Keene Valley was, the first time I saw it, jaw-droppingly astounding. All those peaks and ridges, jagged, monumental, stretching high into the sky, more and more dramatic as we drove up from the south.
It was a beautiful day, many years ago, and a friend and I had a vague idea about scaling a mountain or two. Maybe we’d go over The Brothers to Big Slide and down.
Well, we hiked and climbed a long way, but we were greenhorns, rather unprepared, and we never made it all the way around. One of us injured a leg; the other had an unfortunate encounter with a toxic plant. We had to turn around and go back the way we came. » Continue Reading.
Stream restoration work has begun at the popular Keene Town Beach on the Ausable River, across from Marcy Field. With storm recovery funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the old wood and concrete weir, damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, is being removed and replaced.
In its place a natural rock weir and vane is expected to restore the stream’s hydrologic function, provide habitat for native fish, and improve the quality and safety of recreational opportunities. The new weir will maintain the long popular swimming hole. » Continue Reading.
In one of his last acts as the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, Joe Martens overturned a predecessor’s finding that part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail was still a town road and therefore could be open to snowmobiles, ATVs, and other vehicles.
Martens, who left his post last week, wrote in a July 22 decision that the road had long been abandoned and so the state had the power to close it to vehicular use. The road in question — known as the Old Mountain Road — cuts through the Sentinel Range Wilderness between Keene and North Elba.
Last Wednesday was the day that my wife Amy and I finally closed on our Adirondack house in Keene. The morning of the closing I awoke to a cloudy, fogged-in day and an overwhelming need to get my head right and reconnect to this place I have so come to love. I decided to hike up Big Crow, a substantial promontory that rises from one of the ridges of the Hurricane Mountain complex, directly behind our new house. Big Crow has a lot of open rock and a rise of several hundred feet facing the Keene Valley, promising a huge view of the High Peaks beyond. As I began my ascent visibility was a few dozen yards at best. This circumstance is my favorite for an Adirondack climb: I knew the clouds would break as the morning progressed, to spectacular effect. I determined to take in the theater from the summit no matter if it took all morning. » Continue Reading.
Robin and Anitra Pell were passionate collectors of local and regional artists from 19th century members of the Hudson River School such as Roswell Morse Shurtleff and Conrad Bozenhart (who often painted in Keene Valley) to such contemporary artists as painters Frank Owen and Paul Matthews, and photographer Nathan Farb.
As a means of raising funds for local cultural organizations, and ideally keeping the art in region, as per her wishes, the Estate of Anitra Pell will be exhibiting and offering for sale their collection of prints, drawings, painting, photographs and other works of art – nearly 100 pieces in all. » Continue Reading.
More or less around this time, three years ago, I started to train for the 2012 Boston Marathon. Something like 117 degrees on the pavement, 95 or so ambient temp, that race was one of the hottest on record. It was the year before the dreadful bombing. And it took me practically six hours to complete. (I had trained to do it in four and a half.) Needless to say, I run slow and steady. Notwithstanding the suffocating heat of April 2012, I run a 10-minute mile—no matter what. When I think I’m sprinting: 10-minute mile. When I feel like I’m dragging: 10-minute mile. When I’m just perfect, trouncing along at a comfortable clip with a wacky spring in my step, dancing hands, and a bobbing head: 10-minute mile.
I enjoy the leisurely pace, most often because I run through rural landscapes, soaking in their (to me) intrinsic and needed sublimity while also stepping up and down and up and down into quickening challenges. Also, because I have very little drive for social, human-to-human competition. I compete only with myself or the raven croaking overhead, with how far that next tree or bend in the road or rocky outcropping appears on the horizon. Overcrowded, organized races are an anomaly for me, typically run because my brother asked me to or because I feel the notorious tug of the “I ought to’s” as part of a community or simply because I could bring a free beer back for my husband! I’m a self-described recluse (albeit along with said husband and three dogs); I choose solitude over socializing, introspection over conversation. Thus I choose to run… alone. » Continue Reading.
Late spring of 1845 found Gerrit Smith, a leader of the Liberty Party, touring the North Country in search of disaffected “Whigs and Democrats, whose intelligence and Christian integrity will not permit them to remain longer in their pro-slavery connections.”
Smith, from Peterboro, in Madison County, traveled from Saratoga Springs, through Glens Falls and then into Essex and Clinton counties on his quest to build a credible third party, a devoted anti-slavery party. His report, printed in the Albany Patriot in late June, details the villages his visited, the people he met, and the difficulties he faced. » Continue Reading.
How did your garden grow? In Keene, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Paul Smiths, Minerva, Bolton Landing, and an increasing number of other Adirondack villages and hamlets residents are coming together to create community gardens. Keene has a very rugged landscape and many residents simply do not have relatively flat and sunny backyards for individual gardens, but the hamlet does own a large flat field where its airport, farmer’s market, and various community festivals are based.
