Friday, December 17, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 4,400 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Bolton High School Speedboat Racer Makes History

Johnny Saris, a Bolton Central School Senior, became the youngest speed boat driver in history to win a sanctioned World Championship race when he and Jason Saris competed in the Offshore Powerboat Association’s Orange Beach, Alabama meet in October.

“Johnny raced against the best drivers in the country and he held his own, as the results show,” said Jason Saris, the team’s throttle man and Johnny’s father.

Johnny Saris has been driving powerful offshore boats for years, but usually for recreation or in local poker runs. “There’s nothing like racing; once the green flag is waved, your mind is entirely focused,” said Johnny Saris. “And you never slow down for a wave.”

Racing a new boat custom-built by Performance Marine, the team placed first in their class in the first race, held on Friday, October 15.

To be named the 2010 Offshore Powerboat Association’s World Champions, the Sarises needed only to place third in Sunday’s races, but mechanical problems prevented the team from entering the boat in the second race, said Johnny Saris.

The races, held on an oval course about 150 yards off shore from beachfront hotels, attracted thousands of spectators. 40 boats, including a 50’ boat capable of 200 mile per hour speeds and a Lamborghini-powered 43’ catamaran owned by Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al‐Thani, took part in the event.

Known as “Thunder on the Gulf,” the event was not expected to take place; the Offshore Powerboat Association removed the race from its schedule after last summer’s oil spill.

But according to Jason Saris, Alabama officials, anxious to revitalize tourism along the Gulf coast, persuaded the OPA to re-instate the event. “We didn’t see any ill-effects of the oil spill, and they put on quite a show for us,” said Jason. “Bon Jovi and Brad Paisley played concerts on the beach, there were good crowds and the weather was perfect.” “We had as much fun spending time with the other racers as we did racing,” said Johnny.

As one of the youngest racers on the OPA circuit, Johnny Saris attracted some of the limelight, said Jason . “When an event is covered as widely as this was, some extra attention is expected,” said Jason. “There’s another racer close in age to Johnny, and people like to play up a rivalry.”

The Sarises began racing as a team in May, 2009, when they converted a recreational powerboat and competed in the first in a series of off shore races throughout the country. “Until 2008, no one under 18 was eligible to compete,” said Jason, himself a national offshore champion racer not so many years ago. “But fortunately for us, the OPA Racing Organization, changed the rules so that someone as young as 14 can compete as long as he’s accompanied by a parent or guardian. ”

Johnny Saris’s skills as a driver have increased exponentially during his first two seasons as a professional racer, said Jason. “He has a confidence that he’s earned through experience; that makes him a smoother, better racer; he’s not apprehensive, he knows what to expect,” said Jason. And he’s won the respect of the other racers.

“They take racing very seriously, and initially they were apprehensive about racing 80 miles per hour with someone who, for all they knew, was an inexperienced amateur,” said Jason. “Now, they treat him like a colleague.”

“The racing circuit is like family; once you’re in, you’re in,” said Johnny.

For Jason Saris, the pleasure in returning to the racing circuit lies largely in the fact that’s now able to race with his son. “We’re both enthusiasts and we’ve always wanted to do this together. A father and son who enjoy the same thing, getting to do it together: it doesn’t get any better than that. By the time most kids are sixteen, they’re out of their families’ lives. Even the time spent in the truck trailering the boat to races is quality time, as far as I’m concerned,” said Jason.

Racing may be a father and son activity for the Sarises, but it’s also good for Performance Marine, the business Jason established twenty years ago with his partner, Rick Gage. Tucked between the lake and Bolton Landing’s Main Street, Performance Marine is the place where racers from all over the country come to have custom built engines and drive systems made.

“If nothing else, the race circuit is a venue where we can demonstrate our competence, ” Jason says. “Customers are confident that we know our business.” Performance Marine also builds power systems for recreational boats and maintains boats for local customers. It’s a business that Johnny Saris hopes to run himself one day. “I’ll be going to college next year, and that may cut into racing. But a good education will allow me to continue what my father started. That would be even better than racing,” he said.

Photos courtesy of Saris Racing.

For more news and commentary from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Friday, December 17, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

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

Subscribe! More than 4,400 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Very Adirondack Christmas Gifts

Want to shop locally or find a present for the Adirondack geek on your list? We’ve got links and ideas.

AdirondackCraft.com is a one-stop wonder. Check out these hand-made wooden dishes. Or the Bean-To’s blend of organic Hammer Down coffee (endorsed by Billy Demong and a fundraiser for Dewey Mountain) makes an aromatic stocking stuffer.

Wilmington’s Meg Stone has added beautiful work to the Stony Creek notecard line (and gets credit for the fox print here).

Adirondack Life did a great job on these Verplanck Colvin reprints, especially “Crest of the Gothics.”

Cooks and locavores will appreciate the beautifully designed and kitchen-tested Northern Comfort: Fall and Winter Recipes from Adirondack Life

Traditional Arts of Upstate New York (TAUNY) also has a balsamy online store including the CD Funny Men of the Adirondacks.

Photographer Mark Kurtz is offering a new winter portfolio of five small Adirondack prints.

