Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: End of an Era

T-Bar Lift Whiteface, early 1950'sAmy and I are putting a lot of resources into fixing up our house these days in order to get it on the market.  As part of that we have begun to wade into the accumulated years of clutter that have accreted to us.  The walk-in cedar closet in which we store all our camping gear is packed from floor to ceiling with an ungainly array of equipment ranging from our current go-to gear to remnants of bug spray untouched for a decade and random utensils we have not taken on a trip since before the millennium (apropos of nothing, I have a powerful urge to have a contest with Dan Crane to see who has the most miscellaneous backpacking stuff).

I tried to thin the inventory once before using a clever strategy of assembling camping kits and giving them to our three boys as gifts, along with good stuff like new tents.  But somehow that had little effect; if anything the collection is bigger than before.  Soon I will have a second go around, this time with a vengeance: we are going to come to a new life in the Adirondacks in a fresh, Spartan manner, come hell or high water. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 10, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Bushwhacker

Blowdown near Confluence of Middle Branch Oswegatchie RiverPeople often ask me what exactly I do in the Adirondack backcountry during a bushwhacking trip, as if it involves engaging in some arcane art from long ago. I always find this line of questioning a little befuddling, and to this day, I still find myself lacking an adequate response. For the most part, my day remains much the same as any commuter’s, except for the excessive effort involved in struggling through blowdown, hobblebush or other natural impediments, instead of navigating traffic.

A day in the life of a bushwhacker is an interesting one indeed, but not that different from a typical commuter’s. We sleep, eat, defecate and work much like other people, but a bushwhacker’s commute is shorter and a lot more pleasant. Of course, any description of a typical day in the Adirondack backcountry fails to include a rain delay, a trail hike, or other out of the ordinary conditions, despite these happening much more often than we care to admit.
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Lake George Land Conservancy’s Hike-A-Thon

3_2013HikeAThon_Cook MtThe early-bird registration period is now open for the Lake George Land Conservancy’s (LGLC) annual Hike-A-Thon, set for Saturday, July 5, 2014. The public is invited to register as participants of the Hike-A-Thon, free of charge. Early-bird registrations made until April 30 also come with free event t-shirts for each registered participant.

The Lake George Hike-A-Thon is a one-day event on July 5th, created to showcase LGLC’s parks and preserves around Lake George as free public resources, and to promote a healthy, active lifestyle and appreciation for the outdoors. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

DEC Readies ATV Use Experiment on the Kushaqua Tract

 ATV-DamageThe NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing a new experiment trying to combine intensive public motorized recreational use and natural resource management. The DEC has released a draft Recreation Management Plan (RMP) for the Kushaqua Conservation Easement tract located in the Towns of Franklin and Brighton in Franklin County.  Throughout this tract, the DEC is proposing to open a number of roads to all terrain vehicles (ATVs).

The DEC went down this road once before in the mid-1990s when they opened scores of roads on the Forest Preserve to ATVs. Though official processes were not followed at that time, scores of roads and trails throughout the western Adirondacks were opened to ATVs. Trespassing in other areas was also widespread across the Forest Preserve. After extensive damage to roads, trails, and natural resources, the DEC and APA backtracked in 2005 and closed scores of Forest Preserve roads to ATV use.

At that time, public ATV use on the Forest Preserve was seen by many as an experiment that failed. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 14, 2014

DEC: No Reprieve For Marcy Dam

Marcy Dam aerialThe decision is final: Marcy Dam will be torn down.

As reported last month on the Almanack, the state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to dismantle the dam, which was damaged in Tropical Storm Irene, over the next five years. At the time, though, the department was waiting to hear from the public on the proposal.

Recently, I submitted a freedom-of-information request to review the public comments. Given the popularity of the dam, I was surprised to learn that DEC heard from only two people—and both agreed that the dam should be removed.

One of the writers, Wallace Elton, suggested that a dam failure would damage the environment downstream and put people at risk. “The expense of rebuilding the dam to today’s safety standards cannot be justified with current funding limitations,” he wrote. “Beyond that, this is an opportunity to re-wild a key area in the heart of the Forest Preserve.”

