Several 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.
The Adirondack Park Agency voted unanimously today to approve a staff recommendation to create a 23,494-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area and a 9,940-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area on lands once owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.
The vote climaxed a year of work that included public hearings, which elicited thousands of comments, and negotiations between state officials and various stakeholders.
Underscoring the importance of the decision was that Basil Seggos, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary for the environment, drove up from Albany to attend the APA’s meeting.
Town leaders lobbied hard for a snowmobile trail through the Essex Chain Tract that would connect the hamlets of Indian Lake and Newcomb, and it appears they may get their wish.
Although the Adirondack Park Agency staff has recommended keeping most of the 18,230-acre tract motor-free, it would allow a snowmobile trail to traverse the property.
Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, praised the staff’s proposal. “It was an attempt to protect the natural resources and make some reasonable compromises for the economy and the local communities,” he said.
Monroe said the towns need the trail to spur the winter economy. “It’s one thing to have a business and survive in the summer, but it’s very different in winter, and snowmobiling is huge,” he said.
Yet the proposed trail raises a number of legal and policy issues that the APA board likely will grapple with this week as it deliberates on the classification of the Essex Chain Tract and three smaller parcels acquired by the state over the past year.
Minerva Volunteer Fire and Rescue will be hosting “Minerva is Going to the Dogs: An All Breed Fun Dog Show” on Saturday, September 14th from noon to 5 pm at Minerva Beach.
The event features an agility and rally course, a silent auction, vendors, trainers, dog demos, fun competitions for dogs of all ages and abilities, and food and drink. The “Call Of The Wild” sled dogs will also be on hand. » Continue Reading.
Minerva, primitive and remote in the early 1800s, hardly would have seemed a likely birthplace for a man who would write a book which would attract national attention, make the author a household name, and, to some degree, help start a civil war. But indeed, it was there that Solomon Northup, author of Twelve Years A Slave, was born.
Technically the town of Minerva did not exist at the time of Solomon’s birth on July 10, 1807 (though his book gives 1808 as his year of birth, more official documents have it as 1807); the town of Minerva was not formed until 1817. In 1807 the area, not yet known as Minerva, would have been part of the Town of Schroon. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting at its Headquarters in Ray Brook on Thursday, August 8 and Friday August 9, 2013. At the top of its agenda will be deliberations on the classification of newly acquired state lands. These new Forest Preserve lands are located in the Towns of Minerva and Newcomb, in Essex County, and Indian Lake, Hamilton County, including the Essex Chain Lakes, Indian River and OK Slip Falls parcels. The meeting will be webcast live (streaming details and the full agenda are below).
The APA will also welcome two new Board members. In June, the New York State Senate confirmed Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s nominations of Karen Feldman and Daniel Wilt. The Senate also re-confirmed the Governor’s nomination of Leilani Crafts Ulrich to serve as Chairwoman of the Adirondack Park Agency. Leilani Crafts Ulrich was the first woman to serve as Chair of the Adirondack Park Agency when Governor Cuomo nominated her for this distinction in November 2011. » Continue Reading.
The 15th annual Solomon Northup Day: A Celebration of Freedom will be held on Saturday, July 20th from noon to 4 pm at Filene Hall, at Skidmore College, in Saratoga Springs.
Solomon Northup Day was founded in 1999 by Saratogian Renee Moore to honor and to bring awareness to the life of Solomon Northup, a local free-born Black man who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841.
Northup was born a free man in what is today Minerva, Essex County, in July 1808. He was a literate man who worked on the Champlain Canal. While working as a cabbie and violinist in Saratoga Springs, he was abducted, held in a slave pen in Washington, DC, and sold into slavery in Louisiana for 12 years before regaining his freedom. » Continue Reading.
This week’s Adirondack Park Agency public hearings in Minerva and Newcomb about the classification of new Forest Preserve land along the Upper Hudson River, Essex Chain of Lakes, Cedar and Indian Rivers were well attended and informative. At Minerva Central School, there was no applause, no heckling. Folks listened to differing viewpoints respectfully, and several speakers noted a fair amount of common interests.
While most speakers favored a Wild Forest classification which would allow motorized access through an area long closed to public use, one former Finch, Pruyn manager noted the damage done to the roads by all-terrain vehicles. There was only one speaker in Minerva who favored unrestricted, unregulated, all-out motorized use from the Goodnow Flow to the Cedar River. Most appreciate the havoc this would cause to a region they know, or wish to get to know. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is proposing newly acquired Forest Preserve in Newcomb and Minerva to be classified Wilderness in honor of one of the Park’s most influential conservation leaders of the 20th century.
The group wants New York State to recognize Paul Schaefer’s historic legacy of protecting the Upper Hudson River by advocating for a Paul Schaefer Wild Rivers Wilderness that is inclusive of the recently acquired Essex Chain of Lakes-Cedar River tract (13,000 acres), Hudson River Stillwater tract (5,000 acres), the Indian River tract (1,400 acres), and the OK Slip Falls tract (2,800 acres). » Continue Reading.
