Thursday, February 17, 2011

Disney on Ice in Lake Placid This Weekend

Disney on Ice skated into Lake Placid this week for their new show, Disney on Ice presents Princess Classics. The tour returns to Lake Placid every two years with a new show and new cast members. This year’s show brings the stories of the Disney Princesses to life on ice!

Unlike many ice shows, Disney on Ice showcases elaborate sets, costumes, and special effects to arenas across the country and world. The centerpiece of the production will be a three dimensional, three story castle which transforms to assist in telling the stories of the Disney Princesses. The show will feature Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Mulan, Snow White and special guest Tinker Bell.

Disney on Ice presents Princess Classics will open in Lake Placid’s Olympic Center tonight, Thursday, February 17th at 7 pm and continues through Monday. More information can be found online.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nocturnal Adirondacks: Skunks On A Night Hike

With plenty of snow on the ground, a moon that is only a day or two past being full, and the possibility of breaks in the clouds, this weekend promises to be one of those occasions when enough natural light will exist to venture outside and explore the nocturnal side of nature in the Adirondacks.

While it may not be wise to bushwhack through a thick cedar swamp or a dense grove of hemlocks, regardless of how bright it may be, there is generally enough illumination around the time of a full moon in winter to travel through more open settings. Stretches of seasonal roads, well-used snowshoe paths, and hiking trails that extend into hardwood areas or around forest clearings are sites where travel is possible hours after the sun has set. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Almanack Welcomes Naturalist Tom Kalinowski

The Adirondack Almanack is pleased to welcome our newest natural history contributor Tom Kalinowski.

Tom is an avid outdoor enthusiast who taught field biology and ecology at Saranac Lake High School for 33 years. He has written numerous articles on natural history for a variety of magazines and wrote a weekly nature column for the Lake Placid News for nearly ten years. He has also written two books; An Adirondack Almanac, and Adirondack Nature Notes, both of which focus on various events that occur among the region’s flora and fauna during very specific times of the calendar year. Along with writing, he also spends time photographing wildlife. Tom’s work here at the Almanack will also include his more recent work in video. His first post will appear this morning.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Busy Presidents Week at the Wild Center

The Wild Center’s Wild Winter Weekends continue with activities from now until the end of March. On Friday, February 18th join NASA scientist Peter Wasilewski at 1pm for The Color of Ice. “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water….” (Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey).

Water ice is one of the most widespread, intriguing, and familiar compounds on the planet, in the solar system, and beyond. On Earth it falls as snow, forms lacy deposits on winter windows, creates skating surfaces on lakes, gracefully drapes rock cliffs, packs thickly on the polar oceans, and lays even thicker on the ice caps blanketing Greenland and Antarctica. Peter will speak on the history of winter as seen through ice cores and snowflakes. Peter is a research scientist for NASA on changes in the onset and duration of winter over time. His presentation is filled with exceptional images of snowflakes and ice cores close up. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Law Allows Lifetime Sporting License Transfers

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced a new state law that allows for the one-time transfer of lifetime hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses under certain circumstances. Previously, lifetime licenses could not be transferred to another individual, regardless of the situation.

Under the new law, lifetime sporting licenses may be transferred to a qualifying relative if the lifetime license holder passes away within one year of purchase of the license or if the license holder passes away while in active United States military duty during a time of war.

“Hunters, anglers, and trappers take their pursuits very seriously,” said Acting Commissioner Joseph Martens, and “this is a way for them to pass on a family tradition.”

The new law became effective January 15, 2011 and stipulates that lifetime licenses may be transferred if the person to whom the license was issued dies within one year of the issuance of the license, the person to whom the license is to be transferred is a legal New York State resident and would otherwise be eligible to purchase the license, and the person to whom the license is to be transferred is a parent, sibling, child or spouse of the license holder.

Application for transfer of the lifetime license must be made within three years of the issuance of the license, except in the case of lifetime license holders that die while serving in the active United States military, naval, or air services during a period of war.

Lifetime license transfer requests must be made by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Due to the effective date of the new law, for non-military-related transfer requests, lifetime licenses must have been issued on or after January 15, 2008, with a three month grace period for transfer applications.

For more information on requests and copies of supporting documents for applying for Lifetime License Transfer call DEC’s License Sales Unit at 518-402-8843.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Forest Rangers: Ambassadors for the Wild

As the ice clogged rivers, streams and trails of the Adirondacks thaw, there are many things to look forward to. Wildflowers and spring migratory birds are tops on my list. The sound of running water is another.

