Posts Tagged ‘Washington County’

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Alan Wechsler: Climbing at Shelving Rock

About a decade ago, I was riding a speedboat across Lake George — heading north to the Narrows — when I looked over to the eastern shore. There, right above the land formerly known as the Knapp Estate, was a series of large cliffs below Shelving Rock Mountain.

“I wonder if there’s climbing there?” I thought.

Turns out there is. It took a few years, but several local climbers have recently put up a variety of routes on the cliffs. According to Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Haas, authors of Adirondack Rock, there are six different cliff areas known together as Shelving Rock. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Puppet People at LARAC

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities™

Puppetry combines elements of problem solving and creativity. It can also segue children from watching television to seeing a live performance. According to Puppet People co-founder, Mark Carrigan, puppetry can spark the imagination where watching television can not.

“I got into puppetry as a small child. I remember watching a puppet show when I was in third grade, running home and making my own puppets,” says Carrigan. “After receiving a degree in sculpture, I worked with Bennington Marionettes sculpting the marionettes’ faces. I met my wife there.”

He and his wife Michelle are the sole owners and employees of Puppet People. They create, design and build all their puppets and shows. Sometimes each puppet can take up to a month to complete. Each show is distinct and the puppets are not reused for various performances.

This Saturday at the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council’s (LARAC) Lapham Place Gallery in Glens Falls, children and adults will have an opportunity to participate in a puppet-making workshop as well as see a performance.

“I now want to share with kids how we make things,” says Carrigan. “The challenge is kids are programmed now after watching a show to just want their parents to buy them something. I tell them to go to the library and find out how to make something. I find that to be very important. After seeing a puppet show, kids discover its something they can do themselves. They can build and create and even put on their own show.”

It will also get children away from watching TV or videos. Carrigan remembers watching TV as a child but using imaginative play much more than children do currently. When his wife, a trained actor, as a child used to put on neighborhood shows. Carrigan wants children to be creative. He can’t stress enough the importance of teaching children to problem solve and role-play for strengthening social skills. He believes it can all start with puppets.

“I think seeing a puppet show is the first step to seeing live theatre,” say Carrigan. “There are a lot of different puppet companies so children gain that live experience through puppets first. I find children to be fascinated by its similarity to TV. Since it’s live performance, it also sparks their (the children’s) imagination.”

So there is not only the aspect of a fun afternoon there are even educational elements involved as well. LARAC is sponsoring the one day workshop along with funding provided by Stewarts Shops. The Saturday performance is $10 for adults and $5.00 for children. The 11:30 a.m. workshop is a separate fee of $12 with each participant leaving with his or her own rod puppet.

This 50-minute production is inspired by the classic Russian folk tale and ballet, The Firebird. The mythical bird comes to life and with the help of Ivan and Princess Yelena attempts to break the enchantment of the evil sorcerer. The Firebird focuses on the story’s elements of friendship, teamwork, responsibility and courage. Different types of puppets are incorporated into each show and is appropriate for grades K-6. The Firebird uses rod puppets, marionettes and body puppets.

Jenny Hutchinson, LARAC Gallery program coordinator says, “We haven’t had this workshop since 2006 so we are excited to bring the Puppet People back. For the workshop we will have about 20 people so a lot of individual attention can be given. As a nonprofit organization LARAC is proud to continue to enrich the quality of life for Warren, Saratoga and Washington counties”

Registration is requested for both the workshop and production as space is limited. Please call Ms. Hutchinson at 798-1144, ext. 2 for more information.

Photo used with permission from The Puppet People.


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. 


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Forest Industry Tour: New Growth Meets Old Growth

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County’s 4-H Adirondack Guide program recently toured Mead Lumber in Kingsbury (Washington County) to learn more about the timber industry. The 4-H group was reported to be impressed by an 1853 historical map hanging on the lumber company’s office wall which lists a C. Mead as the owner of the property.

Nick Mead and employee Bruce Lapierre, provided the group of 4-H youth, parents, and 4-H educator with a tour of the facility. The group started in the log yard where cut logs arrive by truck from a radius of around fifty miles from their site and are delivered by forty to fifty different local loggers during the course of a year. The logs are primarily derived from four different species of tree: white pine, red pine, cedar, and hemlock.

Each species has a slightly different use, with white pine being used in the widest variety of applications. The cedar logs are being used primarily for exterior applications that seek rot and pest resistance. Hemlock wood is very strong, has a “stringy” nature to the wood and is also rot resistant. A lot of hemlock material is used in fence posts.

Nick and Bruce explained that in order to sustain their business through tougher economic times, they have diversified and added-value to the products they are producing. While the company offers retail wood sales, they sell a large amount of their product directly to post and beam companies; with the largest purchaser being in Canada.

The mill runs Monday through Friday and was not in operation during our visit, so they were able to tour the complete facility and see all the equipment used for each stage of processing; from the log peeler to the saw and sorting conveyer. The slabs of would cut from each side of the board wood are collected, chipped, and is purchased by another plant to be processed into paper in Essex County. Very little waste material is created at the facility.

The 4-H Adirondack Guides are evaluated on their ability to identify local tree species and communicate the various uses of those species. The tour of the lumber company gives a hands-on learning experience to the youth and strengthens their knowledge of the importance of our timber industry.

The Guides program is open to youth twelve through eighteen years of age from any New York county. Enrollment in the Warren County 4-H program is required and currently costs $5 per youth or $10 per family.

If you know of a youth who may be interested in this program, contact John Bowe or Martina Yngente at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County at 668-4881 or visit our website http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/warren/ or blog http://warrencounty4-h.blogspot.com/.

Photo: Bruce Lapierre of Mead’s Lumber tells 4-H members (l. to r., Blake Vaisey, Micheala Dunn, Amber Ruther, and Alex Knecht ) about the species of trees purchase by the lumber mill and what products are produced by each species.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Fee Hikes to Pay for LG Island Trash Collection

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation appears willing to give way on its plan to discontinue the collection of campers’ garbage from the islands of Lake George.

After meeting on September 17 in Bolton Landing with state legislators, county supervisors, the Lake George Park Commission and the heads of lake protection organizations, DEC staff agreed to seek an increase in camping fees large enough to cover the costs of collecting garbage from three locations and transporting it to Glen Island.

State Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, who proposed the alternative to the state’s planned “Carry in/Carry Out” policy at the meeting in Bolton, said they would sponsor an item in next year’s state budget designating the new revenues as fees for removing garbage from the Lake George islands.

The agreement, however, must win the endorsement of DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis.
According to Doug Bernhard, DEC”s general manager of Forest Parks, approximately $50,000 would need to be raised every year to maintain the policy of picking up garbage and recycleables from three locations in the Lake George Narrows, Glen Island and Long Island campsite groups.

Last year, DEC issued 6,680 permits for 387 campsites on 44 islands, said Gary West of DEC’s Warrensburg office. By raising the fee for a daily camping permit by as much as $5, Senator Little said, enough funds would be raised to pay for garbage collection. “It will be understood that it is an increase in fees to keep the lake beautiful,” said Little.

If the fee hike is approved, the cost of a permit could rise to $30 for New York State residents and $35 for non-residents. “These campers have expensive boats; they won’t object to a few extra dollars for a permit, and it’s still an incredible deal,” said Bill Van Ness, a Warren County supervisor and a Lake George Park Commission marine patrol officer.

“There’s broad support from business owners, environmentalists and local governments for this fee hike,” said Peter Bauer, the excutive director of the Fund for Lake George.

The decision to abandon the policy of collecting garbage and to rely instead upon campers to carry their garbage with them when they leave was made after the DEC’s budget for non-personnel expenses was cut by 40%, said Bernhard.

“Asking campers to take their garbage to the recycling centers was a highly successful program, winning 90% compliance, but we no longer have the resources to support it,” said Bernhard, who added that other popular campground programs, such as nature education activities, had also been abolished.

Opposition to the plan to terminate garbage collection services, however, surfaced almost as soon as it was announced. The Towns of Bolton, Hague and Lake George, as well as the Warren County Board of Supervisors, adopted resolutions opposing the plan. “The end result will be garbage in the roadway and in the lake,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, who organized the meeting. “If we fail the lake, we fail ourselves.”

Members of the Lake George Park Commission also opposed the plan, said chairman Bruce Young, who argued that discontinuing the collection service would diminish the experience of camping on the islands, thus costing the state in revenues and harming the local economy. “This is the goose that lays the golden egg,” said Young. “The Lake George Island campsites generate $700,000 a year in revenues to DEC. I hate to see you shortchange this asset in order to take care of others.”

While a carry in/carry out policy is used at other island campsites in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, Young and others argued that it could not be successfully applied to Lake George. “Not picking it up is not an option, it won’t work,” said Young. “Lake George island campers are not backpackers.”

The Lake George Association’s executive director, Walt Lender, said, “While we agree the campers should be responsible for their own garbage, we know that island camping is not wilderness camping; these boats are floating Winnebagos.”

