Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Visit to the Great Range

IMG_6635This July during our Adirondack residency I took some time away from Lost Brook Tract to accompany my brother-in-law Dan and his nine year old son Jonah on Jonah’s first hard-core backpacking trip, a two-day traverse of the Great Range followed by the McIntyre Range the next day.  I was filled with anticipation for the two-fold effect awaiting Jonah: the immediate joy and the lasting legacy.  At nine I would have passed out with excitement from such an adventure, from being on the grand and imposing rock of that range.  But then, as veteran hikers know, the hard work and toil attendant to scaling such rugged ups and downs, the persistence of the pack weight sinking into you, the slow, sustained rhythm that sees you steadily progress through high Adirondack forest, these things work deeply into your body, into your muscle memory and your larger psyche where they embed themselves and cure there, strengthening your experience to a level that leaves you changed forever.  To imagine these effects working on my young nephew brought me immense pleasure. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

People Not Welcome: A New Land Classification?

Forest near Middle South PondSome recent events started me thinking about land classifications in the Adirondacks, and their possible inadequacy to preserve biological diversity in the future. With the twin threats of climate change and invasive exotic species, new strategies may be necessary. One such strategy is a new land classification, one where human beings will no longer be welcome.

I started thinking about the necessity of a new land classification when I read recent articles by Bill Ingersoll and Pete Nelson proposing their own new classification categories. Where their proposals were for a new category wedged between the current Wilderness and Wild Forest classes, mine would be the most restrictive land class in the Adirondacks, essentially preserving the land exclusively for the use of the other living organisms. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Family Takes the Saranac Lake 6er Challenge

On the summit of Baker are, left to right: Oliver, Sunita, Galen, Casey, Elliot, and Jessica.After lunch one day this week, I climbed Baker Mountain for the first time since the village of Saranac Lake inaugurated its Saranac Lake 6er challenge in May. Baker always sees a lot foot traffic on a sunny summer day, but there seemed to be an unusual number of cars at the trailhead. I suspected that at least some of the hikers were in pursuit of their 6er patch.

My suspicion was confirmed when I reached the summit and met my neighbors, Steve and Sunita Halasz, with their two sons, Galen, 8, and Oliver, 4. They were picnicking with their friend Jessica Seem and her sons, Elliot Walsh, 10, and Casey Seem, 7.

Jessica and her sons were finishing the Saranac Lake 6. They had come to Saranac Lake from central Massachusetts specifically to complete the challenge (visiting Steve and Sunita was a bonus). They did them in four days, with one day of rest. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dan Crane: Classify New State Lands Wilderness

Essex ChainLast Friday was the deadline for submitting comments on the classification of the former Finch, Pruyn properties that New York State recently purchased from the Nature Conservancy. Fortunately, I got my email off to the Adirondack Park Agency with a couple hours to spare. For me, deciding between the seven proposed alternative classification plans was a no-brainer.

Can you guess my recommendation? Come on, I know you can!

True to form, I recommended implementation of Alternative Plan 1B, the plan calling for the largest Wilderness area among all seven proposed alternatives. I realize this puts me in the minority, as even the majority of environmental groups within the Adirondacks do not support this position.
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Artist Sheri Amsel Creates Champlain Valley Map

champlain-mapThe artist Sheri Amsel has created a beautiful map of the Champlain Valley with illustrations of the region’s wildlife and habitats. It also shows the region’s many hiking trails. I suppose a hiker could fold it and put it in a backpack, but I’ll bet more people will frame it and put in on their wall.

Amsel, a resident of the town of Essex, made the map to draw attention to the natural history and beauty of the valley. “I think the Champlain Valley is an untapped resource,” she said.

The 24-by-37-inch map shows roads, hiking trails, lakes, wetlands, peaks, boat launches, fishing-access spots, and state campgrounds in the Champlain region between Ticonderoga and Willsboro Point. The map differentiates between dirt and paved roads. The trails are numbered and cross-referenced in a table that names the trails and gives the hiking distances. Although the map can be used for planning trips, for serious hikes, you should pack a topographical map. » Continue Reading.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Drinking The Water: Is Giardia A Real Threat?

Sitz PondGiardia has long been considered the scourge of the backcountry, where every water body was assumed to contain a healthy population of these critters or some other related pathogen. Ingestion of this parasite often results in giardiasis, popularly known as beaver fever, a common form of gastroenteritis, characterized by a combination of diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramping.

Although most backcountry explorers deal with the threat of giardiasis and other illness-inducing pathogens by some combination of boiling, chemical treatment or filtering, some chose to disregard all warnings and drink directly from natural water sources.

Are they insane? » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Oswegatchie River’s Carpet Spruce Swamp

P6189641 Middle Branch Oswegatchie River confluenceTrying something new is often rewarding, although potentially anxiety producing as well. Unfortunately, finding a new area to explore within the northwestern Adirondacks is swiftly becoming more difficult, forcing me further and further off the beaten track. Even months-long injuries have failed to slow this trend.

Although difficult, there remain a few places yet for me to explore. Recently, I narrowed the number of places when I explored a remote portion of the Five Ponds Wilderness where I only had limited experience. This overlooked backcountry gem is bordered by the South Ponds to the west, Riley Ponds to the north, the odd-shaped Crooked Lake to the east and the Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie River to the south.
» Continue Reading.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Lake George Hike-A-Thon Set For July 5th

AdkAlm_Sidebar_HATIn celebration of its 25th Anniversary the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) is hosting a Hike-A-Thon on July 5th, the first of its kind for Lake George. The lake-wide event will involve eight parks and preserves in six towns and is expected to engage hundreds of participants of all ages.

