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Vol.2 No.4

Wineries of the Champlain Valley Great Fall Hikes in New York & Vermont

Elk Lake Lodge

Everyone needs to visit this pristine location at least once in their lives

Pendragon Theatre The only year-round professional theater in the Adirondacks

The Paddlers’ Trail For a true challenge, try kayaking the length of the nation’s sixth Great Lake


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Dear Readers,

Editor John Gereau Contributing Writers Seth Lang Shawn Ryan Andy Flynn Thom Randall John Gereau Lou Varricchio Cover Design DJ Alexander Layout and design Andy Flynn, John Gereau Published by New Market Press, Inc. 16 Creek Road, Suite 5, Middlebury, VT 05753 (802) 388-6397, Fax: (802) 388-6399 Denton Publications, Inc. 14 Hand Ave., Elizabethtown, NY 12932 (518) 873-6368, Fax: 873-6360

Waiting to checkout in a seemingly endless line of people at the Schroon Lake Stewart’s Shop this August, I turned to my brother, who stood behind me with his own arm load of supplies, and jokingly said, “God, I can’t wait till fall.” The fact of the matter is I was only half joking. While the economic benefits to the region brought by summer visitors is the lifeblood of many businesses here, there is something to be said for the less-fevered pace brought on by the cooler months of autumn. The changing seasons is one of many reasons to love the North Country. Don’t like the weather? No worries — it will change soon enough. With the cooler weather comes the opportunity to get out and enjoy the endless outdoor opportunities that exist in the region, as many of the articles in this edition of North Country Living Magazine discuss. Add to that the bountiful display of fall colors and you have a recipe for lasting memories. Thank you for reading this locally grown magazine and for your positive comments about the articles contained herein. Please remember to patronize the businesses inside whose advertisements make it possible to distribute this free publication throughout the North Country. Until we meet again, be well. John Gereau, Managing Editor

Copyright 2013, New Market Press, Inc./Denton Publications, Inc.

Pictured here: Fall foliage as seen from Hoel Pond (west of Saranac Lake) with Long Pond Mountain looming in the background. Photo by Andy Flynn Cover: North Country Living contributor Shawn Ryan relaxes at the summit ridgeline of Silver Lake Mountain in the Adirondack Park, overlooking Silver Lake and Taylor Pond. For a description of this hike as well as a Vermont hike, turn to page 34. Photo by Sandra Ryan 4 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

CONTENTS Vol. 2 No. 4

FEATURES Fresh Apples Anyone?


Apple-picking time in the North Country

Fruit of the Vine


Award-winning wines of the Champlain Valley

Saving the Strand


89-year-old theater brought back to life

Greater Adirondack Ghosts


Tales of Plattsburgh’s past with Matthew Boire

Elk Lake Lodge



A place everyone needs to experience

Fair pictorial


The many fairs of the Champlain Valley, in pictures

Community Calendar


A list of things to see and do in the region




Eye on the Arts


Out and About Q&A Outdoor Recreation

34 40 56

Stuff to Do


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Orwell 2 0 1 3 3 6 7 1

Story by Lou Varricchio

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Orwell, Vermont | Destination

Not unlike other Vermont towns surrounding it, the Town of Orwell — with a population of 1,185 individuals and 441 households — celebrated 250 years as an incorporated town in 2013 ...


ow do you measure 250 years in a small Vermont community which has seen itself first incorporated within a contested North American backwater colony — split between New Hampshire and New York provincial claims — then slowly maturing under the independent Republic of Vermont, and finally flowering as an agricultural town within the boundaries of the United States of America? Not unlike other Vermont towns surrounding it, the Town of Orwell — with a population of 1,185 individuals and 441 households — celebrated 250 years as an incorporated town in 2013. While the town’s main celebration occurred on a sunny weekend in August this year, museum displays and other town activities relating to its founding will continue until Dec. 31. On the rainy day of Aug. 18, 1763, Orwell was born as a chartered, uninhabited parcel of land assigned to 64 frontier men who had a future vision of hard work and prosperity under the banner of liberty. The “Orwell 64” may have been forward, freethinkers but they lacked the savvy of a modern-day Florida land developer; it took another eight years — until 1771 — before one of the “Orwell 64” broke ground and built a wilderness cabin. According to the Orwell Historical Society, the town’s first settler was John Charter, a Scotsman, who built a home near what was formerly known as Rattlesnake Hill, now Mount Independence, in 1771. Charter’s homestead stood near what became six years later the mighty Fort Mt. Independence of American Revolutionary War

fame and the bridge to Fort Ticonderoga, across Lake Champlain. According to the local history museum, the building of the giant Mt. Independence fortifications began in July 1776 and continued through 1777. Today, the remnants of Mount Independence comprise a Vermont State Historic Site with an award-winning, interactive museum and six miles of hiking trails through deep woods, rocky outcrops and sweeping vistas of Lake Champlain. “It has been called the least disturbed major Revolutionary War site in the country,” according to the Orwell Historical Society. After the American defeat at the Battle of Hubbardton (although some claim otherwise), British and German troops occupied Mount Independence until November 1777. Certainly during the mid-1770s, a few Loyalist (and Tory) families were living in town — they had cleared the trees and glacial boulders from the land for livestock. Human shelter still resembled Vermont’s frontier architecture — rough, hand-hewn logs for cabins with flat boards, as well as rough logs, for barns and other outbuildings. During the Revolutionary War, Orwell residents moved to safer places to the south, such as Rutland and Manchester. But during the revolutionary years, settlement had stopped in Orwell. Within a year of the close of the war, residents old and new trickled back. The Orwell Historical Society notes that “the British burned nearly all of the buildings in town before the end of the war.” And CONTINUED ON PAGE 8

NCL Vol. 2 No. 2


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much to the regret of local historians and architectural historians, no pre-revolution structures survive in Orwell today. Despite another war — the Second War of Independence, or War of 1812 — Orwell grew slowly as a place for grazing sheep and cattle. Again, the Orwell Historical Society has carefully preserved a record of the early years of the town — “Orwell enjoyed a time of peace and prosperity after the war’s conclusion, marking a time of great emotional uprising and town glee, however, these bright times would be marred by several major tragedies that coincided with the attempted industrialization of the area’s farmlands in the 1870s, when several young men were lost in a thresher accident near what is now the intersection of Main Street and Route 22A. This tragedy was keenly remembered by the community, which banned industrial farming later that year in a special town meeting. Industrialized farm equipment was only allowed back into Orwell after the economic collapse of the early 1900s, and even then, special restrictions were placed to limit the capabilities of such farm instruments. The town’s law against the use of modern farm machinery of all kinds was never actually repealed, and continues to be a curio law on the books that the town refuses to repeal,” according to the historical society’s précis on the town. Today, with new organic agricultural enterprises thriving, Orwell also supports its traditional dairy sector as well as a diverse economy which includes several successful “cottage” businesses — book publishing and Internet-based industry — tourism, and maritime recreation on Lake Champlain. During the weekend of Aug. 17-18, hundreds of current and past residents of Orwell — and guests — celebrated their community’s historic 250th birthday. In addition to many outdoor activities and children’s games, residents learned about their town’s past while having fun. The Orwell Historical Society Museum was a central focus leading up to the weekend event with exhibits featuring artifacts and personal items from Orwell’s past. Also celebrated were Orwell’s more than 200 years of local patriots — from the Revolutionary War to Operation Desert Storm. Also feted were Orwell’s notable past residents: Louis Winslow Austin (1867–1932), physicist, Oliver Bascom (1815–1869), politician, John Catlin, acting governor of the Wisconsin Territory (1848–1849), Marsena E. Cutts, politician, and William P. Kellogg, U.S. senator and 26th governor of Louisiana. The Eagle Inn, a 19th-century stage stop and Vermont landmark, historic Brookside Farm started in 1789, the 1880 Barn, and an exhibit titled, “Women’s Fashion On the Eve of the Civil War,” were also highlights during the special 250th weekend. Orwell resident and photographer Christy Alger documented the 250th anniversary weekend with several hundred photographs — itself an historic record of the event. Several of Alger’s photographs appear below. Last but not least, for the special 250th year festivities, women members of Orwell’s Fortnightly Club created a special, comfortable throw blanket which displays all the town’s historic buildings and places. You can still order a blanket, by calling 802-897-2374, to commemorate the important event. All the proceeds generated by the Fortnightly blanket sale, benefit important Orwell community projects. 8 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