“Their coolers, their children, their barbecues, they boat it in as though they were going to a land-based campsite,” said Ron Conover. According to DEC officials, 231 tons of garbage was removed from the islands last year.

The Lake George Island Campers Association supports the recommendation, with some reservations, said Cindy Baxter, a New Hampshire resident who helped establish the advocacy group. “We would prefer to see all the funds generated by the Lake George islands be returned to Lake George for the care and maintenance of the campsites. But if that’s not possible, a fee increase is a price we’re willing to bear if that’s what it takes to protect Lake George,” said Baxter.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, September 17, 2010

Paulist Fathers Ponder Future of LG Lands

The Paulist Fathers, the Roman Catholic order founded by the 19th century American transcendentalist Isaac Hecker, celebrated its 140th summer on Lake George in 2008.

More than 200 people boarded the Lac du St. Sacrement for a cruise that took them past St. Mary’s on the Lake, the 76 acre retreat on the east side with thousands of feet of undisturbed shoreline, and down the lake to the Harbor Islands, where the Paulists erected a chapel in 1903.

Now, two years later, the leaders of the order are debating how best to preserve those properties; if, that is, they can be preserved.

On Tuesday, September 14, the order’s new president and its officers met in New York to discuss a proposal that would allow St. Mary’s on the Lake to be used as a campus for local colleges’ environmental studies programs during the school year.

In December, a meeting will be held in Washington to discuss other possibilities, such as selling conservation easements to ensure the properties will remain undeveloped, or permitting weddings to be held at St. Mary’s and even at Harbor Islands.

“The Paulists have not decided what to do, but they have to do something,” said Michael Stafford, a Lake George attorney who serves as the order’s local counsel.
The Paulists’ new president, Father Michael McGarry, took office in May with a mandate to improve the order’s financial condition, said Father Ken McGuire, the director of St. Mary’s.

In a formal statement upon taking office, Father McGarry said, “We will no doubt have to make some painful choices about curtailing ministries in some areas. The most important thing is that the Paulist mission will not become diluted.”

According to Father McGuire, the tenuous state of the order’s finances should come as no surprise.

“We’ve always been a small community,” said McGuire. “At our largest, we had 276 priests; that was in 1976, when Time magazine said we were more influential than the Jesuits, which had 43,000 priests.”

No more than 127 priests now belong to the order, and of those 127, 53 of them are over the age of 70, said McGuire.

Some of them require care for medical conditions, which increases the order’s annual expenses, said McGuire, a spry, fit 80 year-old himself.

Those ranks have not been replenished by younger priests who will manage the order’s operations , such as the Paulist Press, the nation’s foremost publisher of theological works, or The Catholic World, its magazine.

Recruiting new priests is another priority of his administration, Father McGarry said in his inaugural statement.

“On a theoretical level, it is incomprehensible why men in their 20s, 30s and 40s are not entering the Paulist seminary because our mission is so exciting, so challenging and so fulfilling,” he said. “However, you look at the reality and realize the need to address the practical challenges to men entering the seminary,” McGarry said.

Every Paulist priest but one (who died in 1865) has spent at least part of every summer on Lake George, said Father McGuire, who is completing his 48th summer at the lake.

In the past, priests and seminarians tended to come for an entire summer; these days, they come, for the most part, only in August, when forty to fifty people might be in residence.

The days are unstructured; the priests are given three meals a day and encouraged to occupy their time as they see fit.

Some swim, boat and rock on the porch with a book, as anyone would while vacationing on Lake George. Others retreat to the Harbor Islands for privacy and contemplation.

“We have one priest who brings more books with him than clothes,” said McGuire.
Idyllic as it sounds, a vacation on Lake George is not always an easy sell, said McGuire.

“We think of Lake George as a million dollar vacation,” said McGuire. “But some of these modern kids need the cities where it’s daylight 24 hours a day; some can’t swim. A month in the country? My God, you’d think the sky had fallen in!”

Rather than allowing St Mary’s on the Lake to remain vacant in June and July, the Paulists host retreats for priests, nuns and lay people on topics as diverse as religion and quantum physics; peacemaking in the middle east; and dance as a form of meditation.

This past summer, McGuire himself, a cultural anthropologist who spent most of his career teaching at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, led a retreat entitled “Spiritual Discovery through Movies.”

Tuition fees range from $200 to $450 per person, depending upon the length of the retreat, and participants stay on the campus.

