Sunday, December 7, 2008


DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY! Well that is clear enough and the State of New York has been hammering this home for years with their Carry it in:Carry it out slogan. Most people who hike at Pilot Knob Ridge do just that. I have been a steward for over an year now and I have only taken a couple of small grocery bags off the preserve, and most of that was from picking up the parking lot.

So trash we are good, but what about toilet paper? Pack it out????????? Well this is an option that is the most preferred by the avid followers of the Leave no trace philosophy. But I know that this is not really an option that most of us are at this time willing to practice. The good news is that here in the moist Northeast we do not have to pack out our TP. The option here is to bury it. This means walking off the trail a bit and digging a 7 inch cat hole and burying everything when done. The most important thing is to place natural leave litter over the disturbed area so nobody knows you were there. You are supposed to do this 150' away from a steam or body of water. Yes I know that this is more of a pain for the ladies, but please remember that TP is visible for months after it is left on the ground and this is the single most garbage item that I have to take care of when I walk the trails. Have a kit with you that consists of a plastic shovel, tp and hand sanitizer. Taking a few extra moments will make the wideness experience that much better.

One little bit of advice. When traveling in the back country on trails other than the LGLC preserves, you will find privies at trailheads, lean-to's and some tent sites. Use these first! Bring a paper toilet liner with you and if it is bad, you know what I mean, throw a little leaf litter on to the mess. That may help a bit.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I took a friend up on the PKR trails on a frosty late November day. It was his first time up and I think that he enjoyed his hike. This little preserve has a way of growing on you.

I didn't see anyone and only saw a few squirrels and a late in the season chipmunk. That was a little surprising as they usually are are all tucked in for a long winters nap by now. With the cold snap that we are having the ground is frozen solid, so the flurries that have fallen over the past couple of days have stuck in isolated pockets creating some beautiful scenes.

The waterfall is stunning as it is an ice falls already!!!! Last your it was flowing free into late December.

Looking out from the Gazebo, we could see that Warner Bay was frozen from shore to shore to the 5 mph zone. I feel bad for one pontoon boat owner, whose boat is frozen solid in the Lake. It was nice at the Gazebo as the air was crystal clear and we could see north far into the Adirondacks. You can see that the snow guns were blazing on Gore. I hope that the ski areas have a good year. The irony will not be lost on me if this year turns out to be one of the best for snow, but no one has any money for a ski pass.

Use care on the trails as there are a couple of icy spots, but other than that there are no issues effecting you travels on the PKR.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Leave No Trace Part 2

2. TRAVEL AND CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES Hike in the middle of the trail; stay off of vegetation.Camp in designated sites where possible.In other areas,
don't camp within 150 feet of water or a trail.

While camping is off limits on Pilot Knob Ridge, making sure that you stay on the trail is the important thing to take from this rule. The trails on the PKR are, even in the wet season good, but even when there is water on the trails you still want to stay in the trail's thread. I know, who wants to walk through the mud? However, keeping in the trail's thread is important in keeping the trail from widening past it's intended width. You will notice on very busy, wet trails that there will be areas where a 3 foot wide trail widens to 6 or more feet to avoid a wet area on the trail. This will cause the wet area to increase in size as hikers try to keep their feet dry and becomes a vicious cycle. So if you think that you will be slogging through some early spring hiking you will want good water proof foot gear and gaiters to keep you pants dry. You may find that depending on the time of year that you may have over prepared for the hike, but when you are hiking a trail for the first time it is best to be prepared.

Also, do not cut switchbacks to shorten your walk. This is a problem that we continue to have on the Orange trail near the driveway. There are two heard paths that if they are allowed to continue will end up causing the trail to eroade faster as the water from the hill is beginning to run straight down the herd path. remember that Leave No Trace means that you do not want to create a new path.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Leave No Trace

I have been doing a little research and thinking about the principals of Leave No Trace. The way they are written they are met to be applied to a variety of situations. I thought it would be good to take each of the 7 principals and see how they should be applied to our Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve. I also will break this down into seven parts.

1. PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE Know the regulations and special considerations for the area you'll visit.Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies. Travel in groups of less than ten people to minimize impacts.

This is fairly straight forward. At PKR there are only a few rules, but there are some.

