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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Silver Lake Mountain 5-21-2011


I did my first hike of the year on 5/21/11. It was a beautiful day, some clouds in the sky, high 60's, and for once it wasn't raining here in the Adirondacks. The hike all started around 2:30ish when me and my girlfriend decided that we wanted to get out of the house and do something. So my first reaction was "Let's go on a hike." We were thinking an easy hike since it was our first of the year, we didn't want anything too strenuous as our first trip out into the wilderness. So I did a quick search on Google for Day Hikes in the Adirondacks and came across a wonderful PDF file called Adirondack Great Walks & Day Hikes (http://www.visitadirondacks.com/pdf/greatwalks.pdf) I checked the map index and went with a section close to me, section 7. After clicking on page 7 to view the places near me the first one sounded pretty good. It's labeled easy 1.8 miles round trip; Silver Lake Mtn. So we make the decision that is where we are going.

So me, her and her daughter all gather a few things for our hike. Since I just got a new hiking bag for day hikes I wanted to use it, so I loaded it with two Nalgene bottles filled with water, a knife, a compass, a long sleeved shirt for my girlfriend, and one for her daughter. I also had my camera in the bag, and 3 flashlights, two of which were headlamps and one was a flashlight with a red strobe light and a siren on it (supposed to be use in car emergencies but figure it'll work good in the woods too). My girlfriend had packed her camera gear in her hiking camera bag, included her camera, lenses and her tripod. Her daughter, well, she had a hiking stick that I gave her that my grandpa made. We made a trip to Gander Mountain in Plattsburgh to grab a couple things, and I finally grabbed a magnesium fire starter which of course I didn't have to use, but I gave it a shot. I believe I need a wee bit more practice before I get lost and need to use it.

So we arrive at Silver Lake Mountain. We pull in and start grabbing out gear out of the trunk of the car. I had a couple more walking sticks so we each had one to make hiking a tad bit easier. My girlfriend and her daughter grab their bug nets and bug spray and put it all on. I was without a bug net but I had spray that I used, and I used a lot. The bugs were mean and came in swarms. It wasn't a windy day so there was no breaks from them unless you kept moving, but as soon as you would stop they would swarm you, getting in your ears, eyes, mouth, nose, and if they couldn't get to your orifices then they would go for any exposed skin just to annoy you. We had all worn long sleeves and pants to be protected, but it was so hot we were constantly tempted to go short sleeved.

Anyway, at the beginning of the trail we stopped before even entering the trail because of my girlfriend wanted to get some pretty pictures of the trillium that was right at the trail head. So while she did that I did what I have done best since I was a little kid, I searched for amphibians. I don't care what kind, frog, toad, salamander, I'm hunting for it, I want to see it! So I turn over a long, nothing, I go to turn over another log and I hear a rustle in some leaves so I look over, there's a baby Wood Frog standing on some... you guessed it, some wood and leaves.


After enjoying the pleasure of seeing it, holding it, showing to my girlfriend and her daughter, then releasing it back into the spot I saw it and taking a picture of it I continued on my hunt. I turn over a couple more logs not finding much of anything other than slugs, centipedes, millipedes, and ants with red thorax's (not up on my ant species so if anyone knows please let me know). All of a sudden I turn one over and find a newt, an orange salamander with red spots on it's back. I've seen these type of salamanders all my life, they have always been one of my favorites, probably because of how often I see them and how docile they are. Usually when you tip over a log or a rock and find one they don't run away, they just stay right there. These newts are the babies, and grow into darker brown color as adults and spend most of their time in or around water. It's not unusual to find these young ones far away from water. They usually lay their eggs in temporary water holes so as not to be eaten up by fish and turtles. Now mind you I've lived in the Plattsburgh area for around 6 years and have not been able to spot a single one of these for some reason with all the searching I've done for them. So I was overly excited about this find although there are still many salamander species which I am looking for.


Then after I was done with my salamander hunt and my girlfriend was done with her picture taking and her daughter was done admiring the things around us we finally made our trek up the mountain. It started off decently, not too steep but steep enough. After a few minutes of that it started to go on a bigger incline than I expected. I was thinking back to the pdf I was looking at and wondering if this is really something they should have labeled as easy. I would have considered it a moderate hike personally. If I had known that I probably wouldn't have forced all of us out of shape from sitting around during winter people up it. We hiked and hiked, then we stopped and rest and fought the black flies, then we'd get up and hike and catch a break from the flies only to take a rest and get bombarded again. The trail at first wasn't too muddy, but as we made our way up it seemed to get quite muddy in some spots. Spots where the trail seemed to have been washed away from all the rain we've had the past month we could see rock bed underneath. I would say the mountain at times got as steep as Poke-O-Moonshine does and that ones listed as moderate hike. I do not believe the mountain has an open summit as I didn't see one, but then again we may have called it quits a bit early on the trail. Although there were some open rock faces with some good views although they were slightly obstructed by trees. On the hike up I had seen numerous orange newts just hanging out on the rock beds of the trail. Go figure I haven't seen one in years and now all of a sudden it's raining newts. We all admired them for a while. We stopped at one rock face and took a rest and when we all sat down a baby toad started hopping around. So of course we got pictures and I couldn't resist holding 'em because I'm obsessed with amphibians.