Seeing a Forest Ranger in the woods may not top my list, but it’s pretty rare sight and very important to those woods and the public which recreates or works there.

Last year the NYS DEC Forest Rangers celebrated 125 years of care and custody of our wild lands like the NYS Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks and Catskills. It was an historic occasion far too few of us took note of. We may never need to depend upon a Ranger to get us safely out of a wild forest or off of a wild river but, as they say, you never know. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The State of Nature-Based Education

Uncle Sam Green smlRecently Governor Cuomo gave his first State of the State address and President Obama delivered his third “State of the Union.” New endeavors, or a new year, are popular times to “take stock and look forward”. As we begin to build programmatic structure for the Adirondack Interpretive Center, where natural history and ecology are a foundation of our content, it seems appropriate to consider the State of Nature-based Education.

Nationally, nature-based experience – formal and informal, rural and urban – is increasingly recognized for the critical role it plays in the healthy physical and mental development of children and the on-going health of adults. This role is being supported by peer-reviewed research from diverse academic fields, including medicine, education and ecology. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Phil Brown: The Ethics of Feeding Wild Birds

A few years ago I saw my first gray jay—one of the Adirondack Park’s boreal birds. I had read that the gray jay, a member of the crow family, is known for its boldness in stealing scraps of food from humans. Hence, it has been nicknamed “camp robber.”

I saw the jay in the dead of winter on my way to Mount Marcy. I had skied up the Van Hoevenberg Trail as far as the junction with the Hopkins Trail, about 1.2 miles from the summit. There, in the shelter of the spruce and fir trees, I stopped for lunch—a peanut-butter sandwich with raisins.

As I ate, I noticed the gray jay on a branch about fifteen feet away, eyeing my sandwich. When I held out a crumb in my palm, the bird flew down and grabbed the offering. It then returned to its perch and continued looking at me, cockeyed. So I offered another crumb and another one after that. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jay Harrison: Cascade Pass Ice Climbing

Drivers heading along Route 73 from Keene into Lake Placid can’t miss the activity on the icy cliffs above the Cascade Lakes. Climbers scurry like ants, from dawn to dusk, up and along the major flows that wind down either side of the main cliff. Chances are anyone learning to climb the transient mineral we call ice will end up here before too long in their studies.

This is the most popular ice climbing venue in the Adirondacks. Parking is plentiful, the approach is short, and there is access to the top of most routes for top-roping.

All that convenience makes it a crowded place: come very early or late in the afternoon for the best chance to climb. Roadside conditions are typically inhospitable. High wind sweeps through the pass, making it a bone-chilling place to attempt any chores in the parking lot. Come completely prepared to head directly up the hillside before opening the car door.

There are three main parking areas for the central area of the pass. The western parking lot services the Buster and Sisters flows, the center one is for those intrepid souls venturing onto the main Pitchoff Cliff or Pitchoff Left, the easternmost one services climbers heading for Pitchoff Quarry or Pitchoff Right. The most impressive flow is the Sisters formation. Sister Left rises 130’ from its base, with a lot of 3+ and some grade 4 ice to reach the top. Sister Right is shorter, but presents a greater challenge, from 4 to 5 or even hard mixed climbing depending on the line chosen. While the full length of Sister Left must be climbed from the bottom up, the entire face can be top-roped, using a ledge lying about thirty feet upslope. Getting to the top still requires leading something, Buster being the easiest option.

Buster is a perennial favorite for beginners. The main flow is difficult to walk around for top-rope set-up, but by skirting the right edge, only minimal grade 2 ice is encountered, so it makes a good first lead as well. The front face ranges from grade 2 to 4-, and there is a fixed rappel anchor at the top. Above the anchor, another easy pitch provides a good introduction to multipitch climbing as well.

Buster is often crowded, but there are several nearby alternatives. In recent years, a steep flow directly to Buster’s left has formed reliably, providing 3+ to M4 mixed climbing, depending on its condition. To the right, two more flows (Boozer and Bruiser), both with good walk-around access to their tops and fixed anchors, provide enough room for at least four ropes.

Farther to the right, a large flow called Pitchoff Left begins as a vertical curtain of grade 4 ice, then settles down to easy climbing for the remainder of its length. There is no easy top-rope or lead option for this line, all comers will have to tackle it directly on lead. The good news: it has the fattest, most massive ice of any grade 4 flow in this area. Pitchoff Cliff divides the previous flows from those to the right. There are routes on the main cliff for stout-hearted ice aficionados; most mere mortals just gawk at them and move on.

