Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Need for Wilderness

By Neil Woodworth

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Wilderness isn’t a commodity to be traded. It’s an idea of raw and organic landscapes unscarred by human machination. When the word wilderness is spoken our minds picture dense forests and open savannahs that evoke a sense of mystery and a desire to explore. It is a glimpse of the world without anthropomorphic disruption. It is freedom incarnate. True wilderness is perhaps impossible to attain in an age of human pervasiveness but that is all the more reason to pursue it tenaciously.

Sadly it is quickly becoming a foreign concept. It is disappearing at a rate of 38 football fields per minute.  However, the concept of wilderness is essential and inseparable from the idea of a place being called Forever Wild.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Basic Photo Principles with Carl Heilman II

By Carl Heilman II

Today's digital cameras offer so many options for shooting landscapes. Each new generation of cameras brings additional advances in sensor and processing technology, as well as shooting features that bring us closer all the time to being able to capture the beauty of what we are seeing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What is Your Favorite Brand of Hiking Sock?

By ADK Staff

ADK staff gets asked a lot of questions about gear.  One question that recently came up was what type of hiking socks do you like?  With any gear choice there is always a wide variety of opinions so I asked around the office to see what type of hiking socks our employees like. -Seth

Seth Jones (Education Programs Coordinator): Darn Tough
Darn Tough is my favorite brand of hiking socks. I first received a pair when I was a Summit Steward and I have been a convert ever since.  They are well made, durable wool socks that I can put hundreds of miles in with out them wearing out.  They also have a lifetime guarantee so when they do eventually get holes in them I can send them in to get a new pair.   Darn Tough socks are also made in Vermont so they are a fairly local company.  When I'm wearing my Darn Tough socks all the worries in my life go away.

John Million (Deputy Executive Director): Smartwool
When I worked for REI in the late 90’s, a new technology for socks came onto the market. The leader of the conversion to utilizing non-itchy merino wool as a performance textile was a small company created by two Vermont ski instructors who had moved to Colorado and wanted to cure their blisters and stink foot. And so Smartwool was born. This was ground breaking stuff back then and people thought it was crazy to pay over $10 for a pair of socks! But once you tried them, you never went back to cotton or polypro.

Each holiday I bought a few pair for friends and relatives and they all immediately became converts as well. Unfortunately for me, that means to this day I spend about $100 each year for the now traditional Smartwool family gift socks! Merino wool is now found in many products and eventually the original founders of Smartwool sold the company to Timberland in 2005 and started a new company Point 6. But as the original performance sock and still a top quality product from a company that has a social conscience, great core values, and maintains their production in the U.S., Smartwool remains my choice for keeping my feet happy all year round.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Citizen Scientists: ADK's Backcountry Water and Forest Monitoring Projects

By Cathy Pedler
Photos by Brendan Wiltse

Throughout 2015, numer­ous committed volunteers participated in day-long trainings and backcountry trail surveys for invasive  species like the forest pest hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA [Adelges ­tsugae]). Volunteers also selected backcountry ponds and lakes to survey for aquatic invasive plant species such as Eura­sian watermilfoil (Myrio­phyllum spicatum). It has been inspiring to see the enthusiasm and dedication of our members and supporters in their roles as citizen scientists.

As of September 2015, ADK has trained seventy-two citizen scientist monitors (twenty-eight water monitors and forty-four forest monitors), in addition to fifteen forest monitors trained in 2014. In 2015, our trained volunteers adopted thirty-three backcountry ponds or lakes for aquatic invasive species monitoring, and fifty-eight forest areas for forest pest monitoring. An additional twenty-two forest areas were adopted in 2014.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Advocates Promote Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness Expansion With 35,000 New Motor-Free Acres

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Tuesday, November 10, 2015

For more information:
John F. Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340 (cell); 518-432-1770 (ofc)
Neil Woodworth, Adirondack Mountain Club, 518-669-0128 (cell); 518-449-3870 (ofc)
David Gibson, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, 518-469-4081

Photo by Dave Pisaneschi
NEWCOMB, N.Y. – Regional, statewide and national conservation organizations and supporters sent a letter Monday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to protect the Adirondack Park’s wilderness legacy, while opening spectacular new landscapes to public recreation and boosting the economies of the surrounding communities.