The work of several artisans and artists who live and work in Chestertown, Minerva, Newcomb, North Creek, Olmstedville, Pottersville, Schroon Lake and Warrensburg can be found at Betty’s Funny Farm. Check out the cute knitted Mary Janes for baby.

When it comes to notecards we also like Mary Ballou Designs and biathlete Haley Johnson’s designs, but you have to go to Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid to get Haley’s.

And the Adirondack Museum store has great holiday cards, if you are really behind schedule.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Dec. 16)

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. 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 can be up to one to two feet deep across the central Adirondacks and up to a few feet deep at higher elevations.

** Thin Ice Safety
Waters have begun freezing over, but except for some smaller lakes and ponds are generally not safe to access. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Each year a number of people fall through thin 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: Chance of snow showers, mostly cloudy; high near 20
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers, cloudy, with a low around 5.
Saturday: Chance of snow showers, cloudy, with a high near 27.
Saturday Night: Chance of snow showers, coudy, with a low around 8.
Sunday: Chance of snow, cloudy, with a high near 19.

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
A warm front that came through the Adirondacks on Sunday, December 12, took much of the snow in the central Adirondacks. Since Sunday the temperatures have stayed low so that a frozen 2-inch base is now supporting additional accumulation of about 4 to 6 inches, except in the northern and western parts of the park and in St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Lewis counties which is seeing continued substantial snow. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 6 inches of powdery snow at the cabin. The exception is the lower southeast part of the park. There is still little 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 natural snow. 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 already open with a limited number of trails, about one-third. McCauley, Mount Pisgah, and Oak Mountain are all expected to open this weekend. The Big Tupper Ski Area had planned to open, but has postponed those plans for now. Cross country ski areas are beginning to open including Cascade in Lake Placid, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and Lapland near Northville.

** Cross Country / Backcountry Ski Report
There is little snow on the Keene Valley approach to the High Peaks including the Keene end of the Jackrabbit Trail. There is 4-6 inches of new snow on 1-2 inches of residual base in the Lake Placid area [conditions]. Skiers should limit themselves to gentler terrain with smooth surfaces. It’s recommended to avoid the steeper, rougher wilderness sections of the Jackrabbit Trail. The backcountry is still in iffy shape after the warm front and high winds took their toll last week. Skiing is generally possible only on trucks trails and maintained trails. There is still no skiing beyond Marcy Dam, but the Truck trail to Marcy Dam again reported skiable, as is the Hays Brook Truck Trail, and the Newcomb Lake Road to Camp Santanoni, and Burn Road in the Whitney Wilderness. Fish Pond is limited by thin snow about two miles in. Connery Pond is reported “not quite ready.” Ausable Lake Road probably not yet skiable.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
Except in parts of the Tug Hill plateau where snow continues to fall, last weeks warm front, wind and rain took a toll on the regions snowmobile trails. They are still very fragile with just an inch or two of base, and most trails around the region remain closed, including those on state land. 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.

** Ice Climbing Report
Ice has been rebuilding with cold weather that followed last Sunday’s melt. Climbable areas including Chapel Pond, Cascade Pass, the North side of Pitchoff. The Mineville Pillar, Roaring Brook Falls, are reported not yet climbable. There is ice at Multiplication Gulley, and Chillar Pillar, but it’s reported thin. In the backcountry Avalanche and Elk passes are climbable, as is Big Blue at Underwood Canyon. See additional detailed and up to date Ice Climbing Conditions here.

** Most Rivers Running Above Normal
Waters in the region are again running above normal for this time of year, the Hudson, Bouquet, Raquette, and Au Sable are running well above normal. Paddlers should use care and consult the latest streamgages data. Overnight paddlers should be aware that ice is beginning to form on some local waters.

Special Blowdown Notice
Fall storms caused blowdown throughout the Adirondacks. Trees, limbs, and branches may be found over and in trails, especially lesser used side trails.

Motorists Alert: Whitetail Deer
The peak period for deer-vehicle collisions is October through December, with the highest incidences occurring in November. This corresponds with the peak of the annual deer breeding cycle when deer are more active and less cautious in their movements. Approximately 65,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur throughout NYS each year and two-thirds of the annual collisions occur during this three month period. Most of the collisions occur between 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Motorists are advised that the best way to avoid a collision with a deer is to reduce speed and be alert for their presence on or near the highway.

Motorists Alert: Moose
There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.

** Hunting Seasons
Although fall hunting seasons for big game and waterfowl are over in the Adirondack region, some small game seasons are 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.

Ice Fishing Tip-Ups Can Now Be Used
Tip-ups may be operated on waters of New York State starting November 15, 2010 and continuing through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

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.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

** Ice: Ice has begun to form on all waters.

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.

Eighth Lake Takeout: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.

HIGH PEAKS

** 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.

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: Big game hunting seasons are closed. Public trails in the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands have reopened to the public.

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.

Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity.

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

Newcomb Lake – Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by 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.

Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been replaced.

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.

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

Bear Canisters: From now until April 1 bear resistant canisters are not required to be used in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness.

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.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.

Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

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.

Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Siamese Pond Wilderness: The bridge over Diamond Brook on the East Branch Sacandaga Trail near Eleventh Mt. Trailhead has been replaced.

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.