The oldest building on the grounds dates to 1875. In addition to a chapel, boat house and cottage, the facilities include two large two-story buildings, the Student House and the Priest House, which contain bedrooms, common rooms and kitchens. The Priest House was designed by Isaac Hecker himself and built with materials of his choice.

According to Father McGuire, he was especially partial to the wood of chestnuts, the tree that once flourished on the shores of Lake George.

Hecker’s bedroom is preserved in a condition very similar to, if not the same as, the state in which it was left after he spent his last summer on the lake, in 1888.

Even if underused, the buildings require maintenance and improvements, and some may need to be replaced, said McGuire.

Asked if the Paulists would ever sell the property, McGuire said, “Over several dead bodies, including my own!”

But, he acknowledged, at least one member of the Paulists’ previous administration had advocated selling the property to raise funds for the order.

“We would only sell it if we were to go bankrupt, and that’s a very, very remote possibility,” said McGuire.

Programs and activities that would make selling the property unnecessary, such as using it for an environmental education center or for weddings, must be scrutinized by attorneys to make certain they don’t compromise St. Mary’s status as a not-for-profit organization, McGuire said.

“We’re meeting with committed, serious members of the Lake George community to weigh these and other options,” said McGuire. “We need to think about what we want to accomplish here during the next hundred years.”

Photos of Harbor Islands and St Mary’s on the Lake, Lake George Mirror

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Monday, September 13, 2010

APA Meeting: Lake George YMCA, Developments

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting, Thursday, September 16 and Friday Sept 17, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. On Thursday agency members and staff will participate in a field trip lead by Mr. Sean Ross, Director of Forestry Operations for Lyme Timber Company. Mr. Ross will discuss forest management and certification programs. On Friday the board will consider a setback variance requested by the YMCA for its Camp Chingachgook on Lake George, Blue Line Development Group’s 49 unit subdivision proposal in the Village of Tupper Lake, a subdivision proposal for land in the Village of Lake Pleasant, a proposed amendment to the Northville Boat Launch Unit Management Plan, and more.

The Full Agency will convene on Friday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report.

At 9:30 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a shoreline structure setback variance requested by the YMCA for its Camp Chingachgook facility located on Lake George. The variance involves the replacement of a pre-existing one-story structure. The new structure will be used for camp operation purposes and to improve access to Lake George for participants in the Y-Knot Accessible Sailing Program. The project site is located in the Town of Fort Ann, Washington County.

The committee will consider Blue Line Development Group’s subdivision proposal for land in the Village of Tupper Lake, Franklin County. The project involves the subdivision of a 56±-acre parcel, involving class “1” wetlands and includes the construction of 13 townhouses with 49 total units. A dock would extend into Raquette Pond to accommodate 50 boats. The committee will also review a subdivision proposal for land in the Village of Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County owned by Agency Commissioner Frank Mezzano and consider accepting proposed General Permit Applications for installing new or replacement telecommunication towers at previously approved agency sites and change in use for existing commercial, public/semi-public or industrial buildings.

At 1:00 p.m., the State Land Committee will hear a presentation from Dr. Chad Dawson discussing roadside camping in the Adirondack Park. The committee will consider Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan compliance for a proposed amendment to the Northville Boat Launch Unit Management Plan. This unit is located in the Town of Northampton, Fulton County. The committee will then hear a first reading on reclassification proposals related to fire towers on St. Regis and Hurricane Mountains. The Board will take no action on the fire tower proposals this month.

At 2:30, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will consider approving a map amendment proposal for private lands located in the Town of Westport, Essex County. The proposal is for re-classifying approximately 25 acres of land from Resource Management to Hamlet.

At 4:00, the Full Agency will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The next Agency meeting is October 14-15 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

November Agency Meeting: November 18-19 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Friday, August 13, 2010

LG: Preserve Renamed in Honor of Conservationist

The Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve, which was protected by the Lake George Land Conservancy in large part through the efforts of the late Lynn Schumann, was re-dedicated in honor of the conservancy’s former director on August 9.

“We’re here as an act of living love,” said Mark Johnson, a founding trustee of the Lake George Land Conservancy who served as a master of ceremonies. According to Johnson, the re-dedication of the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve was an act of love for both a particular place and a particular person, whose names will be permanently linked.

“A preserve is as close to perpetuity as anything we can know of,” said Johnson.

The Reverend Bruce Tamlyn, the Silver Bay chaplain who officiated at the wedding of Lynn and Kurt Schumann, said in his invocation, “the beauty of this place will be forever joined with the beauty of Lynn.”

Lynn Schumann, who died in March at the age of 46, served as the Lake George Land Conservancy’s executive director from 1999 to 2006.

