Posts Tagged ‘Wilmington’

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mountain Biking The Whiteface Bike Park

With summer on the way, biking at the Whiteface Mountain Bike Park is about to begin. High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid stepped in to operate the park in 2005 after the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) decided to eliminate the biking to focus on winter improvements, while Gore Mountain’s biking program was also discontinued.

“Downhill Mike” Scheur, a representative of the bike park says, “That’s when [High Peaks Cyclery] decided to step up with doing 100% of trail maintenance, take over shuttle operations and all work associated with running a successful bike park at Whiteface”.

All ages and abilities can enjoy mountain biking, even though it is commonly considered a risky sport. Like skiing, the bike park has novice, intermediate, and advanced trails. The unique aspect of mountain biking is the terrain, however, which is often through woods and over rocks and streams, providing an entirely different experience from regular biking. Beginner mountain bikers should stay at the lower mountain, as the upper mountain trails are indeed some of the most advanced trails anywhere. A gondola transports advanced riders to the upper mountain. A shuttle is available for beginner and intermediate transport, and a lift pass for $35 per day provides unlimited transport via the gondola or shuttle bus. With a little bit of practice, beginners should be able to graduate from beginner trails, to intermediate, and finally to advanced. For new bikers, lessons are available for $35 an hour.

Lift service mountain biking became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when ski resorts started adding mountain biking to their list of mountain-based activities during the summer. According to Scheur, the potential is enormous for mountain biking in Lake Placid: “At least 25 resorts within a few hours of Lake Placid run their lifts in the summer for bikes. Whistler actually profits more in the summer than the winter now, due to their bike park”.

There is more than just mountain biking available at the Whiteface Mountain Bike Park – the facilities also include a pump track. Pump tracks are oval shaped tracks with rolling bumps on the straight-a-ways and banked corners, which enables the rider to gain speed without pedaling. The track also teaches the rider efficiency skills which will increase their mountain biking prowess and provides a fun diversion from the mountain trails.

For those without equipment the park handles rentals, service, and sales at the base area. “We also have regular (cross country) bikes and kid’s bikes,” Scheur said. “It turns out many are afraid to ride Whiteface thinking it’s only for the very experienced. Then when they get here, they notice most others are just like them.”

Scheur has high expectations for this coming season. “We have seen an increase of over 350% since we took the bike park over,” he said. “Basically, you need bikers to run the bike park and skiers to run the ski center”.

The Park opens a week before June 17th, which is the date for the Whiteface/Wilmington Bike Fest.

For more information, visit their website at www.downhillmike.com.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wilmington to Host Major Bike Race Qualifer

The Town of Wilmington has announced that the region will host the Wilmington/Whiteface 100k on June 19, 2011. Wilmington will serve as one of three qualifier series race host venues for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race, the best known and most prestigious mountain bike race in North America.

The event’s schedule coincides with the annual Wilmington Bike Fest, which includes the Whiteface Uphill Bike Race, which will be held on Saturday, June 18. Wilmington/Whiteface 100k participants are invited to “Warm UP” by riding in the mountain bike division that is being introduced this year; a five mile race to the top of the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway.

“The event is a perfect fit for the destination, as it supports the Whiteface Region‘s brand as a biking destination, and will increase visitor activity during the typically slower shoulder season,” said James McKenna, President of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/Lake Placid CVB. “This is another event that resulted from the cooperative partnerships that were cemented in order to successfully host the Empire State Winter Games. Kudos to the staff at the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) who facilitated the connection with the event organizers that ultimately brought this event to Wilmington.”

Showcasing some of the best places to ride in America, the Leadville Qualifying Series races will be held in America’s great mountains with races in the Adirondacks, Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies. The other two qualifiers will be held in North Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on July 10 and Crested Butte, Colorado on July 31. Each qualifying race will provide 100 qualifying spots to the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race. The spots will be allocated partially on the basis of age-group performance and partly by lottery among finishers.

The Adirondack qualifier will traverse 100 kilometers of backcountry trails in the Towns of Wilmington and Jay and finish on Whiteface Mountain.

