Among the North Country men who made their mark in the Old West was a native of Boonville, in the foothills of the southwestern Adirondacks. He became a success in business, politics, farming, and law, and played an important role in the development of a wild territory into our 44th state. But it was ties to some notorious characters that brought him a measure of fame.
Jesse Knight was born in Boonville on July 5, 1850, the son of Jesse and Henrietta Knight. His grandfather, Isaac, had settled in Oneida County in the early 1800s and raised a family, among them Jesse’s father. But young Jesse never knew his dad, who left that same year for California, and died of yellow fever on the Isthmus of Panama. (The isthmus was a newly created US Mail route to reach California and Oregon, and a popular path for pioneers headed West.) Jesse attended schools in Lewis, Oneida, and Fulton counties, and at 17 went to live with an uncle in Minnesota for two years. He moved to Omaha, and then settled in the Wyoming Territory. Within a decade, Knight progressed from store clerk and postmaster to court clerk and attorney. At Evanston, near Wyoming’s southwest border, he ran a successful law practice and served as Territorial Auditor.
He also acted as a land sales agent for Union Pacific. Among the properties he sold was 1,906 acres on the Bear River … to one Jesse Knight.
In 1888 he was elected prosecuting attorney of Uinta County, and in 1890, when Wyoming attained statehood, he was voted a member of the state constitutional convention. He was also elected as judge of the Third Judicial District.
By this time, Knight was doing quite well financially and had added to his landholdings. On nearly 1400 acres along the Bear River and more than 800 acres of hills, the judge’s ranch had developed into an impressive enterprise. Within the fenced property, he grew high-quality hay (250 tons) and rye (50 tons), and raised herds of superior-grade cattle and horses.
Irrigation was a key element: two main ditches (one was 3 miles long, 20 feet wide, and 4 feet deep) supplied ample water. The Union Pacific rail line bisected the property, allowing Jesse’s products easy access to markets elsewhere.
Besides his showcase farming operation, Knight’s public career was also flourishing. In 1896, he suffered what appeared to be a setback, failing to win the Republican re-nomination for district judge. Unfazed, he ran as an Independent and won handily. A year later, he was appointed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Wyoming to fill an unexpired term. In 1898, Knight was elected to a full 8-year term.
His business ventures were similarly successful. Besides the ranch, he owned part of a copper mine. He was also one of only two Americans working with several of Europe’s wealthiest men in developing oil wells in Wyoming. The consortium was valued at $10 million (equal to over a quarter billion in 2011). Jesse had a seat on the board of directors.
In 1902, his prominence was noted in the naming of the Knight Post Office, which served a community near Evanston for 19 years.
On April 9, 1905, though still a young man of only 55, Supreme Court Justice Jesse Knight died of pneumonia. He had accomplished a great deal for any man, let alone a poor, fatherless boy from the wilds of New York. His survivors included a wife and five children.
Among Knight’s legacy are connections to some of the West’s notorious characters. In his capacities as rancher, lawyer, prosecutor, and judge, he dealt with many violent, dangerous men over the years. According to biographers of “Big Nose” George Parrott, it was Judge Jesse Knight who sentenced Parrott to hang for the attempted robbery of a Union Pacific pay car and the subsequent killing of two lawmen who were pursuing him.
It was pretty much an average crime story until Parrott tried to escape from jail before Knight’s sentence could be carried out. The attempt prompted an angry mob to forcibly remove Big Nose from his cell and string him up from a telegraph pole. (But it wasn’t easy.)
John Osborne, one of the doctors who had possession of Parrott’s body, examined the brain for abnormalities. Further dissection of the body led to lasting fame for Parrott’s remains. The skull cap that had been removed was saved, and over the years it served as an ash tray, a pen holder, and a doorstop. A death mask of his face was also made. That aside, now it gets gruesome.
The body was flayed, and the skin was sent to a tannery, where it was made into a medical bag, a coin purse, and a pair of shoes, all of which were used by Osborne. The shoes were two-toned—the dark half came from the shoes Parrot wore during the hanging, and the lighter part was made from his own skin.
