Posts Tagged ‘Adirondacks’

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: Henry

Henry at the EurekaMy first marriage was a troubled one.  There were good moments but it seems that each day held pain and conflict.  The ups and downs finally led to a violent dissolution in 1992.  But for a brief time in the mid 1980’s there was hope and even some progress.  Two acquisitions, one for Christmas of 1984 and one in the following summer, marked that progress.  The summer purchase, a Eureka Wind River 4 tent, was an emblem of that progress.  The Christmas purchase, a puppy we named Henry, was the very cause.

Anyone who ever met Henry would tell you that he was an extraordinary dog.  He was half Golden Retriever, half Irish Setter and he got the best of both breeds.  As a puppy he looked indistinguishable from a purebred Golden – in other words, irresistibly adorable – but as he grew, the color, strength and stature of his father, an unusually large Setter, became his.  He eventually filled out at nearly a hundred pounds, no fat, in height nearly a head above any Golden I’d ever seen.  Physically he was simply a stunning animal, burnished red-gold, strong nose, rippling muscles under his coat, a head-turner everywhere he went. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: End of an Era

T-Bar Lift Whiteface, early 1950'sAmy and I are putting a lot of resources into fixing up our house these days in order to get it on the market.  As part of that we have begun to wade into the accumulated years of clutter that have accreted to us.  The walk-in cedar closet in which we store all our camping gear is packed from floor to ceiling with an ungainly array of equipment ranging from our current go-to gear to remnants of bug spray untouched for a decade and random utensils we have not taken on a trip since before the millennium (apropos of nothing, I have a powerful urge to have a contest with Dan Crane to see who has the most miscellaneous backpacking stuff).

I tried to thin the inventory once before using a clever strategy of assembling camping kits and giving them to our three boys as gifts, along with good stuff like new tents.  But somehow that had little effect; if anything the collection is bigger than before.  Soon I will have a second go around, this time with a vengeance: we are going to come to a new life in the Adirondacks in a fresh, Spartan manner, come hell or high water. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Betrothed on Indian Head

Amy and Pete at Indian HeadThere is a date fast approaching, a twentieth anniversary about which I have thinking a long time.  It is a date – a singular moment, really – that changed me from a lost person to one battered but once again harboring a dare somewhere inside, a dream of possibilities.  That may sound dramatic but I could not possibly overstate what I experienced.  That moment was a saving; those of you lucky enough to have had a moment of saving will understand.

The anniversary date is March 17th, 1994, Saint Patrick’s Day, and the singular moment is when my future wife Amy, having arrived at a party she had chosen to drop in on at a whim, spied a morose, sad-looking man sitting by himself in a corner and decided up do something about it by striding up to him and introducing herself.

It didn’t take long for Amy and I to figure out we wanted to be together.  That summer Amy came with me to the Adirondacks for the first time, camping at Blue Mountain Lake and climbing Mount Colden.  From there, the Adirondacks became utterly intertwined with our joint destiny, leading to all that has come, especially Lost Brook Tract.  Soon our ultimate goal will be met: we have every intention of moving permanently to the Adirondacks within eighteen months, maybe sooner. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Diversity and the Adirondacks: Moving Forward

DiversityToday I wrap up my series on Diversity and the Adirondacks.  The response has exceeded my expectations, even as it has – not unexpectedly – raised some troubling voices.

I have always believed that the initial step in addressing a deep and difficult issue – especially one that is controversial – is recognition: we must first understand that something matters; that it is real; that it affects people’s lives.  Without recognition, without an embrace of the importance of an issue, we risk what will likely be at best a display of sturm und drang when we try to talk about it, signifying nothing but ego and personality.  Yet despite the sometimes perfunctory dismalness of on-line comments, I am convinced by the experience of writing these columns that the issue of diversity in the park is headed for a substantive future, not just shouting and rhetoric. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Adirondack Diversity: More with Carol Cain

John Brown FarmhouseTwo weeks ago I posted my initial interview with noted travel writer and blogger Carol Cain.  That column set a record for comments here at the Almanack.  My own reaction to those comments taken as a whole is that they persuasively demonstrate the need for this conversation (fortunately the off-line discussions that have been spurred by this issue are leading to some productive initiatives… more on that in the future).

