Saturday, June 19, 2010

Adirondack Region Golf Deals for 2010

The following Adirondack golf packages, in connection with local courses and nearby resorts, offer an all inclusive way to enjoy golfing in the Adirondack region. For more information on Adirondack golf and a list of courses, log onto VisitAdirondacks.com.

The Bluff Point Golf Resort in Plattsburgh is offering a Midweek Package that includes one night and two rounds of golf with a cart for just $74 US. A minimum of four people per cottage and minimum two people per suite is required and the offer is good Mondays-Thursdays. Weekend Golf Packages are just $84 US and include one night’s accommodations and one round of golf with a cart. There is a minimum of four people per cottage and minimum two people per suite; offer is good Fridays-Sundays.

In Malone, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, Canadian golfers can take advantage of the Golf Packages at Par which include two nights’ accommodations, two days of unlimited golf and more at Malone Golf Club East and West, Saranac Inn Golf & Country Club and Tupper Lake Golf and Country Club. Prices vary.

The Cedars Golf Course in Lowville offers weekly specials: 9 holes with cart for $18, or 18 holes with cart for $25. If golfers tee-off before 1 pm, they’ll even throw in a free sandwich.

The Sagamore Golf Course in Bolton Landing offers views of the Adirondack High Peaks and beautiful Lake George. The Sagamore Resort is offering an Unlimited Golf Package to guests, which includes two nights’ accommodation in either The Lodge or the Historic Hotel at the Sagamore, breakfast, unlimited golf and a special gift from the Golf Course Pro Shop. Prices vary.

The Ledge Rock in Wilmington is offering Whiteface Golf Packages through Oct. 12, which include one night’s lodging and one round of golf at the Whiteface Club & Resort for $124 pp/double occupancy. Just down the road, The Inn at Whiteface is offering a $99/night package for two people with reduced golf fees.

In Lake Placid, several area hotels and resorts are offering Adirondack Golf Getaway Packages all season long. The Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa and the Courtyard by Marriott both kick off their golf seasons June 19th with stay and play packages. Through Oct. 1, the Courtyard by Marriott will offer a $129/pp midweek golf package that includes deluxe accommodations, golf cart and breakfast. Through Oct. 7th, the Mirror Lake Inn will offer a special rate for couples who want to play a round of golf at The Whiteface Club & Resort, the Lake Placid Mountain Course or Craig Wood Golf Course. Additional options are available.

The Best Western University Inn in Canton golf package is $95 weekday, or $100 weekend and includes unlimited golf with cart for one day; complimentary bucket of range balls; hotel stay for one night; complimentary drink coupons and 10% soft goods discount at the pro shop. Rates are per person per day based on double occupancy, and are valid through October 15.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Adirondack Weather: Cloud Gazing

Who among us hasn’t spent some time gazing at the clouds? Perhaps we have lain in a grassy field or lawn and looked for shapes in the puffy white blobs that floated lazily across the blue expanse above. Or we watched the sky catch fire at the setting (or rising) of the day. For some, maybe the only relevance of clouds is whether they will produce rain (or hail, or snow, or a tornado). Regardless of the specific nature of our relationships with clouds, we have them.

For me, I am most fascinated by the shapes and colors clouds can assume. The absolute best cloud formation I’ve seen was here in the Adirondacks. I was driving back from Ray Brook and there in the sky was a herd of banthas* – must’ve been a hundred of them. Each cloud was the same shape, and as they slowly changed, they changed in unison. It was pretty amazing.

Clouds, at least here on Earth, are made from condensed water vapor.** It doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? Warm air absorbs water vapor (this is why winter air is dry), and warm air rises. As the warm, moist air rises, it cools. As it cools, the water condenses into droplets, or ice crystals. If enough of these droplets are close enough together, they form a visible mass we call a cloud.

Why are clouds white? And why are they not always white? This has to do with how light bounces on, around, off, water particles. Take your average cloud – it’s large, it’s deep, and it is highly reflective of all wavelengths of light within the visible spectrum. In other words, it reflects all light we can see, and thus it looks white (the color white is made up of all the colors). As the sunlight penetrates further into the cloud, it is scattered more and more, leaving less to be reflected. This is why the bottoms of clouds are often darker, even grey. Think rain clouds. These are very dense – lots of condensed water vapor.