No Hunting
Please stay on the marked trails.
Please be courteous of other guests at the preserve.
Please do not harass or harm any of the plants or animals found at the preserve.
No removal of plants or animals without permission.
No camping, littering, fires, motorized or non-motorized recreational vehicles allowed on the preserve.
Leashed dogs are permitted except at the Gull Bay Preserve due to its ecological sensitivity.
Please park only in the preserve’s designated areas. If all spaces are full, please reschedule your visit. Do not park on neighboring properties.

Now you know. Many of these are tied into the other 6 principles as we will see later.

While this trail system is only four miles long, you don't have pack for the high peaks, it still is a good idea to bring along a couple of snacks, something warm to put on, a first aid kit and some water. just because you never know. In general it is always good over prepare within reason. My father always used to say that you cannot put on what you don't bring.

It is always better hike with someone even on a small preserve like the PKR again for safety's sake. If you don't, this is something that I am guilty of, you should always let someone know where you are and when to expect you back. This is very important. When I go up, solo to do tail work, my wife knows where, when, and how.

That is it for the first principal. As you can see this may be adapted and expanded to where you are going.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall at Pilot Knob Ridge

Finally made it up to the PKR after a month away. I missed this little preserve. I took some pics for you to enjoy.

You can see the mist on Lake George as there was frost on the pumpkin and the water is still a balmy 60 F. Anyone want to go swimming?

Here is a good example of why it is a good idea to hike at different times of the year. This is a 30 foot high rock face that is obscured when the leaves are out, but is as clear as day when the leaves have dropped. Another little feature of this marvelous preserve.

Here is a shot that shows some of the color this young hardwood forest offers.

Shot from the gazebo at early morning.

Here is an example of how the trail can disappear in the fall. You are looking up a well trod section of the blue trail and it is almost gone. If you look close in the picture you can see the blue trail markers. At this time of year it is good to keep a close eye on the trail markers. During the fall season sometimes the trail can vanish. This is also why you will notice that the PKR trails are a little over marked. There is a reason to our madness...sometimes.

Anyway the trails are great and this is a good time to be outside. Cool weather and no bugs. Also you can enjoy the army of grey squirrels scurrying through the leaves burying there acorns for winter use.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Early Bird Gets the Worm"

I am soo embarrassed. This is probably one of the busiest hiking weekends in the Adirondacks and I had planned on putting in a waterbar on the blue trail above the waterfall. I got up late and when I reached the parking lot at 9:30 it was full with no legal place to park.

I always get up early and never am on the trail later than 8:00 am. My mistake. I feel bad as I have not been on the PKR for three weeks and I am having withdrawals. I know that through this month that there is still a Stewards Assistance making sure the trails are in good shape at all the preserves, but still I was looking forward to going. Next week then.

I did make sure the kiosk was filled with guides and such.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall Foliage is at It's Peak!!!

The weather is going to be gorgeous this weekend and the leaves are just about at peak. It is a wonderful time to visit Pilot Knob Ridge or some other hike and get out and enjoy some of the best that the region offers without the crowds of the High Peaks. It is a cheap why to enrich your life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I will be back

I just made my last hike into the adirondacks and I will be back on patrol this coming weekend. I will have the kiosk stocked early Saturday for the hoard of leaf lookers who will hopefully visit this weekend

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blue Trail Clear!!!!!

Today during the special work outing at Cat and Thomas Mt's we were able to finally clear the Blue Ridge Trail that will make a loop hike at this preserve located in Bolton Landing NY much more enjoyable. This will mark the the third time I have been up on Cat and Thomas Mt to clear the blowdown from the ice storms last winter and with a last push from from a scheduled work day by the LGLC . Now I am happy to say that all of the trails are clear and ready for eager hikers.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sadly Summer is Coming to an End

I have not been able to hike Pilot Knob Ridge since August 2nd and I was very happy to see that the trails are in great shape after such a wet summer. I had re-supplied the kiosk with 50 trail guides on the Aug 25th, but when I arrived this morning the all the trail guides were gone…sorry. I went to check the logbook, but it looks like the Stewards Assistant for the LGLC has been by to collect them. I am interested as to the number of people that have hiked the PKR within the past two weeks.

