“Where do those trails go?” I wondered. The map showed a small trail system, whose outline looked like a loopy, potbellied cartoon character riding a unicycle. Sure, there was Pole Hill Pond at the upper end, but the trail swung far and wide of it twice, a hugely indirect route. What was the dinky little loop down at the foot? I’ve been looking at Adirondack trail maps most of my life and could not decipher this weird pattern of black dashes.
Yet here it was, on the National Geographic trail map that accompanies my Adirondack Mountain Club’s Guide to Eastern Trails, so I could explore it for work. How did those trails get there? Who knew about them? What was that pond like? They were on a new parcel of state land, so the state Department of Environmental Conservation couldn’t yet have built them. Itching to check all this out, I headed for the top of Lake George’s Northwest Bay, above Bolton Landing. » Continue Reading.
Regular Almanack readers are used to hearing me stress the importance of perspectives from outside the Adirondack Park. Today I’ve got one from way outside the Adirondack Park, specifically Norway, where my wife Amy and I are traveling for two weeks. While here I have enjoyed the geologic kinship Norway shares with the Adirondacks. I have also enjoyed the fact that my experiences so far have reinforced the sentiments I expressed in my last Almanack column, namely that we should not overreact to busy trails in the High Peaks. If you think we have a problem in the Adirondacks, you should see the hiking traffic here. And if you think that pervasive cultural experiences of pristine, wild places can’t place their fragile value at the heart of an entire society, you should see this country.
Yesterday Amy and I climbed Preikestolen, one of Norway’s most popular hiking destinations and a national icon. In some ways Preikestolen is Norway’s answer to Indian Head: a massive, open rock slab with a spectacular view, positioned far above a narrow body of water that is set between mountain ridges. However the scale is far greater: Priekestolen’s height above the water is three times that of Indian Head and the body of water is a sizeable fjord, not a small lake. For the purposes of this article, a better comparison is our own infamous Cascade Mountain. Cascade’s trail involves several hundred feet more vertical ascent than Preikestolen, but both routes are 2.4 miles and, more important, both trails are crammed with people who want an accessible but authentic regional mountain experience. Like Cascade, Preikestolen is a challenge that a neophyte hiker or ambitious family might take, an intimidating but doable workout with major parking problems down below and a show-stopper payoff on top. The difference, once again, is scale: Preikestolen’s foot traffic makes Cascade look like Allen Mountain. » Continue Reading.
Trails in the eastern High Peaks, to the Dix Mountains, and to Giant Mountain are extremely crowded on summer weekends. The following dozen hikes are recommended for those who want to have a hiking experience similar to a High Peaks hike, including great scenic views, with much fewer people. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that several restricted Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) will be opened to the public in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties from Saturday, August 12, through Sunday, August 27, 2017.
Portions of these WMAs are marked as “Refuge” or “Wetlands Restricted Area” to allow waterfowl and other listed species to breed and raise young without interference from people. » Continue Reading.
Recently, I was returning from Nubble Cliff in the Giant Mountain Wilderness when I passed a tent on the southeast shore of the Giant’s Washbowl and heard someone breaking branches or dead trees, presumably gathering wood for a campfire.
Campfires are an Adirondack tradition. Who doesn’t like a fire when sleeping under the stars? Nevertheless, I couldn’t help thinking that this was not good for the environment. Rather, it was destructive. » Continue Reading.
UPDATED 5:45 PM, Wednesday, 8/2: The body of Ralph W. ‘Skip’ Baker, 50, of Rochester, the hiker missing in the Adirondack High Peaks since Sunday, was found about 11 am Tuesday, August 1, 2017 in a ravine near the east branch of the AuSable River in the town of Keene. Mike Lynch at Adirondack Explorerhas the latest on that recovery.
The incident comes on the heels of another busy weekend for Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks during which they conducted several other successful searches, and several rescues. These included a 13-year old boy who survived a 25-foot fall at Shelving Rock Falls on the East Side of Lake George; three rescues by helicopter, including an overnight rescue from Bushnell Falls; and a carry-out from near the top of Bald Mountain.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. You can find all of DEC’s Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Reports here. » Continue Reading.
“We just completed our nature therapy training in May,” Helene Gibbons said when I met her last week at Origin Coffee in Saranac Lake. “We learned how to guide people to open their senses to the forest, to become immersed in the sights, smells, sounds and textures of the natural world.” As Helene is a yoga teacher, I saw how she could apply similar principles to meandering through the woods. She’s been guiding students through yoga poses and leading them into meditation for years.
“Suzanne Weirich and I traveled to Chicago for a seven day training at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois,” she continued. “With this Forest Therapy Guide Training we’re ready help people immerse themselves in the natural environment, called Forest Bathing.” » Continue Reading.
Since Bob and George Marshall and their guide, Herb Clark, climbed all forty-six of the High Peaks in the 1920s, more than ten thousand hikers have followed in their footsteps.
You can read more about some of the hiking challenges easing pressure on the High Peaks in the latest issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Subscribe here or download the app.
Here is a list of other hiking challenges in the Adirondack Park. Most have websites or Facebook pages that can be found by googling their names. Unless otherwise indicated, finishers qualify for a patch: » Continue Reading.
While navigating the spellbinding terrain along the Pacific Crest Trail, I found it difficult to resist the temptation to take photos.
Each endless vista around each corner was more jaw-dropping than the last! As I hiked onward, smartphone in hand, impermanence was weighed against the magnitude of the moment. “After all, you may never see these places again,” reminded my sage hiking partner. I had to contemplate whether looking at the staggering scenery through an electronic screen was detaching me from the present experience. » Continue Reading.
Overuse in portions of the High Peaks is a real and growing problem, exacerbated by trends in social media and the expanding desire to count-off summits. It has been documented extensively here in the Almanack. But in the last few weeks these discussions have reached a rolling boil with a bit too much hyperbole for me. A range of ideas has been raised, a number of them falling under the general concept of limiting access to the High Peaks, including permit systems, licensing schemes, daily caps and so on. Some of these limiting suggestions have been accompanied by exclusionary rhetoric with which I strongly disagree, along the lines of “Why are we trying to get more people here?” or “I like my (town, street, access) the way it is, without all the visitors.” I agree that increasing use in parts of the High Peaks is a real issue, and I have written about various aspects of the problem for several years. But the exclusionary sentiments I’m starting to hear are where I draw the line. » Continue Reading.
One of the greatest landscape photographers during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century was William Henry Jackson (April 4, 1843 – June 30, 1942). A native son of the Adirondacks Jackson was born in Keeseville, New York to George Jackson and Harriet Allen. Harriet was a talented water-colorist and William inherited her artistic flair. His first job as an artist in 1858 was a re-toucher for a photography studio in Troy New York.
In 1866 after serving in the Civil War, Jackson boarded a Union Pacific train to the end of the line in Omaha, Nebraska. There he entered the photography business. The Union Pacific gave him a commission in 1869 to document the scenery along their routes for promotional purposes. It was this work that was discovered by Ferdinand Hayden who invited Jackson on the 1870 U.S. government survey (predecessor of the U.S. Geologic Survey) of the Yellowstone River and Rocky Mountains. He was also on the 1871 Hayden Geologic Survey which led to the creation of Yellowstone as America’s first National Park. It was Jackson’s images that played an important role in convincing Congress to establish the Park in 1872. » Continue Reading.
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