Monday, December 6, 2010

Adirondack Crime: In Dogged Pursuit of Justice

It had all the earmarks of a spectacular trial: bitterness between neighbors; a vicious, bloody assault; a fearless victim who nearly beat his attacker to death; two opponents of great wealth; and a pair of noted New York City attorneys handling the prosecution and defense. It was potentially a North Country showdown of mammoth proportions.

Court proceedings were held in the boathouse of Dr. Samuel B. Ward, a founder of the Upper Saranac Association. Ward was famous in his own right as past president of the NYS Medical Society; dean of Albany Medical College and a 40-year faculty member; and regular Adirondack fishing and hunting companion of President Grover Cleveland.

Judge Newell Lee of Santa Clara was saddled with handling court opponents who were famous, wealthy, and certainly accustomed to getting their way. The defendant, Emil Ernest Gabler, was heir to and CEO of the Gabler Piano Company, one of the top players in the industry for the past fifty years. The plaintiff was Mrs. Edgar Van Etten, whose husband was a vice-president of the New York Central, president of the Cuban Eastern Railway, and had partnered with John Jacob Astor and W. Seward Webb in other enterprises.

There was no shortage of cash among the participants, and each side hired some of the best legal representation available. Defending Gabler was New York City’s George K. Jack, who had spent many hours arguing cases before the NYS Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. Prosecuting on behalf of Van Etten was Lamar Hardy, Corporate Counsel from New York City and a partner in the firm of Bothby, Baldwin, and Hardy.

The makeshift courtroom was filled with an unusual mix of spectators—chauffeurs, maids, groundskeepers, guides, tourists—and tongues wagged as the tale was told. Oddly enough, the only one absent from the proceedings was the attacker. By US law, that just didn’t seem right. After all, a defendant has the right to face his accuser.

But this was no ordinary case. Incredibly, the bloody attack had come from the side of the accuser, Van Etten, while it was the defendant, Gabler, who had been attacked. And, despite all those interesting details, the focus of all the attention was on the one non-attendee, the insidious attacker, identified as … a dog.

In 1911, Gabler and the Van Ettens were not-so-friendly neighbors among the luxurious camps along Hoel Pond near Upper Saranac Lake. For all their wealth, it apparently didn’t occur to them to build a fence. On October 4, Van Etten’s prize French bulldog entered the grounds of Gabler’s camp and attacked his dog.

The chauffeurs from both camps managed to separate the combatants, and Van Etten’s chauffeur retrieved the bulldog to return it to its owner. Gabler, without pause, grabbed the dog, which firmly latched on to his thumb and refused to let go. He reacted by beating the dog over the head.

When Mrs. Van Etten was told of the incident, she went to Gabler’s camp and reportedly said, “I hope you get hydrophobia.” She then filed a complaint with the SPCA, and Gabler was arrested for cruelty to animals.

A few days later the celebrated trial was held—a serious case among the wealthy, but conducted to the great bemusement of many spectators. The combatants doggedly argued over points of law as if it was a life-and-death homicide case. And the bitterness that had developed between the two families came out frequently during testimony, despite many admonitions from Judge Lee to do nothing more than stick to the issue at hand.

Among the evidence entered was the cudgel (a stick or club) used to hit the dog (it was charged that the dog was “cudgeled”); the dog’s collar; and the extent of Gabler’s hand injuries. An important witness for the defense was the fetching Mrs. Gabler, who testified for nearly an hour.

The prosecution was best served by Van Etten, who was on the verge of tears as she described her prize dog when she saw it, “ … unconscious, with his tongue black and protruding, his body apparently stiffened in death.” The dog did, in fact, survive, but did not appear in court because, as the dog’s attorney stated, “It was feared he might attack his old enemy, Mr. Gabler, in court.”

But Van Etten’s conduct otherwise did little to help her case, and she was soon in the judge’s doghouse. Her lawyer, Hardy, tried to keep her on a short leash, but to no avail. Displaying little regard for court etiquette, she constantly hounded the judge and witnesses, prompting constant warnings by Judge Lee and both attorneys to remain silent.

Finally, frustrated with the entire process and sensing she was about to lose, Van Etten put her tail between her legs and left the courtroom. She was still absent an hour later when Gabler was acquitted of “cruelly and maliciously beating a prize French brindle bulldog” (brindle refers to the lightly striped fur).

