The mysterious, unique, native populations of the American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) have drastically declined in the Adirondacks from historic populations. Surprisingly, individuals can still be found in tiny creeks buried in gravel and mud or under rocks. It has been recommended that the American eel be placed on the Endangered Species list due to alterations to migration routes and loss of habitat, mainly caused by dams along the migration routes.
American eel’s are elongate and very flexible. They have no pelvic fin and their anal and dorsal fins are joined forming one fin that runs around their body. The mouth is terminal, with a projecting lower jaw.
Eels are catadromous, meaning they live most of their adult life in freshwater and return to the sea to spawn and die. American eels are among the longest-lived fish species in North America. A female American eel held in captivity was recorded to be 88 years old prior to her death. The females are larger than the males, averaging three feet long while the males generally reach 1.5 feet long. The females, which have not yet reproduced, are generally what are caught in freshwater systems. The largest eel taken in New York State was seven pounds and 14 ounces, from Cayuga Lake in 1984. At maturity a female can lay between 10-20 million eggs.
The migratory nature of eels means that they can travel thousands of miles upstream, lakes, up and around waterfalls and small dams. They can even travel overland during rainy nights, creating the myth that they come out of the water and crawl across the land. Larval eels that are located out at sea are called leptocephali, they are transparent, ribbon-shaped and are poor swimmers. At age one, the leptocephali swim to shore along the coast of the United States and transform into elvers or glass eels. During this process, they gain their coloring and shrink in size. At this time females will migrate great distances upstream to mature, while males will stay closer to the coast.
After 20-50 years in freshwater the eels transform again into silver eels and move back out to the spawning area, the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to spawn and then die. The mating behavior of the American eel has never been witnessed. The diet of eels varies by size; the smaller eels eat insects such as mayflies and caddisflies, the larger eels will eat fish and crustaceans, They are most active at night, spending their days hiding under rocks and in the mud.
Eels are considered commercially important in New York and are frequently caught by anglers. American Eels were historically caught for their skins, which were used to bind books or for their oils which were used for medicinal purposes. Today Eels may contain high levels of PCB’s and cannot be commercially sold. Throughout New York State, except the Hudson River, St. Lawrence River, Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and tributaries to these waters, you can fish for American Eel all year. The minimum length is 6 inches with a daily limit of 50.
Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.
Photo: An American Eel caught by US Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Steven Smith holding an eel caught while night electrofishing for salmon in Whallon Bay, Lake Champlain. Photo courtesy USFWS.
A new exhibit featuring twenty original Seneca Ray Stoddard photographs of waterfalls in the Adirondacks is now on view at the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls.
Included are popular falls located on the Hudson, Raquette and Ausable Rivers, as well as lesser known falls in remote locations in the central Adirondacks — places that today still are accessible only by foot. Examples are Roaring Brook Falls on Giant, Buttermilk Falls on the Raquette, Surprise Falls on Gill Brook near Lower Ausable, and Silver Cascade in Elizabethtown. The photos will be on display until July 3rd. » Continue Reading.
If you ever climbed Mount Marcy from Lake Colden, you probably drove up the narrow road from Newcomb to the Upper Works trailhead, past an odd but massive stone structure near the southern entrance to the High Peaks. You might have wondered about this relic from the American industrial revolution, how it worked, and when it was built. In a few months, the Open Space Institute (OSI), which bought the site from NL Industries in 2003, will install illustrated interpretive panels explaining the fascinating history of this important Adirondack site. I’ve been working on the team preparing these panels, and I’ve learned far more about 19th-century iron smelting than I ever thought was possible. » Continue Reading.
Hudson River Rafting Company owner Pat Cunningham pleaded not guilty in Hamilton County Court Thursday to two counts of reckless endangerment. He is scheduled to go to trial in August. Adirondack Life just posted details of the case in “Risky Business,” a story Mary reported for its May/June issue. The Almanack asked Mary Thill to bring our readers up to speed on the latest developments – ed.
The charges are connected to two trips on the Upper Hudson River last summer. But for more than a decade, guides who’ve worked for Cunningham have said that the Hudson River Rafting Company sometimes 1.) overbooks rafts 2.) sends customers in rafts piloted by unlicensed guides-in-training and 3.) launches inexperienced customers in their own boats without guides. The company’s reputation among the guiding community and in rafting towns like North Creek and Indian Lake has not been good for a while. For reasons that are explored in the article, that reputation has been held as local knowledge, until recently. » Continue Reading.
