Friday, April 8, 2011

State-Ordered Sewer Upgrades For Lake George

Lake George Village will borrow $1.8 million to comply with orders issued by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation after a July, 2009 sewer break spilled thousands of gallons of sewage into Lake George.

State laws prohibit the discharge of sewage into Lake George.

“It’s a lot of money, but it has to be done,” said Village Trustee John Root.

According to Mayor Bob Blais, the DEC ordered Lake George Village to repair pipes and the pump station in Shepard Park where the break occurred and complete an Asset Management Plan for the entire wastewater system.

The plan, the order stated, must include: “an inventory of all wastewater collection system assets; an evaluation of conditions; a description of necessary repairs or replacements; the schedule for repairs; costs of repairs.”

Dave Harrington, the Village’s Superintendent of Public Works, said crews from Lake George Village’s Department of Public Works and the construction firm TKC completed repairs to the pump station in Shepard Park and a new section of pipe where the break occurred was installed. Village crews also installed additional alarms within the pump building, Harrington said.

In November of 2009, the Lake George Village Board of Trustees appropriated $5000 to retain C.T. Male Associates to draft the Asset Management Plan.

That plan has been completed and approved by the DEC, and the improvements to the wastewater collection system can now be undertaken, said Blais.

“We will be lining the pipes along the lake, in line with the recommendations of DEC in the order, to alleviate problems so that something like the 2009 break never happens again,” said Blais.

Where water from basements and drains and other sources is suspected of infiltrating the wastewater collection system, additional pipes will be lined and repaired, Blais said.

New York’s Environmental Facilities Corporation will help fund the $1.8 million loan, said Blais.

Lake George Village will repay it over thirty years, he said.

According to Blais, Lake George Village has also applied for a grant through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to install equipment at the Wastewater Treatment Plant that will remove nitrogen from effluent.

“That’s not part of the Consent Order, but it is a way for us to upgrade the Wastewater Treatment plant and make it more efficient,” said Blais.

Without a grant from the EPF, the entire project could have cost as much as $3.8 million, said Village Clerk Darlene Gunther.

In return for complying with DEC’s Consent Order, the Village avoided thousands of dollars in fines, said Blais.

“DEC worked with us and was very helpful,” said Blais.

Photo: Aerial view of Lake George Village.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Women’s Ski Jumping Now An Olympic Sport

A new discipline will be on the program in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi; an event that has been struggling for years to be included. Women’s Ski Jumping will finally be allowed in the Winter Olympic Games. On Wednesday, the IOC announced that it would add the event after previously ruling that the discipline had too few elite competitors to justify an Olympic berth. Another concern voiced was whether the physical demand of ski jumping was appropriate for female athletes, despite inclusion of women in traditionally male dominated sports like hockey, boxing, and wrestling.

Before last year’s games in Vancouver, an appeal was brought to court on behalf of women ski jumpers against the organizers of the Games, VANOC. They claimed that not allowing women to ski jump in the Olympics was a form of gender discrimination in government activities. While a Canadian judge agreed that it was discriminatory and VANOC was subject to the same laws, it can’t change the events. The IOC is the authority on the events in the Olympics, and isn’t bound by Canadian law. Therefore, women were not allowed to ski jump in Vancouver. But it looks like they will be flying through the air in Sochi.

Still, some concessions were made; women are still unable to participate in team events, on the large hill in Olympic events, or in Nordic Combined. The President of the Women’s Ski Jumping Foundation would like to see those privileges extended to female athletes too. “Now that we can jump, that should be something that should follow,” she said to the New York Times.

Photo: Ski jumper Lindsey Van.


Friday, April 8, 2011

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

Each Friday morning Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the previous week’s top stories. You can find all our weekly news round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 5,200 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (April 7)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to sometimes drastic changes.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS
Although Spring is around the corner, winter conditions still exist with 6 inches to two feet of snow on the ground across most of the region, and more in higher elevations. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reported about 3 feet on the ground at the cabin. Expect temperatures below freezing at night at all elevations and below freezing during the day at high elevations. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions still require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. Snow cover is good most trails in the Central Adirondacks, outside that area trails may be wet and muddy. Higher elevations waters are still iced in and covered with snow. Lower elevation waters may be open, or deceptively covered with snow. Use extreme caution with the thickness of ice.