With great interest among the higher breeds of society, the full story was reported on the social pages of the New York Times. Despite all the wealth and fanfare, the case boiled down to common-sense justice voiced by Judge Lee, who said Gabler did, in fact, beat the dog, but only after he was bitten. The entire incident lasted 23 days, which translates to several months in dog years.

Photo Top: Mrs. Edgar Van Etten.

Photo Middle: Emil Ernest Gabler.

Photo Bottom: A French brindle bulldog.

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.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Adirondack Stats: Ice Harvesting

Amount of ice per year consumed by New Yorkers in 1850: 300,000 tons

Amount of ice consumed per person in American cities in 1880: 2/3 of a ton

Months during which ice was typically harvested: January, February, and sometimes March

Minimum favorable thickness of ice at harvest time: 10-12 inches

Approximate number of men employed harvesting ice from Lake Champlain in 1890: 5,000

Approximate amount of “natural ice” harvested each year in the 1920s by the Meagher Ice Company of Saranac Lake: 10,000 tons

Tons of ice harvested in 1932 by the Lake George Ice Company for use by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad: 20,000 tons

Decade in which the Adirondack ice industry came to an end: 1930s

Approximate number of ice blocks harvested by Jim Dillon (owner of Raquette Lake Supply Co.) and about two dozen volunteers in 2009: 1,000

Year in which New Bremen began harvesting ice again: 1964 (their ice house was built in 1971)

Cost of an 18-inch square block of New Bremen ice: $4.00

Sources: Tissot’s Adirondack Ice


Saturday, December 4, 2010

The DeLong House: An 1880s Christmas

For the 2010 holiday season the Chapman Historical Museum’s historic DeLong House will be decorated to reflect the Christmas customs of the 1880s. Throughout the house visitors will find ribbons and flowers not only in the familiar red associated with the holiday, but also in burgundy, mauve and white – colors used in homes one hundred thirty years ago. The house also will feature centerpieces reproduced from period illustrations, hand-made velveteen tree ornaments and snowflakes cut from patterns of the time.

Tours will explore changes in the customs of Christmas from the 1850s to the mid 20th century. Included will be information about popular music, literature, children’s toys and even how our vision of Santa Claus changed over the decades from the first illustrated version of “The Night before Christmas” to the 1930s. A display of early 20th century postcards will provide visitors with a delightful glimpse at the variety of holiday greetings people could send to each other one hundred years ago.

The holiday display will be open through January 2, 2011. Public hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, Sunday, noon – 4 pm. The museum will be closed on December 24 & 25 and January 1. Admission is free. Donations are welcome. For more info call (518) 793-2826.


Friday, December 3, 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.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Lake George Invasives Fight Costs in The Millions

Eurasian milfoil was discovered in Lake George in 1985; since then, approximately $3.6 million dollars have been spent to control the spread of the invasive aquatic plant.

Add to that the value of the time spent administering programs and writing grants, as well the cost of educating the public about the dangers of spreading invasives, and $3.6 million becomes a figure that easily exceeds $7 million.

“We’ve been conducting a milfoil management program since 1995, when the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation turned the program over to us,” said Mike White, the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. “We’ve employed methods like hand harvesting, suction harvesting and laying benthic barriers over the plants, but we’ve only had enough resources to contain milfoil, and not enough eradicate it.” » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Stars on Ice Celebrates 25th Anniversary

A long standing Lake Placid tradition, Stars on Ice debuted the first show of their 25th Anniversary tour on Saturday. Headlined by 2010 Men’s Olympic Gold medalist Evan Lysacek and 2006 Women’s Olympic Silver medalist Sasha Cohen, the theme of the show was remembering past skaters and celebration of current champions.

In addition to Lysacek and Cohen, the show starred well-known skaters like 2006 Ice Dance Olympic Silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, 2002 Olympic Pairs Gold medalists Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, two time Olympic Gold medalist Ekaterina Goordeeva (who competed in pairs with late husband Sergei Grinkov), and four-time World Champion Kurt Browning. Other cast members included 1996 World champion Todd Eldredge, 2010 Women’s Bronze medalist Joannie Rochette, and two time World Bronze medalist Michael Weiss.