This Wednesday, May 25, at 7 pm, noted environmental historian John Cumbler will present a talk entitled Mills, Water Power Dams and the Transformation of the Environment at the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls. The lecture is the first in a series of programs, funded in part by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, which expand on the themes of the Chapman’s current exhibit, Harnessing the Hudson: Waterwheels & Turbines, a history of waterpower on the upper Hudson River. The program is free and open to the public. John T. Cumbler, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, has taught at the Univ. of Louisville since 1975, specializing in United States Environmental History and Economic History. Professor Cumbler is the author of numerous books including: Northeast and Midwest United States: An Environmental History (2005) and Reasonable Use: The People, The Environment, And The State, New England 1790-1930 (2001). In his talk he will explore the impact of industrialization on rivers and the history of how people have responded to that degradation.
The Chapman Historical Museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls. The exhibit Harnessing the Hudson will be on view through September 25th. Public hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826 or visit www.chapmanmuseum.org.
North Creek’s annual Whitewater Derby is an event which deserves proper recognition – of the drink persuasion. We spent some time on “research” last week, creating the Whitewater Rushin’, and an interesting variation; its subtle maple flavor and frothy finish a tribute to spring in the northeast. It’s been some time since we were at Whitewater Derby – back when it was just a great excuse to party, camping at the ski bowl, an inch of snow on the roof of the VW bus, and no watercraft in sight. Considering our current livelihood, it was high time we returned, so we had our own private, mini pub crawl in North Creek on Saturday.
Whitewater Rushin’ 1 oz. Sapling Maple Liqueur 1/2 oz. Amaretto 1 oz. vanilla vodka 2 oz. cream or milk Shake with ice or use a blender
Beginning with Trapper’s at the Copperfield Inn, Pam ordered a “Snow Bunny Martini”, a delicious grape-flavored concoction that set the tone for the afternoon. We met a newcomer to North Creek, Michael, who had just begun the arduous task of tearing down an existing home and putting up a camp. Good luck with that, Michael. We couldn’t stay long; we had planned to visit five of the local pubs, including Laura’s which we have yet to review. As we headed out, under the gaze of Teddy Roosevelt’s moose, bedecked in his own derby number, Pam remarked that Trapper’s has, by far, the very best outdoor ashtray we have yet seen.
Off we went to the Barking Spider. We hadn’t been there since February and were pleased to find it quite crowded and noisy and we managed to grab a couple of seats at the bar. Pam couldn’t decide which direction her next cocktail should take from the grapes of Trappers and, ironically, the bartender suggested the Grape Crush. A theme was emerging. It was even more delicious than the previous drink.
Pam went outside to see what was happening on the deck (perhaps “landing” more aptly describes it) and talked to some nice people about the Derby – the Kentucky Derby. Two kayaks paddled by on the Hudson, lending a feeling of being a part of the Whitewater Derby! That’s more than we’ve ever seen in our history of attending. Hmmm, what if OTB got involved in whitewater racing??? When it was time for the ladies on the deck to order, they advised their companions that they wanted what Pam was having. She must have had “delicious” written all over her face as she sipped her beverage because she hadn’t commented on it. Upon further reflection, perhaps it was the pint sized glass the drink came in that attracted their attention.
Grape Crush Grape vodka Chambord Splash of craberry juice Top off with Sprite
And we’re off…to do a review of Laura’s. We popped in and found it totally empty; even the bartender was missing. So we scooted out undetected, planning to stop at barVino. With the grape theme going, that would have been an obvious choice, but Pam didn’t think their grapes would complement the grapes she had already consumed. So, it was decided, one last stop at Basil & Wicks, then home.
Basil & Wick’s trail marker themed sign indicated we were on the right trail. From our parking space we could see into the dining room, where Jane, the owner, was waving us in. She even came out onto the porch to greet us, making us feel really special. Pam once said, “A good tavern is one that makes strangers feel they are in their own home town.”
