Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Short Adirondack Hike For Short Days

November is one of those in-between months, sort of like mud or black-fly season, where your outdoor activities are sort of limited. There’s no snow yet (not anymore, not like the old days anyway), it’s too cold to paddle unless you’re a die-hard and without any leaves the woods certainly don’t look terribly appealing. Not to mention the fact that it gets dark only a few hours past noon.

Our advice for a hike during these dreary, pre-winter days? Keep it short.

A good outing for those in the Lake George area, or living in the Capital Region, is Sleeping Beauty. This 2,162-foot-high treeless peak is less than two miles from the parking lot (assuming you’re brave enough to drive the one-lane, 1.5-mile road to Dacy Clearing from Shelving Rock Road — but I’ve done it several times in a sedan and never had a problem). And though it gains steeply toward the end it’s a climb any hiker should be able to tackle.

To reach the trailhead, 149 east of Route 9 in Queensbury, and make a left on Buttermilk Falls Road. Follow that road for a good 10 to 15 minutes until you enter the Shelving Rock woods. You’ll see a huge parking lot on the right, and at the end of that will be the road to Dacy Clearing (or park here and walk the road if you like). Don’t make the right onto Hogback Road.

Trail signs point the way to Sleeping Beauty, which at first follows an old, rugged dirt road. Eventually, the trail leaves the road and climbs steeply past rock cliffs to the summit, which provides a sterling view over most of Lake George.

If you left early enough you’ll have time to explore some of the many trails in this area. Bumps Pond, just north of Sleeping Beauty, makes a nice loop, and Fishbrook Pond further north will make the loop even longer. There’s a nice leanto at Fishbrook to have lunch and a number of other loop options if the short days still haven’t caught up to you.

While the trails are well-signed, an ADK Eastern Region trail map will go a long way to helping you choose your destinations. Remember to pack a flashlight and warm clothes, and enjoy.

Photo: Lake George from Sleeping Beauty.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Short History of Adirondack Airplane Crashes

Yesterday’s tragic death of two in the crash of a Piper Cherokee 140 single engine aircraft en route from Saratoga to Malone recalls the sometimes perilous nature of airplane travel in the Adirondacks. While the investigation is still underway, New York State Police have confirmed that Daniel R. Wills, age 48, of North Bangor, and his passenger Ronald E. Rouselle, age 66, of Malone, were killed in a crash that appears to have occurred at about 4,600 feet near Tahawas in the Santanoni Mountain Range in Newcomb. The accident appears to be the second fatal crash at Santanoni; a 1984 crash of a small private plane at Santanoni Peak also killed two. That same year a Cessna 206 crashed into Boreas Mountain. That aircraft, containing the skeleton of the pilot, was discovered by hikers in 1990.

Here is a list of nearly 30 plane crashes that have happened in the Adirondacks since 1912:

1912 – A Curtiss-Wright Bi-plane fitted with pontoons (believed to be the first airplane to fly over the Adirondacks) crashed into Raquette Lake; the pilot (Robert J. Collier, heir to Colliers weekly and the first President of the Aero Club of America) was unhurt and the plane was salvaged.

1926 – A private plane attempting to land on Lake George plunges through thin ice; the pilot and two passengers, who were on their way to Lake Placid were rescued by boat.

1928 – George Walker, the 27 year old President of Albany Air Service, crashed his Waco biplane into the Nazarene Church steeple in Wilmington. Two local boys were with him in the plane and they escaped unhurt, but Walker was seriously injured and it was considered a miracle he survived.

1931 – Three people were injured when their private plane crashed into a tree while landing at a makeshift airport on the Baldwin-Ticonderoga Road.

1934 – American Airlines Curtis Condor biplane crashes into Wilder Mountain, all four onboard survived.

1939 – The motor of a small private plane failed to gain altitude while taking off from Lake Clear Airport. The pilot, Herman Perry of Paul Smiths, survived.

1939 – One woman was injured when a chartered seaplane crashed into Pollywog Pond near the Saranac Inn. The pilot and another passenger were unhurt.

1942 – One man is killed and one survives when they stole an Aeronca from the Wesport air strip, ran out of gas, and crashed between Moriah and Port Henry.