Doctor Osborne wore the shoes for years—even to the inaugural ball when he was elected governor of Wyoming! The rest of Parrott’s remains were placed in a whiskey barrel filled with a salt solution, and eventually buried. The barrel was uncovered in 1950, and it was found that the skull cap neatly fit the remains, proving it was Parrott’s body. Other tests later confirmed the results. The death mask and “skin shoes” are now on display in a museum in Rawlins, Wyoming.
In 1903, Supreme Court Justice Knight was involved in the famous case of Tom Horn, a former lawman and detective turned outlaw and hired gun. In a controversial trial, Horn was convicted and sentenced to hang for the killing of a 14-year-old boy. Justice Knight was among those who reviewed the appeal, which was denied. Horn was hanged in November, 1903.
The most famous character linked to Knight was Roy Parker, who was actually Robert LeRoy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy. They met when Cassidy was arrested for horse theft, a case tried in “Knight court.” After delays, the trial was finally held in 1894. Cassidy was very popular, and many of his friends were in town with the intent of intervening on his behalf.
A verdict was reached, but Knight ordered it sealed, to be opened on the following Monday, by which time it was hoped many of the visitors would have left town. But Cassidy’s friends were loyal, and high anxiety reigned in the packed courtroom when the verdict was read. To counter the danger, the sheriff, several town officials, many private citizens, and the attorneys all came to court armed. Famously, Judge Jesse Knight carried a pistol, hidden beneath his robes.
The jury pronounced Cassidy guilty, recommending him to the mercy of the court. Knight sentenced him to two years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary at Laramie. A few months before his scheduled release, Cassidy’s sentence was commuted. The term imposed by Judge Knight was the only prison time Butch Cassidy ever served during his lengthy, notorious career.
Photo Top: Jesse Knight.
Photo Middle Right: Big Nose George Parrott.
Photo Middle Left: Shoes of George Parrott … literally.
Photo Bottom: Robert LeRoy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy.
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.
Today, the experiences, views and outlooks of wild land advocates and foresters are often pigeon-holed as necessarily antithetical to each other. I don’t hold that view, and neither does Adirondack Wild’s Dan Plumley. For evidence, read Dan’s “December Wood” essay. We were both mentored by Paul Schaefer, one of the most effective advocates for wilderness conditions in the Adirondacks during the 20th century.
Paul had many outdoor debates during the 1950s with former Finch, Pruyn executive Lyman Beeman. The two men saw a tract of forest and viewed its potential quite differently, of course. Yet, they both respected each other’s point of view and recognized, as we do today, that foresters of all kinds share with wilderness advocates a deep love for the land, for productive soils and for stewardship over a long period of time, on a human time scale anyway. Good wood grows on good wood, some say. And sometimes a conservationist has got to make some money cutting trees. What brought this to mind is one of the most interesting stories I ever heard from Paul Schaefer. One day in January, 1991 he was reminiscing about the great depression and World War II, when the bank withheld his assets from his construction company. Then his bank closed, and would not allow any withdrawals, forcing Paul to take on odd jobs in order to feed his family. Then came severe restrictions and shortages on the building materials he used as a homebuilder, and the cost of a house became very dear, preventing him from doing a lot of building.
One day during WW II, Paul read in the daily newspaper in Schenectady that the county airfield, mostly undeveloped at the time, needed to be transformed into a bombing range and military airport. Trees had to be cleared there, pretty big ones at that. Paul read this and went over to Scotia to take a look. He found about ten state or county workers clipping goldenrod with handclippers. He went in and spoke with the person in authority and asked “you want someone to cut trees for you don’t you?” Yes. “What are they cutting goldenrod for?” “They don’t have the skills to cut trees,” came the answer. “Well, you’ve got your man here,” Paul replied.
Paul needed the help of some Adirondackers, so he got in touch with George Morehouse in Bakers Mills to come down and give him a hand with the tree cutting. Each week, Paul would drive up Route 9 to Bakers Mills (at least a 2.5 hour trip one way in those days), pick George up and drive him down to Scotia and the two of them would cut for days at a time. George would stay at Paul and Carolyn Schaefer’s home at night. There were no chain saws available. They required a cross-cut, two-man saw.
“We worked together really smooth,” Paul told me. They cut and they cut. One day, Paul and George got a saw wedged in the tree. They left it, took up another saw and went on cutting. Years later, Paul recovered that wedged saw, all rusted except the blade in the bole of the tree, which was gleaming. “If you want your blade to remain nice and shiny, keep it in a piece of oak or something,” Paul advised. That blade was a part of Paul’s memorabilia destroyed when his barn burned down in the early 1960’s.