BEAR CANISTERS NOW REQUIRED IN HIGH PEAKS
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, and recommended throughout the Adirondacks, between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.

SNOWSHOES OR SKIS
The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks where ever snow depths exceed 8 inches, as is currently the case, and is recommended elsewhere in the Adirondacks. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails, especially lesser used trails which have not yet been cleared. This will be especially true aft heavy wet snow expected Friday.

** AVALANCHE CONDITIONS
The potential for avalanches on slides and other areas prone to avalanche still exists and several have occurred. The danger of avalanches is highest shortly after a significant snowfall, and avalanches can occur anytime there is a deep snow cover made up of multiple layers of snow. The risk of avalanche depends on a number of factors and can not only change from day to day, but also change over the period of the day as temperatures, humidity and solar warming all influence the character of the snowpack. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling.

** MIGRATING BIRDS
Thousands of birds are currently undertaking their seasonal journey along the Atlantic Flyway from their southern wintering grounds. Flocks of migratory waterfowl like geese, ducks and swans are among the first to arrive, as songbirds like the red-winged blackbird, Eastern bluebird, Eastern meadowlark and American robin take up residence and build their nests. Over the next few weeks, grab your binoculars to watch the spectacle of birds arriving this spring. Visit DEC’s Watchable Wildlife site to find a place near you for great bird and wildlife viewing opportunities.

** THIN ICE SAFTEY
Ice may consist of alternating layers of hard ice and frozen slush which is not as strong as clear hard ice. Snows may be covering thin ice – ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Always check the thickness of ice before crossing and at several points along the way. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Each year a number of people fall through thin ice. One has already died and many more have gone through the ice. Use extreme caution with ice at this time of year.

** SNOWMOBILES
Although most of the region’s snowmobile trails have closed, there may still be some snowmobiles operating on designated snowmobile trails in the Central Adirondacks. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. See the weekly snowmobile trails report below for more information about the condition of local snowmobile trails.

Carry Extra Winter Gear
Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

Know The Latest Weather
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.

Fire Danger: LOW
NOTE: We’re entering the state’s historically high fire risk period from mid-March until mid-May.

** Central Adirondacks LOWER Elevation Weather
Friday: Sunny. Highs in the lower 50s.
Friday Night: Clear. Lows in the mid 20s.
Saturday: Partly sunny. Highs in the upper 50s. Winds near 10 mph.
Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s.
Sunday: Mostly cloudy, chance of rain, showers. Highs in lower 60s.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

** Snow Cover
Snow cover varies throughout the region with little or no snow in the Eastern Essex, Southern Warren and Washington Counties and along the southern and eastern Adirondack, but 6 inches to 18 inches in other areas including most of Hamilton County, Northern Warren and throughout the Central and Northern Adirondacks. Conditions still require snowshoes or skis at higher elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.

** Downhill Ski Report
Aside from Gore, Whiteface, and West Mountain in Queensbury, all downhill mountains are now closed. The Summit of Whiteface has received more than a foot of new snow this past week. Whiteface will remain open daily, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., through Sunday, April 10, and weather and conditions permitting re-open the following weekend, Friday through Sunday, April 15-17. At Gore, some novice-level trails are growing bare but there is plenty of skiing on intermediate skiers and expert trails. Gore expects to be open Friday through Sunday this weekend and next, and possibly, weather permitting, Easter Weekend (April 24th).

** Cross Country Ski Report
Most of the region’s cross-country ski areas are still open. With 8 to 10 inches and spring conditions. The Jackrabbit Trail is still skiable its entire length, with about a one foot base. The entire trail has good cover, but the hills are hard and fast. Complete cross-country conditions are available [online].

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with about 3 feet at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations, including some fresh snow this week. Use the old hiking trail to reach Marcy Dam from ADK Loj. The truck trail has an open brook crossing 1/4 mile past the register, but it can be crossed via a narrow snow bridge or a detour upstream to a beaver dam. The bridge is out on the trail to Marcy, see below for details. Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

** Ice Climbing Report
Anything facing south or east is gone or dangerous. There is still some safe ice in the northern facing areas but the season has ended for the vast majority of ice climbers. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.

