I glance at my watch. 11:22 a.m. It feels like 7 a.m. on this early September morning. The first hint of fall is in the invigorating fifty-degree air. Goosebumps cover my legs below my shorts, and my breath exhales in faint misty tendrils as I start up the sun-dappled Goodnow Mountain Trail. Some days it feels good to go hiking. This is one of them.
I’ve hiked Goodnow Mountain only once before, while working on my guidebook Hiking the Adirondacks. I wonder if anything has changed in the five years since. I chose Goodnow Mountain, elevation 2,694 feet, on this fine day not to find out but to simply get out, or perhaps I should say “up,” as getting a view from the top of this mountain is my goal. The sky is haze-free and as blue as a mountain bluebird’s feathers. I don’t want an epic day in the High Peaks, just a nice walk in the woods to stretch my legs and get my heart rate up, with a 360-degree panorama to reward my effort. » Continue Reading.
The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is harvesting nearly 16 acres of white pine at the college’s Huntington Wildlife Forest in Newcomb. The harvest of the historic white pine plantation along Route 28 at the base of Goodnow Mountain began last week.
Many of the trees are 140 feet tall and 25 to 30 inches in diameter. White pine has significant historical importance in the United States. Not only did the British treasure the tall, straight stems for ship masts but nearly every colonial structure in the New World was constructed with white pine. » Continue Reading.
Teddy Roosevelt Weekend will take place September 10-11, 2011 throughout the township of Newcomb. There will be all the standard fare expected from an Adirondack festival: special food, bake sales and silent auctions. The town of Newcomb has joined together to host a full weekend of activity.
The 15th annual Adirondack Craft Fair will be held at the Newcomb Central School with artisans showcasing their goods from homemade quilts to hand-knitted items. In addition to that will be the chance to explore the area of Newcomb with Teddy Roosevelt (TR).
There will be wagon rides taking place at Great Camp Santanoni with a Great Lodge Open House. Keep in mind that you can walk or bike the 4.7 miles into the camp if you decide not to take the wagon ride. There is also a mini-museum in the Gate House. Teddy Roosevelt was a frequent visitor at this camp owned by the Pruyn family. There will be float plane rides available but active folks may want to opt for the Goodnow Mountain Interpretation with SUNY-ESF Forester Mike Gooden. Gooden will be available from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Goodnow Fire tower on Saturday, September 10th. The two-mile trail is only 2,685′ but it’s the 60′ fire tower and beautiful views of the Santanoni and Seward Ranges that make it worth the walk.
Newcomb’s ties to Theodore Roosevelt are unique in that in September 1901 Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States while taking a stagecoach through the township of Newcomb. While in a receiving line during the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, President McKinley was shot twice by Leon Czolgosz. McKinley lingered for a week but died when the bullet wounds became infected with gangrene. The Roosevelt Monument on Route 28N is located at the approximate site that Roosevelt learned he became President.
So this weekend TR will even make a showing along with Adirondack Interpretive Center’s Program Coordinator Paul Hai during an historical tour of the Adirondac Ghost Town and Iron Works Blast Furnace. According to Town Supervisor George Canon, Hai has been instrumental in gathering former residents of Adirondac together to tell their stories of living in this historic town.
“We started Teddy Roosevelt Weekend in 2001 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous ride from Mt Marcy to North Creek,” says Canon. “With the actual time of McKinley’s death we estimate that Roosevelt was right in the township of Newcomb when he became President. We take credit that he was in our community when that took place.”
“Thatcher’s Peak Finders for Ten Historic Fire Towers in the Adirondacks” is now available. The new Peak Finder deck identifies the summits and landmarks seen from ten popular Adirondack fire towers: over 8,000 square miles of mountains, lakes, history, and watersheds, including 42 of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks.
“Steel fire towers were installed on these ten Adirondack peaks almost 100 years ago, and they have been a destination for hikers of all ages ever since,” said Thatcher Hogan, designer and publisher of the popular series of Peak Finder guides. “But only now is there a guide to help hikers identify what they are looking at.” » Continue Reading.
It was another grey and nearly drippy day as I headed out the door this morning with the dog in tow (some mornings he isn’t any more eager to go out than I). It had rained overnight, so everything was damp, but at the moment the air was still and relatively dry.
Up ahead I watched a largish raptor swoop up and land on a street light. I pondered the species for a moment, taking note of size and coloration as best I could with the animal backlit against the morning sky. It was about then that I noticed that the background chatter of morning birds was getting progressively louder.
Caw! Caw! Caw!