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Guide: The Trans Adirondack Route

Logo transparentWith six million acres of valleys, lakes, peaks, and passes, the Adirondack Park of is a big place ripe for big adventures, and no adventure could be bigger than hiking across the entire park, from top to bottom.  This 235-mile opportunity to traverse the Adirondacks is being dubbed by former Adirondack Park backcountry ranger Erik Schlimmer the “Trans Adirondack Route”.

Schlimmer’s Trans Adirondack Route pieces together hiking trails, abandoned pathways, snowmobile trails, and dirt and paved roads to travel from Ellenburg Center near the Canadian border to southern Fulton County near Gloversville.  During its course the route crosses five wilderness areas, visits fifty bodies of water, climbs three summits, and runs through three settlements.  Highlights of the route include Whiteface Mountain, the High Peaks, the Cold River, and Long Lake. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Community Based Trails And The Rail-Trail Debate

The Adirondack Rail Corridor in Ray Brook (Jack Drury Photo)Is it just us or is there something missing from the discussion of rails and trails? Why is the discussion of trails limited to one rail bed (of many within the park) rather than exploring the larger question of, “What are the trail needs park wide?”

Rather than looking at the rail – trail debate in isolation from the larger issue of creating and enhancing recreational opportunities within the Adirondack Park, we should focus on exploring the idea of an Adirondack Park Community-Based Trail System.

The rail – trail issue can and should only be addressed after we have acknowledged and prioritized our park-wide trail needs. What follows is a vision for such a trail system in the Adirondack Park and, although the process for such an effort needs to be determined and articulated, it is a vision that would benefit the entire Adirondack Park and its communities. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Screenings of New Grace Hudowalski Documentary

Grace HudolowskiSeveral screenings of “The Mountains Will Wait for You,” a new documentary film about Grace Hudowalski have been announced.  One of the most influential of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers (or just 46ers) was Grace Hudowalski (#9).

Born in Ticonderoga and raised in Minerva, she started at the top: her first was Mount Marcy in 1922 when she was 15 and by age 30 she had ascended all 46—becoming the first woman to do so. She also had a passion for climbing, and for the 46ers, that was contagious, and led to her becoming something of a club matriarch.

Director Fredrick Schwoebel read an article about Hudowalski in May 1993, and was captivated by her story. He spent hours interviewing her and her friends, and shot extensive footage in the mountains. He also recruited his father-in-law, Johnny Cash, the Man in Black himself, to narrate. Although Hudowalski died nearly a decade ago, her legacy lives on: there is a movement afoot to rename 4,012-foot East Dix in her honor, Grace Peak. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gear Review: Montbell U.L. Down Jacket

Montbell UL Down Jacket

For years, synthetic fleece has been a standard material in almost every backcountry enthusiast’s gear repertoire. Jackets, sweatshirts, hats, gloves, socks, pants, there is almost no piece of clothing safe from the material, except for perhaps underwear briefs.

The popularity of the material is reflected in the multitude of different types of fleece invented, ranging from Polar to Windstopper. That the material is made of polyethylene terephthalate, the same plastic used to make soda bottles, often appears to be lost on almost everyone.

Despite the versatility and popularity of fleece, I have all but abandoned the material in my own backpacking during the warmer months, with the exception of the extremities, like gloves, hat and socks. Instead, my fleece sweatshirt endures the loneliness of my dresser drawer now, replaced by a jacket that is just as warm, but with a fraction of the weight and eminently more packable.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Remote New Year’s Perfection

From Burtons PeakAfter four nights at Lost Brook Tract with Amy, two adult sons and our irrepressible dog Henderson, I’m raring to go for another year of Almanacking, though my contributions will be a little less frequent as I bear down with more purpose on the book I’m undertaking.

This stay at Lost Brook Tract was the best ever.  The weather conditions and quality of light were the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced in the Adirondacks, to which the photo can attest.  It was truly luminous. There was less snow than in past years but no less winter.  The temperatures ranged from a positively balmy 35 degrees on the first afternoon to properly Adirondack zero-and-below readings the last two days.  For New Year’s Eve I served a bottle of Prosecco we’d carried in.  It was frozen.  That’s cold.  I can report that thawing Prosecco by positioning it next to a flaming birch log flattens it into tepid watery juice faster than any other method I know.  Oh well, we had hot chocolate too.  And the salmon pasta was “spiced” with a little rye, which thanks to its higher alcohol content resolutely maintained its golden liquidity to the bitter end. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dan Crane: The Edible Adirondacks

Adirondack wooded gardenSpending time in the Adirondack backcountry requires an entire menagerie of skills, including navigation, endurance and tolerance for being the object of affection for hordes of bloodthirsty flies. Often overlooked are those skills necessary to survive in the wilderness for an extended period without all the convenient gear and compact foods typically carried by most backcountry enthusiasts.

