Saturday, December 8, 2012

Morgan Mountain

When I checked the weather last night, it looked like the morning would bring rain and freezing drizzle throughout the Adirondacks, which was a little disappointing.  I had hoped to make a quick hike into Cooper Kiln Pond, but without snow as a base, freezing drizzle would not make for a good day.

I guess I'm not one to pay a lot of attention or listen to reason.  Waking up, I decided if I could get to the trailhead before the rain was supposed to start, I could figure out the rest.  I got to the trailhead really early, about an hour and a half before sunrise.  Great, right?  Beat the rain, right?  Sure did, there was no sign of rain.  I had all day, there was no sense hiking in the dark, so I climbed into the back of the CR-V and took a nap.  Definitely not the Hilton, but it was comfortable enough for an hour and a half.

All was good when I woke, no freezing drizzle or even any rain.  I headed up the trail, which wasn't too bad, real level and wide.  It ended up it was a snowmobile trail.  That would make a good snowshoe, but was turning into a little bit of tedium.  So at about 1 mile, I decided I needed a change and took a left instead of a right and headed up.

I spent the next two hours following a (mostly) dry stream bed.  The path meandered through a few glens, but was mostly heavily wooded.

All along the way, just down a small ravine to my left was a nice flowing stream.  The sound of it being there was very relaxing and comforting.

While it was a great hike up, there were no scenic vistas for stunning mountain photos.  I did enjoy every moment and all of the views along the way.

No matter how many miles or how many hikes, each all seem to have one thing in common; that one partridge that decides to explode out from under a pine tree.  I won't write the words I spoke.

I spent the entire hike up in a nice snow, following a set of prints that belonged to an animal of the canidae family.  I couldn't be sure exactly what it was other than that, but it wasn't too far in front of me.  The tracks were almost as fresh as mine in the new fallen snow.

One of the very interesting things was actually finding the origin of the stream that had been down the ravine!

Following the stream bed back down, after a pretty steady snow, followed by a nice warm sun, the trail was pretty muddy.  There were no falls, many slips, but no falls.  At one point, when I turned to look behind, I could see the back side of the range that includes Whiteface.

At the end of it all, it was a great hike and a great day in the woods.  I did put Cooper Kiln back on the list, probably for more of a snowshoe day or maybe even a summer day, who knows.  As far as I can tell, it will be there for me when the time is right.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jay Mountain

There had been a notice in the paper saying the DEC had completed improvements on the trail to Jay Mountain.   The trail is 2.5 miles from trailhead to peak and I had never hiked Jay, so I cut the article out and filed it away.  Yesterday turned into the day to pull the article and hit the trail.

I like to get to the trailhead at dawn.  I always allot myself 1 mile per hour for hikes, which is real conservative, but starting early and using that travel rate gives me a lot of options for the hike.  There are times I want to amble, going off trail for a while to explore and there are times when I want to be able to see the highlights, have a meal at the peak and get back home to do family time.

The night before I assemble all the gear on the kitchen island with the exception of water so in the morning, I can throw everything into the backpack and head out the door.

I arrived at the trailhead at 8:30, about an hour after sunrise.  There were no cars in the parking area, it was about 30 degrees and the sky was grey.  The weather had predicted a chance of snow and I had driven through a bit of sleet/snow mix, so I was prepared for a dull, overcast day.

The trail started out and continued at a steady, moderate grade, always climbing, but not too strenuous.  Don't get me wrong, it's not an easy stroll in the park!

One advantage to hiking after the leaves have fallen is you can see what the hike might be like when the trees are full.  As I hiked along, it was clear that there would be few places to go off trail to get good views from overlooks.  The first mile and a half, are in forest and it seemed the trail would be enclosed and in full canopy.  To be sure, I'll try it out in a different season, but at least I know what to expect.  At about this point, it becomes more of climb, still on a dirt trail.

Near the top, the trail splits, with the one with the trail markers going to the left and a short climb to a peak and the one to the right continuing somewhere.  I checked my GPS and the one to the right lead to the official peak of Jay Mountain, so I headed right.

By this time, it was windy with a cold snow/sleet mix and I had to put my sun glasses on to stop the steady pelt from stinging my eyes.

This trail was unmarked, but visible, so no difficulty in following, with cairns as a guide.  After a hike through a small col, I came to a wonderful overlook.  I can only imagine what the valley will look like in full fall colors!

I continued along to the peak of Jay (3,600ft/1,097M) and spent a little time there.  It was snowing too hard and too windy to get any pictures or spend any time, so I headed back to the split and up to that peak.

On this peak, I got a few good pictures (below) and decided it was a god place to eat lunch.  Unfortunately, I could only eat the cheese and sandwich because everything else was frozen.  Still, a good lunch.  Shortly after I started to eat, I was engulfed in a snow squall with some pretty significant wind, making it time to head off the peak.