Basil & Wick’s is like going home. Jane proudly showed Kim her newest museum piece – a barstool from the original Basil & Wick’s, hermetically sealed in its own plexiglass case. The bar was fairly full and we actually knew a few people, among them local music legend Hank Soto, of Stony Creek Band fame. We will actually be reviewing the Stony Creek Inn next week, celebrating its reopening on Sunday, May 15, featuring the Stony Creek Band. You know ’em, you love ’em… Hope to see some of you there!
Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog
The Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls has opened a new major exhibition, Harnessing the Hudson, which explores the history of how people in the region have harnessed the renewable energy of the Hudson River from early sawmills to hydroelectric generators.
In 1903, the Spier Falls hydroelectric dam, located on the Hudson eight miles upstream from Glens Falls, began to produce electricity. Touted at the time as the largest dam of its type in the United States, the dam supplied electricity not only to surrounding communities but also to the large General Electric plant in Schenectady 50 miles away. The dam quickly became part of a network of power plants and transmission lines that supplied power for factories, transportation and lighting in the Capital region. The brainchild of Glens Falls attorney, Eugene Ashley, Spier Falls was a project that captivated the interest of people far and wide. They were familiar with water power, but electricity was a very new phenomenon at the beginning of the 20th century, and many people were not convinced of its potential. Little did they suspect how much it would change their lives.
The exhibit features archival materials and artifacts principally from the Chapman’s Spier Falls collection but also from other regional archives. Of particular note are photographs provided by the Schenectady Museum and Science Center, which houses thousands of images that document the history of GE and the development of electricity. For those unfamiliar with the physics of water power, a hand-cranked generator and other interactive elements provide greater understanding of the science involved.
In conjunction with the exhibit, which will run through September, the museum plans to hold a series of public programs relating to the theme of Harnessing the Hudson. These will include talks about the history of hydropower on the upper Hudson, the development of the electric grid, a driving tour of mill sites, and kayak tours that explore the river ecology around Spier Falls.
This project is supported by: Brookfield, The Leo Cox Beach Philanthropic Foundation, the Waldo T. Ross & Ruth S. Ross Charitable Trust Foundation, National Grid, the New York Council for the Humanities and general operating support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.
The exhibit will be on display at the Chapman Historical Museum through September 25, 2011. The museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. Public Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826
Photo: Construction workers installing a 12’ diameter penstock at Spier Falls Hydroelectric Dam, 1901.
National Geographic Maps, established in 1915 to produce maps for National Geographic magazine as well as for travellers, is now using the worldwide web to promote geotourism, another name for the exploration of a particular area’s singular cultural, historical and natural topography.
Starting this spring, the company will work with a local organization to promote the unique attractions of the Lake George region around the world on the web. “The National Geographic Maps Division is pleased to have the opportunity to spotlight this region and, in doing so, support and sustain it as one of the world’s treasured natural places,” said James Dion, business development associate, National Geographic Maps. “The MapGuide will celebrate the area’s abundant scenic, cultural and historical attributes from the unique vantage point of those who live there.”
On Thursday, March 3, Dion was joined by New York State officials at the New York State Museum in Albany to announce the new project, which will be undertaken in collaboration with Lakes to Locks Passage, the organization established to promote cultural and heritage tourism in the upper Hudson, Lake George and Lake Champlain corridors.
“The Lakes to Locks Passage Geotourism website will highlight the region’s history, unique points of interest, ongoing events, and outdoor routes and trails along the waterways,” said Janet Kennedy, executive director of Lakes to Locks Passage. “The National Geographic brand will attract visitors seeking the authenticity of people and places, traveling to several attractions throughout a vacation to truly experience a destination. Through this collaboration, Lakes to Locks Passage will link established attractions to the special places hidden away in small communities.”
According to Kennedy, local residents and organizations will be invited to nominate landmarks, attractions, activities, events and even foods for places on the website. “Participation by local residents is critical to the program’s success,” said Kennedy. “Our goal is to receive nominations from across the region that identify the things people love best. Public forums and presentations will be conducted in communities throughout the Lakes to Locks Passage area to encourage nominations and community involvement.”
Lakes to Locks Passage has scheduled public meetings to encourage on-line nominations to the website and to promote its potential for attracting national and international visitors to the region.
