Posted on October 28th, 2011 2 comments Add a comment >>
Five trails that had been closed since August 29, the day after Tropical Storm Irene, have been reopened, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced this morning.
Four of the trails start in the vicinity of the Ausable Lakes in the privately owned Adirondack Mountain Reserve:
- The Carry Trail between Lower and Upper Ausable Lake (trail #54 in the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks guidebook).
- Trail from the Carry Trail to the Colvin Range Trail (#55 in the book).
- Trail from Warden’s Camp at the foot of Upper Ausable to Sawteeth Mountain (#57)
- Trail from Warden’s Camp to Haystack Mountain (#58).
The fifth is the Haystack Brook Trail (#59). It leads from trail #58 to the State Range Trail in the col between Haystack and Basin Mountain.
DEC says the Carry Trail and the trail to Sawteeth have been cleared of blowdown. The other trails are passable but may have blowdown.
Two short trails in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve remain closed. They are the first two crossover routes between the East River Trail and West River Trail. Three other crossover routes are open.
Four other trails also remain closed: the Deer Brook Trail from Route 73 to Snow Mountain; the Southside Trail from the Garden to the Johns Brook ranger cabin; the Cold Brook Trail between Indian Pass and Lake Colden; and the Colvin Range Trail from Blake Peak to Pinnacle and beyond.
Hurricane Road to Crows Clearing remains closed, but the trails starting at the clearing are open. These trails lead to Hurricane Mountain, Big Crow Mountain, and Nun-da-ga-o Ridge.
Click the link below for DEC’s High Peaks bulletin for this weekend. It includes a list of trails that impacted by Irene.
Posted on October 27th, 2011 2 comments Add a comment >>
An advocate of reintroducing the cougar to the Adirondacks will speak at the Whallonsburg Grange at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Christopher Spatz, president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation, has argued in the pages of the Explorer and elsewhere that reintroducing the cats would restore the Adirondack Park’s ecological balance.
Spatz will discuss cougar biology and behavior, recent studies of cougar populations, and the much-publicized case of the cougar that migrated from South Dakota to Connecticut.
The talk is sponsored by the Northeast Wilderness Trust and the Champlain Valley Conservation Partnership. For more information, call 802-453-7880 or e-mail Rose Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on October 26th, 2011 3 comments Add a comment >>
A study published in the journal Nature confirms that the disease decimating bat colonies in New York and many other states is caused by a fungus known as Geomyces destructans.
Known as white-nose syndrome, the disease causes lesions on the bats’ skin and a white growth on their muzzles. Since its discovery in a cave near Albany in 2006, it has spread to sixteen states and four Canadian provinces.
The disease has so devastated bat populations that some species are in danger of extinction.
Earlier this year, Winnie Yu reported in the Explorer that the number of little brown bats in the Adirondacks—once the most common bat in the region—has plummeted 90 percent. Northern bats are down 98 percent. Indiana bats, an endangered species, are down 60 percent.
Biologist Jeremy Coleman of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, one of the five authors of the study, said today that the disease is continuing to spread, though there is some evidence that it has stabilized in some colonies.
Scientists had suspected that Geomyces destructans was the cause of white-nose syndrome, but the new study confirms it. Researchers at the National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin found that healthy bats exposed to the fungus developed lesions and other symptoms associated with the disease. Before the study, some experts speculated that the fungus was itself a symptom, not a cause, of illness.
The researchers say little can be done to control the spread of white-nose syndrome. One possibility is manipulating the habitats of caves to make them less hospitable to the fungus.
The same fungus exists in Europe, but it has not decimated bat populations there. It’s thought that the fungus may have been inadvertently carried to the United States by a human and introduced to a commercial cave in Schoharie County, whence it spread to bat hibernacula.
Coleman’s co-authors included three scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey: microbiologist David Blehert, wildlife pathologist Carol Meteyer, and wildlife disease specialist Anne Ballmann. The fifth researcher was Justin Boyles of the University of Tennessee.
For more information about white-nose syndrome and its impact on the Adirondacks, we encourage you to read Winnie’s story.
Posted on October 19th, 2011 1 comment - Add a comment >>
The new issue of the Explorer (November/December) will include a two-page spread on climbing five new slides created by Tropical Storm Irene in the High Peaks.
I’ve blogged about my climbs of four of them (see links below), but I have yet to write about my climb of the long slide on Saddleback Mountain. I climbed it two weekends ago with Ron Konowitz. It’s steep enough in places that I would recommend rock-climbing shoes or approach shoes.
You can easily reach the Saddleback slide via the Ore Bed Brook Trail in Johns Brook Valley. Starting from the suspension bridge near the ranger’s cabin, hike 1.7 miles to a house-size boulder on the right side of the trail (it’s 0.25 miles past a lean-to). From the boulder, you can see the slide on the right, a short bushwhack away.
