Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Those Piles of Rock

By Devon Reynolds

July 20th, a blustery, grey Sunday, found me just above tree line on Cascade, repairing a tumbledown cairn. As a summit steward, I do a variety of trail work, from packing rocks into loose soil to stabilize it against erosion, to lining the trail with stones to guide hiker’s footsteps. Cairn construction, however, is my favorite trail maintenance. It takes patience and skill, and the resulting stone towers, rising in silhouette against the sky, have a stark and unforgettable beauty.

There are several factors that go into choosing a site for a cairn. Those lovely silhouettes are no accident—cairns are placed where they will be most visible to hikers, on the lips of ledges so they will contrast with the sky rather than blending into the rock around them.  A cairn must also be built on relatively flat ground, a difficult thing to find on Adirondack summits!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

ADK Starts Colden Trail Project

Trail on Colden before bog bridges

By Seth Jones

If you’ve climbed to the summit of Mt. Colden over the past decade you've probably experienced that the trail on the summit had become mostly comprised of boot sucking, Adirondack mud. What is different about this muddy Adirondack trail is that it traverses through New York’s rarest ecosystem, the alpine ecosystem, a fragile plant community that is only found on 16 of New York’s highest summits. To help protect this special natural resource, Adirondack Mountain Club with the support of The Adirondack Forty-Sixers and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has started a three year trail project on the summit of Mt. Colden.
2014 bog bridges

Friday, August 15, 2014

Biking the ididaride! Adirondack Bike Tour

By Sonja Stark, PilotGirl
Conditions on Sunday were absolutely perfect for a 75-mile bike tour through the Adirondacks called, quite aptly, ‘The ididaride!’ The weather was beautiful and sunny, the roads were clean of debris, the relief tents were stocked with ripe bananas, peanut butter and salty potato chips and everyone’s spirits were high.

ADK Mountain Club Development Director Deborah Zack sounded the call of the start of the tour. We shoved off at 8:30a with my GoPro camera rolling on the thunderous momentum of 475 bikers from all across the state, even the country, snapping their shoes to their pedals and waving goodbye. It would be roughly 6 hours and 40 minutes before I’d make it back again…. though at the time, I doubted the odds of being in one piece or even alive.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

ADKhighpeaks Foundation Supports Summit Steward Program

By Julia Goren

Summit Steward on Cascade
It takes a lot of feet to protect alpine plants on our summits. There are the feet of the Summit Stewards, calloused and sore, climbing up and down the peaks every day. (Every day! Fun fact: 2014 stewards Jen Maguder, Drew McDonald, Tyra Olstad, Devon Reynolds, and Kayla White will individually climb Marcy and Algonquin approximately 25 times each this summer, hiking about 1,000 miles for the alpine plants.) There are the feet of the hikers, often hot, sweaty, and blistered, carefully walking on the rocks rather than on the plants. (Collectively this adds up to over 40,000 feet a summer on Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, Cascade, and Colden!) And then there are the feet that strap into snowshoes on the first weekend in March, collectively climbing the 46 on one day, to raise money to support the summits. These feet belong to individuals with names like ADKJack, Mavs00, AlpineLamb, RockON, Neil, topofgothics, and WannabeALjr. Never heard of them? These are just a few of the individuals making up the online community of the ADKhighpeaks Foundation.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Farewell to Thea

Thea Moruzzi

By John Million

It is with a mixture of regret and happiness that the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) must announce the departure of ADK Education Director Thea Moruzzi. We are happy for Thea as she has secured a sixth grade teaching position at Lake Placid Middle School and now will share her incredible talents with the students of our little town. And of course it is sad for ADK to lose such a valuable and dedicated employee.

Thea started seasonally with ADK in 1997 and worked at Johns Brook Lodge (JBL) for three summers. She was actually the first JBL Hutmaster I inherited when I arrived as North Country Facilities Director in 1999. I quickly realized she was self-reliant, dependable, and someone I could count on to give me her best judgment on a variety of topics, always with ADK’s best interests in mind. I often sought out her opinions then and I have continued to do so over the fifteen years we have worked together.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dig it!: Dispose of Waste Properly

By Ryan Doyle 

“Bowels are not exactly a polite subject for conversation, but they are certainly a common problem… Please think of me again as the urologists’ daughter…  It may disgust you that I have brought it up at all, but who knows?  Life has some problems which are basic for all of us – and about which we have a natural reticence.”  -Katharine Hepburn, The Making of the African Queen
-Kathleen Meyer, How to S#!^ in the Woods

Following this introduction to her first chapter, Kathleen Meyer goes on to say:
 “In the mid 1800’s in the Royal Borough of Chelsea, London, an industrious young English plumber named Thomas Crapper grabbed Progress in his pipe wrench and with a number of sophisticated inventions leapfrogged ahead one hundred years.  T.J. Crapper found himself challenged by problems we wrestle with yet today; water quality and water conservation.  Faced with London’s diminishing reservoirs drained almost dry by the valve leakage and “continuous flush systems” of early water closets, Crapper developed the water waste preventer – the very siphonic cistern with uphill flow and automatic shut-off found in modern toilet tanks.” 
And so the changes began and one sort of progression led to another type of regression; the long devolution to modern times where some people have lost the knowledge, ability, and/or desire to properly dispose of their human waste when there is not a toilet present.  It is a very real problem, especially where people congregate in large numbers in the outdoors.  The Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Area contains approximately 77,000 acres and sees an estimated 150,000 visitors per year.  The overwhelming majority stay on trails so this adds up to large amounts of waste being left in a minute percentage of the total area.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reading the Clouds

Cirrus and Stratocumulus clouds over the High Peaks

By Tyra Olstad

Even if never truly called Tahawas the “Cloud Splitter,” Mt. Marcy often does slice a hole in the sky, catching precipitation and channeling it into “Lake Tear of the Clouds.” In fact, all of the Adirondack mountaintops mingle with the clouds, affording spectacular views of atmospheric strata (and sometimes direct experience of thick grey mist.)  Alpine vegetation is well-adapted to heavy fog, intense sun, damaging ice, high winds, and other climatic extremes typical of places that are closer to cloud than to earth, but hikers (and summit stewards!) need to anticipate and be prepared for conditions up on the high, exposed peaks, where temperatures are lower, wind is stronger, and storms stir up in a matter of hours.  Although it’s best to check weather forecasts before beginning a hike, it also helps to pay attention to what’s happening overhead: with a little practice, you can learn to appreciate cloudscapes not just for their natural beauty, but for their role as meteorological indicators as well.