Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Going Solo: Ferris Lake Wild Forest’s Goldmine Creek

18March2013GoldmineIndigoJust up the road from Powley Place is a tree which is occasionally blazed with a ribbon. This is the start of the Goldmine Trail in the 147,000-acre Ferris Lake Wild Forest. The unmarked trail starts wide and broad and then narrows. The trail squeezes among the spruce, which scratch at my thighs and try to tear the backpack from my back. (Is this the price of admission?) Finally, after a thrash up the trail, I reach the vicinity of the Goldmine Falls, and set up my tent.

I’m camped near Goldmine Creek. I checked the high water mark on the rocks and shore. What if something bursts upstream? This stream is draining such a wide area. It drains Morehouse Lake, and the Coon Vly, and half a dozen little wetlands spread out like little beads on a silken necklace of streams in the aerial photo I’ve brought along. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches:
The Incredible Story of Charles Brodhead, Surveyor

Giant from Amy's Lookout.  Many new Irene slides.On June 2nd, 1797, twenty-five years after Archibald Campbell surveyed part of the northern line of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase, another surveyor named Charles C. Brodhead, tasked with working to the same line but starting from the east and chaining to the west,  made the following entry in his field journal: “3 Miles, 20 Chains: assg. Ye mountain, Top ye mountain – (snow 24 inches deep) Timber Balsom and Spruce.  3 Miles, 23 chains: desending steep rocks, no Timber.

This relatively pedestrian entry has at least the curiosity of recording so much snow in June but it otherwise causes one to long for the florid prose and colorfully descriptive thoroughness of Verplank Colvin.  Colvin’s accounts of his surveying journeys make for real drama, whereas this journal, typical of the time, offers the barest details beyond the numbers, with only occasional comments on the quality of the land or detours that needed to be taken.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches:
Traveling Campbell’s Northern Survey

Five PondsAs I described in last week’s Dispatch, the more I become engrossed in Adirondack history the more my interest has grown in Archibald Campbell’s incomplete survey of the northern line of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase.

Having possession of his field notes and maps plus a 1911 large-format map of the Adirondack Park as well as modern USGS maps, I did a bunch of digitizing, calibrating, measuring and finagling, virtually recreating his journey.  This summer I plan to hike it to see it for real and compare my experiences to his.  But the virtual trip was a most interesting project for me and I would like to take you along.

Beware!  Unless you are a Class-One Adirondack Nerd this Dispatch might lead to narcolepsy.  But if you have been following my surveying series with interest, then lace your boots, grab your gaiters, your Gunter’s chain and your rum and let’s hike together into the primeval forest. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Peter Bauer: The Unbearable Wrongness of Will Doolittle

Moose River PLains Road Signs (Dave Gibson Photo)Will Doolittle’s column in the Post Star (“Protecting their Preferences” February 28, 2013) gets a lot of things wrong – really wrong.

We all know that Doolittle is antagonistic towards Adirondack Park environmental groups, but this column sets a new standard for careless editorializing. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dan Crane’s Backcountry Digital Device Guidelines

Wolf Pond lean-to siteThe encroachment of cellphones, the Internet and Wi-Fi into the backcountry was the impetus of my last Adirondack Almanack article. Before long, this encroachment shall transform into the inevitability of an all-out invasion, barring any lethal worldwide epidemic, nuclear winter, asteroid collision or zombie apocalypse. Since it would be imprudent to rely on such unlikely occurrences happening in the near future, guidelines governing the use of these digital gadgets appear sorely needed.

Rules and regulations abound for electronic gadgets in the frontcountry, so why not in the backcountry? Driving while texting or talking on a cellphone is illegal on our roads, despite the flagrant disregard for this law surpassed only by that of the stated speed limits, so why not institute similar policies for the Adirondack trails?
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches:
The Totten and Crossfield Purchase Northern Line

Totten Crossfield Lot Map Version 2Denizens of all things Adirondack can have robust debates about which historical events have had the greatest impact on the Adirondack park.

From Champlain firing his arquebus in 1609 to Colvin’s ascent of Seward in 1870 to Forever Wild in 1894 to the Olympics and acid rain, history gives us a long list of worthy possibilities.  There being no single correct answer, one candidate high on my list would be Archibald Campbell’s aborted and errant 1772 survey of the northern line of the Totten and Crossfield purchase. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dan Crane: Adirondack Information Supertrailway

Toad PondOccasionally escaping technology is essential for maintaining one’s peace of mind, especially as high tech gadgets increasingly invade every facet of modern life. From incessantly checking email, the ever-present Internet surfing temptation and the constant threat of an irritating cellphone ringtone disturbing every moment, it is important to find a refuge before becoming mental roadkill on the information superhighway.

The Adirondack backcountry used to be such a refuge, but it may not remain so for much longer.

