The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, N.Y., turns 75 tomorrow, Tuesday, September 14th. Whiteface, its staff and the town of Wilmington, will celebrate the occasion by rolling back prices to $1 per person, the same rate as it was in 1935. And since the Highway is dedicated to all veterans, they will be admitted free.
Once at the top, guest will have the opportunity to enjoy historical displays at the castle, a specially priced barbeque, and at 1 p.m. a ceremony which will include the reading of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech, which dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of World War I. Other speakers will include New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer and Town of Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston. Opened to automobile traffic July 20, 1935, the Highway “officially” opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony, Sept. 14, 1935 which was attended by President Roosevelt, who was New York’s Governor when ground was broken for the eight-mile long stretch of roadway. During the ceremony, the United States’ 32nd President dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of the “Great War,” but in 1985, then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo re-dedicated the highway to all veterans. It has recently been slated for upgrades.
Whiteface Mountain is the fifth largest peak in the Adirondack Mountain range and it’s the only mountain in the Adirondacks that offers accessibility by vehicle. Today, from mid-May to early-October, visitors to the area can take a drive or cycle up the five-mile long scenic highway, from the toll booth to the top. Along the way there are scenic lookout points and picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy views of the Adirondack region.
Once at the top of the 4,867-foot high Whiteface Mountain, guests can enjoy a spectacular 360-degree, panoramic view of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada. Guests can also visit the castle, built from native stone, where they will find a gift shop and restaurant. For those who are unable to reach the summit on foot, an elevator is available that will take guests the final 26-stories to the summit’s observation deck.
The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
Hungry Bear Publishing recently released its sixth volume in the “Adirondack Attic” book series, highlighting dozens of artifacts from the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.
Author Andy Flynn, of Saranac Lake, tells 53 more stories about the museum’s collection in New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 6, bringing the story count to more than 300 for the six-volume series that began in 2004. Stories, and artifacts, come from all over the Adirondack region.
“Each story is special unto itself; however, taken as a whole, this series gives us the big picture,” Flynn told the Almanack. “Thanks to these artifacts, we now have a unique perspective on the Adirondack experiment and a better understanding of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park, its people and communities, and how life has changed here over the past 300 years.” Stories from Adirondack Attic 6 come from the following communities: Au Sable Forks, Bangor, Blue Mountain Lake, Brantingham Lake, Canton, Chestertown, Cranberry Lake, Dickinson Center, Elizabethtown, Hague, Johnsburg, Lake George, Lake Placid, Long Lake, Loon Lake, Lyon Mountain, Mohawk, Newcomb, North River, Northville, Paul Smiths, Port Henry, Raquette Lake, Saranac Lake, Ticonderoga, Tupper Lake, Warrensburg and Wilmington.
Flynn created the Adirondack Attic History Project to “promote the heritage of the Adirondack Park to residents and visitors through publications and programs.” As the owner/operator of Hungry Bear Publishing, he works with curators at the Adirondack Museum and other historical associations and museums in the region to tell human-interest stories about their artifact collections.
Flynn’s “Adirondack Attic” column ran weekly in several northern New York newspapers from 2003 to 2009. The stories in Adirondack Attic 6 represent the columns from 2008. Each volume includes columns from a specific year; for example, Adirondack Attic 1 featured columns from 2003, the first year of the Adirondack Attic History Project.
In April 2010, North Country Public Radio began running Flynn’s new Adirondack Attic Radio Series, sponsored by the Adirondack Museum and singer/songwriter Dan Berggren. It airs the first Tuesday of the month during the Eight O’Clock Hour with Todd Moe. For each program, Flynn features a different artifact from the collection of a museum in the Adirondack North Country Region. He uses the Adirondack Museum as his “History Headquarters” but also visits other museums to track down the objects people have made, used and left behind.
In 2008, Andy Flynn was awarded a Certificate of Commendation from the Upstate History Alliance for the Adirondack Attic History Project. He has since presented programs on his work with the Adirondack Museum to scholars at the New York State Archives Conference (2008), Association of Public Historians of New York State (2008) and Conference on New York State History (2009).
Flynn also publishes the Meet the Town community guide series with booklets for Saranac Lake, Lake Placid/Wilmington, Canton, Potsdam, Tupper Lake/Long Lake/Newcomb and the Au Sable Valley. From 2001 to 2009, he was employed as the Senior Public Information Specialist at the Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths.
Flynn is an award-winning journalist, garnering merits of excellence from the National Newspaper Association, New York Newspaper Publishers Association and the New York Press Association. While the staff writer at the Lake Placid News, he was named the 1996 NYPA Writer of the Year for weekly New York state newspapers with circulations under 10,000. Before joining the VIC staff, he was a writer and editor for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake and the Lake Placid News, a correspondent for the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, an announcer for WNBZ 1240-AM in Saranac Lake, and a general assignment news reporter and radio documentary producer for North Country Public Radio in Canton. He is a graduate of the SUNY College at Fredonia (1991) and the Tupper Lake High School (1987).
