Old Forge New York: Paddlefest

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This weekend up in Old Forge is the annual Paddle Festival sponsored by http://www.mountainmanoutdoors.com

Julie had plans to head north for the day, check out some new canoes and kayaks and do a little paddling ourselves. The weather wasn’t perfect but it was warm and we had no rain. Upon arriving in Old Forge we made our way right to the waterfront where all the boats were and the test paddling was taking place. Julie quickly fell in love with a very light weight Swift Kayak http://www.swiftcanoe.com/#!adirondack-12-lt/c1wd4

This boat is beautiful and pricey so she is keeping it in mind for a future purchase. After spending time Oohing and Awing at all the beautiful products it was time to take “Elsie” off the car and hit the water ourselves.  We launched on Old Forge Pond and paddled the channel to First Lake where we would take in the views and the homes that dotted the shoreline.

A few hours later we were back on dry land and hungry. No trip to Old Forge would not be complete without a good meal at Walt’s Diner. Now that we were fed it was off to Mountain Man to see all the other cool products that were part of the weekend. There were lots more canoes and kayaks, shoes, clothing, paddles, etc. However there was one thing that caught our attention quickly, a Sylvan Sport camper http://www.sylvansport.com We absolutely loved it and are seriously considering one of these in the near future.

To finish out the day we took a ride north a few miles to Inlet, NY where we spent a little time taking in the views of Fourth, Fifth, Sixth & Seventh lakes. While stopped at Seventh Lake we bumped into an extremely friendly local resident. I didn’t notice at first but eventually I realized she was wearing a 2016 Binghamton Bridge Run shirt.

Our day was long but extremely fun and we scouted some new places to paddle on our next trip to the Adirondacks.

Cheers!

Adirondack Paddlefest Old Forge, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo

Adirondack Paddlefest Old Forge, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo

Julie and I paddle "Elsie" on First Lake in Old Forge, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo

Julie and I paddle “Elsie” on First Lake in Old Forge, NY. Image © Joe Geronimo

#TBT: Rocky Gorge

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Me and my boys after a fun afternoon swimming in the Swift river at Rocky Gorge along the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest in July 2012.

Me and my boys after a fun afternoon swimming in the Swift River at Rocky Gorge along the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest in July 2012. Kodak Ektachrome 100.

Once again it’s Thursday and I’m throwing it back to July 2012. Each summer the boys & I make a trip to Vermont & New Hampshire together to yuck it up and just have fun.

Cuomo Announces Approval Of Adirondack Rail-Trail Plan

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As George the cranky steam roller from the Thomas the Tank Engine series says “Tear them up and turn them into roads” but in this case trails. I’ll be honest, I agree with this plan. I work in the rail industry, however I enjoy the outdoors. The original plan was to remove the rails from Big Moose to Lake Placid. Now the rails will only be removed from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake a distance of 35 miles rather than about sixty or so.

I believe that if the rails were to stay and the entire line be restored to active service it would boom until the nostalgia wore off. Who knows maybe I am wrong? I do believe a rail trail will draw more visitors than the railroad. Right now in America the “Rail Trail” boom is booming and they continue to grow in popularity. I guess only time will tell if this was the right decision.

Below is the story by Phil Brown  of the http://www.adirondackalmanack.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced approval of a controversial plan to remove state-owned railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a 34-mile multi-use trail. In addition, the state is committed to restoring 45 miles of tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.

The governor’s announcement is a victory for Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) and a defeat for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR), which operates a tourist train on a 10-mile stretch of tracks that will be removed. Later in the day, ASR revealed that it recently filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court seeking to save the tracks.

ARTA President Joe Mercurio, who lives in Saranac Lake, said he was thrilled by the governor’s announcement. “ARTA and a great many others have worked long and hard for this,” he said. “Governor Cuomo deserves a huge round of applause for his support. It was the right thing to do.”

The trail would be used by bicyclists, hikers, and others most of the year and by snowmobilers in the winter.

In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the governor’s office said the trail will be finished within three years, at a cost of $8 million. The line south of Tupper Lake will be rehabilitated within the same period, at a cost of $15 million.

“By rehabilitating the railway and building a scenic trail, we are better utilizing the corridor and its surrounding lands to create more economic and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike,” Cuomo said.

One argument for removing the tracks was that the ASR train that runs between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid does little for the local economy. ARTA and many local officials contend that a recreational trail will attract more tourists.

