07 December 2009


7 December 2009

The Adirondack Council has taken upon itself the Herculean task of trying to document the ATV damage to roadless areas in the Adirondacks Park. Surprisingly, after being in New York for so many years, only recently have I become familiar with this magical space. My first adventure was with the Northeast Wilderness Trust in an effort to save a large parcel of land from development on the Canadian border, ensuring connectivity between the Adirondacks and northern forests.

The Adirondacks is a mixture of public and private lands, set up as a park in 1892, after Verplanck Colvin proposed a bill to the legislature.

In the summer of 2008, at a friend’s suggestion, I flew with Lighthawk to shoot the old industrial scars in the park. This fall, I took a group of students into those same sites on the ground. I’m always game to take up sword against windmill, so with Bob Keller, Lighthawk’s indomitable environmental aviator, and John Davis from the Council, we lofted into the wild blue. On these projects, one is always throwing dice with the weather, and we had been trying to do this for a year, only to be clouded out at the last minute each time. This was no exception, and in a call the night before, Bob had expressed concern that an approaching weather front might trap us in the high peaks. Since I had to take a dawn train from NYC to Schenectady to meet him, mine was the longest trip of the day. But given the three previous aborted efforts, I prevailed that we should take the gamble, and we agreed that if his morning weather check sounded ominous, he could call me and I would just detrain and go back to NYC.

When we rendezvoused, the weather looked hazy-to-cloudy and the front was still in southern NJ, so we decided to move with dispatch, and bypass the paper mill nearby on which I had set my heart of adding to my collection.

It was a windy day, but in this case on our rear quarter, so we were quick getting up to Saranac Lake to get John, where we conferred on objectives and route, and groused about the weather. I’m just the idiot picture maker in the gang, and both of them knew the area, so this was their department. After a final bathroom pit-stop, we boarded, straightened out all gear, and took off. Bob, with whom I have flown many similar missions, and who keeps an immaculate plane, had recently burned a flat spot on his tire, which leads to slightly bumpy take-offs and landings, so I took great pleasure in teasing him about it through the day.

Adirondack high peaks (note the striated air pollution)

No comments: