When Asa Thomas-Train met his future wife, Courtney Grimes-Sutton, she was skinning a pig. Rather than wonder why an attractive young woman was doing a job usually reserved for big, brawny guys, Asa reacted with admiration. “She’s an incredibly capable, charismatic, and strong woman,” he said recently.
That summer of 2010, they were working at Essex Farm, a mecca for edgy young farmers honing their agricultural skills. Founded a decade ago by Mark and Kristin Kimball, the farm has had a prodigious influence, spawning new farmers and a warm farming community. Kristin recounted the farm’s unfolding in her memoir The Dirty Life. » Continue Reading.
Like most Adirondack gardeners, my family is just starting to think about starting seeds and planning our summer garden. At Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), they want to make sure that we are all aware that local farmers are not just thinking about what to plant, but have actually never stop growing and making local food available for our tables.
Over 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.
February 2nd is going to be more than just the Broncos trying to best the Seahawks in the XLVIII Super Bowl, when the Champlain Valley Film Society (CVFS) brings Captain Richard Phillips to introduce the 2014 Oscar nominated film named in his honor, based on the harrowing experience of his capture and attempted ransom at the hands of Somali pirates.
It is easy for my family to get caught up in the animated version of pirates or the swash-buckling Johnny Depp characterization without realizing that real pirates do exist and there is nothing romantic and comedic about it. I remember reading the news stories when Phillips sacrificed himself to save his crew in the 2009 hijacking. Now is an opportunity to meet a true survivor. » Continue Reading.
Among those to rise from humble Adirondack roots and pursue life in the big city was Charles P. Shaw, a native of Jay, New York, where he was born in 1836. “Humble,” meaning relative poverty, aptly described most North Country citizens in those early days. But Shaw may have had an advantage since there were two doctors in the family: his father, Daniel, and his grandfather, Joshua Bartlett. As educated men, they were more likely to stress among their family the importance of education.
For whatever reason, Charles was an excellent and precocious student. There survives in old newspapers an anecdote suggesting he was indeed an unusually bright pupil. » Continue Reading.
My family spends a fair bit of time at the Adirondack Mountain Club’s (ADK) Adirondack Loj High Peaks Information Center. With Heart Lake being a popular gateway into the High Peaks, we hike their trails, drop off groups and introduce guests to its range of outdoor activities.
Since the Adirondack Park is a multi-season playground, the ADK Heart Lake Center is offering a free day full of winter opportunities to showcase that the 700-acre Heart Lake property is more than just a parking lot for the High Peaks. In conjunction with the 19th Winter Trails Day, ADK has gathered volunteers and staff to host its first Winterfest on January 11. » Continue Reading.
A year ago last April I wrote about the Spring 1903 fire season during which nearly half a million acres burned in multiple fires throughout the Adirondacks. The largest fires were in Keene and North Elba; these had a personal relevance to me as they ringed Lost Brook Tract. The one sweeping into the heart of the High Peaks from the north came within six minutes of consuming the entire tract before drenching rains stopped it.
Thanks to meteorological luck as much as the brave and exhausting work by men and women fighting their advance, the 1903 fires did not result in major losses to towns or settlements. But there were incredibly close calls: the same drenching rains that saved Lost Brook Tract also saved Keene and Keene Valley from certain destruction: so imminent were the blazes in at least two directions that their heat could be felt and ash blanketed the hamlets. Residents had buried their belongings and fled; only fate gave them homes to which to return » Continue Reading.
This summer children are invited to test their skills at “the fastest sport on ice.” Based in Lake Placid, the USA Luge headquarters runs a series of free Learn-To-Luge programs on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30 pm from the transfer station road to the dump throughout the summer months.
According to Recruitment and Development Manager Fred Zimny this is the third year for these local clinics where the mobile luge starting ramp is moved to the entrance of the Lake Placid transfer station (Dump Rd.) after hours and children ages 8-13 learn to slide on real luge sleds. » Continue Reading.
The artist Sheri Amsel has created a beautiful map of the Champlain Valley with illustrations of the region’s wildlife and habitats. It also shows the region’s many hiking trails. I suppose a hiker could fold it and put it in a backpack, but I’ll bet more people will frame it and put in on their wall.
Amsel, a resident of the town of Essex, made the map to draw attention to the natural history and beauty of the valley. “I think the Champlain Valley is an untapped resource,” she said.
