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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

31 guests stranded at Adirondak Loj

The West Branch of the Ausable undercut this section of Adirondak Loj Road. Photo by Phil Brown.

The West Branch of the Ausable undercut this section of Adirondak Loj Road. Photo by Phil Brown.

Since Hurricane Irene drenched the High Peaks region, more than thirty guests have been stranded at Adirondak Loj, unable to leave due to a washout on the only road to the rustic inn.

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), which owns the Loj, hopes that the road will open in a day or two, but with so much devastation around the region, nothing is certain.

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the ADK, said a few guests opted to walk out, but most are waiting for the road to be repaired enough to allow them to take their cars. As of today, there were thirty-one guests (and about fifteen cars) at the Loj.

“They’re as hopeful as we are that [the roadwork] will be done tomorrow or the next day,” he said.

The Loj and ADK’s High Peaks Information Center are located at the end of Adirondak Loj Road, which starts on Route 73 outside Lake Placid village. The ADK property is the most popular starting point for trips in the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

The rains of Hurricane Irene swelled the West Branch of the Ausable River and washed out a section of the five-mile-long road.

Woodworth said Essex County expects to reopen one lane of the road this week. At some time in the future, the one lane would be replaced by a temporary bridge, and eventually the temporary bridge would be replaced by a permanent bridge.

He did not know when the bridges will be installed. The county built a new bridge this year at another stream crossing. A temporary bridge had been in place for a few years at that location.

Hikers also cannot drive to the Garden in Keene Valley, the trailhead used to access Johns Brook Lodge, ADK’s interior inn. The road to the Garden parking lot is washed out.

At this point, though, the lack of vehicular access to the Garden and the Loj is largely immaterial as the state has closed the eastern High Peaks Wilderness (as well as the Dix Mountain Wilderness and Giant Mountain Wilderness). It’s uncertain when the Wilderness Areas will reopen, but they will remain closed through Labor Day weekend.

Moreover, Route 73, the main route to Keene Valley and Lake Placid from the south, will be closed for weeks, if not months.

The road is officially closed from the junction of Route 9 north to Route 9N in Keene, according to Carol Breen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. However, we are told that people are driving between Keene and Keene Valley, despite a roadblock. The worst damage on the highway occurred south of Keene Valley, in the St. Huberts area.

Breen said DOT will repair the road before winter. She said DOT expects to repair a washout on Route 9N, which connects Keene and Jay, in a few days.

Vinny McClelland, the owner of the Mountaineer in Keene Valley, said the closure of the Wilderness Areas and the road washouts have dealt a double whammy to local businesses.

“This is usually the biggest week of the year. This will have a major impact on the town,” he said.

McClelland said the Mountaineer, which sells outdoor gear and clothing, sustained only minor damage from the storm, but its outlet store up the road was severely flooded and lost most of its merchandise.

Note: earlier reports said there were twenty-five guests at the Loj.

 

 

Roaring Brook carved a new channel under Route 73 near St. Huberts. Photo by Tom Woodman.

Roaring Brook carved a new channel under Route 73 near St. Huberts. Photo by Tom Woodman.

 

 

Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

16 Responses

  1. Wow. I can’t believe how hard the Adirondacks got hit.

  2. Tom Klancer says:

    Phil, any word on what we can do to help? I live in Virginia so I can’t do any trail maintenance, but info on how to help the people in Keene and Jay (and elsewhere?), and how to help the backcountry recover, would be appreciated.

  3. Phil says:

    Tom, you can send an email to Wes Lampman at ADK. His address is fieldprograms@adk.org

  4. Tom Klancer says:

    Mail sent. Thanks, Phil. I suspect there are a lot of people like me who would like to help, so perhaps you could post a roundup of assistance information at some point?

  5. HikingBlog.net» Blog Archive » 31 guests stranded at Adirondak Loj says:

    […] Source: http://adirondackexplorer.org/out-takes/2011/08/30/1919/ […]

  6. Charlotte Hall says:

    Thanks for the report, Phil. Any word on whether people can get out of John’s Brook Lodge via the Garden? And what do you hear about campers in the High Peaks who went in via the Garden or Heart Lake?

  7. Phil Brown says:

    Charlotte, DEC believes everyone is out of the eastern High Peaks. It is deserted. Hard to imagine with Labor Day weekend coming up.

    Tom, I plan to do just as you suggest. Will be outmin field much of today. Will file new reports when I can.

  8. Paul says:

    It looks like could set up some kind of temporary foot bridge across the washout and let those folks just walk out? The will have to come back next summer for their cars.

  9. Paul says:

    Tom,

    I would also consider contacting these folks:

    http://www.generousact.org/

    They are meeting today in Keene to see what they can do to help people there.

  10. Nancy says:

    anyone seen any aerial photos of Style’s Brook in Keene? On the ground it looks epic. I would love to see what it looks like from above. Lots of destruction to homes and road at the base and the brook bed has been widened by100 feet. Crazy

  11. Marcia Hanson says:

    My husband and I are looking for a way to help with cleanup. Are any volunteers being organized? Would be happy to work with people in town at their homes, or trail clearing when appropriate.

  12. Paul says:

    Whatever they do I hope they make the “31 guests” pay for whatever they need to do to get them and their stuff out.

  13. http://www.flickr.com/photos/makelovereal/6094893869/in/photostream

    Here are my recent photos from up in the area … the DOT deciding to ‘close’ the road into Keene Valley is a low blow… go in and support the local businesses…anything South of the Mountaineer was not harmed in the flooding – so most of the town is still open for business and as businesses go, still in need of the normal tourism, visitors, sales and etc. As you can see in the pictures, the Keene Valley residents unaffected were out helping those who’s lives were rearranged. If you show up in town with a helping hand, you won’t be turned away. It’s a great example of good neighbors stepping in with kindness.

    I ask about volunteering too but it’s not likely – the DEC ‘could’ have an army of hikers who planned to be in the wilderness this weekend, out with bow saws to clear the trails they had planned to hike, but their attitude seems to be ‘stay away’. To the point that some residents I ran into out walking were in fear of being arrested if they were in the woods. If someone would quickly organize CleanupAPalooza get a tent, port-a-potties, a beer truck and some live music for the evenings…It would be a great weekend getting to know folks we usually hike past and tent away more than 150ft from!

  14. ADK plans to reopen Loj on Thursday @ says:

    […] Thirty-one guests were stranded at Adirondak Loj for several days after Irene hit. ADK Irene […]

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