Stars on Ice was created in 1986 by Scott Hamilton and his agent when his contract was not renewed for Ice Capades. Since then, the show has become “the world’s premier ice show” and the only current skating show featuring a cast of Olympic and World champions. Past cast members have included Jo Jo Starbuck & Ken Shelley, Brian Orser, Kurt Browning, Paul Wylie, Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean, Kristi Yamaguchi, Ekaterina Gordeeva & Sergei Grinkov, Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman, Tara Lipinski, Katarina Witt, Ilia Kulik, Jamie Sale & David Pelletier, Elena Berezhnaya & Anton Sikharulidze, Alexei Yagudin, and Sarah Hughes. The show has won four Emmy Awards for Choreography and Costume Design, and won an ACE Cable Award for the Best Sports Special.

The tour will resume on February 18th in San Jose, California; for more information, visit their website at www.starsonice.com.


Friday, December 3, 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.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Dec. 2)

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

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).

Fire Danger: LOW

** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Chance of light snow showers; mostly cloudy, high near 31.
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers; cloudy, low around 25.
Saturday: Chance of snow showers; cloudy, high near 30.
Saturday Night: Chance of snow showers; cloudy, low around 18.
Sunday: Chance of snow showers; cloudy, high near 30.

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]

** Recent Storm Impacts
Winds topping 70 mph caused power outages and road closures around the region this week. Whiteface Mountain observation equipment recorded winds as high as 76 mph.

** Snow and Ice Report
Daytime temperatures below freezing can be expected at all elevations. Whiteface and Gore are open with a limited number of trails, but cross country ski areas across the region are still waiting on mother nature. Aside from along the westernmost slopes of the Western Adirondack region where heavy snow has recently fallen, rains have melted much of the snow cover and it doesn’t appear that enough new snow has fallen in the Central Adirondacks / High Peaks regions to make any backcountry trails skiable, although Whiteface Memorial Highway should be skiable this weekend. The Interior Caretaker reports an inch of new snow has covered bare ground at Lake Colden. More snow may be found in higher elevations and summits. Ice is prevalent on the summits and open areas. Carry instep crampons or stabilicers and wear when them when conditions warrant.

** Special Blowdown Notice
Additional heavy winds this week have caused blowdown throughout the Adirondacks. Trees, limbs, and branches may be found over and in trails, especially lesser used side trails.

** Wet & Muddy Conditions
Lower and mid-elevation trails are still wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.

** ALL Rivers Running Well Above Normal
All waters in the region are running well above normal for this time of year. Low water crossings may not be accessible and paddlers should use care and consult the latest streamgages data. Many of the regions rivers and streams are well over 90% of their capacity. The Hudson River at North Creek for example is running at 98% of its capacity. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Overnight paddlers should be aware that ice is beginning to form on some local waters.

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.

** Bear-Resistant Canisters Currently Not Required
The required use of bear-resistant canisters ended November 30. The use of bear-resistant canisters is still encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Hunting Seasons
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game are 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 hunting and 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 after December 11, 2010.

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.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

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.

Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.

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.

Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
With waterfowl hunting seasons still open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.

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.

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

** High Waters: Water levels remain higher than normal. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Overnight paddlers should be aware that ice has begun to form in backwaters and long shorelines.

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

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

** 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 Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season.

The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.

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. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.

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 removed.

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.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

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

** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels remain higher than normal. The Hudson River is running high (98% of capacity at North Creek). Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. Overnight paddlers should be aware that ice is beginning to form on some local 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.

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: 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.

——————–
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 2, 2010

Franklin County Historical Hosts Christmas Tea

The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society invites the community to its annual Christmas Tea and Open House on Saturday, December 4, 2010 from 12:00-4:00pm at the House of History Museum, 51 Milwaukee St., Malone. The museum will be decorated for the holiday and visitors will be treated to formal tea service, including delicacies, hot tea, cofee, and cider.

Tours of the museum will be available, as well as a gift raffle of items from local businesses. The gift shop will be open, with its wide selection of local history books that makes Christmas shopping easy for the history buff on your list. There is no cost to attend the tea and open house. For your convenience, membership dues for 2011 are welcome and will be accepted.