We’ve all see clouds that are red, orange and pink – glorious shades that show up when the sun is low on the horizon. These colors, however, are not IN the clouds, though. These colors appear as reflections from the sun. A great explanation I found for this is that it is the same as if you shone a red flashlight onto a sheet – the sheet reflects the red light, it doesn’t turn red itself.

But some clouds look bluish, or greenish, or even yellowish. These are all structural. For example, the blueish-grey clouds are caused from light scattering within the cloud. Blues and greens are short wavelength colors and are very easily scattered by the water droplets (reds and oranges are long wavelengths, and they are reflected, see paragraph above).

If you see a green cloud, it is that color because the sunlight is being scattered by ice instead of water droplets. This can be a clue to weather prognosticators as to what kind of weather we can expect (hail, snow, tornadoes). Yellow clouds are apparently quite rare, and their color tends to come from pollutants in the atmosphere, like smoke.

Then there are iridescent clouds. These are very uncommon. Iridescent clouds usually sport pastel colors, looking much like mother-of-pearl. Sometimes, however, their colors can be quite intense. Iridescent clouds are formed when the light shines through thin clouds (often the edges of clouds) made from nearly uniform droplets. Each ray of light strikes one droplet and all the droplets participate in cumulative diffraction, the end result of which is a cloud that shimmers with all the visible colors.*** I’ve only seen this once, and that was because I was wearing polarized sunglasses at the time – dark glasses can help make these events visible. It was amazing.

Cloud gazing isn’t something that should be left to children or the idle. Everyone should take the time to watch the clouds. Not only can it be a relaxing activity (can an activity be relaxing?), but it can also be informative. Just think, our ancestors knew their clouds and had a weather sense that most of us have lost today, traded in for the ease of technology. Sometimes I think our ancestors had the better plan.

* For those who don’t get this reference, banthas are the creatures from “Star Wars” that the Sand People and Tuskan Raiders rode. They are imaginary, obviously, but even so, that’s exactly what the clouds looked like.

** Clouds can form on any moon or planet that has an atmosphere, but this doesn’t mean they are made from water vapor. Venus’s clouds are made of sulfuric acid. On Mars, they are made of ice. If you go to Jupiter and Saturn, be prepared for ammonia clouds, and if you travel to Uranus or Neptune, you’ll find the clouds are made from methane gas. Even outer space has clouds made of space debris – these are often called nebulae.

***ROYGBIV


Friday, June 18, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, June 18, 2010

Lake George Fears Loss of Millions if Americade Leaves

If you didn’t know Lake George businessmen, you might have been moved, if not embarrassed, by the love they expressed for Americade and its founder Bill Dutcher at a tribute thrown for the motorcycle convention earlier this week. But as someone attending the event remarked to me, “they’re not doing it for Bill, they’re doing it for themselves.”

Here’s how we covered the event in the Lake George Mirror.

“This is a love fest, and I’m loving it,” said Americade founder Bill Dutcher at a luncheon billed as an Americade Appreciation Event, hosted by the Inn at Erlowest on Tuesday, June 16. » Continue Reading.


Friday, June 18, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, June 17, 2010

13th Annual Antique Car Show in Old Forge

The Central Adirondack Association has announced that the 13th Annual Central Adirondack Father’s Day Weekend Car Show in Old Forge will begin on Friday, June 18th at 7pm with a car parade down Main Street in Old Forge. On Saturday, June 19th the annual Car Show will take place from 9am – 3pm at the Hiltebrant Recreation Center on North Street. The show will feature classic antique vehicles and modified street rods.

Two cash prizes of $250 each, provided by Kratzenberg’s Masonry & Excavating, Inc. in Forestport, New York, will be awarded to the Best of Show cars in two categories, one for antiques/classics and one for modified/street rods. Trophies will be awarded to 18 classes of vehicles, and dash plaques will be given to the first 100 registrants. Awards will also be presented for Spectators’ Choice, Oldest Vehicle, and Longest Distance Driven.

A spectator admission fee of $2 will be charged, and children under 12 will be admitted free. Anyone interested in registering his or her vehicle for this judged show could do so at the gate on Saturday morning for a fee of $10. Cars must be on the field by noon to be judged. Auto swap meet vendors are welcome to participate by completing a registration form and paying a $10 fee.

Food will be available from the Old Forge Fire Auxiliary, including chili, hamburgers, hot dogs, desserts, and drinks.

