When the next big snowfall comes, I know where I’m headed with my cross-country skis: Cat and Thomas mountains in the Eastern Adirondacks.
Located just west of Bolton Landing on Lake George, the two small peaks are part of a 1,900-acre preserve purchased in 2003 by the Lake George Land Conservancy. Neither of the two mountains require more than a 750-foot ascent to the top, making them two of the easiest ways to catch a killer view of Lake George or the Adirondack foothills. I’ve done this hike in warm weather and cold, and I like it best on skis. The trails are never desperately steep (at least to the intermediate skier). Fresh snow and wide skis are definitely preferred, however.
To reach the preserve, head east off Northway Exit 24 toward Bolton Landing, and make a right after two miles onto Valley Woods Road to find the preserve on the right. The trail to Cat, 3.5 miles, follows a rocky logging road. Occasional colored discs show the way. After about 15 minutes, you pass a right turn (signed) to Thomas Mountain, which is only 1.5 miles from the cars. You can also reach Cat Mountain from a different parking lot down the road from the main lot.
Which peak is better? Hard to say. When I was there last winter, Thomas still had a small cabin on top, which made a great place to take a break (there was talk of removing the cabin at the time). But the view faces west, missing the lake. Cat has nothing on top, and it’s got a sweeping view of the southern half of Lake George.
Thomas is the easier ski, but Cat is still quite doable. Climb them both — which shouldn’t take more than half a day — and you’ve got the makings of a great winter outing.
The state budget presented by Governor Paterson on Tuesday would cut 5% from New York’s Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) program to Adirondack towns and villages. Since 2005, money from AIM has been used by local governments across the state for a range of purposes including programs to consolidate government services.
Municipalities lying either wholly or partially within the Adirondack Park stand to lose a combined $123,371. Tupper Lake tops the list of communities hardest hit by cuts to AIM with combined revenue losses to village and town of $9,341. The Town of Newcomb—where the APA’s Visitor Interpretive Center is at risk, along with snowmobile trail links that depend on transfer of former Finch Pruyn land to the state—would suffer an excision of $9,149 in AIM revenues.
Communities that have recently moved to consolidate services are also among the hardest hit by the proposed AIM cuts: Harrietstown/Saranac Lake would lose $5,826; Moriah/Port Henry, $4,033; and North Elba/Lake Placid, $3,039. Long Lake completes the list of towns with the most to lose with a potential cut of $5,451. UPDATE: The town and village of Dannemora combined stand to lose $6,530 as well.
The Almanack compiled the following full list of AIM cuts to Adirondack localities (click to enlarge):
Governor David Paterson’s budget would zero-out money for land acquisition and impose an apparent two-year moratorium on state land purchases. Other components of the Environmental Protection Fund would also be reduced (33 percent across the board), but land conservation is the only category proposed for elimination.
This would leave the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy extended on many millions of dollars worth of land that the state has agreed to buy for the Forest Preserve. The tracts involved are 65,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn land spread across 27 towns, and 14,600 acres surrounding Follensby Pond, mostly in the town of Harrietstown. State payment on an easement on 92,000 acres of former Finch land is also pending. » Continue Reading.
We take our children every where from plays to play dates. Sometimes because of the experience and other times out of necessity. Our interests vary with what is available to us. One moment we may want to try new foods, the next time perhaps enjoy an award-winning show. In betwixt and between we always find time for the snow.
The Adirondack Art Center is bringing back an encore production of Almost Maine by John Cariani on January 22 at 7:00 p.m. at Indian Lake Theater and January 23 at 2:00 p.m. at Old Forge Arts Center.
Assistant Director Laura Marsh encourages all ages to attend, “We have had children as young as four come and enjoy this production. It really depends on the child and if they can sit still for 1-½ hours. The play is a series of vignettes, all set in the same small town in Maine. Almost Maine is about finding different ways and means of love.”