You will notice a couple of brush piles up by the Gazebo, this is a very good thing. Some time in mid-august a group of teens under supervision hack and chopped some of the invasive shrubby honeysuckle that has contaminated this part of the preserve. They have put a dent in the problem, but there still is more work to be done. Since they have begun, I am going to try and cut a couple of honeysuckle each time I go up. It will take only a few moments and some wise man had said that a dipping faucet still fills the pail.

You will notice a difference in the woods along the B tr. if you are a regular. You will notice how quiet the woods have become. Sure you will hear a bird from time to time; in fact I heard a chipping sparrow that was pointed out to me on my Northville-Placid hike in to the West Canada Lake region of the Adirondacks. However, what is missing from this spring is the active pace that the woods seemed to have. Nothing wrong with that, as quiet is nice too. It is nice to hike this time of year as the days are cooler and the woods change so much from week to week.

Pilot Knob Ridge gets a sign Thanks Tony and Brett

Look at the leaves Fall is right around the corner!!!!!

A red eft, I was surprised to see this little guy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Been Camping

I have not been up on the PKR for a couple of weeks. I have been busy camping and scurrying around with end of the summer stuff. I am going up tomorrow evening to stock the literature at the Kiosk. We have a paid steward who is patrolling all the LGLC preserves and has indicated to me that the PKR is in good shape.

I was also informed that a group of teens, under supervision have begun to cut some of the shrubby honeysuckle that has invaded the gazebo clearing. That is the piles that you see. Just letting you know that is a good thing. I have been told that they made a good dent in this problem.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It rained...

...but I still took a spin on Pilot Knob Ridge today as I had not been there for a while and I need to take a walk around with all the rain that we have had lately. And yes it rained yet again today.

Are you sick of the rain?

Anyhow, today I went up to check the trails and to replace some trail marks that were poached. I just happened to take my axe with me just in case. Good thing I did as there was a fairly large maple down across the blue trail. It was taken care of. I also worked on an area on the orange trail just before the trail reaches the drive. On this section of trail there are a couple of sharp switchbacks and I found a herd path that was cutting them off. I blocked the herd path and placed a lot of natural debris on the trail to both make it disappear and to make it difficult to walk on.

I also found a few purple loose strife plants growing in this area and took care of them. Purple Loose strife is considered a very aggressive invasive plant, one that you don't want to see on a nature preserve.

That was it. The falls are flowing and the trails are in good shape.

When you hike the trails this time of the year you will notice a difference. The woods are alive, but quiet and not as busy. Almost calm as the forest is reaching maturity and many of the new born animals are reaching adulthood...the pace seems to lesson. Probably the increased availability of food the forest now provides has something to do with this. Or maybe it is that the weather being so hot just slows everything down so we all can stop and enjoy the perfume of nature in summer.

Monday, July 21, 2008


It has been hot and humid (and wet), but that has not stopped many of you from visiting the Pilot Knob Ridge preserve. I took a spin up there this weekend and everything looks great.

With all the rain that we have had lately, the waterfall at end of the blue trail will be flowing for a couple of days after the last storm.

Enjoy the view and the wildlife and thank you for helping me keep the trash off the trails.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A little Maintance.

Before I headed out for a short camping trip on Lake George I took a spin on the PKR trails (7.1.2008) and did a little work. I removed a tree that crossed the trail on the upper blue trail and I cut a little of the brush growing around the gazebo that was blocking some of the views. With a thunderstorm approaching I had to leave a couple of trees. I have removed most of what I set out to do...just enough to open the view to the lake from the gazebo. I left a lot of the other growth that is growing in the clearing. We have to remember that this is a Nature Preserve and any cutting is to the bare bones minimum.