If the tracks are removed, ASR will have to shut down the Lake Placid train. Also, Rail Explorers USA, a rail-bike operation that started last year in Saranac Lake, will have to relocate.

ASR will still be able to run trains out of Old Forge and eventually extend its excursions all the way to Tupper Lake. The Old Forge train is seen as more successful than the Lake Plaid train.

However, it’s not certain ASR will continue to be the rail operator in the corridor. The state plans to solicit bids for a rail operator.

The entire state-owned rail corridor extends 119 miles from Remsen to Lake Placid and is managed by the state Department of Transportation. The updated management plan for the corridor was drafted by DOT and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which will oversee the construction and maintenance of the recreational trail.

DEC officials said Tuesday that track removal could begin as early as December or, if not then, in the spring. ASR and Rail Explorers can continue to operate on the tracks through November.

Supporters of the railroad have argued, among other things, that removing the tracks would violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. They also point out that the corridor and the tracks are on the state and national registers of historic places.

In February, after the Adirondack Park Agency approved the rail-trail plan, ASR started a campaign to raise $100,000 for a legal fight. As of late March, it said it had raised about $40,000.

Bill Branson, president of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which operates ASR, said in a news release late Tuesday afternoon that the railroad recently filed a lawsuit against DEC and the APA. “We are an important driver of tourism in the Adirondacks, and we cannot understand why DEC is determined to destroy vital transportation infrastructure and the only operator on that infrastructure,” he said.

Steve Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage also criticized the decision. “We are disappointed by the governor’s announcement, as we feel that the railroad advocates made a strong case for the preservation of the entire 119-mile rail corridor for its economic, social, and cultural value,” Engelhart said. “In addition to destroying a significant section of this National Register-listed historic resource, this decision will shut down a successful local business, Adirondack Rail Explorers, and eliminate the northern operations of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, a popular attraction for area visitors with thousands of riders every year.”

In addition to building a rail trail and fixing up old tracks, the state intends to:

  • Build snowmobile trails near the corridor to connect Tupper Lake and Old Forge and improve snowmobile connections between the Adirondacks and Tug Hill.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of a hut-to-hut cross-country ski trail from Beaver River to Horseshoe Lake.
  • Establish railway stops for visitors and outdoor recreationists.
  • Consult with the State Historic Preservation Office to mitigate the impacts of removing the rails.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad "Railroader's Special" arrives the station at Big Moose, NY on September 24th 2015.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad arrives the station at Big Moose, NY, image © Joe Geronimo.

New Jersey Mom becomes the first woman to through-paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail

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This is an extremely impressive feat, especially in a 9.5 foot recreational kayak. Paddling this type of boat in some of the bigger lakes along this route had to be hell, especially if it was windy. Back in 2009 I paddled a minuscule portion of this trail from Old Forge to Inlet which is about 12 miles in a 10 foot recreational kayak complete with 2ft swells. I was exhausted and sore! Kudos to Cathy for taking on this adventure and life changing moment, cheers!

The below story was taken from http://www.canoekayak.com

Cathy Mumford wasn’t aware of the double precedent she could set when she loaded up her kayak and set off to paddle the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail alone this summer. Mumford, a Colts Neck, NJ-based graphic designer and mother of two, did the journey both to celebrate her 50th birthday and to “clear my mind and do something that made me feel good.”

Before she launched her 9.5-foot Perception kayak in upstate New York’s Fulton Chain of Lakes in mid-June, Mumford, who’s been paddling for five years, had only car-camped and done daylong trips. When she finished her Northern Forest expedition in Fort Kent, Maine, on the St. John River last Monday, she’d fallen in love with wilderness tripping. She also became the first woman to through-paddle the NFCT solo-in a recreational boat, no less.

Mumford paddled in four-foot swells and ran rapids up to Class II on her trip, which crossed the states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, and the Canadian province of Quebec on the volunteer-maintained NFCT. She says the biggest challenges were the portages, which in her case involved emptying her kayak and making three trips over muddy, ankle-twisting trails. The infamous 1.8-mile-long “Mud Pond Carry”, the portage leading to Maine’s Wild and Scenic Allagash River, took Mumford seven hours to complete. But even on the toughest days, Mumford says “the incredible beauty and solitude” made her forget the sweat, pain and toil of shouldering her boat and gear. “Even after a bad day, I would sit down and watch the sunset and found I couldn’t possibly be sad.”