** Lake George Wild Forest: The snow cover has experienced a melting/freezing pattern. Some of the trails on the east side of the mountains have icy sections. Hikers should carry and use crampons on those icy sections of trail.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

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.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

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.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: There have been important developments; see new information here. Paddlers may want to avoid paddling through private land until the matter is resolved. Although DEC has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways and has sent adjacent landowners a letter asking them to remove the cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras put in place to deter the public from using the canoe route, the landowners have recently sued Phil Brown, editor of Adirondack Explorer, for trespass. DEC has warned them that failure to comply would require them to refer the matter to the state attorney general for legal action. “The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” the letter dated September 24th said.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.

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.

Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected by this regulation.

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

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.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

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.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dan Crane’s Backcountry Gear Gift Ideas

For those who have yet to finish their shopping this gift-giving season and are still struggling for ideas for the Adirondack backcountry enthusiast on their list help is now here. From backpacks to sleeping bags and hiking boots to tents, the choices available are enough to send even a seasoned backcountry expert running to their computer for hours of frustrating research. To shed some clarifying light on this situation here are some ideas for relatively inexpensive gifts that hopefully will make the whole process a little less daunting.

Every backcountry adventurer needs the basic navigation tools of map and compass. Although there are numerous different types of compasses to choose from the Silva Ranger 515 CL has been my go-to compass for over 10 years. This compass is one rugged piece of equipment that has always pointed me in the right direction. Other than some worn off print on the bottom and a slightly frayed lanyard, my Silva Ranger compass remains as reliable as it did when I first purchased it.

The Ranger 515 CL has an adjustable declination so it can be set based on the area you are currently exploring. The split-sighting mirror gives superior accuracy when navigating to distant landmarks. And the clinometer provides for measuring angles of inclination too. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for this outstanding compass is $55.

Backcountry light sources range from flashlights to headlamps. I prefer headlamps since it is often necssary to have your hands free while doing activities in the dark. With the many headlamps on the market it can be difficult to decide which would make a perfect gift for a backcountry explorer. Hopefully I will be able to shed a little light on this matter.

My current headlamp is a Petzel e+LITE Emergency Headlamp. Although this tiny light is marketed as an emergency headlamp I currently use it as my primary light anytime from mid-spring to mid-autumn. This light is super-lightweight weighing only 27 grams with batteries. It runs on two lithium watch batteries which last anywhere from 35 to 45 hours depending on the intensity of light.

The e+LITE provides 5 different modes including economy, maximum and pulse in white light, and economy and pulse in red light. Although the distance of light and the lack of a focus are disadvantages over traditional headlamps, the lightweight more than makes up for them. Plus there is a 10 year guarantee.

Integral Designs’ Silcoat Backpack is a perfect daypack to bring along on extended trips where reduced weight is paramount. This small daypack weighs a mere 4.5 oz. and can do double-duty as a stuff sack. The pack is made from lightweight silicone-impregnated nylon and features 2 webbing shoulder straps and a removable 1” polyester webbing belt. The manufacture’s suggested retail price is $50.

This pack can be used on those days where a short hike from a base camp is planned and a full pack is just too much to carry. But be careful, this pack is not recommended for loads exceeding 12 lbs, for carrying sharp objects or bushwhacking through dense spruce/fir forests. I often carry this pack for those occasions where I might take a short day hike and would rather not haul my main backpack.

Sleeping pads can be an important part of one’s arsenal of sleeping equipment. Finding a lightweight alternative can be difficult since it often requires giving up on comfort. One of my favorite sleeping pads is Texsport’s Pack-Lite Sleeping Pad.

This sky blue sleeping pad is extremely lightweight, weatherproof, water resistant, full length (20” x 72”) and made from closed cell foam (3/8” thick). If you find full-length pads to be an unnecessary luxury then it can easily be trimmed down to the appropriate size. The best feature of this pad is its incredible low price of only $10.99.

The only downside to the Pack-Lite Sleeping Pad is its really bad out-gassing. I would seriously suggest you set it out in a well ventilated space for a few days before using it.

In the years when I first started venturing into the Adirondack backcountry I carried a large hunting knife. After many trips where I typically used it only to cut food wrappers I could not rip apart with my teeth I finally realized the foolishness of carrying such a heavy knife.

Now I carry the lightest Swiss Army knife available in the Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Knife. This knife weighs only 1 oz. and includes a small knife, scissors (for those tough food wrappers), toothpick, tweezers (for first aid purposes), fine screwdriver and nail file. Although this knife comes in black, green or red, I would strongly suggest the red color as it stands out on a dark forest floor the best.

In my early days of backcountry exploration I not only carried a large hunting knife but multiple Nalgene bottles as well. Now I have replaced them with some lightweight alternatives.

One lightweight alternative to a bulky water bottle is a 1 liter Platypus collapsible bottle. These bottles are extremely lightweight (0.8 oz) and are fully collapsible. The collapsible feature is handy since as you empty the bottle it takes up a less room in your backpack.

I have noted some concern from skeptics about the water bottle being punctured but in the 10+ years I have had them leak only along the upper seams (and this was most likely due to wear of leaving them unattended while attached to my gravity filter multiple times). Plus they are BPA free and lined with taste free plastic.

Although it might be difficult to imagine around this time of year but spring will be here before you know it. And with spring in the Adirondacks comes the most dreaded of all biting flies: the black fly.