This is my favorite picture.

Heading down was fairly straightforward and uneventful, no photo opportunities, but I was a little stuck as the hose for my water bladder had froze, so I drank my orange juice.

Getting back to the car, I realized it was one of the very few hikes I've taken where I didn't see another human being.  I like hiking alone, but do enjoy meeting other hikers on the way to exchange thoughts on the day or just say hello.

All-in-all a very nice hike, one that I will take again, both in the warm season and in the snow.

A New Direction

It's been a long time since my last post.  I'm looking to begin posting again, most likely in a little different direction.  A little less aggression and a little more personal reflection.  I hope that someday future family members will read what I write and be proud of me and my personal accomplishments.  I'll be adding notes soon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Numbers Don't Add Up

I recently asked my elected official to vote yes on an item that would close the loophole for fracking wastewater.  The response is pasted below.


The Department of Environmental Conservation has completed an extensive study on hydrofracking and recently released the Department’s final recommendations.  The regulations are among the most stringent in the country, and all permits will be closely evaluated and monitored by DEC.

The DEC rules will give drillers access to about 85% of the Marcellus Shale allowing companies to resume low-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas wells.  The recommendations specifically prohibit high volume hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale field in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds including a buffer zone.

Low volume hydrofracking has been safely employed in New York since the 1940’s.  The DEC has provided successful oversight of these natural gas wells for more than 60 years, and I have confidence in the Department’s ability to continue appropriate review of this industry.

According to NYSERDA, there are 4,500-5,000 people employed in the well drilling industry.  Prior to the recent moratorium, there were 670 wells drilled in 2008 and 580 drilled in 2009 in the Medina shale alone.  These wells average 3,200 feet deep and require less that 75,000 gallons of water for hydrofracking.  By comparison if wells were to be hydrofracked in the Marcellus-Utica shale, the wells average 10,000 feet, require millions of gallons of water and involve horizontal drilling.

Allowing low-volume hydrofracking to resume will not only save our state about 5,000 jobs but will also result in annual investments in oil and gas wells of approximately $25 million.  In addition New York will collect over $1 million in local community real property taxes, about $5 million in royalty payments and over $1 million in fee revenue.  In fact some upstate business groups project the drilling will create 15,000 jobs and generate $1.7 billion in economic activity.

All of us recognize the state’s responsibility to preserve our water sheds and environment.  The responsibility must be reasonably implemented as the state also has a responsibility to preserve and create new jobs and economic development.  I believe DEC has found the appropriate balance at this time as the Department continues to study the viability of high-volume hydrofracking.  The Governor has appointed a 13 member Advisory Panel of experts including people from environmental groups to assist DEC in its final evaluations taking place over the next several months.

I realize this is an unusually long response, but I believe the importance of this issue must be fully explained.  For more information, you may want to read the entire report at

Thank you for sharing your views with me, and please feel free to contact me at any time.

Now, I didn't ask for opposition to fracking (at least not in that letter).  I asked that a yes vote be recorded to close the loopholes in the disposal of wastewater (A.7013/S.4616).

I'm not new to reports and data, so I looked real quick at the numbers.  According to this response, we currently have an upward total of 5,000 jobs in the well drilling industry.  Assuming that all the wells in New York are those that were drilled in 2008 (670 wells) and 2009 (580 wells), there would be a total of 1,250 wells.  That's 4 jobs for each well.  But those wells were in the Medina shale alone, so if there are more that 1,250 wells, it's less that 4 jobs per well.

It's further stated that allowing fracking will create 15,000 jobs.  At 4 jobs per well, that would equate to 3,750 new wells.  Really?

As I said, I see reports daily.  I always ask does the report make sense?  If the numbers benefit the person that gave them to me, show me the raw data.  I took a quick look at the 2009 DEC report (the latest available) and found the following on wells in New York:

All reported wells  14,512
Active wells 
  • Natural Gas - 6,628
  • Oil - 3,401
  • Gas Storage - 953
  • Solution Salt - 108
Based on this and the NYSERDA estimate of 5,000 current jobs, and just using active natural gas wells, how do we get to 15,000 jobs? 

All this and we still have the unaddressed issue of what is going to be done with the highly toxic wastewater at a minimum of 75,000 gallons per well.

Maybe my numbers don't add up either, but then, I'm not the expert.  The fact that we can't get the real numbers on paper is a fracking shame. 

Just saying.... 

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I have always been told there are only two things in life that are certain; death and taxes.  Now I'm beginning to wonder.

It seems that, if you are a millionaire or billionaire, you can avoid taxes.  Can you imagine having a net worth of over $1,000,000,000 and being able to pay fewer taxes than someone that makes less than $100,000 a year?  Way too cool.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hold it against someone for making that many zeros; to get there, you or someone in your family has to be pretty savvy.  It's not wrong to try making as much money as you can, that's what we all want.