Pictured above, top: A mother and child enjoy a day together at the Orwell 250th anniversary weekend event. Middle: Mike Christian decorated proud Orwell youth during special award activities Aug. 17-18. Bottom: Two Orwell residents helped sell commemorative T-shirts during the 250th event to help raise funds for the community. Photos by Christy Alger

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espite the wet weather the North Country experienced in the first part of the growing season, this year’s apple harvest is expected to be one of the largest in quite some time. That means even more apples and apple treats for those who take part in the annual fall tradition of visiting local orchards, looking for a bushel of farm-fresh apples or that special applethemed treat. “This has been a great season for the apples this year,” Nina Banker of Banker’s Orchard in Plattsburgh said. “They are beautiful size.” At Banker’s, there is a family aspect to the storefront and farm area, which includes a petting zoo and bounce house. “We have families that come with their strollers and stay for the whole day,” Banker said. “There are many people who come up and thank us because they enjoy coming to this place every year and they know the hard work that goes into it.” According to the New York State Apple Association, this year’s harvest fruit size and sugars should be excellent as growers have enjoyed close to perfect growing conditions this year, including strong bloom, good pollination and plenty of sunlight, heat and

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Story by Keith Lobdell

moisture. In 2012, apple production in the state was dismal, with yields dropping to 720 million pounds from 1,220 million pounds in 2011. Local apple producers are expecting a rebound this year. “It’s a very exciting time for all of us,” said Debbie Everett of Everett Orchard in Plattsburgh. “We look forward to seeing a lot of faces that we have been seeing for many, many years.” Along with the sale of apples, local orchards and their accompanying stores create numerous and diverse offerings made from their harvests. “When you hear apple season, you associate it with the pies and the cookies and all of the things blend together nicely,” said Julie Everett, of Everett Orchard. “There is a whole variety of things that draw people in.” “We have our apple sales, and people really draw to that,” Banker said. “We also have doughnuts and apple cider along with a variety of baked goods. We have so many varieties of apples as well from the start of the season to the finish.” “We produce a hard apple cider, which is one of the big draws to our store,” Debbie Everett said. “We also are trying a new CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

Pictured is Malena Gereau enjoying an afternoon of apple picking at Gunnison’s Orchard in Crown Point, NY. Opposite page, left: A festive display at Banker’s Orchard. Opposite page, right: Debbie and Julie Everett sample some hard apple cider and apple doughnuts at Everett Orchard.

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applewood smoked pulled pork. There are always a lot of great things to try, and it is part of the whole buy local aspect of the economy.” In Vermont, the harvest is expected to be just as strong, with the season in full swing at many of the local orchards. Several orchards are reporting near-record crops for the fall season and are ready for the annual fall tourism season. •At Boyers Orchard in Monkton, they offer a pick-your-own apple orchard along with a farm stand selling apple cider and homemade baked goods. They are open early September to Nov. 10. •Champlain Orchards, located in Shoreham (, offers apples, fresh and hard ciders, apple pies, apple butter and other apple products through pick-your-own and farm market. •Also located in Shoreham is Douglas Orchards, with 15 varieties of apples, offering a pick-your-own experience and farm stand shopping. They also offer cider and other products. It is open through Thanksgiving. •Happy Valley Orchard in Middlebury has a pick-your-own orchard and a full orchard and cider mill with more than 70 varieties of apples. It is open through November. •Adams Apple Orchard in Williston ( offers fresh-baked pies, crafts and apple cider slushies, along with a pick-your-own apple orchard open through mid-October. There is also unpasteurized cider available in the fall. •In Essex Junction, Chapin Orchard ( offers a farmstand with apples, cider and other Vermont products. There is also a daily pick-your-own orchard. •Chittenden Cider Mill of South Burlington is open throughout the year and offers apples, cider (sweet and hard), apple wine and other apple specialties such as pies, doughnuts, baked goods and cider jelly.

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•Shelburne Orchards ( has apples, cider, non-alcoholic Ginger Jack, cider doughnuts and apple brandy. •In Castleton, Browns Orchard & Farm Stand offers apples, cider, home-baked goods, jams and jellies. •The Mendon Mountain Orchard ( is a historic orchard, farm store, gift shop, bakery and motel. •On the west side of Lake Champlain, Applejacks Orchards ( in Peru offer pick-your-own apples as well as a farmstand with apples and apple products. They also offer wagon rides, hay maze and a petting zoo. •The Chazy Orchards ( — the largest McIntosh Orchard in the world— offers a variety of apples including McIntosh, Honeycrisp, SweeTango, Cortlands, Paula Reds, Macouns, and Red Delicious. They also have pies, doughnuts, honey and cider. All baked goods are homemade in the store. •Rulf’s Orchard in Peru ( offers several varieties of apples, including McIntosh, Empire, Cortland, Paula Red, Macoun Lodi, Northern Spy, Delicious and Holiday Special. They also make crumb and pastry pies, cream pies, fruit pies, doughnuts, cookies, breads, muffins, sticky buns and cakes. They will also offer a corn maze through the fall. •Gunnison Orchards in Crown Point offer apples and apple products in their farm store, including doughnuts and more. For more information on apple picking and orchards, visit the Vermont Apples website at or the New York Apple Association website at

Pictured, bottom, left: Bags of apples ready for the taking at Rulf’s Orchard. Bottom, right: Local apple orchards have many other attractions for the family, such as this petting zoo located at Banker’s Orchard.

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EYE ON THE ARTS | Pendragon Theatre


The only year-round theater in the Adirondacks Story and photos by Katherine Clark


he stage at Pendragon Theatre has seen many productions, ranging from tales of mystery to love, triumph, fairy tales, intrigue and even nursery rhymes. Thirty-three years and 400 productions after its opening, the theater house remains the only year-round professional theater in the Adirondack Park. Constructed from the skeleton of a two-car garage that once housed ice cream trucks, the theater is nestled in the village of Saranac Lake, just hundreds of feet from Lake Flower on Brandy Brook Avenue. Through the years, the building has grown little by little. Its labyrinth style corridors, voluminous room of costumes, and museum inspiring collection of props have helped sculpt the stories of the great writers and actors that have come here. “If these walls could talk or these costumes could talk ...” said Managing Director David Zwierankin. “I like to say if something was lost in history it’s probably up in the prop room.” Along with the stage and entrance, the theater has its dressing rooms and space where all sets are designed in house before a production. Upstairs, an array of costumes is stored, waiting to be used during theater productions, local school productions and even lent out for Halloween. Props consist of old typewriters, volumes of books, a Pinocchio puppet designed to resemble the actor who played the fairy tale character in a past production and much more. Each line the walls directly above where the audience sits, unaware they exist. The theater was first opened in 1981 by Bob Pette and Susan Neal. Zwierankin said the pair had first tried their hand in New York City theaters. “They didn’t care for how the theater was being handled there, so they put an ad in papers looking for a space and they got a response,” said Zwierankin. “They wanted a

theater to run their own way and somehow made it up here, and it worked.” The theater hosted the Tennessee Williams play, “A Streetcar Named Desire” as its inaugural performance. The theater house remained unnamed even after Streetcar’s closing. It was during the second production of “Milkwood,” a play by Dylan Thomas set on the British Isles, that the name Pendragon came into being. Named for Uther Pendragon, father of Arthur, King of England, Pendragon means “chief leader of the British tribes.” The theater itself is a unique labyrinth of intrigue — a puzzle of add-ons built from the former garage. “The former founder would call it ‘Cathedral Architecture’ where you have one person come in and put up one wall the way they want to and some years later another person comes in and puts up the other wall the way they want to and it kind of gets pieced together where no two walls are the same,” Zwierankin said. “The only original part of the building is the theater itself, we’ve expanded around it.” Zwierankin said the unique design is reflective of the creative atmosphere at the theater. At any given time the theater can be setting up for one show with more in rotation. In early August, the Pendragon had four performances in rotation. Zwierankin said, “One thing we’re good at here is adapting.” The playhouse selections of the summer season, under new Artistic Director Karen Lordi-Kirkham, was designed around the theme “Saints and Sinners.” “I try to always make everything an event and the theme of Saints and Sinners just sort of happened with the lineup,” said LordiKirkham. “Sometimes a theme just comes accidentally.” The Pendragon also paid tribute this summer to its the very first performance staged at