So while you are there enjoy the view for a while at the gazebo, then go hike the blue trail, being very quiet and take pleasure in the wildlife that is all around you and the true gift that this little piece land gives us.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Appreciation of the Nature Conservancy and Adirondack Mounatin Club

I hiked Algonquin Mountain yesterday. To read about the experience click on this link Bakers Outdoors Page. One thing that I would like to briefly mention here is my increased appreciation for the Nature Conservancy. Volunteering for the LGLC I see first had the effort and the commitment that the Nature Conservancy has for preserving out natural resources. On top of Algonquin Mountain they, partnered with the DEC and the Adirondack Mountain Club have worked to restore the extremely fragile alpine environment that exists on this and other mountains in the Adirondacks. What I like about the Nature Conservancy and Adirondack Mountain Club is they provide a conduit to channel many people's desire to help into action. Not only by directly reseeding and working on the top of the mountain, but even in the simplest of ways by asking hikers to bring up a couple of fist sized stones. These stones are then placed by the more experienced volunteers and professionals in critical locations to create barriers and paths, that direct people where to place their feet and stop the erosion of valuable soil. The Nature Conservancy and The Adirondack Mountain Club pay to have a Summit Steward hike up and stand on the top of that mountain to educate people about the alpine environment, the Adirondacks and to generally help people, while politely keeping people off the delicate alpine fauna. Simple but a task that is gargantuan in execution and impact.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I checked on the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve today after the storms we had the beginning this week. The trails are clear. There is one tree down on the blue trail above the falls, but it really is not obstructing the trail. I will take care of it the next time up. I may be able to use the tree as part of a water bar that I need to install near where it fell... nature provides.

Although I brought a camera with me I didn’t take any pictures. I was too caught up enjoying the sites, sounds and smells that fill the air. There was, however, an orange newt that was all but begging me to take its picture, but Jake, my dog and trail companion was a little over heated and I had to hurry off the trails at that time.

I hope that you came up and enjoy the sites and sounds at the PKR.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Went to Cat and Thomas again!

I only went up to he PKR this weekend only to check on the kiosk. I didn't walk the trails. I had another urge this weekend to go back to Cat and Thomas mountains to attempt and finish what I began two weeks ago dealing with all the blow down on the orange and blue trails.

Let me say that I overestimated and underestimated some things. I overestimated how in shape I am (for 45 I am ok), and I underestimated how much wood I had to chop. I know have a little cheese with that whine.

I decided that I would work up the orange trail to the cabin and try and clear the road so hikers can walk in unhindered. I should have realized what I was getting myself into when the first log was a 14 " oak that I had to make two axe cuts in to clear. My first chop from my new razor sharp Snow Neally axe bounced off. I eventually (20 min later finished what I was set out to do) and lets just say that I was all warmed up. Fortunately, the rest of the dozen or so trees that blocked the path to the cabin were either pine or maple, both woods cut well and many were one cut removals.

I took a water and food break at the cabin and decided that even though the temp was about 88 and humid, that I had a little more to give and started down the blue trail. This is where the blow down was the worse. Many small trees and tree tops down across the trail, blocking the treadway. About 2 hours later, with only 0.5 mile left to clear I had too call it a day. It was real hot, I finished my fourth qt of water and was out and I was literally drenched in sweat. I thought that before I got hurt or sick that I had to give this one to the mountain. On my way to that point I even passed by some larger trees that can easily be stepped over and one that you have to duck under unhindered in order to save energy to remove those trees that blocked the tread. These I will get after the last half-mile is cleared.

Anyway, I was happy with the work that was done and I think that other then a couple of snags, that the blue trail will be more enjoyable for the hiker.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Time for Pilot Knob Ridge

I made it up to Pilot Knob Ridge today and was very happy to see from the trail logs that a lot of people came and visited this lovely place. Today I was not only checking the trail conditions, but I also added and replaced some trail markers. The post at the intersection of the blue and orange trails is marked correctly for as long as the trail marker poachers stay away.
The weather was warm, but comfortable, and all and all I had a very slow and enjoyable hike.
One sad note: As it has been a little dry, the waterfall has slowed to a trickle, but even so, walking up and viewing the rock formation at the falls is worth the trip.
For you birders out there. Any place along the blue trail would be an excellent spot to sit with binoculars and watch birds. I am not up on my bird song identification, but I can tell that there are a lot of different birds out there. I did see a pair of scarlet tanagers; the male was a gorgeous, brilliant red.

This is an example of some of the diverse habitat on the blue trail. This kind of open woods coupled with some of the fringe areas around this habitat provide a huge variety of food sources that supports a high diversity of plants and animals. This photo does not do it justice.