The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society, founded in 1903, is a membership organization dedicated to collecting, exhibiting and preserving the history of Franklin County, NY. The House of History museum is housed in an 1864 Italianate style building, most recently the home of the F. Roy and Elizabeth Crooks Kirk family. A museum since 1973, the House of History is home to the headquarters of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and its historic collections pertaining to the history of Franklin County. The recently renovated carriage house behind the museum is the beautiful Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research, which opened in 2006. The Schryer Center contains archival materials and a library of family history information and is open to the public. FCHMS is supported by its members and donors and the generous support of Franklin County.

The House of History is open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-4pm through December 31, 2010; admission is $5/adults, $3/seniors, $2/children, and free for members. The Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research is open for research Wednesday-Friday from 1-4pm October 13-May 1, weather permitting. The fee to use the research library is $10/day and free to members.

Information about Franklin County History, the collections of the museum and links to interesting historical information can be found at the Historical Society’s website.

Contact the Historical Society with questions at 518-483-2750 or [email protected]

Photo: Volunteer Pennie Sansone pours tea at the formal tea table at the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society’s annual Christmas Tea and Open House


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gear: Northern Lites snowshoes

With the wintry weather upon us snowshoes have become an indispensable piece of backcountry equipment. Without snowshoes (or their cousin the cross-country skis) the backcountry would be mostly off-limits to any adventures for nearly half of the year in the Adirondacks.

Snowshoes come in all different styles and materials (e.g. wood vs. aluminum). The industry has largely moved away from natural materials due to the light weight and durability of their artificial counterparts. Tubbs, Atlas or Redfeather are popular manufacturers but the leader in lightweight snowshoes is Northern Lites located in Wausau, Wisconsin. Northern who?” you might ask. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Never Been Ice Climbing? Here’s An All Ages Primer

Weekend warriors from New York City, western New York State, Massachusetts, Vermont and Pennsylvania often rise at the ungodly dark hour of 4 AM and on a frigid winter morning make the long drive to the Adirondacks. Many come not to ski down our mountains but rather to climb straight-up. What are they doing? Ice Climbing! It is a sport gaining fast in popularity.

Ice climbing can be crazy and dangerous but for the beginner, with qualified instructors and adequate precautions, the risk is minimized. To indulge one’s wild side with a day of ice climbing and a heart-stopping good time, Adirondack residents need only pile on warm clothing, pack lunch and travel a few miles to the nearest wilderness outfitter, a source of instructors. (Do call ahead first.)

These instructors provide boots, crampons, helmets and axes, cinch you tightly into a harness and, upon reaching the ice, clip you to a top-rope, so serious free falling is not an option. They exhibit a world of patience, attentiveness and good humor while at the same time teaching the basics of climbing. Before shivery jitters can take over, you will find yourself, axe in each hand, kicking and chopping your way straight up what just a few minutes earlier seemed an impossibly slippery slope. Age is no excuse.

Last February, ten of us, several well into our sixties, cautiously ascended an ice sheet under the watchful eyes and tutelage of Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service instructors, Bill Seims and Lori Crowningshield. We spent an adrenalin pumping and rousingly fun day finding out why people indulge in this peculiar sport. The reason? – because to climb ice is a whacky challenge, to succeed is a thrill.

What did we learn? – first, that us older folks were just as able to participate and enjoy the crazy adventure as those considerably younger.

If you occasionally hike and are in moderately good shape, you can do this. In fact, because of the necessary “buddy system,” ice climbing can be a perfect cross-generational activity, challenging enough for older children to enjoy with a still active parent. I had the pleasure of doing this with my son, Christopher.

We also discovered several other things: that once on the ice, intense focus on the placement of axe and crampon sends fear of heights skittering away (unless you look down); prongs and ice axes, barely puncturing the surface, easily support a person’s weight; and last, carefully watching and belaying your partner, taking in the rope’s slack as he/she climbs, is as much a challenge as doing the actual climbing itself.

When first confronted with a 65- foot vertical wall of ice, some of us were gripped by an emotion best described as terror. However, top-roped, and with clear directions, each managed to overcome fear and climb, climb again and then, with enthusiasm, climb several more times. With each trip up the ice, understanding of technique grows, less exertion is required and the ascent becomes more fun.

What a way to practice team-building. What a satisfying accomplishment. What a high we experienced at the end of the day. Some got hooked and plan to go back again; for others, just pushing the comfort zone was empowering, a reminder of how we can often do far more than we realize.

After hours of climbing, we declared it a memorable day, one destined to be a highlight in our collection of memories. When looking for adventure, Adirondack residents should think about this great opportunity, one which exists conveniently close to home.