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the theater, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” “They were the same words but portrayed completely differently in set and through the actors,” Lordi-Kirkham said. The playhouse’s season included the production “Dirty Blonde” which explores the legendary American Mae West; “Mississippi Voodoo Cabaret,” a one-woman show starring “Streetcar Named Desire” lead, Beth Glover; “Doubt” a parable centered around the battle for trust between a nun/parochial school principal and the parish priest in the Bronx in 1964 and “The Oldest Living Confederate Widow: Her Confession,” the story of 99-year-old Lucille Mardsen, which looks back on her life and experiences as a Civil War veteran’s wife. Ending the summer season was “The Complete World of Sports (Abridged)” which is a merciless but affectionate satire of vaudevillian physical comedy. For the upcoming season, Lordi-Kirkham said a theme under consideration is “Dreams.” “Saranac Lake is a thriving art and music scene and the Pendragon is really focused on being a part of that iconic vision,” Lordi-Kirkham said. Fall productions will include “Oedipus Rex,” the Greek drama surrounding a royal family’s struggle for power and battling traditions and honor. Zwierankin said the theater is reliant on private donations from theater supporters to continue bringing professional theater to the North County. “Only 40 percent of our income comes from ticket sales, we are reliant on private donations and grants,” Zwierankin said. “We really appreciate our supporters that make this theater possible.” For more information on the Pendragon Theatre or to see performance schedules go to the website

Pictured on facing page, top to bottom: Chris McGovern, former Pendragon actor who passed away in August 2013, performs during the theater’s rendition of “Moby Dick.” At right: Managing Director David Zwierankin stands at the theater’s ticket booth. Below: The Pendragon Theater’s dressing room sits behind the stage. It is where actors transform into their characters.

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V of the


Story & Photos by Lou Varricchio

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Rugged, hybrid grape varieties are producing award-winning wines in the coldest places


ou may not know it, but the Lake Champlain Valley region of New York and Vermont is North America’s newest, fastest growing artisan grape- growing and wine-making region. While the wide, hilly terrain of the Lake Champlain basin isn’t much like California’s better known and milder Sonoma Valley wine country, it does more closely resemble New York’s famous Finger Lakes wine region located more than 300 miles to the west — but with unique differences which set it apart. The Champlain Valley may be colder than the Finger Lakes, but it’s decidedly international in character. The big valley straddles two U.S. states and the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec (with its own wine-grape heritage dating to the 17th century). The Champlain Valley certainly has the right stuff: a beautiful, historic, long lake and mountain scenery near both shores, and in addition, an emerging “collective” of award-winning wine producers. The valley is an emerging destination for wine tourism of possibly major proportions. So, how did such a cold place, with an all too short agricultural growing season, luck out with such excellent grapes and wines? Well, you can thank Wisconsin farmer Elmer Swenson and the University of Minnesota for the Champlain Valley’s grape-wine

boomlet. Back in the 1960s, Swenson developed several hybrid varieties of rugged American-French grapes which shrug off cold temperatures. Later, he was hired by the University of Minnesota to develop more of the new grapes with the institution’s imprimatur — and the rest is wine-making history. Although Swenson died in 2004 and never set foot in the Champlain Valley, he’s being hailed as the local wine-grape equivalent of Johnny Appleseed. For wherever Swenson grapes are planted in

The Champlain Valley of New York and Vermont is America’s newest emerging artisan wine region. Thanks to new cold-hardy grape varieties, the area can sustain an award-winning grape-wine industry. Pictured: Wine tasting at Shelburne Vineyard along U.S. Route 7 in Shelburne, Vt.

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the North Country’s cold places, delicious grapes ripen and lots of very tasty wines are bottled and consumed. Here are a few examples of Swenson’s grape varieties — to name the best known — which make super wines for our cold climate: Marquette, Frontenac, St. Croix, LaCrescent, St. Pepin and LaCrosse. And as if by magic, Champlain Valley wine pioneers like Ken and Gail Albert of Shelburne Vineyard in Vermont and Dan and Nancy Vesco of Vesco Ridge Vineyards in West Chazy, N.Y., seemed to emerge with the same idea at the same time during the 1990s and early 2000s — plant Swenson’s new wine-grape varieties where Lake Champlain’s mini “maritime” effects are best. “In vino veritas; cold weather be damned,” these pioneers of the grape must have said in unison. Both the Vermont Grape Wine Council and the New York Wine & Grape Foundation are closely involved with helping grow their respective wine-regions. Since Vermont doesn’t have a big Finger Lakes or Long Island equivalent to occupy its attentions like New York State, the Green Mountain State is more visibly engaged in growing its side of the Champlain Valley wine region. No matter, there’s still room for competition here; America’s love of wine is ripening as it reaches out for new and interesting artisan wines appearing in unusual regions like northern New York and Vermont. Now comes the fun — We’ve sampled and visited many of the best wine-grape growers and wine producers in our region. We created this handy guide to the best grape and wine producers our region has to offer. All producers are small and family owned, which adds to the loving care each bottle of red and wine receives. Also, all vineyards have websites, so you can search for more information about each one online. If we missed a vineyard or winery this time around, please forgive us. Let us know, as we’re likely to return to this delicious subject in a future issue of NCL. Salute! 22 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

Amazing Grace Vineyard and Winery Chazy, N.Y.

Amazing Grace Vineyard and Winery started in 2008 and is family owned. The operation specializes in cold-hardy northern varietal grape wines and fruit wines. According to owners Gilles and Mary Fortin, “Our mission is simple—make great tasting wines and sell them at an affordable price, treat all of our customers as friends and family, and try our best to help and support our community. It is this mission that has made us an extremely successful small farm winery.” 839 N.Y. Route 9 Chazy, N.Y. 12921 Tasting: For tasting details and directions, call 518-215-4044 or e-mail:

East Shore Vineyard Grand Isle, Vt. Owners Bob and Linda Livingstone love the fact that Vermont’s budding wine industry has taken off like a moon rocket in the past decade, all thanks to cold-climate grape hybrids that can withstand our cold winters. “We carefully cultivate 11 acres of these Estate Grown varietals at our lakefront vineyard in Grand Isle,” the Livingstones said. ”We also have several vineyard partners throughout the state that help

supplement our harvests. Since our final objective is to produce quality wine, it is important to remember: Healthy, balanced vines equal quality fruit equal quality wine.” 28 Church St. Burlington, Vt. Tasting: You can sample East Shore’s fine selection of wines at a bright and cheery tasting room in 28 Church St. in downtown Burlington. Call 802-859-9463 for details.

Elfs Farm Winery and Cider Mill Plattsburgh, N.Y. Elfs Farm is a small family farm winery. The Frey family produce locally grown cold-hardy grape and other wines. Opened in 2006, the first grape wines were produced in 2007. “Besides our wines we have in our store Adirondack-theme gifts, such as shirts, sweats, and hats. We also carry home wine and beer making supplies,” according to the Freys. Tasting: Elfs Farm is located at 7411 State Route 9 in Plattsburgh, N.Y. To visit, call 518-563-2750 or e-mail

Pictured Below: Shelburne Vineyard’s winery building amid the vines. Opposite Page: Wine casks at Shelburne Vineyard on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain.

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Hid-In-Pines Vineyard Morrisonville, N.Y. “We grow a variety of Cold Hardy Wine Grapes, developed for the colder harsh environments here in northern New York,” according to sole proprietor Richard Lamoy. “These varieties shrug off cold temperatures and snows so that we might bring you great tasting wines from our own estate-grown grapes. Some examples of the varieties are Marquette, Frontenac, St. Croix, LaCrescent, St. Pepin and LaCrosse.” 456 Soper St. Morrisonville, N.Y. Tasting: Hid-In-Pines is located in the heart of the Lake Champlain Valley. For directions, tours and tasting, call 518-643-0006.

Lincoln Peak Vineyard Middlebury, Vt. The Harris and Lyon “Food Lovers’ Guide to Vermont and New Hampshire” writes that Lincoln Peak Vineyard is “One of the two best wineries in Northern New England.” With an endorsement like that, need we say more? According to pioneer cold-hardy grape growers and owners Chris and Sara Granstrom, “We have a hilltop of good Vermont land just outside Middlebury; short, hot summers and cool, sunny autumns; a dedicated farm crew to tend the vines; meticulous devotion to the

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best winemaking techniques — put it all together and what you get are some of the most refined and delicious Vermont wines from a new and emerging winegrowing region. At our Vermont winery, we make crisp refreshing whites; deep full-bodied reds, light and joyful rosés; and some sweet and fruity wines, too.” 142 River Rd. (just of U.S. Route 7) New Haven, Vt. Tasting: Lincoln Peak Vineyard’s tasting room is open all year, seven days a week. For more information, call 802-388-7368.

