Adirondack Park Agency (APA) spokesperson Keith McKeever has confirmed that the agency will not make a decision at its September meeting on how former Finch Paper lands recently acquired by New York State will be managed.
The classification of the lands around the Essex Chain of Lakes and Hudson Gorge is one of the biggest Forest Preserve decisions the APA has faced in more than a decade, one that has recently dominated public discussion in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
Woolgathering is a frequent activity while I bushwhack through the Adirondack backcountry. My recent trip exploring between the South Ponds and Crooked Lake was no exception in this regard. My thoughts often revolved around how this area may be the loneliest part of the Five Ponds Wilderness, as evidence of recent visitors was scarce to non-existent. Instead of enjoying the seclusion, some nagging concern kept intruding upon my thoughts; I could not quite put my finger on its exact nature other than it involved an absence of some feature in the backcountry. » Continue Reading.
Some recent events started me thinking about land classifications in the Adirondacks, and their possible inadequacy to preserve biological diversity in the future. With the twin threats of climate change and invasive exotic species, new strategies may be necessary. One such strategy is a new land classification, one where human beings will no longer be welcome.
I started thinking about the necessity of a new land classification when I read recent articles by Bill Ingersoll and Pete Nelson proposing their own new classification categories. Where their proposals were for a new category wedged between the current Wilderness and Wild Forest classes, mine would be the most restrictive land class in the Adirondacks, essentially preserving the land exclusively for the use of the other living organisms. » Continue Reading.
Trying something new is often rewarding, although potentially anxiety producing as well. Unfortunately, finding a new area to explore within the northwestern Adirondacks is swiftly becoming more difficult, forcing me further and further off the beaten track. Even months-long injuries have failed to slow this trend.
Although difficult, there remain a few places yet for me to explore. Recently, I narrowed the number of places when I explored a remote portion of the Five Ponds Wilderness where I only had limited experience. This overlooked backcountry gem is bordered by the South Ponds to the west, Riley Ponds to the north, the odd-shaped Crooked Lake to the east and the Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie River to the south. » Continue Reading.
Although this statement’s author remains shrouded in mystery, its profoundness cannot be understated. Despite its original intent, probably pertaining to lovers, it can equally apply to once familiar places or things now long absent. For me, as spring emerges from an obstinate winter, it applies to the Adirondack backcountry, whose absence has left a void in my life for the past year.
An unfortunate and mysterious injury to my left knee, nearly a year ago, forced upon me a compulsory convalescence lasting more than five months. During much of this time, simply walking was mildly painful, let alone anything as arduous as bushwhacking. Sadly, this period of recovery coincided with prime backpacking season, lasting into the late summer of last year. A recuperatory period followed for many months, leaving me finally feeling capable of braving once again the beauty and rigor of the remote and trail-less backcountry. » Continue Reading.
An age-old question asked by more than a few explorers, navigators and backcountry adventurers. In the past, a map and/or charts combined with a sextant, compass or other such instrument could calculate one’s location. In the digital age, a new instrument has emerged, the handheld GPS receiver, and backcountry navigation will never be the same. » Continue Reading.
As I described in last week’s Dispatch, the more I become engrossed in Adirondack history the more my interest has grown in Archibald Campbell’s incomplete survey of the northern line of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase.
Having possession of his field notes and maps plus a 1911 large-format map of the Adirondack Park as well as modern USGS maps, I did a bunch of digitizing, calibrating, measuring and finagling, virtually recreating his journey. This summer I plan to hike it to see it for real and compare my experiences to his. But the virtual trip was a most interesting project for me and I would like to take you along.
Beware! Unless you are a Class-One Adirondack Nerd this Dispatch might lead to narcolepsy. But if you have been following my surveying series with interest, then lace your boots, grab your gaiters, your Gunter’s chain and your rum and let’s hike together into the primeval forest. » Continue Reading.
The encroachment of cellphones, the Internet and Wi-Fi into the backcountry was the impetus of my last Adirondack Almanack article. Before long, this encroachment shall transform into the inevitability of an all-out invasion, barring any lethal worldwide epidemic, nuclear winter, asteroid collision or zombie apocalypse. Since it would be imprudent to rely on such unlikely occurrences happening in the near future, guidelines governing the use of these digital gadgets appear sorely needed.