** Rock Climbing Closures
All rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, on Moss Cliff in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness, and on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain are closed, except for the routes between “Opposition” and “Womb with a View” at Pok-O-Moonshine, to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, but recent warm weather have left very slushy conditions and dangerous ice in some areas, particularly at lower elevations and in the southern Adirondacks. Higher elevation waters (above 2500 feet) are still iced in and covered with snow, lower elevation waters are beginning to open up. Be extremely cautious around inlets, outlets, shoreline seeps and over moving water. Tip-ups may be operated on waters through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
Most of the local clubs have closed their trails. Now is the time to show restraint to keep from tearing up fragile trails. There is still some riding to be had in the south-central Adirondacks but washouts, water holes, fallen snow bridges, and open stream crossings can be expected. Most clubs have already closed their trails, particularly in Warren and Washington counties, in the towns of Webb and Raquette Lake. Contact a local club for specific details in their area. Gates to snowmobile trails in the Lake George Wild Forest have been closed. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** Rivers Expected to Run High
Waters in the region are currently running at normal levels for this time of year, but are expected to run above normal this weekend. The Raqautte and HUdson are running above normal. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

** Whitewater Rafting Season Has Begun
The whitewater rafting season began last weekend on Hudson and boats will likely be available this weekend on the Moose, Black and Sacandaga rivers as well. The Hudson River Whitewater Derby will run May 7-8 2011. The event includes novice slalom, giant slalom, and more.

** Most Hunting Seasons Now Closed
Most hunting seasons are now closed with the exception of late snow goose which will end April 15th. Hikers sin the Lake Champlain basin should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.

** Most Furbearer Trapping Seasons Closed
All furbearer trapping seasons are closed with the exception of mink, and muskrat which close April 15th. Body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure.

** Trout Season Opened April 1st
Trout (brook, rainbow, brown and hybrids, and splake) and landlocked Salmon season open April 1st, but is off to a slow start with so much snow and ice on the banks of local streams, and this weekend waters will be high and cold. Stocking has been delayed. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.

Bear and Deer Harvest Report
Hunters killed just over 230,000 deer and more than 1,060 bears in the 2010 hunting season, according to DEC. The deer take locally was up about 3% from 2009, bear numbers were down about 35% from 2009. While overall population size plays a large role in harvest totals, annual variations in take are also strongly influenced by environmental factors that affect bear activity and hunting pressure such as natural food availability and snow fall according to DEC wildlife biologists.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.

Upper Benson to Whitehouse: Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.

West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

HIGH PEAKS

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

** Giant Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

** McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

Snowshoes or Skis: The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks and is recommended elsewhere in the Adirondacks. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

Avalanche Conditions: Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning.

Opalescent River Flooding: Due to ice from previous flooding incidents of the Opalescent River, the Day Glow South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam, including the Opalescent and McMartin lean-tos, remains unusable. Campers are advised to use other campsites at this time

Marcy Brook Bridge: The Marcy Brook Bridge, below the junction of the Avalanche Pass and Lake Arnold trails, was damaged by ice during the recent thaw. The bridge is still usable but one of the railings is bent making the path over the bridge narrow. Skiers may have some problems crossing.

Johns Brook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. Beginning the weekend of March 18-20 the Deer Brook will be moved and the Bear Brook lean-to will be removed.

Avalanche Pass Slide: The slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down along the Corey’s Road, and in most areas accessed from the that road, including the Seward Trail, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.

Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes and crampon are needed.

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

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.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Great Sacandaga Lake: A section of North Shore Road in Hadley, which runs along the Great Sacandaga Lake, fell into the lake Friday night just south of the Conklingville dam. The Batchellerville Bridge in Edinburg has alternating one-way traffic.

Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The waters of the Miami River have subsided and the C4/C8 snowmobile trail is open between intersections HM114 and HM6.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail is completely open again, snowmobilers may travel between the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake gate. The water levels on Cellar Brook have dropeed and the Town of Indian Lake has re-graded and groomed the trail so snowmobiles can once again cross safely.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Lake George Wild Forest (Eastern and Western): Gates on snowmobile trails have been closed.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Town of Fort Ann has closed the Shelving Rock Road for mud season.

** Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area: The DEC is holding a public meeting to discuss the proposed Unit Management Plan for the 38,500 acre Hoffman Notch Wilderness in the Towns of North Hudson, Minerva and Schroon Lake in Essex County. The plan includes an analysis of the features of the area and the ability of the land to accommodate public use. The meeting will start at 6:30 on April 26 at the Schroon Lake Town Hall. For directions and more details on the draft management plan, read the DEC press release.

Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice has formed on all waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Due to logging operations the Madawaska Road and Conversation Corners Road will be closed to snowmobiles and the Snowmobile Corridor C8 has been rerouted.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Taylor Pond Wild Forest: All of the rock climbing routes on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain are closed, except for the routes between “Opposition” and “Womb with a View”, to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Numerous cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities exist on the Public Use Areas and Linear Recreation Corridors open to the public. Skiers and snowshoers are asked not to use the groomed snowmobile routes. Signs on the trails and maps of the snowmobile routes instruct snowmobilers on which routes are open this winter. Portions of these routes may be plowed from time to time so riders should be cautious and aware of motor vehicles that may be on the road. These route changes are a result of the cooperation of Chateaugay Woodlands, the landowner of the easement lands, and their willingness to maintain the snowmobile network. The cooperation of snowmobilers will ensure future cooperative reroutes when the need arises.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A parking area has been built on Goldsmith Road for snowmobile tow vehicles and trailers. The southern terminus of Linear Recreation Corridor 8 (Liberty Road) lies several hundred feet to the east of the parking area and connects to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) via Linear Recreation Corridor 7 (Wolf Pond Mountain Road). Construction of the parking area was a cooperative effort of the landowner, the Town of Franklin, and DEC. The Town of Franklin donated time, personnel and equipment from their highway department and will be plowing the parking area.

Sable Highlands / Old Liberty Road / Wolf Pond Mountain Road Snowmobile Trail: Due to planned logging operations by the landowner on lands north of Loon Lake, the western portion of the snowmobile trail (Old Liberty Road/Wolf Pond Mountain Road) that connected with the C7 Snowmobile Corridor Trail (the utility corridor) just north of Loon Lake near Drew Pond and lead to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) has been closed this winter. The eastern portion of that snowmobile trail (Wolf Pond Mountain Road) now connects to Goldsmith Road near the parking area. Snowmobiles planning to travel between Franklin County and Clinton County using the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail must access C8A at the junction with C7 or use Goldsmith Road and the trail from the Goldsmith Road to C8A (Wolf Pond Road).

Sable Highlands / Mullins Road: The Mullins Road has been opened to snowmobiles to connect County Route 26 (Loon Lake Road) to C7. The road is located approximately halfway between the intersections of Route 26 with C8 (Debar Game Farm Road) and Route 26 with C7.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. 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.

Personal Flotation Devices Required
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Cave And Mine Closings
White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.

Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

——————–
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

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, April 7, 2011

Mud Season: Sloshing Through Wet Trails

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Off-Season Workouts of Winter Sports Athletes

As a winter athlete, it is inevitable that even in a town like Lake Placid, which is known for its accessibility to winter sports, there will be an off season. Athletes in all winter sports have an “in season”, where they are competing and training, and an “off season”, when there is less availability to the medium of their sport (snow, ice) and they must train differently.

Athletes approach training differently; however, there are certain methods of off season training which are uniform. Different sports emphasize different qualities; speed, agility, flexibility, or power. Some need more of one quality than others; for example, figure skaters require more flexibility than a speed skater or hockey player, while the focus in the latter sports is on speed and power. Therefore, the training varies from sport to sport.

Figure skaters don’t tend to have a break from skating; most train all year round. What differs is the intensity of training. The off season for skaters is often from late spring until early fall, and this time period is spent developing new programs, building up strength and agility, and using other sports to train for the in-season. Many skaters practice dance, weight-lifting, cardio, stretching, and yoga in both on and off season, but the off season is a good time to practice more extracurricular activities. Figure skaters need agility but also flexibility; as such, their training program emphasizes those qualities. While most lift weights, they also practice plyometrics (which develops quickness and agility) and off ice jumps. Stretching is also an important part of their training routine. It is important to note that many skaters do not run or participate too much in activities that pound on their knees, as they already take a beating in figure skating training. Check out this link for more information about off ice training for figure skating.

Speed skaters require totally different training. The emphasis in the off season is on building strength for the upcoming season. Many don’t realize that speed skaters make their greatest strides from off season training, which incorporates “dryland” training, weight-lifting, and cardio. It is common for a speed skater to practice “low walks”, which is walking with the knees bent at a 90 degree angle to simulate the position achieved in speed skating. Watch this video of Sven Kramer, one of theWorld’s best long track speed skaters training in the off-season. For a glimpse of what it takes to train as an Olympic speed skater during the season, watch Apolo Ohno work out in this video.

