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Adirondack Explorer

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


November, 2009

Dewey Mt. ready for winter

Cross-country skiers who live in or near Saranac Lake don’t have to travel far in pursuit of their pastime: Dewey Mountain, a small peak on the outskirts of the village, has ten kilometers of trails. Dewey’s lower trails are groomed by a snowmobile pulling a roller, but the trails on the upper part of the mountain are left natural, providing a taste of the backcountry experience. Dewey also has separate snowshoe trails. Locals ski at Dewey whenever they have a little time to kill—before work, after work, even after dinner (some trails are open at night). I like to ski >>More


November, 2009

How big is the Forest Preserve?

Local officials in the Adirondack Park have long complained about the amount of land owned by the state in the Park. The state constitution decrees that this land, the Forest Preserve, “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.” In other words, no development. The critics see this as bad for the region’s economy. Environmentalists, however, argue that the Preserve attracts tourists and boosts the economy. This debate shows no signs of letting up. During the Pataki administration, the state started saving vast tracts of timberlands not by acquiring them for the Preserve, but by purchasing conservation easements. Such easements >>More


November, 2009

Running around Moss Lake

Trail running is a popular sport out west but not so much in the Adirondacks. I run on trails fairly often and rarely encounter another runner, so I was bit surprised to see a fellow jogger on a trail near Moss Lake last weekend. But in retrospect, I am not that surprised: The 2.5-mile loop around Moss Lake is nearly ideal for running. Most of the route follows an old woods road that’s used for cross-country skiing in winter. The run can be extended by taking a side trail to Bubb and Sis lakes—for a total of 4.7 miles. Moss >>More


November, 2009

Shingle Shanty decision a ways off

Don’t expect the state Department of Environmental Conservation to reach a quick decision on the Sierra Club’s request to force landowners to remove a steel cable that stretches across Shingle Shanty Brook. In a recent letter to the club, DEC Regional Director Betsy Lowe says the department plans to provide “a comprehensive response” to the request. “As you can imagine, this will take some time given the careful consideration required by the Department’s technical and legal staff, possible coordination with the State Office of the Attorney General, and the need to balance a variety of demands with limited resources,” she >>More


November, 2009

A bad night out

Jack Drury, a wilderness-skills educator from Saranac Lake, posted a link on Facebook to a fascinating account of a man and his elderly mother who became benighted while descending Round Mountain in Keene Valley. He encourages all hikers to read it and learn from it. Even if you’re on a day hike, you should carry the ten essentials. Things could have turned out worse for this pair.  


November, 2009

DEC’s vote on Lows Lake

  You haven’t heard the last of Lows Lake controversy—at least not from me. Unfortunately, I missed the discussion that preceded last week’s vote by the Adirondack Park Agency on the proposed classification of the lake. (The APA changed its schedule at the last minute, so I arrived after the vote). As you may recall from my earlier post, the agency commissioners voted 7-4 to reverse a decision in September to classify the lake as Wilderness or Primitive. The reason the classification proposal failed last week is that the three designees representing state agencies—namely, the departments of environmental conservation, economic >>More


November, 2009

Lyon Mountain: Wilderness or Wild Forest?

The Adirondack Park Agency is poised to classify Lyon Mountain as Wild Forest—a decision that would run into opposition from the Adirondack Council, one of the Park’s leading environmental organizations. Brian Houseal, the council’s executive director, said he would like to see the Lyon Mountain tract classified as Primitive, with an eye toward eventually classifying it as Wilderness, the strictest of the APA’s nine state-land zoning categories. “There’s no Wilderness now in that sector of the Park,” Houseal said after the APA’s meeting last week. Located in the northeastern Adirondacks, west of Plattsburgh, 3,830-foot Lyon is one of the Park’s >>More


November, 2009

Snowmobile guidelines OK’d

The Adirondack Park Agency voted 10-1 Friday to approve snowmobile-trail guidelines despite objections by environmental groups that they violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The executive directors of the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, and Protect the Adirondacks say the guidelines would permit trails that fail to meet the master plan’s mandate that snowmobile trails have “essentially the same character as a foot trail.” They also say the guidelines would unlawfully permit the use of grooming machines on the Forest Preserve. On Thursday, all three said they would consider suing the APA if the guidelines were approved. After Friday’s vote, >>More


November, 2009

About-face on Lows Lake

In a victory for local government, the Adirondack Park Agency voted 7-4 Friday to renege on an earlier decision to give a land-use classification to the waters and bed of Lows Lake. The APA board did the about-face while redoing a vote taken in September. At the earlier meeting, the commissioners voted 6-4 to classify the waters, bed, and surrounding lands of the lake either Wilderness or Primitive. Because of a legal snafu, that vote was later deemed invalid, and so the board took up the matter again at this week’s meeting. In the original decision, the board agreed to >>More


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