1943 – Two Royal Canadian Air Force flyers on a training mission crashed into Wilmington Peak, north of the Whiteface Memorial Highway, in a snowstorm. They had been circling looking for a place to land; both men were killed.

1944 – Army National Guard C-46 transport crashes three miles west of Lewes Lake on Blue Ridge Mountain near Speculator. The wreckage was discovered in August 1945 by searchers looking for a civilian plane that went down between Lake Placid and Booneville.

1945 – A two seat Taylorcraft crashed on Labounty Hill, about a half mile from Saranac Lake; both the plane’s occupants were killed.

1945 – A small plane carrying three people flying from Lake Placid to Rome, NY crashed on Bullhead Mountain in Johnsburg. A search failed to locate the accident site and it remained undiscovered until a hunter came upon the crash several months later, along with the two women and one male pilot who were killed in the crash.

1950 – Two men survive the crash of their Fairchild trainer when it goes down off River Road in Lake Placid.

1958 – Julian Reiss, owner of Santa’s Workshop, and his daughter crashed near Moose Pond but were able to walk out to safety a day later. When Reiss returned to the spot in hopes of salvaging the plane, he discovered someone had stolen the planes 450 pound engine.

1959 – A NYS Department of Conservation plane on a fish stocking mission crashed into the side of Mt. MacNaughton after taking off from Lake Clear Airport. Four survived, but Chester Jackson of Saranac Lake was killed.

1962 – A B-47 bomber crashes into Wright Peak while on a training mission; four were killed.

1969 – The deadliest aircraft accident in Adirondack history occurred when a Mohawk Airlines commuter turbojet crashed into a mountain near Pilot Knob on Lake George. The plane had left New York City, made a stop in Albany to discharge 33 passengers, and was circling for a landing at the Warren County Regional Airport in Queensbury when it went off course. All fourteen on board were killed.

1969 – A Cherokee 140 piloted by F. Peter Simmons crashed in Iroquois Mountain. Simmons was badly hurt but was rescued and recovered.

1972 – A Bonanza en route from Montreal to Albany with two on board is reported missing. A hunter discovers the wreckage and two bodies near Meacham Lake in 1973.

1974 – An F-106 jet on a training mission from Griffiss Air Force base crashes near Hopkinton. The body of the pilot, who ejected before the crash, is found 20 miles away near Seveys Corners.

1978 – An eleven passenger Piper Navajo crashes at 3,100 feet near the summit of Nye Mountain. Three were killed, but a dog on the plane walked through miles of wilderness and arrived at Lake Placid 10 days later.

1980 – A Beechcraft Baron carrying two pilots and a family of three crashes into Blue Hill on its approach to Lake Clear; all five are killed.

1984 – A small private plane crashes into Santanoni Peak killing two.

1984 – A Cessna 206 crashes into Boreas Mountain. The aircraft and the skeleton of the pilot, are discovered by hikers in 1990.

1986 – Two Massachusetts Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt jets crashed near Wells while training. One of the plane’s pilots was killed; the otehr safely ejected.

1992 – An early morning Plattsburgh flight of a USAir Express 19 commuter plane crashes into Blue Hill while descending to land at Lake Clear; two of the four on board survive.

2000 – Two men barely survive the crash of a small private plane near Lake Placid.

2004 – A single engine Piper Arrow crashes within a mile of Lake Clear Airport while en route to Virginia. Pilot Paul Grulich and his wife Alice were both killed.

2007 – A twin engine Beech private plane crashes at Lake Clear Airport killing the pilot.

Photo: An early plane crash from the holdings of the National Archives.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: ADK Leonid Meteor Shower

My husband and I were up in the pre-dawn morning with probably half the world to essentially watch a fiery burning of debris enter the atmosphere. To then describe to my child a scientific reason for getting out of bed took a bit of research and a chat with an expert.

In layman’s terms (that is all I’ve got) the Leonid Meteors got their name from their apparent relationship to the constellation Leo. The meteors, some no larger than a speck of dust, derive from the parent comet Tempel-Tuttle. Ernest Tempel (December 1865) and Horace Tuttle (January 1866) individually recognized that the Tempel-Tuttle Comet was a recurring one.