According to Marsh some other activities to look forward to will be held on site at the Art Center. Chef Mary Frasier from Camp Timberlock will start the first of a cooking series with “Soups and Breads” and on Sunday, the 23rd will be the beginning of Winter Tales, a live reading of a chosen play.
“These are all family-friendly events,” says Marsh. “A member was the inspiration behind Winter Tales. The first play we will be reading is Romeo and Juliet. Anyone that comes in will get a part and we then read the play out loud.”
On January 23 the Upper Hudson Musical Arts of North Creek brings award-winning pianist Eugene Albulescu to the Tannery Pond Community Center from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for an evening of solo piano and chamber music. Tickets are $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students. Children pre-school and under and free.
According to board member Jane Castaneda, Albulescu has been performing in the community for the past few years though he lives in Pennsylvania where he is an associate professor at LeHigh University.
Born in Romania, at age twelve Albulescu won Romania’s national music competition, the “Golden Lyre.” In 1984, he and his family emigrated from Romania to New Zealand where he made his concert debut at fifteen. One year later he won the Television New Zealand’s Young Musicians Competition. At sixteen-years-old, he was the youngest winner of record.
By nineteen he had completed his musical studies at Indiana University and became the youngest person to teach as an assistant instructor. Albulescu continues to receive awards and accolades throughout the United States and abroad. On his website he states that some of his most memorable moments have been playing at Carnegie Hall and during the White House Millennium Celebrations.
For those wishing for a bit more of an outdoor twist, starting on Monday the 25th, it’s “Bring Your Daughter to Gore” week. All daughters 19 and under can ski, ride and tube for free with a full paying parent. It actually specifies “parents” so anyone out there wishing to borrow a child is not eligible. Season pass holders, frequent-pass holders and Empire cardholder are included in this promotion. So enjoy a bit of bonding with your daughter and let your son stay in school.
Grab your ice skates and go to the pavilion at the North Creek Ski Bowl for free ice skating. The rink is open as long as the Bowl is open.
To round out the schedule is Gore Mountain’s Full Moon Party on the 30th at the North Creek Ski Bowl where Gore Mountain is opening the doors to night skiing discounts and tubing with a warm-up of hot chocolate and those gooey campfire treats. Participants can ski or tube for $10.00 for two-hours between 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. and then warm up inside by the fireplace with free s’mores.
Among the recommended cuts in Governor David Paterson’s budget are two local prisons: Moriah Shock Facility in Essex County and minimum-security Lyon Mountain in Clinton County. Also on the block are the Adirondack Park Agency’s Visitor Interpretive Centers in Paul Smiths and Newcomb.
The cuts, if accepted by the legislature, would be less black and white for the VICs than for the prisons. The VICs, though currently reliant on state funding, also have in place a nonprofit support board in the form of the Adirondack Park Institute, which has been working to develop something of a private, Wild Center model to support the educational facilities independently of the state. Paterson’s budget estimates severing the VICs would save the state $129,000 in 2010-11 and $583,000 annually thereafter. Local officials can be expected to put up a fight for the prisons, but they were not successful in sparing Camp Gabriels, in Franklin County, which was shut down earlier this year. Lyon Mountain, which would close in January 2011, and Moriah Shock, which would close in April 2011, are two of four prisons suggested for closure (Ogdensburg medium security in St. Lawrence County and Butler minimum security in Wayne County are the other two). The budget proposal states, “The prison population is projected to decline by 1,100 inmates in the current fiscal year and by another 1,000 inmates in the 2010-11 fiscal year – reaching a total of 57,600 inmates. . . . Once the closures are completed, the workforce will have been reduced by 637 staff, including 17 managerial staff. (2010-11 Savings: $7 million; 2011- 12 Savings: $52 million).”
Here is a link to the Executive Budget briefing book.
Much has been written about the Adirondack Park Agency in the past two weeks, none of it by the Almanack. But we’ll add this: the agency’s cartographers continue to make handy maps. The latest is an interactive online map of new state land classification proposals. (Click here to see and use.)
