort Edward during the French and Indian War.

A 7-½ mile run starts at the Hogtown trailhead over Buck Mountain and ends at the Fort Ann Beach on Lake George. The 3-mile canoe/kayak goes from the beach to Dome Island on the lake and back to the beach where the bike trek starts. The bike portion of the race winds through beautiful Washington County and ends at Rogers Island Visitors Center on Rogers Island in Fort Edward.

This event can be done as a team or individually. Although it is not required entrants are encouraged to dress in period clothing. Eileen Hannay, manager of Rogers Island Visitors Center, explains: “The event is quite unique. Racers will find French & Indian War and Native American reenactors along the route as they experience some of the challenges the terrain offered Rogers Rangers more than 250 years ago.”

Mark Wright, one of the original co-founders and an Army Major will be coming from Maine to participate in the challenging event. Dr. Bannon explains: “The most difficult part of this triathlon is the run down Buck Mountain towards Fort Ann Beach. The going is steep and rough with many obstacles.”

Registration forms can be found at www.rogersisland.org. For more information call Rogers Island Visitors Center at 518-747-3693.

The Rogers Rangers Challenge is sponsored by: Adirondack Trust Company, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Glens Falls National Bank and The Anvil Inn Restaurant. Proceeds for this event benefit Rogers Island Visitors Center.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Budget Crises Closes DEC Roads, Reduces Staff

Funding reductions to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) resulting from the state’s historic budget shortfall will limit the agency’s ability to maintain roads in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, delay construction of recreational facilities on easement lands, and prevent the hiring of Assistant Forest Rangers this season according to media materials distributed late last week.

“Due to the inability to maintain or patrol roads and nearby recreational facilities, a number of roads will remain temporarily closed to public motor vehicle access,” the DEC announced. “These roads have already been closed for mud season, as they are each year. While gates on these roads will remain closed and locked to prevent access by motor vehicles, the roads and surrounding lands will be open for authorized recreational use by the public.”

Each of the roads that will temporarily remain closed has parking available near the gate. The public is asked not to block the gates or the roads, as DEC may need to access the roads for routine maintenance and emergencies. Road maintenance tasks generally include gravel placement to maintain road surfaces, road grading, culvert replacement and removal of road hazards such as leaning or downed trees. Maintenance of campsites along and near these roads also requires a significant effort by DEC staff, including the removal of trash.

The following DEC roads will remain temporarily closed to all public motor vehicle access:

* Moose River Plains Road System (all roads) in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, the Towns of Inlet, Arietta, Lake Pleasant and Indian Lake, Hamilton County;

* Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Horicon, Warren County;

* Jabe Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Hague, Warren County;

* Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Warrensburg, Warren County;

* Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Warrensburg, Warren County;

* Dacy Clearing Road in the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Fort Ann, Washington County.

The following DEC roads will remain temporarily closed to general public motor vehicle access, but may still be accessed by motor vehicle by people with disabilities holding CP3 permits:

* Scofield Flats Road, in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Lake Luzerne, Warren County; and

* Pikes Beach Access Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Lake Luzerne, Warren County.

As in the past, the Bear Slides Access Road will be closed to motor vehicle use by the general public but will remain open to people with disabilities holding CP3 permits.

In addition, ongoing parking lot, road, trail, and public facility projects in the following areas will be suspended pending funding becoming available:

* Black Brook Easement Lands in the Town of Black Brook, Clinton County;

* Kushaqua Easement Lands in the Towns of Brighton and Franklin, Franklin County; and

* Altamont Easement Lands in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County.

The Department says it will provide “reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities upon request for access to programs on state lands where roads are closed.” For instance, people with disabilities holding a DEC Motorized Access Permit for Persons with Disabilities (CP3 permit) will be allowed to access recreational programs by motor vehicles on two of the roads that will otherwise be closed to the public. Those with disabilities who wish to access recreational programs in the Warrensburg/ Lake George area should contact Tad Norton in the Department’s Warrensburg Office at (518) 623-1209, and those with disabilities who wish to access recreational programs in the Northville/Raquette Lake area should contact Rick Fenton in the Department’s Northville office at (518) 863-4545.