Since 1983, the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race has been the pinnacle of the mountain biking world. Currently 103 miles in length and 11,500 feet of climbing, the ultra-distance event is a single- and double-track-style mountain bike race on one of the world’s most challenging courses. The weekend event is produced by Life Time Fitness and challenges both amateur and professional mountain bikers to steep climbs and descents, with elevation topping out at more than 12,500 feet. More information on the Leadville Qualifier Series can be found online.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Springfest Events Announced for Whiteface

There’s more than 160-inches of snow at Whiteface, in Wilmington, N.Y., and you know what that means. More great skiing and riding for the entire family well into March at the Olympic mountain, not to mention the longer days, more sunshine and warmer weather.

Celebration activities have been planned to welcome spring at Whiteface Mountain. the events kick off with Mardi Gras, March 5-6 when visitors can ski, ride, collect beads and enjoy food and drink specials and live music from the funk, R &B and soul group Jocamo at the Cloudspin Lounge.

Kids will have the chance to play in the snow with Curious George, March 4-6. The PBS character can be found at Kids Kampus each day and parents who enroll their children in a full day kids Kampus program with Curious George will receive a $20 discount off a one day lift ticket. More information about Curious George and the Whiteface Kids Kampus can be found online.

On March 12 and 13 Whiteface will celebrate St. Patty’s Day including Super Shamrock Sunday, March 13 when visitors can ski and ride all day for just $35 for adults, $30 for teens and $25 for juniors. Afterward there will be a party in the Cloudspin Lounge with live music by Trenchtown Oddities.

It’s Reggae Weekend, March 19-20, with music in the Cloudspin Lounge from the Big Take Over, Saturday, March 19, and the following weekend, March 26-27, it’s a Pirate Party at Whiteface, featuring music from Y Not Blue.

Every Wednesday it’s Coca-Cola Why Not Wednesday’s?, Present any empty Coca-Cola product and get a one-day adult lift ticket for only $38. Offer not valid with any other offers, programs, promotions, discounts, or frequent skier products. Limit one ticket per can.

There will be free mountain tours each Saturday and Sunday and on March 5, Lake Placid’s own Andrew Weibrecht, the 2010 Olympic Super G bronze medalist, will be at the mountain to sign autographs and pose for pictures.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meeting Set On Wilmington Recreation Plan

There will be a meeting to discuss Wilmington’s recreation options now and in the future and to develop a Wilmington Recreation Plan on Thursday, February 24th at 7:00 PM at the Wilmington Fire Station Meeting Room. The purpose of the meeting is to gather residents to identify Wilmington’s recreation resources and determine what resources currently exist; current and future project needs; priorities; how residents can work together to develop and maintain their resources; available funding; and what kinds of information residents and tourists need to take the best advantage of local recreation resources.

Speakers will include Town Supervisor Randy Preston, who will provide an update on current recreation projects; Highway Superintendent Bill Skufka, who will discuss roadways for bikes and pedestrians; Matt McNamara on Mountain bike trails; Carol Treadwell, who will provide an update from the Au Sable River Association; Department of Environmental Conservation Forester Rob Daley, Wilmington Wild Forest’s Unit Management Plan; Josh Wilson, of Rural Action Now/Healthy Heart Network on shared roadways and a recreation plan model; and Meg Parker of the Wilmington Youth Commission, who will discuss the Park.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jay Harrison: Climbing Multiplication Gully

Most Adirondack ice classics line the road near Keene Valley or Cascade Pass, clustered together, but Multiplication Gully stands alone, hiding deep in a crevice along Route 86 near Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort. Breaking the fortress of impenetrable cliff lining the road, that crevice glistens white once temperatures dip below freezing. Only a glimpse is afforded drivers as they pass the fault, so it isn’t surprising that Multiplication Gully wasn’t discovered for so long.

Six years after Yvon Chouinard brought front-pointing and short tools to the Adirondacks, two relative unknowns reported ascending the slot that hides within that crack. Alan Spero and Tom Worthington snagged what has become one of the most sought-after ice climbs in the Park, then they practically vanished to the annals of Adirondack climbing history.

Every winter, I visit this crystalline gem at least once. The combination of claustrophobic crevice and mind-boggling exposure, with its view of Moss Cliff framed by the surrounding rock walls, creates a unique experience. I’m not alone in that regard: Multiplication Gully is one of the most popular routes in the Northeast.