For more information about the Adirondack Attic book series and radio program, call (518) 891-5559 or visit online at www.hungrybearpublishing.com.
ADIRONDACK ATTIC 6 TABLE OF CONTENTS
1: Delaware & Hudson Railroad guides
2: Camp Santanoni Gate Lodge rendering (Newcomb)
3: Long Lake fire truck
4: Snowbug and Luvbug snow machines
5: Lake Placid bobsledding cassette tape (Saranac Lake, Lake Placid)
6: Mystery of Ironshoes, the bobsled (Lake Placid, Port Henry, Lyon Mountain, Elizabethtown)
7: Nehasane Park wagon (Long Lake)
8: Republic Steel miner’s helmet (Port Henry)
9: J. & J. Rogers Company safe (Au Sable Forks)
10: Paul Smith’s hotel stagecoach photo
11: Willcox & Gibbs sewing machine (Mohawk)
12: Bonnie Belle Farm ensilage cutter (Chestertown)
13: Maple sugaring sledge (Dickinson enter, North River)
14: Acme Leader cooking stove (Warrensburg)
15: Steamer Vermont III menu (Lake Champlain, Lake Placid, Loon Lake)
A 50-year-old New Jersey woman on Monday became the first female to complete a solo end-to-end paddle of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) from New York to Maine.
Cathy Mumford of Colts Neck, N.J., set off from Old Forge, N.Y. on June 19, paddling, wheeling and dragging her nine and a half-foot-long Perception Sparky kayak to the northern terminus of the trail at Riverside Park on the St. John River in Fort Kent, Maine. The NFCT opened to the public in 2006 and Mumford is only the third solo kayaker to complete a through paddle of the recreational waterway.
Mumford’s adventure included paddling across the eastern half of Lake Champlain on her 50th birthday, taking a wrong turn on the Missisquoi River in Vermont, and having to repair her broken kayak wheels. Family members and friends paddled beside Mumford on two sections of the trail, and followed her progress in real time on her SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker Web page. The graphic designer and mother of two started kayaking a few years ago while living in Tennessee. She went on weekend trips with groups, then began taking overnight trips alone. Last year she moved back to her New Jersey hometown and set the goal to be the first woman to solo paddle the NFCT.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail follows historic American Indian paddling routes on the major watersheds of northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and a portion of southern Quebec, Canada. It is the longest inland water trail in the northeast.
Nearly 30 people have finished an end-to-end paddle of the trail in a canoe or kayak. The majority of trail users spend a day or weekend exploring one of the 13 sections of the waterway. Learn more about the Northern Forest Canoe Trail online at www.northernforestcanoetrail.org or call 802-496-2285.
About the Northern Forest Canoe Trail: The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a 740-mile inland paddling trail tracing historic travel routes across New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. NFCT, Inc. is internationally regarded as the preeminent water trail organization in North America, and connects people to the Trail’s natural environment, human heritage, and contemporary communities by stewarding, promoting, and providing access to canoe and kayak experiences along this route. Photo: Cathy Mumford, First Woman to Solo NFCT, photo by Scott Mumford.
The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative (Cooperative) will be applying lampricide to portions of five tributaries to Lake Champlain during the month of September. Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be treating the Salmon River, Little Ausable River, Ausable River, and Putnam Creek in New York, and Lewis Creek in Vermont.
Treatments are scheduled to begin in New York on September 14th and finish in Vermont by the end of the month. These treatments are part of the Cooperative’s long-term sea lamprey control program for Lake Champlain. The trout and salmon populations of the lake are the primary beneficiaries of these efforts, yet lake sturgeon, walleye, and many other species are affected too. » Continue Reading.
If you find yourself walking through the woods in late summer/early autumn, and you come across what looks like a slender, branched twig stuck in the ground, take a closer look. It could be a stick, or it just might be a really nifty plant: beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana).
Now, I know what you are thinking. That can’t possibly be a plant, or, if it is, it is dead. The lack of “verdure” (or, as described in Gray’s New Lessons and Manual of Botany (1868), “herbs destitute of green foliage”) is an immediate indication that you are looking at a very special plant, a plant that is wholly dependent on others for food. Neltje Blanchan wrote in her 1917 book Wild Flowers Worth Knowing likened beechdrops to thieves:
Nearly related to the broom-rape is this less attractive pirate, a taller, brownish-purple plant, with a disagreeable odor, whose erect, branching stem without leaves is still furnished with brownish scales, the remains of what were once green leaves in virtuous ancestors, no doubt. But perhaps even these relics of honesty may one day disappear. Nature brands every sinner somehow; and the loss of green from a plant’s leaves may be taken as a certain indication that theft of another’s food stamps it with this outward and visible sign of guilt.
