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Adirondack Explorer

May, 2012

The most dangerous hikes in the Park

Ron Konowitz climbs the Trap Dike

An article on Backpacker Magazine’s website lists “America’s 10 Most Dangerous Hikes.” The one closest to the Adirondacks is Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The mountain is infamous for its fickle and sometimes extreme weather. “Known as the most dangerous small mountain in the world,” Backpacker says, “6,288-foot Mt. Washington boasts some scary stats: The highest wind velocity ever recorded at any surface weather station (231 mph) was logged here on April 12, 1934. And 137 fatalities have occurred since 1849. No surprise: Most are due to hypothermia—and not only in winter. ‘They call them the White Mountains for a >>More


April, 2012

No ‘Classic Hikes’ in Adirondacks?

Classic Hikes of North America

This summer W.W. Norton plans to publish Classic Hikes of North America: 25 Breathtaking Treks in the United States and Canada. Judging by the publicity materials, it should be a magnificent-looking book, with detailed maps and more than two hundred color photos. Adirondack hikers may be disappointed to learn that no hikes in the Park made the cut. In fact, only four of the twenty-five hikes are east of the Mississippi. The hike closest to the Adirondacks is the Presidential Range Traverse in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The other eastern hikes are the Art Loeb Trail in North >>More


February, 2012

Cold night on Marcy: a survivor’s tale

Jane and Steve Mastaitis at Adirondack Medical Center. Photo by Phil Brown.

  He had a watch but was afraid to look at it. Instead he tried to gauge time by the slow movement of the stars across the sky. Alas, he forgot that he set his watch alarm for 4 a.m. “When it went off, I was disappointed,” he said. “I knew I had to wait some more.” By then, Steve Mastaitis had been curled up inside a snow hole near the summit of Mount Marcy for more than nine hours, shivering uncontrollably, suffering from frostbite, fearing the worst. The temperature fell to near zero during the night, with a wind-chill factor of >>More


November, 2011

Review of La Sportiva Karakorum boots

A few years ago, I was asked to test a pair of La Sportiva Karakorum boots. They’re cool-looking boots, but they struck me at first as almost too rugged for ordinary hiking. I wondered what use I could put them to in the Adirondacks. Then it hit me: slide climbing. La Sportiva bills the Karakorums as lightweight mountaineering boots, and that makes them ideal for scrambling up the rock slide paths that scar many of our High Peaks. The Karakorums also are great for hiking on Adirondack trails in early spring, when you’re likely to encounter mud, snow, ice, you >>More


November, 2011

DEC reopens two more trails

The state has reopened two more trails in the High Peaks region, but it has no plans to reopen before next year other trails closed by Irene. Hikers can once again take the Deer Brook Trail from Route 73 to Snow Mountain, though the low-water route through the Deer Brook flume remains impassable (it was eroded during the storm). Also reopened is the second crossover trail between the East River Trail and West River Trail in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. The first crossover trail is still closed, owing to a missing bridge. Three trail on the Forest Preserve remain closed: >>More


October, 2011

DEC reopens 5 trails closed since Irene

Five trails that had been closed since August 29, the day after Tropical Storm Irene, have been reopened, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced this morning. Four of the trails start in the vicinity of the Ausable Lakes in the privately owned Adirondack Mountain Reserve: The Carry Trail between Lower and Upper Ausable Lake (trail #54 in the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks guidebook). Trail from the Carry Trail to the Colvin Range Trail (#55 in the book). Trail from Warden’s Camp at the foot of Upper Ausable to Sawteeth Mountain (#57) Trail from Warden’s Camp to Haystack Mountain >>More


October, 2011

Climbing the new Saddleback slide

The new issue of the Explorer (November/December) will include a two-page spread on climbing five new slides created by Tropical Storm Irene in the High Peaks. I’ve blogged about my climbs of four of them (see links below), but I have yet to write about my climb of the long slide on Saddleback Mountain. I climbed it two weekends ago with Ron Konowitz. It’s steep enough in places that I would recommend rock-climbing shoes or approach shoes. You can easily reach the Saddleback slide via the Ore Bed Brook Trail in Johns Brook Valley. Starting from the suspension bridge near the >>More


October, 2011

DEC reopens trail to Panther Gorge

The state has reopened the trail from Elk Lake to Panther Gorge but warns that hikers still may encounter blowdown. The 10.2-mile route leads from the private Elk Lake to Four Corners, a trail junction that lies amid Mount Haystack, Mount Skylight, and Mount Marcy. The trail had been closed since August 29, the day after Tropical Storm Irene roared through the High Peaks. Several trails remain closed. The following list of closed trails is a news release issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation: Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trails: The first (northernmost) two cross over trails between the East River Trail and >>More


September, 2011

Several trails remain closed

A month after Tropical Storm Irene blew through the region, several hiking trails in the High Peaks remain closed. David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said no new trails would reopen this weekend. The following are still closed: Southside Trail from the Garden in Keene Valley to the ranger outpost on Johns Brook. The Deer Brook Trail from Route 73 to Snow Mountain. Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass. The trail from Elk Lake to Panther Gorge. The trail over the Colvin Range from Blake Peak to Pinnacle and beyond. Most trails >>More


September, 2011

Climbing the Cascade Mountain slide

People driving between Keene and Lake Placid can see dramatic evidence of Tropical Storm Irene: a slide scar in the drainage between the two Cascade Lakes. The large waterfall in this drainage has always been visible—it accounts for the lakes’ name—but it is now much more conspicuous. The rains of Irene stripped the sides of the brook of trees and soil, leaving a wide swath of bedrock. Because the slide is easily accessible, it’s sure to attract more than its share of hikers and skiers. Indeed, when I climbed it Sunday afternoon I met Kevin MacKenzie, a passionate slide climber, >>More