Subsequent to my first interview with Carol I asked her a series of of follow-up questions.  I share her answers today.  These questions were formulated previous to the posting of the first interview, thus not influenced by the tone and content of the comments.   However her answers, written after the comments, speak powerfully for themselves.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Best Vista in the Adirondacks

Wallface in SnowI’ve been preoccupied with Adirondack vistas of late.  Two recent copies of Adirondack Life had pictures with Burton’s Peak in them: one was a cover picture and the other placed in the 2014 Photo Contest (those of you who are savvy about my Lost Brook Dispatches and have followed the clues can see if you can identify it).

Like so many of us, I cherish beholding a corker Adirondack view perhaps more than any other experience in the park.  There is something magical about the combination of grandeur and intimacy in wild Adirondack vistas, studded with lakes, ponds and streams and infused with a dark, raw primeval power impossible to capture in words.  Quite frankly I have never experienced a stronger sense of wild harmony and beauty anywhere else I’ve been. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Diversity and the Adirondacks: A Demographic Stasis

Lyman Epps SeniorOver the last few weeks I have been making an argument that socioeconomic and racial diversity is a primary challenge facing the Adirondacks.  The core of the argument is that the Adirondack region is becoming ever-more sequestered racially as the rest of New York State rapidly moves towards a non-white majority and this poses problems for the future of the park.  This sequestration cuts both ways – the Adirondacks lose and an evolving population that does not have a relevant connection to the park loses too.

So far my argument has been rooted in experience, raising questions of equity and social justice along the way.  Proceeding from this experience I would contend that the my core argument is true prima facie – that is it is obvious to anyone with open eyes and a little breadth of experience in the world. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Diversity, Sequestration and Relevance in the Adirondacks

yupLast week I wrote a column about my personal experiences on the South Side of Chicago.  My purpose was to frame the issues in terms of sequestration: when a region or area is overwhelmingly of one socioeconomic or racial class, it gets cordoned off – literally and figuratively.  Other classes know little about it in experience and understanding.   Stereotypes predominate.  Economic and cultural gaps persist, even widen.

This is a two-way street.  An obvious example is the gap in understanding between people who have lived all their lives in hyper-urban areas – say East 55th Street in Cleveland – and people who have lived exclusively in very rural areas – say farm country near the Ohio River.  When the only experience of another way of life is popular media, the lack of understanding can be fractious indeed; witness the current divisions in American politics. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity and the Adirondacks

Lyman Epps SeniorAbout a month ago I crafted a little poll for readers to take.  The purpose of the poll was to test a hunch: that of all the issues affecting the future of the Adirondack region, the one I happen to think is most important goes all but unrecognized.  So I wrote descriptions of the ten issues I had selected, trying not to tip my hand or show bias, and released the poll.  The results, while interesting in their own rite, validated my hunch even more than I had expected.

Here is your ranking, the aggregate of more than 150 responses (some of you may notice that the results are different than published by me three weeks ago – additional responses broke the three-way tie for third place) :

 

 

 

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Remote New Year’s Perfection

From Burtons PeakAfter four nights at Lost Brook Tract with Amy, two adult sons and our irrepressible dog Henderson, I’m raring to go for another year of Almanacking, though my contributions will be a little less frequent as I bear down with more purpose on the book I’m undertaking.