She resigned the post to become the Land Trust Alliance’s northeast director, where she helped guide the work of 650 land trusts throughout New York and New England. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Schumann was the Wilton Wildlife Preserve’s first director. She was a graduate of Emma Willard and St. Lawrence University.

During Schumann’s tenure as the Lake George Land Conservancy’s executive director, membership increased from 250 to 1,171. At the time of her departure, the organization had protected nearly 5,000 acres of land and 11,000 feet of shoreline.

According to Sarah Hoffmann, the Conservancy’s communications co-ordinator, Schumann regarded the preservation of Pilot Knob Ridge as her greatest achievement on Lake George.

Before being acquired by the Conservancy, Pilot Knob Ridge was the site of a house and road visible from the lake, the west shore, Assembly Point and Kattskill Bay. “It was a gross insult upon the landscape,” said Lionel Barthold, one of the speakers at the dedication ceremony.

Pilot Knob Ridge was the first parcel acquired by the Conservancy that was already developed. The visibility of the cleared portions of the property from the lake, and the danger that it would be developed further, helped persuade donors that acquiring this piece was critical for protecting the character of the eastern shore, Schumann said in 2000, when the 223 acre parcel was purchased.

“Protecting Pilot Knob Ridge set a precedent; it showed that we could un-do an offense upon the landscape,” Barthold said at the dedication ceremony.

Once the property was owned by the Lake George Land Conservancy, the house on the ridge was removed. At a farewell party in 2006, Schumann said the razing of the house was a highlight of her career.

“The organization made a significant decision to remove the house situated prominently on the hillside,” she said. “It was a sunny spring morning when the wrecking crew began the process of demolishing the house. I peered out over the ridge and saw some 40 boats anchored along the shoreline cheering as the house came down.”

While Schumann loved the waters of Lake George and was dedicated to protecting water quality, she was especially passionate about protecting wooded uplands like Pilot Knob Ridge, said Kurt Schumann.

“These breath-taking views, the wild life, these are the things Lynn fought to protect,” said Schumann. “We have all lost a conservation champion.”

Among other speakers at the ceremony were Chris Navitsky and Susan Darrin. Rick Bolton and Tim Wechgelaer performed some of Lynn’s favorite songs, and Lake George Land Conservancy chairman John Macionis raised a cup of champagne in Schumann’s honor, officially declaring the slope and summit the Lynn LaMontagne Schumann Preserve at Pilot Knob Ridge.

“She’s smiling, humbled and grateful,” said Kurt Schumann.

Photo of Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve by Carl Heilman, courtesy of Lake George Land Conservancy

Photo of Lynn Schumann from Lake George Mirror files

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Lake George Loop: Queen of Bike Rides

As bike rides go, the loop around Lake George isn’t perfect. It’s got traffic, a tedious, 25-mile straightaway between Ticonderoga and Whitehall, and a challenging hill climb after Bolton Landing.

But it’s also almost exactly 100 miles from point to point, a distance known as a “century” in biking parlance, and a sort of Holy Grail for bike-tourers looking to up the ante of a day-ride.

I hadn’t biked a century in more than 20 years, and I was looking for a challenge before undertaking a three-week bike tour of Colorado. So in early July I recruited my friend Steve, a surgeon from Latham, to join me on a day-long circumnavigation of the Adirondacks’ most famous lake.

We parked the car in Lake George Village, not far from the water, and began pedaling before 8 a.m. The village was just waking up and the air was
cool and still. It was the Saturday of July 4th weekend, and we knew it would be a busy day, but the heavy traffic gave us no trouble as we rode north on the narrow shoulder of Route 9N.

The loop is a pretty simple design, and you don’t need a map for most of it — Route 9N north for 40-odd miles to Ticonderoga, then Route 22 south for another 25 miles to Whitehall. From here, you can either take busy roads back to Glens Falls before getting on the bike path back to Lake George, or you can follow beautiful but hilly back roads to avoid the traffic.

Two hours after starting, Steve and I had left the traffic of Lake George Village behind, as we climbed the steep shoulder of Tongue Mountain and ripped down the other side. This was the best part of the ride — a shaded road, few cars, tantalizing views of the lake and charming communities like Hague and Sabbath Day Point to pedal through.

We reached Ticonderoga in a little more than three hours. I’ve been to this historic village at least a half-dozen times, and finding downtown is always a challenge. Would a sign — “This way to village” — be such a bad idea? Even an un-staffed tourist information booth left no clue about which direction to take.