There are 91 points on the map, each one describing a proposed category for new state lands (from most restrictive to least: wilderness, primitive, wild forest, intensive use, state administrative—definitions here, current acreages here.) Collectively the parcels amount to 31,000 acres. The smallest are fractions of an acre, some of them little pieces of land that never got classified because the state wasn’t aware of them until improvements to tax maps. Some parcels are for DOT garages or adjacent to prisons. Others are recent state Forest Preserve acquisitions. The largest is 17,000 acres of former Domtar land surrounding Lyon Mountain, in Clinton County, which the APA is proposing to classify as Wild Forest, where motorized recreation is permitted on designated roads and trails.
Five public hearings are scheduled on the classifications in the next two weeks. The APA is also proposing to reclassify four parcels (468 acres) of existing state land. The APA makes these recommendations in concert with the Department of Environmental Conservation; they must ultimately be approved by the APA board and the governor. Here’s the public notice for more information.
Hearing schedule: January 25, 2010 Fire Hall 5635 Route 28N Newcomb, NY 7:00 pm
January 27, 2010 Park Avenue Building 183 Park Ave Old Forge, NY 7:00 pm
January 28, 2010 Town Hall, 3662 Route 3 Saranac, NY 7:00 pm
February 2, 2010 St. Lawrence County Human Services Center 80 SH 310 Canton, NY 7:00 pm
February 5, 2010 NYDEC, 625 Broadway Albany, NY 1:00 pm
The other day I skied the Jackrabbit Trail from end to end, a twenty-four-mile journey starting in Saranac Lake and ending at the Rock and River lodge in Keene. When I got to Rock and River, I told owner Ed Palen of my heroic feat. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “I do that every year.”
OK, I’m a far cry from Herman “Jackrabbit” Johannsen, the legendary skier for whom the trail is named. But for me, it was an epic day. And it got me thinking about other epic adventures in the Adirondacks.
What’s an epic adventure? First off, it must be long, arduous, and exciting. The best give you a quintessential Adirondack experience—one that can’t be topped.
The Jackrabbit qualifies as there’s no other ski trail like it in the Adirondacks. It traverses wild landscapes while connecting human communities. Tony Goodwin and the Adirondack Ski Touring Council deserve our thanks for creating and maintaining it.
Following are a half-dozen other Adirondack epic adventures that can be done in a day. If you have other suggestions or comments, please let us know.
Mount Marcy Ski. If you’re a backcountry skier, it’s hard to beat schussing down the state’s highest mountain. Of course, you have to climb seven and a half miles before the descent begins.
Eagle Slide. A number of High Peaks are scarred by bedrock slide paths. Many climbers regard the Eagle on Giant Mountain as the best. It’s wide and steep. I’ve done it in hiking boots and rock-climbing shoes. I felt much more comfortable in rock shoes.
Trap Dike. The deep gash in the side of Mount Colden, first climbed in 1850, is a classic mountaineering route. It’s steep enough in spots that some people bring ropes. After exiting the dike, you climb a broad slide to the summit.
Wallface. The largest cliff in the Adirondacks. To get there, you must hike several miles to Indian Pass in the High Peaks Wilderness. You don’t have to be an expert climber to scale the cliff—if you have a good guide. The Diagonal is the most popular route to start on.
Hudson Gorge. Several outfitters offer rafting trips through this wild, scenic canyon, but if you have the whitewater skills to canoe or kayak, go for it!
Great Range. Backpacker magazine describes a trek over the entire Great Range as “possibly the hardest classic day hike in the East.” Starting in Keene Valley, you summit seven High Peaks, ending on Marcy. Total ascent: 9,000 feet. Distance: 25 miles. You’ll need lots of daylight, water, and stamina.