Questions regarding the temporary road closures, should be directed to the regional DEC Division of Lands and Forests at (518) 897-1276 or the Region 5 DEC Office.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

ADK to Offer Advanced ‘Leave No Trace’ Training

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) will soon be conducting the highest-level training under the auspices of the Leave No Trace program. Leave No Trace is an international program designed to teach hikers, campers, paddlers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts how to minimize their impacts on wild places. Leave No Trace is based on voluntary ethical guidelines, expressed as seven principles. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in Boulder, Colorado, is a nonprofit education organization dedicated to the responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors by all people, worldwide.

“Leave No Trace’s mission is very similar to the mission of the Adirondack Mountain Club,” said Ryan Doyle, ADK’s outdoor leadership coordinator. “In fact, the late Almy Coggeshall, who was ADK president in 1980 and 1981, helped introduce the ‘pack in, pack out’ philosophy in the Adirondacks in the 1960s. These shared mission elements formed the foundation for the new partnership between ADK and Leave No Trace.”

ADK is now one of only seven organizations nationwide authorized to provide the Leave No Trace Master Educator course. This summer, ADK is offering a series of five-day training sessions designed for individuals who are actively teaching others backcountry skills or providing recreation information to the public. In other words, ADK will be teaching the Leave No Trace teachers.

The Master Educator course will be offered June 16-20, July 5-9, Aug. 18-22 and Sept. 6-10. Through classroom discussions, lectures and a four-day backpacking or canoe trip, this course will cover the seven Leave No Trace principles and wildland ethics. Participants will also be taught techniques for disseminating these low-impact skills to backcountry users.

As of January 2010, there were more than 3,500 Leave No Trace Masters worldwide, representing nine countries and all 50 U.S. states. This training is recognized throughout the world by the outdoor industry and land management agencies. Graduates include U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service rangers, outdoor retail executives, school teachers, youth group and outing club leaders, outfitters and guides. Graduates of the Master Educator course are qualified to train others in Leave No Trace skills and can offer Leave No Trace Trainer courses and Awareness Workshops (one-day or shorter).

ADK will also offer the two-day Leave No Trace Trainer course, which provides introductory training in Leave No Trace skills and ethics, on May 22-23 and Oct. 23-24. Details of both courses are available at www.adk.org/programs/Leave_No_Trace.aspx.

In fall 2008, the Leave No Trace Center sought proposals from organizations interested in providing the highest level of Leave No Trace training. ADK was selected because of its large membership base and the sizeable untapped audience in New York state and the Northeast. Last year, Ben Lawhon, Leave No Trace education director, and Dave Winter, Leave No Trace outreach manager, came from Boulder to ADK’s Heart Lake Program Center to train staff as Master Educator instructors. Six ADK staff members participated in the training and are now prepared to lead the Master Educator course.

“It is our intent to inject Leave No Trace information into everything ADK does, from education and field programs to our trails information and lodging facilities,” Doyle said.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the New York State Forest Preserve and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation.

Leave No Trace Principles

1) Plan Ahead and Prepare
2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3) Dispose of Waste Properly
4) Leave What You Find
5) Minimize Campfire Impacts
6) Respect Wildlife
7) Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Visit www.lnt.org for specifics about the principles and for more information about the organization.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Adirondack Public Observatory Lectures at The Wild Center

The Adirondack Public Observatory (APO) returns to The Wild Center on Friday nights in May with a series of free public astronomy lectures beginning at 7:00pm.

The Adirondack Public Observatory encourages everyone to share the wonders of the universe from the dark skies of the Adirondacks. The APO works to enhance public awareness and advance the science of Astronomy, integrate with area schools, colleges and universities, encourage and support amateur astronomers of all generations young and old, and provide families, civic and community groups the opportunity to view the night sky with various telescopes.

On Friday, May 14th is Freeze Frame: How do they get those wonderful pictures? with Marc Staves, Adirondack Public Observatory. Colorful images of planets, galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and other celestial objects can be found everywhere. Did you know that many of the objects in those photographs are not even visible to the naked eye? Some of them are difficult to see even with a telescope. Experienced amateur astronomer, Marc will show you how he transforms those faint celestial objects through the art of astrophotography.

