Posts Tagged ‘Thurman’

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Four Free Outdoor Events

Sometimes when the weather starts to fluctuate it is easier for someone else to plan the outdoor activities. A lot of times, attending these Adirondack Family events introduce us to a new area, new favorite trail or friend. This weekend is a typical Adirondack weekend where the choices are numerous. Unfortunately we can’t be everywhere at once. There are special family events happening in all corners and beyond the Adirondack Park. Here are four events that are free to attend.

The Lake George Land Conservancy is hosting its Winter Warm Up on March 10 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Lake George Recreation Center with a variety of activities from live raptor presentations to broomball matches. Up Yonda Farm will offer interpretive snowshoe walks. If you always wanted to try snowshoeing, this is your chance. The snowshoes are available to use for free as well. There will be nature crafts to make and storytelling by the bonfire. Hot soup, bread and s’mores will top it off. Also the Lake George Recreation Center has a sledding hill and cross-country trails. The LGRC’s Berry Pond Preserve can be accessed from the Rec Center if people want to venture out on their own.

Dewey Mountain Ski Center in Saranac Lake is hosting its annual Dewey Day with Adirondack Lake & Trail Outfitters on March 10 (9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The facility will be free and open to the public. If your 6 to 13 year-old ever wanted to try biathlon, the Adirondack Paintball Biathlon is also on the roster. Other games include a children’s snowshoe scavenger hunt, icicle obstacle course and ski speed trap. Bring a team for the boxer short triathlon relay where teams will ski, snowshoe and sled.

In Newcomb the full moon will be celebrated at The Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) with a chili ski/snowshoe party on March 10th. The AIC’s trails usually close at dusk so these full moon parties are special indeed. The $5 fee covers the cost of the chili, hot chocolate and marshmallows. The trails at the AIC are always free and open to the public. This event is going to run no matter the weather so gear up. The event starts with chili at 6:00 p.m. and then closes with fireside hot chocolate and marshmallows at 8:00 p.m.

With the temperatures fluctuating, Thurman is making maple and inviting the public for tours of its sugar bushes. March 10-11 is the first of three consecutive maple weekends in Thurman. The other Thurman Maple Weekend dates are March 17-18 and 24-25. Each weekend will start with a 9:00 a.m. pancake breakfast ($) at Valley Road Maple Farm, the rest of the weekend events run from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with free demonstrations, tastings and walking tours showcasing tree tapping, evaporating and maple making. There will also be some free sampling. (Don’t worry if you miss the 9:00 a.m. breakfast call, t continues until 1:00 p.m.)

If you can stick around on March 10th, the 53rd annual Maple Party will start at 4:00p.m. ($) with live music, all-you-can-eat buffet and a tasty treat of Jackwax (maple sugar on snow). The Maple Sugar Party is not only a fun event but a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

I realize there are plenty of other things happening around the Adirondacks but these four events are just a sampling that can get families outside and doing things together. How you spend your time together is important, I hope I made it a bit easier for you.

Photo of family viewing maple energy-saving equipment at Toad Hill Maple Farm by Teresa Whalen

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Lake Placid and the High Peaks: Your Four-Seaosn Guide to Over 300 Activities. Her second Adirondack Family Time guide will be in stores this summer 2012.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Thurman Maple Weekend

Two feet of new snow around the Adirondacks and I am ready to console myself in maple syrup. I am not sure if it will be in a celebration of spring or procrastination to shoveling. Either way the next three weeks are full of various maple-collecting Adirondack Family Activities  for all, starting with Thurman’s annual Maple Weekend March 12-13.

Sheryl Kenyon of Adirondack Gold Maple Farm recommends that people start right off with a pancake breakfast at neighboring Valley Road Maple Farm. As one of the founders of Thurman Maple Weekend, Kenyon knows there are plenty of ways to celebrate making maple syrup and wants families to come out and be active while doing it.

“It is a wonderful breakfast,” says Kenyon. “Then people can come to Adirondack Gold Maple Farm and see Tapper tap about 100 trees. We have about 650 taps going through tubing but people do still like that nostalgic fell of seeing sap buckets.”

Tapper, Kenyon’s husband is known by that moniker for all the maple taps he has put into trees. She admits that kids just love being around Tapper and will find recipes and other products available during the whole weekend at their old-fashioned wood burning sugarhouse. .

Kenyon says, “We expect there will still be a lot of snow this weekend. We have snowshoes if anyone wants to borrow them or feel free to bring your own. We encourage people to get out on our trails and make a full day of it. There will be maple donuts and maple chili as well as hot chocolate and coffee at Adirondack Gold Maple Farm. We will also have hotdogs with maple Michigan sauce in case people are looking for something different than the pancake breakfast.”