This weekend Lake Placid was filled with figure skaters, parents, and coaches for the Ice Skating Institute Lake Placid Championships. This event was hosted in the Olympic Center, and has been an important part of the Lake Placid competition lineup for many years. The Ice Skating Institute was founded in 1959 as “a nonprofit organization for owners, operators, and developers of ice skating facilities”, and facilitates participattion in ice skating by rink owners, skaters, coaches, and vendors. According to the ISI website, the organization provides information for the development and construction of ice arenas, organizes consumer shows in conjunction with its recreational skating events, and produces trade and educational publications and literature. ISI also holds an annual educational conference and trade show for arenas managers, skating directors, instructors, and skating industry manufacturers, suppliers and retailers, provides ice skating programs for skaters of all ages and abilities, and hosts four recreational skating competitions annually. Most of all, ISI encourages participation in ice skating as a recreational sport.
The ISI organization encourages recreational participation in ice skating instead of qualifying competition like US Figure Skating. This is perfect for skaters who wish to skate and compete for fun instead of to qualify for National and International Competition. ISI also incorporates more unique events like showcase events (in which skaters can use props and vocal music to establish a theme) and group numbers (where many skaters can skate together). Most of all, ISI aims to allow skaters to compete for fun and satisfaction rather than for qualifying spots at the Olympics. Still, many skaters are members of both organizations and compete on both the US Figure Skating and ISI competitive tracks. One of these skaters is local skater Carly Brox.
Originally from Canada, Carly was one of many competitors skating this weekend; she also was the only skater representing Lake Placid in this competition. Carly lives and trains in Lake Placid, and represents the Skating Club of Lake Placid. She placed 1st in compulsory moves, 2nd in stroking, and 2nd in the freestyle program. As Carly stated as she finished this year’s competition; “I was honored to represent Lake Placid in this competition, and I look forward to competing next year”.
Today we were going to list the Ten Most Influential Adirondackers, based on input from you, the Almanack readers. We’ve decided to keep nominations open for one more week (please make your recommendations here). In the meantime, one of you suggested, “How about the Adirondacks’ ten biggest asshats? . . . [T]hat’s one discussion I’d like to read.”
So, scroll through for a list of ten all-star Adirondack jerks and a-hats, in no particular order. » Continue Reading.
The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls has announced its 2010 Exhibition Schedule. This year’s schedule includes American Impressionist landscape paintings, twentieth-century Modern art, a regional juried high school art show, a major exhibition of the work of Andrew Wyeth, and the museum will also play host for the first time to the long-running Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region, an annual juried show founded in 1936. The complete schedule from the Hyde Collection announcement is below. Through Sunday, March 28, 2010 An Enduring Legacy: American Impressionist Landscape Paintings from the Thomas Clark Collection
This exhibition presents sixty-four paintings from the private collection of Saratoga County, New York resident Thomas Clark. For twenty years, Clark has been amassing a significant group of pre-1940 American Impressionist landscape paintings with more than 100 works in the collection. Considered one of the finest private collections of this genre in upstate New York, it is testament to the enduring legacy of Impressionist painting in American art.
The collection, on public display for the first time, comprises examples from the last great generation of landscape painters who emerged during, and in the aftermath of, the American Impressionist movement (1880-1920). Many of these artists were students and/or sketching partners of the seminal figures in Impressionism in America, such as William Merritt Chase and John Henry Twachtman. The Collection offers a comprehensive treatment of the regional schools of Impressionist activity in America. Forty-seven artists are featured in the exhibition, including Walter Emerson Baum, John Joseph Enneking, Emile A. Gruppé, Hayley Lever, Frederick Mulhaupt, George Loftus Noyes, and Harry A. Vincent. The exhibition is curated by Erin Coe, chief curator and deputy director of The Hyde Collection and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue. Clark has announced his intention to make a future donation of his remarkable collection to The Hyde where it will greatly enhance the Museum’s current holdings of American art.