One day, after many hours of cutting, George Morehouse said he had to get home. Paul offered to let him stay overnight and drive him home tomorrow. No, I got to get home today, George said. Paul, dead tired, drove George back to Bakers Mills and all the way back. He was so tired on his return journey that he almost failed to stop at a railroad crossing. He put on his brakes a foot before the train roared past him.
So that’s the way Paul Schaefer, the wilderness advocate, guide and homebuilder, got by several years during World War II by selling some of this wood from the airport as lumber and firewood, and turning the little airfield in Scotia, NY into a military facility.
Photo: Paul Schaefer at his Adirondack cabin, c. 1960, courtesy of the Paul Schaefer Collection, Adirondack Research Library.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will propose revisions to the current rule restricting overland transport of uncertified baitfish. DEC is currently developing a proposed revision to the regulations that would allow baitfish to be transported overland within defined “transportation corridors” for use within the same waterbody from which they are collected. DEC anticipates issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in March to be followed by a 45-day public comment period. » Continue Reading.
Cornell Cooperative Extension in Warren County is offering its Vegetable Garden Seed Kit Fundraiser for the 2011 planting season. It’s not too early to start preparing for spring and summer planting. The prices for store-bought vegetables are sky-rocketing and growing your own fresh vegetables could save you money. Spending time outdoors and eating your home-grown vegetables is also a perfect way to ‘Go Healthy!’ » Continue Reading.
It has been a tough two months for the white-tailed deer throughout the Adirondacks, and the snowstorm this past weekend only added to the continuing misery experienced by this popular big game animal since mid-January.
With its long legs, the white-tail has the ability to travel through a snow bound forest when there is up to 12 to 16 inches on the ground. As the snow pack becomes denser, crusted, or deeper, the mobility of this hoofed creature becomes greatly restricted. » Continue Reading.
Author and outdoor journalist Dan Ladd of West Fort Ann, Washington County, has recently released his latest book, Well Seasoned in the Adirondacks: People, Places and Pastimes of Northern New York. The book is a collection of articles and essays, many that have appeared in Ladd’s weekly outdoors column in The Chronicle newspaper of Glens Falls. The book also includes a collection of Laddʼs personal photos.
“Many of my friends in the writing industry, especially those at The Chronicle have suggested I do a book like this,” said Ladd. “In fact, I would encourage any outdoor writer who is regularly published, or has been, to share their experiences and adventures with their readers.” Well Seasoned in the Adirondacks is organized by the four seasons of the year. Winter features a story on vintage snowmobile restoration as well as others on ice, fishing, small game hunting, skiing and snowshoeing. The Spring and Summer chapters feature everything from fishing, camping and hiking to paddling, including a story about a historic Adirondack canoe trip. The Autumn section is dedicated primarily to hunting and features several of the authorʼs relatives who had an influence on his hunting interest. » Continue Reading.
Roger Tubby died twenty years ago, in January, 1991, at the age of eighty. In Saranac Lake, if not the entire Adirondack region, people should be celebrating the centennial of his birth. If anyone wonders why, I hope this tribute to Tubby which I wrote for the Lake George Mirror in 1998 will help.
The Harrietstown Cemetery near Saranac Lake is a sloping meadow overlooking the Whiteface and Sentinel Ranges. My wife’s great-grandparents, who farmed nearby, are buried here. As we walk among the rows of headstones, we come upon one which is, if anything, more modest than its austere neighbors. Engraved in the stone are these words: “Ad Astra per Aspera.” Reach for the stars. This is the grave of Roger Tubby. “Ad Astra per Aspera” was Roger Tubby’s motto from youth onward. “At least I got close to some of the stars, earthbound, and even counseled one of them, President Kennedy, to reach for the moon, and beyond,” he once wrote to friends. Quite true, of course. He served, at various times and in a variety of capacities, Presidents Truman and Johnson, Governors Harriman and Carey, and candidate Adlai Stevenson, as well as John F. Kennedy,who appointed him U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations at Geneva. (And for years afterward it was the custom of his friends, if they happened to meet him if the street or in the hardware store, to call out, “Good morning, Mr. Ambassador!”)