All told, fewer than 30 paddlers have completed the full length of the NFCT in a single trip, since the water trail was completed in 2006. For Mumford, her precedent-setting trip on the NFCT is only the beginning. She hopes to share the “empowering challenge” of wilderness tripping with young women, and write about her experiences. “I know I’m going to be taking more trips like this,” she says.

Cathy Mumford, 50, seen here at the NFCT "Eastern Terminus" at Fort Kent, Maine. (Photo by Julia Bayly)

Cathy Mumford, 50, seen here at the NFCT “Eastern Terminus” at Fort Kent, Maine. (Photo by Julia Bayly)

 

History Past: Enchanted Forest of the Adirondacks

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Front entrance of "Enchanted Forest of the Adirondacks" Old Forge, NY early 1960's. Image © Collection of Joe Geronimo.

Front entrance of “Enchanted Forest of the Adirondacks” Old Forge, NY early 1960’s. Image © Collection of Joe Geronimo.

Today I bring you another piece of our history here in America, however more importantly right here in New York. Enchanted Forest of the Adirondacks was opened on July 7th 1956 in Old Forge by A. Richard Cohen, a hardware store owner and commissioner for the Adirondack Authority in charge of the development of ski centres on Whiteface and Gore mountains. When opened, it had 35 employees and encompassed 35 acres of swampland. Admission was $1 for adults and 25¢ for children. Over time, the park expanded in size to its present 60 acres.

The design for the park, incorporating a large circus tent and a series of houses with themes from children’s nursery rhymes and fairy tales, was based upon research by Cohen’s daughter and wife, whom he sent to several amusement parks across the country to study how they worked. Concept watercolor paintings for the park were done by Russell Patterson, who also worked on the designs of the several individual fairy tale houses in the park.

The only mechanical ride at the park in 1956 was a train, the Enchanted Forest Express, that traveled around the park. However, this changed during the 1960s when rides were introduced to the park.

In 1977, Cohen sold the park to the Noonan family. In 1988, the park’s name was changed to Enchanted Forest Water Safari, as a result of the popularity of the Wild Waters Water Park (two 350-foot waterslides) that had been added in 1984.

Today’s Enchanted Forest Water Safari & Calypso’s Coves includes 32 heated water rides, including Curse of the Silverback, Killermanjaro, The Shadow, Black River and Rondaxe Run. The park features two circus shows, a petting zoo, an Enchanted Forest Water Safari museum and multiple video game arcades and side show games throughout the park. Adjoining the park is the Calypso’s Cove which includes an arcade, go-carts, children’s go-carts, rock climbing, mini-golf, batting cages, bumper boats and a zip line.

#TBT: August 2013

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Julie kayaking on Lake George near Bolton Landing in August 2013.

Julie kayaking on Lake George near Bolton Landing in August 2013, image © Joe Geronimo.

Lake George, nicknamed the Queen of American Lakes, is a long, narrow oligotrophic lake located at the southeast base of the Adirondack Mountains , in the northeastern portion of New York. The lake extends approximately 32 miles on a north-south axis, is quite deep, and varies from 1 to 3 miles in width.

The Return to Long Pond:

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For the first time this year I was able to finally get out in my canoe this evening. I made the 40 minute trip to Long Pond near Smithville Flats. Launching my boat I made my way down the pond. The water was placid and the surroundings quiet only to be disturbed periodically by the chorus of song birds. Looking off to my right I noticed a female Canadian goose sitting atop a mound. I instantly realized that she was with her young.

Female Canadian goose with her chicks. Image © Joe Geronimo.

Female Canadian goose with her chicks May 11th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.

Moving on quietly the silence of Long Pond was interrupted by a fisherman hacking his brains out as I watched him return his cigarette to his mouth. I paddled into a cove on the east end only to be greeted by two more fisherman sitting along the shoreline. After a few words I was on my way again slowly paddling along the shore.

I paused for a few minutes in an attempt to photograph a Northern Flicker but it proved fruitless. Then I caught a glimpse of movement from the corner of my right eye. Slowly I turned and there I spied a beaver having some dinner. I dipped my paddle in the water and turned my boat cautiously toward him. A few soft paddle strokes to move closer. This beaver has yet to notice my presence as I ever so slightly reach for my camera. Click, click, click and he still does’t know I’m there. Click, click, click and now his attention turns to me and he disappears into the brush.

I patiently waited to see if he would return but to no avail. I returned back up the pond to the launch site feeling excited about my return to Long Pond.