Neshobe River Vineyard & Winery Brandon, Vt. Robert and Rhonda entered the wine business because of their passion for wine, winemaking, and the winemaker lifestyle. The winery complements their desire to delight their guests at the Bed and Breakfast they also operate. Both of them have worked as wine consultants and Bob has been making wine for more than five years. They both have taken winemaking classes and have spent more than six years visiting wineries in the U.S. and Europe. They are both members of the American Wine Association, as well as the newly formed Vermont Grape Growers and Wine Council. Bob has worked as a wine consultant for COSTCO, Whole Foods and the Merchant of Vino. 79 Stone Mill Dam Rd. Brandon, Vt. Tasting: 802-247-8002.

North Star Vineyard Mooers, N.Y. & Plattsburgh, N.Y. Colin Read and Natalie Peck started a cold-hardy grape vineyard at their farm in Mooers in 2008. To date, the couple have 4,000 vines producing delicious wine varieties. “We look forward to sharing our wines, other wines from local vineyards, and select varieties from various regions in New York State. Come by and taste some of the spirit of the North Country. We hope to meet you and serve you soon,” according to Read. “Our vineyard was chosen as Small Business of the Year by the North Country Chamber of Commerce along with five other local vineyards. 8 City Hall Place Plattsburgh N.Y. Tasting: You can sample North Star wines at the Champlain Wine Co., located at 8 City Hall Place in downtown Plattsburgh N.Y. The vineyard is located north of the city in Mooers. For more details, call 518-564-0064.

Shelburne Vineyard Shelburne, Vt. Shelburne Vineyard deserves credit for being an early pioneer in the Champlain Valley grape-wine industry. Its wine holds the lion share of awards, too. “From vine to glass, we strive to make the finest quality wine from northern varietal grapes grown right here on our vineyards and regionally sourced from other Northern growers,” according to Ken Albert. Ken grows the grapes and his wife Gail tends to the marketing side of the business. “With a lush Vermont landscape as our backdoor, our state of the art winery and tasting room sits nestled among the vines. We invite you to visit, try our award winning wines and experience a taste of place. As a pioneer in Vermont wine making, we are committed to sustainable agriculture and responsible vineyard practices and take pride in our stewardship of the land. Stroll our vineyards. Pack a picnic. Sip a glass of red, white or ice wine on the patio.” 6308 Shelburne Rd. (U.S. Route 7) Shelburne, Vt. Tasting: Shelburne Vineyard’s tasting room is open all year, seven days a week. For more information, call 802 985-8222.

Snow Farm Winery and Vineyard South Hero, Vt.

Snow Farm Winery and Vineyard holds the honors of being Vermont’s first grape vineyard and winery. The operation began in 1992 to preserve Vermont’s agricultural land providing an alternative for farmers. Winemaker David Lane grew up on the family farm milking cows and throwing hay bales; he has worked the land for several decades. “Our location, on an island in the middle of Lake Champlain, permits us to grow cooler climate vinifera grapes,” according to Lane. “Pinot Noir and Riesling, as well as the more cold-hardy French hybrids, Vidal Blanc and Baco Noir. Thanks to Vermont’s cold winter temperatures, Snow Farm also produces an ice wine, a product that cannot be made in many other place in the world.”

190 West Shore Rd. South Hero, Vt. Tasting: Snow Farm offers great tasting ambience on a beautiful lake island setting. For more information, call 802-372-WINE or e-mail

Vesco Ridge Vineyards West Chazy, N.Y. Owners Dan and Nancy Vesco have created a New World expression of classic North Country wine using traditional Old World methods with grapes from their grape vineyard and the surrounding Lake Champlain Basin. “Patiently handmade with care, we produce 1,000 gallons of a variety of wines a year,” according to the Vescos. “With immense flavors and aromas, these wines are a tribute to the small North Country vineyards.” 167 Stratton Hill Rd. West Chazy, N.Y. Tasting: For hours and directions, call 518-846-8544 or e-mail

Pictured Below: Dan Vesco of Vesco Ridge Vineyard tenderly cares for cold-hardy grapes used to make his outstanding wines produced in West Chazy on the New York side of Lake Champlain. Opposite Page: Inside Shelburne Vineyard’s winery building.

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trand Story by Shawn Ryan

For nearly a decade, volunteers have worked feverishly to return the landmark Strand Theater to its former glory. The fruits of their labor will soon be unveiled. Vaudeville entertainer Harold Lloyd and the Our Gang silent film “Every Man For Himself “ opened a new era in entertainment in Plattsburgh Dec. 29, 1924, at the newly opened Strand Theater. Today the Strand has had new life breathed into its refurbished facade and renovated interior, and will soon hold a grand re-opening every bit as anticipated as that first show 89 years ago. Opened in the height of the Roaring Twenties, the building was a tribute to the era itself. “The lobby floor is paneled terrazzo. The box office window is of solid Philippine mahogany, while the light fixtures in the lobby are exceptionally designed,” read a newspaper description of the opening day. The 1,326 people who filled the theater for the two shows paid 20 cents for a balcony seat, and 30 cents for a floor seat. But Vaudeville was already in decline, forced the theater to compete for talent and customers with radio and later television. Film was also on the rise. The year 1924 was also the year Metro Goldwin Mayer (MGM) was founded. Over the years the Strand fought valiantly to keep up with the tide, and to stay relevant in a sea of drive-in theaters and mall multiplexes, but decline seemed all but inevitable. By the 1970s, as single stage theaters were being boarded up in small towns around the country, the owners of the Strand walled in the balcony and the stage, making it a two-screen independent movie-house. “In the 1980s a group of people tried to save the Strand, but for some reason it wasn’t successful,” said Leigh Mundy, President of the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts (NCCCA) Board of Directors. By 2004, the then owners were on the verge of losing the Strand to a property tax sale, when the NCCCA decided to try to step in and buy the venerable old building before it went up for sale. “We got a couple of community members to lend us as much as they could just to buy it before it went to foreclosure for taxes,” said Mundy. “We were successful in doing that, and then we had to come up with a plan, because I believe we estimated it to be a $1.2 million project.” Over the years the project has ballooned to 3.6 million. Much of the work is being done through Historic Preservation grants, which slows down the process because of the lengthy

proval process as well as the attention to detail that must go into every renovation. In 2008 the board was successful in getting the Strand placed on the National Historic Registry. “So at that point every color, every doorknob has to be approved by the Department of Historic Preservation. It adds months and months to every single process.” The rigor is worth it though, says Mundy, because of the available funds. Whatever funds are received, though, have to be matched dollar for dollar from the community. Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 29

That community, says Mundy, has definitely answered the call. Individual citizens and businesses have donated money and volunteered their time to the restoration effort. “There’s been an amazing group of volunteers year after year. Some of the contractors, they just volunteer their time, come in on Saturdays and do projects to help us save money,” Mundy said. One couple came forward recently and wrote a check for $125,000 to restore the Strand’s 1924 Wurlitzer organ. The organ itself has a unique history. When renovations were first undertaken, a theater organ was one of the things on the NCCCA’s wish list. Jonathan Ortloff, a volunteer helping with the project, placed advertisements online to try to find one, and was contacted by an 80-year-old couple who lived south of Boston. They had had an organ in their basement for years, and wanted it to go someplace where future generations could enjoy it. When they were told about the Strand and its restoration project, they donated the organ for free. “It’s one of a very small number of unaltered Wurlitzer organs in the world,” said Ortloff. “There are only 19 remaining.” Ortloff and several volunteers started the job of restoring it, but with 700 pipes and thousands of moving parts, the job was eventually given to the Spencer Organ Company in Waltham Mass. “No self-respecting movie parlor from that era would be caught without an organ. This organ is the perfect size for the room.” While they gear up for the final push toward completion and a spring opening, the Strand has already started holding shows. All that is left is to restore the dressing rooms on two floors, and to purchase rigging, sound and lighting equipment. The NCCCA is awaiting approval on their

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final historic preservation grant, and need to raise approximately $350,000 to match this and one other grant. On Oct. 4, 5 and 6, the Strand will host “Bringing It Home for the Strand,” a three-day music festival featuring more than 20 Plattsburgh bands, some of which have re-united after years apart just for this event. But the plan for the Strand is to be more than just a stage for local musicians. “Our mission as an organization is education,” says Mundy. “So we will be working with the colleges, with the students and young people, so they can learn about the theater, they can learn how to do stage productions, do the lighting, make sets, so the educational part will be a huge part as well as the performance aspect.” But the Strand will remain a movie theater as well. Mundy envisions everything from film festivals and documentaries, to silent films with their Wurlitzer accompanying them, to Warren Miller ski films at the beginning of ski season. They will also have streaming capabilities, for events like Live at the Met and the Oscar Awards. The Board has applied for a permanent charter to bring the NCCCA and the Strand under the same umbrella as the Strand Center for the Arts. You can track the progress of the Strand’s renovation at the Strand Theater Renovation page on Facebook.