In case of rain, the event will be held inside the pavilion on a first-come, first-served basis.

More information about the weekend’s events can be obtained from the Old Forge Visitor Information Center at 315- 369-6983 or www.OldForgeNY.com.

Photo: Modified 1956 Chevrolet Belair owned by Brittany Busa from Sauquoit, New York.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (June 17)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change. For complete Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation conditions see the DEC’s webpage. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

Fire Danger: Low
Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water. Stir to make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water, use dirt not duff. Do not bury coals as they can smolder and break out into fire later.

Weather
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 82.
Friday Night: Clear, with a low around 48.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 88.
Saturday Night: Showers and thunderstorms likely; low around 57.
Sunday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, highs near 75.

Biting Insects
“Bug Season” has begun in the Adirondacks so Black Flies, Mosquitos, Deer Flies and/or Midges will be present. To minimize the nuisance wear light colored clothing, pack a head net and use an insect repellent.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibilty of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

General Backcountry Conditions

Wilderness conditions can change suddenly. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Rainy Weather: Due to significant recent rainfalls, trails have mud and/or puddles in many locations. Hikers are advised to wear appropriate footwear and to stay on the trail – hike through muddy areas and puddles to avoid widening the trails or creating “herd paths” around those areas. The rains have also raised the water levels of many streams – particularly during and immediately following storm events – low water crossings may not be accessible.

Blowdowns: Due to recent storms and high winds blowdown may be found on trails, particularly infrequently used side trails. Blowdown may be heavy enough in some places to impede travel.

Bear-Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.

Local Conditions

Lake George: There will be two parades down Canada Street from Lake George High School to Fort William Henry on Friday evening and again on Saturday afternoon during the 120th Annual Hudson Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Association Convention.

Giant Mountain Wilderness: The sixth annual Great Adirondack Trail Run will take place on Saturday in Keene Valley. Expect heavy use by trail runners between the Route 9N Trailhead / Owl’s Head Lookout area, Hopkins Mountain, and the Mountaineer on Route 73.

Santanoni Historic Preserve: Part of the stone bridge on the Newcomb Lake Road to Camp Santanoni has collapsed in recent rains. Hikers and bikers can still pass, but horse trailers can not. DEC is working with the Town of Newcomb to repair the bridge, in the meantime use caution when crossing the bridge.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) is open. DEC, the Town of Inlet, and the Town of Indian Lake have partnered to make repairs to roads and campsites along the road. Gates to side roads, including Rock Dam Road, Indian Lake Road, and Otter Brook Road, remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time.

Raquette River Boat Launch: The Raquette River Boat Launch along State Route 3 is closed at this time as DEC is rehabilitating the boat launch. See the press release for more information. It is expected to reopen in mid-June.

Pok-O-Moonshine Mountain: A peregrine falcon nest has been confirmed on The Nose on the Main Face of Poke-o-moonshine Mountain. All rock climbing routes including and between Garter and Mogster, are closed. All other rock climbing routes are open beginning May 12.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has a lot of blowdown. Also beavers have flooded a section of trail about half way between the ponds. A significant amount of bushwhacking will be needed to get through the carry, so be prepared for a real wilderness experience.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.

Giant Mountain: All rock climbing routes on Uppper Washbowl remain closed due to confirmed peregrine falcon nesting activity. All rock climbing routes on Lower Washbowl in Chapel Pond Pass are opened for climbing.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River Trail is out. The cable bridge over the Opalescent River on the Hanging Spear Falls trail has also been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

High Peaks/Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

High Peaks/VanHovenburg Trail: The High Water Bridge is expected to be reinstalled and open on Friday.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Calamity Dam Lean-to: Calamity Lean-to #1, the lean-to closest to the old Calamity Dam in the Flowed Lands, has been dismantled and removed.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

Upper Works – Preston Ponds Washouts: Two foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and Preston Pond were washed out by an ice jam. One bridge was located 1/3 mile northwest of the new lean-to on Henderson Lake. The second bridge was located several tenths of a mile further northwest. The streams can be crossed by rock hopping. Crossings may be difficult during periods of high water.

Duck Hole: The bridge across the dam has been removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water.

Wilmington Wild Forest: All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch are closed due to possible peregrine falcon nesting activity.