Beaver having some dinner on Long Pond. Image © Joe Geronimo.

Beaver having some dinner on Long Pond May 11th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.

History Past: House of 1000 Animals

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House of 1,000 Animals August 1970 Lake Placid, NY. Kodachrome slide from the collection of Joe Geronimo.

House of 1,000 Animals August 1970 Lake Placid, NY. Kodachrome slide from the collection of Joe Geronimo.

With the invention of the automobile and Henry Ford’s mass production of the Model T, a new type of tourist was created, freed by the motorcar to explore at will. Facilities had to be invented to serve these happy wanderers, and a new generation of business owners realized that the middle-class nomads passing in front of their properties were a potential source of income. The most essential services for tourists provided gas, food and lodging. But in this explosion of roadside commerce, there was a fourth type of establishment, which had nothing whatsoever to do with fulfilling basic needs. A wide variety of tourist attractions were conceived as a way to divert travelers. They evolved not only to amuse the children in the back seat, but also to seduce the children living within the adults in the front seat. Roadside attractions were also important to travelers needing to stretch their legs, relax for a while, use the very necessary rest-room facilities, or just to have some fun.

The highway havens in the North Country were and are a microcosm of such marvels developed across the United States. Although they were condemned by many as being in bad taste or condoned by others as kitsch, a variety of destinations arose and thrived. The beginnings of the phenomenon are shrouded in the mists of the past, and just how these businesses began to appear is at best a matter of conjecture.

One theory is that some people involved in serving up travelers’ essentials added amusement facilities as a means of drawing attention and income and to distinguish themselves from competitors. One Adirondack example was a black bear kept at an auto camp near North Hudson in the 1920s. The bear was trained to guzzle bottles of soda pop purchased by passersby, and sometimes a man would wrestle the beast before the assembled throngs.

The earliest stand-alone tourist diversions in the region, as in many other parts of the country, began as operations devoted to raising animals for clothing and decorative items. Although it’s hard to imagine now, there was an ostrich farm in Saratoga Springs in the first decades of this century. Such farms of gigantic birds were commonplace in California, Texas and Florida, and the plumage was harvested to produce feather boas in various colors as well as pompoms, fans and novelties, all sold in shops on the premises.

But the Florida Ostrich Farm in Jacksonville—taking a cue perhaps from visitors who migrated with the seasons—launched a summer branch in Saratoga on Ballston Avenue. People became so fascinated by these creatures, which could weigh up to four hundred pounds, that the business was opened so that curious guests could gawk at chicks hatching from gigantic eggs; ride behind big ones in sulkies or up on their backs; ooh and aah as birds swallowed oranges whole, which would then be seen as round objects descending stomachward; or, in what was described as a “painless operation,” observe plumes being plucked. Among Saratoga’s most famous ostriches were one behemoth named “Prince of Wales,” and another, “Oliver W,” billed as “positively the only thoroughly harness-broken ostrich in America today.” Ostrich ranches, though, went the way of feather boas and disappeared from the American landscape.

Joseph S. Sterling, born in New Jersey in 1878—and who moved to Alaska in 1904, where he prospected for gold, ran a steamship line and operated trading posts—came up with the idea of raising captive animals for fur. He drifted back East, started a silver-fox farm in Schuyler Falls, New York, in 1915, and in 1920 established an exhibition farm at Ausable Chasm. The very next year Sterling opened another show farm in Lake Placid. The Lake Placid location, on Route 86, became the area’s major tourist attraction in the 1930s, and survived until 1976.

Out-of-towners were fascinated by Sterling’s foxes, mink, beavers, Hudson seals and so-called “wolf raccoons,” and he boasted in the early 1930s that visitors could “See 50 Alive.” Over the years, other species were added as the facility evolved into the Sterling Alaska Fur and Game Farm, popularly known as the “Home of 1000 Animals.” Many of the inhabitants were trained to perform tricks: bears did stunts in exchange for treats; “Peppy and Mike” starred in a daily chimp show; and children could ride llamas. Joseph Sterling died in 1959, but his wife, Martha, carried on, expanding and modernizing the facility.

(Note): The above text was taken from Adirondack Life ” Once upon a time in the Adirondacks, when theme parks ruled the roadside” by John Margolies.

The buildings still exist, with the main building on Saranac Ave. at the intersection, right before Whiteface Inn Lane. Sadly it is now an antique store.

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