Pictured are (L to R): The Strand’s lower movie theater, prior to renovations; Shawna Armstrong, with the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, stands by the newly refurbished grand chandelier; the Strand stage and orchestra pit undergoing renovations; Johnny Rawls, playing with the Dave Keller Band at the Strand; the balcony of the Strand after renovation.

Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 31

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Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 33

Day Hikes North Country of the

New York Silver Lake Mountain, Black Brook, N.Y.


ilver Lake Mountain is located just off the Silver Lake Road, half way between Saranac and Wilmington. A relatively short hike at just .9 miles one way, and an elevation gain of 900 feet, Silver Lake Mountain offers exceptional opportunities for fall foliage peeping, without committing an entire day to getting there and back. With an out and back of under two hours, Silver Lake Mountain is a great hike for families with small children, as well as for first-time hikers on a quest for fall foliage or just a quick afternoon climb. Just 24 miles from Lake Placid and 30 miles from downtown Plattsburgh, shoppers or tourists from either location can take a break for a few hours and soak in vistas of Silver Lake, Taylor Pond and Union Falls Pond, as well as McKenzie and Whiteface Mountains. The well-marked parking area is reached from Plattsburgh or Saranac Lake by turning off State Route 3 onto the Silver Lake Road and traveling 6.8 miles, until just past Silver Lake Beach and campsite. From Lake Placid you travel to Wilmington through the picturesque Wilmington Notch, pass through the four corners to the top of Bonnieview Road, and turn left onto Silver Lake Road. The parking area is 11.5 miles from the four corners. While easy to find and well marked, the parking area is rather small, and will fill up quickly on prime hiking days. After signing the log book, the climb starts almost immediately

34 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

Story and Photographs by Shawn Ryan

as a wide, well marked trail brings you unrelentingly upward with few flat sections. The hike passes through mixed hardwoods and pines, with few vistas until the hiker reaches about the threequarter mark, where a small rock outcropping looks down on the Silver Lake Beach campsite. This also marks a change in the trail, where it turns right, and you begin a fairly steep ascent over rocks and boulders. This is also the only spot on the trail that isn’t well marked, but the hiker simply has to remember that “up” is the direction to travel, and they will find the next trail marker eventually. One more short traverse brings you to the “summit,” which is really a ridge-line with no specific end-mark. Being a ridge-line affords the hiker a stunning and varying 180 degree sight line of the nearby ponds and the massive Adirondacks in the distance, as well as an opportunity to find a spot to recline and relax away from other hikers. With almost no hand-over-hand climbing, Silver Lake Mountain is a good mountain for both children and dogs. For those interested in a great view of the fall foliage, and not out for a ‘peak’ to bag, Silver Lake Mountain might just fit the bill.

Pictured below: The view from the ridge-line of Silver Lake Mountain. Silver Lake and Taylor Pond are visible in the foreground, with McKenzie and Whiteface Mountains in the distance.

Great Fall Hikes | OUT AND ABOUT

Vermont Snake Mountain in Addison, Vt. Less than an hour south of Burlington, at the edge of the Champlain Valley, and east of the Crown Point bridge, is a fairly low but prominent ridge-line known as Snake Mountain. A slightly longer hike, at 1.8 miles one way, Snake Mountain shares an ascent of 900 feet, making it just high enough to work up a sweat and appreciate the views of the narrowest part of the Champlain Valley below. Unlike mountains in the interior of a range, where the view consists exclusively of other mountains, the hour and a half hike to the ridge-line of Snake Mountain opens to a pleasant and uncomplicated view of the farm-lands and woods of the lower Champlain Valley, with Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains beyond. Just 32 miles from downtown Burlington, follow Shelburne Road south to Vergennes, and continue south onto Rt 22A. At the Addison four-corners, turn east onto Route 17, then south onto Mountain Road (.8 miles). Follow Mountain Road south past Whitford Road to an obvious, though unmarked, parking area on the right. The trail-head is also unmarked, approximately 500 yards south, on the east side of the road across from the intersection with Willmarth Road. Coming from New York via the Crown Point Bridge, follow Route 17 through the Addison four corners, then turn right on Mountain Road.

The parking lot is spacious and well maintained, but being an easily-accessible and popular mountain, expect over-flow parking onto the shoulder of Mountain Road. The wide trail is very easy for the first half-mile, then starts to climb to moderate, but never reaches the point of being overly challenging. There are no open rock faces or hand-over-hand climbing, making it an exceptional climb for small children and dogs. The trail is wide and obvious the entire way, as it winds through mixed hardwoods, with the occasional cedar tree interspersed along the trail. There are no trail markers along the way, but none are needed on this trail. Arriving at the ridge, you come to what appears to be a large, flat rock outcropping overlooking the valley below. Walking to the edge, however, reveals it to be the massive cement foundation of a building; the remnants of the old Grandview Hotel, which was built in 1870. Nothing remains of the hotel except the foundation, which makes an excellent place to sit and dangle your legs while you take in the scenery of the valley below. Expect to have lots of canine companionship at the summit, since Snake Mountain is a favorite hike for dog owners.

Pictured below: Farmlands and woods of the lower Champlain Valley, with Lake Champlain in the foreground. The Adirondacks rise from the valley in the distance.

Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 35

The dos and don’ts of hiking with man’s best friend


hile hiking with your dog can be a fun experience for both of you, there are several things you should know before you leave the parking area with your four-legged hiking partner to make the hike both safe and fun. First, know your breed. Not all dog breeds are made the same, and not all breeds are made to hike. Just like you wouldn’t want your English mastiff to curl up on your lap, you shouldn’t expect your rat terrier to follow you up a high peak. Different dogs are built for different purposes. While they probably do have energy to burn, mountains are just too high and challenging for smaller dogs. Medium sized dogs are the most popular dogs on hiking trails, but large breed dogs can make good hiking companions as well. You should consider picking an appropriate hike for a larger dog though. “As long as it’s not a long, strenuous hike, it’s good for them,” says Dr. Hannah McCormick, a veterinarian in Saranac, NY of large breed dogs. “You have to gauge the severity of the hike toward your dog’s abilities, and some of the bigger ones are very fit and they can handle it, but if they aren’t used to exercise they shouldn’t go on anything too hard.” Large breed dogs can also develop joint problems later in life, and the pounding those joints take descending a steep mountain could spell long-term damage in the future, so make sure not to over-tax your dog. Check for information on which breeds are suited to outdoor exercise and which aren’t. Know your hike. While a good pair of hiking boots can get you over those large, steep, slippery rock outcroppings, a dog’s paws just don’t have the same grip. Anyone who has hiked over exposed rocks is familiar with the tell-tale scratch marks of a dog struggling to get a grip on slippery rocks. Dogs also don’t have thumbs, so scrambling up a steep section where you might be able to grab trees or exposed roots just isn’t fair to them. And then they still need to come back down through those sections. Stick to hikes without steep rock outcroppings or chimneys, or any place that might cause your dog to suffer to get through. Know the weather, and pack and plan accordingly. When you think it’s hot and humid, it’s worse for your dog. Dogs can’t sweat, so they need plenty of water to drink to stay cool. On the really hot days they might also need cold water to pour over them for cooling. If the humidity is too high for your dog, just don’t go, or pick a hike where there is a pond or stream that your dog can get into to cool off. Know your dog’s limits. Just like very young children, young puppies are just plain not ready to hike. Their joints and growth plates aren’t fully developed, and the pounding of a hike could cause permanent damage. Likewise, there comes a time when we all will need to retire from hiking, and dogs are no exception. If your dog is too old to make the hike comfortably, even if being 36 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

on the trail with you has always been his favorite thing in the whole world, there comes a time in every dog’s life when they’ve earned a break. “Try to accurately gauge the level of fitness your dog has,” says Dr. McCormick. And finally, know the common courtesies of the trail. Please keep your dog on a leash. You may know that your dog wouldn’t harm a fly, but that hiker he comes barreling up to on the trail probably doesn’t. They may have been bitten before and are deathly afraid of dogs. Don’t ruin their hike because your dog prefers to run free, or you don’t like holding a leash while you hike. Also, if your dog leaves a distinctive “calling card” in the parking area or on the trail, remember to pick it up and pack it out. Nothing will ruin the ride home like a hiking boot with a dog’s calling card all over the sole. McCormick also recommends a small first aid kit with supplies for wrapping a cut paw, and Benadryl in case of a sting. “And a really big thing is if they’re walking across sand or asphalt in the full sun, it can burn their feet,” she says. “I think that’s something people don’t think of because you’re wearing shoes, but I’ve seen some really horrible burns.” Flea and tick preventatives should also be up to date, she cautions. With proper planning and care, a dog can be the best hiking partner you’ll ever have. Just remember, you’re responsible for their health and safety. Make the hike as fun for them and other hikers as it is for you.