——————–
Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

John Brown Lives! Honors Juneteenth With Event

June 19th commemorates “Juneteenth”, the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, and is observed in more than 30 states. It is also known as Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day. Join us in honoring “Juneteenth” with an author reception for Scott Christianson, author of the critically acclaimed book Freeing Charles: The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War (University of Illinois Press, 2010).

Scott will speak about the life and dramatic rescue of a captured fugitive slave from Virginia, Charles Nalle, who was liberated by Harriet Tubman and others in Troy, NY in 1860. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Phil Brown: Paddling Another Posted River

Over the past year, the Adirondack Explorer has published several stories on paddlers’ rights, including an account of a canoe trip on Shingle Shanty Brook through posted lands. As you can see from this earlier post on Adirondack Almanack, not everyone applauds our work.

We hope the stories will spur the state to clarify the legal status of Adirondack rivers. For the July/August issue of the Explorer, I paddled the Beaver River from Lake Lila to Stillwater, another stretch of river that passes through posted land. Click here to read the story.

The Beaver is shallower than Shingle Shanty, with many shoals and rapids. As a result, I had to get out of my canoe on several occasions to carry around obstacles or free the boat from rocks. I imagine the river would be even more boney in midsummer.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not “navigable-in-fact,” a legal phrase that describes waterways open to the public under the common-law right of navigation. The experts I spoke with said courts recognize that paddling sometimes requires portaging or lining a boat and that a river may not be navigable year-round. And the time I spent portaging or lining accounted for just a small fraction of the journey.

I’ll mention two other points in favor of the argument that the Beaver is navigable-in-fact.

First, this stretch of the Beaver connects two popular canoe-camping destinations in the public Forest Preserve. Thus, it is part of a canoe route from Lake Lila to Stillwater. Moreover, you could extend the route on both ends to create a multiday canoe expedition. You could start in Old Forge or Saranac Lake and paddle to Lila, thence to Stillwater, and then continue down the Beaver below Stillwater. If you’re looking at a hundred-mile trip, a few sections of shoals and rapids are not that daunting.

Second, the Beaver was used to float logs in the nineteenth century—which is evidence of the river’s navigability. Coincidentally, a week before my trip I received a letter from George Locker, a New York City attorney who canoed the Beaver a few years ago. In his historical researches, Locker found that William Seward Webb—the ancestor of the current landowners—asserted in 1893 that the Beaver was “a natural highway” for transporting logs.

“If the original Webb told a New York court in 1893 that the Beaver River was his commercial highway beginning at Lake Lila, then it is a settled matter that the Beaver River is navigable-in-fact and accessible to the public, no matter what any subsequent owner (Webb or not) may claim,” Locker wrote us.

Nevertheless, the landowner I spoke with contends the public is not allowed on the river.

Apart from the rapids and shoals, the legal ambiguity is probably enough to deter most paddlers from traveling down the Beaver.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is talking with the owners of Shingle Shanty Brook. Let’s hope this will result in public access. Perhaps the department could talk to the Beaver’s landowners next.

Photo by Susan Bibeau: Phil Brown on the Beaver River shortly before crossing into private property.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Natural History Field Work: Value of Repetition

It seems that in today’s world, most of us are focused on achieving goals, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. Goals are good; goals are important. But in the world of nature study and outdoor appreciation this goal-oriented mindset can get in the way of the bigger picture. More and more I see Park visitors who are only interested in bagging peaks, and not just any peak, but the highest peak, or adding a certain bird to their life lists. Once these items are checked off their lists, they forget about it and move on. I submit for your consideration that there are times when we should slow down while reaching some of these goals, and stop to smell the roses along the way.

Although I work in the Adirondack Park, admittedly the largest park in the continental US, the bit of the Park that is my work place is fairly small. We have three short trails, a total of about 3.5 miles. After ten years of walking these trails, one might think that they would get boring. How much more can there be to see? In truth, if I take the time to really look, each time I walk the trails I am liable to see something new. Last week, for example, I “discovered” a native bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) I’d never seen before. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Safe Paddling Alternatives on Lake George

Two recent paddling fatalities on Lake George show that the Adirondacks’ most crowded lake may not be the safest place to take a canoe or kayak.

On May 31, Stephen Canaday drowned only a few yards from shore when hie canoe was capsized by the wake of a passing boat. On June 9, Peter Snyder of Troy was run over by another power boat while in his kayak on the lake. His neck was broken, but the cause of death was ruled drowning. Neither men wore life preservers.

