Posts Tagged ‘geology’

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Impact of Stormwater on Adirondack Streams

Roaring Brook Falls 2014 by John WarrenIn peaceful streams, aquatic macroinvertebrates such as crayfish, stoneflies, and caddisflies travel over and under submerged rocks, foraging for other invertebrates, leaves, and algae. When rain falls, their world turns upside down. At first only the surface is disturbed, but before long, runoff reaches the stream and increases its flow many fold. Silt and sand blast every exposed rock surface. At peak flow, boulders are propelled downstream by powerful currents.

How do small creatures survive such crushing chaos? They hunker down. Water-filled nooks and crannies extend deep below streambeds and far beyond river banks. These deep interstices provide a safe haven even while turbulent water pulverizes the riverbed, comparable to a storm cellar in a tornado. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ed Zahniser: From Yard Rocks to Big Rock

Photo by Alice Zahniser courtesy of the Zahniser familyUnder the big maple tree above the northwest corner of our barn at Mateskared a large rock holds a mixed history for me. It’s a rounded-off triangular solid. As kids my three siblings and I slid down it, putting the seats of pants at risk. A rounded pocket two-thirds down its topmost, steepeer slope transformed the rock as stone throne. Part of my memory of this rock is photographic – and false. I recalled a snapshot of my father Howard Zahniser and me on the rock about 1950. I wear a beanie cap. But later finding the photo, I discovered we are on a different rock, farther uphill, now hidden in recovering pasture. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where is the Source of the Hudson?

Dan on descent on Skylight July '09Last week I was doing a little research for a book project when a web search returned an interesting line from a Wikipedia entry on the Hudson River. It piqued my curiosity, going as it did against conventional wisdom. Wikipedia being Wikipedia I wasn’t about to take it as gospel, but it provoked me to start digging around just for fun. After all, if one learns anything in research and the sciences it is that conventional wisdom or historical tradition are no sure bets.

In this case, both conventional wisdom and historical tradition say that Lake Tear of the Clouds, nestled between Mounts Marcy and Skylight in the Adirondack High Peaks, is the source of the Hudson River. Thus has it been generally accepted ever since Verplanck Colvin determined it to be so, on his second visit to Lake Tear in August of 1873. For generations of hikers Lake Tear has been a special destination, an upward trek to the ultimate source of one of America’s greatest rivers.  But is it? » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ebenezer Emmons And Raquette Lake

1849 Birch Pt sketch“After much toil and labor in rowing, in consequence of a strong head wind, we reached the lake at its eastern extremity. This accomplished, our next business was to find the establishment of Beach and Wood situated on some point on the opposite shore. By fortunate conjecture, our guide struck upon the right course and soon landed on Indian Point at the residence of the above named gentlemen. Here we determined to remain till we had thoroughly explored the region.” 

Thus Prof. Ebenezer Emmons described his arrival on my family’s land on Raquette Lake in 1840, captured in this sketch of Beach and Woods’ earlier cabin by John William Hill. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Celestial Burial And Rocky Cabin Chores

DSCN1728In Tibet they practice celestial burial. The deceased’s body is cut up into pieces small enough to be fed to the gathered vultures, who, because of this practice, are considered sacred birds. In our part of the Adirondacks we see few vultures, but, in part, a like ubiquity of rocks drives certain practices here.

During our early family summers on the edge of Adirondack wilderness, we children dreaded being assigned to bury the garbage. Waste disposal still decentralized in the early 1950s. To find where you could dig a hole deep enough to inter garbage was a serial ordeal of trial holes frustrated by hitting nonnegotiable rocks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Panther Gorge Rock Climbing Route:
Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald

Kevin MudRat MacKenzie climbs partway up pitch one of Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald.Panther Gorge’s scenic wonders were featured in Adirondac Magazine’s September/October issue—the secluded talus fields, beaver ponds, a waterfall, the moss covered forest floor and meandering brooks.  Above the forest lies the technical climbing area. A multitude of cliffs adorn the sides, but one stands out from the rest – Mount Marcy’s Agharta Wall.

The name was inspired by the Miles Davis’ Agharta album after Christian Fracchia and Charlie Dickens made the first ascent of the Agharta ice route in 1999. The alternate meaning, a Buddhist reference to a mythical subterranean world “also fit with how the gorge feels,” noted Fracchia. Walk deep into the gorge, especially on a dreary day, and you’ll realize how true this is.

Rock climbing routes are continually being created or “put up” on cliffs inside the blue line.  Adirondack Rock’s recently published second edition adds 1,162 new routes to those in the first edition. In comparison to many areas, Panther Gorge has seen little route development. The first recorded technical ascent in the gorge was in 1936 when local guide and climber Jim Goodwin ascended cliffs on the Marcy side of the north end; his exact line is not clear. Only eight more routes were put up between 1965 and 2010, five of which involved Bill Schneider during 2003 and 2004.

Since 2012, six more have been added. Two lie on Marcy’s East Face, three lie on the Haystack side (including a free-standing pillar) and another called Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald ascends the Agharta Wall. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

NYCO Commentary: How Much Wollastonite Is There?

WollastoniteLast week, as a part of a larger effort to document the aftermath of Proposition 5 – the so-called NYCO Amendment – I wrote a column comparing claims made about NYCO in support of the amendment to the factual record.