I have driven past Moxham Mountain in Minerva many times and admired its cliffs from afar. Back in the seventies and eighties, rock climbers put up more than a dozen routes on these steep slabs, but because the approach crosses private land, Moxham was omitted from the most recent climbing guidebook.
That must be frustrating for climbers, especially since most of Moxham Mountain lies within the public Forest Preserve. But even though you can’t scale the cliffs, you can enjoy the view from the summit, thanks to a new trail that ascends Moxham on state land from the other side of the mountain.
The Student Conservation Association built the 2.7-mile trail in July under the auspices of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Starting on a dirt road on the north side of the mountain, the trail goes over a hill, descends to a beaver meadow, and goes up a narrow ridge to Moxham’s 2,361-foot summit.
When I did the hike in August, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of views during the climb, but I was happy to be proven wrong. » Continue Reading.
The state acquisition of 69,000 acres of the former Finch Pruyn lands in the Adirondack Park has spurred much discussion. I thought I’d chime in from a tourism perspective.
In general, the purchase will ultimately mean public access to incredible natural resources for recreational activity. Or, according to a press release from Governor Cuomo’s office on August 5th, “Opening these lands to public use and enjoyment for the first time in 150 years will provide extraordinary new outdoor recreational opportunities, increase the number of visitors to the North Country and generate additional tourism revenue.”
I applaud the Governor’s office and their efforts, and appreciate that there is opportunity for the adjacent communities to realize a positive economic impact from the resulting increased visitation. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that New York State has acquired 69,000 acres of the former Finch Pruyn and other Nature Conservancy lands throughout the Adirondacks. A statement by the Governor’s office called the acquisition “the largest single addition to the Adirondack State Forest Preserve in more than a century.”
Cuomo pointed to additional recreational opportunities, and the increased revenue from tourism as the reasons behind the purchase. Some of the lands have been closed to the public for more than 150 years.
A comprehensive review of Adirondack taverns would not be complete without a review of Sporty’s Iron Duke Saloon on Route 28N in Minerva. Just 35 minutes from Warrensburg, the scenic and winding trek on Routes 28 and 28N is the perfect ride by any means of transportation. On this clear September day, the trees just beginning to try on their fall wardrobe, we soon left the harried monotony of the week behind. Utilitarian in form and structure, the log exterior and metal roof present a no-nonsense impression of practicality. The neatly kept grounds offer little in the way of ornamentation, though Sporty’s sense of humor and nostalgia are alluded to upon entering the huge gravel parking lot. A signpost stands near the road pointing the direction and distance to destinations dear to the hearts of bikers. Among them: Sturgis, Daytona, Bear Trap and McDermott’s.
Located on the former site of the Mountain View Hotel, Sporty’s has been owned and operated by Dave “Sporty” Beale for the past eight years. Sporty’s is notorious for its year-round fundraisers. The calendar of events leaves no month unturned, with several featuring multiple events. Events include lots of free holiday related foods, auctions, helicopter rides and annual car and bike shows. Sporty seems especially proud of his success raising Toys for Kids. Last year they delivered presents to 500 kids and hope to fulfill wishes for 700 kids this year.
Obviously proud of the accomplishments and popularity of his saloon, Sporty is a gracious, gregarious and friendly host, though one senses that he runs this place in a no-nonsense style in strict adherence to his rules. Not your everyday biker bar, Sporty’s self-described “tavern, museum and community center”, supports Little League and the fire department as well and proudly hosts the ladies of the local “Red Hat Society” luncheon every year. He even treats them to a ride!
Sporty’s interior is as extravagant as the exterior is spartan. Sporty’s “museum” displays scores of old license plates, bike parts, ancient tools, a gas pump, models, memorabilia, advertising novelties and hundreds of framed photographs. Vintage motorcycles are cordoned off along one wall (including an “Easy Rider” replica), with a tribute to Peter Fonda and the iconic film on the wall behind the bar. The tavern is large enough to accommodate the display of old bikes, a pool table and bar and table seating.
Our tour of the grounds in the back began with the accommodations. Several neat and simple cabins are available for $66.00 a night. Covered camping is free ($5.00 for a shower). The grassy expanse features covered outdoor seating, several dozen picnic tables, a pavilion, and a fireplace. With plenty to do besides drinking, outdoor activities include tetherball, horseshoes, volleyball, basketball and hiking trails. The steep hill a bit further back is used for bike and snowmobile climbs at various events. Attracting not only bikers, but skiers, hunters and snowmobilers, Sporty’s is like summer camp for adults, all year long. Just leave your coolers at home – all beverages must be purchased on the premises.
