Children’s Christmas wishes and expectations years ago were much different. I was so struck by this—the simplicity and innocence—while researching a recent book that I included a chapter entitled “Letters to Santa” (in History of Churubusco). The sample letters below were published in local newspapers from 1920–1940. They offer historical significance, portraying the sharp contrast to the modern holiday, where disproportionately expensive gifts have become the norm.
Like hundreds of other small villages and towns in the early twentieth century, Churubusco was a farming community. Families were often self-sufficient, and everyone, including small children, had daily chores. This fostered teamwork and family unity, and it gave children a firsthand understanding of the values of goods, services, and hard work. Those lessons were conveyed in their missives to Santa. And, some of the comments in the letters are just plain cute. 1923 Dear Santa, This year, money being scarce, my wants are few. I want a doll, set of dishes, ribbon, candy, and nuts. Don’t forget my brothers and sisters. Your girl, Eva Lussier
Dear Santa Claus, I want you to bring me a little serving set, ball, candy, nuts, and bananas. Never mind the sled this year because I am expecting one from my aunt. My Xmas tree will be in the parlor near the stove, so take your time and get good and warm before you leave. Wishing you a merry Xmas, your little friend, Louis Patnode
1925 Dear Santa Claus, I would like you to bring me a little bedroom set, some candy, nuts, and bananas. Your little friend, Louise Recore
Dear Santa Claus, I would like a flashlight, sled, gold watch, some candy, nuts, oranges, bananas, and peanuts. Please don’t forget my little brothers, Walter and Francis. Walter would like a little drum, mouth organ, candy, nuts, gum, and oranges. Francis would like a little wagon full of toys, and some candy, nuts, and bananas. Your little friend, John Brady
1938 Dear Santa, For Christmas I want a bottle of perfume and a locket, a 59 cent box of paints that I saw in your sale catalogue, a pair of skates, a nice dress and candy and nuts. I am eleven years old and Santa I hope you have a very merry Xmas. Your friend, Anita Robare
Dear Santa, I am writing a few lines to tell you what I want for Christmas. I want a toothbrush and there is a set of 12 different games in your Christmas catalogue for 98 cents. Some of the names of the games are bingo, checkers, and jacksticks. Please bring me this set. I hope you don’t forget my little sister and brothers. Your friend, Henrietta Matthews
Dear Santa, Christmas is drawing near and I would like these things: a pair of ski shoes, pair of fur bedroom slippers, a dump truck, and banjo. I will leave some crackers and milk on the breakfast table. Your friend, Ann Elderbaum
Dear Santa, When you come around for Xmas, I would like to have you bring me a pair of skates and a woolen shirt. It’s all I want for Christmas for I thought that you are getting old and those chimneys will be hard to climb. You will have some bread and milk at Christmas Eve. Yours truly, Theodore Leclair
Dear Santa Claus, I wish you would bring me a sled and a ring. I don’t want very much for I know you are getting old and I don’t want you to carry too much. You will find my stocking near the stove and on the kitchen table you will find some bread and milk. I want you to leave me some candy, especially peanut brittle. I am 12 years old. Your friend, Cecelia Louise Miller
Dear Santa, I wish you would bring me a popgun, tractor, truck and an airplane. You will find a bowl of bread and milk near the Xmas tree. You will find my stocking near the stove. I am only seven years old. Your friend, Clayton Miller
My Dear Santa, I am eleven years old, and I wish you would bring me a cowboy suit and a sweater. You will find my stocking near the stairway, and on the kitchen table you will find some corn meal mush. Your little friend, Herman Leclair
Dear Santa, Christmas is drawing near and I thought I would drop you a line and let you know what I want for Christmas. I would like a red sweater, western book, and a fur hood. I will leave you some bread, cake, peanuts, and milk. I don’t want very much because you are growing old and your bag will be too heavy. So I will close and hope to have all I want for Christmas. Sincerely yours, Rita Theresa Leclair
Dear Santa, I would like a new pair of shoes for Christmas. Ruth Demarse
Dear Santa, I want a tractor and some colors for Christmas. Henry Lagree
1939 Dear Santa, I have been a very good girl this year. I thank you for the things that you brought me last year. For Christmas I would like a doll and a Chinese Checker game. I will leave a lunch for you on the table. I will clean our chimney so you can slide down it. I will hang our stockings near the Christmas tree. I would like to stay up and see you but I am afraid that I would not get any presents so I will go to bed. Well we will have to close. Your friend, Helen and Patty Smith