A view of Sandy Bay from the Gazebo. Summer is here as indicated by the boats moored there. You know the water temperature in 54 degrees Fahrenheit, so I bet that nobody is swimming...except a few brave souls.

This is my trail partner. His job is to keep me company, greet fellow hikers and watch over me. He preforms all his jobs flawlessly every time. By the way he really is not a bear, he just looks like one.

I know it is a spider with and egg sac, but it was big and interesting so I decided to photograph it.

This is grass growing out of the pavement of the drive that is part of the orange trail . Why oh why would I take such a boring picture? This ties into my essay on the positive points of the drive entailed A different look at the Driveway trail. This patch of grass demonstrats nature's resilience and strength, as simple as it is, this patch of grass will soon break up this section of pavement allowing larger plants to take root.

Had a great time today and it was nice to run into people along the trails.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Trail Work in Progress

I went up onto Cat Mountain very early this moring and cut blow down for nine hours. I was able to clear the yellow trails and only 1 mile into the blue trail. There still is about 1.25 mi left on the blue trail. I am not used to swinging an axe, so at 2:00 when I just finished cutting a large pine this dozer ran out of diesl. My legs got heavy and I started to get a headach in my forhead. With 3 miles to the van I decided enough was enough and finished for the day.

To some up the day...I had a blast!!!

Here are some pics from the top of Cat.

Don't forget to touch the disk when you climb the mountain

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tough Choice Tonight.

I would like to cruse Pilot Knob Ridge and work a little on the shrubby honey suckle infestation in the gazebo clearing, but I have an opportunity to work on the blue trail at Cat Mt. I have a rare entire day to do trail work and I think that given the state of that trail and that fact that we are at the start of the hiking season, that I will go there tomorrow. Before I go though I am going to stop at the PKR Kiosk and drop of a stack of trail maps.

We have had wet weather, but no bad weather since I last hiked the trails so I am confident that the trails are in good shape. I only have couple of trail markers to replace and the post at the gazebo clearing needs a couple of new markers, but these are minor fixes that can wait a week. I also would say that the waterfall is flowing well and will be worth a hike up to the falls.

Have fun

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Spent a Day on Cat and Thomas Mt in Bolton

With Pilot Knob Ridge in fairly good shape I was looking for something different so I decided to visit the Lake George Land Conservancy's Cat and Thomas Preserve this past Sunday. I am so glad I did on many levels. First, the views from the top of Cat Mountain are nothing short of stunning. Start early in the morning and get up there before 8:00 on a clear morning and you will be rewarded with a new and spectacular view of Lake George. This Sunday there was not one boat or wake of a boat to be seen and the water was like a blue placid crystal the way the sun had shone on it. The hike up is easy and only takes about an hour. Most of the distance is flat with a little up hill at the end.

I said that I was glad that I went up on many levels, well one of the other levels is that I ran into a large amount of blow down concentrated on the ridge trail (blue) that leads from Cat to Thomas. It was passable, but a little difficult to follow at times. I have contacted the LGLC and they are right now putting out a call for help and will shortly be organizing a work gang. I will attempt to clear some of the blow down within the next couple of weeks as my schedule allows. I was a little concerned that this may have happened as I have been hiking a lot in the Lake George Basin and there as been a lot of ice damage above 1500 feet. Some of the stories I have been reading are saying the same for the High Peaks. Even with the blow down, the blue trail is fun to hike. It is a true woods trail that are a bit of a rarity with all the hiking that is going on. It is marked with blue disks and cairns in spots and offers some interesting views from time to time.

I didn't bring my camera as I was afraid of a rain shower, but I want to bring it to show some of these interesting aspects of the blue ridge trail

Hike Cat and Thomas, just use care, keep an eye on your back trail and hike with a buddy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A little brushing today

I went up to the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve today to brush out the trail. Brushing the trail for the most part is taking a pair of limb loppers and cutting anything that falls with a 4x8 window with the center line of the trail. Like if you were carrying a door in front of you and cut anything that hits the door. Also, I had to cut away any new growth that blocked some of our trail markers. I did not have too cut much and the trails are for the most part dry and all clear waiting for hikers to enjoy it's winding spender!

Took a couple of pictures today something to show the kids to help motivate them to join you. I always find and see something every time I go out to visit the PKR.