The best way to be prepared for bug season is with an OR Deluxe Spring Ring Headnet. This headnet contains a steel ring for holding the netting away from your face yet it only weighs 2.2 oz. This headnet is colored black to minimize interference with vision. And this headnet is no-see-um proof too. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for this headnet is $18.

Every backcountry adventurer needs at least a single towel for those occasional bathings. The MSR Packtowl Ultralite is the lightest, most compact microfiber towel on the market. It weighs next to nothing and folds up to a very small space. These towels come in 4 different sizes from x-large to small to meet all your drying needs. This towel soaks 4 times its weight in water and then easily wrings out almost completely dry.

By rolling up your wet backcountry laundry in this towel and wringing both of them together the towel absorbs a vast amount of water. This can significantly reduce the amount of time necessary to dry out your favorite hiking clothing while out in the field.

Hopefully these ideas will help those still struggling with that hard to buy for backcountry explorer on their gift list. Or at the very least, you will know what NOT to buy me since I already have all of the products described above.

Happy Holidays!

Photo: Inexpensive miscellaneous backcountry gear by Dan Crane.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at http://www.bushwhackingfool.com/.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weekend: Speed Skating Marathon in Lake Placid

Long Track Marathon Speed Skating is coming to Lake Placid on December 18th and 19th for the annual Lake Placid Speed Skating Marathon. A Marathon Skating International (MSI) and Lake Placid Speed Skating Club event, the marathon is one of several in a series of ice marathons that take place throughout North America.

The race distances include 10K, 25K, and 40K, which translates to 25 laps, 40 laps, and 104 laps skated on the 400 meter Olympic Speed Skating Oval. Skaters ranging in age from 10-80 have been known to participate, and participants are from the United States and Canada. Marathon Skating is a popular discipline in North America but even more so in Europe.

A popular race in Holland, Elfstedentocht, (also known as the eleven cities tour) started the tradition of skating long distances. Marathon Racing is especially popular in Canada, and many marathons are held there; one of the most well-known is the Big Rideau Lake Speed Skating Marathon in Portland, Ontario. Lake Placid is one of the few venues in the United States that hosts a skating marathon every year.

Lake Placid Speed Skating Club will be hosting more speed skating races, the Charles Jewtraw All Around (all distances) on January 8th and 9th and the Jack Shea Sprints (sprint distances) to be announced. For more information about marathon skating and speed skating in Lake Placid, visit http://www.marathonskating.org and http://lakeplacidspeed.sports.officelive.com/default.aspx


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fiscal, Public Services Issues Plague ACR Project

There are many important issues for adjudication of the Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) when the public hearing eventually begins, but perhaps the most telling will be ACR fiscal, public services, energy, housing and community impacts. These issues are incorporated in two questions which the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) ordered to go to adjudicatory public hearing way back in February, 2007. And that was a year before the great recession started to be deeply felt.

Here are two of the ten issues for adjudication which the APA ordered three and a half years ago:

Issue No. 5: What are the fiscal impacts of the project to the governmental units should any phase or section of the project not be completed as proposed? What is the public vulnerability should the project either fail or not proceed at its projected pace related to on and off site infrastructure? Or on private infrastructure that may be subject to eventual operation by the town? What is the ability to provide to provide municipal or emergency services to any section in light of the road design or elevation?

Issue No. 6 requires the consideration of the burden on and benefits to the public. What are the positive and negative economic impacts of the project (including fiscal impacts) to the governmental units? What are the impacts of the project on the municipal electric system’s ability to meet future demand? To what extent will conservation mitigate demand impacts? What are the assumptions and guarantees that the Big Tupper Ski area can be renovated and retained as a community resource? What are the current and expected market conditions related to available housing for the project workforce? What are the impacts of the project on the local housing market?

Any one of these questions deserves to be the subject of a lengthy report, and hopefully each of them will be deeply plumbed and closely scrutinized by the APA and others during the hearing. Remember that in 2006 – a full two years before the recession hit – Tupper Lake retained a number of independent experts on these subjects to advise the Town about burdens and benefits from the ACR. The developer was to pay for their services. These were good moves on the town’s part. Collectively these consultants were known as The Hudson Group, and each individual in that consulting group had a particular expertise. I am confident the APA and the Town have kept their reports and will enter relevant parts into the hearing record. I do recall reading them in 2006. The consultants poured over the original ACR application which, despite the applicant’s assertions, in my opinion has not substantively changed much over the course of five years. The consultants found, at least preliminarily, serious deficiencies or concerns. Some of the consultant concerns I remember reading about were:

1. the applicant’s analysis of market demand for the resort
2. The applicant’s math when it came to underestimating project cost and overestimating developed property values and sales.
3. the high tax burdens posed by the high level of public services which the resort would impose
4. Payments in lieu of taxes, which could shortchange Tupper Lake taxing districts in favor of bond holders.
5. Reduced state school payments that could result based on the state formula which rewards areas with overall low property valuations (which the high values of resort homes would skew upwards).