Dear Santa Claus, I have been a good boy this year. I would like a car that pedals. If you couldn’t bring that, I would like something smaller. And don’t forget Carol my baby sister. And I would like some candy, gum, oranges, and nuts. Your little friend, Robert K. Smith
Dear Santa, I have tried to be a good little girl this year. I am nine years old and in the fifth grade. I would like a pair of ice skates between my sister and I. And don’t forget my baby sister, because she wasn’t here last year and I through that maybe you would forget her. But I guess that you wouldn’t do that trick. And don’t forget the candy, nuts, oranges, and gum. Your friend, Helen L. Smith
Dear Santa, I would like for Christmas a pencil box and drawing paper, candy, and nuts. Your friend, Beulah Perry
1940 Dear Santa Claus, I want a train and candy. Norman Lafave
Dear Santa, I would like a box of colors, a teddy bear, candy and nuts. Agnes Lagree
Dear Santa Claus, I want a pair of shoes, dress, and Christmas candy and nuts. Ruth Demarse
From Jill and me at Bloated Toe Publishing, Happy Holidays to all.
Photo: 1916 Christmas advertisement for a Malone store.
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 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
In the 1880s Frank Ofeldt invented a small engine powered by a petroleum by-product called naphtha, which proved to be a very useful means of water transport when attached to 16 or 18-foot launches. For a while, these naphtha launches flourished on the Adirondack lakes, transporting passengers and freight between camps, hotels and settlements.
By the turn of the century, naphtha launches were common on Lake George. Some were excursion boats, such as those owned and operated by the father os onetime Lake George Supervisor Alden Shaw. The majority, however, belonged to summer residents. Dr. Abraham Jacobi of Bolton Landing owned one. Harry Watrous, the perpetrator of the Hague Monster Hoax, owned two, as did Colonel Mann, the New York magazine editor who was the butt of the hoax. (Mann’s own magazine, by the way, poked fun at the rich for taking the accoutrements of soft living into the Adirondack wilderness, naphtha launches included.) The Eva B, the launch portrayed here, was owned by Charles Barker, a gentleman who spent one summer on Lake George in 1892. Barker sailed the craft from New York City to Troy and then came up the Champlain Canal through the locks. The launch was brought overland from Glens Falls to Lake George, where it was paraded in the Water Carnival. When Barked departed Lake George at the end of the season, he announced that he would sill down Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence River, then on to Alexandria Bay and the Thousand Islands.
The naphtha launch, unlike the steamboat which it replaced, was light and easy to handle. No special license was required to operate it. Thus, the naphtha launch became popular very quickly. Just as quickly, however, it disappeared, supplanted by the gasoline-powered motorboat, which was much faster than the naphtha launch and, or so it was said, much safer.
“It is eighty years or more since the naphtha launch came into the woods. They are gone and the steamboats with them. Handled with good manners, the launch was no threat to anyone and a pleasing service to many,” Kenneth Durant wrote in his monograph on the naphtha launch, published by the Adirondack Museum in 1976. Durant’s monograph remains the single best source of information on the naphtha launch.
Durant himself is best known for his pioneering studies of the Adirondack guide-boat. He had originally intended to incorporate the material which he had gathered on the naphtha launch into his book on the guide-boat, but then decided that it would be too much of a digression. After his death in 1972, his widow, Helen Durant, edited the manuscript and produced the pamphlet that is still available through the museum.
Durant’s knowledge of the naphtha launch, like his knowledge of the guide-boat, was rooted in his own experience. His father, Frederick C. Durant, was the developer of the Prospect House on Blue Mountain Lake, the first luxury hotel in the Adirondacks. To accommodate his own family, Durant built a camp on Forked Lake, a tributary of Racquette Lake, in the style made popular by his relative, William West Durant, which they called “Camp Cedars.” Warren Cole, the Long Lake guide-boat builder, was the family’s guide, and Durant spent much of his youth in the guide-boat that Cole built for him.
