Posts Tagged ‘Sacandaga River’

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dave Gibson: Solitude on Eleventh ‘Cataract’ Mountain

There’s a great deal weighing on people’s minds this early November, starting with how they’ll get through another Adirondack winter, keep their family healthy, and earn a living. Some are wondering if they’ll be elected on Tuesday, others confused about who they’re going to vote for. One town supervisor I spoke with in July informed me that four of his town’s five rural post offices would be shuttered in 2012, and asked me if the fate of local post offices concerned me. I said it did.

My Adirondack Wild colleague Dan Plumley and his neighbors lost their Keene Valley local post office this year. I do recall a citizen campaign waged decades ago to keep the only small post office in Hallowell, Maine – near where I was born. It succeeded. Hope is always a crucial part of any early November day.

Some lose their immediate November worries and thoughts in the fall hunt, or adventure. My conservation mentor Paul Schaefer was in hunting camp this time of the year, beginning in 1931 when as a 23-year old he first guided the Cataract Club into the Siamese wilderness until the mid 1980s when his bad knee finally gave out on him. Often, Paul and other members of the Cataract Club would climb Cataract Mountain which stretches for miles above the East Branch of the Sacandaga River valley in Bakers Mills. That’s not the mountain’s designated name. On maps it is Eleventh Mountain.

Paul wrote in his book Adirondack Cabin Country (Syracuse University Press, 1993) that “Half a century ago a number of us who hunted that mountain and were enthralled by its magnificence, decided to give it a more fitting name. ‘Cataract Mountain’ it has been, and it is for us, U.S. Geological Survey maps notwithstanding. Five crystal streams tumble off the thickly forested peak that stretches 3, 249 feet in elevation. Some of the cataracts that form are spectacular.”

This past weekend I bushwacked up Cataract Mountain with my friend Herb. I think we were going to find something, not to lose our thoughts or troubles, relatively light as those may be – perhaps to find a coyote standing tall on that peak, yipping and yelping and looking out on their wild domain. Despite the slow, tough climb around boulders, birch, beech and balsam thickets, Herb said he was determined to summit.

When we finally reached one of the mountain’s five summits, we rested and looked out at the valley of the East Branch of the Sacandaga glimmering 900 feet below us, Rt. 8 winding to its left. We gazed on Black, Harrington and other mountains in the blue distance. Suddenly Herb exclaimed, jumped up and found coyote scat not 20 feet from where we were eating our lunch. Look, Herb said, a coyote did survey his domain from this very spot! As had Paul Schaefer, many times.

Paul writes in Adirondack Cabin Country: “There are numerous spots where I can stand on a rocky ledge above the precipitous forested slopes dropping off to the valley far below and experience a solitude so wonderful that it causes emotions I can not describe…Here on Cataract Mountain – protected by the ‘forever wild’ covenant – the work of the Divine Artist is all about us, from the lichens clinging to the bare rocks to the hawk wheeling in the sky far above.”

It was true. The rock, lichen, ferns, shining, soaking moss had a luminous intensity during Herb’s and my adventure. We checked our watch. Fleeting thoughts of home and of gathering darkness found its crevice and latched on. We’d better go. Picking our way down the steep slope, we reached the trail in good shape as the sun was setting, pleased with ourselves. A mile away on the other side of the mountain, the Cataract Club was settling into their camp, now in its 80th fall season. As for their quarry, the sagacious white-tailed deer, it was long gone – like that coyote.

Photos: Above, Paul Schaefer at his Adirondack cabin below Cataract Mountain; Below, Herb at the summit of Cataract, or Eleventh Mountain.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Clearing: Hadley, 1969

After skiing into Bushnell Falls that March of ’69, our intention was always to move to the Adirondacks as permanently and as soon as we could. Keene and the high peaks were the grail. Soon, however, my college friend, the actress Ellen Parker, told me that her parents, Joe and Sophie, who had been looking for a place in the Adirondacks to start a restaurant, had bought a local bar along the Sacandaga River in Hadley and might need some help.

Joe Parker was a sculptor and painter, and Sophie, who was French, a chef. I had been to their house in Dobb’s Ferry and been treated to the best food and wine of my college-kid life, in an atmosphere of garlic and red wine and art conversation with a French accent. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Origins of Friends of the Forest Preserve

Today’s paddlers on the South Branch of the Moose or West Branch of the Sacandaga Rivers, or hikers, loon watchers and snowmobilers along numerous winding forest trails in the Moose River Plains or Ferris Lake Wild Forests would be fifty feet underwater if the mid-20th century dam proponents, and their state sponsors had held sway.

Citizens who valued these Adirondack valleys for their wildlife and wildness opposed them. One of those organizations was Friends of the Forest Preserve, founded in 1945 by Paul Schaefer. I write this on September 13, his birthday. This history of the founding of the organization is contained in Schaefer’s book, Defending the Wilderness: The Adirondack Writings of Paul Schaefer (1989, Syracuse University Press). » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Siamese Ponds: The New Botheration Pond Trail

The 114,000-acre Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area has always been one of the premiere places to cross-country ski in the Adirondacks. But this winter, the region offers something even more compelling: a new trail.