There were many other topics and concerns raised by the consultants. The Hudson Group was never allowed to finish their work. As I recall, Michael Foxman didn’t appreciate a lot of what he was reading in the preliminary reports and stopped paying the consultants. While the Town did try to get him to release more funds, that effort was mostly fruitless. The media, as I recall, devoted little coverage to The Hudson Group reports. It was left to concerned citizens and organizations to delve into them.

Given three years of recession, one wonders how The Hudson Group would respond now to the current ACR application. Just 50 or so housing units have been cut from the ACR project since 2006. There are at least twelve additional Great Camps proposed now than were proposed in 2006. Further, in a letter made public this fall, the NYS DEC has raised innumerable concerns about ACR’s incomplete and deficient descriptions and assessments of stormwater and sewage treatment. There still is no certified professional engineering study of how sewage will get to the village plant miles and a causeway away from ACR. It is probable, therefore, that the costs of sewage and stormwater have just gone up dramatically, along with the potential future burdens on the town for operating and fixing this infrastructure as it ages.

With housing and market demand still deeply impacted by the recession, we find the developer of the FrontStreet resort in North Creek – permitted by APA in 2008 – cutting way back on his commitments for upfront infrastructure construction and service payments, original demands wisely made by the Town of Johnsburg which contrasted markedly with the absence of demands made by Tupper Lake on Michael Foxman et.al. According to the current Adirondack Explorer, FrontStreet developers have completed only one building out of the 149 units approved by the APA in spring, 2008.

One of the municipal topics given the least attention when the ACR was sent to hearing in 2007, and one given the most attention in the FrontStreet permit issued by APA a year later, were energy costs and demands, a carbon budget for the development, energy efficiency and energy performance. Here is a very rich area for investigation at the ACR hearing. What is the “carbon footprint” of the proposed ACR? How much carbon dioxide would be released simply from clearing the trees and bulldozing the soils around the building and road/driveway sites, to say nothing of heating, cooling the homes over time? How much carbon dioxide would be absorbed if development were clustered, and forests preserved intact, or harvested and sustainably managed as a source of alternative biofuel to displace use of heating oil? Even if built to LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) standards, how much electrical power would these resort dwellings really draw from the new 46-kV line to Tupper Lake, and thus what are its real impacts on future demand and electric capacity?

I urge the APA and others to give all these questions a hard look with expert testimony at the hearing. I think that was the expectation of Agency commissioners in 2007 and I hope it remains so today.

Photo: From summit of Mt. Morris, looking at chairlift, Tupper Lake marsh, Rt. 30 causeway, Raquette River and in center mid-distance, Cranberry Pond. This was taken on the only field trip offered by the applicant – in spring 2007.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ski Area, Wild Center Museum Offer ‘See and Ski’

The Wild Center and Big Tupper Ski Area are partnering again to offer skiers a great day on and off the slopes for just 15 bucks.

From opening day at Big Tupper (scheduled for this Friday December 17th) until Sunday, March 27th people who purchase either a ticket to The Wild Center or a day pass to ski at Big Tupper will get a pass to the other venue for free. Both the ski mountain and the Center have adult tickets priced at $15, and the free ticket can be redeemed for up to two weeks from when they are issued. You can buy a museum ticket one day, and hold off on the skiing until the next dump of snow or vice versa. Tickets are non-transferable.

This is the second season that Big Tupper will open with support from the community. Big Tupper is opening a new chairlift to the top of the mountain that will run on Saturdays and Sundays, giving skiers and riders 1,200 feet of vertical. The Wild Center opened in 2006. It’s filled with live exhibits on the nature of the Adirondacks and has received rave reviews from The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today.

Both the mountain and the Center are open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays all winter. The Wild Center offers Wild Winter Weekends, with a full slate of indoor and outdoor activities and presentations. The museum website hosts an outdoor webcam that shows local snow conditions.

“The community is coming together to make Tupper Lake the place to be this winter,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “It is so exciting to have two great things, so close to each other, for families to do this winter. Where else can you spend the morning on the slopes and then warm up with hot chocolate and an otter program in the afternoon. The best part is that it doesn’t break the bank.”

“Last year was so inspiring on so many levels for us,” said Jim LaValley of Ski Big Tupper. “So many people said it couldn’t be done, but we did it. The same was said before The Wild Center was built, and here it stands today. It just goes to show when people work together, anything can be achieved. We are thrilled to be working with The Wild Center again this winter.”

Learn more at www.wildcenter.org and at www.skibigtupper.org.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Diane Chase: Author/Illustrator Steven Kellogg

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™

Children of all ages are most likely familiar with one of the over 100 children’s books illustrated by Steven Kellogg. If you are one of the few unfamiliar with his work the opportunity to right such a travesty is at hand.

Children’s book author/illustrator Steven Kellogg will be in Essex this Saturday along with University of Vermont history lecturer Andy Buchanan to celebrate the holidays with a narration of The Incredible History of Samuel de Champlain’s Cat and Kellogg’s book, The Island of Skog.

Starting at 4:00 p.m. on December 18th, this benefit for the North Country Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals (NCSPCA) will be held at Whallonsburg Grange Hall.

“Steven is a generous supporter of the shelter,” explains Margaret Reuther, President of the Board of Directors for the NCSPCA. “There will be a reading with Andy Buchanan loosely based on the history of Samuel de Champlain’s cat. Steven and Andy wrote it together. It is wonderful. Steven is glorious drawing on the spot. We had done a similar event in the summer and it turned out so well that we thought it would be wonderful to do another near Christmas. One of our goals for the organization is to gain positive feelings for our shelter. We also hope to raise some much needed money.”

