Snow-sport events are a staple of winter tourism in the Adirondacks, drawing participants and spectators into small villages where they eat in restaurants, stay in hotels, and spend money in stores. This winter, many events had to be canceled because of frequent thaws and a dearth of snow.
Among the canceled events were the Lake Placid Loppet, a cross-country-ski race, and a World Cup skiing competition in the Lake Placid region; the annual Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival, sponsored by the Mountaineer in Keene Valley; and Dewey Mountain Days in Saranac Lake. Dangerous ice conditions led to the cancellation of ice-fishing contests around the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
March is normally the time of year, at least here in the North Country, when we suffer anguish over which season we wish it would be. I go through it every year, part of me wishing for spring and the other part holding out for more snow. I know there are people out there like me who still wish we had more opportunities for cross-country skiing. There is nothing sweeter (except maybe maple syrup) than a spring ski on a warm March day, with fresh powder, bright sun, and brilliant blue skies. Tree tops pinkish orange with buds ready to burst into new growth.
But this year without a winter is even worse! I feel so cheated. My friend, artist Valerie Patterson, communicates how I feel perfectly in her watercolor painting, “Global Warming”. A lot of us who live here do so because we embrace and enjoy outdoor recreation in all seasons of the year. I’m sure no reminders are needed about how sparse our snow was and how warm the temperatures averaged. My Adirondack Artists Guild colleague Burdette Parks announced the ice went out on Middle Saranac on St Patrick’s Day this year – the earliest he and his wife, Fran Yardley, can remember. They reported the water stayed open much later this winter as well. » Continue Reading.
The bare ground of the trail wound through dead leaves and patchy snow. At a short overhang in the trail, I noticed spiky threads of ice growing up from the soil in crunchy clusters. A careless boot revealed how fragile these formations are; the fine ice threads crumbled readily. This was needle ice, a common sight in the woods this winter.
Curious about the phenomenon, I got in touch with Dr. James R. Carter, a professor emeritus from Illinois State University. Dr. Carter has spent the last ten year observing these ice formations. His photographs and descriptions of different examples of needle ice are available here.
Carter explained that while needle ice somewhat resembles frost, it is a completely different phenomenon. Frost forms when water vapor is deposited onto a growing ice crystal; the water molecules move directly from the gas phase to the solid phase without ever becoming a liquid. Needle ice, on the other hand, forms from liquid water when a process called ice segregation occurs in the soil. » Continue Reading.
Lake Placid twice hosted the Winter Olympics, in 1932 and 1980, and continues to capitalize on its history, attracting a variety of winter-sports events such as the Winter Empire State Games and international skiing and sliding competitions.
The Adirondack Park has spawned a number of Olympic athletes. Drive through tiny Vermontville and you’ll see signs celebrating that it is home to Billy Demong, who won the gold medal for Nordic combined in 2010. » Continue Reading.
Last night, the floodlights were on at my favorite skating lake. Several children wearing plastic skates and shiny helmets were gliding on the ice, shepherded by young parents. A father pulled a Nordic-looking sled with upturned runners, his bundled-up cargo insisting, “More!” each time he stopped. They were enjoying one of winter’s greatest gifts: the smooth, frozen surfaces of our northern lakes and ponds.
The gift is ephemeral. Some winters, our skates never leave the basement. Other years, the snow holds off and there’s black ice before Christmas. We skate as much as we can, knowing our days of clear ice are numbered. As winter progresses, rain may turn the surface to water — but the temperature plummets again and the resurfaced plane draws us back. » Continue Reading.
“Make me one with everything.” If you had to guess, you’d probably say that was a diner order, or a supplication to the Divine. This winter, I think someone whispered that line in Mother Nature’s ear, because even though it is not yet half over, she has already made us a winter with everything. It’s as if she glanced at her weather playlist and hit the buttons for unseasonable warmth, extreme cold, high winds, rain, sleet, ice, and snow, and then selected the “shuffle” function and walked away.
After each meteorological mood swing I have heard people comment how confused the weather makes them. You plant daffodil bulbs on Christmas, shovel heavy snow the next week, then need crampons a few days later because it rained and then suddenly froze. If you think it’s hard for us humans who can retreat into our posh shelters, imagine how the animals feel. » Continue Reading.
I’m an enthusiastic, if laid-back, bird watcher. One of the things I love most about spring and summer is the effortlessness with which I encounter a wide variety of birds. Sitting in my backyard, I’ll catch sight of an indigo bunting in the apple tree or watch a pair of phoebes flying to and from their nest. On an afternoon hike, I might spot a Baltimore oriole or hear the sweet sounds of a wood thrush.
Not so in winter, when the cold curtails my outdoor activities and so many birds have departed for warmer climes. The dearth of birds and walks leaves me feeling doubly deprived, and I count the days until red-winged blackbirds will again greet me on my morning stroll.