The family also maintained a naphtha launch, called the Mugwump. For sport and pleasure, there was always the guide-boat, Durant said. The naphtha launch was essentially a service boat. “It transported busts who might have been timid or clumsy in a guidebook. It towed the scow with loads of lumber from the mill or stone cut from the quarry at the head of the lake. It towed the freight boat with a load of fresh balsam for the open camp, or a string of guide-boats for a fishing party to the far end of the lake. Now and then one might make a leisurely cruise along the evening shore, with engine muted.”
Durant’s interest in the evolution of the guide-boat brought him to Lake George in 1960 to study the bateaux that had just been discovered at the bottom of the lake, and he and Helen visited my family often in Warrensburg, usually when traveling from their home in Vermont to Hamilton County, which Durant always called “the woods” and which he believed was the true Adirondacks.
(He once wrote to his friend, canoe authority Paul Jamieson: “When I was half as old as I am now we could say unctuously, ‘There are no venomous snakes in the Adirondacks,’ reciting a bit of nature lore: ‘Rattlesnakes do not advance beyond the oaks.’ Then, when I was not looking, someone moved the Blue Line around Lake George and took in oaks and rattlesnakes–and worse.”)
While he may have been harsh on Lake George, I remember Kenneth as the gentlest of men. And he managed to impart to many, through his books, his conversation and his example, something of his passionate interest in wooden boats and their history on the lakes of the Adirondacks. Those of us who have learned from him had had richer lives as a consequence.
The Cranberry Lake 50 (CL50), the fifty-mile hiking route that circles Cranberry Lake, has been featured as one of the best multi-day hikes in the Northeast in the January 2011 issue of BackpackerMagazine. Here is an excerpt from the article:
“For lakeside shoreline, traipse trough the Adirondacks’ Five Ponds Wilderness on a 50-mile loop around 7,000-acre Cranberry Lake. [Times Union outdoors blogger] Gillian Scott suggests starting in Wanakena and traveling counterclockwise for an easier first day, when your pack is heaviest. Along the loop you’ll see beaver ponds, sandy beaches, evergreen islands, and winding Oswegatchie River oxbows – but not a lot of people. “We went in July and didn’t see anyone,” Scott says. Rick Hapanowicz, Jim Houghtailing and six others did the CL50 as a straight through overnight speed hike in May of this year. You can read about their trip online.
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.
SEARCH FOR MISSING MAN IN HIGH PEAKS DEC Forest Rangers and others continue to search 22 year-old Wesley ‘Wes’ Wamsganz, missing since Saturday, November 20, and believed to be in the High Peaks Wilderness. He is 6’3″ 180 lbs, has buzz cut short blond hair, and blue eyes. He is believed to wearing a Black Bob Marley zip up hoodie, jeans or tan Carhart pants, basketball sneakers and a yellow, red and green striped brimmed beanie. The search was scaled back to “limited continuous status” Sunday. Wamsganz, of Saranac Lake, is believed to have been spotted by hikers at Marcy Dam last Saturday evening. Between Marcy Dam and Lake Colden Wamsganz’s green Carhartt jacket was found last Sunday. If you encounter Mr. Wamsganz or evidence of his whereabouts notify DEC Forest Rangers at (518-897-1300).
** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS Winter conditions exist throughout the area. Expect to encounter snow and especially ice on trails. Currently ice, frozen ground and mud are covered by light snow. Prepare accordingly, pack snowshoes or skis and crampons and use them when conditions warrant. Daytime temperatures below freezing can be expected at all elevations, with wind-chill below freezing as well. Snow cover is now prominent across the Adirondacks. Snow is 8 to 14 inches across the central, western, and northern Adirondacks and up to a few feet deep at higher elevations; exposed areas are very icy. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 17 inches of snow at the cabin. Ice on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are thick enough for crossing, but ice is still thin around inlets and outlets.