Pitchoff Right is a heavy draw; it is rare to have this area to oneself. Fortunately, there is plenty of room and variety to go around. There is room for up to nine ropes along this wall, on routes ranging from twenty five to seventy feet tall. Top-roping is easy to establish, via a grade 1 walk-around to climber’s right. Difficulty ranges from the upper end of 2 to hard 4, with plenty of acrobatic mixed climbing potential as well. Be cautious about the pillars that form on the overhangs: while people climb them with reckless abandon, they do occasionally fall down.

The rightmost destination in the area, Pitchoff Quarry, is tucked back just far enough to be nearly invisible from the road. Accessed from the parking lot below Pitchoff Right, climbers walk east along the road for 200 feet, then duck into the alders and meander to the cliff. In good conditions, the quarry has a wide band of very steep ice, ranging between grade 4 and 5. Top-rope set-up is possible via access to climber’s right. The main flow dominates the center of the quarry, with enough room for a couple ropes, and flows to either side provide room for at least four more.

Jay Harrison guides both rock and ice for Eastern Mountain Sports, and occasionally writes about his personal adventures on his own blog.


Monday, February 14, 2011

A Land Purchase Guest Essay:Paradox, Irony and Hypocrisy in Adirondack Politics

What follows is a guest essay from Minerva carpenter Duane Ricketson, an original appointee to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Region 5 Open Space Advisory Committee in 1990 and one of the longest serving state appointees. He’s an Adirondack native whose family arrived in the region in the 1790s and who enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking and camping. Ricketson supported and worked with local leaders on the Region 5 Open Space Advisory Committee to get local governments and Adirondackers enfranchised in the process of open space protection, especially the local government veto, which he now sees as being usurped by the Local Government Review Board.

On the surface, the recent drive by Adirondack politicians and local media to stop the State from purchasing the former Finch-Pruyn lands from the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy is simply a continuation of the storied battle between Adirondackers and the State of New York over buying land in the Adirondack Park. This time it opens a brand new chapter, however, because the actions of local governments are now being called into question by The Local Government Review Board. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Lawrence Gooley: Love So Strong, It’s Criminal

(Warning: If your partner reads this, expectations for today may rise.) Ah, Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. Chocolates, flowers, and special cards are a must. Maybe a family meal, or perhaps a romantic dinner for two. Jewelry? Diamonds? The sky’s the limit when it comes to making your sweetheart happy and showing true dedication. But it’s all pretty amateurish compared to real commitment. Which brings us to Fred Roderick and Agnes Austin.

Here’s the story as described in 1883 in a couple of newspapers. Without hard facts, I can’t account for all the details, but you gotta love the sense of purpose, focus, and ingenuity this couple used to achieve togetherness.

At Sageville (now Lake Pleasant, a few miles southeast of Speculator), Fred Roderick, about 25 years old, had been jailed for stealing a pair of horses, which had since been returned. In those days, a convicted horse thief could expect to do time in prison. Next to murder, it was one of the most serious crimes—horses were a key component to survival in the North Country.

In rural Hamilton County, it was no simple task to organize a trial, so for several months the county jail served as Roderick’s home. It was lonely at times, but he wasn’t entirely without company. Every Sunday, the local Methodist pastor brought a dozen or so members of his congregation to the jail, where they sang songs and held a prayer meeting.

For a couple of years, young Agnes Austin was among the church goers who participated. Shortly after Roderick’s incarceration, parish members noticed that, instead of lending her voice to the choir at all times, she seemed to have taken a personal interest in Fred’s salvation.

Soon Agnes gained special permission from the sheriff for weekday visits which, she assured him, would lead Roderick down the straight and narrow. But it seemed to work in the reverse. Agnes began showing up less often on Sundays and more frequently during the week. Imagine the whispers among her church brethren. Their pretty little friend was consorting with a criminal!

Or maybe her missionary efforts were sincere after all. Fred Roderick finally came forward and accepted religious salvation, owing it all, he said, to young Agnes. People being what they are, tongues wagged more frantically than ever about the supposed scandalous goings-on. Mr. Austin forbade (what was he thinking?) Agnes from making any further jail visits. Taking it one step further, he spoke to the sheriff, hoping to kill a tryst in the making.

It wasn’t long after that Agnes disappeared. With her supposed lover lingering hopelessly in jail, why would she run away? Well, as it turns out, she didn’t. Agnes and Fred had made plans. She was told to hide out at his father’s camp, where he would join her after his escape. (Country jails were often loosely kept, and escapes were common.)