It’s beautiful writing, rather poetic, but sadly casts human traits onto nonhuman lives, in this case a poor hapless plant whose only fault is that it cannot make its own food.
Perhaps we should take another look at beechdrops. Neither thieves nor helpless, maybe we should consider them as opportunistic, perhaps even an advanced lifeform. Why waste energy making your own food when you can eat the food produced by others? HM…it sounds thoroughly American to me!
Over the eons it this plant has cast aside the need to have leaves (note the previously mentioned scales). Leaves exist to provide additional photosynthesizing surfaces. If one does not photosynthesize, one has no need for leaves.
Still, a plant has got to eat, and if it isn’t making its own food by mixing up sunlight with water and CO2, then it must find another food source. Beechdrops have a special structure on their roots called a haustorium. This structure grows out of the stem, root or hyphae of some parasitic plants, and on beechdrops it grows from the roots. The haustorium engulfs the root of the target plant (beechdrops are obligate parasites of beech trees) and taps the root for its life-giving sap.
Neltje mentioned beechdrops’ disagreeable odor. The plant is highly astringent, filled with compounds that make it beneficial medicinally, but not necessarily something one would want to add to a nosegay. Native Americans and settlers alike knew the benefits of beechdrops, which could help cure diarrhea and dysentery, heal wounds (antiseptic), work as a sedative, and even sooth aching eyes. At one point in time beechdrops were used as a folk medicine for cancer, although modern testing found it had no such virtue.
I came across a couple rather robust stands of beechdrops recently. What struck me as odd was that there wasn’t a beech tree to be seen! Because these plants are entirely dependent on beeches for survival, they shouldn’t have grown where I saw them. Admittedly, I was in a hurry, so I only did a quick scan of the forest; it is possible I overlooked the host plants. After all, it was a pocket of hardwoods, mostly sugar maples. Beech trees traditionally grow with birches and maples, so they should have been there. I’ll have to return and conduct a more thorough inventory.
If you find some beechdrops, you will want to have a seat and really look at them. They are quite beautiful, with small, striped, tubular flowers. Purple, red and brown are the colors they sport, and they wear them well.
You might think, as you gaze upon the plant, that the flowers on the lower end of the stem are just buds, waiting to open. In fact, they are fully fledged flowers in their own right, but they are cleistogamous. This means that they never open – there is no need for them to open because they are self-fertilized. The flowers closer to the top of the plant, the ones that form those delicate tubes, are chasmogamous and therefore require fertilization.
Why a plant would have both kinds of flowers? Some careful thought soon brings enlightenment. This is a plant that grows close to the ground (no more than a foot and a half tall, often less) in the woods. There is little wind near the ground (so much for wind-pollination), and there isn’t a whole lot of insect activity at this time of year in the woods. If a plant isn’t smelly and able to attract flies, it may not get a whole lot of action. So, some plants, like beechdrops, hedge their bets by producing a few flowers that require pollination, but also producing flowers that are completely self-contained, just in case. Based on the literature I’ve read, they’ve made the wise bet – it seems that the flowers that actually do get pollinated by visiting insects don’t produce fertile seeds, only the cleistogamous flowers are able to reproduce.
So, let’s not shun the parasitic plants. They have an otherworldly beauty about them and have merely tapped into a surplus foodsource not of their own making. It’s an entirely modern way of living, and since we as humans have embraced this lifestyle, I think it’s only right that we give a friendly nod to those plants that have done so as well, for they are, perhaps, kindred spirits.
Vast British and American armies struggle for control of the Ticonderoga peninsula and the future of America at Fort Ticonderoga’s Revolutionary War Encampment, Saturday and Sunday, September 11th and 12th, from 9:30 am to 5 pm each day. More than 600 re-enactors bring the American Revolutionary War experience to life for visitors during the weekend, highlighting Fort Ticonderoga’s strategic role in the struggle for liberty. A battle takes place each day at 2 pm and is based on an encounter between advanced British and American forces during General John Burgoyne’s successful capture of the fort by the British in July 1777. Visitors will be able to purchase wares from period vendors, thrill at the pageantry of arms, enlist with the Continental soldiers for a bounty, and participate in a Sunday morning Anglican divine service in the fort at 10:30am. Beth Hill, Executive Director of Fort Ticonderoga, said this event “will bring to life the hardship, hope, and victory that defined Fort Ticonderoga’s history in the American Revolution.” Highlighted programs throughout the weekend will include Potent Potables: Drink and Sutling in the American Revolution presentations, cooper demonstrations, building field fortifications, daily life of camp followers, field surgery and much more! According to Hill, the weekend “will be an unparalleled opportunity for visitors to be immersed in a place and time that defined America.”