This rock feature is located on the blue trail loop just up from the intersection at the falls. With a little imagination and story telling it could become a wood elf house. Okay I'm reaching, but I used to have to get creative with my kids.

This is one of many open wood areas that offer the birders a chance to see birds they are watching a little more upobstructed. I am not great at bird identification, but I heard a bunch of different calls today and saw a lot of movement as I worked up the trail. I think that if you are a bird watcher this would be a great place to sit and quietly watch the birds flit around in there quest to survive and thrive.

Saw this little nest right next to the trail. Looks like last years.

All in all it was another great day at the PKR. One sour note. At the beginning of the blue trail there is a 4x4 post with trail markers on it, well someone decided to take a couple of trail markers as souvenirs and the post my be a little confusing, so when you are at it just look around for the blue and orange markers to pick up the trails. You will spot them easily. I will fix it when I go up again within two weeks.

Oh, to leave on a positive note. My first waterbar that I put in on the blue trail above the falls worked great and held up to all the rain we had. I learned a lot for making that one and feel confident that I can construct more to help keep the PKR trails in good shape.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Signs of Spring

I went up the trails of the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve again today and took a couple of pics that are sure signs of spring.

The first wildflowers of the year. The image doesn't do them justice.

This for me is a view that I love. There is no ice on Lake George. Let the Summer begin!!!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A beautiful day for trail work.

I worked on some lingering trail work today. I missed going up to the PKR last weekend as the cold finally caught me. I removed two large fallen trees that were blocking the treadway and I placed a waterbar on the upper blue trail loop to attempt to remove some of the water from the trail and help slow a little erosion problem that is occurring there. This is my fist waterbar and I want to see how this works before I do another a little south of that one.

One thing I learned today is that there are a lot of rocks on the preserve. I never used the shovel, I had to did it all with a mattock.

Tomorrow I may have an opportunity to go back up and I plan to take some pics and work on the shrubby honeysuckle infestation at the gazebo clearing.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A different look at the Driveway trail

I would like to take a few moments to discuss one of the many unique features that the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve (PKR), located on the eastside of Lake George, has. I feel the need to talk about this attribute because I believe that many people, especially first time PKR hikers, are surprise and feel disappointed when they see it. I did. I have even read some trail accounts that mention this man-made feature negatively. What I am talking about is a short section of the orange trail loop that includes the original driveway which leads up to the gazebo clearing. What I would like to suggest to the hiker who walks on this path is that this driveway, gravel and macadam in spots, is that the drive has many benefits and lessons for the hiker if one takes some time to think about them. The drive provides us with an existing hardened surface to hike, an educational opportunity for adults and children, a reminder of why we have access to this land in the first place, and an opportunity for people who want to hike, but find the rocky uneven trails painful on their knees, a somewhat less taxing path to the views at the gazebo.

When I first hiked PKR last spring I headed up from the kiosk, as everyone does, and when I reached the first intersection on the orange trail loop I went to the right instead of going straight. I was greeted with a nice hike through some stunning open woods along a slope with a couple of sharp switchbacks. This led me out to what looked like an abandoned gravel road. I thought that I missed a turn, but then caught sight of an orange trail marker when I looked uphill. As I started up, the road turned from gravel to asphalt and back again, and I felt a slight disappointment as I walked on it. I wanted to go for a walk on a nice nature trail, not some paved road (only a very short section) in the middle of the woods. Before long I arrived at the gazebo clearing and took a moment to take in the beautiful views of Lake George and the surrounding mountains. The feeling of disenchantment had not left me until I decided to hike the blue trail, soon forgetting about the walk on the driveway. When I was done and had been to the waterfalls and completed all the loops of the trail system I was thinking less of the drive and more of what this little gem of a preserve provided me with. The PKR trails afford me a couple of hours of quiet hiking through open woods with chances to enjoy scenic views and opportunities to see and hear Adirondack wildlife. I had a wonderful trip.