The first in this area will be held on this Tuesday, March 29 at the Warren County Municipal Center, Room 6-103, from 3 pm to 5 pm.
This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to sometimes drastic changes.
Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.
The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.
SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND ** indicates new or revised items.
** HIGH WATERS / FLOODING Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and flood watches have been issued for the entire Adirondack region. Some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys; there a flood warning has already been issued for Warren County. Beware of ice jams which are unpredictable and can break up, move and jam again quickly. Water backing up behind the jam can flood areas under deep water with surprising speed. Anyone living in or traveling through these areas is advised to take precautions. Peak flow will likely not be reached until Friday evening or Friday night. Review emergency plans and be prepared for the possibility of flooding.
** FLOOD WARNING FOR THE HUDSON RIVER NEAR NORTH CREEK A Flood Warning continues for the Hudson River at North Creek, the river went over flood stage early Thursday morning and is expected to rise until a peak Friday night. Moderate to severe flooding is occurring along Old River Road and is expected to occur for some time due to an ice jam. Should the jam break suddenly it could cause a sudden rise in the water level between North Creek, Riparius, The Glen, and Hadley. Moving ice could cause structural damage.
** EXPECT BLOWDOWN Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails.
** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS Winter conditions exist throughout the area with 35-40 inches of snow on the ground, more in higher elevations. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports almost 4 1/2 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails, although many remain unbroken after this week’s snows. NOTE: flooding and high waters expected. See warnings above.
** AVALANCHE CONDITIONS ELEVATED Recent snows have increased the potential for avalanches on slides and other areas prone to avalanche and several have occurred. Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The danger of avalanches is highest shortly after a significant snowfall, and avalanches can occur anytime there is a deep snow cover made up of multiple layers of snow. The risk of avalanche depends on a number of factors and can not only change from day to day, but also change over the period of the day as temperatures, humidity and solar warming all influence the character of the snowpack. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling.
Snowmobiles All the regions snowmobile trails are open snowmobiles are operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. See the weekly snowmobile trails report below for more information about the condition of local snowmobile trails.
Thin Ice Safety Always check the thickness of ice before crossing and at several points along the way. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Each year a number of people fall through thin ice. One has already died and many more have gone through the ice. Use extreme caution with ice.
Carry Extra Winter Gear Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.
Know The Latest Weather Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.
Fire Danger: LOW
** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather Friday: Morning showers, high near 37. Breezy, gusts to 40 mph. Friday Night: Chance of snow. Cloudy, low around 13. Saturday: Cloudy, with a high near 29. Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 34.
The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]
** Snow Cover There is currently 3 to 4 feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 4 1/2 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails, but most trails remain unbroken following recent storms and ice may be found on summits and other open areas. Recent storm totals are available online. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.
** Downhill Ski Report All mountains (with the exception of Mount Pisgah) will be open this weekend on a more than four foot base. Whiteface Mountain reports that the mountain has received more snow than any other ski area on the planet over the past seven days, 61.02 inches. Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake is closed at least through Saturday due to the thaw. Weather permitting, the village of Saranac Lake says the mountain may be open on Sunday. Updates will be posted on the Mount Pisgah website.
** Cross Country Ski Report All cross country ski areas will be open this weekend with an two to three foot base. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about three to four foot base, although some sections remain unbroken after recent snows. Complete and up-to-date cross-country conditions are available [here].
** Backcountry Ski Report Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with 4 1/4 feet at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Snow cover is good on all trails, but breaking trails may be a challenge this weekend. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and flood watches have been issued for the entire Adirondack region. Some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys; there a flood warning has already been issued for Warren County. Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.
** Ice Climbing Report Nearly all climbing areas have at least some ice in good shape, but conditions will be changing dramatically as rains arrive this weekend. Breaking trail to get to lesser used climbs will be a challenge. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys where more rain is expected. Lower angled climbs like Chouinards, the Slab, Multiplication Gully and others are still dangerous due to the threat of Avalanche. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.
Municipal Ice Skating Rinks Are Open Most municipal outdoor skating rinks are now open. Call ahead for specific opening days and times.