This popularity comes at a price. On weekends, there’s a queue clumping up at the base, often several parties awaiting their chance to head up the ice. Since the route follows a natural channel, anything falling from above heads directly down it, so following parties become the unexpected targets of ice, dropped gear, and plummeting climbers. If another car is parked in the lot, look for climbers already on the route, and if possible, wait until they are nearing the top before hiking up to it.

Climbers should park in the pullout on the opposite side of the highway, about 200 feet east of the boulder marking the start of the access path. While the route appears close to the road, the trail to it winds among a thick stand of conifers, then meanders up a treacherous, icy talus pile to reach it, so the approach takes about ten minutes.

Once at the base of the route, place gear and the belay to the right, sheltered by a rock overhang. Handy trees provide a quick belay anchor and an initial protection point just as the real climbing begins. Be careful to put any gear staying at the bottom off the wet ice in the rock alcove, where it won’t get covered with snowfall or damaged by falling ice. Be mindful that other climbers will almost certainly be arriving; keep your items together and compact.

The first pitch provides a good warm-up for the difficulties to come: it is a moderate WI3 with plenty of rests between steep spots. These ledges accrue a lot of snow, but since the route is popular, they get packed down quickly. Work up the line as desired, but don’t stop at the fixed anchor on cedar trees to climber’s left. Instead, continue up another twenty feet to a wide, level area, then walk climber’s right along a ledge and build an anchor well out of the bomb zone (I usually place a screw in the ice face above the ledge to redirect the belay and provide a first piece of protection for the second pitch).

The second pitch begins with a short, steep WI3 wall, then narrows considerably as it winds up toward the top. Above the first step, the ice rears up briefly, with a dead-vertical pillar on the left and a bulging rock wall on the right. Most parties opt to climb the thread of ice lying between these two barriers, gaining height by chimneying with crampons on the pillar, back against the rock, and tools lashing desperately in the wasp-waisted strip overhead. Another brief respite lies after this, and then the final obstacle: the line, almost strangled by an overhanging wall of rock on the right and a steep rock ramp to the left, twists through a twelve-inch slot. There are two options for this spot: either pick oh-so carefully up the verglas on the ramp to a vertical ice pillar finish, or squeeze along that slot, making the most of rock holds and shallow ice before sinking a tool in the duff on top and working left to the fixed anchor. With two 60 meter ropes, rappel the route, being careful of climbers below. Stay to the left, gaining that anchor near the top of the first pitch.

For more information check out Mountain Project’s Multi Gulley page or pick up a copy of Blue Lines, An Adirondack Ice Climber’s Guide, by Don Mellor; published by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service, 2005.

Jay Harrison lives in the southern Adirondacks, works as a climbing guide, and occasionally writes about his antics on his own blog.

Photos: Above, climber Travis King on the second pitch; Middle, look for this stone marking the approach path’s start; Below, view of Moss Cliff from the top of Multiplication Gully. Photos courtesy Jay Harrison.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Adirondack Stats: Christmas

Year Pope Julius I and other religious leaders specified December 25th as the official date of the birth of Jesus Christ: 320 AD

Year in which the Christmas Tree is introduced at Strasbourg Cathedral: 1539

Year Alabama became the first state in the US to make Christmas a legal holiday: 1836

Estimated number of copies of Bing Crosby’s version of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” – the best selling single of all time – has sold: in excess of 50 million copies worldwide

Probability of one inch or more of snow on the ground on December 25th in Old Forge: 97%

Year in which F. M. Chapman proposed the first a Christmas bird census: 1900

Number of Christmas Bird count participants in 2000: 50,000

Year in which Santa’s Workshop theme park in Wilmington, NY opened: 1949

Approximate number of daily newspapers who reported on the opening of Santa’s Workshop: over 700 dailies in the U.S. and Canada

Approximate number of movie theater-goers introduced to Santa’s Workshop via a Pathe Newsreel: 30 million

Number of visitors on opening day, July 1, 1949: 212

Number of visitors on September 2, 1951: over 14,000 perhaps as many as 20,000

Year Robert Reiss closes Santa’s Workshop, Wilmington, following a failed business deal: 2001 (it was reopened the following year by Northpole Associates who purchased the facilities in 2005

Year in which Arthur Gillette opened Christmas City, USA theme park on Rt. 9 near Lake George: 1963

Year in which Christmas City, USA changed its name to Magic Forest: 1965

Photo: ABC Sportscaster Jim McKay with Santa at Santa’s Workshop in 1980.