The weather was pleasant at the Long Lake pavilion, and the dialogue at this year’s Common Ground Alliance stimulating enough. Then, my thoughts strayed to the fire tower on top of Goodnow Mountain, and what I could see from it. So, off I went. This being my first hike of the summer, I took my time and climbed the fire tower just as dramatic clouds and welcome summer rains moved in, allowing glimpses of the scintillating lake country, and High Peaks Wilderness to the north. Out below me was Lake Harris, the Newcomb VIC, Rich Lake, Arbutus and and Catlin Lakes on the 14,000-acre Huntington Wildlife Forest, one of the world’s best and longest running experimental forests. Some of my most interesting moments in the Park have been in the Huntington Wildlife Forest with Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) faculty who helped me gain some understanding of dynamic predator-prey interactions in the central Adirondacks. A lot of the prey constitutes tasty Adirondack hardwoods, consumed by its predator, white-tailed deer, which in turn faces its great killer each winter – deep, long snowpack. Dick Sage, Ranier Brocke, and Bill Porter generously provided us with many ecological insights, such as how to do shelterwood cutting of forests on private lands to benefit wildlife, insights from decades of faculty-student work at this unique wildlife field station.
Indeed, those three stalwarts from ESF might remind us that we could have more “common ground” in the Adirondacks if we consciously recognized our collective fascination with the Park’s wildlife, and thought about working together to benefit from this common passion.
I especially wish to thank Professor Bill Porter, who will soon leave his professorship at ESF for new adventures at the University of Michigan. I was fortunate to join the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks when four of its board leaders considered visits to Huntington Wildlife Forest as essential background education for any staff that sought to protect the Forest Preserve and the Park. Prof. Bill Porter not only welcomed these engagements with advocates for the Park, he pushed his small staff to schedule as many as possible.
The very first speaker I ever invited was Bill Porter, at Paul Schaefer’s behest, in 1987. Bill spoke about the fact that the central Adirondack black bear, that lover of berries and veggies, was also adept at catching and eating white-tailed deer fawns in the spring. He presented an image most of us had never thought about, the black bear as ambusher and meat-eater. It was the first of many presentations about Adirondack wildlife that made people sit up and take notice. It dawned on me that to get people into a stuffy room and out of the beautiful Adirondack outdoors, make wildlife your topic.
As Bill’s responsibilities increased, he pushed all the harder on his public communications. He went on to chair the Adirondack Research Consortium, and made the College’s wildlife research more accessible. His presentations on wildlife ecology were fun and interesting. Remember the gas molecule theory in high school, he would ask his audience? Most people would squirm uncomfortably. Well, forget it when it comes to deer biology. Ah. We relaxed. Deer, Bill informed us, do not simply disperse from areas with lots of deer to fill the least concentrated areas of their habitat. Females, or does have a complex social structure called kin groups which greatly effects their affinity for an area, and includes their faithfulness to the places where they were born. So, deer are not distributed uniformly on the landscape at all. Central Adirondack deer societies, like our politics, are local.
Bill Porter’s ability to convey the broad story lines and myriad details of Adirondack wildlife ecology have never failed to amaze me. Later, I learned what an excellent strategist he is. Porter had long believed NYS DEC was flying blind when it came to managing the Forest Preserve because they lacked a thorough digital inventory using GIS (geographic information systems). ESF had the equipment and skilled students to help digitize the data and train DEC in how to access it for more informed public lands management. What Bill needed were advocates to push DEC and the Governor’s staff to fund the work, and make use of the data. With Audubon, the Association, ADK, WCS and Adirondack Council, Bill found his advocates. Here was a partnership to improve understanding and management of the Park’s Forest Preserve we all could believe in. In the last ten years, the GIS project has resulted in greatly improved State Land inventories and much stronger working relations between academia, DEC and private advocates for the Forest Preserve.
This success was followed by Bill’s visionary creation, backed by ESF President Neil Murphy, of SUNY ESF’s Northern Forest Institute, acquisition of Masten House above Henderson Lake as a future wilderness training center and ESF’s decision, announced last month, to manage the Newcomb Visitor Interpretive Center in 2011.
So, thank you, Prof. Bill Porter. I will miss you. You have made my Adirondack experience so much more meaningful. You have made partnerships for the more than human world tangible and productive. Thanks to your efforts, young people with your thirst for knowledge and passion will be communicating in new and exciting ways about Adirondack wildlife for years and years to come at the Northern Forest Institute, the Masten House, and the Newcomb VIC.
Photo: The view from Goodnow Mountain, Rich Lake in the foreground.
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