Even on low traffic days Lake George is not necessarily a friendly place for paddlers — strong winds often blow through the channel between the mountains, causing tough headwinds and choppy waters.

Still, one can see the appeal. Lake George is truly a highlight of the park, with its clear waters surrounded by high peaks, and its dozens of islands just begging to be camped on. So if you must paddle here, do it wisely.

The first plan to avoid traffic is to avoid the summer. Spring and fall are terrific times to come, especially in October when the foliage is at its peak. I’ve on the lake several times after September, and we always had it to ourselves. Islands in the Narrows that are chockablock with campers in the summer are nearly deserted in the fall.

Another plan is to avoid high traffic areas — and that means any spot south of Bolton Landing. Both deaths this year occurred in this busy zone.

The Narrows, located between Tongue Mountain to the west and Shelving Rock and Black Mountain to the east, is another high-traffic area. But with all the islands there it’s possible to choose a narrow path between land masses that will avoid the main channels.

Other ideas would be to launch in places other than Bolton Landing or further south. Northwest Bay, which is accessible via a parking lot near Tongue Mountain on Route 9N (a few miles north of Bolton Landing), offers a terrific paddle. First you glide through a narrow channel filled with wildlife. Eventually, you exit onto the bay, but because this is a nautical cul-de-sac, it gets very little boat traffic compared to the rest of the lake. You can paddle all the way out to the point of the Tongue peninsula and see very few boats.

The remote, quiet Huletts Landing on the lake’s east shore also provides a nice way to visit some of the lesser-known islands north of the Narrows. It’s also right near Black Mountain, one of the best peaks to hike on the lake (accessible from the road or the water).

Finally, the far north has some nice spots that are a little quieter. If you put a boat in at Roger’s Rock State Park, you can enjoy a view of the lake’s biggest cliff (and maybe even see some rock climbers on its slabby face). Or launch from the Baldwin Road dock in Ticonderoga to explore the rarely-visited northern tip of the lake.

Whatever you do, remember to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Power boaters don’t see canoes and kayaks as easily as paddlers see them. And remember to wear those life preservers.

* * *

Photos by Lori Van Buren of Albany.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lake Placid Institute Announces Roundtable Series

The Lake Placid Institute for the Arts and Humanities welcomes prominent professionals to speak at the annual Adirondack Roundtable series. Taking place on Saturday mornings, these breakfast lectures are open to the public and offer a diverse array of speakers. Throughout June, July, and August, the Roundtable takes place at 8:30am at the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid Resort.

On June 26th, Actor Chris Noth will begin the Roundtable series by discussing “An Actor’s Life.” A graduate from the Yale School of Drama, he has had a successful career in film, television, and on stage. Noth is most well-known for his role as Detective Mike Logan on Law and Order: Criminal Intent and as Mr. Big on HBO’s Sex and the Cityopposite Sarah Jessica Parker, a role for which he received a Golden Globe Nomination. He can currently be seen in the movie Sex and the City II, a movie based on the television series and also on CBS’ show The Good Wife.

July 10th, Jim Burrows, a successful director and producer, will discuss “Maintaining a Private Life in Show Business.” He has directed many successful shows includingThe Mary Tyler Moore Show, Cheers, Friends, Will & Grace, and Two and a Half Men. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award 24 times in 26 years, winning 5 times.

July 17th, John Cooney, a prominent writer, will discuss “News Without Newspapers.” A former reporter, editor, and foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal,Cooney has worked in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe and the Middle East. His work in Cuba was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He has also written non-fiction books, in particular, The Annenbergs, for which he received the University of Missouri Journalism School’s Research award and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. His fiction works include A Better Place to Die and Acts of Contrition.

August 14th, the Roundtable will conclude with Howard Stahl discussing “Saving Historic Properties: Economic, Aesthetic, & Practical Considerations.” A trial attorney and a partner in the law firm Steptoe & Johnson, he is a member of the Litigation, Business Solutions, and International Departments. His work led to his listing in Leading Lawyers 2007. In addition, Stahl has purchased, restored, opened for public viewing, and sold a number of historic homes. He also is knowledgeable about tax and easement incentives for preservation initiatives.