These skills include, but are certainly not limited to, building a shelter, starting a fire and finding something to eat. Although these skills are useful when impressing members of the opposite sex far from civilization, these skills just might mean the difference between life and death when forced to spend a few unexpected days in the remote backcountry.

One important survival skill is locating edible wild foods in the backcountry. Whether lost and in dire need of sustenance or just curious about sampling the local cuisine, knowing what to eat, when and how is crucial to avoid a mouthful of something disgusting, or worse. Although the dense Adirondack forest may appear devoid of anything remotely resembling nourishment, the backcountry is full of nourishing, if not delicious foods, with only the knowledge of where to look for them lacking.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thanks For The Adirondack Park

Sitz PondThanksgiving Day is upon us, and those fortunate enough are gathering with family and friends to gorge themselves on a hearty meal, giving thanks for the bounty enjoyed throughout the year. Tomorrow, many of us will turn around and venture  into the shopping wilderness to forage for the best deal on things few of us need, in celebration of the birth of a man who lived over two thousand years ago when people got by with so little.

Just appreciating what we already have seems to be out of vogue these days. Our appetite for stuff appears more insatiable with each passing year. The simple things in life, such as family, friends, and the beauty of the great outdoors are no longer satisfying enough, and hardly a substitute for the newest smart phone, tablet, or new-fangled whatchamacallit.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Glade

Henderson's glenI have been experiencing potent daydreams over the last week.  Really they are little flashes of transference, brief moments where my conscious self is in a different place than I am.  It is less than an out of body experience – a concept which my reason will not allow – but it is much more than simply thinking about or remembering or longing to be somewhere.  Everyone has had similar experiences, when all of a sudden another place or time from memory, or even a fiction from imagination, floods into one’s head so strongly that the smell, sound and feel of it is palpable.

My daydream is no fiction: it is a small glade two thousand feet up and three miles in along the bushwhack route we take to Lost Brook Tract.  Some disturbance created it many decades past, a long enough span of time so that almost no trace of downed trees remains.  Since then the fortunes of wind and slope, of patterns of water running down the bedrock below the soil, have kept it from filling back in.  Surrounded by a ring of birch, spruce and balsam, it is perhaps fifty feet by thirty feet in extent, carpeted in ferns and boreal undergrowth. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hiker Recounts Black Bear Encounter

amy-stafford2-600x437Smart hikers know what to do when they come upon a black bear in the woods: wave your arms, yell, and stand your ground. Yet that didn’t work for Amy Stafford.

Stafford, who is twenty-two, was forced to stab a bear in the face when it charged her in the woods on the Northville-Placid Trail.

“The whole time I kept thinking, if this bear wanted me, it could have me in a heartbeat. I considered throwing things at it, running at it, but I was afraid it would provoke aggression. I didn’t react until I had to,” said Stafford, who graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology last spring and is a member of the Army Reserves. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Getting Lost in the Adirondack Backcountry

Lost in the Five Ponds WildernessA pleasant hike in the Adirondack backcountry suddenly turns into a disaster. The heart quickens in the chest, the echo of the frequent beats drowning out the surrounding natural sounds. A thin sheen of sweat covers the skin, producing a clammy feeling and chills. Breathing becomes labored as if just summiting a faraway peak. A frantic feeling overcomes you, as if mortal danger is imminent.

What is going on? Is it a heart attack? A panic attack? Aliens?

Nope. It just means you made a terrifying discovery, as everything around you looks unfamiliar, and you no longer know where you are. You are lost. All the physical indications are there, the racing heart, the profuse sweating, the difficulty breathing, and the sense of impending doom. Every rock, tree, bird and chipmunk looks threatening. What choice do you have but panic, right?
» Continue Reading.



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