The breakfast she refers to will start at 9:00 a.m. on both days, March 12-13, at Valley Road Maple Farm. This local sugarhouse will demonstrate techniques from their state-of-the-art sugarhouse such as “taps on vacuum with reverse osmosis.” Valley Road Maple Farm won first prize for maple candy at the New York State Fair in 2008 and 2009.

Two additional spots are Toad Hill Maple Farm and Martin’s Lumber. Toad Hill Maple Farm is the largest maple producer in Warren County and will be giving tours of their new energy-efficient sugarhouse. Martin’s Lumber will have sawing demonstrations and stepping stones and paper jewelry crafts on hand. Kenyon informs me that Martin’s provides sustainable lumbering. One example is demonstrating the beautiful wood grain in nonproducing old sugar maple trees where the wood has changed from old maple taps.

A good time for all is the annual Maple Sugar Park at Thurman Town hall in Athol on Saturday, March 12 at 4:00 p.m.. This all-you-can eat buffet also serves as a benefit for the American Cancer Society. The $10/adults, $5/(kids 6-11), Free (5-under) goes toward fighting cancer while providing live music food and some jackwax.

No, I had to ask what jackwax was. It may be maple taffy to some or “sugar on snow” to others. Whatever you want to call it, the sugary, maple candy will be boiling away in celebration of all that is maple.

Don’t forget that the New York State Maple Producers’ Association Maple Weekend is March 19-20 and March 26-27. So if this weekend doesn’t fit your schedule there will be plenty of choices for families to get a real maple treat.

Photo: Adirondack Gold Maple Farm. Used with permission

content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Train Sparks First Wilderness Heritage Corridor Events

July 17th marked the beginning of Upper Hudson River Railroad’s two-train Saturdays, when both morning and afternoon trains are scheduled, taking passengers northward in the morning to enjoy not only the scenic excursion by rail, but also allowing them to enjoy an outing in one of the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor communities along the route. These Saturday offerings will continue through August 21st. » Continue Reading.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bank Swallows: Thurman, 1955

O swallows, swallows, poems are not
The point. Finding again the world,
That is the point….

From “The Blue Swallows,” Howard Nemerov

In the mid-fifties, when I was four or five, I started visiting an old bootlegger’s hideout in the woods of Thurman with my friend Dinah, Dinny, who was a year and a century older than I was, and infinitely wiser, and whom I admired and adored.

The place belonged to her father, a surgeon who was our landlord in Schenectady. You reached it down a narrow track that opened into a long oval drive surrounding two or three acres of Arcadian white pines. The house stood at the end of the long oval, atop a bluff surrounded by a 180 degree bend in Patterson Brook. A wide screened flagstone porch supported by large pine logs gave way to a central frame structure two stories high, with one-story lean-tos built off the sides housing another bedroom, bathroom, and the kitchen.

A balcony surrounded the central hall and led to the upstairs bedrooms, which were small and rough, the bathrooms wainscoted and tiled. From the balconies you looked down on a large living room of cozy bamboo couches and chairs, coffee tables, lamps and magazine racks filled with Life, Look, National Geographic, The Conservationist, Field and Stream, and Superman comics. A bear rug covered the floor in front of the fireplace, another decorated a wall, and a moose head hung over the wide, open hearth fireplace.

The electricity came from a generator in a log shed located out of earshot at the far end of the driveway, a big Chrysler six that ran only in the evening, used enormous amounts of gas and had to be frequently coaxed into life by the caretaker, Ken Bonner, whom I knew twenty years later as an old-time fiddle player in Stony Creek. The kitchen had gas appliances, and they burned gas and kerosene lamps in the rest of the house when the generator was on the fritz, which it usually was.

A concrete ramp outside led downstairs under the kitchen into the “cool cellar,” where the family stored vegetables and beer, and which had originally been the liquor vault. In bootlegging days cars backed down the ramp, loaded up and made the quick shot to Saratoga, Albany and points south. Sometimes Dinny’s older brother Jeff trapped porcupines and raccoons there.

At first the deep woods’ sensory field disoriented me. Lying alone in my bedroom, with animals prowling sometimes audibly outside, I felt even at five or six connected to a greater if more uncertain and more thrilling reality than the one on the street and in the yards of downtown Schenectady and along the Mohawk. Waking in the night I couldn’t identify or locate the sound that came from the wind in the trees, which reminded me of the bodies and pews rustling together in church and seemed to come from everywhere. The creek roaring below after a night of rain brought a similar far-off echo of white noise, a gigantic hush that drowned out the noise going on in your head. Perhaps that was the first time I noticed the world slapping me into attention.

The place generated other patterns. The days had a morning adventure and an afternoon adventure—catching frogs, rock hopping in the creek, fishing. We played on the sawdust mountain outside the mill at the end of the driveway and came home with its rich piney smell on our bodies. Cool evenings by the fireplace, the doctor or his brother, also a doctor and a jazz clarinetist, told stories. They were not sportsmen themselves, but their colleagues nearby were, and we heard a lot about fishing, hunting and wildlife.