** Thin Ice Safety Ice has formed on water bodies and people have been observed on the ice at numerous locationa. Always check the thickness of ice before crossing. Be cautious of ice over moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. 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. 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: Partly sunny, high near 23. Wind chill as low as zero. Very windy summits. Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 3. Christmas Day: Mostly cloudy, a high near 19. Very windy summits. Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 7. Sunday: Cloudy, with a high near 22.
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]
Christmas Bird Count Underway The 111th Annual Christmas Bird Count will take place December 14th to January 6th. The longest running citizen science survey in the US, each year during this time volunteers help document bird population trends used in a wide array of research and conservation efforts. For more information and to find out how to participate as a bird counter this winter, visit birds.audubon.org/faq/cbc.
** Snow Cover Snowfall Wednesday night amounted to more than expected across the Central Adirondacks, and added four to five inches of light snow, but still not enough to make a real change in the snow cover. A thin frozen base is now supporting total accumulation of about 6 to 10 inches, except across the northern and western parts of the park and in Lewis, St. Lawrence, Franklin, and Clinton counties which have seen recent heavier snows. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 17 inches of snow at the cabin. The exception is the lower southeast part of the park. There is still considerably less snow on the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks or in Warren County and eastern Essex County, which has yet to see any substantial accumulation. Snow can be up to a few feet deep at higher elevations. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.
** Downhill Ski Report Thanks to snow-making Whiteface and Gore are open; Whiteface has about 60% of its terrian open, and Gore about 50%. McCauley, Mount Pisgah, Titus, and Oak Mountain are all open with limited terrain. The Big Tupper Ski Area had planned to open last week, but has postponed those plans for now and remains closed until at least Sunday. Hickory in Warrensburg remains closed. Call ahead for specific opening details during this holiday weekend.
** Cross Country Ski Report Most cross country ski areas are open including Cascade in Lake Placid, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and Lapland near Northville, Cunninghams and Garnet Hill near North Creek. Call ahead for specific opening details during this holiday weekend.
** Backcountry Ski Report There is still little snow on the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks including the Keene end of the Jackrabbit Trail. Most of the Jackrabbit Trail is now reported skiable, but use caution and be on the lookout for some wet spots and trail hazards, some hidden [conditions]. Elsewhere in the backcountry, stick to trucks trails and maintained trails and beware of potential hazards. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 17 inches of snow at the cabin and open areas have some good cover, though not narrow trails. Ice on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are thick enough for crossing, but ice is still thin around inlets and outlets. There are no trails skiable beyond Marcy Dam, and the last quarter mile to the summit of Wright Peak is thick ice over bare rock. The Truck trail to Marcy Dam, the Hays Brook Truck Trail (as far as Sheep Meadow and Grassy Pond), the Fish Pond Truck Trail, the Newcomb Lake Road to Camp Santanoni, and Burn Road in the Whitney Wilderness are skiable. Connery Pond and Ausable Lake Road are reported “just skiable” with caution.
** Ice Climbing Report Ice has been building with cold nights and warmer days. Areas at lower elevations are your best bet, with higher elevation areas generally regarded as claimable but just average conditions. Climbable areas including Chapel Pond (the pond is now frozen), Cascade Pass, the North side of Pitchoff, The Mineville Pillar, Roaring Brook Falls, Multi-Gulley, and Chillar Pillar. The highlight is Poke-O Moonshine, which is reported to be in great condition so far this season. Palisades on Lake Champlain is now reported climbable. In the backcountry Avalanche and Elk passes are climbable, as is Big Blue and the Stooges at Underwood Canyon, but The Fang is still thin. See additional detailed and up to date Ice Climbing Conditions here.
** Municipal Ice Skating Rinks Open Most municipal outdoor skating rinks are now open or about to open including those at Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake. Call ahead for specific opening days and times.
