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Adirondack Explorer

July, 2017

Climbers Encounter Bear Near Chapel Pond

Rock-climbing guide Will Roth was rappelling down a cliff near Chapel Pond with two clients this week when they saw a bear below—climbing toward them. The climbers yelled and clapped their hands, but the bear kept coming, its claws scratching the rock like fingernails on chalkboard. When the bear got within fifteen feet, Roth tossed a small rock and struck its shoulder. The bear seemed unfazed but nevertheless wandered away. “It walked off the side of the slab into the trees and then reappeared. It was standing at the top of the slab, staring back down at us,” Roth said. >>More


July, 2017

Federal Employee Rescued At Boreas Ponds

One item that caught our eye in the latest forest ranger report was the rescue of a U.S. Forest Service employee near Boreas Ponds. The federal employee activated a personal locator beacon after his vehicle got stuck near Boreas Ponds. Here is the item in the ranger report in its entirety:  “Call for Assistance: On June 27 at 11 a.m., the International Emergency Response Center (IERC) notified Ray Brook Dispatch of a personal locator beacon (PLB) activated by a U.S. Forest Service employee working in Essex County. PLBs use satellite communication to notify the IERC that the owner of the >>More


July, 2017

Bouldering On Baker: A Non-Routine Workout Routine

Baker Mountain on the edge of the village of Saranac Lake is one of the most popular peaks in the Adirondacks. Like many other local residents, I’ve hiked it countless times and thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. Will Roth recently made the hike to Baker’s summit more interesting for rock climbers: he has established a bouldering circuit of six “problems” (miniature climbing routes), all located just off the trail. It’s just one more example of why Saranac Lake is a cool place to live. Will says the challenge is to complete the circuit while hiking to >>More


July, 2017

Should Campfires Be Banned In Forest Preserve?

Last weekend I was returning from Nubble Cliff in the Giant Mountain Wilderness when I passed a tent on the southeast shore of the Giant’s Washbowl and heard someone breaking branches or dead trees, presumably gathering wood for a campfire. Campfires are an Adirondack tradition. Who doesn’t like a fire when sleeping under the stars? Nevertheless, I couldn’t help thinking that this was not good for the environment. Rather, it was destructive. The state Department of Environmental Conservation banned campfires in the eastern High Peaks for a reason. Over time, campers collecting wood left patches of forest virtually denuded. DEC >>More


July, 2017

The Thrill Of Climbing At Seneca Rocks

Seneca Rocks in West Virginia is billed as the only peak in the eastern United States that can’t be summited by a mere hike. You need (or should have) ropes, helmets, and other rock-climbing gear. If you ever have the chance to see Seneca Rocks close up, you’ll see why. Seneca actually has two peaks, North and South, with a U-shaped col between known as Gunsight Notch. Over the eons, the peaks have shed layers of rock, leaving only narrow ridges leading to the summits. In places, the ridge leading to South Peak is only a foot or two wide. >>More


June, 2017

History Of The Stillwater Mt. Fire Tower

The famed surveyor Verplanck Colvin built the first tower on Stillwater Mountain way back in 1882. The hole that once held his copper marker is still visible on the summit bedrock. Colvin’s tower is long gone, but a steel fire tower built in 1919 still stands, and last week the state nominated the structure—along with the fire observer’s cabin and some other buildings—for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to read the state’s application. The fifty-six-foot tower, which is on private land, has not been used for fire observation since 1988. However, it is open to >>More


June, 2017

Popular Owls Head Trail Closed On Weekends

The trail to one of the most popular small mountains in the High Peaks region is now closed on weekends because of problems with parking and hikers. Owls Head in Keene has long been a favorite with families and people looking for a short hike with a great view. The trail to the summit is just 0.6 miles long. Rock climbers also use the trail to reach cliffs just below the summit. The trail crosses private land at the start. The parking area on Owls Head Lane (off Route 73) also is on private land. The trail and parking area >>More


June, 2017

ADK Finishes Overhaul Of Guidebook Series

With this year’s publication of Western Trails, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) completed the most recent overhaul of its Forest Preserve Series of hiking guidebooks—and the club is already hard at work on the next edition of the series. ADK’s hiking guidebooks used to divide the Adirondack Park into six regions. The club has pared that down to four regions (still covering the entire Park). In addition, ADK continues to publish a separate guidebook for the Northville-Placid Trail. The regions have been reconfigured to coincide with National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated maps for the Adirondacks. Western Trails, for example, describes the >>More


June, 2017

Don’t Be Fooled: Big Brook Is Not Flatwater

I took this photo of Big Brook early Friday evening while driving between Tupper Lake and Long Lake on Route 30. If you’ve driven that highway, you’ve probably admired this scene. And if you’re a canoeist, you’ve probably wondered if the brook can be paddled. It certainly looks inviting. Several years ago, I succumbed to curiosity. At the time, I was researching my guidebook Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures. I thought Big Brook might make the cut. It turned out to be a dumb idea. Big Brook starts as the outlet of Stony Pond in the William C. Whitney >>More


June, 2017

Fritz Wiessner’s Old Climbing Routes Still Hard

The legendary Fritz Wiessner established more than a dozen rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks, according to the authors of Adirondack Rock. I’ve written about a few of the better ones, including Empress on Chapel Pond Slab, Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl Cliff, and Old Route on Rooster Comb Mountain. One reason I’m drawn to Wiessner routes is their historical interest. Arguably, Wiessner was the strongest rock climber in the United States during the 1930s. Indeed, the authors of Yankee Rock and Ice suggest that the German immigrant “was so far ahead of what others were willing to try that he >>More


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