The idea was to stop and buy some food, but somehow we missed downtown completely. We had to satisfy ourselves with the shade of a tree on Route 22. Sorry, Ti.

From here, it was a long, steady plod down to Whitehall on Route 22. This is not the best part of the ride, although the rolling farmland of the Champlain Valley has a certain charm. The route is wide and shadeless, more like a highway than a country road. But the hills are easy to climb, and it took less than two hours to traverse the route.

After another long break in Whitehall, we looked at a borrowed map and made a choice. The fastest route would be to take Route 22 down to Fort Ann, and then traverse over on Route 249 to Glens Falls. But these are busy roads, and we wanted something a little more relaxing.

So we made up our own route, using a variety of county and town roads, including one that was gravel. This gave us one more big hill to climb, but it was worth it — we found ample shade, no cars and some of the best views of the trip.

By now we were both feeling the mileage. Especially Steve, who hadn’t been drinking enough to stay hydrated on this hot, cloudless day. But one final rest and a bottle of Gatorade at a small general store in Oneida Corners fueled us up for the final few miles. We biked past Glen Lake, found the entrance to the bike path, and enjoyed the final, breezy miles back to our car.

There, a hundred miles and about 10 hours after we started, we washed away our sweat in the cool waters of Lake George and celebrated a successful century.

* * *

Interested in biking Lake George but don’t want to commit to a full century? On Sunday, Aug. 8, local cyclists organize a 42-mile ride from Lake George north to a small dock outside Ticonderoga. There, they are picked up by the cruise ship Mohican at 11:30 a.m., which brings cyclists back to Lake George on a 2 1/2-hour scenic journey.

The trip costs about $20, and tickets must be purchased in advance. And, of course, if you don’t make the boat or can’t find the dock (it’s not well marked and harder than it sounds — get directions) you’re on your own.

For more information, call the Lake George Steamboat Company at (518) 668-5777.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Free Fishing Event at South Bay of Lake Champlain

A “free fishing” event will be held on Saturday, July 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the South Bay Fishing Pier on Lake Champlain, hosted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) I FISH NY program.

No fishing license will be required for this event, which is free to all participants. DEC fisheries staff and Washington County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs members will provide instruction on the use of gear, fishing techniques, and information on aquatic biology and fish identification.

Fishing rods, bait and other necessary tackle will be provided free of charge. Adaptive fishing equipment will be available to participants who require it. Quantities are limited, however, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own gear if possible.

South Bay Pier is a 300-foot long universally designed, wheelchair accessible fishing pier providing the community with barrier-free access from the parking area to the fishing rail. The pier is designed to provide a variety of places to fish from shallow water, to the deepest channel of the bay. Benches are provided along the pier, and the covered pavilion area over the end of the pier provides shelter from the sun and inclement weather.

South Bay of Lake Champlain has traditionally offered anglers outstanding opportunities for catching popular sportfish species such as northern pike, largemouth bass and chain pickerel. Yellow perch, white perch, crappies, sunfish, brown bullhead and catfish are also common.

The pier is located near an existing DEC boat launch facility, which has additional parking and an accessible privy. Constructed in 2008, South Bay Pier is one of many universally accessible recreation projects DEC has completed statewide over recent years. The pier is just west of the State Route 22 Bridge over South Bay near Whitehall in Washington County.

The free fishing event is one of four DEC sponsored free fishing clinics permitted by law in each DEC Region annually. The Free Fishing Days program began in 1991 to allow all people the opportunity to sample the incredible fishing New York State has to offer.

Everyone is invited to participate in this event, whether they have a fishing license or not. Ordinarily, anyone age 16 or older is required to obtain a license when fishing or helping another person to fish. Participants should note that all applicable fishing laws and regulations are still in effect during the event.

For additional information regarding this event contact Joelle Ernst with DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries at (518) 402-8891 or visit the DEC website for further information on a number of “Free Fishing Events” held in various locations throughout the state: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27123.html


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

DEC Region 5 Forest Ranger Report (May-June 2010)

What follows is the May and June Forest Ranger Activity Report for DEC Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack region. These reports are issued periodically by the DEC and printed here at the Almanack in their entirety. They are organized by county, and date. You can read previous Forest Ranger Reports here.