Marc Staves works for the Village of Tupper Lake Electric Department and to some of us he is known as the “Techno Wizard” because of his technological expertise. An experienced amateur astronomer Marc is also the president of the Adirondack Public Observatory.

On Friday, May 21st is Mars: What Have We Learned About the Red Planet? with Jeff Miller, St. Lawrence University. We have long been fascinated by Mars: its reddish hue, its brightness in the night sky, the strange way it appears to move amongst the background stars. Was there water on Mars in the distant past? And did any form of life exist there? We’ll discuss the history of our love affair with the Red Planet, and discuss some of the more recent discoveries made by robotic explorers.

Jeffrey Miller is an astronomy and physics instructor at St. Lawrence University. An avid astronomer and trustee of the Adirondack Public Observatory, Jeff has had the opportunity to visit the Mount Palomar Observatory in California and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

On Friday, May 28th is Venus Unveiled with Aileen O’Donoghue, St. Lawrence University. Venus…our sister planet. About the same size as Earth, can it really be called Earth’s twin? Could there be life? We’ve all seen the science fiction movies and stories about Venus and for a long time, people could only imagine what was beneath the clouds that completely hide this mysterious planet from our view. We’ll take a closer look at our neighbor and separate fact from fiction. Discover a world that in some ways is similar to our Earth but unique among the planets in our Solar System.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ellen Rathbone: Bluebirds in the Adirondacks

Last month I was talking with a friend about my bear invasion and asked if she’d had any problems at her house yet. She told me no, and that she was leaving her feeders up because she wanted to get some bluebirds at her house. Are you putting out mealworms, I asked. No, just birdseed, she replied. When I told her that bluebirds are insect eaters, not seed eaters, she told me that another local woman had told her that her feeders were loaded with bluebirds, and had been all winter. AH, I said, she means blue jays.

Not all blue birds are bluebirds.

One of the first things I do when I give a bluebird presentation is show pictures of blue jays, indigo buntings, and blue grosbeaks. All three of these birds have lovely blue feathers (which technically are not blue; when it comes to feathers, the color blue is a result of light and feather structure, not an actual pigment), but there the similarity ends.

Blue jays are members of the crow family, and can be found in the Adirondacks year round. They are fairly large birds, with pointed crests on their heads and long tails out behind. The light blue feathers are nicely offset with black and white markings, and their loud “JAY!” is unmistakable. These birds are frequent visitors to bird feeders, hoovering up seeds like there’s no tomorrow (they can store numerous seeds in their throat pouches for later consumption), and especially like peanuts. You can have a lot of fun with blue jays by setting up Rube-Goldberg-like contraptions for them to figure out in order to get to a peanut reward.

Indigo buntings are a delight to see, mostly because they are uncommon. When one shows up, it may linger for a day or two at your bird feeder, but then it moves on. I’ve only seen indigo buntings a couple times in my life, but their solid almost-neon blue coloration will remain in my mind’s eye forever.

Based on range maps, blue grosbeaks are unlikely to be seen this far north. Like their cousins the evening and rose-breasted grosbeaks, they have, well, gross (large) beaks, which are handy for opening large seeds and cones.

The bluebird, however, is a seasonal visitor that, given the right set of circumstances, you can see every spring and summer in the Adirondack Park. Those circumstances are habitat: they like open spaces with short grass, and they need cavities in which to nest.

Farmland, cemeteries, golf courses, and yards are all ideal places for attracting bluebirds because the land is open and the grass is usually kept short. Why is short grass so important? Bluebirds hunt for insects by perching on a branch, or fencepost, or tombstone, and watching the grass for movement. When an insect is spotted, the bird flies down to the ground to grab it. If the grass is too long, the bird has a harder time finding its prey, and the insects have a greater chance to escape capture.

Historically, bluebirds nested in cavities excavated (usually by woodpeckers) in rotting trees, but people began cutting down these trees. Then invasive species, like house sparrows, house finches and starlings, started to compete for the remaining nest sites. Bluebird numbers took a real nosedive. The invention of the nestbox in the 1930s, and the subsequent establishment of bluebird trails, has made a real difference in bluebird populations, to the point where today just about anyone has the chance to see a bluebird, something our parents and grandparents could not claim when they were younger.