With Jeff we crawled through the alders to the edge of clear pools in Patterson Brook and spied on wild brookies hovering on their fins as if in midair, magnified in the water’s lens. One evening at dusk, driving home from the rodeo at 1000 Acres, we skinny-dipped like trout in Stony Creek. That was interesting and the last time the adults allowed it to happen.

The Hudson braided under the Thurman Bridge a couple of miles from camp among green islands supporting rare ice-meadow flora, the consequence of jagged bergs scouring the wide low banks each spring, which we knew nothing of at the time. Beef cattle grazed on the bigger, grassier islands downstream.

On the Thurman side a cut-bank fifty feet high ran along the river, nesting habitat for a huge colony of bank swallows, thousands swirling in the evening light for mayflies hatching off the broad shallows when we drove back to camp with ice cream cones.

After I moved to Hadley in the summer of 1969, I would cross the bridge and turn right into the maze of dirt roads that ran among the knobby mountains between there and The Glen, trying to find the camp and measure it against my memory. Usually I got lost, but more than once I made my way down an overgrown path in the woods to the broken down generator shack and bare concrete cellar hole. The ramp to the booze vault was still intact but the house a pile of ash. The chimney survived. How could such a thing have happened? Dinny’s father had lost the place in a bad real estate deal, it had changed hands and been left uncared for. It burned. The next time I found it nothing remained of the huge pines but a few redwood-sized stumps.

Much else had changed in the ten years since I had stayed there. When I heard that Dinny had died of cancer a few years ago I remembered the last time I’d seen her, when she and her father had driven into the four corners of Stony Creek on a summer afternoon in the mid-seventies at the precise moment when I happened to be crossing the street from one bar to another with a beer in my hand. The doctor had retired. Dinny was married, a nurse, employed and mainstream. They had been cruising the old roads and visiting their former haunts.

The doctor followed me to our rented farmhouse five miles from the town center at the headwaters of the creek and I made them tea. It seemed wrong to him, I could tell, that I had turned up uncertainly employed and rough in such a place, a counter-culture outcast. Dinny and I talked awkwardly about their attempt to find the cellar hole and recreate in their minds the way the place had felt back when the pines and house still stood.

But what struck her the hardest, she said, was the swallow colony, wiped out by Ddt, sand mining or some combination of both and whatever other outrage we couldn’t imagine. It was the last such profusion of animals, almost Serengeti-like, we remembered in the Adirondacks. “It’s so sad,” she said, mourning we weren’t even sure what. I know now that it was the beginning of the long sorrow, the realization that no elsewhere existed for us any more that would somehow keep alive the expressions of an earlier reality in the sounds of wind and water, and the whirr of thousands of tiny wings.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thurman Maple Days Begin This Weekend

March 13th and 14th begin a three-week celebration of all things maple in the town of Thurman. Pancake breakfasts, free sugarhouse tours, maple shopping, and sawmill demonstrations highlight Thurman Maple Days, and the weekend’s seminal event is the annual Thurman Maple Sugar Party, a dinner which for over fifty years had raised money to fight cancer.

Early birds may begin their outing at Valley Road Maple Farm with pancakes with pure maple syrup at 9 a.m., and the rest of the tour sites open at 10 a.m. and remain open until 4 p.m. Froggy 107.1 will broadcast from Adirondack Gold Maple Farm on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., and on all days Adirondack Gold will offer maple tours and feature Adirondack Suds and Scents chandler Sally Feihel, who will offer soaps, lotions and soy votives, explain her craft and show a soap-making video. Travel on to Martin’s Lumber to see beautifully grained slabs of maple and watch sawmill demonstrations. Stained glass stepping stones, quilted wares and hand-crafted jewelry will be on display, as well. Toad Hill Maple Farm, Warren County’s largest, will welcome guests on Charles Olds Road.

The Maple Sugar Party, held only March 13th, begins at Thurman Town Hall, 311 Athol Road, Athol, at 4 p.m. with live music and food, topped off by old fashioned “jackwax,” also known as “sugar on snow.” The dinner continues until all have been served and costs $10 for ages 12 to adult and $5 for kids 5 to 11. Children under 5 are served free. Proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.

Thurman tours, demonstrations and breakfasts will be offered again as part of NYS Maple Weekends on March 20-21 and 27-28. Find more information at or phone 518-623-9718. Brochures with maps are available around the area and online, you may request that one be emailed (, or you may just follow signs through Thurman to the sites. Thurman is just six miles from Adirondack Northway exit 23 by way of routes 9 and 418.

Photo: Listening for the sap to run, photo by Amy Manney.

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