Rules and regulations abound for electronic gadgets in the frontcountry, so why not in the backcountry? Driving while texting or talking on a cellphone is illegal on our roads, despite the flagrant disregard for this law surpassed only by that of the stated speed limits, so why not institute similar policies for the Adirondack trails? » Continue Reading.
Occasionally escaping technology is essential for maintaining one’s peace of mind, especially as high tech gadgets increasingly invade every facet of modern life. From incessantly checking email, the ever-present Internet surfing temptation and the constant threat of an irritating cellphone ringtone disturbing every moment, it is important to find a refuge before becoming mental roadkill on the information superhighway.
The Adirondack backcountry used to be such a refuge, but it may not remain so for much longer.
Recently, the Washington Post, among others, reported about a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) plan to create a super Wi-Fi network, so powerful it could “penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees.” And presumably, into the interior of the Adirondack backcountry. Worse yet, it would be free for public use. » Continue Reading.
It was the summer of 1771. The province of New York was part of the British Empire and all lands not in private hands belonged either to Native American nations, principally the Haudenosaunee, or to His Majesty King George III.
To the north and west of Albany a great wild forest stretched to the Saint Lawrence. European control of this territory had been in dispute for many decades but the recently ended French and Indian War had settled the matter in favor of the British and the area was now considered safe enough for agriculture, industry and settlement. » Continue Reading.
Unfortunately, the point of my article seemed to get lost in all the anger and angst, so I thought I would give it another go-around and try to explain my original idea a little better. This gives those who missed out at taking a whack at me last time another chance.
Along the way, I will attempt to address some of the many comments from the article. Inevitably, this will probably get me in even more trouble. If this proves to be the case, I can always create an alias or wear a disguise the next time I visit the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
Sept 7 – 9 there will be a congregation of artists, scholars, historians, and writers in Lake Placid for an exploration of Adirondack cultural heritage (more info). Free and open to the public, it should prove to be enjoyable and informative to all who love this place. I was thinking about this event as I paddled with a group of friends on the Oswegatchie River, in the Five Ponds Wilderness. Our objective was High Rock – not a terribly difficult or long paddle, although it was challenging in places because the water levels were pretty low and rocks were exposed. Having recently returned from almost four weeks in Glacier National Park – where the “big sky” glacier carved landscapes are truly magnificent – I couldn’t get over the fact that I was still moved by the scenery flowing past me along the Oswegatchie.
Orange brown rocks just beneath the surface, covered with colorful paint swatches from all the boats that have scraped across them for more than a century. Massive white pines that probably were too scrawny to harvest during the logging booms of the 1900’s, were now towering over the river. The tag alder filled flood plain that this wild river was meandering through. The Five Ponds Wilderness is a prime example of how this amazing place can inspire. » Continue Reading.
Most likely, every backcountry enthusiast has uttered this popular nursery rhyme at one time or another when an unanticipated rainfall altered their hiking or backpacking plans. This is especially true for the Adirondacks, where pop-up showers are the norm during the summertime, even a dry one like this year. These storms can lead to flooded trails, difficult stream-crossings and possibly even assemblies of paired animals. Most importantly, they can result in a hiking rain-delay.
If the storms are heavy enough and last for hours, rain delays can pose quite the conundrum for those trapped in a tent, lean-to or other shelter. How does one spend their time when in a confined place for a considerable length of time, while waiting out a wet day? » Continue Reading.
Bushwhacking, or off-trail hiking, requires many skills, acquired over many years. Few people begin their backcountry career as a bushwhacker, i.e. bushwhackers are not born, they evolve.
Typically, one commences as a mere hiker, transitions to a backpacker as the desire to travel farther afield gains hold, and, if the skills, temperament and desire form the correct concoction, finally becomes a bushwhacker. At least, that is how I got started. » Continue Reading.
A recent bear attack in Canada may have literally scared the living crap out of a man, in a story that should give every backcountry enthusiast pause before squatting in the woods again. Beware; reading further may just ruin one of nature’s most pleasurable experiences in the outdoors for evermore.
Recently, a Canadian man was attacked by a black bear, while minding his own business in an outhouse in central Canada. The bear pulled him right off the crapper by his pants, which were, naturally, down around his ankles. The man apparently fought back with nothing but his will to live, and some extra toilet paper. Luckily, his companion heard all the yelling and shot the bear before it had a chance to do any serious damage. » Continue Reading.
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