In the second part of the evening’s activities, Kellogg will again be illustrating on the spot while retelling his popular book The Island of Skog. The drawings created onsite will be part of a Silent Auction. Kellogg is also donating 50% of the sale of two of his books, And I Love You and The Island of Skog to the animal shelter. Both of which can be personally autographed at the event. Cider and cookies will be served and all proceeds will benefit the NCSPCA.

“The North Country SPCA is the only animal shelter for all of Essex Country, one of the largest counties for New York State,” says Reuther. “Each year we care for over 400 homeless, abandoned and abused cats and dogs. We have an amazing staff that works extraordinarily hard to give loving care to these cats and dogs,” says Reuther. “We give medical care to the animals. We spay and neuter. Our goal is to find a loving family for each and every animal. We are also a no kill shelter. We welcome volunteers. We encourage everyone to come and visit.”

Reuther explains that some volunteers have a specific routine and spend a few hours a week walking dogs or cleaning cat cages. Other volunteers may show up sporadically and help out where they are needed.

“We love volunteers,” say Reuther. “We have people that will come and walk the dogs and foster the cats. Our shelter manager, Pam Rock, is truly extraordinary so anyone interested should call and talk with her. We even have teenage volunteers that will show up after school. It is a great way to help out.”

Reuther understands that not everyone is able to have a pet. Volunteering at the NCSPCA is an opportunity for families and young children to see the level of care necessary for keeping an animal. Allowing children to assist with these homeless animals will help them grow into responsible pet owners.

“I know one family that has been coming with their eight-year-old child every Sunday to walk dogs,” Reuther explains. “We also have an older couple that do not have a dog but they travel frequently so they come two or three times a week. It is a wide gamut of people. ”

The organization does there best to care for “surrendered” animals. Reuther admits the task seems endless. She briefly mentions how the NCSPCA is overflowing with cats. There are no New York State laws pertaining to cats. There are dog control officers but nothing for cats. She encourages people to contact Pam at the shelter whether they have to give up a family pet or have found a stray.

So perhaps all the holiday shopping isn’t yet complete or one more gift can be squeezed into that stocking. Adopting a pet isn’t the only option to help out animals in need this season. To enjoy the reading and watch Kellogg ply his craft live, the NCSPCA asks for a donation of $5.00 per adult while children under 12 are free.



photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 




Tuesday, December 14, 2010

John Warren: Protecting Our Open Forests

Taking a look at the discussion on Phil Brown’s piece yesterday – largely a debate over whether we should open roads in wilderness areas to mountain bikes and other uses – I found myself thankful that there are still a few people like Dan Plumley and Adirondack Wild who have a larger and deeper understanding of what wilderness is and why it’s important. Here’s some of what Plumley had to say in that discussion:

“It is all too easy for us to think of our own recreational desires first and forget about the long term goals of gaining, over time, truly wild conditions of relatively intact wilderness protected by law and our state constitution. Given the biodiversity values, the potential for moose, possibly wolf and mountain lion recovery eventually, watershed preservation and truly remote – by foot and paddle – experiences without mechanized vehicles (including like it or not, mountain bikes), these rare opportunities are too important for the future to short cut.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Phil Brown: The Future of the Whitney Wilderness

On Saturday I went skiing on the Burn Road in the William C. Whitney Wilderness. It’s one of those ski routes that don’t require a lot of snow, ideal for early-season outings.

My ski trip was uneventful. I enjoyed a few glimpses of Little Tupper Lake through the trees, saw lots of snow fleas and several deer beds, and discovered an unusual outhouse decorated with paintings of evergreens. When the warming snow started clumping on my skis, I decided to turn around after three and a half miles.

The state bought Little Tupper Lake and surrounding lands—nearly fifteen thousand acres in all—from the Whitney family in 1997. After the purchase, there was a public debate over whether the tract should be classified as Wilderness or Wild Forest.

One of the arguments against designating the tract Wilderness—the strictest of the Forest Preserve land classifications—is that it just didn’t look like wilderness. The woods had been heavily logged and were crisscrossed with logging roads, of which the Burn Road is only one. And then there were the buildings on the shore of Little Tupper.

The anti-Wilderness folks had a point. Skiing the Burn Road is the not a breathtaking experience. The above photo of snowy evergreens shows one of the more attractive scenes from my trip. Most of the forest is skinny hardwoods. A wide road cut through a logged-over forest is a far cry from my idea of pristine wilderness.

But let’s face it: there is very little pristine wilderness in this part of world. The Forest Preserve is full of evidence of human history: abandoned woods roads, rusting logging machines, foundations of farmhouses, old orchards, even gravesites. If we were to require that Wilderness be free of all signs of the human past, we might end up with no Wilderness at all.

The aim of Wilderness regulations is not always to preserve wilderness; perhaps more often than not, it is to restore wilderness. In time, the trees will grow big, moss will cover the crumbling foundations, and nature will reclaim the old roads.