During one point of the hike I had my girlfriend and her daughter stay behind at one rock face while I ventured up higher to see if it was worth getting them to meet me up there. So I walked up the trail a bit further and started having to do a little bit of rock climbing, got to a flat landing and saw no sign of trail or a way to get much higher. I figured it wasn't worth them getting up there since the view wasn't any better where I was and it was quite difficult, had me extremely winded. So I went back down to where they were and we headed back down the trail. Since gravity was working with us it was a bit easier and seemed like a tiny mountain for as quickly as it took for us to get to the bottom.



We put all our stuff back in the car and went to leave. Across from the parking area is a dirt road called "Island Road" which I couldn't resist taking a drive down. We got to a spot that was cleared out and had some ferns that weren't quite in bloom yet, they still looked a bit like a fiddle head. Then we took some pictures of Silver Lake, the Island on Silver Lake, the sunset behind the mountains, and I decided to grab a quick picture of the mountain we had hiked up.






Click for large Panorama of Silver Lake



On the way home it was getting dark, it was around 8:30 and we came across a field that was covered in some very low lying fog and an old barn. We stopped and got some pictures of that, then we finally made our way home.


Click for large Panorama of low lying fog and barn


All-in-all it was a great hike although it wasn't what I would consider easy for anyone out of shape or even for anyones first hike of the year. I would say it's more of a moderate hike. Definitely a good one with some pretty good views and if you're more adventurous you may find a way around the spot I stopped at and called it quits at. I have a feeling this is going to be a summer filled with hiking. Which means this blog is going to be overflowing with my Adirondack adventures.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Winds on a Flooding Lake Champlain

Today the wind is blowing like crazy along Lake Champlain. I love living near the lake, I can go down and watch a sunset behind some mountains; I can go down fishing or swimming without having to get in the car and drive somewhere. I don't live on the lake but I live damn close to it.

Anyway, Lake Champlain is quite high. In the 6 years I've lived here I've never seen it as high as it is right now. We get big waves on the lake from time to time but when it's this high it's quite cool to see. I saw that the road that leads to my house was closed due to waves washing debris up onto the road. There were branches, barrels, large plastic objects that I had no idea what they were, and enough sticks to build a hut laying on the side of the road. They had a plow truck literally plowing all this stuff off of the road and onto the side, then they had what looked like other people scooping up the debris into another truck. So I decided to get some videos and a few pictures of the really high lake, big waves, and the clouds. Enjoy.









Turn down volume before playing. The wind is loud.







Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day

To read my article about Earth Day, go to my astronomy blog post about Earth Day and it's history - http://adirondackastro.blogspot.com/2011/04/my-favorite-planet-earth-happy-earth.html

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Japan's Killer Quake

If you don't have PBS NOVA or haven't caught the video about Japan's Killer Quake check it out, you will be glad you did. I plan on watching it again sometime in the near future. Lot's of interesting information and footage of the quake and tsunami. There's one major plus to current technology of cell phones and cameras being compact enough to have with you at all times. It really brings you to the heart of any situation and lets you see from the viewers perspective instead of just hearing about it like we did before all of this technology.

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.



It is a great video showing the earthquake and the tsunami and the damage it did. It's really amazing how destructive a tsunami can be. My heart goes out to those in Japan who had to suffer through all of this and that are still suffering due to the damage.

Not only the damage the earthquake and tsunami caused but also the continuing damage being caused by the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Isn't it about time that everyone take this into consideration for finding a better source of power? Is it really worth it to take this risk? It's made me especially worried due to Vermont Yankee power plant which has renewed it's contract, and isn't the most stable. Recently they have found minute traces of radioactive material here in New York and Vermont due to Fukushima. If we are getting minute traces due to Japan imagine one happening pretty much in your own backyard. Sure it's a great source of energy when they work good, but when it starts to go it spells TROUBLE!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

WATER WATER WATER!!!!!

What you are about to read is a long story and I'm not going to shorten it up; that would take all the fun out of telling it.

Before I get into my situation I just want to say my heart goes out to those in Japan dealing with the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant. Glad my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew are here in the states instead of over in Japan. Hope that any Japanese-American trying to contact friends or relatives in Japan get through to their loved ones.

Alright, now to my story, an in-the-house tsunami of sorts. Thursday night I come home from work same as any other night; I get home, let the dog out, go to the computer room, and start looking at all my glorious internet stuff. Check facebook, twitter, news, astronomy forums, and all the usual stuff. Talk about the work day with my girlfriend, and just enjoy that it's the beginning of my weekend. Three days off, I love it! Sounds lovely right? Well of course it does, the night is going smooth and relaxing and work is over; who wouldn't be happy about that?