The historic capture of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10th, 1775, by Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain Boys marked America’s first victory of the American Revolution. Fort Ticonderoga remained a strategic stronghold and key to the continent throughout the early years of the war. In 1777, British forces under General Burgoyne successfully recaptured Fort Ticonderoga, forcing American troops to abandon the fort and Mount Independence across Lake Champlain. During the 18th-century, Fort Ticonderoga was attacked six times in the span of twenty years, holding three times and falling three times.
Fort Ticonderoga is a private not-for-profit historical site that ensures that present and future generations learn from the struggle, sacrifices, and victories that shaped North America and changed world history. Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, tours, demonstrations and exhibits each day from 9:30am-5pm, May 20th- October 20th. A full schedule and information on events, including the upcoming Revolutionary War Encampment on September 11th and 12th, can be found at www.FortTiconderoga.org.
To live the life of a poet, says the actor Chris Noth, “is the ultimate political act, one of incredible bravery.”
At the very least, it’s an act of resistance or dissent, and one of last great dissenters, Peter Kane Dufault, will join Noth at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on September 23 for a conversation, a poetry reading and a screening of a new film about Dufault, What I Meant to Tell You: An American Poet’s ‘State of the Union’.
Noth, best known for his roles in Law and Order, Sex and the City and The Good Wife, is the film’s associate producer. In the 1970s, he was a student at the Barlow School, a small, progressive boarding school in the Hudson Valley, where Peter Dufault was a teacher.
Dufault was the best teacher he ever had, said Noth, who later attended Marlborough College and the Yale School of Drama.
“He opened up a way of life to me, a life of the imagination; he showed us through his example how that life can be developed and explored through poetry,” said Noth.
What I Meant to Tell You: An American Poet’s ‘State of the Union’ was directed by Ethan Dufault, the poet’s son, and is based on Dufault’s conversations with his father.
The title of the film, What I Meant to Tell You refers not only to what a poet might tell his country, were it willing to listen to poets, but what a father might tell his son.
“The title suggests what it is we wish we had said and heard from the people we love,” said Dufault, whose parents separated when he was a child.
But according to Michael Thomas, the film’s producer, What I meant to Tell You transcends the merely personal.
“Peter Dufault is a World War II veteran, a boxer, a musician, an environmentalist and a political activist as well as a poet. You can chart our history through his life,” said Thomas.
For Peter Dufault, poetry is the constant in his life.
“Everything else is secondary to poetry; poetry is the touchstone for every move I make,” he said.
“I concluded early in life that time was of the essence; it’s a non-recouperable commodity; every job I took was something that gave me time to squeeze out whatever poetry was in me,” Dufault said. “To be a poet means to live my own life.”
“His embattled status as a poet and a political activist is part of his strength,” says Ethan Dufault.
But, he said, his father’s “contentiousness” has hurt him professionally.
“He’s refused to play the game, but his life has not been an easy one,” said Ethan Dufault.
(Or, as Peter Dufault himself says, “I ain’t venerated, I’m resented. In England, I’m considered a great American poet. The English like my politics.”)
In 1968, Dufault ran for Congress on an anti-war platform; shortly thereafter, he began teaching at Barlow, where he taught a course in American history.
“It was unlike any other history course they were likely to take,” recalls Dufault. “It was a matter of life and death for these kids, who were either going to be drafted or find some dodge to avoid the draft. How did this nation get to the point where we were incinerating villages in Southeast Asia? That’s what I wanted them to understand.”
Politics has never been far from the center of Dufault’s life, nor for that matter, from his poetry, which makes him a rarity among American poets.
“What’s bothered me most about the majority of American poets is that they are less and less engaged; while the United States, this great millenial experiment, is crumbling at the joints, they’re undisturbed,” said Dufault. “They seem to be suffering from an attention deficit disorder.”
Dufault was first exposed to left-wing politics as an undergraduate at Harvard, when a classmate took him to a meeting of the campus chapter of the John Reed Club, then dominated by party-line communists.
Not one to adopt any party’s line, Dufault never returned. Nevertheless, in the 1950s, he found himself blacklisted from New York newspapers. He headed north, becoming editor of the Catskill Daily Mail. He then found his way into teaching.
“For me, he was a sage,” said Chris Noth. “He was always interested in what you had to say. When you showed him a poem or an essay, you always went away with a kernel of something to work with. He didn’t treat us as school boys to be talked at.”
But Dufault’s “vivacity, his capacity for enjoying life, whether it was through a soccer game, chess or a conversation,” was also a lesson in living in the world, said Noth.