The Adirondack Roundtable begins at 8:30am, with registration starting at 8:00am at the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid Resort. Each event is $30 with a reservation or $35 at the door and includes a breakfast buffet. Please call the Lake Placid Institute at 518-523-1312 for advance registration.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Father’s Day Frog Jumping Contest

Forget the pancake breakfast and undercooked bacon. For the 38th year fathers and families will gather in Old Forge at noon on June 20 and find use for those past father’s day gifts and compete in the ugliest tie contest.

A tie picked out by a child is like my closet dedicated to those bride-maid dresses that I was promised could be shortened and worn again. The issue, without insulting too many of my friends, is that some of the dresses shouldn’t have been worn the first time as with a few of the ties my husband (and perhaps yours) has hanging in the back of his closet.

In the same philosophy that spandex is a privilege and should not be considered formal wear, neckties should not be bedazzled with the belief that glitter makes everything better.

If a rhinestone tie won’t win a family trophy then the frog-jumping contest just may. Annually over 30 frogs compete in a series of categories like weight, speed and jump at the Old Forge Lakefront.

According the Cindy Beckley of the Town of Webb Publicity Department in Old Forge no frogs are harmed during this event.

“We have a garden hose available to keep the frogs wet so they are not under any undo stress. All frogs are released back to their natural habitat,” says Beckley.

Though this isn’t the setting of Mark Twain’s 1865 tall tale, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, about life in a “Gold Rush” town, there are ample trophies and opportunities to have your own Daniel Webster perform, unless someone fills the frog up with buckshot.

For those unable to attend but would still like to find ways to celebrate the brilliance of Mark Twain, the Saranac Lake Historical Society has a series of summer events commemorating Mark Twain’s Adirondack connection and the 100th year anniversary of his death. The mantra surrounding schools, libraries and book groups is “rediscover Huckleberry Finn.” There will also be a non-stop reading on July 21 at the Keene Valley Library from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. as well as lectures and boat tours to the Mark Twain camp in August.

For more information about the tie or frog-jumping contest please call 315-369-6983. Happy Father’s Day.

Disclaimer: Nothing is more precious than the look on my children’s faces when they have found the perfect gift and I am honored that so many of my friends have wanted me as part of each special day, even the second time around. Sadly even that second go-around hasn’t been an opportunity to wear those dresses again though the thought did occur to me, more than once.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Short History of the Moose River Plains

The Moose River Plains Wild Forest, sitting between Route 28 and the West Canada Lake Wilderness in Hamilton and Herkimer counties, is a bit of an Adirondack political and natural history wonder.

The gravelly, flat, grassy “plains” of the Moose and Red Rivers are a significant contrast to the rest of the Adirondack Park and one of it’s more unique (and popular) features. Although it’s hard to know for sure, indications from various studies and permit requests suggest that about 50,000 people use the plains each year (not including the some 500 campsites bordering the area, and the incidental use generated by those in the hamlets of Inlet, Raquette Lake and Indian Lake). “The Plains,” as the area is known, was also the site of one of the region’s legendary environmental conservation fights of the last 100 years. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Exotic Wildlife: Gators in the Adirondacks

In 1999, Fox 2000 Pictures released the film Lake Placid. Despite the title, the story takes place on fictional Black Lake in Maine. The folks at Fox apparently figured the name of an internationally renowned Olympic site in New York might attract more attention than Black Lake, which was, after all, placid, just like the title said. Except for those times when a giant killer crocodile was thrashing on the surface, gulping down humans for lunch.

It was hard to tell which was less believable: that Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, and the legendary Betty White would sign on for such a project; that a movie based on such a far-fetched concept could make money; or that a member of the order Crocodilia could be found on any lake within 700 miles north of the Carolinas. If you’re a betting person, which is/are true?

The answers: Yes—Fonda, Pullman, and White (plus Oliver Platt and Brendan Gleeson) played the major roles in the movie. Yes, it earned money—nearly $32 million, enough to spawn Lake Placid 2 in 2007, and Lake Placid 3, scheduled for release on June 26, 2010. And yes, members of the order Crocodilia have lived recently in the north woods. All bets are winners!

The gator of Mirror Lake existed, appropriately enough, in the village of Lake Placid, and it scared the heck out of some very surprised tourists. I was once an avid fisherman, and before you take a fisherman’s word on something as ridiculous as this, it’s probably best to seek a higher authority, say, the New York Times. In 1903, they ran a story titled “Alligator in Lake Placid.”