Roger Tubby himself may have sometimes doubted that he reached the stars. As a young man, he wanted to be president, or at the very least a senator. But reach them he did, and not because he was an adviser to princes – powerful as that position may be. His greatest achievement may well have been his life in the north country. When he moved to Saranac Lake, he was aware that he was choosing not just a place to live but a way of life. As he himself once said, “I came up here because I wanted to live in an area, a society, where the individual still does have some personal responsibility and can still contribute to the community.”
I cannot claim to have known Roger Tubby well. He was a man of my parent’s generation, and their friend. Even as a teenager, however, I enjoyed talking to him, and because he enjoyed talking to younger people, he was a favorite of his friends’ children. Much of what I know about him comes from those conversations.
Roger Tubby, his wife Ann and their children moved to Saranac Lake from Washington in 1953. With the encouragement and perhaps at the suggestion of Adirondack writer William Chapman White, he and his friend Jim Loeb had just purchased the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Before that, Tubby had been President Truman’s Press Secretary. After Eisenhower’s inauguration, he accompanied Truman back to Missouri. The President asked him to stay on there as his aide. Tubby declined. “I wanted to be independent,” he said.
When Tubby and Loeb began publishing the Enterprise, the north country was in the midst of one of its frequent depressions. “I thought we needed to work with other communities to bring things around,” Tubby recalled. “It seemed to me that promotion had been carried out in such a piecemeal way – village by village, resort by resort.” With the help of people like Nate Proller of Warren County, Tubby established the Adirondack Park Association, known today as the Adirondack North Country Association, or ANCA – a fourteen-county association whose primary mission is to create jobs in the Adirondacks.
The Association supported the construction of Gore Mountain Ski Center, the Prospect Mountain Highway, and, most notably, the Adirondack Northway.
“I was accused of being on both sides of the fence, because on one hand, I wanted to keep suburban sprawl from entering the Adirondacks, and, on the other, I felt that the Northway would fulfill our industries’ need for better roads and open the area to year-round tourism,” said Tubby.
He was elected chairman of a state-wide committee appointed to secure passage of a constitutional amendment authorizing the state to build the highway across Forest Preserve lands. Had the referendum failed, the Northway would have been built east of Lake George and along the shore of Lake Champlain. Tubby’s experience as a newspaperman and a press officer was put to good use. He organized public hearings, developed an advertising campaign and sent out press releases; he mobilized the local chambers of commerce and calmed the fears of the conservationists, many of who were initially opposed to the Adirondack route. Due in no small part to Tubby’s efforts, the amendment was approved by a majority of New Yorkers.
Tubby once said, “If we can have a decent level of employment here, or in any small town, there are real living rewards.”
One of the rewards of living in a small town, Tubby discovered, was that being useful to his neighbors could be as gratifying as serving his nation. “There’s much joy in being engaged with all sorts of people on all sorts of projects: joy in being intrigued or challenged by new ventures,” he said. If the performance of civic duty turned out to be a pleasure, it was a noble pleasure.
In one of our last conversations, when I was in graduate school, a story about a long-time town supervisor led Mr. Tubby to recall an essay by G. K. Chesterton, from which I quote:
“The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community, we choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.”
Roger Tubby may have found his greatest reward in the companions his small town chose for him. He knew the French-Canadian logger, the Calvinist farmer, the merchant, the town supervisors. He knew them, grew fond of them, and became their loyal friend.They returned the compliment.
The village of Saranac Lake has dedicated a park in Roger Tubby’s memory. At least his name will live on. I hope that his example will, too; for it teaches us that small town life, far from being a substitute for life in the capitals, is a life worth choosing for its own sake. Roger Tubby appears to have thought it the best life possible.
For more news and commentary from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit lakegeorgemirrormagazine.com Photos: Tubby with President Harry Truman in 1952, when he was Truman’s press secretary; below, Tubby (left) with Adlai Stevenson in 1956.
A number of notable avalanches have occurred over the last month in the Adirondacks. Whiteface Mountain Ski Center officials have told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that two avalanches have occurred this season on the Slides area of the mountain. Officials said both events were triggered by one or more skiers. The most recent (Tuesday morning) is believed to have been caused by someone who entered the Slides area from Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. The Slides are not accessible by chairlifts, but can be accessed by a traverse from the top of the summit chairlift. The previous Whiteface avalanche occurred at the Slides on February 26th. About five avalanches are reported to have occurred at Whiteface over the past ten years. » Continue Reading.