** Ice Fishing Report Ice fishing is officially open, but ice conditions vary widely by location. Anglers have been observed on Rollins Pond, Lake Colby, and Lake Clear and Kings Bay and Catfish Bay on Lake Champlain. Ice anglers are traveling on foot thus far and motor vehicle traffic is not recommended on the ice at this point. 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 Except in parts of the Tug Hill plateau where heavy snow has fallen, the regions snowmobile trails are still very fragile with just an inch to three inches of base. Most trails around the region remain closed, including the Moose River Plains. There are some trails open in the Wilmington Wild Forest, Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, and the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands. Riders everywhere should show restraint and wait for trails to be officially opened and sufficiently snow-covered. Around the region volunteers are still installing signs and protective snow fencing. There has been little or no grooming, and some trails have blowdown from the recent windstorms. Conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.
** Most Rivers Returning to Normal Waters in the region are returning to normal for this time of year. However, the Hudson, Bouquet, Raquette, and Saranac rivers are still running above normal. Paddlers should use care and consult the latest streamgages data. Ice has formed on nearly all flat waters and forming on swift waters as well.
Hunting Seasons Although fall hunting seasons for big game and most waterfowl are over in the Adirondack region, some small game hunting is still underway. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment 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 Some furbearer trapping seasons remain open. This would be a good time to keep pets leased and on the trails. A reminder that 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: About 1.8 miles north of the Silver Lake lean-to and just south of the Canary Pond tent camping area, the trail is flooded and may require wading through water and mud.
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.
Lake Durant to Long Lake: About a half mile north of the Lake Durant trailhead at Route 28/30 the trail crosses several flooded boardwalks. Use extreme caution as the boardwalk is not visible and may shift. Expect to get your boots wet and use a stick or hiking pole to feel your way along to avoid falling off the boardwalk.
Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond the trail is flooded by beaver activity. The reroute to the east is now also flooded in spots.
Duck Hole to Averyville Rd. and Lake Placid: Beaver activity has flooded the trail about 3 miles south of the Averyville trailhead and will require a sturdy bushwhack.
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.
Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC will be working to clear trails as soon as possible.
** 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. (12/23)
** Wright Peak: Snow shoes are necessary on Wright Peak and full crampons will be required for the final 1/4 mile approach to the summit as there is thick ice on bare rock.
Jackrabbit Ski Trail: Improvements have been made to the Jackrabbit Trail, a 24-mile cross-country ski trail that runs between Saranac Lake and Keene. There has been a reroute of the popular six mile section between McKenzie Pond Road outside Saranac Lake to Whiteface Inn Road outside Lake Placid. The rerouted trail avoids some hilly terrain at the start of this section and also avoids the ball field, and some private property. Trailhead parking is expected to be expanded in this area later this year.
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.
Wilmington Wild Forest: Snowmobiles may be operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.
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: Gates have been closed on the Moose River Plains Road. Motor vehicle traffic is prohibited until after the spring mud season. Currently snow accumulations are not enough to warrant opening the snowmobile trails.
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.
Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice is forming 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.
Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Jabe Pond Road, and Buttermilk Road Extension. Although also closed, Scofield Flats, Bear Slides Access, and Pikes Beach Access roads may be accessed by motor vehicle by people with disabilities holding a Motorized Access Permit for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD).
Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.
Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All All lands, including the trail to The Pinnacle, are closed to all public recreational access until December 31st. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291.
** Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Gates have been open on the old D & H railroad bed (Snowmobile Corridor C7B). Skiers and snowshoers using this designated snowmobile trail should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobilers are required to slow down when passing skiers, snowshoers or other snowmmobiles on trails.
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. (12/23)
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. For 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.
Lake Placid hosted two events last weekend; the Lake Placid Ice Marathon on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval and the FIBT Skeleton/Bobsled World Cup at the Mt Van Hoevenburg track.
The Lake Placid Ice Marathon, one of the races in the Marathon Skating International Series throughout North America, hosted approximately sixty skaters. The race distances were 10 k, 25 k, and 40 k, (which equals approximately 25 laps, 60 laps, and 100 laps), and skaters from the US and Canada competed. The two fastest skaters, Sergio Almeralla (Canada) and Jim Cornell (Rochester, NY), dominated all three distances, with Almeralla placing first and Cornell placing second.