** Ice Fishing Report Ice fishing is officially open, and although ice conditions have improved substantially, recent heavy snows warming weather is creating slush conditions, especially in southern areas. Ice shanties must be off the ice by March 15. Ice shanties that fall partially through the ice become hard to remove and create hazards to snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles on the ice. Ice shanties that remain after ice out become navigation hazards for boats. Tip-ups may be operated on waters through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.
** Snowmobile Trails Report The region’s snowmobile trails are in good to excellent condition with about a two to three foot base; heavily used and wide open trails can be expected to be in good condition this weekend but will worsen with the weekend’s thaw along the southern areas of the Adirondacks. Rains and warm temperatures are expected to result in high water conditions and some stream crossings may be impassable and some trails along streams may be flooded. Water levels are expected to be particularly high along the southern ranges and valleys; there a flood warning has already been issued for Warren County. Cellar Brook has flooded the Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail approximately 6 miles west of the Cedar River Headquarters preventing snowmobiles from traveling through from east to west. The Town of Inlet has created a turn around area near the Lost Pond Road approximately 5 miles west of Cellar Brook and is no longer grooming beyond that point. The Town of Indian Lake is only grooming to the gate at Cedar River Headquarters. DEC and the Towns are working to address the situation and reopen the trail. The C4/C8 snowmobile trail is closed between intersections HM114 and HM6 due to severe ice jams and flooding of the Miami River. Travel from points south (Piseco and Sacandaga Lake area near the Jessup River Wild Forest) will be impacted. Travel to all destinations north or east of the Piseco/Oxbow area can be reached using alternate trails (Oxbow to Sacandaga Lake trail) toward the Village of Speculator. Destinations north (Indian Lake) or east (Speculator Tree Farm/Thurman Connection/Wells) can be reached from the “Ballfield” parking area located in the Village of Speculator. As always, conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. So far this year one sledder has died in Washington County, one in Franklin County, one in Jefferson County, one in Herkimer County, and four in Lewis County. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.
** All Rivers Running Well Above Normal Waters in the region are running well above normal levels for this time of year. Due to an ice jam the Hudson River is currently flooding along Route 28 and Old River Road at The Glen. An ice jam is also affecting West Canada Creek which is also likely to flood by Friday night. Use caution this weekend along the Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, Sacandaga Schroon and Hudson rivers. Ice is beginning to break up on the regions moving water. Beware of ice jams which are unpredictable and can break up, move and jam again quickly. Water backing up behind the jam can flood areas under deep water with surprising speed. Anyone living in or traveling through these areas is advised to take precautions. Peak flow will likely not be reached until Friday evening or Friday night. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.
Hunting Seasons Nearly all hunting seasons are now closed with the exception of late snow goose, crow and coyote. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.
Furbearer Trapping Seasons Nearly all furbearer trapping seasons are closed with the exception of beaver, mink, and muskrat. Body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure.
ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS
NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL
The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.
Upper Benson to Whitehouse: Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.
West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.
Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.
** Avalanche Conditions (Warning Elevated): Recent snows have increased the potential for avalanches on slides and other areas prone to avalanche. Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning.
** Opalescent River Flooding: Due to ice jams, the Opalescent River has flooded the Day-Glo South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam. Tent sites have a foot half of water under the snow. The Opalescent and McMartin lean-tos along the Opalescent River below Lake Colden were recently flooded recently. Since the waters have resided the lean-tos are icy with large chunks of ice in and around the lean-tos. The lean-tos and designated campsites are unusable at this time.
** Johns BRook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. Beginning the weekend of March 18-20 the following lean-tos will be worked on as described:
Moving the Deer Brook Lean-to to a new location that is out of sight of the brook and the trail in order to bring it into compliance with the High Peaks Complex Unit Management Plan and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. It is expected that it will take several weeks to complete this project. The lean-to will be closed for use beginning March 18 and reopen once the project is complete.
Removing the Bear Brook Lean-to without replacement in accordance with the High Peaks Complex Unit Management Plan. This lean-to will be closed for use beginning March 18.
Snowshoes Required: Snowshoes are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. The use of snowshoe or skis is required – even on hardened trails! Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.
Avalanche Pass Slide: The slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing.
Western High Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.
Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down in most areas accessed from the Corey’s Road, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.
Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes are needed. There is aprox 3 feet of snow near the summit.
Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.
Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.
Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.
Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS
** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Cellar Brook has flooded the Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail approximately 6 miles west of the Cedar River Headquarters preventing snowmobiles from traveling through from east to west. The Town of Inlet has created a turn around area near the Lost Pond Road approximately 5 miles west of Cellar Brook and is no longer grooming beyond that point. The Town of Indian Lake is only grooming to the gate at Cedar River Headquarters. DEC and the Towns are working to address the situation and reopen the trail.
** Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The C4/C8 snowmobile trail is closed between intersections HM114 and HM6 due to severe ice jams and flooding of the Miami River. Travel from points south (Piseco and Sacandaga Lake area near the Jessup River Wild Forest) will be impacted. Travel to all destinations north or east of the Piseco/Oxbow area can be reached using alternate trails (Oxbow to Sacandaga Lake trail) toward the Village of Speculator. Destinations north (Indian Lake) or east (Speculator Tree Farm/Thurman Connection/Wells) can be reached from the “Ballfield” parking area located in the Village of Speculator.
Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.
Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail
Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.
Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice has formed on all waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.
Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.
Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Due to logging operations the Madawaska Road and Conversation Corners Road will be closed to snowmobiles and the Snowmobile Corridor C8 has been rerouted.
Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.
Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Numerous cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities exist on the Public Use Areas and Linear Recreation Corridors open to the public. Skiers and snowshoers are asked not to use the groomed snowmobile routes. Signs on the trails and maps of the snowmobile routes instruct snowmobilers on which routes are open this winter. Portions of these routes may be plowed from time to time so riders should be cautious and aware of motor vehicles that may be on the road. These route changes are a result of the cooperation of Chateaugay Woodlands, the landowner of the easement lands, and their willingness to maintain the snowmobile network. The cooperation of snowmobilers will ensure future cooperative reroutes when the need arises.
Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A parking area has been built on Goldsmith Road for snowmobile tow vehicles and trailers. The southern terminus of Linear Recreation Corridor 8 (Liberty Road) lies several hundred feet to the east of the parking area and connects to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) via Linear Recreation Corridor 7 (Wolf Pond Mountain Road). Construction of the parking area was a cooperative effort of the landowner, the Town of Franklin, and DEC. The Town of Franklin donated time, personnel and equipment from their highway department and will be plowing the parking area.
Sable Highlands / Old Liberty Road / Wolf Pond Mountain Road Snowmobile Trail: Due to planned logging operations by the landowner on lands north of Loon Lake, the western portion of the snowmobile trail (Old Liberty Road/Wolf Pond Mountain Road) that connected with the C7 Snowmobile Corridor Trail (the utility corridor) just north of Loon Lake near Drew Pond and lead to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) has been closed this winter. The eastern portion of that snowmobile trail (Wolf Pond Mountain Road) now connects to Goldsmith Road near the parking area. Snowmobiles planning to travel between Franklin County and Clinton County using the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail must access C8A at the junction with C7 or use Goldsmith Road and the trail from the Goldsmith Road to C8A (Wolf Pond Road).
Sable Highlands / Mullins Road: The Mullins Road has been opened to snowmobiles to connect County Route 26 (Loon Lake Road) to C7. The road is located approximately halfway between the intersections of Route 26 with C8 (Debar Game Farm Road) and Route 26 with C7.
Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.
GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES
Accidents Happen, Be Prepared Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.
Personal Flotation Devices Required Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.
Cave And Mine Closings White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.
Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.
——————– Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].
The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.
The Lake George Association has released a report with findings from the 2010 Lake Steward program. The Association considers the Lake George Lake Steward Program “a critical part of protecting the water quality of Lake George and preventing the spread of invasive species between waterbodies by boaters throughout the Lake Champlain Basin and the Northeast.” Despite the fact that dozens of aquatic invasive species have already made inroads nearby, only four are currently found in Lake George. » Continue Reading.
Many times in the late 19th century Adirondack photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard turned to the falls of the Hudson at Glens Falls for subject matter. He focused on the cascades, pools and rock formations that he found in the river bed as well as the bridges and factories above. Stoddard returned often to photograph the events that occurred there. Included in his work are images of floods, fires, and new mills along the river banks. Until May 8th the Chapman Historical Museum will exhibit a selection of fifteen original Stoddard’s photos of “The Falls under the Bridge.” The show will be followed this summer by a second series featuring Stoddard’s photos of other falls in the Adirondacks.