Essex County

Town of Jay, Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area

On Saturday, April 24, 2010, at approximately 3:54 pm, State Police Dispatch received a call reporting a hiker on the Lost Pond side of Weston Mountain who was vomiting, had a severe headache and was unable to walk. Joe Demer, 23 of Amsterdam, NY, was hiking with a group of friends and reportedly had had nothing to eat or drink all day. DEC Forest Rangers responded and requested assistance from State Police Aviation and BackCountry Medical. When forest rangers located Mr. Demer and his party they provided him water and energy food. His condition improved and forest rangers cancelled the aviation and backcountry medical assistance. Eventually, Mr. Demer’s condition improved enough for him to walk. Forest rangers escorted him and his party out to the trailhead. Mr. Demer refused further medical treatment and was released to his friends at 8:00 pm. DEC Forest Rangers remind hikers to carry and consume plenty of food and water while hiking. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hudson River Trustees Support Continued PCB Dredging

Trustees for the Hudson River dredging project have announced their support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plans to continue to remove PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) from the Hudson River. The overall environmental benefits of the dredging greatly outweigh any short-term PCB impacts of the work, they said.

The announcement came in the wake of several days of presentations in Glens Falls by EPA and General Electric before a panel of dredging experts reviewing Phase I of the project, completed last year. The panel will offer recommendations and propose changes that could be incorporated into the second phase of the project, set to begin in 2011.

The natural resources trustees for the Hudson River dredging project are the:

* New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
* U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
* U.S. Department of Commerce, represented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The trustees’ role is to perform an assessment of injuries to natural resources resulting from the release of PCBs into the river by GE. DEC also supports EPA with technical advice and oversight for the project.

Although the Phase I dredging stirred up PCBs in the river and raised the PCB level in fish near the work, the trustees have said that they had expected these short-term effects from the dredging. Similar short-term effects have occurred during past dredging in the river.

PCB levels in the river and in fish decreased downstream from the dredging work, with no significant increase found farther downstream in the lower Hudson River, the trustees said in a recent press release.

PCB levels in the water and the fish adjacent to the Phase I work will decrease within a few years, they said. The trustees expect a similar result after the entire dredging project is completed. Overall levels will be lower because a large amount of PCBs will have been permanently removed from the river.

“Over the next several years, we have a unique opportunity to permanently remove significant amounts of PCB contamination from the Hudson River for the benefit of future generations of New Yorkers,” said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. “A comprehensive remedial dredging project is an integral step in the restoration of this iconic river, and we fully support EPA in its efforts to get the job done right.”

“We disagree with many of the conclusions presented by GE in the peer review process,” said Northeast Regional Director Marvin Moriarty of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We agree with EPA that the overall environmental benefits of the dredging greatly outweigh any short-term impacts associated with the work.”

“Restoration of the Hudson River begins with a robust cleanup” said Dr. Robert Haddad, Chief of NOAA’s Assessment and Restoration Division. “GE’s proposal will further delay the recovery and restoration of this nationally historic river, which has been contaminated since the 1940s.”

Highlights: The trustees also expressed their position on the following issues:

Productivity standard

The trustees believe it is important to focus on project quality, even if this means the project takes longer.

Depth of contamination

PCBs extend deeper into the riverbed than originally believed. The trustees believe that capping sediment is not an acceptable solution. Capping has potential long-term consequences, including risk of cap failure.

Containing PCB oil

The trustees believe that PCB oil on the river surface during Phase I was a major contributor to PCB release into the river. They recommend containing and collecting PCB oil to reduce the short-term effects from dredging.

Navigation/access dredging

The trustees support dredging in shallow areas, allowing barges better access to dredge areas. Increasing the amount of sediment on barges will improve productivity and reduce re-suspending contaminated sediments.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Rogers Rangers Challenge Triathlon Set For June 13th

The Rogers Rangers Challenge has been resurrected by its original co-founder, Dr. Dave Bannon and Rogers Island Visitors Center. The original Challenge began in 1991 and ended in 2001. The run, paddle, bike triathlon starts at the Hogtown trailhead on Buck Mountain in the Town of Fort Ann at 8:00 am on Sunday June 13th. Registration for the Challenge is due by May 23rd. This race is dedicated to the memory of Major Robert Rogers and his Independent Company of Rangers who lived on Rogers Island at Fort Edward during the French and Indian War.

A 7-½ mile run starts at the Hogtown trailhead over Buck Mountain and ends at the Fort Ann Beach on Lake George. The 3-mile canoe/kayak goes from the beach to Dome Island on the lake and back to the beach where the bike trek starts. The bike portion of the race winds through beautiful Washington County and ends at Rogers Island Visitors Center on Rogers Island in Fort Edward.