You’re in Lake Placid, ready for a day of winter fun, when the unpredictable happens; it’s raining and the conditions at the winter sports venues are less than ideal. So what can you do when your plans are washed out? Luckily there are still plenty of options for those rainy days.
The Olympic Museum in the Olympic Center contains several thousand items of Olympic memorabilia, and is worth a visit. From a dress belonging to skating superstar Sonia Henie to props from the Disney movie “Miracle”, the Museum holds an astounding array of historical items that tell the story of Lake Placid’s Olympic Legacy. The Museum is open from 10 am until 5 pm Monday-Sunday. For information call 518-523-1655. If you feel like watching movies, the historic Palace Theater on Main Street in Lake Placid is the place to go; it hosts a variety of movies and two show times a day, including matinees on the weekends. Built in 1926, the Palace was originally called the Adirondack Theatre, and was home to silent movies and stage shows. It is also home to an original theatre organ, and its charming marquee still lights up Main Street. For more information, call them at 518-523-9271.
Bowlwinkles on the south side of Main Street is another place to visit on a rainy day. It is the only bowling alley in Lake Placid, and includes an arcade and laser tag. There is also a bar and grill on the premises. Call at 518-523-7868.
Immerse yourself in Lake Placid’s Olympic culture by visiting the Olympic Training Center. Located on Sentinel Road, the Olympic Training Center is the only one on the East Coast and primarily houses winter athletes. Take a tour and view the facilities where many Olympians live and train. Call 518-523-2600 for any inquiries.
The Olympic Center also hosts tours with knowledgeable area residents and historians; in addition to tours, you are welcome to wander on your own and watch a hockey game or figure skating practice. For more information, call 518-523-1655.
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.
** HIGH WATERS / FLOODING Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and flood watches have been issued for the entire Adirondack region. Some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys; there a flood warning has already been issued for Warren County. Beware of ice jams which are unpredictable and can break up, move and jam again quickly. Water backing up behind the jam can flood areas under deep water with surprising speed. Anyone living in or traveling through these areas is advised to take precautions. Peak flow will likely not be reached until Friday evening or Friday night. Review emergency plans and be prepared for the possibility of flooding.
** FLOOD WARNING FOR THE HUDSON RIVER NEAR NORTH CREEK A Flood Warning continues for the Hudson River at North Creek, the river went over flood stage early Thursday morning and is expected to rise until a peak Friday night. Moderate to severe flooding is occurring along Old River Road and is expected to occur for some time due to an ice jam. Should the jam break suddenly it could cause a sudden rise in the water level between North Creek, Riparius, The Glen, and Hadley. Moving ice could cause structural damage.
** EXPECT BLOWDOWN Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails.
** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS Winter conditions exist throughout the area with 35-40 inches of snow on the ground, more in higher elevations. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports almost 4 1/2 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails, although many remain unbroken after this week’s snows. NOTE: flooding and high waters expected. See warnings above.
** AVALANCHE CONDITIONS ELEVATED Recent snows have increased the potential for avalanches on slides and other areas prone to avalanche and several have occurred. Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. 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.
Snowmobiles All the regions snowmobile trails are open snowmobiles are operating on designated snowmobile trails. 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.
Thin Ice Safety Always check the thickness of ice before crossing and at several points along the way. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. 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.
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
** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather Friday: Morning showers, high near 37. Breezy, gusts to 40 mph. Friday Night: Chance of snow. Cloudy, low around 13. Saturday: Cloudy, with a high near 29. Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 34.
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 There is currently 3 to 4 feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 4 1/2 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails, but most trails remain unbroken following recent storms and ice may be found on summits and other open areas. Recent storm totals are available online. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all 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 All mountains (with the exception of Mount Pisgah) will be open this weekend on a more than four foot base. Whiteface Mountain reports that the mountain has received more snow than any other ski area on the planet over the past seven days, 61.02 inches. Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake is closed at least through Saturday due to the thaw. Weather permitting, the village of Saranac Lake says the mountain may be open on Sunday. Updates will be posted on the Mount Pisgah website.