Getting a group together, rather than going by yourself, will lower the price. A day on the ice will cost no more than an evening on the town. For information on how to pick a guide, go to http://www.usmga.net. To find instructors, Google “Adirondack ice climbing instruction”.

Saranac Lake resident and freelance writer Caperton Tissot writes a shared weekly “Friends and Neighbors” column in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. She is also the author of two books on her own Snowy Owl Press, History Between The Lines, Women’s Lives and Saranac Lake Customs (2007), and Adirondack Ice, A Cultural and Natural History (2010).


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Almanack Welcomes Caperton Tissot

Please join me in welcoming Saranac Lake resident Caperton Tissot as the newest contributor to the Adirondack Almanack. Caperton’s work has appeared in Adirondack Life, Adirondack Explorer, and includes a shared weekly “Friends and Neighbors” column in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

She has published two books on her own Snowy Owl Press, History between the Lines, Women’s Lives and Saranac Lake Customs (2007), and Adirondack Ice, a Cultural and Natural History (2010). Caperton will be writing regularly about Adirondack ice through the winter.

During the last three years Caperton has held a number of oral history workshops, and is currently touring the region with an Adirondack ice slide show and book signings. She also coordinates a winter lecture series at the Saranac Lake Free Library. “It is,” she says, “a wonderful way to meet new folks and learn about Adirondack art, history and culture.”

When not traveling or writing, she and her husband are active skiers, snowshoers, hikers, paddlers and bikers.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Leadership Change at the Adirondack Museum

The Board of Directors of the Adirondack Historical Association announced today that Caroline M. Welsh, the Director of the Adirondack Museum since 2007, has been replaced by Michael Lombardi, the current Director of Finance and Operations. Lombardi is being named Interim Director, and Welsh, who has been with the museum since 1987, will become Senior Art Historian and Director Emerita.

Welsh served the Adirondack Museum for over two decades, first as a Curator and then as Director. Just two months after her ascension to the top spot in February 2007, the museum unveiled its ill-fated and sometimes controversial plan to build a museum extension in Lake Placid. Those plans were later abandoned, and the former Adirondack Church of the Nazarene that had been located on the site was demolished.

This past fall, the museum also closed their Lake Placid storefront operation. “The subsequent and continuing economic downturn have forced a strategic re-thinking of the museum’s plans,” Adirondack Museum spokesperson Katherine Moore told the press at the time. “It is no longer feasible to operate two retail operations and maintain a growing online sales presence.” Moore said the museum will concentrate its efforts and financial resources on the Blue Mountain Lake campus.

Welsh’s tenure also saw a number of new initiatives designed to bring the museum into the 21st century including launching a museum online photostream, a campus WiFi system, and offering virtual exhibits. She also oversaw the museum during the acquisition of the Clarence Petty and Richard Lawrence collections, and receipt of a $1.3 million bequest from the estate of the Mr. and Mrs. Horace N. Holbrook of Schenectady.

Today spokesperson Moore announced “Ms. Welsh will continue her relationship with the museum with respect to art projects including the upcoming Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait exhibit opening in the summer, 2011, along with producing the catalogue for the exhibit.” Welsh will also collaborate with the museum on other upcoming projects, she said.

Caroline Welsh is the wife of former Adirondack Museum Curator Peter C. Welsh, once also editor of the Journal of History and director of the New York State Historical Association, who held the primary responsibility for the Adirondack Museum’s logging exhibit. He was also the author of Jacks, Jobbers, and Kings: Logging in the Adirondacks, 1850-1950. Peter Welsh died in February, 2010.

Photo: Photo caption: Caroline M. Welsh, Director of the Adirondack Museum and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer at the Adirondack Museum in August 27.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Anniversary of John Brown’s Execution

151 years ago this week, John Brown was executed and his body was returned to the Adirondacks. Had Brown escaped from Harpers Ferry rather than been captured he might well today be just a footnote, one of the tens of thousands that struggled to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.

It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans that came after him – his execution and martyrdom. There is another equally important reason Americans will celebrate the life of John Brown this week however – he was right slavery would end at a heavy price.

Last year, I wrote a series of posts following the last days of John Brown’s fight to end slavery. You can read the entire series here (start at the bottom).



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Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.