Celebrate the new year in the outdoors with a FirstDay Hike at one of the many events across the state and nation. DEC, State Parks, and the Canal Corporation invite New Yorkers to kick off 2023 by participating in one of the many hikes being held at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails, and public lands across the Empire State on January 1, 2023. DEC Region 6 staff will lead free family-friendly hikes in St. Lawrence and Lewis counties that will help connect with nature on the firstday of the New Year.
“Getting outdoors and connecting with nature is the perfect way to start the New Year,” said Randall Young, DEC Region 6 Director. “FirstDayhikes across the state and in the region bring together outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities, creating opportunities to create lasting memories in the process.”
Winter held on [as of March 14] with a little more snow and cold weather giving the snowmobilers and skiers another weekend to do their thing. The cross-country skiing was the best it has been all winter with enough powder on top of the crust you could just about ski anywhere and still have control. The couple of warmer days before the snowstorm encouraged a few birds to move north.
As I went out to move the new fallen snow on Saturday [March 12], I heard a Robin and had two Grackles at the feeder. A few others that I contacted had Redwing Blackbirds and then on Sunday [March 13] I had a Song Sparrow feeding among over one hundred mixed flock of Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskins and one lonely Common Redpoll.
That same day over at Ferd’s Bog I had a flock of 100 Snow Geese flying west into the wind go low overhead. I picked up another male Red Crossbill on Parkhurst Road [in Inlet] on Sunday [March 13] so I don’t think that pair will have any young with no one to feed the female on the nest. There may be only three cars that travel that road a day, and I’ve picked up five dead Crossbills there in two weeks. I also saw a Raven flying down the road with a Crossbill in its beak, so I don’t find them all.
The cold temperatures are back after a short day when they got above freezing just before the massive storm that crossed the country and hit us. Freezing rain and rain were predicted, but all I had here was twelve inches of snow which the snowblower ate for about three hours in order to clear the 950 feet of driveway. I cleared the bird feeders with the scoop first to get them something to eat and they flocked right in as the temperatures were dropping.
My feeding flock of birds hasn’t changed much in the last couple of weeks. I put some bands on a few of them, mostly blue jays caught in the potter trap. The most I’ve counted has been 14 to 16 jays at one time. However, I’ve banded over twenty of them in the last couple of weeks so some new ones may have moved into the feeders. I had a high count of 32 purple finches and 22 slate-colored juncos. I believe all the juncos are wearing bands, but only about ten of the purple finches have bands.
I know the birds went through forty pounds of sunflower seeds in less than two weeks. While much of that has been stored by the jays and the chickadees, the finches and juncos eat every seed they are able to get a hold of. The pair of tufted titmice have been regulars but only one of them is banded. Only a couple of American goldfinches have been hanging around and one common redpoll has been battling for places on the platform with the finches and jays. The sharp-shinned hawk came through early this morning and nailed another junco for a snack. In answer to someone who commented on my last column asking if I caught the hawk and banded it. I didn’t catch it, as I would have had to have the net up in order to catch this bird as it flies through.
There’s no getting around winter. So you might as well get into it. Right? Enjoy a good book, binge-watch Netflix, savor warm drinks, and cozy up beside the wood stove or fireplace for hours with your music (and your sweetie).
But, being active and getting outside are vital for our health. And most northern New Yorkers will tell you that access to year-round outdoor recreation is a bonus; one of the blessings that comes with living here. We have the Adirondack Park, along with many other local and state parks, forests, waterways, recreation areas, and trail systems that make the region attractive and accessible to families and friends who enjoy getting outside together. Unless it’s dangerously cold, winter weather is no reason to stay indoors.
For kids, winter is the season of snowballs, snow forts, snowmen, snow sculptures, snow angels, sledding, tobogganing, tubing, ice skating, and fat (tire) biking. And for families and friends, there’s snowmobiling, downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking, winter camping, dog sledding, ice fishing, and winter carnivals.
If you live in northern New York, you live in the middle of, or at least near, some of the best outdoor recreation in the east. In fact, outdoor winter recreation is a rich part of the region’s heritage and a vitally powerful and sustainable economic engine that supports local businesses and contributes to healthy local communities.
So, put on your long johns, layer up (consider several high-quality, moisture-wicking layers), and grab a warm coat, hat, boots, perhaps a scarf, and a well-insulated pair of toasty gloves or mittens. Because, as I’ve heard it said, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.’
Editor’s note: We are pleased to start offering this new weekly column from retired forest ranger Gary Lee.
This week was a little more like winter should be, with snow a few days and very cold a few others. Tuesday was a bear about dark a light rain was falling with the temperature on twenty-eight which instantly froze on anything it hit and some of that was on my windshield. I didn’t get five hundred feet down the road and my windshield was a blank screen.
I pulled over and let it warm up some, but it was covered instantly when I started to move again. I had to use windshield washer fluid to keep it so I could see. I called my wife Karen at the library to tell her that things were being coated extremely fast and be careful on her way home. I told her about the windshield washer trick which she used all the way home. That ice coated the trees making them all shiny when the sun came out, but it also put an eighth-inch of ice on top of the snow which was just like glass.
Here they are, for a reference, as we gear up for the start of snow season:
Food essentials: Packing the proper—and right amount—of food for your backcountry winter excursions can be overwhelming when you’re first starting out. You can get ideas online, but the bottom line is you have to find out what works best for you.
Footwear: In the winter, there are several pieces of footwear that will be necessary depending on the activity you are interested in as well as the conditions of the trail you want to explore. What you put on your feet will be dependent on variables such as snow depth, ice, and the difficulty of your planned excursion. READ MORE
I was talking to digital editor Melissa Hart earlier this week about future projects, and one of the ideas we settled on was bolstering our web and social media content aimed at people who are new to outdoor activities and the Adirondack Park. I’m talking about topics such as essential gear and info that can aid with trip planning.
At the Explorer, we’ve always focused on this type of content, but now the demand seems even greater because of the continuing rise in new visitors to the Adirondack Park.
The timing to start rolling out this material is also good because this type of info is extremely important in the winter months, when the environment is less forgiving for outdoor users. If you have problems in the woods when it’s 85 degrees, things can get uncomfortable. However, if you get lost when it’s 15 degrees, things can get very serious quickly. So you better be prepared before heading out.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to editor Melissa Hart.
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