Making that many zeros means you don't have to worry about things like Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare.  You also get to hire a bunch of people (with a lot less zeros, by the way) to make sure you get to keep your zeros and  not have to give many away to help support those inferior zero makers.  If those that make less than 5 zeros can't ever stop working, that's their problem.

Doesn't it seem kind of odd that a lot of the people making the tax laws that limit the amount of taxes on the very wealthy fall within the laws that limit or exempt taxes?  Or, if they don't fall within the very wealthy category, large percentages of their campaign contributions come from those that are?

It would seem that those that make zeros have pretty much gotten their tax part solved.  Now, GOP, about that death thing.

Just saying...

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Yeah, Well"

It seems that every child has a built in reaction to getting into trouble.  Usually it's "Yeah well, Jimmy made me do it", or "Yeah, well Mary does it".  As adults, we try to teach our children to be responsible for their own actions and often respond "Yeah, well if Jimmy (or Mary) jumped off a bridge, would you?".

Adults will say to their children, "Yeah, well you made the mess, you clean it up".  But our actions don't support our words.  We deny we made the climate mess and blame it on someone or something else.  Sure, as an example, volcanic activity spews greenhouse gasses and particulates into the air.  When the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajohull erupted, people said to me "Yeah, well there goes all your green efforts", like this one eruption explained the increase in greenhouse gasses for the past century.  Any number of natural phenomena or events will cause an increase or decrease in the natural CO2 level.  But those changes take place over a period of time that allows for the natural dispersion of the greenhouse gasses.  We have concentrated millions of years of this into less than 200 years and the Earth can't keep up.

Earlier this week, I was tasked with bringing disposable cups to a barbeque.  I spent a good deal of time going through the different options and settled on one that, if not reused, was at least recyclable.  Knowing that the waste service where the barbeque was being held didn't accept this type of product for their recycling program, I offered that any cup that was not going to be reused, I would take home and recycle it with my provider.  When I responded to a question as to why, their response was rather unsettling, "Yeah well, I'm not going to be here when it happens anyway, so why should I care".

There are any number of things we can do to fight climate change and we should care.  We did make this mess and we are responsible.  With the youth movements that are currently taking place, I can almost hear them saying "Yeah, well you made this mess and now I have to clean it up".  It's not right.

Just saying...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Choice or Circumstance

I am always glad to leave the city, but it's also bittersweet. Although last night was short, as is typical, a little of my last night is spent walking the streets, looking at the sights, watching the people and listening to the sounds of a city.

I'm not sure why I am so mesmerized by city life. At home, I enjoy going into the backyard, listening to the night and looking at the stars. In the city, there are no stars and very few sounds of nature. Sure, there are birds that fly around now and then, but it's mostly traffic and artificial light. Still, it has a beauty of it's own.

I think a part of it is the fact that I can get lost in the crowd. There's no one that knows you, your problems, your cares or your worries. It doesn't seem to matter if you're rich, but people certainly know if you are poor or homeless.

While walking early one morning, I made a phone call and, as is habit, wore my ear buds so I didn't have to hold the phone to my ear. To keep the ear bud cord from catching on anything, I snake it under my shirt and carry the phone in my pants pocket. As I was talking on the phone, I guess it looked like I was talking to my self and laughing occasionally. The looks and obvious avoidance was amazing.

In contrast, this morning, I was clean shaven and freshly clothed, carrying my shoulder bag. Although not on the phone, I was listening to some music, ear buds fashioned in the same manner as the day before. I had to pass through a movie set, which I had done several times this week. I was stopped twice and asked, somewhat excitedly, if I was a part of the movie crew.

Yesterday, people avoided me, today I was thought to be a somebody. The only difference being a plastic shopping bag versus a Coach shoulder bag and fresh travel clothes as opposed to old jeans and a shirt.

Arguably, what we are comes down to choice or circumstance. I met a girl, a security guard at the convention center, and we were talking. She was asking about the places I had been. As I described some of the cities on the west coast, mid-western and southern states as well as England, she said someday she'd like to go places, but for now, she couldn't. She explained that she was a single mother, that her child's father had been murdered and she needed her money to take care of her child. Her's was a circumstance, not a choice.

I met a very well traveled and intelligent man that worked as a bellman. He chose that line of work. He was a wonderful jazz pianist (we snuck onto the 17th floor and he played the baby grand for me). But it was his choice to work as a bellman and have the freedom to play his music rather than be tied to a job that didn't allow him that freedom.

It's a habit of mine to search out the real people of a city and engage them. I know I'm not perfect, I am sometimes too quick to judge and need to take a moment to ask myself, is it choice or circumstance. But then, what difference does it make, we are what we are. While talking to the security guard, I told her I had spent Sunday afternoon at a gay rally. She was surprised, but said "you really don't judge people, do you". I always try not to.

Just saying....

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