Skiing back to my car, I was cheered by the thought that in fifty or a hundred years, this wide road may be a narrow corridor passing through a forest of stately yellow birch and red spruce. Skiers of the future will thank us for restoring this place to its natural condition.

Photo of the Burn Road by Phil Brown

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Adirondack Celebrity: Centenarian Charles Jennette

In 1936, at a birthday party in the Adirondacks, the honoree said he would be married within two years. He died six years later, but in that short time he made headlines across the state and the country on several occasions. During that span, he received more than 100 letters and 9 personal visits from female suitors; became engaged; was dumped the day before the wedding; was the guest of honor at several dinners, birthday parties, and parades; regularly mowed his lawn with a scythe; joined a ski club; and received the Purple Heart for war injuries.

Those are interesting, but relatively normal life events. Unless, of course, at that party in 1936, the birthday boy was turning 99 years old. Review it all from that perspective, and now you’ve got something.

Meet Charles Jennette, for a time the most famous man in the Adirondacks. His greatest notoriety came in his 100th year when he became engaged to Ella Blanch Manning, a New York City woman who had attended his 99th birthday party several weeks earlier. Days before the wedding, the Albany headline read “100 Called Too Old to Marry; Man Will Take 3d Wife at 99.”

But just 24 hours before the wedding, and after a visit with her daughters, Ella changed her mind. Already a media sensation, and despite being left high and dry, Charles continued with his post-wedding plans of a boat ride and dinner, remaining hopeful of marriage in the near future. After many interviews, he was only too happy to return to an otherwise, quiet, humble life.

Jennette was born in Maine in 1837. The family moved to Canada when he was five, and returned to the US when the Civil War began. At Malone, Charles enlisted for three years with Company A, 95th NY Volunteers, but served only nine months. His time was cut short in 1865 when he was wounded in the Battle of Hatcher’s Run (also known as Dabney’s Mills) in Virginia. He was still in the hospital when the war ended.

In 1866, he married Emily Proulx in Ottawa, a union that would endure for 57 years. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Charles tried to enlist at the age of 61 but was refused. He lived much of his life in the St. Regis Falls area as a lumberman, toiling in partnership for many years with his son, John.

They ended the business relationship in December 1915 when Charles was 78, and in the following year he built a cottage at Old Forge. In 1921, the 84-year-old was one of only 6 attendees at the final meeting of the Durkee Post GAR in St. Regis Falls. GAR represents Grand Army of the Republic, the title given to Union forces in the Civil War. Few veterans survived, so the local group was discontinued.

His wife, Emily, died in the mid-1920s. Charles soon began spending summers in Old Forge and winters in Ilion (near Herkimer), while making regular visits to family in Tupper Lake. He married for a second time (January 1935, in Montreal), but his new bride died just two months later.

He was generally known as a remarkable old-timer until fame arrived in 1936 when, at his 98th birthday party, Charles announced he expected to wed again before he reached 100 (because “over 100 is too old”). Several hundred people attended the festivities.

After addressing more than a hundred female suitors (ages 42 to 72), he made plans to marry Ella Manning. Instead, at 99, he became America’s most famous groom to be jilted at the altar.

After that, it seemed anything he did was remarkable, and at such an advanced age, it certainly was. In 1937 (age 100) he rode in a Memorial Day parade as guest of honor. Shortly after his 101st birthday, he attended the Gettysburg Annual GAR Convention 72 years after his combat days had ended.

In 1940, on his 103rd birthday, he used a scythe to mow the lawn, and otherwise continued his daily ritual—trekking nearly two miles to retrieve the mail, and taking time to read the daily newspapers (and he didn’t need glasses!). Yearly, he made maple syrup in the spring and tended a garden each summer.

In August 1940 at Oneida Square in Utica, Charles was honored in a ceremony at the Soldiers’ Monument, which was built in 1891 to memorialize the Utica men who “risked their lives to save the Union.” Seventy-five years after suffering wounds in battle, Charles Jennette became a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (formed during WW I).

At age 104, perhaps still holding a marriage possibility in the back of his mind, Charles became the first male allowed to join the Old Forge Sno-Flakes, an all-girls’ ski club. He soon expressed regret at not having taken up skiing “when I was young, say 70 or so.”

In mid-1942, in support of the WW II effort, a photo of Charles purchasing war bonds was widely distributed among newspapers. He continued to attend American Legion rallies and make other appearances. Finally, in December of that year, he passed away at the age of 105.

Photo Top: At age 99, Charles Jennette with his fiancé, Ella Manning.

Photo Bottom: One of many headlines generated by Jennette’s story.

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.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Commentary: The Truth About Property Rights

They’re at it again. A small number of so-called “property rights advocates” are spreading falsehoods about development in the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), and our local economy to further their wider anti-conservation political agendas.

This time it’s a column by Karen Moreau, a Hudson Valley attorney who is president of the newly-formed Foundation for Land and Liberty. You remember them, the group Plattsburgh Press-Republican reporter Kim Smith-Dedam called “a new legal resource founded to protect one of the oldest American rights.”

It turns out that Karen Moreau, and apparently her Foundation for Land and Liberty, has no hesitation about misleading the public when it comes to the Adirondacks. Take a look at her commentary at the NY Post (surprise, surprise, Fred Monroe’s go-to tabloid). It’s full of lies, obfuscations, and what NCPR’s Brian Mann calls “goofy” accusations. Pull up a stool and let’s review a few:

Claim 1: There is a “de facto ban on development in the Adirondack Park.”