The Tempel-Tuttle Comet takes a little over 33 years to orbit the sun. Each time the comet is closest to the sun it sheds particles that cluster together. Depending on where Earth passes through in the comet’s debris trail depends on the intensity of the meteors. Some years there can be as many as 500 meteors falling per hour. This year is not a “sky is falling” type of meteor year but certainly a way to introduce children to astronomy. The phase of the moon coupled with a clear night is what will make viewing the Leonids a pleasurable experience for all.

President of the Tupper Lake Observatory Mark Staves says, “The Leonid Meteor shower does occur every year but since we will have a new moon on the 18th, moonlight won’t be a factor. Moonlight usually diminishes the effect of the meteors. When the light from the meteor shower competes with the moonlight it is not as spectacular.”

He says, “After midnight start to search for meteors toward the east. As the morning progressives look toward southeast and then about 5:00 a.m. the meteors should be toward the south.”

The Adirondack Loj will be hosting a meteor-searching, s’more-eating campfire this evening at Heart Lake. Even though the early dawn of November 17th was predicted as the peak of the meteor shower the darkened skies coupled with the wide-open mountaintops over Heart Lake will present perfect viewing.

The timing of this event is late for little ones. This free program is hosted by an ADK naturalist and runs from 9:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. tonight. If you can’t make this event the meteor showers will still be able for viewing from any dark wide-open space through the 20th of this month, lessening in frequency as the moonlight brightens in intensity.

“They (meteors) can be intensive,” Staves says. “It would help children to understand that what they are actually seeing is something as small as a speck of dust but traveling 50 times the speed of sound.”

When something so small hits the atmosphere so fast the heat created causes the sand-sized particles to vaporize Staves summarizes.

As for the Tupper Lake Observatory, board members are in the process of putting together the necessary permit applications to the Adirondack Park Agency.

“We have architectural renderings for a Roll-Off Observatory,” Staves says. “The 24-30’ building will have a gantry roof structure so that the whole roof can come off. All the equipment will be set up there permanently. The roof will roll off completely and have a full view of the night sky. We anticipate breaking ground summer of 2010.”

Photo Credit: Simon Filiatrault


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cross-Country Ski Centers of the Adirondacks

These aren’t little rascals, they’re good Dewey Mountain kids, helping get their cross-country ski trails ready for winter. The Harrietstown ski area, run by Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters, hosts a volunteer work day 9:30–3:30 Saturday to build a bridge and finish drainage work that’s been ongoing all autumn. (All welcome!) Dewey’s just one of many Adirondack ski centers preparing for opening day.

The park of course has limitless free backcountry skiing on Forest Preserve, but a midwinter thaw can reveal the beauty of more civilized gliding. Most x-c ski centers pack the base so it holds up better after rain or heatwave. For races and growing legions of skate-skiers, trail grooming is a must. Plus, it’s just nice to have a hut when kids are learning to ski—a warm place to change boots or have a cup of cocoa. At night the lodges become the hub of ski parties.

Alan Wechsler gave us the rundown of downhill areas earlier this month, and we featured Tug Hill ski destinations this morning. So below are links to Adirondack cross-country ski centers. Some have lodging, some have food, some link to larger trail networks; no two are alike but each has something to make it worth the price of admission.

Garnet Hill Lodge, North River, 55 kilometers of trails

Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center, Northville, 38 km

Dewey Mountain X-C Ski and Snowshoe Recreation Center, Saranac Lake, 15 km

Cascade Ski Touring Center, Lake Placid, 20 km

Mount Van Hoevenberg Verizon Olympic Sports Complex, Lake Placid, 50+ km

Whiteface Club and Resort, Lake Placid, 15 km

Lake Placid Crown Plaza Resort, 25 km

The Jackrabbit Trail is a town-to-town trail linking all the way from Keene to Paul Smiths. Definitely not a ski center, but we love it, and volunteers take great care of the trails. The Adirondack Ski Touring Council, the donor-supported organization that maintains it, reports up-to-date trail conditions for the Jackrabbit, the High Peaks backcountry and several Lake Placid-area ski centers.

The Paul Smiths and Newcomb Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Centers (VICs) have well-kept trails as well as warm buildings, and they’re free.

Time to bookmark the snow-depth map!