“Chris Noth has done more for this film than I could have asked,” said Ethan Dufault.
In addition to helping win attention for the film, Noth also played a role, albeit an indirect one, in its inception, said Dufault.
“My father and I are both birders, and we happened to run into one another on a bird walk,” said Dufault. “He mentioned that Chris Noth had approached him about making a film about Robert Frost, but some how that fell through. So I suggested that I make a film about him.”
Of the film, Peter Dufault says, “Film is not my medium; I don’t have any personal, aesthetic or political stake in it. When Ethan first asked me to look at the footage, I was astonished by how good it was. The piece of film that I saw was of a person reciting a poem; it didn’t register as me, it was just some agreeable old fart speaking poetry; it sounded good. It was a collaboration of film and poetry which I’d never seen before. I agreed to sign on but to back off; I’ve remained outside of it by choice. Ethan has his own agenda.”
The Lake Placid Center for the Arts is located at 17 Algonquin Drive in Lake Placid. The program, which is co-sponsored by the Lake Placid Institute, starts at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10 per adult and $2 per student. People under 18 will be admitted at no cost.
The film makers are especially interested in attracting young people to the event, hence the low prices for tickets, said Michael Thomas.
“Peter Dufault is an 87 year old volcano,” said Thomas. “The kids are open to his message. They get it. We’ve held Question and Answer periods wherever we’ve screened the film, and the questions have been fantastic.”
Chris Noth will screen the film at NYU, Columbia, Yale, Middlebury and other schools.
“I talk to a lot of kids, and I’m chagrined when they say they want to study business or communications; those years of high school and college should be the time of intellectual awakening. My hope is that this film about Peter Dufault will have the same effect on them that he had on me,” said Noth.
“Today, poetry is an endangered species,” Noth said. “Peter made you feel that poetry was a noble and worthwhile endeavor, and I still feel that.”
For more information about the event , contact the Lake Placid Center for the Arts at 518-523-1312. Photos: Noth and Dufault in New York courtesy of Lake Placid Center for the Arts; Ethan and Peter Dufault courtesy of Ethan Dufault.
This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change.
Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report on Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and on the stations of North Country Public Radio.
The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Rangers incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.
DO NOT FEED BEARS: This week a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Wildlife biologists believe the yearling had been fed by campers and grown not to fear people. This is the first bear killed so far this year by the Department of Environmental Conservation; eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer.
Fire Danger: MODERATE – Vegetation is still green, however, the ground and duff are very dry. Be cautious with fire. Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water. Stir to make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water, use dirt not duff. Do not bury coals as they can smolder and break out into fire later.
Central Adirondacks Weather Friday: Chance of morning showers; high near 59. Friday Night: Gradually becoming mostly clear; low around 35. Saturday: Sunny, high near 68. Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, low around 45. Sunday: Chance of showers, cloudy, high near 64.
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]
SPORTSMEN LICENSES NOW ON SALE
The 2010-2011 hunting, trapping and freshwater fishing sporting license year will begin on October 1, 2010 and all sporting licenses are now available for purchase. Find out how to purchase a sporting license on the DEC website. Information about the 2010 Hunting Seasons is also available online [pdf]. All first-time hunters, bowhunters and trappers are required to take and pass one or more education courses. Visit the DEC website to get more information on the Sportsman Education Program and find an upcoming course near you.
GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS
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.
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.
Bear-Resistant Canisters The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.
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].
ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS
** indicates new or revised items.
** Newcomb: Expect heavier than usual traffic in the Newcomb area during this weekend’s Teddy Roosevelt Weekend.
** Adirondack Canoe Classic / 90 Miler: The annual Adirondack Canoe Classic, known locally as the 90-Miler, will be held this weekend. This three-day flat water race follows the original highways of the Adirondacks from Old Forge to Saranac Lake. Expect very heavy use along the paddle route which starts on Friday at Old Forge. The route includes the Fulton Chain of Lakes, the Raquette Lake, the Marion River and the Eckford Chain of Lakes ending in Blue Mountain Lake at the end of day one. Saturday begins at Bissell’s on Long Lake continues down Long Lake and into the Raquette River to the state boat launch on Routes 3 & 30 (about five miles east of the village of Tupper Lake). Sunday begins at Fish Creek Campground proceeds down Upper Saranac Lake through the carry to Middle Saranac Lake and on to the Saranac River, into Lower Saranac Lake across Oseetah Lake and Lake Flower to the finish at Prescott Park in the village of Saranac Lake.
** Whiteface: The Whiteface Mountain Bike Park, operated by High Peaks Cyclery, is hosting their 5th Annual 5k Downhill Race, Sept. 10-12. The race, being held on Whiteface, in Wilmington, N.Y., is not only the finals for the Pro Gravity Tour, but is also the seventh event of the eight-race Gravity East Series.