The Chapman Historical Museum, located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For info call (518) 793-2826.
Photo: Glens Falls, View from the South Side of the Bridge, ca. 1875. Courtesy Chapman Museum.
In November 1886, Captain John Frawley of the canal boat George W. Lee reached the eastern terminus of the Mohawk River at Cohoes. Before him was the Hudson River leading south to Albany and New York City, but Frawley’s intended route was north. At this critical waterway intersection, the Champlain Canal led north from Waterford to Whitehall at Lake Champlain’s southern tip.
Access to the Champlain Canal was on the north bank at the Mohawk’s mouth, opposite Peeble’s Island. Just as there is today, at the mouth of the river was a dam, constructed by engineers to enable canal boats to cross the river. About 500 feet upstream was a bridge. Canal boats were pulled by tow ropes linked to teams of mules or horses. To cross from the south bank to the north, towing teams used the bridge, which is what Frawley did. Sounds simple, and usually, it was. But the Mohawk was badly swollen from several days of rain. Traveling at night, Frawley was perhaps unaware that the normally strong current had intensified. Water was fairly leaping over the nine-foot-high dam.
Accompanying the captain were his mother, around 60 years old; his ten-year-old son; and the boat’s steersman, Dennis Clancy. To help ensure that things went okay, Frawley left the boat to assist the team driver during the crossing of the 700-foot-long bridge. They moved slowly—the rope extended sideways from the bridge downstream towards the boat, which was much more difficult than pulling a load forward along the canal.
Below them, the George W. Lee lay heavy in the current, straining against the rope. All went well until the bridge’s midpoint was reached, when, with a sound like a gunshot, the rope snapped. Horrified, they watched as the boat swung around, slammed sideways into the dam, and plunged over the edge. Nothing was left but darkness.
Shock and grief enveloped them at such a sudden, terrible loss. Within minutes, though, a light appeared on the boat’s deck. It had held together! At least one person had survived, but no one knew how many, or if any were injured. The roar of the river drowned out any attempt at yelling back and forth. With the boat aground, there was nothing to do but sit and wait until morning.
With daylight came great news. All were okay! But, as had happened the previous evening, great elation was followed by great uncertainty. How could they be saved? The river remained high and dangerous. The boat, resting on the rocks below the dam, could not be reached. And the November chill, heightened by cold water pouring over the dam all around them, threatened the stranded passengers with hypothermia.
A rescue plan was devised, and by late afternoon, the effort began. The state scow (a large, flat-bottomed boat), manned by a volunteer crew of seven brave men, set out on a dangerous mission. Connected to the bridge by a winch system using two ropes, the scow was slowly guided to the dam, just above the stranded boat.
The men began talking with the passengers to discuss their evacuation. Then, without warning, disaster struck. Something within the winch mechanism failed, and again, with a loud cracking sound, the rope snapped. Over the dam went the scow, fortunately missing the canal boat. Had they hit, the results would have been catastrophic.
Briefly submerged, the scow burst to the surface. A safe passage lay ahead, but the drifting scow was instead driven towards nearby Buttermilk Falls by the swift current. Two men leaped overboard and swam for shore in the icy water. The rest decided to ride it out.
In one reporter’s words, “The scow sped like an arrow toward Buttermilk Falls. It seemed to hang an instant at the brink, and then shot over the falls. It landed right side up and soon drifted ashore.” Incredibly, everyone survived intact. Chilled, wet, and shaken, but intact.
Meanwhile, still stuck at the base of the dam was a canal boat with cold, hungry, and frightened passengers. A new plan was needed, but darkness was descending. The stranded victims would have to spend another night on the rocks.
On the following day, Plan B was tried. According to reports, “A stout rope was stretched from the Waterford bridge over the dam to a small row boat at Peeble’s Island [a distance of about 1800 feet.] Two men stood on the bridge and pulled the skiff upstream until it came alongside the canal boat Lee. The party embarked and the boat was allowed to drift back to the island.”
What an amazing, fortuitous outcome. Two boats (one at night) over a dam; three people trapped for more than 36 hours in a raging river; two men swimming for their lives in icy water; and five men and a boat over a waterfall. All that potential for tragedy, and yet all survived unscathed.