Sources: Adirondack Chronology (pdf), Santas.Net, Guinness Book of World Records, Northeast Regional Climate Center, Santa’s Workshop.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Charles Dickert Wildlife Collection

Tucked in the lower level of the Saranac Lake Free Library is “the finest collection of Adirondack animals ever gathered in one place.” These animals are not wild anymore or even tame for that matter. The Charles Dickert Wildlife Collection is a one-room museum dedicated to the works of taxidermist, Charles Dickert.

My daughter stands in the entranceway with her jaw dangling open. She has seen mounts before but these are pristinely cared for and arranged and overwhelming in number. We quickly note that not all creatures are indigenous to the area. We ask our son to look for the elephant lamp in the display that we see in an old picture from the Guggenheim camp. He discovers that the black ducks flying in V formation above his head are also in old photos on display. He marvels at the colors of the wood ducks and is curious about the leopard rug. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Whiteface Opens for 53rd Season Friday

Whiteface is ready to open for its 53rd ski and ride season on Friday, Nov. 26, at 8:30 a.m. Snow guns have been making snow since Thursday, Nov. 18, in preparation for opening day.

The Cloudsplitter Gondola will carry intermediate and above level skiers and riders to the summit of Little Whiteface to access Excelsior, Upper Valley, and the Summit Express. Skiers and riders will then load the Little Whiteface chair to return to the summit of Little Whiteface. At the conclusion of their day, they will then download on the Cloudsplitter Gondola.

The Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl trails are expected to open for the season Saturday for top to bottom skiing and riding.

Whiteface boast the East’s greatest vertical drop and was recently chosen by readers of SKI Magazine as the #1 ski resort in the Eastern United States and #1 for 18 years straight for Off-Hill Activities. Readers of SnowEast Magazine also tabbed the Olympic mountain the East’s favorite resort.

Opening day lift tickets are $47 for adults (20-64 years old), $37 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), and $24 for juniors (7-12) and Seniors (70 and older). Children six and under ski and ride for free any day of the season. These prices will be in effect through Friday, Dec. 3. Early season prices begin on Saturday, Dec. 4, $57 for adults (20-64 years old), $47 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), $34 for juniors (7-12) and $38 for skiers and riders 70 and older.

“We have great coverage on Excelsior and Upper Valley, and with a few more cold nights we should cover the Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl for Saturday,” said mountain manager Bruce McCulley. “This will give us 2.5 miles of skiing for Thanksgiving weekend, which is a great start to the season.”

Opening day will also feature the final installation of the 80-foot long mural in the lower tunnel of the Main Base Lodge, created by local area youth entitled “Seasons.” The mural features over 300 individually painted leaves and snowflakes and skiers are riders are encouraged to attend the 10 a.m. ceremony.

Throughout the 2010-11 season, skiers and riders can enjoy super savings on lift tickets with programs including Super Sundays presented by Bud Light, Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesdays” and the Vertical Club.

The five Super Sundays are scheduled for Dec. 12; Jan. 2; Feb. 6; March 13 and April 3. During those five selected Sundays, tickets prices to ski and ride Whiteface’s 3,430 feet of vertical will be $35 for adults 20 years and older, $30 for teens and just $25 for juniors. The themes include Stylin’ Sunday (Dec. 12), Island Madness (Jan. 2), Super Football Sunday (Feb. 6), Shamrock Sunday (March 13) and Retro Sunday (April 3).

Every non-holiday Wednesday is a Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesday” at the Olympic mountain. A one-day lift ticket is just $38 when a skier or rider brings a Coca-Cola product.

The Vertical Club allows skiers and riders the opportunity to save every time they visit Whiteface or Gore. As a Vertical Club member your first visit is free and it’s $15 off future visits to Whiteface to Gore. Use the card five times and your sixth visit is also free, plus Vertical Club members can cash in on extra savings days announced throughout the season at both Whiteface and Gore. The card must be purchased three days in advance and is available on-line at http://www.whiteface.com/summer/tickets/wf_special.php.