Through February 28, 2010 Divided by a common language? British and American Works from the Murray Collection
Approximately twenty works of twentieth-century Modern art, donated to the Museum by the late Jane Murray, are on display in Hoopes Gallery. Works included in this exhibition were part of the first significant donation of twentieth-century art received by The Hyde and helped to form the foundation of the Museum’s Modernist holdings. Jane Murray passed away in April 2009 and bequeathed the remainder of her substantial collection to the Museum.
Curated by The Hyde’s Executive Director David F. Setford, the exhibition reflects one woman’s journey into the world of art and the creative process itself. Represented in the exhibition are British artists including Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, John Piper, Howard Hodgkin, and Paul Mount. American artists include Gregory Amenoff, American, b. 1948, Gregory Amenoff, Betty Parsons, Stuart Davis, and Ellsworth Kelly. The works selected examine the similarities and differences between American and British works of the period, as both are areas of particular strength in the Murray Murray Collection.
April 11 through May 23 Nineteenth Regional Juried High School Art Show
The Hyde proudly hosts one hundred works in various media by the best of area high school art students. Entries into the competition average approximately 1,200 per year and the top 100 works were chosen by jurors to be highlighted in this annual spring event, showcased in the Museum’s Charles R. Wood Gallery.
This unique show allows participating students to experience the preparation, submission, and jurying process crucial to their artistic development. The young artists entering the competition hail from as many as forty area schools located in Warren, Washington, Saratoga, Hamilton, and Essex counties.
June 12 through September 5 Andrew Wyeth: An American Legend
The Hyde Collection introduces the broad span of work by Andrew Wyeth in its major summer exhibition for 2010. Organized by The Hyde and curated by Executive Director David F. Setford and Deputy Director and Chief Curator Erin B. Coe in association with the Farnsworth Art Museum of Rockland, Maine, the exhibition will mark the first opportunity since the artist’s death in 2009 to begin to critically reevaluate his contribution to and position in American art of the twentieth century. Works will include pencil, watercolor, dry brush, and tempera works, and will feature sections devoted to early coastal watercolors and landscape paintings, as well as a look at Wyeth’s models, his interest in vernacular architecture, and his connection with the Regionalist tradition and Magic Realism.
The exhibition will feature approximately fifty works, with the core from the Farnsworth Art Museum. Also on view will be The Hyde’s own Wyeth – The Ledge and the Island, 1937 – and major works from Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Hood Museum of Art, as well as from other museums and private collections.
The Museum continues its summer collaborations with other arts organizations in the region by coordinating a series of lectures, exhibitions, and performances with Wyeth-related themes.
October 10 through December 12 Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region
For the first time, The Hyde Collection is host of the Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region, one of the longest-running collaborative juried exhibitions in the country. The Museum joins the Albany Institute of History and Art and the University Art Museum at the University at Albany as the third collaborative sponsor of the exhibition, which is hosted by the organizations on a rotating basis. Founded in 1936, this annual show provides a leading benchmark for contemporary art in the Upper Hudson Valley. The exhibition is open to artists residing within a 100-mile radius of either Glens Falls or the Capital District. Past jurors have included artists, curators, critics, art historians, and art dealers such as Edward Hopper (1941), George Rickey (1971), Kenneth Noland (1977), Wolf Kahn (1980), Grace Gluck (1984), Dan Cameron (1997), and Ivan Karp (2005).
For the 2010 exhibition, The Hyde has invited Charles Desmarais, the Deputy Director of Art at the Brooklyn Museum, to be the guest juror. Mr. Desmarais leads the Brooklyn Museum’s collection, conservation, education, exhibition, and library departments.
The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) is seeking submissions for its 5th 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 8, 2010. What follows is the submission guidelines from ACW. Those wishing to submit a book published in 2009 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@example.com.
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 our web site, www.adirondackcenterforwriting.org. 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.