** 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.
** Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower: The firetower on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain is now closed for the season
All Climbing Routes Have Reopened: Thanks to the cooperation of the rock climbing community and their efforts in monitoring Peregrine Falcon nest sites and refrain from climbing closed routes, in 2010 eight successful nests of Peregrine Falcons in the Adirondacks produced a total of 20 fledglings. CLIMBERS NOTE: There has been an increase in fixed anchor bolts at several cliffs in the Adirondacks, including new bolts placed in close proximity to the eyrie ledge at two locations. DEC urges rock climbers to exercise discretion in placing new anchor bolts.
Blue Mountain Wild Forest: Forest Ranger Greg 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.
** Blue Mountain Wild Forest: The Blue Mountain Fire Tower is open to the public including the cab. The fire tower was restored a few years ago. The DEC intern present during August to greet the public and educate them about fire towers and the forest preserve is now longer available.
Ausable River: There is no public access to area of the East Branch of the Ausable River known as Champagne Falls, where a young boy recently drowned. No swimming is permitted and dangerous rocks and currents are found there. Heed the additional “No Trespassing” and “No Swimming” signs that have been posted. This covers both the Grist Mill and Hulls Falls sides of the River. Parking is being restricted. Law enforcement officers have added this area to their patrols and will be enforcing the law.
Raquette River Boat Launch: Rehabilitation of the Raquette River Boat Launch on state Route 3 outside Tupper Lake, also known as “The Crusher”, is complete. DEC expended approximately $190,00 from 2009 EPF Parks Capital Fund to upgrade the parking lots, install a new concrete boat ramp and floating dock, construct a separate launch area for canoes and kayaks and the improve the site so it is accessible for people with mobility disabilities. Paddlers are encouraged to use the canoe and kayak launch and retrieval area which is located just 50 feet upstream of the boat launch ramp.
Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Rock Dam Road and the campsites along it have reopened. The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), the Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge will also be open this weekend. Gates to other side roads, including Indian Lake Road, Otter Brook Truck Trail, and Otter Brook Road, remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time.
** Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road: DEC Contractors have begun work to remove the culvert at Bradley Brook on the main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) and replace it with a bridge. All locations within the Moose River Plains remain accessible, however locations east of Bradley Brook must be accessed from Cedar River entrance, while locations west of Bradley Brook must be accessed from the Limekiln Lake entrance. The work should take no more than a week, at which time the same work will be performed for the culvert on Sumner Stream. See the map for locations of the Bradley Brook and Sumner Stream crossings.
Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is under construction on the lake’s north shore. 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.
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 Dacy Clearing Road, Lily Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road, Gay Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.
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.
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. Also, DEC and Student Conservation Association crews have been working throughout the summer to move 8 campsites, close 23 campsites and create 21 new campsites [online map]. Please respect closure signs. Work is occuring during the week, and only on one or two campsites at a time.
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.
Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.
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.
High Peaks/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.
Calamity Dam Lean-to: Calamity Lean-to #1, the lean-to closest to the old Calamity Dam in the Flowed Lands, has been dismantled and removed.
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.
Upper Works – Preston Ponds Washouts: Two foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and Preston Pond were washed out by an ice jam. One bridge was located 1/3 mile northwest of the new lean-to on Henderson Lake. The second bridge was located several tenths of a mile further northwest. The streams can be crossed by rock hopping. Crossings may be difficult during periods of high water.
Duck Hole: The bridge across the dam has been removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water.
Northville-Placid Trail: Beaver activity has blocked a section between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing. Hikers can use a well used, but unmarked, 1/4 mile reroute around the flooded portion of the trail.
** West Canada Lakes Wilderness / N-P Trail: The bridge over Mud Creek, on the Northville-Placid Trail northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out.
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is also affecting the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, particularly 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.
——————– Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation 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.
The ways to enjoy the outdoors in the Adirondacks are legion. A pleasant drive through the mountains, a relaxing day by the lakeshore in a state campground, a soothing canoe ride along a slow-moving river or a vigorous hike on one of the many state-maintained trails are just a few ways to take pleasure experiencing the outdoors within the Blue Line. But few outdoor activities allow for the freedom to experience the Adirondacks on its own terms like bushwhacking does. Bushwhacking, or off-trail hiking, permits the exploration of almost all of the environments within the Adirondacks as long as they are accessible via foot travel. Bushwhacking is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to clear a path through thick woods especially by chopping down bushes and low branches”. The Adirondacks surely has its share of thick woods with bushes and low branches (witchhobble and American beech saplings come to mind) but it is illegal to perform any chopping of live vegetation on public forest preserve property. Fortunately, a machete is completely unnecessary within the Adirondacks where the vegetation is never so dense as to require such extremes. Instead, bushwhacking should be defined within the Blue Line as navigating through natural terrestrial environments (i.e. forests, wetlands, beaver vlys, etc.) without the aid of any human-constructed landmarks such as roads or trails.
In the Adirondacks, bushwhacking only requires the use of a map and compass, a sturdy pair of hiking boots and a desire to explore areas where few have tread. If you are more comfortable with modern technology then a hand-held GPS navigational device can be substituted for the map and compass. Some find navigating with a GPS device to be tedious and prefer to learn orienteering skills to navigate through the landscape. Regardless of preference, map and compass skills should be mastered be everyone adventuring off-trail into the backcountry as GPS devices can cease functioning or run low on battery power. GPS devices equipped with digital topographical maps can be useful especially navigating during wet weather where paper maps quickly become saturated and disintegrate.
If extensive multi-day adventures are desired then traditional backpacking equipment will be required too. When purchasing backpacking equipment for bushwhacking purposes keep in mind the gear should be rugged, well-made, and lightweight. Bushwhacking inflicts greater wear and tear on your gear, so emphasizing rugged and well-made equipment will ensure years of use. Since bushwhacking is typically more arduous than traditional backpacking (e.g. the ground is less level, more obstacles to climb over or around, continuously being poked and prodded by sharp branches, etc.) it is advantageous to lighten the load on your back as much as possible. This can be accomplished by either leaving home unnecessary equipment or replacing heavier articles with lighter weight equivalents.
There are essentially two different navigation methods while bushwhacking. The shortest-distance method entails taking a direct bearing between two geographic features on a map (i.e. a hill, a stream, a lake or pond, etc.) and staying true to the bearing as much as possible as you travel over the landscape. Detours often are necessary to find an adequate stream crossing, avoid a steep section, etc. Dog-legging is the second navigation method, where one travels shorter distances and at different bearings in an attempt to avoid more difficult features on the landscape. Usually a combination of the two methods is necessary to efficiently bushwhack through the diverse topography found in the Adirondacks.
The Adirondacks affords almost infinite bushwhacking opportunities from state-owned forest preserve to private properties with recreational easements. Extensive areas devoid of trails or roads offer the greatest bushwhacking opportunities but trails and dirt roads can be useful to gain access deep into the backcountry. Herd paths (unmarked foot paths created either by human or animal activities) can be found in abundance in areas where gaining access to certain landscape features is popular. Trails, dirt-roads and bushwhacking can be combined to produce lengthy adventures over varied landscape often found in the Adirondacks.
Bushwhacking provides a multitude of opportunities for enjoying the outdoors in the Adirondacks regardless of whether one is interested in forests, wetlands, wilderness lakes or rugged mountain peaks. So pick up a map and compass, learn how to use them and get out and experience the Adirondack as only bushwhacking allows.
Please join me in welcoming Dan Crane as the Adirondack Almanack‘s newest regular contributor. Dan has been visiting the Adirondacks since childhood and actively exploring its backcountry by hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for almost two decades. In addition, he is a life-long naturalist with a Bachelor and Master of Science in Ecology from SUNY ESF and 10+ seasons working as a field biologist, five inside the Blue Line. Dan has hiked the Northville-Placid Trail twice and climbed all 46 High Peaks but currently spends most of his backpacking time exploring the northwestern portion of the Adirondacks. He will be writing about bushwhacking and backcountry camping, including providing insights on equipment and his observations as a veteran backcountry explorer. His posts will appear every other week on Thursdays, beginning today.
Dan will no doubt share some exciting stories of the backcountry. Hopefully none will match his most recent harrowing adventure, experiencing the July 1995 Great Blowdown first hand; he was airlifted out of the Five Ponds Wilderness via helicopter the day after the storm.
Dan is also the creator of the new blog Bushwhacking Fool where he details his bushwhacking adventures in the Adirondacks and elsewhere.
Yesterday evening the dog decided to take our walk around behind the rescue squad building. A variety of wildlife no doubt travels this corridor, so it was not surprising that his nose led us in this general direction. My nose is not as sensitive as the dog’s, but my eyes are drawn to things that he probably thinks are dull – like a white flower blooming at the corner of the building.
White flowers that are not asters are not common at this time of year. In fact, the only white flowers that come to mind are the aforementioned asters and nodding ladies tresses. The plant that caught my eye was neither of these; it was heal-all (Prunella vulgaris). You all know heal-all (alternatively known as self-heal, heart-of-the-earth, carpenter weed, blue curls, sicklewort, and woundwort): it is the short, stocky plant that grows in your yard, sporting purple blossoms throughout the warm seasons. The key point here is that it normally has purple blossoms. The plant I encountered last night was white. There are rogues in every population.