For the last week or so I’ve been on the lookout for bluebirds on our local golf course, where I maintain a small trail of about eight nestboxes. Two evenings ago I saw a flash of blue flit over the pocket wetland on the fourth fairway, and last night I heard the unmistakable call of several bluebirds while the dog and I traversed the first fairway. They were back. I watched a pair of bluebirds flying from the treetops to the box tops, no doubt checking out the real estate and the local housing market.

Back in April I’d made sure the boxes were cleaned out and repaired (one had to be completely replaced), and last week I noticed a couple boxes had been filled with moss: black-capped chickadees were taking up housekeeping. Last night I peeked into one of these to see if the chickadee was present, and there she was, peeking back out at me. I slowly closed the box and left her to her thoughts.

Most of my boxes are put up in pairs, a technique recommended in areas where tree swallows are present. Tree swallows are native birds that also nest in tree cavities, and bluebird nestboxes are the perfect size for these helpful insectivores. Unfortunately, they are very territorial birds and have been known to evict bluebirds from their nests, even going so far as breaking eggs and bodily removing nestlings. By pairing up your nest boxes, you give the bluebirds a chance, because tree swallows will move into one box and prevent other tree swallows from moving into the second. Bluebirds who have been evicted may move into the second box and try again.

It was after 8:00 last night when the dog and I finally got back home, and I was delighted to see a bluebird fly from the utility lines towards my yard, where I have five more nestboxes set up. To encourage the bluebirds to choose one of my boxes, I usually purchase a bag of mealworms, which I keep in my ‘fridge and slowly dole out to these would-be neighbors. This can be a real boon once babies hatch, for finding enough food for their gaping maws can be a challenge for the parents, especially if they are faced with a cool and wet summer. By providing mealworms early in the season, I can establish a food source for these prospective parents and perhaps sway their choice in nesting sites.

I encourage everyone who has a patch of open land to build (or purchase) a couple nestboxes and put them up. You’ll want to mount them on posts about five feet high, and ideally away from trees predators can use to gain access. Predator guards placed around the posts will also help protect your birds from raccoons, squirrels, snakes and cats. Make sure your nestbox has a door that you can open so you can monitor the box and its inhabitants. Checking your nestbox once a week is usually enough to make sure your birds are safe and doing well.

Once the eggs are laid, it’ll be about two weeks until they hatch, and another two to three weeks until the babies fledge. You’ll want to stop opening the box when the nestlings are about ten days old to avoid startling them into fledging before they are ready to fly. Keep a small bowl of mealworms handy, and you will have a happy bluebird family close at hand.

Ornithologist William Leon Dawson described the bluebird in his 1903 book Birds of Ohio as “Reflecting heaven from his back and the ground from his breast, he floats between sky and earth like the winged voice of hope.” What a wonderful description of these chirpy backyard friends.


Friday, May 7, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, May 7, 2010

Lake George Scenery is a Draw, Even in Winter

Nobody comes to Lake George in winter. That’s the conventional wisdom, apparently confirmed by the experience of resorts like The Sagamore, which now closes its doors in November.

But according to a study released by the Warren County Tourism Department in April, people are interested in visiting Lake George and Bolton Landing in the off-season; they even recommend it as a destination to others.

Of the 577 people who completed a Warren County Tourism Department on-line survey, more than a third visited the Lake George region between December and March, said Kate Johnson, Warren County’s director of tourism.

“Almost 90% of the people who visited us at that time of the year rated their experience as either ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent,’” said Johnson. “I’m still gratified by how many people are pleased with their visits to Lake George and will recommend it to others.”

Johnson said 100% of the people surveyed would recommend Lake George to their friends and family.

“It doesn’t matter what the season, people like Lake George,” said Johnson

And they like the same things about Lake George in season and out, Johnson said.

46% of the winter visitors said Lake George’s scenic beauty was a major draw and 22% engaged in outdoor activities.

Summer visitors expressed similar preferences, although an even higher percentage said they came to Lake George for its range of outdoor activities, from golfing and horseback riding to boating and swimming, said Johnson,

According to the survey, the majority of winter visitors stayed two to three nights in Warren County. More than 86% visited Lake George during their stay and roughly 40% visited Bolton Landing. Only 25% visited North Creek, the site of Gore Mountain and assumed by many to be Warren County’s single winter destination.

