I noticed this in the June 29 edition of the Environmental Notice Bulletin, a weekly publication of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation:
“Newcomb to Minerva Multi-Use Trail; Application ID 5-1599-00019/00001; Permit(s) Applied for: Article 15 Title 27 Wild, Scenic & Recreational Rivers; Project is Located: Newcomb, Essex County;
Project Description: The Department of Environmental Conservation proposes to construct a multi-use recreational trail within one-half (1/2) mile of the Boreas River, which is designated as a Scenic River by Environmental Conservation Law Title 27, Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Systems. The total acreage of the trail within the River corridor is approximately 1.1 acres, or approximately one (1) mile of trail, located within the 92,000-acre Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.”
The notice is incomplete and misleading. Here we have the DEC applying for a permit from itself to build a 9-12 foot snowmobile route from Newcomb to Minerva through undeveloped forest preserve, a route which will intersect the Boreas River just upstream of the Route 28N bridge. At this location, the Boreas is a designated Scenic River under the state’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. The DEC’s route requires a new steel bridge over the river here to safely accommodate two-way snowmobile traffic. The route also requires cutting 1,676 trees on the Forest Preserve from the river to private land in Minerva. Cutting across private lands will require landowner agreements which may or may not be in hand or forthcoming.
An incomplete, misleading notice is not the greatest problem – the project is illegal. » Continue Reading.
The contradictory, disconnected, segmented, illegal and impractical ways that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (with full cooperation from the Adirondack Park Agency so far and support from Governor Andrew Cuomo) is going about the business of planning and building community connector snowmobile routes in the Adirondack Park continues apace. Work planning for the just approved community connector between Newcomb and Minerva, for example, will prove very interesting indeed and will be challenged in every sense of that word. » Continue Reading.
A June 14 decision by the federal Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Director of Proceedings awarding common carrier status to the Saratoga and North Creek Railway (SNCR), owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings, for freight operations on the 30-mile Tahawus industrial rail spur was appealed June 25 to the full Board by Charles C. Morrison, Project Coordinator for the Adirondack Committee, Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club and Samuel H. Sage, President and Senior Scientist of the Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF). » Continue Reading.
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.
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.
This is a last weekend in many ways; last weekend of Hunting Season, ending of Hanukkah and the final weekend for holiday shopping. If you want to get all “glass half-full” then it is the beginning of snowshoe season and the start of the ski season and beginning of holiday sales! For us it is a time to get outside and safely enjoy one of the many reasons we chose to live in the Adirondack Park.
It is easy to get caught up in the pressure of the holidays no matter what we celebrate. So whether you are looking for a safe place to hike to avoid any hunters using the last eligible days to tag a deer or wish to spend time rather than money, the New York State Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) at Newcomb is well worth a visit. Open since 1990, the Newcomb VIC is part of the Huntington Wildlife Forest preserve owned by Syracuse University and maintained by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The 236-acre property consists of an Interpretive Building that houses educational exhibits and a trail system for seasonal activities.
There are four trails to choose from: Rick Lake, a .6-mile loop; the 1-mile Sucker Brook (which allows for skiing along the northern section only); the Peninsula Trail, a .9-mile loop which intersects the Rick Lake Trail and the R.W. Sage Memorial Trail, a 1.1-mile trail open to both skiing and snowshoeing. The bonus track is the .7-mile connector trail from The Sage Trail that links to Camp Santanoni, a 12-mile round trip ski.
Snowshoes are now required so no foot travel is allowed on any of the trails. If you don’t have your own snowshoes, you may sign out a pair for free; just provide a license as collateral. For small children (seven-years and younger) sizes may not be available so bring a sled or your own equipment.
Please keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on the trails in the winter months to enable naturalists to lead winter tracking clinics so visitors can see wildlife rather than dog prints.
The Newcomb VIC is located 12 miles east of Long Lake on Route 28N. The trails are open from dawn to dusk while the building is open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.) No dogs are allowed on the trails during the winter months because of Call 518-582-2000 for current trail conditions. The VIC is free and open to the public.
Photo: Rich Lake Outlet in Winter courtesy Newcomb VIC
Perhaps November is really not the time of year to try to identify roadside roses. Sure, the hips are lovely, and they certainly look as though they should be distinctive. Lots of trees are easily identified by their fruits alone, so why not roses? How difficult could it be? I confess right up front that while I appreciate roses as much as the next person, I am not a rose aficionado, one of those people for whom roses are the sole reason for existing on this planet. I enjoy their colors, their fragrances, and their abundance of brightly colored fruits in the fall, but I don’t dedicate my life to their propagation. Perhaps if I spent a little more time among the roses, however, I wouldn’t find myself in my current predicament.
Last month I took some nice photos of some of the rosehips I found growing along Route 28N. It was early morning, there had been a crisp frost overnight, and I had my new lens to play with. I ended up with a nice image or two, and all was fine…until today, when I decided to write up an article about our local roadside roses. I mean, if you are going to write about something, you really should be able to identify what it is, beyond the obvious (rose). It turns out that sometimes this is easier said than done.
I started where I always start when trying to identify plants: my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. It listed several species, and had color illustrations of flowers, leaves, and even some of the hips. But since all I had to go by were some photos of the hips, I thought I should try to narrow the field by finding out what species actually grow in New York.
According to the Revised Checklist of New York State Plants, by Richard S. Mitchell and Gordon C. Tucker, New York is home to no less than twenty-eight species of roses, seventeen of which are non-natives, and two of which are endangered. Unfortunately, this checklist is just that: a checklist. It doesn’t give tips for identifying the plants it lists, nor does it provide a list of plant locations.
So, I next turned to the state’s new on-line nature information website: New York Nature Explorer (http://www.dec.ny.gov/natureexplorer/app/). It’s supposed to be your one-stop-shopping location for identifying and learning about the plants and animals of our fair state. I typed in “rose” and hit “search.” It turned up exactly one rose in the entire database (although it also listed things like rose pagonia – an orchid— and rose-breasted grosbeak—a bird). What happened to the other twenty-seven?
Not to be discouraged, I went to Google and ran searches for each rose on the checklist (it’s been a long morning). I found lots of photos of flowers, but few of hips. And none seemed to match mine. The light at the end of the tunnel was getting further and further away.
Turning back to Newcomb’s, I counted nine species of roses, all of which occur in New York. The other eighteen from The Checklist that were not listed are all non-natives, apparently garden types that jumped the garden wall. I figured that I had found my best possible source for ID help. Ironically, it was where I had started about four hours ago.
A couple, like the swamp rose (Rosa palustris), were easy to eliminate from my search – they require wetlands, or at least habitats that are more amenable than the dry, salty side of a highway. Smooth rose (R. blanda), as you might guess from its name, is a relatively thornless species. Looking closely at mine, it didn’t qualify. Not only was the stem covered with thorns both large and small, but so were the stipules at the end of the fruit.
The fruit of Rosa rugosa, a common escapee, look like balls that have been flattened on both ends. The fruits on my specimen do not fit this mold. I was ready to settle on it being a pasture rose (R. carolina), but all photos and drawings I found of this species were nowhere near as thorny as mine. My hopes of success were now pretty well dashed.
But that’s the great thing about being a naturalist—I have an undying curiosity to know the answer. I may not learn the identity of these roses today, tomorrow, or even this year. But you can rest assured that come summer next year, when the roses bloom and fill the air with their perfume, I will be out there with my field guide (and camera) in hand, determined to identify these plants. Even if I have to send specimens to the authors of The Checklist.
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