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Adirondack Explorer

August, 2011

After Irene, where can you hike?

With the most popular Wilderness Areas in the Adirondacks closed, many people are wondering where they can hike this Labor Day weekend. Forest rangers have yet to reconnoiter all of the backcountry, but it’s believed that the central and western Adirondacks largely escaped the wrath of Irene. Yesterday the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced that the eastern High Peaks Wilderness, the Dix Mountain Wilderness, and the Giant Mountain Wilderness would all be closed during the holiday weekend. The three areas probably encompass more than 175,000 acres. The western High Peaks—which constitutes more than half of the High Peaks Wilderness—remains >>More


August, 2011

DEC closes High Peaks trails

With Labor Day weekend approaching, the long-range forecast calls for sunny skies, but that will be of little consolation to people who hoped to hike in the High Peaks. Because of damage caused by Irene to trails and backcountry infrastructure, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has closed the eastern High Peaks Wilderness, Dix Mountain Wilderness, and Giant Mountain Wilderness through the weekend. The eastern High Peaks Wilderness and the other two Wilderness Areas contain some of the Adirondack Parks’ most spectacular scenery and the majority of the forty-six High Peaks. In addition, the roads to the most popular High >>More


August, 2011

Marcy Dam bridge washed away

The rains from Irene washed away the bridge over Marcy Dam, one of the most well-traveled crossings in the High Peaks Wilderness, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. DEC spokesman David Winchell said the crossing is now impassable. He does not know when the bridge will be replaced. The bridge is used by hikers who access the High Peaks, including Mount Marcy, from Adirondak Loj via the highly popular Van Hoevenberg Trail. It crosses Marcy Brook as it spills out of Marcy Dam Pond. The Van Hoevenberg Trail reaches Marcy Dam after 2.3 miles. Hikers can still get to >>More


September, 2010

Eagle Slide video

Anybody who pays attention to the photo credits in the Adirondack Explorer knows how much we rely on the work of Carl Heilman II to enliven our pages. In our next issue, we plan to run Carl’s photos of the Eagle Slide on Giant Mountain–which many people regard as the most spectacular slide in the Adirondacks. I climbed the Eagle last month with Carl and Eli Bickford, a twelve-year-old boy who loves slides. Besides taking photos, Carl shot the video embedded below. The short clip shows me ascending a crack near the top of the slide. I advise those wondering >>More


September, 2010

Your age in mountains per day

For all you strong hikers out there … I don’t know how old you are, but the ageless mountains can figure this out for me. First, tell us how many High Peaks you can climb in a day. Any strong hiker can climb one, and we won’t believe you if you say you can climb ten. So your answer must be between 2 and 9. Now follow these steps: Multiply this number by 2. Add 5. Multiply the result by 50. If you’ve already had your birthday this year, add 1760. If you haven’t, add 1759. Now subtract the four-digit >>More


September, 2010

The case against cairns

Earlier this week, I wrote a short item for Adirondack Almanack on cairns. Many people are fascinated by these heaps of stone often found on bare ridges and summits. Tom Woodman, our publisher, wrote about cairns in a column in the Explorer last year. Adirondack Life ran a photo feature on cairns last year. And Mary Thill wrote about cairns in an earlier Adirondack Almanack piece. Not everyone, though, likes cairns. I discovered this after posting my piece. As one reader commented, “The last thing I want to see on public land is someone else’s form of personal expression, whether >>More


July, 2010

DEC: Don’t climb Stillwater tower

In the July/August issue of the Explorer, I describe a short hike to the Stillwater Mountain fire tower. Once the tower is rehabilitated, this will be a nice outing for the general public, but the state Department of Environmental Conservation warns that the tower should not be climbed in the meantime. DEC spokesman Stephen Litwhiler said the department is unsure of the soundness of the wooden steps leading to the tower’s cab. The tower’s first two sections of stairs are missing, but on the day of our hike, Sue Bibeau and I used a ladder to reach the stairs that >>More


March, 2010

Death in the Catskills

I’m sure many of you have heard about the hiker who died following a snowstorm in the Catskills last weekend. He and his partner had weathered a night in a snow cave. The next morning, he left to get help but never made it. He was found dead on Blackhead Mountain a short distance from the temporary shelter. The Daily Mail, a local newspaper, published a fairly detailed account of the incident. In a comment appended to an online Daily Freeman story, the daughter of the deceased hiker says the two men were experienced hikers and well equipped. She wrote, in >>More


January, 2010

Expect blowdown and ice

This afternoon I went up Baker Mountain, a small peak outside Saranac Lake, to test a pair of crampons (Black Diamond’s Sabretooths, pictured here). I thought the crampons would be overkill on the trail, but it turned out I needed them. Thanks to all the rain on Monday, followed by subfreezing temperatures, parts of the trail were sheer ice. I encountered a couple of snowshoers and a guy wearing Kahtoola MicroSpikes, and all were having a much harder time than I was. (I like MicroSpikes, but they were overmatched by today’s ice.) Monday’s storm also brought strong winds. I saw >>More


November, 2009

Finishing the 46

You might think climbing the forty-six High Peaks is no big deal. After all, more than 6,200 hikers have done it. But I’ve got news for you: those peaks are as big as they were when Bob and George Marshall and their guide, Herb Clark, climbed them. The Marshall brothers and Clark completed the first round of the forty-six in 1925, inaugurating an Adirondack tradition. What’s more, no matter how many people preceded you, when you climb the High Peaks for the first time, you see the mountains fresh, just as the Marshalls and Clark did. I was reminded of >>More