Hockey requires speed, power, and agility. The training program off-season reflects this, and many hockey players spend their off-season lifting weights, working on cardiovascular fitness and agility. On ice and off ice training is year round, and the player’s training routine depends on what position they play.

Skiing has a few different sub-sports: alpine, freestyle, Nordic, and ski jumping. All have different emphasis and are very different in not only activity, but how training is approached. Ski jumping, the exciting sport in which the ski jumper flies down the ski jump, launches themselves in the air, and lands, requires precision and control. Explosive power is needed for the takeoff, and the legs must be able to support the force of landing. As such, ski jumpers practice plyometrics, lunges, squats, and stair running workouts.

Athletes who compete in alpine skiing usually train on the snow, but when that isn’t available, train dry land. This can take several forms, including sprints, plyometrics, and weights, all tailored to the common movements in alpine skiing.

Freestyle skiing combines several types of skills and a few types of skiing; aerial, moguls, and ski-cross. Aerials combine skiing and acrobatics, so athletes need to be coordinated and agile. Moguls, where the skier maneuvers around mounds of snow with tight turns, requires quickness and agility. Ski-cross is a discipline in which the skiers take off en-masse and navigate a course. They need to be technically proficient, quick off the start line, and able to maneuver around each other and terrain. Athletes can train with several aids such as trampolines, cross country simulation machines, and in Lake Placid, a pool for athletes to practice aerials into during the summer months. Other than that, skiiers train various ways including cycling, weight lifting, roller-skiing (like cross country skis, except with wheels) and plyometrics.

Nordic skiing athletes are more endurance based skiers whose sport consists of skiing various distances. Their training is similar to the other skiers but with more emphasis on endurance. They might also row, cycle, or in-line in the off season.

Biathlon is a sport which combines cross country skiing with target shooting. Biathlon athletes must combine the endurance and fast paced nature of cross country ski racing with the focused accuracy of target shooting. Arguably the most difficult part of biathlon is calming the mind and body after cross country racing to shoot the target. Racers practice the same type of training as cross country skiers, but also have to practice incredible mental focus.

Luge, the sport requiring athletes to slide down a track on a sled, requires a lot of upper body strength. The takeoff for the luge track is started by using the upper body to gain momentum while on the sled. Therefore, the off ice training often focuses on upper body strength. Mental fitness is also very important.

The sliding sports of skeleton and bobsled share similar components; both require the athlete to get a running start on the track before boarding the sled and navigating the track. The sports have a quick agile component as well as precision in steering the sled. Athletes competing in these sports typically train all year round, even without the benefit of ice on the track. Training methods include sprint workouts, cardio, plyometrics and weight lifting.

For more information on winter Olympic athletes, check out teamusa.org


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: barVino in North Creek

It didn’t quite feel like spring when we left Warrensburg on what started as a breezy, sunny day, but it did hold promise that winter was loosening its grip. It seems whenever we mention our book project, barVino in North Creek is suggested. We were off to find out what all the buzz was about.

A visual sweep as we walked in immediately registered calm; high ceilings, clean simple lines, and a sense of order and unpretentious sophistication. In real life, Kim is a photographer so was naturally drawn to the framed black-and-white photographs hanging on the warm adobe-hued walls, this month’s gallery exhibit. barVino regularly graces its walls with local artists’ works, adding further classiness to the place. Pam’s attention was drawn to the craftsmanship of the decor, both modern and classic, with a concrete bar counter and sturdy barstools (all matching, of course) of wood and padded fabric seats.

The lighting was just right to show off the overall sleekness, eyes drawn upwards to the high ceiling and classic tin cornices, all painted green. The tin crown molding was the only hint that the building wasn’t new. There were several ceiling fans that were large but not gaudy. We could have been sitting in a trendy bistro on Boston’s Newbury Street.

The page-and-a-half-long beer menu boasted a nearly global selection of bottled and draft beers. Draft beer featured Guinness and an assortment of craft brews from Davidson Brothers, Adirondack Brewery, and Dogfish Head. The endless bottled list? Lagers and ales and wheats and belgians and stouts and porters, oh my! Kim ordered a Davidson’s Ctrl-Alt-Del. The color a warm reddish brown, the aroma a little wheaty, it had a slightly bitter flavor with a hint of nuttiness.