Pictured above: Sydney, a boxer, hiking on Silver Lake Mountain. Sydney is a veteran hiker, with 15 Adirondack peaks and 5 New Hampshire climbs under her collar.

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Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 39

Q and A with naturalist Story and photos by Andy Flynn

Ed Kanze T

he best way to experience fall foliage in the Adirondack Park or Vermont is to take a walk in the woods in late September and early October. The sights, the smells, the changing cycles of life are all around. Reporter Andy Flynn took a short walk in the woods with Ed Kanze in late August to get a sense of what changes are in store for the flora of the north woods during the foliage season. Kanze is a naturalist, New York state licensed guide, photographer, columnist and author of seven books, including “The World of John Burroughs” and “Over the Mountain and Home Again: Journeys of an Adirondack Naturalist.” He lives in the hamlet of Bloomingdale in New York’s Adirondack Park. As a guide, he leads nature-focused wilderness adventures for private and public clients. This interview was conducted at Henry’s Woods, a community preserve located on the Bear Cub Road in the village of Lake Placid, N.Y. The 4.4-mile trail system is open to the public and free of charge. Mountain bikes and dogs are allowed, with pedestrians having the right of way. NCL: What should people be mindful of when they walk in the woods in the fall? EK: The most obvious thing is fall color, and here’s a little bit of it. This is the first plant to show fall color in the Adirondacks. It’s one of the most common shrubs, and it is called hobble bush. Here the more common name for it is witch hobble. Both names come from the fact that when the

40 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

plant gets to be a big bush, the branches bend over and touch the ground. And at the tips of the branches, they form another set of roots. So you end up with a hoop with roots on both ends. And when you go bushwacking, as many of us like to do in the Adirondacks, hiking off the trail, and all of a sudden you’re flat on your face because you’ve had a bad trip and fall, and it’s because the hobble bush tripped you, so you’re hobbled by it. That you’ll see color on in July. So fall color in the Adirondacks begins in July. People get depressed when I point it out, so I wait until September before I point it out to them.

Hobble Bush

Middle Pond near Saranac Lake, N.Y.

NCL: What’s the big difference between red maple and sugar maple for identification? EK: Thank you for asking that as we stand next to a sugar maple. These little cutout areas in the leaf are called sinuses. We have little cutout areas in our skull called sinuses. And the sinus of a sugar maple leaf is shaped like a U. This one’s been eaten by an insect, but you can see it clearly. There are three other species of maple along this trail. This is mountain maple over here. And on all the others in the Adirondacks, the sinuses are V-shaped. There’s a sharp point. So, if it’s got the U-shaped cutout in the leaf in the sinus, it’s a sugar maple. And when you turn over a red maple leaf, it’s silver or white on the underside. On the sugar maple, it’s just a different shade of green. Back here, we’ve got all the maples here. This is striped maple with the really big leaves. It’s also called moosewood, also called woodsmen’s toilet paper for obvious reasons. Anybody who hikes much has used it one time or another. And this is the mountain maple. It is the only one of our Adirondack maples that never gets to be a tree. It’s just a bush. And here is red maple. And the other maple that we’re not seeing here that’s also in the Adirondacks is silver maple. And that grows along river flood plains. We’re not standing on a river flood plain, so we’re not seeing it.

NCL: What turns yellow? EK: The mountain maple turns yellow, and the striped maple turns yellow. Birches turn yellow. One of my favorite fall colors — and it’s the briefest — are ash trees. And ashes turn this lovely mauve to soft purple color. But the second they turn color, the leaves start to come down and they’re gone. You don’t get a sustained ... there’s not really an ash season. It’s more like an ash day. NCL: If you’re looking at a landscape and you’re seeing the red and oranges and yellows, what trees are you seeing? EK: Let’s say it’s around the first of October. So the red maples, quite a few of them still have their leaves and are still sort of a ruby red. And then the sugar maples are going to be coming into their full orange by that time. And then yellow can be any one of a number of things. It could be striped maple. It could be mountain maple. It could be white birch. It could be hophornbeam, a common Adirondack tree and most people don’t know it, but it’s out there and widely distributed. It turns yellow in the fall. Yellow is a lot more common. No one gets too excited about yellows. And even tamaracks, which are conifers. That’s the one evergreen that’s not evergreen, I always like to joke. So it’s got needles, but the needles all turn yellow, and then they fall off in the fall and grows new ones in the spring.

NCL: What kind of colors are we talking about here in the fall for these maples? EK: The sugar maple turns the beautiful orange. The media tend to go crazy — ‘The height of the colors in early October’ — and the big enthusiasm is with the sugar maple turning orange then. For my money, the richer color comes form the red maple and it turns earlier in late September in the Adirondacks. It turns a beautiful ruby red. This, after it starts to fade, will turn orange.

Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 41

Striped Maple

Red Maple, left, with Sugar Maple in hand

NCL: If you could take us through the timeline, which trees turn first through last? EK: It depends where you are in the Adirondacks. If you’re down in Keene Valley, you’ll have a lot of beautiful color in early November, sort of a red to bronze with the red oak. But up here in the Lake Placid area, Bloomingdale and Saranac Lake area where I live, we don’t have oaks, at least not in the wild. So we don’t really see that. Our last color up here in the high cold country is on beech trees. And beech turns sort of yellow and then goes to bronze, and the bronze eventually fades to a pale tan color. The oaks and beeches are more tropical in origin. They have this tropical habit of not getting rid of their leaves, even after they die. So a beech tree in the middle of the winter, if it’s in a sheltered place, can have a lot of leaves on it. NCL: Many visitors ask, “When is peak foliage?” What do you tell them? EK: I say there is no peak. Or there is a peak for each species. Since I’m more partial to red maple than sugar maple, I could argue — although it would be silly of me to do so — that the peak is about Sept. 25 because that’s right around the time the red maples are just at their height of loveliness in the swamps and on the ridges. The sugar maples are just getting going then, so it’s not peak for sugar maple, but it is peak for red maple. But by the time you get to sugar maple peak, let’s say around the 10th of October — that’s sort of the time when we get excited about peak color — the red maples have either lost their leaves or the reds have shifted to orange and yellow and they’re not as jazzy as they were the weeks before. NCL: In the fall, what would we be smelling? EK: If you could somehow blindfold somebody, put them in a time machine and take them to some unnamed season of the year, and they had to figure it out, I think we’d all recognize fall. Leaves are coming down. Fall tends to me moist. There’s a lot of fungi around. Maybe we pick up a little smell of the fungi in the air. We

42 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

Mountain Maple

probably do. The human nose is much more sensitive than we give it credit for. One of the classic smells of fall comes from the group of shrubs called the viburnums, the many species. The hobble bush we saw is a viburnum. Maybe the most common one I see in the places I walk is northern wild raisin. When those leaves hit the ground and just begin to decompose in the fall, they reproduce aromatic, a slightly poopy smell my kids would call it, but it’s not entirely unpleasant. It’s a rich fecal sort of smell. And that’s a plant, when you’re walking on a fall day, you can say, “I’m walking near some viburnums. I can’t see them yet, but I know they’re there. “ Because you pick up the scent. NCL: How did you get interested in becoming a naturalist? EK: All my life, I’ve been interested in nature. I think that makes me not unusual. I think it’s a natural thing. People are all born with this interest in the natural world around them. It’s this survival thing. It’s in the genes. It’s to our advantage. But there comes a time as we grow up when we start to become formally educated, and school tends to be a very indoor thing. It didn’t go over very well in my house growing up when I criticized my formal education. Both my parents were school teachers, and they firmly believed in the value of a good public education. I do too. But at the same time, my big critique of almost every educational system I’ve ever been part of is that too much takes place indoors. There’s no reason why math, science and social studies and everything can’t be taught out here. And I think it is a shame that education sort of takes kids out of nature and makes them indoor kids. So, for a while my interest in nature went sort of underground in my life and I wasn’t quite the naturalist I was when I was a little kid and I am now. I guess it was when I was at college in Middlebury, Vt. In a biology class, all anybody wanted you to do was look at dead stuff. And since biology is by definition the study of life, and it was life that I was interested in, that bugged me.