That was two decades before “Lake Placid South” (Lake Placid, Florida) came into existence, so rest assured, the story applied to Lake Placid in the Adirondacks. The tale in the Times began in early 1903 when the Stevens brothers, proprietors of the famed Stevens House, learned the answer to that age-old question, “What do you give someone who has everything?” The obvious answer: a reptile from the tropics, given to them as a gift by a friend who was returning from Florida.

A young alligator became the newest addition to the hotel’s amenities (deterrents?), housed temporarily in a bathtub. Around May, when ponds were open and the snow was melting, they made a decidedly non-tropical decision, releasing the gator into Mirror Lake. Frigid nights brought ice to the lake’s shallows, leaving only the slightest hope for the gator’s survival.

A few weeks later, on a warm, sunny day, appeared the oddest of sights at Mirror Lake—an alligator catching some rays on the beach. Because of its size, the gator posed little threat to humans, and the Stevens had a new attraction for patrons and curious northerners who, in the summer of ′03, hoped to glimpse the elusive newcomer.

Imagine the surprise of visitors a year later, innocently walking the shoreline of Mirror Lake in early summer, and stumbling upon an alligator! They reported their amazing find to management, who explained it was merely the Stevens’ family pet. (We can assume the Stevens housed it for the winter, but in warmer climes, gators can survive the cold in underground dens. Lake Placid’s temps would have provided a stern test of that system.)

Though the whole story seems like a once-in-a-lifetime tale, especially for those of us familiar with Adirondack wildlife, the Mirror Lake gator was not as unusual as you’d think. Similar incidents have occurred from Malone to Keeseville, and Ausable Forks to Ticonderoga. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, it became fashionable to have exotic pets, and many small alligators were among those carried home from Florida to the Adirondacks. Most of them were less than two feet long. Some escaped from their owners, while others were released into the wild.

It’s unclear what became of the survivors, like the Mirror Lake alligator or the many pets kept by private individuals. Or the one at the Lake Placid Club in 1933. That’s another story that defies belief. George Martin, the swimming instructor at the club, captured (with help) a seven-foot alligator from southern Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp. They wrapped the reptile’s huge jaws in wire and prepared to take him north.

How do you transport a 7-foot alligator 1,000 miles? By George’s reckoning, you crate it, lay the crate on the car’s running board (most cars had them back then), lash the gator’s tail to the car’s rear fender, and hit the road. Though the wires around his jaws were snipped, the animal refused to eat, but they did make frequent stops at gas stations to water him down. He was christened “Mike,” and the club made plans for a facility where the animal could spend the winter. In the meantime, he was kept among Jacques Suzanne’s menagerie about a mile south of the village.

On a few occasions in the North Country, folks have unexpectedly stumbled upon alligators, and it’s hard to imagine the shock of the moment. Unfortunately, the reaction was uniform: kill it. A young boy from Malone, startled with his find (an 18-inch gator), dispatched it with a rock.

Another alligator’s death begs the question “Why?” The story was reported in the Wells area in late October 1957. Two bow hunters were hoping to bag a buck, but they spied a 32-inch alligator treading water near a beaver dam. One of the men put an arrow into the gator just behind the head, killing it. It was assumed to have been a released pet surviving on its own. No one knew how long it had been there, or if it had denned and somehow weathered the previous winter. (Not likely.)

Back in 1924, a young gator in Keeseville survived as a pet for three years until a couple of barn cats settled a longstanding feud, dragging it from its tank, killing it after an intense battle, and partially devouring the carcass before the owners drove them off.

But not all the alligators in the Adirondacks met tragic ends. Some were part of a traveling show associated with the Seminole Indians of Florida. Virtually every Florida carnival and sideshow featured alligator wrestlers, and among the best was George Storm. In the 1950s, a complete Seminole village was set up at Michael Covert’s hotel in Wilmington, and part of the daily show that summer was Storm performing his specialty.

Considering the unknown fate of Lake Placid’s alligators, their known proclivity for longevity, and the movies by the same name, it might be a good idea during the Ironman Triathlon to count swimmers going into Mirror Lake as well as those coming out. Just in case.

Photo Above: Poster from the first Lake Placid movie.

Photo Below: The Stevens House as it looked when it hosted the alligator.

Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.