The bartender, Janelle, was helpful in suggesting a white wine from the specials board after I shared my preferences regarding sweetness and dryness with her. We were under the impression that it was strictly a wine bar, and stand corrected. Not to be outdone, and it is barVino after all, the five page wine list requires a passport. Selections from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and California in red (55 bottled; 16 by the glass), rose, port, white, dessert, and champagne by the glass or bottle. You can download PDF’s of barVino’s menus online.

A review isn’t complete without a trip to the restroom which divulged more surprises. In the hallway hung an eclectic collection of antique mirrors. The oak drysink in the ladies room held baskets of individual hand towels and a framed print on the wall depicted an old woman gathering wood.

barVino, North Creek, where local simplicity meets urban chic.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Introducing ‘Happy Hour in the High Peaks’

Please join me in welcoming our newest contributors here at Adirondack Almanack, Kim and Pam Ladd. Warrensburg natives, Kim and Pam are working on a book project, Happy Hour in the High Peaks.

Currently in the research stage, the pair plan to visit pubs, bars and taverns inside the Blue Line, and report their findings weekly here at the Almanack and at their blog.

With a goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park, Happy Hour in the High Peaks will feature reviews, history, lore, photographs and cocktail recipes with an Adirondack flavor.

Kim and Pam have spent most of their lives in Warren County. Pam has a degree in Computer Science, but her passion is mixology. Kim, is a freelance photographer whose sports images regularly appear in the Adirondack Journal. She has a degree in Advertising Design and lives in Thurman.

Kim and Pam will begin their run here at the Almanack this afternoon with a look at barVino in North Creek, but they told me they welcome suggestions for places to visit, so let them know about your favorite haunts!

Photo: Pam (on left) and Kim (on right).


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adirondack Birds: Nesting Time for Canada Geese

The persistent northerly wind that has kept spring at bay this year has also impacted the migration schedule of numerous birds. However, the urge to return to the breeding grounds is extremely strong, and there are always hardy individuals that travel northwards during those brief periods when the headwind dies and the air becomes calm.

Among these impatient migrants are pairs of Canada Geese that have overwintered in the windswept corn fields of southern New York, and across the Pennsylvania and New Jersey countryside where they have found an adequate source of food.

Historically absent from most waterways in the Park prior to the mid 1800’s, the Canada goose has become an abundant species of waterfowl in many sections of the Adirondacks populated by humans. When accompanied by its brood of young, a pair of adults avoids the heavily forested shorelines that characterize most bodies of water throughout this section of northern New York. It is large, open fields, especially those in which the grass is periodically mowed that attract this hefty herbivore. Golf course fairways near a pond or river, large athletic fields adjacent to a marsh or stream, and community parks and sprawling lawns that border a lake are all ideal settings for the Canada goose.

The abundance of grasses, leafy weeds, grains and select soil bugs that serve as food to these honking giants attracts them to such open places. Additionally, this long necked bird is better able to scan the immediate surroundings which provide it with the opportunity to detect a predator when one is still a long distance away.
Even though many of shorelines in the Adirondacks are still covered with snow, and ice continues to exist well out from the water’s edge, pairs of Canada geese may be seen is spots of open water as they begin to return to the region. Upon their arrival, the pair seeks out a secluded location in which to make a nest. A remote section of a marsh along a stream that has caused the ice to disappear for the season is frequently selected. An open, sun-baked patch of low shrubs and collapsed sedges near the edge of a river is another type of setting that might be chosen for a nest, as is the roof of an abandoned muskrat house that sits back from the shore in a snow free spot.

While these sites lack the grasses and other herbaceous plants that typify a well maintain lawn, such marshy communities still contain an assortment of non-woody vegetation useful to this grazer. Because the growing season has not yet started, the older adults that take up residence in such locations for the month long period of building a nest, laying eggs, and incubating them depend on their experience at locating various seeds and other wetland edibles to keep them sufficiently nourished.

Once their eggs hatch, the parents begin the process of relocating the family to a setting in which grasses are starting to grow.

As southerly winds eventually usher in more spring-like weather, flocks of Canada geese can be heard and seen flying overhead in their characteristic “V” shaped formation. These are the birds that are headed much further north than the upper portion of New York State. The Canada geese that have established breeding populations in many sections of the Park over the past several decades have mostly returned from their wintering areas despite the icy conditions that remain along our waterways. While a few pairs may occasionally be seen on scattered patches of open water that currently exist on some of our lakes and ponds, many pairs of Canada geese have already retreated into the semi-open thickets in marshes and other wetlands that they have selected to serve as their home for the next month or so.