So I made a life decision in my sophomore year in college that “To hell with it.” I was going to get my formal education and get my degree, but the real education in my life was going to come from me educating myself. So I started buying field guides, teaching myself trees. That’s what I worked on at first, and then I moved on to mammals. I worked on birds. And I was always aware of my own ignorance and always attracted to people who knew more than I did about various things. And I still am. I still love hanging around people who know mosses, which I know little about, or fungi, which are not my strong suit. It’s just fun to be learning all the time. It’s one of those natural things that most kids get sort of talked out of and pushed away from nature. Some of us come back to it, and I’m one of the ones that did. NCL: What do you want people to take away from their experience with you in the woods? EK: When most people go for a hike in the Adirondack Park, they move quickly and they might brag about how many miles they

cover in a day. My approach is the opposite. I’d like to see them almost brag about how few miles they covered in a day because they were really tuning in to what’s out there. If all you do when you go into a wild place like the Adirondacks is climb mountains and look at postcard-like views, you could be anywhere in the world. You could climb a mountain in Tasmania, Australia or the Alps. It doesn’t really vary that much. What really does vary is the geology, the history of the area, and all the life that’s out there. I call myself — if I have to throw a word out there — a holistic guide. I try to get people to immerse themselves in everything that’s going on in the Adirondacks. We even talk about the literature. I love talking about Adirondack novels, movies and everything. It all fits together into this really interesting pull. And I think everybody who comes here, you just step out the door of your motel or your hotel and you can just sense what a rich and interesting place this is. But most people don’t get beyond the surface. So I look at my job as a guide is to take them beneath the surface and to try to really explore what’s out there.

Ed Kanze looks for salamanders under decaying logs. Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 43

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44 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4


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Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 45

Matthew Boire, garbed in a tall stove pipe hat and black, Abraham Lincoln suit, tells the tales of Plattsburgh’s eerie past for the Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company


he long, gold automobile pulled slowly to a stop and the driver stepped out and rummaged around in the trunk for a couple lanterns, then lit them. He put on his top hat and walked over to the cemetery gates where a small group of 13 was just starting to gather. Rarely do you see a gold Cadillac in the North Country. Even more rare is when the Cadillac is driven by a man dressed in 1800’s attire headed to the entrance to the Old Post Cemetery. But that was precisely what was unfolding before my eyes on this humid, late-summer evening. Matthew Boire, tour guide for the Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company, jokingly said to the group that “Goldie,” his ‘68 Cadillac, goes along with the image of the nightly tours he conducts in Plattsburgh. For the past three years, Matt has given locals and visitors a glimpse into the eerie past during guiding ghost tours he hosts on Friday and Saturdays evenings. If not the gold Cadillac, Matt certainly gets recognized by his signature muttonchops. “I have had them for a long time and they have gotten progressively longer, so it definitely plays into the whole ghost tour role.” This particular Friday, as Matt trudged past headstones and relived the tales of the people lying beneath, he conversed with amazing ease — as if he were discussing stories of old friends. “Plattsburgh has so much [history] it’s unbelievable, there’s layer upon layer upon layer,” Matt said. “It’s not just one battle, it’s 46 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

hundreds of years of history that changed the course of American history at large and a lot of people never even heard of it.” His fifth great-grandfather was from Wilmington, in the Essex County militia and fought in the Battle of Plattsburgh. “The Battle of Plattsburgh happened here in 1814, and if things had turned out differently we’d be in Canada right now,” he said, “The entire map of the United States would not be what it is today, theoretically, so it just blows my mind that it [the battle] doesn’t get more recognition than it does.” As the sun dipped lower behind him and a distant train whistle was heard, it was not hard to picture what life was like more than 100 years ago; the streets filled with horsedrawn carriages and people walking about in long skirts and suits, much like what his ancestors might have done. Matt worked for the department of Public Works in Plattsburgh for about three years, and also volunteered doing ghost tours by bus until Gordie Little took over. His experience as a grounds keeper for the city enhances his tour discussions, since he has a familiarity with the sites; he shares experiences he has had. However, his passion and love for history goes back way further than that. “My family is 8th generation North Country native so I’ve been fascinated by the history since I was a little kid,” Matt said, “even from a young age, I was always talking to older people and listening to stories and things like that so it [the tour] follows along that same stretch.” Now if he’s a skeptic or a believer in the




of Plattsburgh Story by Claire Durham Photography by Shawn Ryan and Shaun Kittle

Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 47

paranormal, Matt explains that he can’t just put off whatever he’s experienced as nothing at all. “I think it’s kind of pretentious of us to write anything off because I’ve never been dead before so I can’t really say for sure,” he said, “but I believe that there’s too many people that have had too many experiences and similar experiences for there to be nothing to it at all, to just write it off and say that’s nonsense.” He’s also had unexplained experiences of his own and one of them took place in the Old Roman Catholic Cemetery after a tour one humid night. “I was coming back around, kind of following along the tree line of the cemetery and without thinking about it, I stepped down into a little depression and all of sudden, it was just a blast of cold air and it was enough to make me take notice,” he said. “I thought at first it was a draft so I took a step back, tried to step back into whatever it was, and it was gone, somebody saying hello or don’t step on me.” Matt led the group through the old base, and kept his lantern ahead like a beacon. He stopped at significantly haunted locations, like the Old Barracks and the field in front of it which used to be where the main gate of the base was located. There have 48 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

been claims of a specter of a soldier walking back and forth like he’s guarding the entrance. Matt gives three different tours in Plattsburgh: Ghosts of the Old Post, covering the old base and the Old Post Cemetery; Specters and Soldiers, a cemetery tour starting in the Old Roman Catholic Cemetery and Dr. Beaumont’s Tour of Terror, about the downtown area and the historic district. However, he’s always developing new ones. “It makes it fun for me to get people to come back and go on another one, learn some more,” he said, “we’ll probably have some new tours next year, maybe even for Halloween, we don’t know yet.” Matt is the only full-time tour guide north of Glens Falls that gives regularly scheduled tours, instead of just during special times of the year like Halloween. “I’m the one-man band,” he said, “I have a partner who helps me with the business aspect of it and she does the tour guide services from time to time if I have a big group, but normally it’s just me.” Fluent communications skills, as well as great memory retention are key aspects of a tour guide. A group wants to be

tured by the guide’s voice, taking them back in time like they are there themselves in that moment. To do this, Matt first has to settle on an area to conduct a tour. “First I get an idea in my head of an area I want to do a tour in because it has to have several different attributes,” he said, “there has to be a lot of things packed into one area, it has to be within walking distance, there can’t have a lot of dead spots; what’s the coolest story, and then you can start weaving it [the tour] together.” He also does a lot of research and is constantly learning. “Each tour is kind of a morph,” Matt said, “there’s so many different stories, you could literally talk from one tour to the other, but sometimes you take some out, you put some in and you make it a little more tailored depending on the audience and what they’re interested in.” He also looks at the Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company’s Facebook page for feedback from visitors who attended the tours. “I always like to listen to what people like best about it [the tour], what really peaked their interest,” he said. Out of the tours he’s given in the past three years, the stories

he enjoys the most are the ones where people who have lived here their whole lives get a surprised look because they’ve never heard the story he’s talking about. However, one of his favorite stories has to do with the legend of the Lowell Mansion on Boynton Avenue, built by Samuel Lowell and supposedly used as a British headquarters during the Battle of Plattsburgh. Legend has it that the British hid some kegs of gold and silver in the basement and during the battle, Lowell broke into the basement, grabbed a keg and hid it in an old well on his property. “People have claimed subsequently that on the anniversary of the battle of Plattsburgh that they’ve seen this eerie light up in the [Victorian] tower where there’s no electricity and they say that that’s a British soldier with a lantern searching for their stolen loot,” Matt said. As a tour guide, Matt has the benefit of continuing his love of history on a daily basis. “You see these amazing things in these amazing times and not just local history, but American history and international history with the war of 1812 here. You see these amazing things that happened right in our own back yard.” Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 49