This stay at Lost Brook Tract was the best ever.  The weather conditions and quality of light were the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced in the Adirondacks, to which the photo can attest.  It was truly luminous. There was less snow than in past years but no less winter.  The temperatures ranged from a positively balmy 35 degrees on the first afternoon to properly Adirondack zero-and-below readings the last two days.  For New Year’s Eve I served a bottle of Prosecco we’d carried in.  It was frozen.  That’s cold.  I can report that thawing Prosecco by positioning it next to a flaming birch log flattens it into tepid watery juice faster than any other method I know.  Oh well, we had hot chocolate too.  And the salmon pasta was “spiced” with a little rye, which thanks to its higher alcohol content resolutely maintained its golden liquidity to the bitter end. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Poll Results: What Readers Are Thinking About

Gothics Mountain Medium ResThank you readers!  The results of my little poll exceeded my expectations.  I received nearly 150 responses, a great number.

Let me remind you that this poll was intended to be neither scientific nor comprehensive.  It was designed by me to see if the results would highlight what I think is a hidden issue concerning the future of the Adirondack Park.  It did that for sure, but it also provided other insights.

Here is how the issues fell out, ranked by weighted average:

 

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Take a Poll: Is There a Hidden Issue in Adirondacks?

part of the great range from the brothers trailWhen it comes to major issues that impact the future of the Adirondacks this year has been one of the most event-filled in decades.  From the ongoing Adirondack Club and Resort debate and the orbiting cluster of questions related to private land use to the continuing economic wins for the North Country, the recent constitutional amendments and the classification of the Finch Pruyn lands, this has been a pivotal time.

My reading of recent events is that most of the news is good news for the park.  It seems to me that stakeholders in the Adirondacks are responding to the challenges we face with concrete initiatives that are making a difference but also with a sense of intelligence: people are thinking a lot about matters in the park and there seems to be a higher level of general understanding of these challenges than in years past. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Shay Effect

Lost Brook Tract in WinterThis Thanksgiving unfolded for me in traditional and typical fashion, promising that the standard playbook would be executed all the way through: take the family to my in-laws, help cook a massive meal for twenty, monitor my Mother for too much wine or too much stimulation (Mom is 92 and can overload either way), overeat, get teary looking at my wife and drive seventy miles home while fighting indigestion and narcolepsy.

By early afternoon all was going to form.  How could I possibly have known that an earth-shaking revelation was about to completely overwhelm me?  How could I be prepared for the sheer jubilation, the exaltation this imminent moment was going to bring, this profound thunderclap completely sweeping away all the usual familial mediocrity?

But then it happened.  The setting was innocent enough: I was in the snowy yard with my brother-in-law Dan, exercising Henderson with a stick, talking about our favorite mutual subject, the Adirondacks.  Amy and I were planning to be at Lost Brook Tract just after Christmas and Dan, who had considered coming along and doing some skiing was telling me that his winter visit would have to wait until the following year.  “We’re all coming next winter, he said.  We’ll come up to your land for a couple days but we’ll get a place for a week.  Shay’s a little worried about snowshoeing up there.”

There it was. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Commentary: Implementing a New APA Land Use Policy

APA officeMy last column in this APA series was a proposed new land use policy organized around a consensus-driven process with a development plan and ecological assessment as the primary inputs and a design that maximizes both ecological protection and the profitability of the project as the desired output.  I expected a number of less-than-receptive comments but instead I received a lot of good ones including some questions and challenges that I hope are at least partly answered this week.  » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Glade

Henderson's glenI have been experiencing potent daydreams over the last week.  Really they are little flashes of transference, brief moments where my conscious self is in a different place than I am.  It is less than an out of body experience – a concept which my reason will not allow – but it is much more than simply thinking about or remembering or longing to be somewhere.  Everyone has had similar experiences, when all of a sudden another place or time from memory, or even a fiction from imagination, floods into one’s head so strongly that the smell, sound and feel of it is palpable.

My daydream is no fiction: it is a small glade two thousand feet up and three miles in along the bushwhack route we take to Lost Brook Tract.  Some disturbance created it many decades past, a long enough span of time so that almost no trace of downed trees remains.  Since then the fortunes of wind and slope, of patterns of water running down the bedrock below the soil, have kept it from filling back in.  Surrounded by a ring of birch, spruce and balsam, it is perhaps fifty feet by thirty feet in extent, carpeted in ferns and boreal undergrowth. » Continue Reading.