Photo: Making snow on Whiteface on Sunday, November 21st.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Local Hosts: We’ll Run Empire State Winter Games

Officials from the Village of Lake Placid, the Town of North Elba, the Town of Wilmington, the New York State Olympic Development Authority (ORDA) and the Lake Placid CVB, and the Whiteface Regional Visitors Bureau have announced that they will host the 2011 Empire State Winter Games, which were canceled this week due to state budget cuts.

According to a statement from the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on November 16, the summer, senior, physically challenged and winter Empire State Games were canceled after being cut from the 2011 budget. The 31st annual Empire State Winter Games were scheduled to be held in February 2011 in Lake Placid. The website for the games has already been removed.

The cancellation led to discussions among community leaders about a solution that would allow the Games to resume as scheduled this winter according to an announcement issued today by the Lake Placid CVB. Representatives from the Towns of North Elba and Wilmington, the Village of Lake Placid, the Lake Placid CVB and the ORDA made a joint decision Wednesday evening to work cooperatively to ensure that the games would continue according to the announcement.

“We’ve made this decision on behalf of the greater Lake Placid region, just as Lake Placid decided in 1928 to pursue the 1932 Olympic Winter Games during the Great Depression, ” said Mayor Craig Randall. “This situation is actually an opportunity for Lake Placid, as it jump-started our existing plans to convene a leadership committee that will facilitate programs to support the communities’ sustainable future.”

“We’re pooling all of our collective talents, and are prepared to aggressively pursue funding to make this happen,” said James McKenna, President of the Lake Placid CVB. “We have already and will continue to communicate closely with the former Empire State Games staff to guarantee a rewarding experience for our New York State athletes.”

The event will be held on the weekend of February 25, 2011, and includes competitions in the disciplines of alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ski jumping, ice skating and more.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whiteface Begins Snowmaking

You don’t need to be a meteorologist to know that it’s been cold the last several days and nights, ideal for dusting off the hoses and guns and making snow at Whiteface. “We saw an opportunity to take advantage of some good temperatures,” said Whiteface general manager Bruce McCulley. “We’ll keep watching the weather and the temperatures over the next several days and make snow when it makes sense so that we have a good product for opening day.”

This season’s snowmaking is far ahead of last year’s, when the mountain didn’t make its first snow until Nov. 16, pushing back opening day until Dec. 5. Starting at about 6 p.m. last night, 35 guns began blowing snow from the mid-station down, laying the based for the Friday, Nov. 26, opening, weather permitting.

The early snowmaking also should serve as a reminder to skiers and riders that Thursday, Nov. 18, is the deadline to purchase discounted 2010-11 season passes for Whiteface and Gore.

Whiteface boasts the greatest vertical east of the Rockies, 283 skiable acres and 86 trails and was recently named the number-one ski resort in the eastern United States by readers of SKI Magazine. The mountain also received high marks for its Après-Ski (#2), Dining (#2), Family Programs (#2), Scenery (#2), Terrain/Challenge (#2), Lodging (#4) and Overall Satisfaction (#5). And for the 18th consecutive year, Whiteface/Lake Placid was chosen number-one for its Off-Hill Activities, thanks to its array of Olympic-style sports including bobsledding, ice skating, cross country skiing, ski jumping, as well as events such as World Cup racing, shows and concerts.

Whiteface was also chosen by SnowEast Magazine readers as the East’s favorite resort. Whiteface topped such resorts as Sugarloaf and Sunday River, both in Maine, and even Killington, in Vermont. More than 3,500 readers took part in the poll and they also tabbed Whiteface as the most scenic resort and their favorite destination village.

Photo: Snowmaking at Whiteface, from Mid-station down. Photos courtesy of Whiteface/ORDA.


Monday, October 11, 2010

The Whiteface Mountain Cog Railway?

In 1935, after years of planning, debate, and construction, the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway was completed. It was named in honor of America’s veterans of the so-called “Great War” (World War I), and was expected to be a major tourist attraction.

Automobiles were becoming commonplace in the North Country at that time, and travelers to the region now had a thrilling view available to them at the press of a gas pedal. Seventy-five years later, it remains a spectacular drive and a great family excursion. But the macadam highway to the summit almost never came to be. New Hampshire’s Mount Washington nearly had a New York counterpart.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

19th Annual Oktoberfest at Whiteface

The 19th annual Whiteface Oktoberfest, in Wilmington, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2-3. During the two-day festival, the Olympic mountain dusts off its lederhosen, fires up the oompah band and enjoys a tall mug of German beer. But it’s more than that… it’s fun for the entire family with activities including original vendors, arts and crafts, children’s rides including the popular hayride and inflatables, Bavarian food, drink, entertainment.