Photograph taken and enhanced by Jason Smith, co-manager of Dewey Mountain


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Few Ways Snow Makes Tug Hill Different

Tug Hill, the 2,100-square-mile uplift west of the Adirondack Park, gets so much snow that camps are said to have entryways on the second floor in case the first floor gets snowed in. Tug Hill gets so much snow that driving through can be like traveling into a snow globe while skies remain clear north and south of the bubble. Tug Hill gets so much snow that plow drivers “plant” ten-foot-tall saplings every fall so they can see where the side of the road is.

And last week was planting time throughout Lewis County, when the “whips,” as the young limb-stripped hardwoods are called, were spaced along windswept roadsides. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Noah Rondeau: A Day in His Woods

Many an article and book is available describing the life of Noah Rondeau and his hermitage. Interactions with the few hikers who ventured into his area portrayed a favorable gentleman who loved the company of some people as well as his solitude. Pictures are worth a thousand words and attach emotion to the text. A walk to the site of the former hermitage, however, allows a person an even deeper perspective and appreciation for the “Last Adirondack Hermit” and his way of life. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Exporting The Adirondack Park Model to England

There’s been a lot of discussion in recent months about the exportation of the “Adirondack model” – the sense that the environmental conservation model used here in the Adirondack region can be exported to other places in the world. It’s an argument that North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann called “one of the great orthodoxies of Adirondack theory.”

Recent interviews by former Adirondack Park Agency chairman Ross Whaley to support the 600 page tome The Great Experiment in Conservation have left a sense that the Adirondack experiment – that combination of public and private lands, overseen by a combination of local and regional authorities – can not be repeated. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 16, 2009

The Last Days of John Brown: Southern Fears

There were about 4 million slaves in the United States at the time of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859. Slavery in the South rested on complex and often convoluted political, social, and economic systems, enforced by violence. Perhaps because forcing people to work for you for free was so dependent on violence, the south was continuously racked with fear – fear that one’s slaves (or someone else’s) would rise up against them. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

World Cup Bobsled, Skeleton Returns to Lake Placid

The 2009-10 FIBT World Cup bobsled and skeleton season is underway and some of world’s best bobsledders and skeleton athletes will be coming to the Olympic Sports Complex track in Lake Placid, during the second stop of the seven-race tour November 20-22. Here are the details supplied by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, who manages the Lake Placid Olympic venues:

While in Lake Placid, the U.S. squad will try to match the same success it enjoyed last season when driver Steve Holcomb helped lead the team to four world championship medals on the 1,455-meter long course. The “Night Train” stood on three medal podiums, winning bronze in the two-man man race, bronze in the team competition and gold in the four-man event. That victory allowed him to become the first American pilot to claim a World title in 50 years.

Fellow American Shauna Robuck is also looking forward to being back in Lake Placid. Last season, the 32-year-old won a pair of world championship medals, piloting her sled to silver in the women’s two-man event, before helping the squad nab bronze in the team competition.

The U.S. skeleton team should be just as strong. The women’s line up is led by two-time World Cup Champion Katie Uhlaender and 2007 World Champion Noelle Pikus-Pace, while Zach Lund, the 2007 World Champion, and Eric Bernotas, a winner of several World Championship and World Cup medals during his career, headline the men’s roster.

Other sleds to watch include German Andre Lange, who won the four-man silver medal, and Latvia’s Janis Minins, the 2009 four-man World Championship bronze medalist. Other athletes to keep an eye out for include Switzerland’s Gregor Staehli, the reigning men’s skeleton World Champion, and Germany’s Marion Trott, the defending women’s skeleton World Champion.

Racing begins Friday, Nov. 20, at 9:30 a.m. with the women’s skeleton event, followed by the men’s skeleton race at 1 p.m. The men’s two-man bobsled race is slated for Saturday, Nov. 21, also beginning at 9:30 a.m., while the women’s two-man bobsled race is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Both the four-man bobsled race and the team competition are set for Sunday, Nov. 22. The four-man race begins at 9:30 a.m. and the team event caps off the three days of racing at 1 p.m.