This is the first winter that skiers can travel the eight-mile Botheration Pond Loop, a route that circles around the Balm of Gilead Mountain and several lesser hills. The route begins and ends at Old Farm Clearing, located near the Garnet Hill cross-country ski resort.

The loop combines existing trails with more than a mile of new trails and two bridges, 35- and 55-feet long, that were built last summer by nearly a dozen volunteers and DEC staff under the supervision of Ranger Steve Ovitt. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Upper Hudson River Railroad Schedule Features 40-Miler

The Upper Hudson River Railroad in North Creek has announced its Fall Schedule which includes foliage rides, a BBQ trip to 1,000 Acres Ranch, and the all-day 40 Miler excursion. Regular trains will run Thursday through Sunday through Columbus Day weekend, on Columbus Day, and on Saturday and Sunday thereafter to October 25th. Regular trains include a round trip from the North Creek Station to Riparius and back including a half-hour layover at the Riverside Station. Reservations are strongly recommended for Columbus Day weekend.

Upcoming special events include:

LUNCH AT 1000 ACRES – September 30, 2009. Features BBQ lunch at the 1000 Acres Ranch. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED, 10% early bird discount. Includes a short stop at the Thurman Craft and Farmers’ Market Christmas in September at Thurman Siding.

40 MILER – Saturday October 17, 2009 – RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. The weekend after Columbus Day, features an all day excursion from the restored 90’ turntable in North Creek to the 96’ trestle where the Sacandaga River meets the Hudson.

For additional information call the Upper Hudson River Railroad at 518-251-5334 or visit their website at www.uhrr.com


Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Abandoned Adirondack Veterans: Loring Peck

A reader of our recent post on forgotton veterans remembered:

hiking to the grave of “Colonel Peck” in Speculator when I was a child. My grandfather used to bring us up there, but it seemed as if he was the only person who knew about it. There may have been a roadside marker at the trailhead, but I don’t remember anything else that really commemorated Col. Peck’s service. If I recall correctly, he was a hero of the Revolution.

That he was. According to field notes made by Melvin W. Lethbridge and printed in the New York State Historical Association’s quarterly journal in 1926:

On the shore of Lake Pleasant, which is the head of one branch of the Sacandaga River, and about one and one-half miles in on a trail which leaves the mountain road to the lake at Signboard Hill, and bears to the left around the head of the lake, at the foot of Speculator Mountain, in a family cemetery lies the body of a Revolutionary soldier together with his wife and son. This man settled here shortly after the Revolutionary War and hewed a farm out of the wilderness and now rests peacefully there. His name was Colonel Loring Peck, and the place is yet known as “Pecks Clearing.” It is now the property of the State and is overgrown with woods. It should be cleared and preserved by the State.

Peck was born in 1744 and according to History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence plantations (1859-60, over at Making of America) Loring Peck was made a Captain in Colonel Henry Babcock’s Second Rhode Island Regiment (Babcock was replaced by Colonel Christopher Lippitt a month later). This “Second Rhode Island” was actually made of men of the State Militia who were eventually turned over to the Continential Congress. The Regiment “played an important role” at the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton according to the Rhode Island Historical Society which holds many of the regiment and Lippitt’s papers.

After his service in the Second Rhode Island Loring Peck was at Bristol, Rhode Island in 1777 and 1790 and was living in Amenia, Dutchess County NY in 1800 and 1810 and moved to Lake Pleasant before 1820. He had three sons who served in the War of 1812:

  • Dr. George Peck who married Elizabeth Dunning served as a surgeon in the War of 1812. He was a land speculator and founder of Camanche, the first county seat of Clinton County, Indiana, in the 1830s.
  • Richard Peck served in the War of 1812 with some other men from Wells and Lake Pleasant.
  • William Burke Peck was a Captain in the War of 1812 on the Canadian Frontier with some other men from Wells and Lake Pleasant. According to local historians he opened the first store at lake Pleasant in 1817.

Loring Peck was living with his son Loring Jr. in Lake Pleasant 1830, at the reported age of 80 to 90. His gravestone says “In Memory of Col. Loring Peck, a Patriot of the Revolution. Died July 29, 1833 in the 90th year of his age.” In 1935 a small bronze plaque was placed at the back of his gravestone by Minnie Peck Hall Krauser a member of the (Denver, Colorado) Regent Peace Pipe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

It would be interesting to know how he got the sobriquet “Colonel.” If anyone has any additional info on Peck or other abondoned veterans – let the Almanack know.

Photos courtesy Elizabeth Emery, Gloversville, NY. Visit her online at http://www.visitsacandaga.com/