The Hike-A-Thon will include nine simultaneous hikes and events at eight locations around Lake George: eight different hikes and one gathering at LGLC’s Peggy’s Point, an accessible park in Hague. Participation is free and open to the public. Everyone who pre-registers will receive an event t-shirt and certificate of participation.

To document the occasion, aerial photographs will be taken by photographer Carl Heilman II, from a helicopter flown by Bruce Mowery of North Country Heli-flite. Copies of the photos will be made available for purchase by request and at LGLC’s annual meeting on July 15th at the Lake George Club. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dan Crane: Returning To The Adirondack Backcountry

Cropsey PondReuniting with an old friend is usually a fulfilling experience. Today, social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and the like, make it easier than ever to keep in contact with people regardless of their location. Unfortunately, I fell out of touch with a close friend of a different nature entirely, and it does not use a phone, have access to the Internet or have the ability to come see me for a quick drop-in.

As regular readers of my contributions to the Adirondack Almamack know, I endured a year-long separation from the Adirondack backcountry due to a mysterious knee injury. During that time I did my share of woolgathering, staring into space wondering how bad the biting insects were, whether the morning bird chorus remained as intense, or how many new dams the beavers erected. Thankfully, I recently discovered the answer to those and so many other questions when I reunited with the Pepperbox Wilderness for the first time in two years.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Drinking The Water: Is Beaver Fever A Myth?

Giardia Free Rill on Lost BrookIn exactly one month Amy and I will hike into Lost Brook Tract laden with food and supplies for a few weeks of glorious wilderness living.  Our initial pack loads will be heavy and the four-mile ascent will be a beautiful toil.  At about the halfway point we will reach Lost Brook for the first time, crossing it just before we begin the steep part of the ascent.  There we will refill our bottles and drink the glorious, bracing water of a perfect Adirondack stream, a pleasure every back country hiker knows.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Great Camp Santanoni Restoration Tour June 28

SantononiGreat Camp Santanoni in Newcomb was built for Robert and Anna Pruyn of Albany beginning in 1892. The estate eventually included 12,900 acres and nearly four-dozen buildings. Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) director Steven Engelhart and 2012 intern Charlotte Barrett will lead a tour of the site on Friday, June 28, 2013 that will feature the launch of a new guide to Santanoni, authored by Barrett.

The day will include stops at the Gate Lodge, the 200-acre farm, and the Main Camp on Newcomb Lake where well see ongoing restoration and learn about the conservation planning and restoration work. The Santanoni Preserve is owned by New York State, on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a National Historic Landmark. AARCH has long been associated with the protection, interpretation and restoration of this Adirondack treasure. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gear Review: PurifiCup Water Filters

PurifiCupWater is everywhere in the Adirondack backcountry; swinging a dead blackfly is impossible without getting wet. Unfortunately, it is not clear how much of this water is safe to drink. For that reason, most backcountry enthusiasts treat their water, thus avoiding the possibility of bringing home a unfriendly aquatic pathogen surprise that could unwrap itself as a putrid rear-end explosion days after returning home.

There are many different ways of treating questionable water sources, the most common being boiling, adding a chemical or filtering it through a permeable membrane. These days most backcountry explorers go the filter route, as it is often the cheapest, most practical and convenient way to ensure safe drinking water.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Art and Nature: Returning To the Heron Nest

Heron on nest, 2013If you’ve been reading the Adirondack Almanack for a while, you may recall my emotional writing about the heron nest I found in the spring of 2012, and the three charming youngsters that were about half-grown when nature intervened and they became dinner for some predator like a large owl or a bald eagle. I was devastated as I’d been quietly visiting the nest site for weeks, observing and photographing the heron family. You can see a YouTube video of one of the parents feeding the three youngsters here.

I’m happy to say, the herons are back on the nest. Or more accurately, according to what I’ve read, a male heron, perhaps the same one, returned to this nest site, made sure the nest was in tip-top shape, and then courted a female (who may not be the same one as last year) and convinced her to join him for mating season. I trust those close friends who know where this pond is will keep it quiet and not disturb this nesting pair. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Proposal for the High Peaks Wilderness

Marcy Dam 1Last week I set the table for a discussion on how better to manage and protect the High Peaks Wilderness, the centerpiece of the Adirondack Park.  My Dispatch offered no specifics; instead I asked readers for comments and ideas.  I got many good ones.  I paid attention to all of them and was influenced or informed by several.  Now it’s time to show my cards.

Allow me to preface my remarks by saying that while I think everyone who loves the park has a stake in the fate of the High Peaks area, I claim no definitive knowledge of what kinds of changes would be best.  We need to listen to experts in forestry, ecology, land use and the like and follow their lead. That said, I know the High Peaks better than most so I’m not merely being a provocateur here.  Additionally, I have a personal stake in this discussion that is shared by very few: a certain private parcel near and dear to my heart lies within this Wilderness.  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dan Crane On Becoming An Adirondack Guide

P5159195 Guides License BadgeThe name is Fool. Bushwhacking Fool. Licensed to guide.

Guiding is a time-honored occupation in the Adirondack region and beyond. Guides, with their vast backcountry skills and knowledge, can safely navigate others through remote areas, saving the time and expensive of learning through trial and error. Years ago, guides were highly prized by the urban elite wishing to experience the wilderness on its own term, albeit with many of the luxuries of the day. The advent of guidebooks, like the Adirondack Mountain Club’s series, greatly diminished the importance of personal guides as they allowed many to go it alone in the most remote areas.
» Continue Reading.



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