Germany was dominating throughout the World Cup events and the first two days of the FIBT Skeleton Bobsled World Cup in Lake Placid, but the United States’ “Night Train” dashed that winning streak with a victory on the 19th. Steve Holcomb led his team to win the event with a time of 1:48.01, which was .58 seconds faster than the next fastest sled.
The gold medal was their first since the first world cup of the season in Whistler, British Columbia. Coming in second was the Germany-1 team of Maximillian Arndt, Rene Tiefert, Alexander Roediger and Martin Putze with a runner-up time of 1:48.01 total. Canada-1 placed third with driver Lyndon Rush and his crew of Justin Wilkinson, Cody Sorensen and Neville Wright, with a solid 1:48.63 time.
Two other US sleds piloted by local athlete John Napier and rookie Ethan Albrecht-Carrie, finished 8th and 10th respectively. The FIBT Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup tour will resume Jan. 10-16 in Igls, Austria.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced late Wednesday that the Environmental Board has approved a new regulation that sets stringent performance standards for new outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) sold in the state. The regulation will go into effect 30 days after it is filed with the Secretary of State. The stricter guidelines will ensure that new OWBs burn at least 90% cleaner than older models, according to a DEC press release.
Provisions in the regulatory proposal to phase out the use of older OWBs and place restrictions on their use in the interim have been removed and will be addressed through a new public stakeholder process to develop a revised regulatory framework to address concerns of residents impacted by the operation of such units. “This is about ensuring that new outdoor wood boilers burn cleaner — not only for people who buy OWBs and their families, but also for their neighbors. It’s not unlike the switch to cleaner cars,” said Acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz. “It’s also to ensure that OWB stacks are high enough to disperse emissions rather than having them blow directly into houses and other dwellings. That’s important for public health. Also, we have listened to the agricultural community and made appropriate exceptions for farming operations.”
The regulation approved Wednesday includes stack height requirements for new OWBs that will are expected to reduce the impact of emission plumes on neighboring property owners. In addition, new OWBs will be required to be set back a minimum of 100 feet from neighboring properties — except for OWBs used in agricultural operations, which must be at least 100 feet from neighboring homes. Both new and existing OWBs will be subject to fuel restrictions hoped to ensure that only appropriate fuels are burned.
“The new guidelines the state has set on outdoor wood boilers is a necessary step in improving the process of burning wood as a renewable energy resource and is not to stop people from burning clean wood,” said Village of Tupper Lake Mayor Mickey Demarais. “Trying to make our air cleaner and protect our residents is our responsibility and the Village supports establishing guidelines and standards on OWBs to make this happen.”
“The new regulation on OWBs is a responsible move in the right direction without being overly intrusive on the public,” said Elizabethtown Town Supervisor Noel Merrihew. “It’s a good move to put together regulations for the manufacture of the OWBs. Outside the Hamlet areas the smoke can be a problem and this assures long term environmental benefits for our state.”
The text of the final rule before the Environmental Board is available on the DEC website.
Photo: Air pollution caused by an Outdoor Wood Boiler (DEC Photo).
The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York has again achieved accreditation from the American Association of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for a museum. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public.
For almost forty years the Accreditation Program has served as the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability, and earns national recognition for a museum for its commitment to excellence in all that it does: governance, collections stewardship, public programs, financial stability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals, the Accreditation Program reflects, reinforces, and promotes best practices, institutional ethics, and the highest standards of museum operations.
The Adirondack Museum first received AAM accreditation in 1973, and was reaccredited in 1985 and 1998.
“We are very honored that the Adirondack Museum continues to be recognized for meeting the highest standards of museum practice,” said Interim Director Michael Lombardi. “The accreditation validates the ongoing work of our staff and points the way towards continued success in the future.”
Of the nation’s estimated 17,500 museums, 775 are currently accredited. The Adirondack Museum joins the Albany Institute of History and Art, The Strong Museum, The Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages as well as eight other history museums accredited in New York State.
“Accreditation assures the people of the Adirondacks that their museum is among the finest in the nation,” said Ford W. Bell, president of AAM. “As a result, the citizens can take considerable pride in their institution, for its commitment to excellence and for the value it brings to the community as a whole.”
Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation, a museum first must conduct a year of self-study, then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, review and evaluate the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation. While the time to complete the process varies by museum, it generally takes three years.
The Adirondack Museum will open for its 54th season on May 27, 2011. The museum will introduce two new exhibits – “The Adirondack World of A.F. Tait” and “Night Vision: The Wildlife Photography of Hobart V. Roberts” as well as offer a full schedule of programs, special events, and activities for families.
The American Association of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. With more than 15,000 individual, 3,000 institutional, and 300 corporate members, AAM is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that several upgrades have been completed on bridges and trails on state lands around Jefferson and Lewis counties in time for snowmobile season.
Many of these improvements provide essential linkages on primary and secondary snowmobile trail networks across the Tug Hill Plateau and through Lewis County, according to DEC officials. » Continue Reading.
I want to address another of the primary criticisms over my recent commentary on protecting our open forests, from those who claim that more open space damages local communities. “They should just be honest and stop pretending that they care about the people and ‘culture’ of the Adirondacks,” one regular anonymous commenter said, echoing the criticism of others.
Even Brian Mann, who offered an otherwise thoughtful critique, titled his response “A vision of an Adirondack wilderness, with people.” The supposition there is that seeking to expand open space in the Adirondacks means excluding people. Not only is that supposition wrong-headed, it dehumanizes those who support wilderness protection. “They don’t care about people” the argument goes, as if we’re not people ourselves. This kind of argument appeals to the basest nature of some and draws a stark dividing line between “us” and “them.” It does nothing to address the concerns I raised about the development pressures we’re facing. » Continue Reading.
By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities I am finished with my holiday shopping. I can actually hear choruses of angels singing in my head when I say that. I would like to be one of those people that shop early, who sits smugly back and watches the holiday madness. But without last minute consumers like myself, what would happen to the retail industry? I like to convince myself that I am personally causing shops to get “in the black.” I have cooked, wrapped, shopped and supported the local economy to the point where my wallet has cried, “Uncle.” Now it is time for me to take a step back and remember what Christmas is all about. Oh, who am I kidding?
Bah, humbug! This week Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake will have its final performances of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol before the Christmas holiday. As part of its 30th year celebration, Pendragon Theatre once again returns to a holiday tradition that helps remind us that some gifts come from within.
Pendragon Theatre, the Adirondack’s only year-round professional theatre, started with modest beginnings in 1980. In their 30 seasons, co-founders, a husband and wife team, Susan Neal and Bob Pettee have acted, directed and produced thousands of shows along with the support of friends, staff and community. In addition to productions at the Pendragon Theatre stage, the professional troupe takes performances on the road all around the Adirondack Park. They provide an Arts in Education program, making live theatre accessible to school children around the Adirondacks, as well as internships and classroom study guides.
For those unfamiliar with the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the story is of a resentful old man who has the opportunity to see how his life will turn out if he continues on a path of stingy bitterness. This Christmas classic continues to be retold and reinvented so much that Charles Dicken’s characters have integrated into our everyday language. That mean, greedy person who hates Christmas has become a Scrooge while we are all often visited by our ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come.
This year’s production at Pendragon is directed by Kent Streed. The following are members of the cast: Josh Beaudion, Don Carlisto, Schuyler Crankler, Jessica Deeb, Emily DeLancette, Tom Delahant, Scott Eichholz, Matt Eick, Kody Gates, Holly Huber, Jim Kries, Katie Marcinko, Chris McGovern, Leonie Mohrs, Garth Olsen, Natalie Orman, Sean Orman, Bob Pettee, Kate Pettee, Kama Prellwitz , Noel Prellwitz, Barbara Touby, Abby Wolff, Steve Wolff, Arthur Volmrich with understudies Leslie Dame, Kent Streed and Laura Warden.
For me this holiday tradition grounds me to what is truly important, spending time with my family. It is easy to be caught up in the flurry of packages and onslaught of online bargains. When I am visited by my own ghosts I hope they show me a life full of family moments.
And so, as Tiny Tim observed, “God bless us, everyone!”