Sporty’s is open 365 days a year, from noon to 2 a.m. Though they don’t offer an official Happy Hour, their drink prices reflect happy hour prices all day long, with occasional specials. Guessing we won’t find Godiva martinis, beverage options are straightforward. No draft beer, but a fair selection of domestic, craft and imported beers, tiny bottles of Sutter wines, Twisted Tea, Smirnoff Ice, and soft drinks are available, as are a few flavored liquors. Known for his bloody marys and white Russians, Pam couldn’t resist trying Sporty’s bloody mary. Served in a large plastic cup and garnished with “hot pickle” slices instead of celery, Pam sounded very pleased with her drink, savoring the flavors and making yummy sounds as she sipped. When Sporty’s isn’t serving food for special events, burgers, wings, pizza and chicken patty sandwiches are served daily.
Whether visiting Sporty’s for a special event, out for a ride in your car, on your motorcycle or snowmobile, you’ll always feel welcome when you enter this remote tavern. Clean restrooms, tidy accommodations and good company on both sides of the bar can be found here year-round. Todd, another enthusiastic newcomer to Sporty’s, had come up just to watch the Buffalo Bills game, as the bars in North Creek didn’t have it on. We’re sure he’ll be back. Leave your cell phones and iPads in the car, but bring along some quarters if you think you might need to make a call. No WiFi, no cell service; but a nostalgic, fully functioning phone booth is available for use out front.
Add Sporty’s to our fave five.
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, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.
The Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce has announced the launch of two new websites it hopes will serve to promotes the region.
Schroonlakechamber.org offers a business directory, membership application and benefits listing, a chamber events and meeting calendar and relocation resources.
The redesigned schroonlakeregion.com promotes the region as a destination, showcasing the visitor experiences available in the communities that comprise the Schroon Lake Region; Schroon Lake, Newcomb, North Hudson and Minerva. The site offers information for visitors including attractions, events, dining, shopping, lodging packages and specials as well as business listings and real estate. The dual-website project was undertaken by the Chamber in partnership with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, Essex County’s destination marketing organization.
Some of the best ski tours in the Adirondacks are traverses: Avalanche Pass to Tahawus, Siamese Ponds and the East Branch of the Sacandaga, and Hoffman Notch to name a few popular point-to-point routes. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to ski one of my favorite lesser known tours with a group of friends, from Route 28N in Minerva to Irishtown, passing Stony Pond and Big and Little Sherman Ponds along the 6-mile traverse. As a bonus, near the end of the traverse, our group made a detour to visit the Falls Brook Yurts, owned by Jim Hanley and Michele Quirk. The ski-through has become something of an annual tradition, organized by Jim and Michelle to mark the (almost) end of winter. Nearly twenty of us met Saturday morning at the Irishtown trailhead. Jim shuttled food, gear and refreshments by snowmobile the two thirds of a mile up the trail to the yurts while the rest of us grouped up for the shuttle to the Stony Pond trailhead several miles north of Minerva on Route 28N.
At the Stony Pond trailhead, any thoughts of spring skiing vanished. Snow earlier in the week and cold temperatures gave us beautiful packed powder conditions over a firm 2- to 3-foot base. The traverse begins with a rolling 2-mile climb to the lean-to at Stony Pond, passing numerous wetlands and beaver flows along the way. Stony Pond itself is a large, attractive body of water and makes a good destination for a short out-and-back ski tour. Our group continued across the frozen pond, then made a short uphill climb through the woods before descending to Little and Big Sherman Ponds. That short descent is the most challenging skiing on the tour, but is easily negotiated with a strong snowplow. Not far beyond the Sherman Ponds the route begins a series of long, gradual descents, dropping nearly a thousand vertical feet in two and a half miles to the Irishtown trailhead.
Before reaching the trailhead, we turned onto the short side-trail to the Falls Brook Yurts. Jim and Michele have owned and operated the yurts for 12 years, renting them to families, groups and individuals for weekends or several day stays. The yurts are well-equipped with propane lighting, heat and cook stoves. Guests carry in their own food and personal gear. If you’d like to stay in the yurts, plan ahead: both yurts are booked well in advance most weekends year-round.
Hauling propane, cleaning between guests, and general maintenance of the yurts and the 20 acres they are sited on is a lot of work, especially in winter, but today’s ski tour and visit to the yurts was meant to be pure fun, socializing and celebration. Thanks to Jim’s snowmobile shuttle in the morning, we had plenty of hot and cold food and – most importantly – celebratory beverages waiting for us at the yurts. The spring sun and daylight savings time allowed plenty of time for those of us who weren’t staying overnight at the yurts to linger and socialize for a few hours before heading down the trail for the short ski back to the Irishtown trailhead. Winter is bound to end soon, but there wasn’t a single person on Saturday’s trip who wouldn’t mind if it stuck around for just a few more weeks.
The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Central Region trail guide is the definitive guide to the Stony Pond trail and other trails in the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.
Photos: Irishtown trailhead; Stony Pond leanto; on the trail; arriving at the yurts.
Jeff Farbaniec is an avid telemark skier and a 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier & Hiker, a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.
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