But January is far too early to dream of spring, so I’ve decided to put thoughts of seasonal songbirds out of my mind and focus on some of our region’s year-round residents – owls. » Continue Reading.
Cardboard sled races will be held in conjunction with multiple winter festivals and carnivals throughout the Adirondacks during the Fourth Annual Great Adirondack Cardboard Sled Racing Circuit.
Cardboard Sled racing has grown in popularity in the last several years. The LaPorte Family of Eagle Bay has won the Circuit’s Grand Prize for the last two years, usurping Bob Lewin’s win in Daddy’s Folly in 2013. The LaPorte’s designs have included two army trucks and 2015 they introduced a classic Red Chevy with a functioning trunk allowing room for a hidden rider. The LaPorte’s have been a tough team to beat. » Continue Reading.
During a mild winter in our northern forests, there are those of us who cheer our lower heating bills and those who scan the forecast, hoping for cold and snow. In a classic El Niño year like this one, when we often get unseasonably mild weather well into February, there are winners and losers in the natural world, too.
El Niño refers to a natural warming of Pacific waters. This phenomenon occurs every three to seven years, when prevailing trade winds, which drive the direction and force of ocean currents, slow down. As a result, cold water from the depths doesn’t get mixed with surface water, the ocean’s surface temperature rises, and global weather patterns can be altered. This year’s strong El Niño is being complemented by a low pressure system in the far north – called the Arctic oscillation – that’s keeping polar air trapped around the North Pole. » Continue Reading.
This weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is issued each Thursday afternoon and can be heard at North Country Public Radio on Friday mornings.
Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 7:31 am; sunset at 4:35 pm, providing 9 hours and 1 minutes of sunlight. The Moon will rise Saturday at 6:46 am and set at 4:38 pm. There will be a New Moon on Saturday at 8:30 pm.
Here are a couple of books to consider reading this winter from the comfort of a cozy chair as you wait for spring to come.
Anyone interested in growing any kind of plant should be glad to receive How Plants Work, the science behind the amazing things plants do by Linda Chalker-Scott, a professor of horticulture at Washington State University. This is not a how-to garden book but instead a book to help you understand and appreciate how plants grow. The author has a very readable writing style and explains the whys of many gardening practices and plant functions. She also debunks several garden myths about nutrient supplements and management practices. Every serious gardener should read this book this winter! » Continue Reading.
It’s simple physics. In a cold environment, small objects lose heat at a faster rate than large objects. This is why most warm-blooded animals that reside in a northern climate tend to be large in size. Yet, for every rule, there is always an exception and when considering birds, the golden-crowned kinglet is a perplexing anomaly.
The golden-crowned kinglet is the smallest perching bird to inhabit the Adirondacks, as this delicate, olive colored creature is not much larger than a hummingbird, (which is classified in a group that is related to the swifts rather than the perching birds.) However, unlike our other small birds, like the warblers, vireos and wrens, the kinglet often remains in the Adirondacks throughout the dead of winter, traveling in small, loosely knit flocks in dense evergreen forests. » Continue Reading.
Snowshoeing in the Adirondacks has a long history. Originally a means of travel, it is now a popular recreational pastime. The French called snowshoes raquettes because the paddle-shaped contraptions of earlier times resembled rackets. They were used by hunters and trappers.
Today’s snowshoes are more rugged and lightweight than the wooden raquettes of yore. They’re usually made of aluminum, plastic, and nylon and come equipped with crampons that allow us to climb over ice, bare rock, and deep snow — that is, almost anywhere except up a tree. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay by NYS Forest Ranger Julie Harjung a Lead Instructor for Wilderness Medical Associates and contributor to the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP).
I have been a Forest Ranger for over 15 years and have spent all of it in either the Catskills or the Adirondack Mountains. Rangers respond to just about every emergency you can think of and probably a few you haven’t thought of. Many of the incidents are true accidents, a slip on the trail causing a broken leg, a dislocated elbow, a fall causing a concussion etc. Accidents can and do happen all the time in the backcountry. As a responsible outdoor enthusiast you need to be prepared for the “what if” scenarios. That means following a few cardinal rules. » Continue Reading.
Despite remarkable similarities in appearance, flying styles and behaviors, not all bats are created equal. In the Adirondacks, there are approximately nine species of these dark, winged mammals during the summer months, yet all possess their own unique physical characteristics and habits.
The manner in which bats deal with the total lack of flying insects that occurs with the onset of winter is one feature that illustrates how bats are different. Even though more than half the species that populate our region migrate to and then enter caves or mines that extend deep underground, all have definite preferences for below the surface. While some species proceed far from the entrance in order to reach warmer and damper locations, others favor cooler and drier spots closer to the world above. » Continue Reading.
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