“This report gives us the kind of feedback we need,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, who serves on Warren County’s Tourism Committee. “By promoting our natural resources year-round, we’re doing the right thing.”

Conover added, “The report also reminds us that it’s our lake’s scenic beauty that draws visitors. We have to maintain our tourism infrastructure, such as our beaches and parks.”

Photo: Lake George Mirror

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, May 7, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene: Beartracks to the Back Porch

This week you can check out some bluegrass, Beartracks and the Gibson Brothers are gigging. Mecca Bodega is a fun band to dance to – I really enjoyed them the last time the passed through the area. There’s also a good open mic to remember in Canton and if you didn’t get the chance Armida is being shown once again in Lake Placid. I’m also curious about the JUNO award winner playing in Lowville. Please let me know if you find out anything about the bands where there is no information to be found online.

Thursday, May 6th:

In Canton, Open Mic at the Blackbird Cafe with host Geoff Hayton. Sign up is at 6:30 and show starts at 7, it runs until 9 pm. Best performances are picked to be part of a CD released later this year. For more information email: geoff.hayton@gmail.com .

In Plattsburgh, Beartracks, which consists of Junior Barber, Tom Venne and Julie Venne Hogan will perform at the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Plattsburgh. The doors open at 7 pm and admission is $10. For more information,
email:twdavies2009@hotmail.com .

Friday, May 7th:

In Ellenburg, the Gibson Brothers are in concert at The Northern Adirondack HIgh School. Doors open at 6 pm. For more information email:drhythms@localnet.com or call (518) 497-6962.

Saturday, May 8th:

In Lowville, Stephen Fearing who is part of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings a JUNO winning trio from Canada. This is part of the Black River Valley Concert Series and will be held at the Lewis County Historical Society. The doors open at 7:45 and admission is $15/18.

In Saranac Lake, Mecca Bodega at the Waterhole’s Upstairs Music Lounge. Doors open at 9 pm and the music usually gets going around 10 pm.

In North Creek, Mud Party at Laura’s Tavern.

Sunday, May 9th:

In Glens Falls, The Glens Falls Symphony concert will begin at 4 pm in the Glens Falls High School. They will perform Mahler and J.S. Bach. Phone (518) 793-1348 or email exdir@gfso.org for more information.

In Stony Creek, The Von Bulows will play at the Stony Creek Inn. Music starts at 6 pm.

Tuesday, May 11th:

In Lake Placid, The Met Live in HD Encore Presentation of “Armida” will be shown at LPCA. The opera starts at 5:30 pm and runs 4 hours and 20 minutes with intermissions.

Wednesday, May 12th:

In North Creek, The Back Porch Society (Russ Cook and Brad Hulburt) will be at barVino. Music starts at 7 pm.

Photo: Beartracks


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Balsam Poplar – The Balm of the Adirondacks

Every spring, at about this time, there is a day when I step outside and find my olfactory senses drowning in a spicy sweet aroma. The scent is so powerful that it blocks out all other senses, the brain focusing on this and this alone. The fragrance brings to mind dark rooms filled with incense, or images of the ancient orient, and yet its source is completely and wholly native: balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), an otherwise unassuming pioneer species of the boreal forest.

It took me several years to discover the source of this fragrance. I first encountered it while working in The Great Swamp in New Jersey. No one there knew what it was. I didn’t smell it again until I came to the Adirondacks, and that first spring, there it was. My head snapped up and I looked around. “I’ve smelled this before,” my nose was telling me. Scent is a powerful memory stimulant, and this scent is one of the strongest. My search for an answer began. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Paddling: It’s Prime Time For Flat Water

If you ever wanted to plan a multi-day paddling trip on some of the Adirondack’s best water routes, the next few weeks are a prime time. Only fall-foliage season beats early spring for sheer perfection.

You’ve got long, sunny days. Even the most popular lakes around, such as Long and Lower Saranac lakes, are mostly free of power boats. And the bugs won’t come out in earnest for another two to three weeks.