Several years ago under the leadership of Jim Herman and Dave Mason, and with support of the town board, most especially Paul Martin, a plot of land was set aside near the community-owed Holt House, tilled, and laid out to form eight foot by eight foot plots that were made available for individuals to rent for a modest fee while being given the option of renting more than one on a space available basis. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released the draft unit management plans (UMPs) for the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area and the Saint Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area. The UMPs contain management proposals for the fire observation towers located on the summit of Hurricane Mountain in the Town of Keene, Essex County, and the summit of Saint Regis Mountain in the Town of Santa Clara, Franklin County.
The Hurricane Mountain fire tower was discontinued for use as a fire observation station in 1979, and the Saint Regis Mountain fire tower was shut down in 1990. Both structures have been closed to the public ever since. The UMPs propose to restore the two fire towers to a condition that will accommodate full public access of the structures and include interpretive materials related to the towers’ history. » Continue Reading.
Arthur V. Savage of Elizabethtown, Keene, and points south died on December 26 and belongs in my pantheon of Adirondack conservation champions. Judging from the flow of email following his death, that also holds true for many others. He was a man of varied interests, commitments, and for all seasons. I am hoping this short post will stimulate others who knew Arthur better than I to share their thoughts.
Arthur’s obituary was in many regional papers as well as The New York Times. His importance as an early leader in environmental law circles can’t be overstated. I knew Arthur principally for his work on the boards of the not for profit Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA) and NYS Adirondack Park Agency. When Arthur joined these boards, the former through the recruitment of AFPA’s long-time chairman Arthur Crocker in the 1960s, and the latter thanks to his nomination to the APA by Governor Hugh Carey in 1979, he gave a complete effort. » Continue Reading.
Almost lost in the recent “Fiscal Cliff” spectacle was the anniversary marking one of the major positive milestones of our history — President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
On January 1, 1863, some 3 million people held as slaves in the Confederate states were declared to be “forever free.” Of course, it wasn’t that simple. Most of those 3 million people were still subjugated until the Union Army swept away the final Confederate opposition more than two years later. And slavery was not abolished in the entire United States until after the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution passed in 1865. » Continue Reading.
A newly constructed 2.5-mile trail to the western end of the Jay Mountain Ridge is complete and available for public use the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced. The trail bypasses the steep and eroded sections of an existing herd path that had been the primary access to mountain’s summit.
“The new Jay Mountain trail is safer and easier to hike and will allow more people to hike to the summit and enjoy the views. It should also serve to attract more visitors to the nearby communities of Jay, Elizabethtown, Keene and Keene Valley,” DEC Regional Director Robert Stegemann said in a statement issued to the press. » Continue Reading.
In a field bordered by forested hills and rocky ridges, Dan Plumley unfurled a zoning map of the Adirondack Park. The color-coded map was a reminder of how much private land lay before him, and how potentially fleeting the natural views from Marcy Field could be.
He pointed to a bald patch on Corliss Point above the valley, where lights from a house inconspicuous by day blaze into a flying saucer at night, one of many signs that growth in the backcountry is creeping higher.
“Hundreds of thousands of people drive by on this road every year,” said Plumley, gesturing toward Route 73. “They see this view and think it will always be there. I’m here to say that the way this land-use plan is being implemented, the transcendental beauty and ecological integrity of this scene is in jeopardy.” » Continue Reading.
We certainly felt like we’d covered every main route in our travels through the Adirondacks, but if it weren’t for several referrals to Baxter Mountain Tavern in Keene, we might have missed this one. Its location on Route 9N, between Elizabethtown and Keene, eluded us. We’ve traveled to Elizabethtown, then back, and have been through Keene numerous times on our way to Lake Placid and beyond, but never connected the dots. One more reason to abandon the GPS and find your own way.
Recommended to us by numerous hikers, the Baxter Mountain Tavern was obviously well known to so many others – locals, seasonal residents and tourists. As afternoon turned to evening, the bar, restaurant and deck filled with expectant diners. With at least eight people at the bar, our foursome filled it to capacity. Sarah the bartender was kept busy between serving the bar customers and preparing drinks for the diners, but always kept up the smile and attentiveness to all. As Baxter’s got busier, she referred our questions to the owner, Dave Deyo. Equally busy greeting and seating guests, he graciously managed to share information with us. » Continue Reading.
Months after approving the largest subdivision in its history (Adirondack Club and Resort), the NYS Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has approved another residential subdivision on substantial acreage in Resource Management – the Park’s most protected private land use classification. In August, APA approved a 13-lot subdivision off Styles Brook Road in the Town of Keene, part of a beautiful farm and landscape of 1,336 acres lying between the Hurricane Mountain-Jay Mountain Wilderness Areas, parts of the NYS Forest Preserve.
Moreover, the subdivision lies in an area identified by the Northeast Wilderness Trust as important to protect a wildlife movement corridor linking the Split Rock Wild Forest along Lake Champlain to the Jay-Hurricane-Giant-Dix-High Peaks Wilderness areas to the west. » Continue Reading.
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