November, 2011

Madshus Epoch backcountry skis

One day in early April, when the temperature climbed into the forties, people were walking around Saranac Lake in T-shirts, dreaming of summer. It was perfect weather for testing a new pair of skis. Sue Bibeau, the designer for the Adirondack Explorer, and I did a round trip to Klondike Notch in the High Peaks Wilderness, a little-used trail that starts at the end of South Meadow Road and ends near Johns Brook Lodge. I was trying out my Madshus Epochs, a waxless ski designed for backcountry touring. The Epochs have metal edges and are wide enough to provide stability >>More


November, 2011

Review of Kahtoola Microspikes

If you do much hiking in early winter or spring, consider investing in a pair of Microspikes. They’re ideal for traveling on trails covered in hard-packed snow and ice. In the shoulder seasons, the trails often lack enough snow for snowshoes but are too slippery for plain boots. In such conditions, you need to augment your traction. Crampons are one solution, but they often are overkill on hiking trails. Made by Kahtoola, Microspikes weigh just 11.4 to 15.6 ounces, depending on which of the four sizes you buy. They consist of a tough elastic band (red or black) attached to >>More


November, 2011

Northern Forest Canoe Trail guidebook

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a paradox. It’s been around forever, but it was “completed” just four years ago. Whatever, we’re glad it exists. The NFCT is a 740-mile water trail that follows Native American paddling routes. It starts in Old Forge and ends in northern Maine, after passing through Vermont, Quebec, and New Hampshire. This includes sixty-two carries, totaling fifty-miles. You can paddle it in the other direction, but it will require more portaging. The nonprofit Northern Forest Canoe Trail Inc. has done a great job of promotion. Over the past ten years, the group has put up >>More


November, 2011

‘Long Distance’ by Bill McKibben

Several years ago, we asked Bill McKibben to ski the entire Jackrabbit Trail in a single day and write about it. Saranac Lake to Keene. That’s twenty-four miles, but that wasn’t enough for McKibben. When he turned his story in, I learned he started instead at Paul Smith’s, where there is an orphan piece of the Jackrabbit. By following this trail and then a railroad bed, he was able to make it to Saranac Lake and add ten or eleven miles to the trek. Why extend an already-lengthy trip by slogging along a boring railroad track? I thought Bill must >>More


November, 2011

Review of ‘The Other 54’

What’s a mountain climber to do once he or she has summited the Adirondack Forty-Six, the Catskill Thirty-Five, and the Northeast 115? Create a new list, of course. And so we have the Adirondack Hundred Highest—the obsession of hard-core hikers who don’t mind surrendering a few pints of blood in their quest to stand atop the region’s tallest mountains. The Hundred Highest includes the forty-six High Peaks first climbed by Bob and George Marshall and their guide, Herb Clark, in the first quarter of the last century. All of these peaks now have marked trails or obvious herd paths, so >>More


November, 2011

Lows Lake paddlers’ map

The folks at Raquette River Outfitters know Lows Lake well, having guided trips there for years, and now they’ve put their knowledge down on paper—water-resistant paper. In 2011, the Tupper Lake shop published a marvelously detailed color map that includes just about all you need to know for day trips and longer excursions in the Lows Lake region. It sells for $12.95. The topographical map encompasses the entire length of the Bog River, from its headwaters near Clear Pond and Bog Lake, through Lows Lake and Hitchins Pond, and on to its mouth on Tupper Lake. State land is shaded >>More


November, 2011

Review of ‘Hiking the Adirondacks’

You might think the Adirondack bookshelf already has enough hiking guidebooks, but there’s always room for one more if it’s well done. And the latest one is. Falcon Guides has just published Hiking the Adirondacks ($18.95) by Lisa Densmore, a freelance writer and nature photographer. It describes forty-two hikes, chosen from all parts of the Adirondack Park. Densmore is more than qualified to offer advice: she grew up in Saranac Lake and has been hiking in the Adirondacks since she was a young girl. Although she now lives in New Hampshire, she has a summer camp on Chateaugay Lake in >>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


November, 2011

OR Ridge Sack good for paddlers, too

Outdoor Research makes its DryComp Ridge Sack for mountaineers who want to travel light on summit day. The waterproof backpack is roomy enough to carry your essentials and comes with ice-ax loops and a large mesh pocket that can hold a hydration bladder, a shell jacket, or other gear. I tested the Ridge Sack ($125) a few dozen times last summer. I know what you’re thinking: a summit pack in the Adirondacks? In summer? Well, the Ridge Sack is also ideal for paddlers on day trips. I bring it on nearly all of my canoe excursions. This tough nylon pack, >>More


November, 2011

Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS watch

When I wear my outdoors-writer hat, I always want to know the distances of my hikes, paddles, trail runs, ski trips, and what have you. In 2009, I finally broke down and bought a GPS watch, the Garmin Forerunner 405. Now when I take a hike, I can see precisely how far I traveled and how long it took, and when I get home I can upload data to my computer, via the Garmin Connect website, to view a lot more statistics: average pace, best pace, calories burned, maximum and minimum elevation, and so forth. I also can view a >>More


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