If you leave the trail here, you’ll be walking up a scoured section of Ore Bed Brook, a mix of slab, boulders, mud, and pools. In a half-mile, you’ll reach the wide slabs of the slide proper. Your other option is to stay on the trail past the giant boulder: in another 0.8 miles, the trail passes the edge of the slide.
From the second access point, it’s just about a mile to the top of the slide. From the boulder, it’s 1.9 miles.
The ascent is gradual at first, but it steepens considerably as you get higher. Toward the top, you need to climb over or around a rock wall. We went left, which was fine, but we encountered a muddy section just past the wall.
While ascending, be sure to turn around occasionally to take in the spectacular view of the north face of Gothics.
The climb ends with a dike, one to two feet wide, that runs down the middle of the slide. The pitch here is very steep, but the dike is stepped. At the end you’ll need to make a tricky move to gain the woods.
From the top of the slide, you have a 10-minute bushwhack to Saddleback’s summit. We angled left and did not have too much trouble.
Saddleback’s summit offers marvelous views of the High Peaks. Between the slide and the summit, you’ll be sated with scenery. If you return by the Ore Bed Brook Trail, you’ll cross another slide created by Irene. In the aerial photo, this two-pronged slide is to the left of the Saddleback slide.
Following are links to my blogs on other slides created or expanded by Irene:
Posted on October 11th, 2011 4 comments Add a comment >>
On Sunday I climbed the Trap Dike for the first time since Tropical Storm Irene triggered a landslide above and inside the dike. The slide swept away nearly all of the trees inside the canyon and created a new exit, a slab of clean white rock that can be followed to the top of Mount Colden.
Before Irene, the guidebook Adirondack Rock awarded the Trap Dike five stars, its highest rating for the overall quality of the climb. Since Irene, the climb is even better.
The Trap Dike must be approached with caution: it’s considered a third- or fourth-class climb in the Yosemite Decimal System, so a slip at the wrong time can result in death or serious injury. Sadly, this was proven when Matthew Potel, an experienced hiker, was killed in a fall on September 30.
People debate whether parties should carry a rope and other rock-climbing gear. Whether or not you carry a rope, I suggest you wear sticky-soled shoes: either rock-climbing shoes or approach shoes (some trail-running shoes also have sticky rubber). You’ll appreciate the stickiness on the steep sections, which are often wet, and on the finishing slab.
The dike has two waterfalls. The second is considered the crux of the climb. It’s steep and about forty feet high. Potel fell here after helping two companions up the falls.
The climb from Avalanche Lake to the new slide is 0.8 miles. The base of the slide is steep. I started up from the right side, following a left-rising ramp. Two companions, Josh Wilson and Matt McNamara, chose to start up the left side, ascending some cracks.
Once on the slide, we stayed more or less in the middle, following whatever features we could find to give us a foothold or handhold. Much of the slab is pocked with sharp-edged dimples, which also aid traction.
Depending on the slope, we either walked upright, more or less, or scrambled on all fours. I measured the slope in spots at more than forty degrees—steep enough for a long fall. In winter, this should be considered avalanche terrain.
At the headwall, the slide gets even steeper. Matt and I bailed left into the trees just before the top. Josh managed to stay on the rock all the way to the end. All told, the slide is about 0.4 miles long. From the top, it’s a very short bushwhack (20 or 30 yards) to Colden’s summit trail.
To my mind, the slide is just as dangerous as the waterfalls—especially if you’re not wearing sticky rubber.
Before Irene, hikers would exit the Trap Dike onto an older slide. You can still do this, of course, but if you exit the dike too early, you’ll find yourself on a part of the old slide that is as steep as the new one. Some hikers who exited early have become frozen with fear, too scared to continue climbing or retreat.
The Trap Dike may be a five-star climb, but it’s no fun if you find yourself in over your head.
Posted on October 7th, 2011 1 comment - Add a comment >>
The town of Keene is looking for volunteers to help with the post-Irene cleanup. The town plans to undertake a number of cleanup projects every weekend through November 5.
This Saturday, people will be removing mud from the basement of a house on Styles Brook Road, according to Joe Pete Wilson Jr., the town’s volunteer coordinator. Because of the mud, the homeowner has been unable to turn on the heat since the storm.
Next weekend (October 15-16), volunteers will clean mud and debris from the Keene Library and pick up debris at the community center’s playing fields. On the following Saturdays, volunteers will help clean up homes, yards, and local businesses.
If you’d like to volunteer, send an e-mail to Joe Pete at email@example.com.
Those who would like to help but can’t provide labor can send a contribution to the Keene Flood Recovery Fund. Click here for details.