The creation of open spaces along lake shores and river edges that are carpeted with lush, green lawns has been an alteration of the Adirondack environment much to the liking of property owners and community residents alike. For the Canada geese it is also a most welcome change to the shoreline, as it provides this large species of waterfowl with the opportunity to raise the young birds that will begin appearing by early to mid May.

Photo: Canada Geese in flight. Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adirondack Ice: Iceboating, Hard-Water Sailing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Starting Seedlings with Kids

Strangely enough I found myself shoveling snow and walking the dog in a rainstorm all within hours of each other. The snow quickly disappeared and neither children nor dog seemed to mind the rain as much as I did. Seeing my children spin around in the rain and stomp through puddles reminds me why I love living in the Adirondacks. Each season brings change and a variety of things to do.

At our house we have started our seeds for the summer garden. During these shoulder season days the kids constantly check the progress of their favorite vegetables. Though some seeds are best sown directly into the garden, I am not one to stop my children from willingly planting beans. We can always throw more into the garden once the danger of frost has passed. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Adirondack Brook Trout

After a long, cold, snowy winter, it is time to search out the majestic Adirondack Brook Trout. Many of the best trout fishing and viewing locations are still experiencing high flow conditions, making accessing them difficult. Due to these conditions, stocking of bodies of water within the Adirondacks will not take place until later in the month. It is anticipated that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will stock 147,000 Brook Trout into Adirondack waters.

Brook Trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, our state fish, is one of the easiest species to recognize. The white leading edges on the fins, wormlike vermiculation and the red spots on their sides haloed with blue, make this fish unique. The Brook Trout, like the Lake Trout is actually a char. They can serve as an indicator of the health of an aquatic ecosystem.

Brook Trout live in lakes and streams throughout the Adirondacks. Being a cold-water species, they prefer, small streams with cool temperatures, as well as lakes and ponds that are cold and well oxygenated. During the fall, Brook Trout will migrate to the spawning redds, generally in streams or in the shallow bays within lakes on gravel beds. The majority of spawning takes place midday. During courtship both sexes defend the spawning redd by chasing away intruders. Females will lay between 40 to 79 eggs per pit. The female will spend up to 2 days digging the pit. While she is digging the male will approach her, touching her sides. When the female is ready, she will move into the center of the pit, the male will curl himself around her to hold her in position. The pair will then vibrate together, releasing eggs and milt. Both sexes will spawn multiple times.

Brook Trout are voracious eaters and will feed on aquatic insects, invertebrates, salamanders, tadpoles, small mammals and other fish. Within the Adirondacks, there are native strains of Brook Trout that are unique to the body of water in which they are found. These strains are termed Heritage strain Brook Trout. The most commonly known are the Horn Lake, Little Tupper Lake and the Windfall Pond strain. The average size of a Heritage Brook Trout is 9 to 16 inches. They reach maturity between 2 to 3 years of age and can live for up to an average of 6 years.

The New York statewide fishing regulations for Brook Trout are: Open season starts April 1 and runs till October 15; however their may be regulations for specific bodies of water. The minimum length that may be kept is, any, with a daily limit of 5. The state record Brook Trout is a 5 pound 4.5 ounce fish caught in Raquette Lake in 2009.

Brook Trout populations within the Adirondacks have declined from historical numbers; this is due in part to non-native fish species, degradation of water quality and acid deposition.

Photos: Brook Trout, Courtesy Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Funding Boosts Invasive Species Program

The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) received a private foundation grant of $170,000 for invasive species prevention and control in 2011. One of the primary uses of funds will be to pilot a terrestrial regional response team, a four person seasonal crew that will manage terrestrial invasive plants in priority areas across the Adirondack region.

APIPP also directed funds to lend aid to three other projects including the Town of Inlet’s Regional Inlet Invasive Plant Program to control Japanese knotweed in various communities, Paul Smith’s College Watershed Stewardship Program to intercept aquatic invasive species at boat launches and the Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force to control the first infestation of Asian Clam detected in the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Madshus Epochs: Good Skis for Spring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Local History: The Search for Judge Crater

Amelia Earhart. Pattie Hearst. Jimmie Hoffa. Famous vanishing acts that obsessed the public and saturated the media. In their time, they were big, but it’s doubtful they topped the notoriety of New York State’s most famous disappearance, that of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Force Crater. And some of his story played out across the Adirondacks and the North Country.

