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December, 2009

More on Clarence Petty

The next issue of the Adirondack Explorer will feature a tribute to Clarence Petty, who died last week at 104. Dick Beamish, the Explorer founder, wrote a long article summarizing Clarence’s eventful life. Dick had known Clarence since the early 1970s, when both worked at the Adirondack Park Agency. Our tribute also will include a selection from the popular “Questions for Clarence” column. Meantime, you can learn more about Clarence’s life online: Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a well-written obituary by Dennis Hevesi. Brian Mann aired a lengthy story today on North Country Public Radio, with lots >>More


December, 2009

Clarence Petty dies at 104

I awoke this morning to learn some sad news: Clarence Petty died yesterday at his son’s home in Canton. He was 104. Readers of the Explorer got to know Clarence well through the magazine’s “Questions for Clarence” column. He was a passionate advocate of protecting the Adirondack Park’s natural resources. For the first few years of his childhood, Clarence lived in a cabin on Forest Preserve land on Upper Saranac Lake. His family later moved into a house in Coreys, a tiny settlement on Stony Creek Ponds. As a boy, he hunted and trapped in the neighboring woods. Clarence graduated >>More


November, 2009

First ski of the season

Well, we didn’t get the 4 to 7 inches of snow in the forecast, but we did get a few inches–enough to make the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway skiable from top to bottom over the weekend. I did the road on Sunday with Ron Konowitz, one of Keene’s more prominent ski bums. When we got to the tollhouse about 10 a.m., there already were a half-dozen cars parked on the road’s shoulder. Locals often run into old friends and acquaintances on early-season ski trips up the highway, as usually there’s nowhere else to ski. On Sunday, Ron and I stopped >>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


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


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