Daily Tickets are available for $8.00 for adults and $6.00 juniors and senior citizens. Anyone who brings a non-perishable food item for the Lake Placid Ecumenical food pantry will receive free entry. For tickets call the Olympic Sports Complex at 518-523-4436 or pick them up at the gate on event days. For more information on the Nov. 20-22 FIBT World Cup bobsled and skeleton race in Lake Placid, log on to www.whiteface.com.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lecture: The Klan, Vigilantism in the Adirondacks

Writer and social historian Amy Godine will be giving a talk about vigilantes and the Ku Klux Klan on Sunday, November 22, at 3 p.m., at 511 Gallery on Main Street in Lake Placid. The lecture, entitled “Have You Seen That Vigilante Man?”, is being sponsored by The Lake Placid Institute.

Those interested in local history should be familiar with Godine’s work on social and ethnic history of the Adirondacks. Her stories, which have appeared a number of times in Adirondack Life magazine, take on the usually ignored aspects of Adirondack history. Spanish road workers, Italian miners, black homesteaders, Jewish peddlers and Chinese immigrants have all been brought to life through Godine’s meticulous research and writing. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Porcupines: Armed and Dangerous

At the mention of the word “porcupine” most of us conjure in our minds the image of a medium-sized brown animal covered with long quills. But beyond this, I’d be willing to say that the average person knows very little about our second largest rodent, a relatively shy animal with poor eyesight, little muscle tone, and a fondness for salt. So, I thought I’d look into the cultural and natural history of the porcupine and see what interesting tidbits I could come up with to expand the average person’s knowledge of this denizen of our Adirondack forestlands. What I found was really quite interesting. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, November 13, 2009

APA Reverses Lows Lake Wilderness Vote

All three of Governor David Paterson’s representatives on the Adirondack Park Agency board have reversed votes made in September and opposed designation of the waters of Lows Lake as Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe. By a 6-4 vote the APA had added most of the waters and bed of Lows Lake to the Five Ponds Wilderness in September. The rest of the lake was classified as Primitive, which would have prohibited motorized use. It was later learned that the tenure of one of the APA commissioners had expired and the vote needed to be retaken – that vote occurred today and ended in a 7-4 reversal of the previous decision. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 13, 2009

State Investigators Probing Lake George Officials

The New York State Comptrollers Office is investigating potentially illegal actions by Town of Lake George officials, a spokesman for the Comptroller’s office said. “An investigation is underway but we cannot comment on its scope or how it was initiated,” said Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Lake George supervisor Lou Tessier said he had no knowledge of any investigation nor any idea why such an investigation would be undertaken.

Auditors from the Comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability have begun an examination of the town’s books, Tessier said, but stated that a performance audit is a routine matter. A similar audit was made of Lake George Village’s records earlier this fall.

Investigators from the Office of the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations, based in New York City, traveled to Lake George in mid-October to conduct interviews, the Lake George Mirror has learned. Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky and Fort William Henry Corporation president Robert Flacke were among those interviewed.

Navitsky said he was asked whether he knew of any instances of favoritism in the granting of variances or permits by the town’s Zoning or Planning Boards.

Flacke said he was asked about issues that emerged during his unsuccessful campaign for Town Supervisor two years ago. “We discussed issues such as whether developers are given gravel free from the town’s gravel pit and whether town employees work on private roads and driveways,” said Flacke.

Rita Dorman, a former Town Clerk who was later elected to the Town Board, said she was contacted by investigators but has not spoken with them. “I haven’t had any association with the town government in recent years; I have no information to give,” she said.

Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan, to whose office any criminal actions might be referred, said she has had no formal contact with the Comptroller’s office about the Lake George investigation.

Some residents have surmised that the investigation was begun after the Office of the Comptroller received complaints from one or more current or former town employees.

According to the Office of the Comptroller, the public is encouraged to report allegations of fraud, corruption or abuse of taxpayer dollars to a hotline staffed by investigators from the Investigations Unit of the Legal Services.

After conducting a preliminary investigation, the Office may proceed with a full investigation and refer its findings to a prosecutor or, if no evidence of wrong-doing is found, close the case.

Individuals who make complaints are granted anonymity, the Office says.

Photo: Lake George Supervisor Lou Tessier

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror or visit http://www.lakegeorgemirror.com


Friday, November 13, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories



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