The tale has now faded, but in 75 years it spawned fiction and nonfiction books, countless thousands of newspaper articles, was satirized in Mad Magazine, and formed the plot for movies. It was used for laughs on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Golden Girls, and others. It fostered a guaranteed punch line for standup comics, and produced a common slang expression that appeared in some dictionaries.

The basic details of the story begin with Joseph Crater’s rapid rise in New York City politics. A graduate of Columbia Law School, he taught at Fordham and NYU and aligned himself with the Democratic Party, a move that significantly boosted his private law practice. The New York City wing of the party was widely known as Tammany Hall, where corruption ran rampant and payoffs were routine.

Crater worked within that system, and in 1930, at age 41, he was appointed to the New York State Supreme Court, filling a vacancy. With a career that was flourishing, a dapper public persona, and plenty of power, prestige, and money, “Good-time Joe,” as he was known, had New York City and life itself by the tail.

After the June court session ended, he and wife Stella (she was still in her teens when he married her more than a decade earlier, after handling her divorce) headed for their retreat in Maine for some relaxation. On August 3, Crater received news of a problem in New York. He headed back to the city, leaving Stella with words to the effect, “I have to straighten those fellows out.”

The rest of the story has been repeated thousands of times. The main components are: he went to their apartment on Fifth Avenue; spent time at his courthouse office early on August 6; removed several files there and brought them back to the apartment; had his assistant cash several checks for him; and bought one ticket to see Dancing Partner on Broadway later in the evening.

He dined with attorney William Klein and showgirl Sally Lou Ritz, and shortly after 9 p.m., they parted company. Crater was said to have hailed a cab, supposedly heading for Broadway—and was never heard from again. Nada. Zippo. Nothing.

Because of Joe’s frequent comings and goings, Stella was only mildly concerned with his absence at first. She grew nervous when he didn’t make it back for her birthday, August 9. Within days, she sent her chauffeur to New York to look for Crater, but he only found assurances that Joe would eventually show up.

Finally, Stella hired a private detective, but just like the chauffeur’s efforts, it produced nothing of substance. Friends were confident he would soon be seen. Everything at the apartment seemed normal—travel bags, watch, clothing, and other personal effects were there—but no Joe.

An unofficial search ensued, but alarm really set in when court resumed on August 25 and he still hadn’t surfaced. For various reasons, no official report was made until September 3, a month after Stella had last seen him. An investigation began, and soon many lurid facts were revealed.

As it turned out, there had been plenty of women in Joe’s life, and he was deeply involved in the Tammany machine. It was noted that he had withdrawn $20,000 from the bank at about the time he was appointed to the Supreme Court. Coincidentally, in the ongoing political corruption probe, that was the figure named as the going price for judgeships and other positions.

Dozens of other ugly details were revealed as investigators kept digging. Meanwhile, there was one other important issue to deal with—where the heck was Justice Crater?

A month after his disappearance (but within a week of when the official search began), authorities had traced nearly every second of Joe’s trip to New York. After the dinner date, the trail went cold. The police inspector issued this statement: “We have no reason to believe he is alive, and no reason to believe he is dead. There is absolutely no new development in the case.”

At the time of that statement, a friend said that Crater had mentioned taking a trip to Canada (but gave no reason why). The focus of the continuous search was on far upstate New York. In fact, as far upstate as you can get. In northeastern Clinton County, Plattsburgh reporters were contacted by NYC police and urged to investigate rumors that Crater was in the vicinity.

At Champlain, north of Plattsburgh and less than a mile from the Canadian border, was a famed Prohibition hotspot, the Meridian Hotel. Just a few feet inside of Canada, it was a favored watering hole for thirsty Americans. Crater was reportedly seen at the Meridian, and, since he was a horse-racing enthusiast, it was assumed he had stopped at Saratoga on his way north.

Read Part 2: The search for Judge Crater spans the Adirondacks.

Photo Top: Judge Crater reward poster (the $5,000 is equal to $65,000 in 2011).

Photo Bottom: Judge Crater and wife, Stella, on the last day they were together, August 3, 1930.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.