The groups applauded the Governor’s commitment to purchase the stunningly beautiful Boreas Ponds tract in the southern High Peaks area of the Adirondack Park, as part of a series of state land purchases in the area.

After Boreas is purchased, the groups are urging him to add it to the High Peaks Wilderness Area, along with several other recent state purchases. The expanded wilderness would then be connected to the nearby Dix Mountain Wilderness Area, creating a contiguous, motor-free area of more than 280,000 acres.

The new wilderness would rival Rocky Mountain National Park, in Colorado, and would be larger than Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. It would be almost twice the size of Zion National Park in Utah.

The letter was signed by the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Audubon New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Environmental Advocates of New York, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the New York League of Conservation Voters.

“You have an extraordinary opportunity to create a true national legacy, an Adirondack wilderness area here in New York whose scale and positive impacts will rival some of the most famous conservation landmarks in the world,” the letter stated.

The letter noted that “An expanded Wilderness will provide new economic opportunity for communities in the heart of New York’s Adirondack Park while protecting for future generations this priceless gift of nature among the state’s tallest mountains, one of the world’s best known rivers, and the Park’s most spectacular scenery.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ADK's Fall School Outreach: Climbing the Biggest Mountain in the World

Walking to the Adirondak Loj

By ADK Education
Photos by Seth Jones

Three Seasons at Heart Lake is Adirondack Mountain Club's (ADK) inquiry based environmental education curriculum for fourth graders that weaves together responsible outdoor recreation, wellness, and the history of the Adirondacks, both natural and cultural. ADK developed this curriculum with teachers and students to meet the needs and goals of the schools.  Through the Three Seasons at Heart Lake School Outreach Program, we hope to inspire a greater desire to experience the outdoors responsibly.

We provide this program to students in fourth grade because we recognize that this is an ideal age in which to engage students in nature. At this age students generally have the physical maturity to participate and they have the cognitive, language and writing skills needed to benefit from the curriculum, which ties well with state and school requirements. It offers a break from traditional behind-the-desk learning. The students who do well in this program may not excel in a classroom setting – being up at Heart Lake allows a different group of students to shine. 

Here is a series of photos from this past Fall's program where students climb to the top of Mt. Jo:

Welcome at the Adirondak Loj.

Classroom time on the shores of Heart Lake.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Return to Pharaoh Lake Wilderness

Cathy's family on top of Pharaoh Mountain in the early 1900's

By Cathy Pedler

For the past two years I’ve been working in Albany with the Adirondack Mountain Club. The Adirondack Park is relatively new to me, but apparently it is not new to my family. While working on genealogy and sorting through family artifacts with my parents, we are beginning to discover a long familial history with the region. My father recently found an old photo album in a box of things belonging to my grandmother. The photos document trips to the Adirondack Region from Philadelphia in 1900 and 1903 when my great-grandmother visited Schroon Lake and hiked Pharaoh Mountain with her family. They traveled to NYC and then made their way north on the Hudson by boat.

Lost Pond by David Pedler
This summer I traveled back to the area my family visited 115 years ago. I stepped on the shores of Schroon Lake for the first time and paddled Lost Pond and Berrymill Pond in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. The return was prompted by our work with Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI), and the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP), the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Ausable River Association (AsRA) to monitor the backcountry waters of the Lake Champlain Basin and the Adirondack Park for aquatic invasive species. Fortunately, we did not find any invasives in Lost Pond or Berrymill Pond, and of the 14 unsurveyed ponds our group of volunteers surveyed, only one near Lake Champlain, had an invasive species identified (Eurasian watermilfoil).