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.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County is now accepting applications for their Master Gardener volunteer program which will begin on January 25th. The Master Gardener Training program provides Cornell University faculty, Cooperative Extension staff, and local experts who teach volunteers a wide range of horticultural topics including Basic Botany, Entomology, Soils, Home Lawn Care, Vegetable and Fruit Gardening, Composting, Organic Gardening, and more. The trainings are held in Ballston Spa on Mondays from late January to mid April. After completing the 12-week training program, volunteers Master Gardeners are relied on to help answer the large number of phone calls that County Extension offices handle during the gardening season. Master Gardener volunteers also provide gardening information to community groups, school children, and the gardening public through lectures, pH soil clinics, demonstration gardens, articles in a monthly newsletter, and garden workshops.
Master Gardeners are also provided with advanced training and are encouraged to attend state and regional conferences as well as Master Gardener sponsored garden tours.
For more information call Julie Nathanson at 518-623-3291 or 518-668-4881.
Photo: Julie Nathanson, CCE Community Educator and Sandy Vanno Master Gardener.
I’ve become quite fond of photographing insects. This could be because they are so prevalent (when it’s not winter), or it could be because they are so diverse. As a child I disliked anything with more than four legs – “bugs” just creeped me out. Entomology was a required course in college, with its requisite insect collection, but it wasn’t until I started photographing insects in my latter years that their beauty began to intrigue me.
And once one has a collection of insect pictures, one’s curiosity begins to take over. Just what kind of insect is it? Is it a pearl crescent or a northern crescent? A native sawyer beetle, or the Asian longhorn? A plant hopper, leaf hopper or tree hopper? I’ve been going through some of my insect photos lately and trying to figure out who’s who. Some have been fairly easy to identify, while others have left me confounded. Take the insect in the photo above. My first thought was “shield bug.”
Shield bugs are in the insect order Hemiptera, which are the true bugs. True bugs? Indeed. Contrary to popular opinion, not all insects are bugs. True bugs (and there are about 80,000 species worldwide) are defined by their sucking mouthparts. Think aphids. Cicadas, water boatmen, and water striders are also among the Hemipterans.
Shield bugs are alternatively known as stink bugs, thanks to thoracic glands that produce a rather foul-smelling liquid. When the insects feel threatened (attacked by a predator, picked up by a curious human), they release this fluid and a stench fills the air, usually resulting in the insect’s release.
Not finding a positive ID in my insect field guide, I sent my photo off to www.BugGuide.net, where the friendly insect folks informed me that it is a shield-backed bug (Homaemus sp.), which is often classified with the stink bugs. According to one of the responding entomologists, the only Homaemus we have in New York is Homaemus aeneifrons, so I now had a place to start my natural history investigation.
The problem with insect ID is that there are so many species. As in millions and millions worldwide. And chances are a good chunk of the world’s insects have yet to be discovered. To make things worse, identification doesn’t necessarily mean that much is known about a particular insect. It has been classified and labeled, but that may be it. And so it seems with my shield-backed bug.
A couple hours skulking around various internet entomology sites turned up precisely two pages with anything remotely related to the natural history of this insect. On the first, it was listed as one of several insects to feed on goldenrods. On the second, I discovered that its habitat includes weeds, sedges, swampy meadows and dry places; it is believed to over-winter as an adult; it is presumed to have only one brood per year in the northern part of its range. And that’s it.
So I find myself left wondering if my shield-backed bug, which is classified with stink bugs, has the stink gland that its relations has. Since we are now in the bowels of winter, I have no way to verify this (my photo, sadly, does not have scratch and sniff capability). Somehow, I find my curiosity unfulfilled.
Still, the good naturalist doesn’t let this get her down. Should she not get distracted by other interesting finds, next summer she’ll hunt down another Homaemus and give it a poke and a sniff. She might take note of which plants she finds it on, whether it was feeding there or just resting, and whether others are near by. There’s always room for scientific investigations when it comes to insects, for entomology is a field that still has plenty of unknowns.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
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