After waiting more than a week, Agnes took matters into her own hands, which led to a sight that shocked the residents of Sageville. A constable rode into town, and behind him trailed Aggie Austin. The charge? That she was a horse thief. In broad daylight, she had taken not just any horse, but one of the very same horses Fred had stolen.

Because she was female, and because she made no effort to run when pursued, bail was set at $600—which Agnes immediately refused. To the puzzled bondsman and the sheriff, she explained: if Fred couldn’t be with her, then she would be with Fred. To that end, she left the camp, stole a horse, made sure she was caught, and now refused to be bailed out of jail.

It gets better. The next morning, Fred informed the sheriff that he wished to marry Miss Austin, and Agnes confirmed the same. Papa Austin most certainly would have objected, but Agnes was 19, of legal age to make her own choice. And that choice was Fred.

The judge was summoned, and the sheriff and his deputies stood witness to the joining. The district attorney weighed in as well, contributing what he could to the couple’s happiness.

Though they must be tried separately, he promised to “bring both cases before the same term of court, and thus allow the pair to make their bridal journey together to their future mountain home at Clinton Prison.”

Now THAT’s commitment.

Photo: Clinton Prison at Dannemora, notorious North Country honeymoon site.

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


Monday, February 14, 2011

Brain Worm Confirmed in New York Moose

In mid-October 2010, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Wildlife Pathology Unit, which is responsible for diagnosing and monitoring causes of sickness and death in New York State’s animals, has confirmed brain worm infections in six of 18 moose examined in 2009-2010. Those moose were found in Clinton, Essex, Oneida, Rensselaer, and Saratoga Counties.

The most recent moose examined, a two and a half year old male moose exhibiting abnormal behavior in the Town of Steuben, Oneida County, was lying down in a cow pasture and appeared blind; it could not stand when prodded by a DEC Biologist. The moose was subsequently euthanized and submitted to the Wildlife Pathology Unit for necropsy (animal autopsy) where it was diagnosed with brain worm infection [review the case report online]. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Proposed ADK Chapter to Focus on Northville-Placid Trail

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) may soon have a new chapter devoted to enhancing and promoting the celebrated Northville-Placid Trail (NPT).

The NPT, which stretches 133 miles through some of the wildest and most remote parts of the Adirondack Park, was the first trail project undertaken by the Adirondack Mountain Club after it was formed in 1922. In November, Tom Wemett, ADK Trails Committee member and a self-described “NPT fanatic,” launched a new website devoted to the Northville-Placid Trail. According to Wemett, the site has been very successful and well received by hikers as well as ADK and Department of Environmental Conservation staff. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Adirondack Literary Awards Call For Submissions

The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) is seeking submissions for its Annual ACW Literary Awards. Begun in 2006, the Adirondack Literary Awards are one of the most popular events of the ACW schedule. The deadline for submissions is March 7, 2011. What follows is the submission guidelines from ACW.

Winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony to be held in June (date TBA via ACW website) at the Blue Mountain Center, which donates space and resources for the event. In addition to awards in each category mentioned above, there is a People’s Choice Award as part of this festive program. For a complete list of 2009 award winners, please check out the ACW Newsletter/Annual Report at their website. Most of the books considered for awards are made available for purchase at the ceremony by the authors, and they are happy to sign their books.

Those wishing to submit a book published in 2010 to be considered for an award should send two copies of the book to Director Nathalie Thill, at the ACW office with a brief cover letter including author’s contact information and description of the book’s “qualifications.” Is the author from the Adirondack region, or is the book about or influenced by the Adirondacks in some way? The cover letter should also name which category the author would like the book to be judged under: fiction, poetry, children’s literature, memoir, nonfiction, or photography. There is no entry fee. Do not include a SASE; books cannot be returned but will become part of reading rooms or libraries. The mailing address is: Adirondack Center for Writing, Paul Smith’s College, PO Box 265, Paul Smiths, New York 12970. Questions may be directed to Nathalie Thill at ACW at 518-327-6278 or [email protected]

The Adirondack Center for Writing is a resource and educational organization that provides support to writers and enhances literary activity and communication throughout the Adirondacks. ACW benefits both emerging and established writers and develops literary audiences by encouraging partnerships among existing regional organizations to promote diverse programs. ACW is based at Paul Smith’s College and is supported by membership and the New York State Council on the Arts.



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