** Cross Country Ski Report All cross country ski areas will be open this weekend with an two to three foot base. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about three to four foot base, although some sections remain unbroken after recent snows. Complete and up-to-date cross-country conditions are available [here].
** Backcountry Ski Report Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with 4 1/4 feet at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Snow cover is good on all trails, but breaking trails may be a challenge this weekend. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and flood watches have been issued for the entire Adirondack region. Some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys; there a flood warning has already been issued for Warren County. 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 Nearly all climbing areas have at least some ice in good shape, but conditions will be changing dramatically as rains arrive this weekend. Breaking trail to get to lesser used climbs will be a challenge. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys where more rain is expected. Lower angled climbs like Chouinards, the Slab, Multiplication Gully and others are still dangerous due to the threat of Avalanche. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.
Municipal Ice Skating Rinks Are Open Most municipal outdoor skating rinks are now open. Call ahead for specific opening days and times.
** Ice Fishing Report Ice fishing is officially open, and although ice conditions have improved substantially, recent heavy snows warming weather is creating slush conditions, especially in southern areas. Ice shanties must be off the ice by March 15. Ice shanties that fall partially through the ice become hard to remove and create hazards to snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles on the ice. Ice shanties that remain after ice out become navigation hazards for boats. 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 The region’s snowmobile trails are in good to excellent condition with about a two to three foot base; heavily used and wide open trails can be expected to be in good condition this weekend but will worsen with the weekend’s thaw along the southern areas of the Adirondacks. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys; there a flood warning has already been issued for Warren County. Cellar Brook has flooded the Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail approximately 6 miles west of the Cedar River Headquarters preventing snowmobiles from traveling through from east to west. The Town of Inlet has created a turn around area near the Lost Pond Road approximately 5 miles west of Cellar Brook and is no longer grooming beyond that point. The Town of Indian Lake is only grooming to the gate at Cedar River Headquarters. DEC and the Towns are working to address the situation and reopen the trail. The C4/C8 snowmobile trail is closed between intersections HM114 and HM6 due to severe ice jams and flooding of the Miami River. Travel from points south (Piseco and Sacandaga Lake area near the Jessup River Wild Forest) will be impacted. Travel to all destinations north or east of the Piseco/Oxbow area can be reached using alternate trails (Oxbow to Sacandaga Lake trail) toward the Village of Speculator. Destinations north (Indian Lake) or east (Speculator Tree Farm/Thurman Connection/Wells) can be reached from the “Ballfield” parking area located in the Village of Speculator. As always, conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. So far this year one sledder has died in Washington County, one in Franklin County, one in Jefferson County, one in Herkimer County, and four in Lewis County. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.
** All Rivers Running Well Above Normal Waters in the region are running well above normal levels for this time of year. Due to an ice jam the Hudson River is currently flooding along Route 28 and Old River Road at The Glen. An ice jam is also affecting West Canada Creek which is also likely to flood by Friday night. Use caution this weekend along the Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, Sacandaga Schroon and Hudson rivers. Ice is beginning to break up on the regions moving water. Beware of ice jams which are unpredictable and can break up, move and jam again quickly. Water backing up behind the jam can flood areas under deep water with surprising speed. Anyone living in or traveling through these areas is advised to take precautions. Peak flow will likely not be reached until Friday evening or Friday night. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.
Hunting Seasons Nearly all hunting seasons are now closed with the exception of late snow goose, crow and coyote. Hikers 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. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.
Furbearer Trapping Seasons Nearly all furbearer trapping seasons are closed with the exception of beaver, mink, and muskrat. Body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure.
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.
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.
** Avalanche Conditions (Warning Elevated): Recent snows have increased the potential for avalanches on slides and other areas prone to avalanche. 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 jams, the Opalescent River has flooded the Day-Glo South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam. Tent sites have a foot half of water under the snow. The Opalescent and McMartin lean-tos along the Opalescent River below Lake Colden were recently flooded recently. Since the waters have resided the lean-tos are icy with large chunks of ice in and around the lean-tos. The lean-tos and designated campsites are unusable at this time.