The 24-by-37-inch map shows roads, hiking trails, lakes, wetlands, peaks, boat launches, fishing-access spots, and state campgrounds in the Champlain region between Ticonderoga and Willsboro Point. The map differentiates between dirt and paved roads. The trails are numbered and cross-referenced in a table that names the trails and gives the hiking distances. Although the map can be used for planning trips, for serious hikes, you should pack a topographical map. » Continue Reading.
Those who visit the Upper Works trailhead pass through the remains of the most notable ghost town in the Adirondacks. The ruined village is known by various names: Adirondac, the Deserted Village, Tahawus (mistakenly), Upper Works, McIntyre.
All of these names (some more historically valid than others) hearken back to the original settlement carved out of the wilderness more than a hundred and eighty years ago by prospectors eager to capitalize on the massive veins of iron ore to which they had been guided by Abenaki Indian Lewis Elijah Benedict in 1826.
However, the collapsing structures lining the old village street and ranging back into the woods date from a more modern era, most around the turn of the twentieth century and into the 1920’s (though the foundations of some are original to the mining village). The last of them was abandoned as recently as the 1960’s. Now the Adirondack forest is reclaiming them at its usual unrelenting pace. » Continue Reading.
It was early afternoon of a warm, windless July day, eight years ago. Bits of sunlight flecked the ground, filtered by the dark foliage of the forest stand in which I found myself. Minutes before I had been with my family, gathered together in conference along a faint trail. Now I was alone, off trail, pushing through a phalanx of young hardwood growth dotted with cedar, hemlock and spruce. Though my wife and three sons were spread out in the woods somewhere within shouting distance, the only sound I could hear was that of my own labor, of leafy branches pushing past my ears as I forged up a steep and uneven rise.
As I have so many times in the Adirondacks I felt a deep sense of loneliness. No doubt due in part to the nature of my quest I experienced that disconcerting and enchanting feeling of being unmoored from time, as though I might next encounter Alvah Dunning or Mitchell Sabattis at the top of the ridge… or more to the point, David Henderson. I imagined that my explorations might channel me back in time more than a century, never to see my family again, instead to have to live a life out of any generation I have known, perhaps as a guide or trapper of old. » Continue Reading.
Crown Point Historic Site is one of my child’s favorite places to go. It fits their criteria for a perfect day. It’s located near water, has hiking trails, a beautiful view and a Revolutionary War history.
No matter how old my children get, they always greets our arrival to Crown Point Historic Site with the same enthusiastic, “We love this place.” While I spend more time gravitating toward the shoreline, they hit the grassy fortress walls, walking along the former paths of Pre-Revolutionary War British and French soldiers.
According to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Crown Point was first fortified by the French in 1734 and referred to as Fort St. Frédéric. After numerous takeover attempts by the British, the French destroyed Fort St. Frédéric and retreated back to Montreal allowing the British to construct a larger fortress overlooking Lake Champlain. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondacks can host some unique events and festivities and being a part of all or some of them can make for a great Independence Day.
Long Lake hosts a full July 4th of activities from face painting to live music, but it’s the bed races that will make a lasting impression. Four pushers and one rider in the bed will attempt to cross the finish line first. Yes, spectators are encouraged. Children will enjoy the field games at the Long Lake Ball Field starting at 10 am with egg toss, three-legged races, sack races and other classic games with prizes for everyone.
Ticonderoga holds to its moniker of the “Best 4th in the North” with a four-day celebration of food, vendors and carnival rides. Starting on July 1st, the music is free to enjoy but there is a $20 bracelet fee, which covers unlimited carnival rides. On July 4th, Ticonderoga has their own bed races, a parade, and live music. Carnival bracelets are only available from July 1-3, tickets will be needed to access the carnival rides on the 4th. » Continue Reading.
Though we have had more rain than sun over the last few days, strawberries are starting to ripen and pick-your-own fields are planning on opening to the public over the next couple of weeks. Festivals are set to gesture in summer with all things strawberry. Rulf’s Orchard in Peru is holding their 2nd annual Strawberry Festival on June 29 with a petting zoo, vendors, strawberry shortcake eating contest and wagon rides to the U-Pick patch. Raquette Lake is whipping up fresh strawberry shortcake while Crown Point will host its 9th annual celebration of those delicious red berries.
According to Alexandra Roalsvig, Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Long Lake, the June 29th Raquette Lake Strawberry Festival is an opportunity for locals and visitors coming to the area to connect with summer friends, while supporting a worthy cause. The summertime dessert will be served starting at 11 a.m. at the Raquette Lake Fire Hall. » Continue Reading.
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