I listed the following five claims we’ve heard repeatedly (remember, not all claims are NYCO’s responsibility; some claims were made by others):

Claim One: NYCO is a local company headquartered in Willsboro. It has been there for more than fifty years and employs about a hundred people. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pete Nelson: Who is NYCO?

WollastoniteA month ago I wrote a column advocating that we create and maintain a regional memory of the NYCO amendment process and all that comes from it. My argument is that by doing so we will be better able to prevail in future battles against amendments that propose to take from the Forest Preserve for private gain. At the end of that column I said my starting point would be to ask who NYCO really is, in contrast to the picture of NYCO given by its own claims, by pro-amendment advocates and by popular assumption.

At the moment we need no assistance recalling the amendment controversy since NYCO is once again all over the regional news. With the dual stories that NYCO is seeking to expand its two existing mines and that environmental groups have sued to stop test drilling on Lot 8, any profile of NYCO is not only important in chronicling the amendment process, it is relevant right now. NYCO is making certain claims, environmental groups are making others and the state of New York still others. That means the question I pose today matters, today: who is NYCO? » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Farrand Benedict’s Trans-Adirondack Water Route

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 5.44.44 AMOn Route 28 between Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake there is a sign about a half mile south of  the junction with Route 28N in Blue Mountain Lake that marks the divide between the St. Lawrence River and Hudson River watersheds.  The waters of Blue Mountain Lake flow through the Eckford Chain into Raquette Lake, north through Long Lake and the Raquette River eventually reaching the St. Lawrence Seaway.  The waters of Durant Lake, only a half-mile from Blue, eventually flow into the Hudson River.

If Farrand Benedict had been successful with his grand plans for the Adirondacks from Lake Champlain to Lake Ontario, the waters of Blue, Raquette and Long lakes would today also flow to the Hudson River.  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Adirondack Geology: The World Of Talus Slopes

talus screeGeological forces over millions of years coupled with the action of glaciers and weather have created massive piles of boulders at the base of towering rock walls and steep slopes in numerous locations throughout the Adirondacks.

Some of the more prominent accumulation of talus, sometimes called scree by climbers, occurs around Chapel Pond, throughout the Wilmington Notch, in the Cascades, around portions of Bald Mountain near Old Forge, and in many places near the shores of Lake Champlain. Talus is also present along the edges of some sections of rivers and larger streams that cut through substantial deposits of bedrock. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Local Sculptor Creates Works of Art From Native Stone

tyler_rand_sculptureStill only in his mid 20’s Tyler Rand shuttles through Adirondack rivers and streams looking for a special rock; one that talks to him.

The Lake Placid artist sculptures in stone. When he sees an exceptional rock in the water it sends a signal to him that triggers inspiration.

Watch the full report here.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wildlife Preparing for Winter: The Garter Snake

Garter SnakeMigration is the seasonal movement of an animal population in response to changing environmental conditions. While birds are best known for employing this survival strategy to cope with winter, many other forms of wildlife also engage in some form of relocation during autumn to deal with prolonged bouts of cold and an absence of food. Among the migratory reptiles in the Adirondacks is an abundant and widespread snake familiar to anyone that spends time outdoors – the garter snake.

As daylight wanes and the temperatures cool, garter snakes begin to travel to various sites that afford protection from the intense cold that settles over our mountainous region in winter. Typically, garter snakes rely on specific crevices that extend deep into a rocky outcropping situated on a south-facing slope. Also, garter snakes are known to utilize selected abandoned woodchuck, fox or skunk dens that exist deep enough into a hillside to get near or below the frost line. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Slide Climbing: Santanoni Mountain’s East (Twin) Slide

twin_headwall_chiarenzelli_NIK_5402Santanoni Mountain’s Twin Slide (aka East Slide per Drew Haas’ The Adirondack Slide Guide) is a fitting match to the Ermine Brook Slide on the opposite side of the ridge.

The nearly mile long track is filled with diverse and beautiful characteristics including open slab, boulders, overhanging outcrops, double-fall lines and cascades.

All good things come with a price. In this case challenging bushwhacks guard the slide at both the top and bottom. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rockfall Brings Changes to Wallface Climbing Route

Heilman aerialVeteran climber Don Mellor regards Free Ride on Wallface in the High Peaks as one of the better rock-climbing routes in the East, but when he scaled it last weekend it was not the same.

Mellor discovered that thousands of pounds of rock had fallen from the belay station at the end of the sixth pitch, known as the Lunch Ledge.

“What’s left is an arch propped up by blocks,” he said.

Not trusting the stability of the arch, he climbed ten feet past it (and to the left) to set up a belay in another spot. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Slide Climbing: Dix Mountain’s New Lobster Claw Slide

Kevin "MudRat" MacKenzie photographs the new Lobster Claw Slide on Dix Mountain.Several periods of heavy rain during June and July of 2013 caused local flooding and damage across New York and Vermont. The rains also added a new slide to Dix Mountain’s already impressive collection.

Two swaths of stone were exposed on the west side of Dix’ curved southern ridge. Converging below, the debris cut a channel of devastation through the forest toward Dix Pond (see inset in picture below). If you’re in the mood for a fresh adventure in a remote location, this may be your ticket to an exciting day in the Adirondack backcountry.

» Continue Reading.