Most people probably consider heal-all a weed. It disrupts the perfect lawn. Ah – how we have changed. Not all that long ago this was a plant sought by people from all walks of life, for it is edible and medicinal, making it highly desirable.
The modern lawn is often a barren wasteland, botanically speaking. Chemically controlled to prevent all but a very few plant species from growing, not to mention to keep out all sorts of insects, it may look like a lovely plush green carpet, but it’s lacking in character and life. Once upon a time, the lawn was a veritable salad bowl, chocked full of all sorts of edible plants, not the least of which is/was heal-all. Highly nutritious, if bitter, it used to find its way into salads, soups and stews. It could even be boiled and used as a pot herb. Considering the amount of heal-all in my lawn, I could open a U-Pick stand if it was still popular!
As important as this plant was to supplement the human diet, it was as a medicinal herb that it found its niche. At one point in time, it was considered to be a panacea. Have a sty in your eye? Use a rinse made from Prunella. Have a fever? Prunella will save the day. Stomach ailment? Diarrhea? Internal bleeding? Wounds that won’t heal? Prunella to the rescue!
As it turns out, this humble herb, which is mostly Eurasian in origin (although recent studies have turned up a native variety, Prunella vulgaris elongata), contains many compounds that are truly beneficial in the field of medicine, not the least of which is a strong anti-bacterial property. This quality alone would explain why the plant was so often sought to help heal wounds in the days before germs were common knowledge.
Modern medicine is now studying the effects of heal-all as a treatment for herpes, AIDS, cancer and diabetes.
If food and medicine aren’t enough to convince you to keep heal-all in your yard, then consider this: it is an important nectar source for a large variety of native pollinators (bees and butterflies), not to mention that its leaves are a food source for the larval form of the gray marvel moth.
While I’ve taken the time to look at heal-all in the past, it wasn’t until this white form grabbed my attention last night that I decided to take another look. There’s a moral here: it’s often pays to look twice at those things which we take for granted. There might be a hidden quality that we’ve missed in our assumption of the common.
Located on the windiest spot of Cascade Pass, Pitchoff Chimney Cliff is visible to everyone who stops by. Given the precipitous road, drivers would be forgiven for not giving the wide, bare rock more than a passing glance as they maneuvered through one of the High Peak’s most scenic routes.
But if they pulled to the side and looked up, they would most likely see climbers plastered all over the rock. And with good reason — the cliff contains some of the park’s best moderate routes. It also has something climbers like best: an easy approach. In late August I spent a day here with partner Steve Goldstein and his teenage son Joe. We climbed several routes, including the justly famous Pete’s Farewell and the lesser-known but quite good route called Great Chimney.
The Great Chimney is a route that all climbers on the face should try, because it gives ascentionists a chance to see what Chimney Crag is all about. While the cliff looks like solid rock from the road, much of the face is actually a thin veneer of stone, detached except for the base from the mountain itself, and separated by a dark, roofless space known as a “chimney.”
A chimney in climbing parlance is generally a crack large enough to fit a body in. Many of these routes require “stemming” both walls, making a bridge with hands and feet and using opposing pressure to climb up. They can be some of the most physically demanding and intimidating routes, and climbers often emerge exhausted, with clothes ripped and bodies bloodied from the wrestling match with granite.
Pitchoff’s chimney is much more friendly. After a single pitch up the outside corner, climbers find themselves in its dark bowels, hidden from the view outside and clambering among a pile of broken boulders at its base. The second pitch is short but interesting. Rated 5.6 (fairly easy on the climbing rating scale), I found it somewhat intimidating and hard to figure out. It follows an overhanging crack up the chimney to a notch, where sunlight poured down from the outside world.
It was my turn to lead. I puzzled over the crack for a few minutes, and finally reached out to the other side and ascended the route in classic chimney fashion. Climbing chimneys can often feel sketchy, like you can fall at any moment, but thanks to a wall featured with indentations, this one was solid. It took a while, but eventually I went through the notch and found myself back in the world of sun and sky.
Joe and then Steve soon followed, each finding their own way to ascend the route, and agreeing it was more difficult than the rating suggested.
After rapelling back to the ground, we reorganized our gear and ascended Pete’s Farewell, a true Adirondack classic. This is a more traditional route that follows cracks and corners up the middle of the face. We were following a couple, and the lady — a French-Canadian named Myriam — was having trouble on the crux.
“Oh, my God,” she said repeatedly in heavily-accented English, before finally making the move with help from pulling on a piece of rock-climbing gear. It was clear we weren’t the only ones to be intimidated by the stout nature of Adirondack climbing.