New this year, volleyball, horseshoes and 60-second challenges for great prizes. Also get ready for the upcoming skiing and riding season at Whiteface with ski shop sales in the Ausable Room.

Of course the Whiteface Oktoberfest offers great traditional German music from Die Schlauberger, performing under the entertainment tent outside the base lodge each day, the Lake Placid Bavarians, who have been performing traditional Bavarian music in the north country for the last 19 years, and Ed Schenk on the accordion. The Cloudspin Lounge will also feature music from Schachtelgebirger Musikanten (Scha-Musi) and performing at their second Oktoberfest will be Spitze and The Alpen Trio.

As America’s #1 German band die Schlauberger is a powerhouse of musical expertise. From the moment they step on stage until they have wrung the final note from their last song, die Schlauberger has the audience up and dancing to their powerful renditions of German favorites and other crowd pleasing tunes.

Spitze will also get the audience involved with their amazing alpine show which features cowbells, the alpine xylophone, and the alphorn and of course – yodeling, while the Alpen Trio will greet Cloudsplitter Gondola passengers at the summit of Little Whiteface with the alphorns.

Finally, Whiteface also welcomes back Schachtelgebirger Musikanten for the sixth year to our Oktoberfest. The lively duo will be performing in the Cloudspin Lounge on Saturday and on Sunday.

Other entertainment to be found during the festival include the Alpenland Taenzer, nominated and accepted as members of the “Gauverband Nordamerica,” a nationally and internationally known organization promoting German Heritage throughout the United States and Canada, and “Kindergruppe,” comprised of 8-10 couples ages 3-19. Older members of the Kindergruppe also dance in the adult group.

Guests can also drive the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway and enjoy spectacular 360-panaromic views of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada from the top of the state’s fifth highest peak.

Oktoberfest will be held Saturday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. A complimentary shuttle service will be provided both days. Departure from the Olympic Center Box Office in Lake Placid takes place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Departure from Whiteface to Lake Placid takes place at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m. (Sunday only), 6 p.m. (Saturday only), and 7:30 p.m. (Saturday only). From Wilmington pick-ups are at noon both days with the return shuttle leaving Whiteface at 5 p.m.

Admission is $15 for adults, $9 for juniors and seniors and gondola rides are $12. More information about ORDA’s 19th annual Oktoberfest can be found online.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Strategies for High Peaks Communities Workshop

The High Peaks communities are developing a regional strategy for community revitalization, sustainable economic development, enhanced public access and promotion of the High Peaks waterfronts as an important resource for recreation and tourism.

A workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 28th at 6:30 PM at the Town of Wilmington Town Hall at 7 Community Center Circle. The goal of this workshop will be to present the vision, goals and key projects and initiatives for community and regional revitalization identified by the High Peaks communities in the Revitalization Strategy. Participants will be asked for their input on the goals and priority projects.

The revitalization strategy includes the following communities:

* The Town of Keene including the hamlets of Keene Valley and Keene;
* The Town of Jay including the hamlets of Upper Jay, Jay and the Essex County portion of Ausable Forks;
* The Town of Wilmington; and
* The Town of North Elba and the Village of Lake Placid.

The strategy lays out a vision and set of goals to create a prosperous shared future for the High Peaks region including:

* Revitalization of hamlets and downtowns
* Developing a plan for cycling facilities and safe biking routes
* Creating more access to the Ausable River for locals and tourists
* Protection of the Ausable River and other water bodies
* Enhanced tourism amenities and marketing
* Investigating sources of alternative energy including hydro-electricity
* Developing a plan for trail head improvements and creating new local trails and pedestrian connections
* Protecting cultural and historic resources

The project is funded by a grant from the NYS Department of State through the Environmental Protection Fund and financial support from the participating communities.

For more information contact Melissa McManus, Project Coordinator (518) 297-6753.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Whiteface Memorial Highway Celebrates 75 Years

The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, N.Y., turns 75 tomorrow, Tuesday, September 14th. Whiteface, its staff and the town of Wilmington, will celebrate the occasion by rolling back prices to $1 per person, the same rate as it was in 1935. And since the Highway is dedicated to all veterans, they will be admitted free.