Fast forward to September and I was looking at the Lake George Land Conservancy’s (LGLC) web site and asked them if I could become a volunteer Preserve Steward at the PKR. They thankfully allowed me into the program and I started hiking the trails each weekend. That is when my attitude about the drive began to change. When I had my first meeting with my contact at the LGLC, I mentioned my disappointment at the drive being part of the trail system. The gentleman that I met with said they considered rerouting the trail, but decided not to, due to the lack of better options. As I became more knowledgeable about trail building and maintenance, I realized that it would not be environmentally responsible to reroute the trail when you have a hardened trail already in existence.

I started to ask myself questions like why create yet another thread up to the clearing that could potentially erode? For that matter instead of abandoning the drive, I thought why not just reclaim it and turn it into a nice little foot trail? Again that would be environmentally irresponsible as it really would be a waste of energy, material, and labor when nature will eventually reclaim the trail anyway. During my first few weekends hiking this part of the trail, I realized that nature was already removing the drive and if you look you will see examples of this all the way up the trail: frost heaves, water erosion, plants encroaching onto the road and roots buckling the pavement in spots, just to name a few. In fact there is one spot on one of the switchbacks where I may have to fix a section before the entire drive is washes out. This drive provides a lesson in the persistence and permanence of nature. A lesson that can be taught to youngsters who are visiting the PKR and offers them an example of how nature acts and changes things that we mean to be permanent. There is something to be said when you see a tree sprouting from a crack in the pavement. So this driveway provides us with an educational opportunity as to how nature becomes part of the reclamation process. An example of how nature is at times the best “reclaimer.”

Another feature that this driveway provides the hiker with is that it reminds us of why this little jewel hidden away in the southern Adirondacks is allowed to be used by the public in the first place. The story that I heard was that the high cost of the drive alerted the authorities that the people who were building it may be getting their funds from illegal sources. After an investigation, the house, drive and all the land were confiscated and put into a trust. In other words, a person who is hiking and enjoying this property today can be thankful for the existence of the driveway.

One last benefit the drive offers is that it provides people who have trouble on steep uneven trails with a short respite from the pounding that trails can give ones joints. This route up allows people who normally would not be able to enjoy a preserve like the PKR an opportunity to hike up and have lunch at the gazebo while they wonder at the spectacular views a short walk up a hill can offer.

For some hikers this driveway that may take the “nature” out of the nature hike for a short section of the trail system; however, it really provides a solid logical tread up to the clearing without the loss of labor or material, it offers an example of how nature acts on man made structures, it gives us an example of some of the thoughts that go into the reclamation of lands, it reminds us why we are allowed on this property in the first place, and it even provides those with bad wheels a route up so they can enjoy one of the best views in the southern Adirondacks. These thoughts are what make me view and think of this drive in a much more positive way.

If you are still turned off to walking on the driveway, you can go straight at the lower orange trail intersection and just head down from the gazebo using the same path and not do the orange trail loop…but do the loop, the walk along the slope is worth it. I have seen a lot of wildlife there.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Early Spring

What a difference a week makes. Finally signs of spring. Last week the trails where either icy or covered with 12 inches of snow. Today, most of the snow is gone, the birds are singing and I saw 4 deer at the first orange trail intersection. Wonderful day to hike!!

This is a shot from the gazebo clearing at Pilot Knob Ridge. Look at the lake ice in the far center, see the space in the ice? The ice is beginning to break up.

This is very recent wood pecker activity found on the Blue trail.

Here is a view looking south away from the gazebo at the post that marks the beginning of the blue trail. The blue trail heads east (left in photo) from the post into the woods.

Last week the falls was encased in ice, now it is freely flowing and beautiful!

This is an impromptu fire pit at the gazebo clearing is the only bad thing that I found today. The trails are relatively clean of trash :-) Having a fire at the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve is not allowed by the Lake George Land Conservancy. The carbonized wood that you see from the remains of this fire will have to be raked up and scatted to hide the evidence that this fire existed. If I don't, this pile of carbonized wood will be around for a long time. Please remember that when you hike in any woods that you do not want to leave any evidence that you have been there. Even a seemly harmless fire in the winter scars the earth and will be visible for years.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Waterfall...the prize at the end of the journey

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Winter Wonderland a the PKR

While this winter seems to be lingering a little too long, still it has offered some stunning days. Today was one of them. I had an opportunity to hike the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve today and was greeted with an early spring wonderland. The trees and forest floor were covered with a little new snow from the day before and when you add the bright cloudless day to that you are left with a brisk mix of wintry splendor.