This event can be done as a team or individually. Although it is not required entrants are encouraged to dress in period clothing. Eileen Hannay, manager of Rogers Island Visitors Center, explains: “The event is quite unique. Racers will find French & Indian War and Native American reenactors along the route as they experience some of the challenges the terrain offered Rogers Rangers more than 250 years ago.”

Mark Wright, one of the original co-founders and an Army Major will be coming from Maine to participate in the challenging event. Dr. Bannon explains: “The most difficult part of this triathlon is the run down Buck Mountain towards Fort Ann Beach. The going is steep and rough with many obstacles.”

Registration forms can be found at www.rogersisland.org. For more information call Rogers Island Visitors Center at 518-747-3693.

The Rogers Rangers Challenge is sponsored by: Adirondack Trust Company, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Glens Falls National Bank and The Anvil Inn Restaurant. Proceeds for this event benefit Rogers Island Visitors Center.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Adirondacks Forest Ranger Report (April 2010)

What follows is the Forest Ranger Activity Report for April 6 through April 18 for DEC Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack region. These reports are issued periodically by the DEC and printed here at the Almanack in their entirety. They are organized by county, and date.

Clinton County

Town of Beekmantown, Private Lands

On Monday, April 5, 2010, at 6:40 AM, DEC Dispatch received a call from New York State Police Plattsburgh requesting assistance locating Kim McDonald, 56, of West Chazy, NY. The State Police had information that led them to believe that Mr. McDonald may have intended to harm himself. DEC Forest Rangers responded and along with NY State Troopers began a search of the area. At approximately 9:00 AM, the Mr. McDonald was located in a swamp behind his house. He was missing his shoes, suffering from exposure, and had superficial wounds to his face, feet and hands. He was carried out of the woods and transported to CVPH Medical Center. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tour of the Battenkill a North Country Success

The Tour of the Battenkill has come a long way.

Once it was just the dream of Dieter Drake, now 38, owner of a Cambridge-based air-conditioning business and an avid cyclist. Now in its 6th year, the race has become the biggest pro/amateur bicycle race in the country. And the professional race, which took place last Sunday, attracted thousands of spectators and world-class competitors, including Floyd Landis.

Fashioned after the 100 year old Paris- Roubaix cycling race in France, the race drew more than 1,400 racers in 2009. This year’s registrations topped 2,200.

The race begins and ends in Cambridge, and takes amateur riders over a 62-mile course, a quarter of which is on steep and dusty dirt roads. They also ride through a covered bridge and by many of Washington County’s rural farm towns. Professional riders get to do two laps.

Last year’s professional race was nothing less than thrilling (although it’s hard to follow a bicycle race on the ground — a quick blur of spinning wheels and colorful Lycra, and that’s about it until the finish line). Racer Scott Nydam broke away from the peloton early on during the race, and kept the lead for a leg-burning three hours to score a first-place finish.

This year wasn’t quite as exciting, plus it was a bit damper. Crowd favorite Floyd Landis — the winner of the 2006 Tour de France who later failed a post-race drug test — broke his way through the pack with 23-year-old rider Caleb Fairly of Colorado Springs, Colo. But in the end, it was Fairly who pulled ahead to win the 124-mile course at 4 hours, 57 minutes, 7.4 seconds, according to race coverage in the Post-Star. Landis came in two minutes, 24 seconds later, placing second.

While some local business people reportedly were unhappy the race did not bring in as much business as promised, according to one news story, the event is a fine addition for the region, especially at a time of year when there is little to attract visitors to the mountains.

With six years of success, you can add the Tour of the Battenkill to the ranks of such classic competitions unique to the region, such as the Black Fly Challenge mountain-bike race and the Ford Ironman Lake Placid.

While not technically in the Adirondacks, the Battenkill tour is rugged, challenging and beautiful. In other words, it has the true flavor of the North Country.

Photos by Dave Kraus of KrausGrafik, www.krausgrafik.com


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alan Wechsler: Suggested Hikes For Mud Season

It was T.S. Eliot who wrote “April is the cruellest month.” He also wrote, in his epic poem “The Waste Lands”: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

Substitute “mud” for “dust,” and Eliot might have been talking about the Adirondacks after the snow melts (although, you want to talk about cruel, let’s talk black flies …but that’s a subject for another post).

Anyway, as we reach the spring mud season, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation issues its annual “please don’t hike on muddy High Peaks trails” request, may we suggest a few dryer alternatives?

For starters, cast your eyes southward. The Lake George region, which gets much less snowfall than other areas in the park, is also one of the first places to warm up in the spring. There’s enough hikes there to last a full season, but we can easily recommend a few: » Continue Reading.