September, 2011

Irene destroyed or damaged 228 homes

Hurricane Irene destroyed thirty-one homes in Essex and Clinton counties and damaged 197 others, according to the North Country chapter of American Red Cross. “We’ve never seen this many homes damaged by the rain, the flooding, and the wind,” Jeanie Roberts, the chapter’s executive director, told the Explorer today. Indeed, Roberts said Irene was more devastating than any natural disaster she has witnessed in her twenty-five years on the job—including the ice storm of 1998. Although the ice storm left homes without power for weeks, she said, “at the end of it everyone had somewhere to go.” Nearly all the >>More

September, 2011

DEC to reopen to some trails

The state Department of Environmental Conservation expects to reopen some trails in the eastern High Peaks Wilderness before this weekend. In fact, some trails may be reopened today, according to DEC spokesman David Winchell. “We’re working on what trails can be reopened and hope to make an announcement later today,” Winchell told me this morning. Winchell said some trails will be open right away and others may open within a week, but others will remain closed for longer. Hurricane Irene caused extensive damage to trails in the High Peaks region, prompting DEC to close not only the eastern High Peaks Wilderness >>More

September, 2011

ADK plans to reopen Loj on Thursday

The Adirondack Mountain Club plans to reopen Adirondak Loj on Thursday and expects  that some trails in the eastern High Peaks Wilderneness will be available for hiking by then. Meantime, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation said on Tuesday that the department is evaluating which trails may be reopened. “It will most likely be tomorrow before we have completed that task and can provide a list of open trails,” David Winchell told me. Adirondak Loj and the trails in the eastern High Peaks were closed after Hurricane Irene. Raging floodwaters collapsed a section of the road leading >>More

September, 2011

Good news for Keene Valley

Governor Cuomo came to the Adirondacks on Labor Day and delivered good news for the beleaguered community of Keene Valley: Route 73 will be reopened by September 15. Since Route 73 is the only way in and out of Keene Valley, its closure after Hurricane Irene meant that local stores saw little traffic in what is ordinarily one of the most lucrative weeks of the year. As I reported last week, business owners wanted the state to reopen the highway before Columbus Day weekend in October. Having seen the extent of damage to the road, I was skeptical that this >>More

September, 2011

Keene Valley wants its lifeline back

No community identifies with the High Peaks as much as Keene Valley. State Route 73, the only way in or out, snakes through the same mountains that attract tens of thousands of hikers to the hamlet every year. Now the High Peaks are closed and Route 73 is barricaded to the north and south—a double-whammy to a local economy that relies on tourist traffic. The state Department of Environmental Conservation may start opening some trails in the High Peaks as early as next week, but it’s uncertain when the highway will reopen. During Tropical Storm Irene, raging brooks washed out >>More

September, 2011

DEC stationed at trailheads

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is preparing to deal with an influx of hikers on Labor Day weekend who may be confused about where they can and cannot hike. Forest rangers and environmental conservation officers will be stationed at trailheads for the eastern High Peaks Wilderness, Giant Mountain Wilderness, and Dix Mountain Wilderness, according to DEC spokesman David Winchell. As a result of damage to trails from Tropical Storm Irene, DEC has closed all three areas indefinitely. Winchell said DEC employees will direct hikers and backpackers to nearby Forest Preserve tracts that remain open. “We also will be patrolling >>More

September, 2011

ADK hopes some trails can reopen next week

The Adirondack Mountain Club hopes that the state will reopen some trails in the eastern High Peaks early next week. “We’re aware of a number of trails that can be safely hiked at this point,” said Neil Woodworth, ADK’s executive director. Woodworth refused to identify specific trails, saying it’s up to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to determine which trails should be reopened. “We’re hoping that the closure order of the eastern High Peaks can be lifted,” he said. Woodworth said ADK and other “interested stakeholders” have urged DEC to keep closed only trails that pose a hazard or >>More

September, 2011

A thousand words

  By now, many of you have seen the pictures of the Keene fire station: it lost two bays when Gulf Brook overflowed and undercut the structure. Half of its roof fell off and lies partly in the water. Yesterday while driving through the hamlet I noticed the firefighters’ uniforms drying on the railings outside the town hall. Though not as dramatic as the photos of the storm damage, it tells the story.

September, 2011

First photos from Duck Hole

This spring, I paddled Duck Hole, a wilderness pond surrounded by high mountains. Getting there was not easy—the trip entailed four carries totaling about two miles—but it was worth it. I wrote about my adventure for the July/August issue of the Explorer in an article titled “Portage to Paradise.” Today that trip is no longer possible. And Duck Hole is no longer a paradise—unless you’re a mosquito. Yesterday I returned to Duck Hole on foot to see firsthand what’s left of this beloved pond since its dam breached during Tropical Storm Irene. The accompanying photos tell the story: Duck Hole >>More

August, 2011

Aerial photos of Duck Hole draining

In the current issue of the Adirondack Explorer, we ran a debate on whether the state should fix the dam at Duck Hole in the High Peaks Wilderness. Now that the dam has been breached, the debate is whether the state should rebuild it. This afternoon, we obtained several aerial photos taken after the rains of Hurricane Irene broke the dam. They were shot Monday by Kris Alberga, a forester with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The top photo shows Duck Hole as one looks southeast toward Preston Ponds. Much of the water has drained, exposing numerous mudflats. The >>More

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