After multiple canoe trips this time of year, I’ve found the only thing I miss are the leaves, which had not yet budded during an early-May trip to Long Lake. Having done a trip a few weeks later, where we had leaves but also black flies, I think I’d take the bare trees. However, know that even if it’s the heart of black-fly season, if temperatures are cool enough the bugs will not be a problem. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities’ Diane Chase: Mother’s Day

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

I have always felt a few holidays were put on the calendar as a means to sell greeting cards or perhaps boost a lull in candy sales after Easter. Though I have a mother and am a mother, Mother’s Day used to fall in that category for me. It would seem that the mother in question either deserves to be treated well every day for being motherly or was the type of person that didn’t live up to the title. It should be up to the discretion of the child. I was pleased to note that the celebration is much more than cards and flowers.

Days dedicated to mothers have been traced back to a variety of sources. The ancient Greeks honored Rhea, the mother of the gods. Christians honor Mary, the mother of Christ. In the late 1500s, servants apprenticed away from home would be given the fourth Sunday of Lent to return to their “mother” church and gather again as a family. The holiday became a day reuniting mothers with their children.

In 1858, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs to help improve sanitation and worker safety in Appalachian West Virginia. During the Civil War the clubs remained neutral to provide medical care for both Union and Confederate soldiers.

In 1872 Julia Ward Howe (author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic) organized a Mother’s Day of Peace. In her Mother’s Day Proclamation she encouraged a holiday where mothers rally for peace. Originally held on June 2, Howe envisioned a day of activism.

The current holiday occurred in 1907 when Anna Jarvis, a Philadelphia schoolteacher started the progress toward a national Mother’s Day, in honor of her mother. Jarvis petitioned influential businessmen and legislators to establish a day to honor mothers. It took Jarvis seven years, but finally in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May, the anniversary of her mother’s death, as a national holiday in celebration of mothers.

With the immediate commercialization of the holiday, Jarvis apparently attempted to lobby businesses to donate a percentage of the Mother’s Day profits back to women and children in need. She was unsuccessful. It is said that she regretted forming the holiday and even petitioned the courts to have it disbanded.

I am not suggesting that Mother’s Day be dissolved. I rather like the idea of breakfast in bed and all the niceties. I look forward to it. I also embrace the original concept to be a day of peace.

If you are looking for ways to celebrate together here are some events around the Adirondacks this weekend. Of course paddles, hikes and walks are always plentiful and readily available.

all content © Diane Chase.  Diane Chase is of Adirondack Family Time:Tri-Lakes & High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activiities (with GPS Coordinates), covering the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene/Keene Valley, Jay/Upper Jay and Wilmington. Diane’s next guidebook Adirondack Family Time: Lake Champlain from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga (2012), Adirondack Family Time: Long lake to Old Forge, Adirondack Family Time Schroon Lake to Lake George. (2013)


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Phil Brown on Climbing: To Bolt Or Not To Bolt

Last weekend, Josh Wilson led my friend Mike Virtanen and me up a historical rock-climbing route on Rooster Comb in Keene Valley. Fritz Wiessner, one of the best climbers and mountaineers of his era, pioneered the route in 1949 with Jim Goodwin, his frequent partner on Adirondack outings.

The Old Route, as it’s called, is rated 5.4 in the Yosemite Decimal System, which is easy by today’s standards, but Weissner availed himself of a variety of interesting features as he meandered up the cliff: a ramp, a narrow chimney, corners, ledges, and wide cracks.

Wiessner was involved in the first ascent of at least eighteen rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks. The hardest, on Noonmark Mountain, is rated 5.8. That’s considered moderately tough, but it doesn’t come close in difficulty to many routes put up since Wiessner’s heyday. Josh, for instance, has climbed 5.11 routes. III Fire, the hardest climb in the Adirondacks, is rated 5.14a—which once would have been thought impossible.

So are modern climbers that much better than Wiessner?

Not really. Changes in footwear have enabled climbers to ascend ever-harder routes. In the old days, climbers wore boots or sneakers. Today, they climb in lightweight shoes that resemble ballet slippers with sticky rubber soles. These shoes allow climbers to get a purchase on steep slabs and tiny nodules of rock.

Protective gear—“pro,” in the sport’s lingo—also has greatly improved. In Wiessner’s day, climbers hammered metal pitons into cracks to hold their rope in the event of a fall. Nowadays, climbers carry lightweight nuts and cams that can be wedged into almost any crack. The new technology makes climbing difficult routes safer.