On what planet does one have to live on to make this claim? Most of the men I know have spent the last ten to fifteen working in the housing construction industry. Until the last year or so they were busy building thousands of first and second homes. NCPR’s Brian Mann, who called Moreau’s commentary “full out flat out errors,” offers a more accurate perspective: “Over the last decade, in-Park communities have seen a massive influx of private capital, investment and development to the tune of billions of dollars. Investors have built and bought their way to one of the most robust second-home markets in the US. Literally thousands of homes have been built, many with APA permits and many more in parts of the Park where no permits are required.”

Claim 2: “Approval for nearly any kind of land-based investment in the “park” lies chiefly with a single agency — the Adirondack Park Agency.”

As Brian Mann indicated in the quote above, the APA is responsible for oversight of a small portion of development in the Adirondack Park. The APA reviews applications on only about 20 percent of permit-requiring development activities in the park. Not to mention the fact that the APA overwhelming approves those projects, and by that I mean the APA approves nearly every single application it sees. In other words, the APA simply works to keep development activities in some general bounds of good environmental stewardship (and not very effectively at even that). The APA very rarely reject projects – almost never.

Claim 3: “APA enforcement actions, with the threat of millions of dollars in fines against ordinary citizens, has literally ruined lives and contributed to a stagnant and declining upstate economy.”

I challenge Moreau to provide the evidence that our economy is anymore stagnant or declining than any other rural area around the state. To the contrary, as Brain Mann noted, “the state of New York spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year in the Adirondacks — far more per capita than in any other part of the state.” The single case she uses to back her “threat of millions of dollars in fines against ordinary citizens” claim is the Sandy Lewis case. A millionaire financier who fought tooth and nail and won his case against the APA, including legal fees – no life ruined there. Civil penalties in 2009 ranged from $100 to $4,000 – that is the fact. Enforcement is down overall from 496 cases in 2008, to 467 in 2009, and just 392 cases as of the end of October this year. And by the way, the APA has won against more than 100 lawsuits, and has lost less than five.

Claim 4: An alliance of green groups, the DEC, and the APA “has delayed for seven years the approvals to develop the Adirondack Club and Resort [ACR] in Tupper Lake, which would create hundreds of jobs.”

Apparently our great defender of property rights doesn’t care to mention that the ACR developers have won the right to SEIZE the private property of others for their own profit. Forget for a minute the “hundreds of jobs” nonsense, according to Brian Mann: “A significant part of that delay (not all, to be sure) was caused by the developers, who asked repeatedly for the permitting process to be delayed, took long periods to respond to requests for information, and then asked that the process be diverted into alternative mediation.”

Claim 5: “The notorious bureaucracy has deterred anyone from even bidding on Camp Gabriels.”

This is an unbelievable assertion, and frankly, laughable. The APA has nothing to do with the sale of Camp Gabriels. This claim really makes me wonder just how woefully misinformed Moreau and the Foundation for Land and Liberty are about the Adirondacks.

Claim 6: “The state’s been fueling the APA’s power by buying up land and rewarding the wealthy and powerful Nature Conservancy with millions in profits for their role in facilitating the transactions.”

This has already be shown to be a baseless assertion, one that even the editorial board of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise (ADE) couldn’t accept. Repeating it shows Moreau to be dishonest and clearly not interested in the facts. As the ADE editorial put it, that assertion “smacks of gossip.” I second their call: “if it’s true, prove it with a credible source.” Moreau won’t because it’s not true. Just ask Fred Monroe, who told the ADE: “I don’t know if that’s true at all.”

All that aside, you’d think a “property rights” advocate would accept that people have the right to sell their land to whoever they like – including the state and the Nature Conservancy. If you think the state shouldn’t acquire more land, fine, but don’t make up lies to bolster your opinions.

We deserve more honesty from those who oppose outright, or seek to scale back, the Forest Preserve system and Adirondack Park conservation. Considering the track record lately, I don’t think we’ll get it.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Adirondack Stats: Winter Sports

Year of the first known winter ascent of Mount Marcy: 1893

Number of recorded “Winter” 46ers as of May 2010: 467

Year volunteers cut the first trails on Gore Mountain: 1931

Approximate number of ski facilities, downhill and cross-country in the Adirondacks today: 30

Year in which Jim Goodwin and Bob Notman made the first ascent of the Chapel Pond Slab: 1936

Approximate number of ice climbing routes today: 100 on 13 major cliffs

Year in which Polaris Industries’ introduced the “Pol-Cat,” the first modern snowmobile: 1954

Approximate number of miles of groomed snowmobile trails on state land today: 800

Year of the first winter sports festival in Lake Placid: 1914

Amount of state taxpayers money ORDA received in 2010: $5.6 million

Amount ORDA contributes to the local economy: about $300 million

Estimated number of people employed by the winter economy in the Old Forge area: 500 to 1,000

Sources, Press Republican, Climate Change in the Adirondacks, ORDA, Lee Manchester, “Santa’s Historians” [pdf], John Warren “Adirondack Snowmobile History“.



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