Posted on October 7th, 2011 Add a comment >>
The state has reopened the trail from Elk Lake to Panther Gorge but warns that hikers still may encounter blowdown.
The 10.2-mile route leads from the private Elk Lake to Four Corners, a trail junction that lies amid Mount Haystack, Mount Skylight, and Mount Marcy. The trail had been closed since August 29, the day after Tropical Storm Irene roared through the High Peaks.
Several trails remain closed. The following list of closed trails is a news release issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation:
- Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trails:
- The first (northernmost) two cross over trails between the East River Trail and the West River Trail. NOTE: The other three cross over trails and bridges are open and must be used to travel between the East River and West River Trails.
- Warden’s Camp to Sawteeth Trail
- Carry Trail
- Warden’s Camp to Haystack Trail
- Haystack Brook Trail
- The Deer Brook Trail from Route 73 to Rooster Comb
- The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John’s Brook Outpost
- The Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass.
- Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trails:
Posted on October 6th, 2011 Add a comment >>
Outdoors writer Mike Lynch will give a slide-show in Lake Placid this Sunday on his recent 740-mile paddling trek along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
Lynch will appear as part of an American Alpine Club mixer at the Guides House at 2733 Main Street, next-door to High Peaks Cyclery. The mixer and membership drive will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Lynch’s one-hour presentation will start at 7 p.m., preceded by a barbecue. The event is open to the public.
A writer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Lynch spent forty-five days this summer paddling from Old Forge to northern Maine. He is one of about forty paddlers who have done the Northern Forest Canoe Trail end to end. During his slide show, he will discuss the highlights and challenges of his journey.
After his trip, I e-mailed a number of questions to Lynch. You can read his responses on Adirondack Almanack.
For more information about Sunday’s event, call High Peaks Cyclery at 518-523-3764.
Posted on October 5th, 2011 Add a comment >>
The death of Matthew Potel, who fell in the Trap Dike on Mount Colden last week, has led to an outpouring of sympathy for a personable young man who loved the outdoors.
Potel, 22, of Croton-on-Hudson, slipped in the dike while leading a group of fellow students from Binghamton University. He expected to graduate in December with a major in environmental studies and a minor in comparative literature.
“The outdoors was the world to Matt, the Adirondacks especially,” his father, Mark Potel, said this morning. “He was never as happy as when he was in the North Country.”
On Tuesday, hundreds of people attended a memorial service at Temple Israel of North Westchester. You can read about the service by clicking here.
Potel lived last summer in Saranac Lake and worked for the Adirondack Watershed Institute of Paul Smith’s College, warning boaters about aquatic invasive species. The Adirondack Daily Enterprise spoke with people who knew him in Saranac Lake and published their remembrances today.
Potel, who climbed all forty-six of the High Peaks, was a former camper and counselor at Poke-O-MacCready Camps in Willsboro. His family asks that memorial contributions be sent to the camps’ Adirondack Scholarship Foundation.
Posted on October 4th, 2011 3 comments Add a comment >>
The state Department of Environmental Conservation intends to restore the natural character of streams that were altered by bulldozers and backhoes in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, according to Christopher Amato, the department’s assistant commissioner for natural resources.
Amato said he agrees with environmental activists that some streams were damaged by cleanup crews after Irene.
Numerous streams in the Ausable River watershed overflowed and cut new channels during Irene. Afterward, crews used bulldozers and other equipment to rechannel the streams. Critics contend that the workers destroyed habitat for trout and other fish by straightening channels, removing gravel and boulders, and smoothing streambeds.
Based on his review of photographs and early reports from biologists, Amato is convinced that “there are areas where some of the work that has been done has adversely affected fish habitat.”
Amato did not fault the crews, pointing out that they were responding to an emergency. “It’s not surprising that when people are working to save lives and property, protecting trout habitat is not their first priority,” he said in an interview with the Explorer.
But now that the emergency is over, he said, DEC will assess the work and come up with a plan to repair damaged habitat. Amato said DEC will employ established stream-restoration techniques to recreate natural features such as gravel beds, pools, riffles, bends, and shoreline vegetation.
“We will re-establish the variety of habitat that naturally occurs in streams,” Amato said.
Such variety is vital to fish: they lay eggs in gravel, feed in riffles, and seek refuge from the heat in deep pools and along shady banks. Twists and turns check the speed of the current and can alleviate flooding downstream.
Amato said any plans to restore the streams will take into account the potential for future floods. “We certainly don’t want to do anything that will exacerbate the flooding problem,” he said.
Amato couldn’t say when the restoration will begin, but it’s possible that some work will occur this fall. “You don’t want to rush in there without understanding what you want to do,” he said.