All of a sudden after a few seconds of the heat kicking on the gf says "I think I hear water," so I shut off the music I was listening to so I can see if I can hear it. Yup there's the water noise. Wasn't thinking much of it since it was about 40°F outside and the 3+ feet of snow we have is melting at a speed incomprehensible by the human mind, figured it was just water dripping outside. Ok, it wasn't melting that fast, but still quite fast. So I looked in the register vent and there it was WATER, yes water, enough water to live off of for a year. So I go around the house checking every vent, I know they're all going to be just as full, but what kind of man would I be if I didn't check all of them? At this point I start to panick a little. I mean it's 40° but that's not exactly warm, and with all the water in the vents it's probably not the smartest idea to run the heater, even if it is a good idea it's not going to do a whole lot of good with warm air bubbling through extremely cold melt water. At this point the gf is on the phone with the landlords informing them on the situation at hand here. Within an hour the landlord is here with a helper to help clear snow off the roof and try to suck the water out of the vents with a shopvac. I had gone out to the garage before they got here to grab my tiny little 4.5gallon shopvac and as I step out I'm up to my shin in freezing cold water; I wasn't really expecting that since 3 hours beforehand when I came home from work it was snow on outside the door not a small pond. I think to myself "well this would explain why we have water in the vents."


Let me take you back to the past real quick to last year. We had water in the vents around the time we needed to start using the heat. The landlord had sent the same helper over to vacuum out the vents and spray a bit of bleach in there to prevent any mold buildup. Also had a guy patch a small crack near the chimney on the roof where there was a bit of water leaking in. The girlfriend had informed him that we didn't think that the water in the vents had anything to do with the crack near the chimney, and that we need this method to try and detour the water from the house. Of course my girlfriend being a girl, and the guy she's talking to is a guy and a professional at what he does he doesn't believe she knows what she's talking about. Which of course she completely knew what she was talking about. The water was entering the slab flooring underground through a crack and entering our vents. As you may have guessed nothing was really done about this situation because of the guys stupidity.

Now back to the present. Thursday night after shoveling off the roof and attempting to clear water from the vents for a few hours and making no progress, they called it a night. But they had given us a space heater to use for the night. I had brought up the previous information to the landlord for him to look into, although I don't know how possible that method is to do with 3 feet of snow and frozen ground. He had a couple ideas, that being one of them. Glad we were all finally on the same page. It was late so they told us they'd be back the next morning to continue the process and to get it all cleared out.

Friday morning about 9:30-ish the helper comes over again to try and vacuum the water out of the vents. This time he came with a little sump pup to pump water out of the vent in the bathroom and drain into the tub. Great idea! As that was set up and running he went outside and started clearing a path for the water to flow from the house, down the driveway, into the road, down the road, and into a water runoff drain. He spent quite a few hours out there doing that with nothing but a shovel and a hammer. We lack the proper tools to do anything useful and he didn't expect to be doing that so he didn't have the tools to do anything like that so it took him quite a while. When I say quite a while I'm talking he was out there from roughly 10:30-3:30/4 creating a nice path for the water to flow. Worked like a charm, the water had started draining out (and still is as I'm typing this now a day after making the path for the water). After he had completed that and we sat around bullshitting a little bit while the water drained he decided he was going to vacuum water out of the vent in the bathroom along with the sump pump running at the same time. Twice as much water being dumped means quicker relief of a flooded slab heating vent. We took a measurement in one vent with a ruler, the water was at about 7" high before the sump pump and before the vacuuming. He spent the remainder of the night in the bathroom vacuuming, dumping, and repeating from about 5-8:30/9 until he finally had enough and needed to call it quits. Well you know how I said we started at 7" of water? Well after all the pumping, detouring the water, and vacuuming we only got down to 3.5" in the vent. HOLY CRAP BATMAN! So we went another night without our main heat going. Had a space heater in the kids room to keep her nice and toasty, and we left the other heater in the living room and me the girlfriend and the dog closed ourselves in our bedroom hoping to keep our body heat in there and keep us warm. It worked decently but we would have loved to have had actual heater heat.

Saturday morning here we are, the landlord and his helper stop by to install Econo-Heat pads on the wall until the monitor heating system is installed. So we have these heat pads installed in our computer room and our bedroom, a space heater in the living room and a space heater in the kids room. The house isn't the warmest but it's still better than freezing. Around 2pm this afternoon I went outside to take a video of the flooded sidewalk outside of the house and the path it was taking off the property. I stepped out and it's actually dried up out there, but I took the video anyway. Imagine this dry sidewalk being above your ankles about a quarter of the way up your shin, that's where it was at but luckily it's finally drying up.




On top of all this issue we have our water heater leaking so much water in the course of a day that it's almost unbearable and it's such a pain to maintain. The landlord is having a newer bigger one installed going from 30 gallons to 50 gallons. Hoping the new one doesn't start leaking like the current one does, if so then it's the water pressure and will have to install a thermal expansion tank for the water heater. Hopefully replacing the water heater itself will be a good enough fix and the issue wont occur again, but at this point I'm not being too optimistic about it.


And on that note I leave this blog entry with a bit of happyness, while typing this out I saw a Blue Jay outside on the tree and happened to get a quick video of it.