** 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 following lean-tos will be worked on as described:
Moving the Deer Brook Lean-to to a new location that is out of sight of the brook and the trail in order to bring it into compliance with the High Peaks Complex Unit Management Plan and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. It is expected that it will take several weeks to complete this project. The lean-to will be closed for use beginning March 18 and reopen once the project is complete.
Removing the Bear Brook Lean-to without replacement in accordance with the High Peaks Complex Unit Management Plan. This lean-to will be closed for use beginning March 18.
Snowshoes Required: Snowshoes are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. The use of snowshoe or skis is required – even on hardened trails! Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.
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 in most areas accessed from the Corey’s Road, 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 are needed. There is aprox 3 feet of snow near the summit.
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
** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Cellar Brook has flooded the Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail approximately 6 miles west of the Cedar River Headquarters preventing snowmobiles from traveling through from east to west. The Town of Inlet has created a turn around area near the Lost Pond Road approximately 5 miles west of Cellar Brook and is no longer grooming beyond that point. The Town of Indian Lake is only grooming to the gate at Cedar River Headquarters. DEC and the Towns are working to address the situation and reopen the trail.
** Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The C4/C8 snowmobile trail is closed between intersections HM114 and HM6 due to severe ice jams and flooding of the Miami River. Travel from points south (Piseco and Sacandaga Lake area near the Jessup River Wild Forest) will be impacted. Travel to all destinations north or east of the Piseco/Oxbow area can be reached using alternate trails (Oxbow to Sacandaga Lake trail) toward the Village of Speculator. Destinations north (Indian Lake) or east (Speculator Tree Farm/Thurman Connection/Wells) can be reached from the “Ballfield” parking area located in the Village of Speculator.
Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
A Winter Raptor Fest will be held on March 12-13 in Fort Edward, Washington County, NY. Participants will see hawks, owls and falcons on display and during a flight show and learn about the short-eared owl, American kestrel, and other captivating birds of prey. Experts who work to protect and conserve our wildlife will be on-hand to answer questions including NYS Department of Environmental Conservation biologists who will discuss tracking raptor movements with use of satellite, and wildlife rehabilitators. Additional activities will include a snowshoe race, a horse-drawn sleigh ride, and a snow sculpture competition. This two-day event will be held at the Little Theatre on the Farm in Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area, a place that is critical to the survival of many raptors. Get more details on this event by visiting www.winterraptorfest.com.
One of the most tedious tasks while exploring the backcountry of the Adirondacks is water treatment. Unfortunately much of the water in the Adirondacks may be unsafe for human consumption without being treated so this annoying task is unavoidable. The alternative is to risk an intestinal disease requiring an inordinate amount of time spent running to the restroom.
Adirondack water may contain any one of numerous waterborne parasitic micro-organisms. Many of these parasitic organisms may cause serious adverse reactions within humans anywhere from mild diarrhea to eventually, if untreated, death. These waterborne diseases can be caused by protozoa, viruses or bacteria. Giardia remains the poster-organism as far as waterborne disease-causing microorganisms are concerned in the Adirondacks region. » Continue Reading.
The Ausable River Association (AsRA) has received two awards that will fund trout and salmon habitat improvement projects. The project will identify and replace structures that act as barriers to the passage of fish and other aquatic organisms. AsRA will receive $46,910 from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and will work with The Adirondack Nature Conservancy and SUNY-Plattsburgh to complete a fish passage study. AsRA will also receive $52,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to replace culverts and deconstruct dams that act as barriers to fish migration. The project will use field assessments and GIS mapping tools to identify and rank barriers to aquatic organisms, assess the overall connectivity of stream habitat in the Ausable Watershed, and prioritize structures for replacement. The collaborating groups will conduct a training workshop to present the results to Town and County highway superintendents, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
Maintaining connections between rivers and small tributaries is important for protecting trout, salmon, and other aquatic organisms. Trout rely upon small upland tributaries for spawning and refuge from warm summer temperatures. Dams, culverts, and bridges can altered flow and block upstream movement to important refuge streams. Connectivity to upland tributaries is becoming even more critical as temperatures in valley bottom streams rise due to climate warming.
The Ausable and River Association is a nonprofit watershed group that works cooperatively with landowners, municipalities, and government agencies to preserve the natural, scenic, and recreation resources of the Ausable Watershed. For more information call 873-3752 or write [email protected]