Posts Tagged ‘High Peaks’

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Magic of Surveying

Surveying Tools, 1728Today I begin a series of Dispatches on surveying, one of the greatest and richest interactions between humans and their natural environment, rife with beauties,  drama and challenge.  And magic.

There are many perspectives from which to tell the story of the history of the Adirondacks.  Indeed the numerous Adirondack history books available to the curious reader feature a wide variety of approaches.  Some are essentially chronological in nature; some are cultural; some are political.  I especially enjoy the many historical writings about the region that are thematically organized around the personalities of the unequaled cast of characters whose fates were intertwined with the Adirondack Mountains.  From To Charles Herreshoff to John Brown to Ned Buntline to Thomas Clark Durant the variety of people and their various enterprises is remarkable.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Arthur Savage: An Adirondack Conservation Champion

Arthur-Savage-far-right-with-l-r-Wayne-Byrne-Paul-Schaefer-Paul-Jamieson-c.-1974-736x1024Arthur V. Savage of Elizabethtown, Keene, and points south died on December 26 and belongs in my pantheon of Adirondack conservation champions. Judging from the flow of email following his death, that also holds true for many others. He was a man of varied interests, commitments, and for all seasons. I am hoping this short post will stimulate others who knew Arthur better than I to share their thoughts.

Arthur’s obituary was in many regional papers as well as The New York Times. His importance as an early leader in environmental law circles can’t be overstated. I knew Arthur principally for his work on the boards of the not for profit Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA) and NYS Adirondack Park Agency. When Arthur joined these boards, the former through the recruitment of AFPA’s long-time chairman Arthur Crocker in the 1960s, and the latter thanks to his nomination to the APA by Governor Hugh Carey in 1979, he gave a complete effort.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

High Peaks Wildlife: The Boreal Chickadee

Boreal ChickadeeDuring the final segment in the ascent of a high peak, before coming to the tree line, or on a trip through a lowland forest of spruce and fir, a very hoarse-sounding chickadee may be heard. While a novice birder or an inexperienced naturalist may assume that the individual responsible for this raspy chickadee song is the common black-capped variety with a bad head cold or a case of throat congestion, the more knowledgeable outdoorsman would recognize the voice as that of a cold-hardy resident of the far north–the boreal chickadee.

Aside from its similar call, the boreal chickadee is nearly the same size and has a color pattern that resembles its friendly, perky relative that is familiar to anyone with a feeder in his/her yard. When getting only a quick glimpse of one, seeing one in a dimly lit spot, or when its body is partially obscured by evergreen boughs, it is a challenge to distinguish between these two birds.
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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Pleasures of Winter Camping

The family and I are just back from our annual winter trek to Lost Brook Tract and I have a joyful urge to write about how terrific winter camping is.  My timing is not intended to offer any sort of counterpoint to Dan Crane’s recent post; the last time I checked he and I don’t  coordinate our contributions.  But counterpoint it will be.

In fact, let me begin with Dan: Dan!  Dude!  Get back out there and pitch your tent, buddy.  There’s plenty of winter to go and I can vouch for the fact that there are perfect conditions in the back country right now – no doubt there will be for quite some time.

Why do we go backpacking in the Adirondacks?  I submit that if you were to make a list of the reasons you go into the wilderness for an extended period, you would find that almost all of them are more valid and better fulfilled in the winter (I know, I know… yeah, sure, but it’s cold Pete).  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Adirondack Backcountry Skiing Conditions

Since the big storm last week, I’ve been skiing a lot in the backcountry. Generally, I found the conditions very good, but skiers need to be mindful that we had little or no base before the snowfall. You may encounter exposed boulders on trails. If you’re skiing off trail, you must be wary of logs and rocks lurking within the powder.

On New Year’s Day, I skied from Adirondak Loj to Lake Colden. At the outset, I wondered if the cover would be adequate on the trail from the Loj to Marcy Dam, a section with a lot of large boulders. Although I did encounter some exposed rocks, they were easily avoided. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Christmas Turkey, Part Two

When I was a  teenager I had a small streak of juvenile delinquency.  This is not uncommon in young men of course and it comes in different flavors.  Some do a little drinking or drugs.  Some do a little stealing.  Some  might commit minor vandalism.  I didn’t do any of that stuff.  I liked to set things on fire.

One March in Cleveland when I was fifteen or so, after a particularly long  and snowy winter the weekend broke into the sixties, setting me and two of my like-minded friends, who were possessed with acute cabin fever, into a manic tizzy to play basketball.  Sadly the driveway was covered in slush from the thaw, splattering us with every aborted dribble.  We tried shoveling, sweeping, even hosing it down, but to no avail. Then we came to another solution. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dan Crane: Missing Winter Camping

The end of the year brings thoughts of turkey dinners, confectionary favorites, over-crowded malls, excessively decorated plastic trees, mind-piercing hangovers following nights of revelry and portly, old, child-obsessed elves dressed in red and white. The recent early winter snows, also commonly found at this time of the year, not only put me in the holiday spirit, it also has me pondering my past winter camping experiences.

Winter camping conjures up thoughts of crisp cool air slightly stinging the lungs, sunshine glistening off newly fallen snow and the crunch of compressed snow under the weight of snowshoe-covered feet. Unfortunately, winter camping, much like holiday celebrations, is not merely all fun and games, but also a physically and mentally challenging activity, requiring more than a little persistence and perseverance.
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Christmas Turkey, Part One

Over the years I have been urged from time to time to write down stories from my family’s many journeys in the Adirondacks.  Frankly I was never sure I’d get around to it.  But along came Lost Brook Tract into my life, inspiring me to the point where I could no longer resist.