Photo Top: The dam at Cohoes, looking west from Peeble’s Island.
Photo Bottom: A canal boat scene at Cohoes.
Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
Ice sports bring us out on frozen lakes for the sheer pleasure of being there. But through the years, folks have traveled our “winterized” lakes and rivers for a number of more practical reasons such as visiting friends and relatives, or hauling food, hay, coal, firewood, furniture, logs, milk and just about everything else imaginable.
In the late 19th to the early 20th century, the term “bridge” was commonly used to refer to the ice which allowed for these crossings. Note the following report from the Plattsburgh Sentinel, 2 March 1923: “The ice bridge between Willsboro and Burlington is quite extensively used, many visiting the city for both profit and pleasure.” Throughout the 1800s, horse-drawn sleds and stagecoaches carried paying passengers on regularly scheduled trips back and forth across Lake Champlain between New York and Vermont. As recently as 2010, when the worn Crown Point bridge had to be destroyed, folks again took advantage of the ice to commute across Lake Champlain to their jobs.
Milda Burns of North River said her father told her that from 1890 until 1930, he bridged the Hudson River by “brushing” it. This meant laying tree branches and twigs across a shallow part of the river to damn up the ice flowing downstream. In this way, ice built up to a depth sufficient to make a road strong enough to support horses and wagons crossing to the other side.
Ice crossings were also carried out for military reasons. By the 1600s, Indians, French Canadians and the English traversed Lake Champlain, most often to do battle with one another. One of the more famous crossings was that of Rogers’ Rangers, a British scouting force, which in the 1750s, retreated from the French by snowshoeing some thirty miles down the length of Lake George.
In 1870, Thomas H. Peacock accompanied his father on a trip from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake to bring supplies to several lumber camps. As the road would have been long and hilly, they cut the distance in half by traveling over the frozen Saranac Lakes, pulling a sled full of 25 to 30 bushels of potatoes, two or three quarters of beef, a large load of horse hay and eagerly anticipated mail. The trip took eighteen hours.
Loggers also followed frozen lake routes to shorten trips and bring logs out onto the ice where they were dumped and left waiting until spring. When the ice thawed, the timber was floated downriver to the sawmills.
An extraordinary variety of “freight” has been moved across the ice. Some folks still live year-round on road-inaccessible lakeshores or islands. In the winter, they must pull their groceries home using skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles.
Contractors and caretakers take advantage of the frozen lakes to move equipment and materials to road-inaccessible construction and camp sites. There was even an occasion in the early 1920s when rock-loaded sleds were pulled across Lake George by skaters holding sails, the stone used to rebuild the eroded shoreline of Dome Island. To reach remote ice fishing locations, sportsmen cross ice with snowmobiles, ATVs or trucks.
In earlier days the term “freight” included any number of things, not the least of which were houses! That moving buildings across the ice was not so unusual is demonstrated by a real estate advertisement found in the Essex County Republican of 10 September 1915 offering a 141′ long building which “could be moved over the ice to any point on the lake for trifling expense.”
Sometimes overlooked, ice serving as a bridge, has had a major influence on the North Country’s transportation history.
Caperton Tissot is the author of Adirondack Ice, a Cultural and Natural History, published by Snowy Owl Press.
Just North of Warrensburg in the Adirondacks, South of the Glen, along the Hudson River is a unique habitat. This microhabitat is 16 miles and a sparse 115 acres, part of which is protected by the Hudson River Shoreline Preserve. This unique preserve goes by another name: The Ice Meadows.
Some of the only natural grasslands in New York State can be found here. What makes the Ice Meadows so special are the rare species of plants and insects that can be found in this cooler microclimate habitat. » Continue Reading.
My ski trip to Bum Pond, with my daughter Martha, was made possible by the state’s purchase of nearly fifteen thousand acres from the Whitney family in 1997.
Thanks to this latest land deal, the public will have the opportunity to enjoy new ski trails in coming winters. The Nature Conservancy bought all 161,000 acres owned by Finch, Pruyn in 2007. Last year, it sold eighty-nine thousand acres to ATP Timberland Invest. On December 30, the state announced that it would pay $30 million for easements on the ATP lands. » Continue Reading.
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