On Rooster Comb, we saw three or four old pitons on the Old Route. We wondered if they had been pounded in by Wiessner himself. Although no longer needed, the pitons are artifacts of a bygone era and should be left in place.

Pitons may be relics of the past, but steel bolts are not. Like pitons or other pro, fixed bolts are used to hold the rope in a fall. They are usually found on blank faces where it’s impossible to place pro or at the top of a cliff or pitch where climbers clip in the rope to rappel.

Since they alter the natural environment, bolts are controversial. Don Mellor notes in his book American Rock that attitudes toward bolts vary among climbing communities in different parts of the country. Climbers can get quite worked up over the issue. Mellor once told me, after we climbed Wallface, of a guy who used to carry a hammer to destroy any bolt he encountered.

In the Adirondacks, climbers frown on the overuse of bolts. Dominic Eisinger writes in the guidebook Adirondack Rock: “For existing routes, no additional protection or fixed anchors should be added without the consent of the first-ascent party. Fixed anchors have been installed by the climbing community where necessary for safety and preservation of fragile terrain and trees” (since they obviate the need to wrap slings around trees during a rappel).

But the guideline is not always followed. Tom Rosecrans, a longtime climber, complains that routes he pioneered on Rogers Rock years ago have since been bolted.

Some might ask whether it’s ever appropriate to fix bolts to a cliff in the forever-wild Forest Preserve. It’s a legitimate question: state regulations forbid defacing “any tree, flower, shrub, fern, fungi or other plant like organisms, moss or other plant, rock, soil, fossil or mineral or object of archaeological or paleontological interest found or growing on State land.”

Nonetheless, bolts do happen. Of course, many forms of outdoor recreation—whether hiking, snowmobiling, or camping—leave an impact on the wilderness. The question is whether that impact is acceptable.

Eisinger says Adirondack climbers strive to minimize their impact in all respects, not just in their bolting practices. “Scrubbing lichen from holds, cleaning dirt from cracks for protection, breaking the occasional branch to squeeze by a tree, or removing a dangerous loose block are all accepted practices,” Eisinger writes. “Scrubbing an 8-foot wide swath and cutting trees are not only illegal but aren’t accepted by the climbing community.”

In truth, no one but climbers will see a bolt on a cliff. And most climbers don’t mind a well-placed bolt. So the aesthetic impact is negligible.

Bolts are to modern climbers what pitons were to early climbers: an occasional necessity. And what climber would not take delight in seeing a piton put in by the great Fritz Wiessner? It’s a reminder that the sport hasn’t changed that much.

Photo by Phil Brown: Josh Wilson on the Old Route on Rooster Comb.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

6th Annual Great Adirondack Trail Run Announced

The sixth annual Great Adirondack Trail Run will take place on June 19th, 2010 in Keene Valley, NY. Billed as a charity event supporting the Au Sable and Bouquet River Associations, the event includes two runs: an 11.5 mile strenuous run (2900′ of vertical gain and 3100′ of loss) up the back side of Hopkins Mountain and down to Keene Valley, and a 3.5 mile fun run from Baxter Mountain Tavern on Route 9N to Keene Valley.

According to the event’s organizers, registration is limited and runners will be staggered “out of respect for the public trail portion of the run.” The 3.5 mile fun run is entirely on private land. Neither run will include aid stations, and runners are responsible for staying on course and carrying what they need to complete the runs.

The 11.5 mile run will begin at 9 AM, with runners starting one at a time in a staggered format (one per minute). The 3.5 mile fun run will begin at 10 AM from the Baxter Mountain Tavern on Rte 9N between Keene and Elizabethtown, also with a staggered start. A shuttle will be available from the parking/finish area at Riverside in Keene Valley to the trailhead for both runs. There will be a celebration of Spring with music, food, beer and more starting at 11 AM, with awards at 2 PM.

Rules: This is a wilderness trail run. There will be no support–participants are on their own from start to finish, and will need their own water, food and all other supplies. Any volunteers stationed on the course will be there to make sure runners take the right trail–they will not have water, food, moleskin, etc. Anyone caught littering will be immediately disqualified.