In a challenging economy people may forget that a gift of live performance is sometime less than the ticket to the latest film. For $10/adults and $8/under 17, performance times are December 21, 22, 23 at 7:00 p.m.
This Pendragon production moves to The Lake Placid Center for the Arts after Christmas (December 27 and 28 at 7:00 p.m.) For reservations at Pendragon Theatre call 518-891-1854 or reservations at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, call 518-523-2512. Merry Christmas!
Last week my friend Barbara visited from Toronto, a city not known for its proximity to mountains. She had never been to the Adirondacks, and I wanted to find a hike that would both introduce her to the beauty and ruggedness of the High Peaks without the ice-covered vertical terrain that would be sure to stop our cramponless feet in their tracks.
So I took her to my favorite easy hike — the West River Trail.
It’s amazing that such an easy and (relatively) flat trail can pack so much of a punch. In less than five miles, hikers on this route parallel a deep, whitewater ravine, pass two of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Adirondacks and walk beneath several cliffs gleaming with ice flows (at least during the winter).
Needless to say, Barbara was impressed. The only trouble with this hike is the half-mile walk from the parking lot near Route 73 in Keene Valley (also the departure point for Noonmark Mountain) to the trailhead at the Ausable Club. The trail begins right at the gate (hang a right instead of staying on the dirt road to Lower Ausable Lake, although you can cut off some of the hiking by taking the dirt road if you would prefer an easier route).
The route follows the East Branch of the Ausable River. It’s a dramatic trip in any season, but especially in winter, with the river half-frozen but still running over icy cascades. After about an hour walk, you make a steep climb and reach Beaver Meadow Falls. In warmer weather it’s a fairyland stepladder of frothy white, but in winter it’s a gleaming blue chandelier. It’s also a good place to stop for a bite to eat.
From here, the going gets flatter as the Ausable River meanders through a wide meadow. Eventually, you reach the outlet of Lower Ausable Lake, where a side-trail takes you to the even more impressive Rainbow Falls, its running water hidden behind a thick crust of ice.
Once at the lake, you can return to your car on the easy (but boring) dirt road. We elected to climb to Indian Head Cliff for a view of the frozen, fjord-like lake. This proved the steepest and hardest part of the route, as we had to find our way around a few tricky, ice-covered sections of trail (ski poles helped tremendously).
Eventually we made it to the top, and had just enough time to enjoy the rugged, ice-covered view in front of us before it we had to start the trip back to the car.
Besides the ice, that’s the other problem with hiking in early December — sunset comes way too soon. Alan Wechsler, who lives in New York’s Capital Region, has been writing about and photographing the Adirondacks for two decades.
You can ski for free on hundreds of trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, but if you’re looking for a few more creature comforts—such as groomed trails and a clubhouse with a wood stove—check out the New Land Trust trails outside the hamlet of Saranac. They’re free, too.
The New Land Trust got its start in 1977 when some Plattsburgh State College students and friends purchased an old farm. Today the land trust is a non-profit organization that maintains twenty-eight trails (totaling about ten kilometers) on 287 acres. While skiing at the New Land Trust over the weekend with my daughter Martha, we ran into Steve Jenks, a member of the trust board who lives nearby and maintains the trails. He led us down some of his favorite routes. We saw only a few other parties.
“People, why aren’t you here?” Jenks lamented. “The skiing here is fantastic, and it’s only a half-hour from Plattsburgh.”
He told us that the trust has improved its fiscal fitness in recent years but still needs money for a new roof for the clubhouse. The trust relies on donations from the public and on membership fees ($75 a year) to cover its taxes and other expenses. (Although the trails and lodge are open to the public for free, there is a donation box at the trail register.)
Most of the trails are mellow and don’t require a great deal of snow to be skiable. On Sunday, Martha and I skied the Saranac, a very attractive trail that led us past snow-covered balsams. Saranac is one of two main routes. We then took Night Rider to Solstice (the other main route), where we encountered Steve, who led us back to the clubhouse via a number of shorter trails.
The trails are all signed. Other amenities include two lean-tos, a bunkhouse, and a nifty outhouse. You can find a trail map and driving directions on the trust’s website. Trails maps also are available the register.