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Adirondack Explorer

June, 2017

Don’t Be Fooled: Big Brook Is Not Flatwater

I took this photo of Big Brook early Friday evening while driving between Tupper Lake and Long Lake on Route 30. If you’ve driven that highway, you’ve probably admired this scene. And if you’re a canoeist, you’ve probably wondered if the brook can be paddled. It certainly looks inviting. Several years ago, I succumbed to curiosity. At the time, I was researching my guidebook Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures. I thought Big Brook might make the cut. It turned out to be a dumb idea. Big Brook starts as the outlet of Stony Pond in the William C. Whitney >>More


June, 2017

Fritz Wiessner’s Old Climbing Routes Still Hard

The legendary Fritz Wiessner established more than a dozen rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks, according to the authors of Adirondack Rock. I’ve written about a few of the better ones, including Empress on Chapel Pond Slab, Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl Cliff, and Old Route on Rooster Comb Mountain. One reason I’m drawn to Wiessner routes is their historical interest. Arguably, Wiessner was the strongest rock climber in the United States during the 1930s. Indeed, the authors of Yankee Rock and Ice suggest that the German immigrant “was so far ahead of what others were willing to try that he >>More


June, 2017

DEC Reopens Part Of Road To Boreas Ponds

The state has reopened Gulf Brook Road on the Boreas Ponds Tract as far as the interim parking area created last year. As a result, the public can drive 3.2 miles up the dirt road. From there, hikers must walk another 3.6 miles on roads to the southern end of Boreas Ponds. Mountain bikers will once again be able to ride as far as the ponds, but no farther. It’s a long haul for paddlers, but they have the option of shortening the portage by paddling a half-mile across LaBier Flow, a dammed stretch of the Boreas River. The flow >>More


May, 2017

John Case’s Historic Climbing Route In Adirondacks

Bob’s Knob Standard is not the best rock-climbing route on Chapel Pond Slab, but for the novice it’s a superb introduction to multi-pitch climbing. As one of the oldest routes in the Adirondacks, it also lays claim to some interesting history. I climbed Bob’s Knob Standard last weekend with my girlfriend Carol. We had done it twice last year, but because she is new to climbing, she wanted to do it again for practice. Once again, she loved it. Though considered easy, it posed a few challenges and always kept our interest. The scenery as we climbed got better and >>More


May, 2017

Lots Of Adventure In ‘Explorer’ Outings Guide

Have you ever taken in the vista from Iroquois Peak? Paddled up the Opalescent? Skied across frozen ponds near Fish Creek? Followed Don Mellor on an ice climb above Chapel Pond? You can read about all those adventures and more in the forthcoming Adirondack Explorer’s Annual Outings Guide, an anthology of recreational stories from past issues of the magazine. The regular Explorer comes out every two months, but in between the May/June and July/August issues, we publish the outings guide. Each guide describes a variety of recreational outings—hikes, paddles, ski tours, rock climbs, raft trips. Subscribers who collect the guides >>More


May, 2017

Wakely Tower Closure Raises Questions Anew

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s closure of the Wakely Mountain trail once again raises questions about the future of the fire tower on the summit. DEC closed the tower in December because of structural defects and this week closed the hiking trail too, lest the tower collapse and injure someone. “The condition of the tower has worsened and it is possible the tower may collapse in heavy winds,” DEC said in a news release. DEC spokesman Benning Delamater said two of the tower footings and their anchor bolts (which attach the tower to the footings) are damaged. The department >>More


May, 2017

Negro Brook Has It All: Thickets, Blowdown, Rapids

The Bloomingdale Bog Trail starts near Saranac Lake and ends eight miles later near Onchiota. Following an old railroad bed, it is ideal for jogging or mountain biking. I recently went to the trail with a different purpose in mind: canoeing. This is an idea I had for a while. Negro Brook flows under the Bloomingdale Bog Trail in several places. I had never heard of anyone canoeing this part of Negro Brook, but the stretches visible from the trail looked navigable. Nevertheless, I figured I should do the trip when the water levels were high. The water was plenty >>More


May, 2017

Enjoy The Appalachian Trail From Your Armchair

Interested in a really long hike? The Adirondack Park has the Northville-Placid Trail (133 miles) and Vermont has the Long Trail (272 miles), but these are mere steppingstones to the granddaddy of long-distance routes, the Appalachian Trail. The AT, as it’s known, stretches 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, traversing 14 states. That might be a bit more than you want to do. If so, you can enjoy the trail vicariously through Cady Kuzmich’s blog, which she calls “In the Woods.” Cady is a freelance writer for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady who is hiking the AT right now. As >>More


April, 2017

Royal Robbins And The First Ascent Of Half Dome

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the early life of Royal Robbins, the legendary American rock climber who died last month. At the time of his death, I had been reading To Be Brave, the first volume of his autobiography. It ends when Robbins is still a teenager. His second volume, Fail Falling, covers the years 1950 through 1957, when Robbins emerges from a somewhat troubled adolescence to become one of the most celebrated climbers in the country. Robbins started climbing seriously and perfecting his art with fellow climbers from the Sierra Club in southern California. Most were older >>More


April, 2017

Paddling (And Spelling) An Adirondack River

With the arrival of spring, the Adirondack Explorer is shifting its recreational focus from skiing and snowshoeing to paddling and hiking. The May/June issue, which we are finishing this week, includes my account of a canoe trip on the Grass River that Carol MacKinnon Fox and I did last year. Or were we on the Grasse River? Both spellings are in common use. National Geographic’s “Trails Illustrated” map for the region uses the Grass spelling. The Adirondack Park Agency, however, spells it Grasse in the State Land Master Plan. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names decreed in 1905 that the >>More