Once at the top, guest will have the opportunity to enjoy historical displays at the castle, a specially priced barbeque, and at 1 p.m. a ceremony which will include the reading of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech, which dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of World War I. Other speakers will include New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer and Town of Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston.

Opened to automobile traffic July 20, 1935, the Highway “officially” opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony, Sept. 14, 1935 which was attended by President Roosevelt, who was New York’s Governor when ground was broken for the eight-mile long stretch of roadway. During the ceremony, the United States’ 32nd President dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of the “Great War,” but in 1985, then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo re-dedicated the highway to all veterans. It has recently been slated for upgrades.

Whiteface Mountain is the fifth largest peak in the Adirondack Mountain range and it’s the only mountain in the Adirondacks that offers accessibility by vehicle. Today, from mid-May to early-October, visitors to the area can take a drive or cycle up the five-mile long scenic highway, from the toll booth to the top. Along the way there are scenic lookout points and picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy views of the Adirondack region.

Once at the top of the 4,867-foot high Whiteface Mountain, guests can enjoy a spectacular 360-degree, panoramic view of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada. Guests can also visit the castle, built from native stone, where they will find a gift shop and restaurant. For those who are unable to reach the summit on foot, an elevator is available that will take guests the final 26-stories to the summit’s observation deck.

The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Wildlife Habitat Awareness Day

Not so long ago my children discovered a baby robin out of its nest and floundering near our front stoop. The mother robin circled nervously. It was a difficult decision to stand back and let nature take its course. My husband and I were operating with a barrage of opinions, a few old wives tales, two crying children and a curious dog. The baby was a fledgling and managed to seek refuge under the deck while its mother continued to feed it. We assume that it flew away one morning like it was supposed to, with no help from us. The most challenging part of those few days was keeping overzealous children from creating a bird sanctuary as the dog whined for a nibble of Robin Red-Breast Tartare.

This Saturday children and adults will be able to ask about all the right ways to help make sure baby animals stay in the wild where they belong. One rule is to remember that these animals are wild and should remain so, so the best course of action is to leave the baby and let its mother do what it does best. That is always better said than done when it comes to children so I can always use a few more talking points.

Wendy and Steve Hall of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center in Wilmington have provided a full day of events to inform humans about when it is right to intervene on behalf of wildlife and when it is best to ignore.

The Wildlife Refuge is 60 acres on the western branch of the Ausable River. There is a one-mile guided nature trail, animal exhibits and experts from organic gardeners to naturalists that will explain how plants and animals play a vital role in nature.

“The important idea we want to get across is sustainability,” says Wendy. “We are involved with a coalition of people that are focusing on sustainability. We have someone from the Ausable River Association talking about invasive species, an organic blueberry farmer and my good friend Nancy VanWie from the Nature Conservancy.”

Wendy says that Nancy plays many roles in educating the public about conservation and sustainability. In addition to her role with the Nature Conservancy, Nancy is also part of the Westport Community Garden project and along with Eddie Mrozik co-founded the Crane Mountain Valley Horse Rescue.

Steve Hall agrees, “ We mainly want people to have a chance to meet wildlife up close and gain an understanding of how everything fits together. Zeebie and Cree, our two wolves, are pets to us but are used as a vehicle to educate how such animals hunt and investigate their property. Zeebie came to us as a baby in July 2009 and is now over 100 lbs. With the bird of prey, like the Great Horned Owl, we bring these raptors up close so people can learn about them.”

According to Steve Hall the main hope is that people will gain a better understanding of wildlife and how it fits into the ecosystem. He hopes that people will see that wildlife is an integral part of the natural world. The role wildlife plays is more beneficial to humans than we know. He brings up the term, “indicator species.”

According to the Nature Conservancy indicator species are animals high on the food chain that indicate the health of the environment. Loons are a prime example as researchers continue to collect data on the mercury accumulation in the loon’s food source.

I am looking forward to finding out when it is time to call in the experts at the Rehabilitation Center and when it is best to leave nature alone.

The Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center is located at 977 Springfield Road in Wilmington. The event is on Saturday, September 4th from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. This event is free but donations are accepted and used to build enclosures for disabled raptors.

Photo courtesy Diane Chase. 



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