I have written a year’s worth of Dispatches now, many of them drawn from our experiences.  However there is one tale in particular that others who know our adventures have repeatedly urged me to tell.  As it happens, it is a Christmas story and I have waited eleven months to tell it. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Winter Perfection on Pitchoff

So far this season my home of Madison, Wisconsin has been bereft of any semblance of winter.  Last Monday it was 65 degrees and I got sweaty playing with my dog while dressed in a T-shirt.  Amy and I completed our circuit of holiday parades – we do maybe a dozen of them all over southern Wisconsin – without once seeing a snowflake or having stiff fingers from the cold as we prepped our equipment.  That kind of track record is without an analog in these parts.

Last week the NOAA announced that 2012 will finish as the warmest year in US history.  According to USA Today’s report, every state in the lower 48 was warmer than average and eighteen states set records for warmest year ever including New York and virtually the entire Northeast.  Many Midwestern cities will set records this week for longest stretch of consecutive days with no snow.  Climate change is upon us and both the accumulating data and trend models show that it is warming more rapidly and more severely than previously predicted. Yet most Americans still don’t seem to care all that much about it and plenty of ignoramuses still deny it, following an ugly and embarrassing American trend of belittling science and knowledge.  Even on the Almanack one suspects there are more than a few readers who are as likely to believe in Bigfoot as in human-made climate change.  In their case – in all our cases – ignorance will surely not be bliss. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Council Proposes A Larger High Peaks Wilderness

Adirondack Council proposal for Boreas PondsThe Adirondack Council is proposing a huge expansion of the High Peaks Wilderness Area once the state acquires lands formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company.

Under the council’s plan, the state would combine the High Peaks and Dix Mountain Wilderness Areas as well as twenty-three thousand acres of former Finch lands. If this were done, the High Peaks Wilderness—already the largest Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park—would grow to 272,000 acres from 204,000 acres.

Council spokesman John Sheehan said enlarging the High Peaks Wilderness would simplify the state’s management and planning for the popular region.

The proposal also would require the state to close a long dirt road that leads to Boreas Ponds, which are among the former Finch holdings that the state intends purchase over the next five years. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

More Than A Year After Irene Some Trails Remain Closed

Adirondak Loj Road closed after Tropical Storm IreneMore than a year after Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc in the Adirondacks, two trails in the High Peaks Wilderness remain closed and several bridges are still out. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has no immediate plans to reopen the trails, but hikers can continue using them at their own risk, according to DEC spokesman David Winchell.

The trails in question are the Southside Trail along Johns Brook and the Cold Brook Pass Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass. Neither was ever especially well traveled.

“We’re not looking at doing anything with them right now,” Winchell said. “They’re on the back burner.” He added that DEC has not decided whether to permanently abandon the trails.
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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Allure of Lost Brook

I grew up appreciating Adirondack water primarily in the form of its lakes and ponds.  Our family began vacationing at Blue Mountain Lake nearly sixty years ago and by now I feel as though I know every island and every inch of its depths and shoreline.

There are many other bodies of water that became at least somewhat familiar to me in my boyhood: Eagle and Utowana Lakes, Long Lake, Piseco Lake, parts of the Fulton chain, Minnow Pond, Stephens Pond, Cascade Pond, Rock Pond (one of the many), the Sargent Ponds, Lake Durant, Tirrell Pond, Indian Lake, Heart Lake.  As an adult I have come to even more intimate terms with many more, primarily in the High Peaks and Saint Regis areas. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: New Adk Image, New Economy

Last week I ended my Dispatch on the Adirondack economy by suggesting the outlines of a five-point economic proposal. This proposal is based upon that idea that the most valuable Adirondack asset that can be leveraged is wilderness itself.

This week I will briefly describe core of the proposal, the creation of a new Adirondack image as a mountainous wilderness area second to none. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Baxter Mountain Tavern, Keene

We certainly felt like we’d covered every main route in our travels through the Adirondacks, but if it weren’t for several referrals to Baxter Mountain Tavern in Keene, we might have missed this one. Its location on Route 9N, between Elizabethtown and Keene, eluded us. We’ve traveled to Elizabethtown, then back, and have been through Keene numerous times on our way to Lake Placid and beyond, but never connected the dots. One more reason to abandon the GPS and find your own way.

Recommended to us by numerous hikers, the Baxter Mountain Tavern was obviously well known to so many others – locals, seasonal residents and tourists. As afternoon turned to evening, the bar, restaurant and deck filled with expectant diners. With at least eight people at the bar, our foursome filled it to capacity. Sarah the bartender was kept busy between serving the bar customers and preparing drinks for the diners, but always kept up the smile and attentiveness to all. As Baxter’s got busier, she referred our questions to the owner, Dave Deyo. Equally busy greeting and seating guests, he graciously managed to share information with us. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Climbing the North Face of Gothics

A wall of rock 1,200 feet high and a quarter-mile wide tends to stand out. Indeed, the North Face of Gothics is one of the most conspicuous landmarks of the High Peaks, drawing the eye whether you’re in downtown Lake Placid or on top of Mount Marcy.

Yes, the North Face is big, and if you want to climb it, plan on a big day. The same goes for the other two rock walls on Gothics: the South Face and the Rainbow Slide. All three offer rock climbers spectacular routes in a wilderness setting to one of the Adirondacks’ most beautiful summits. » Continue Reading.