Recently, the Washington Post, among others, reported about a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) plan to create a super Wi-Fi network, so powerful it could “penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees.” And presumably, into the interior of the Adirondack backcountry. Worse yet, it would be free for public use.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Campbell’s Corner

Snowy Mountain from the Jessup River Wild ForestIt was the summer of 1771.  The province of New York was part of the British Empire and all lands not in private hands belonged either to Native American nations, principally the Haudenosaunee, or to His Majesty King George III.

To the north and west of Albany a great wild forest stretched to the Saint Lawrence.  European control of this territory had been in dispute for many decades but the recently ended French and Indian War had settled the matter in favor of the British and the area was now considered safe enough for agriculture, industry and settlement. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Setting the Record Straight on Lake George:
Robert Moses, John Apperson, and Tongue Mountain

Christmas PhotographAccording to local lore, Robert Moses, secretary of the State Parks Commission, and John Apperson, leading defender of the “forever wild” clause of the NY constitution, had a confrontation of historic proportions, one summer day in August of 1923. Moses, who was already carrying out an ambitious scheme to grab power, had convinced Governor Al Smith that the development of state parks would be a very popular election issue.

As the center-piece of his plan, Moses wanted to build a parkway on the Tongue Mountain peninsula (plus, eventually, gas stations, scenic overlooks, and hotels). Apperson wanted to prevent development altogether.  He dreamed of bringing the central portion of the lake (Tongue Mountain, the Narrows, Black Mountain and Paradise Bay) under state ownership, and thus under the protection of the NY constitution.

The battle over the highway at Tongue Mountain happened quietly, behind the scenes, and out of the headlines.  In fact, Robert Moses’ biographer, Robert Caro, never mentioned this story, and apparently knew little about the work of John Apperson at Lake George.  Fortunately, we can now examine letters and documents long hidden from view that shed considerable light on the politics concerning the creation of a Lake George Park.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Surveying, Out of Sight

Fallen Spruce and DuffThis week I return to my series on surveying.  Two weeks ago we got as far as revealing the basic idea and magical power of triangulation.  This wedding between shape and mathematical proportion transformed human knowledge and literally made all modern science, engineering, geography, architecture and cartography possible.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dan Crane: Revisiting Adirondack Tourism

Upper Robinson RiverWhen I wrote my last article on the dangers of over promoting the Adirondack Park, I knew I was sticking my head out for a possible sound thrashing. Many of the Adirondack Almanack commenters did not disappoint me in this regard.

Unfortunately, the point of my article seemed to get lost in all the anger and angst, so I thought I would give it another go-around and try to explain my original idea a little better. This gives those who missed out at taking a whack at me last time another chance.

Along the way, I will attempt to address some of the many comments from the article. Inevitably, this will probably get me in even more trouble. If this proves to be the case, I can always create an alias or wear a disguise the next time I visit the Adirondacks.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: A Third Way

wrestlersThis week I am taking a short break from my surveying series, having been inspired by the spirit of a number of important conversations that have recently been unfolding on the pages of the Almanack.

Consider two Adirondack-loving persons.  Both are reasonably decent, honest, clear-headed, thoughtful people.  They work, they raise families, they vote and they enjoy the woods and mountains in their own way.  They have a variety of views on the wide spectrum of issues that affect the future of the Adirondack Park.  Let’s call one Mr. P and one Mr. N. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Essex Chain of Lakes and the State Land Master Plan

Third Lake, Essex ChainThe Department of Environmental Conservation has recommended that the new Forest Preserve acquisition at the Essex Chain of Lakes be classified Wild Forest, while the Upper Hudson River just to the east become part of a river corridor Wilderness. Several organizations previously submitted ideas for how these landscapes should be classified.

The APA is now charged with preparing classification documents for 18,000-acres comprising the Essex Chain of Lakes, and Upper Hudson tracts. Those classification documents will be subject to the State Environmental Quality Review Act and must involve public hearings and a public comment period. It will prove most interesting to see if APA acts with the independence it has in law, respects the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, and acts contrary to DEC recommendations on the Essex Chain of Lakes. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Surveying the Unknown

TheodoliteHow does a surveyor traipse into the woods and come out with accurate heights, positions, distances and property lines for artifacts in the middle of nowhere?  It’s magic, of course, but it is mathematical magic that has been well understood for a good two-thousand years.  In last week’s Dispatch I covered the core of that mathematics, which is the simple but incredible marriage between proportions and triangles.

I finished  by presenting  a fact little understood by the typical person: because of this mathematics you can measure the distance to anything in the world by simply pointing to it.  No direct measurement is needed.  This week in my continuing series on the magic of surveying I’m going to show how it is done, finishing with an Adirondack example of note. » Continue Reading.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Phil Brown: Mountain Bikes and Wilderness

essex map croppedGenerally, I regard the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan as a sound document, but when it comes to mountain bikes I have some qualms. It seems to pit environmentalists against bikers, and the bikers I know consider themselves environmentalists.

I thought of this while reviewing the state’s proposals for the classification and management of the former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is recommending that bikers be allowed to ride on a network of dirt roads in the Essex Chain of Lakes area and on the access road to the Boreas Ponds Tract (known as Gulf Brook Road). » Continue Reading.