There is something wonderful that happens when you enter into a woodland with a fresh layer of snow. Rock formations seem to pop out at you when contrasted against the clean snow. Today I noticed a couple of interesting ones on the last half of the blue trail. Also, you notice the movements of animals as they get through their day. I cut a fox trail and I saw where an owl or hawk captured a small rodent. Some of this would have been missed if I didn’t go hiking because I was sick of the cold and snow.

The trails seem better, but still a little tricky when descending. I caught myself a couple of times with my hiking pole. A one nice thing (of many today), I was able to park in the parking lot. Maybe that can be counted as an official sign of spring. There is enough room for about 4-5 vehicles.

The waterfall was still a big block of ice, but the water is surging underneath…it is just a matter of time.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

LGLC Owl Prowl

This last Saturday the LGLC had a program called the Owl Prowl that they originally scheduled at Pilot Knob Ridge, but due to icy trail conditions decided to hold the program at the Cat and Thomas Preserve on the west side of Lake George in Bolton Landing.

Our leader took us in to the preserve at twilight to a few locations that she had called owls before and had us wait off the trail, quietly, while she tried different owl calls. She was attempting to have them call back and hopefully get them to fly in and investigate. She explained that this time of year owls were beginning to pair up and mate for the season and by using certain calls they are more likely to call back.

We stopped at a few spots along the trial from the kiosk to a point about 0.75 miles in. Now while we didn’t have any luck, it gives you a different perspective being in the woods after dark on a clear night. The stars were beautiful and while the moon had not risen yet, the woods were still illuminated by the bright star lit sky. I camp in the late spring and summer and know what it is like to be in the woods after dark, but I don’t go camping in the winter and this experience just reminds me on how different and beautiful the woods look at different times of the day and year.

If you get a opportunity to go on a program run by the LGLC…go you will learn something

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The 2008 Season has begun

I had a pleasant surprise today. I went up to the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve to check on the kiosk and to see how much snow was left on the parking lot, and to my surprise the snow banks had melted away from the road enough for me to park off the road on the shoulder. So I took the opportunity and went on my first patrol of the 2008 season. With all of the storms that we had I really wanted to at least cruise the orange trail to make sure that it was reasonably clear for the Owl Prowl next Saturday, March 22, 2008 (To sign up please contact theLGLC’s Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Hoffman, at 518-644-9673 or email Pre-registration is required for this event). Well, not only was I able to walk the orange trail, but I hiked the blue trail also!

With the exception of one tree down across the trail on the blue trail near the waterfall, the trails are all clear!!! You can hike all the trails without snow shoes or creepers, but there are some icy spots and you are going to want to make sure your boots are waterproof. I also would recommend hiking to the Gazebo on the orange trail that goes up to the left at the first trail intersection and come down the old drive from the Gazebo.

The waterfall is beautiful, with some nice ice flows; it really is worth the hike in. Be careful where the trail crosses the stream as the rocks are icy and the water is 3’ deep in spots. There are plenty of stepping stones to get across, just use care.

Next time up I will bring my camera and post some images.

While I didn’t see any wildlife, I did see plenty of sign. There are plenty of deer on the PKR, as well as red fox as evidenced by the fresh trail I cut across on the blue trail. I also spotted an antler rub from this past fall that I had missed on my excursions during this past fall. It just further illustrates that even if you hike the same area time and time again that you will always see something different when you go for a nice hike.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Still Here, but not Hiking yet

The parking lot is under 3 feet of snow at the Pilot Knob Ridge Preserve so I still have not had the opportunity to patrol. I am planning of getting up there as soon as the snow allows to assess the trail conditions and make the repairs that I can so that you can have a nice time enjoying the many surprises that this jewel of a preserve offers.

Will keep updating

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Parking Lot Not Plowed

I went to hike and patrol Pilot Knob Ridge, but the lot was not plowed and I didn't feel comfortable parking on the edge of the road. Too bad as I brought my snowshoes and was looking forward to a nice little snowshoe trip.

The preserve is used a lot during the season and it would be nice for the wildlife to have a break for a couple of months.

I will check throughout the winter and post any changes