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Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 51


elcome to Elk Lake Story and Photographs by Seth Lang

52 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

Tucked away deep in the Adirondack wilderness is a place so special, so pristine that third and fourth generations return annually to soak in its splendor.


ince at least the 1870s, a remote camp has existed on a one-of-a kind landscape in the heart of the Adirondacks. A place so special, third and fourth generations have returned, taking in a true Adirondack experience. From hiking some of the 40 miles of trails, kayaking more than 800 acres of water, catching brook trout from two private ponds, or enjoying the breathtaking views from the 12,000 privately owned acres, Elk Lake Lodge has much to offer. Elk Lake Lodge has been owned and operated by John and Margot Ernst since the late 1970s. John’s grandfather first camped here in 1907, the property then owned by Finch and Pruyn paper company, located in Glens Falls. The Ernst family purchased the lodge in 1963. That same year, John’s grandfather donated the first ever conservation easement in New York State. The easement protected 1,000 feet inland around Elk Lake to protect the marsh lands, including its islands. The Ernsts have continued to protect their preserve. First, they

agreed to swap a 1,500 acre property with the Nature Conservancy in return for land alongside their road, south of Clear Pond. The land the Nature Conservancy received allowed state officials to bridge the gap between the Dix Mountain Wilderness and High Peaks Wilderness. Second, late last year, the Ernsts voluntarily put an easement on the rest of the 12,000 acres, giving up 280 building rights, while holding on to the remaining five for possible future expansion of existing buildings. This, along with state owned land surrounding Elk Lake, amounts to more than 300,000 acres that are undeveloped and forever protected by these easements. For their conservation efforts, John and Margot were named “conservationists of the year” by the Adirondack Council at an awards ceremony in Wanakena this July. “What we love to hear from third and fourth generations is that CONTINUED ON PAGE 55

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For their conservation efforts, John and Margot were named ‘ Conservationists of the Year’ by the Adirondack Council at an awards ceremony in Wanakena in July.

“The gift from the Ernsts amounts to several million dollars to taxpayers who won’t have to spend money to keep the land protected.” - John Sheehan

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Pictured are: pg 52: John and Margot Ernst pose at their residence at Elk Lake. Pg 53: Gorgeous view from the dock at elk lake (High Peaks from right to left Colvin, Nippletop, Dix, Macomb Pg 54: Clear pond from shore; Elk Lake Lodge and Inside the Lodge This page: Canoe Paddles and Adirondack Chairs await use on the porch of the main lodge and kayaks lay on the main dock at Elk Lake. nothing has changed,” John says. “Our most important duty is to keep the landscape the way it is and has been for centuries.” Previous recipients of the award have been Governors George Pataki and Mario Cuomo, and New York Times Editor John Oakes. “It’s not very often this award goes to private parties,” said Adirondack Council member John Sheehan. “The gift from the Ernsts amounts to several million dollars to taxpayers who won’t have to spend money to keep this land protected.” Visitors at Elk Lake Lodge, which is accessed off the Boreas Road in the town of North Hudson, have the choice of eight different cottages as well as rooms in the main lodge, and the facilities will hold around 40 guests at one time. “You won’t find cell phone service or television here,” says

Margot. “People really come here to simply enjoy nature.” Both Clear Pond and Elk Lake are motorboat free; the loudest sound paddlers will hear is one of the many loons that call Elk Lake their summer home. Hikers looking to take a try at one of the 46 high peaks have public access through this property at a trail head prior to arriving at the lodge. Guests at the lodge, however, can grab a hot shower and great food upon returning from their hike. The stay comes with three meals a day — a generous breakfast, a trail-ready pack lunch, made to order, and soup, salad, and a choice of two entrées along with a homemade dessert for dinner. The dining room surrounds a three hundred and sixty degree fireplace overlooking a spectacular panorama of the lake. Reservations are available by visiting Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 55



addlers’ rail

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Story and Photographs by Shawn Ryan

Paddling Lake Champlain | Outdoor Recreation

For a true challenge, try kayaking the length of the nation’s sixth Great Lake.


“destination sporting event” is the kind of event that may take years of training. People schedule one or a series of vacations around it. And they abound in the North Country. Take these, for example: Climbing the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, hiking the 273-mile Long Trail in Vermont or the 122mile Northville-Placid Trail in New York, paddling the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from New York to Maine or the 90mile Adirondack Canoe Classic race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake, or competing in Lake Placid’s Ironman triathlon. Kayakers can add a destination event of their own to that list: Paddling end-to-end on Lake Champlain by way of the Lake Champlain Paddlers’ Trail. The trail consists of a series of campsites placed strategically around the lake to allow paddlers to safely hopscotch their way along the length of the venerable Lake Champlain, stopping and camping along the way. Fall is an exceptionally good time to paddle the lake, as boat traffic typically drops off dramatically along with the air temperatures. At the same time, warmer water temperatures make it safer for a paddler on the lake than in spring or early summer. Cooler days can make for a more enjoyable day’s paddle, but night temperatures are not yet cold enough to be unbearable. Then, of course, there is the foliage. From isolated color-coated islands standing in a sea of blue water, to the towering ranges to the east and west, a paddler on the Lake Champlain Paddlers’ Trail in the fall will be slicing silently through a 360-degree watercolor portrait during their entire trip. A paddler completing the end-to-end excursion can take more than two weeks on the water, with good weather. The trail, however, can also be conquered piece by piece, a day or two at a time. “Anyone who paddles on Lake Champlain really needs to be a pretty intermediate to advanced paddler because you’re going to run into all sorts of weather conditions,” say Patty Husband, coowner of the Plattsburgh-based Kayak Shack. “I’ve seen 4- and 5-foot waves, which is more like ocean, open water kayaking.” Along with having your personal ability as a paddler up to snuff, gear is a critical consideration for anyone attempting even a onenight stay on the trail. That’s especially true for kayakers. With cargo space at a premium, the idea of low-impact camping is essential. While hiking shares much of the same gear as camping, there are several considerations, and gear, unique to the paddler. “You’re limited on space and access because of the excessively small area within the kayak, so you’re not going to bring a big tent that won’t fit into your boat,” says Bryan Lewis of Eastern Mountain Sports in Burlington. “Plus along the trail some of the

sites are pretty small. Having a small single-person tent gives you more options on where you can pitch it, so you have a smaller footprint.” Lewis, who has kayaked several stops along the trail, says some of those “campsites” might be as small as a narrow rock ledge or outcropping. Along with shelter, possibly the most important consideration for a paddle is fresh water, a commodity that surrounds the paddler but has to be processed to be safely used. Lewis recommends a Dromedary bag, a collapsible bag that can be filled by means of CONTINUED ON PAGE 58

Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 57

an attachable filter. “You throw the hose in the lake, pump your water from the lake, and it filters all the water so it’s all good and safe to drink,” Lewis said. “You have water to cook with, clean with, drink for that evening, for the morning, fill your water bottles in the morning and you’re ready to go.” Next would be anything else that you would typically need for camping, extra clothes, a small camp stove and food, perhaps an expendable camera to capture the fall leaves of the Adirondack and Green mountains, and a sleeping bag that can fit into the hatches of the kayak. Lewis strongly recommends dry bags for packing these items. “Anything you want to keep dry, you put in a dry bag,” Lewis said. Another critical consideration for the trail is the kayak or canoe. Not all kayaks are the same. The shorter, typically entry level or calm-water kayak is totally unsuited for the big lake. At 120 miles long, Lake Champlain is big water, and for big water you typically need a big kayak or canoe. “There are kayaks that are better suited for the lake,” Husband said. “They are the ones that have two sealed bulkhead compartments. It’s a basic safety feature if someone were to capsize out on the lake. It prevents the boat from filling with water.” The bulkheads also afford the paddler a place to store their gear. With the big lake comes the chance of surprise changes in the weather that can force a paddler to seek shelter for several hours or days. It is critically important to bring extra food in case you are stranded at a remote campsite. 58 | North Country Living Magazine | Vol. 2 No. 4

Protecting the lake

The Lake Champlain Paddlers’ Trail is the creation of the Lake Champlain Committee, a non-profit organization covering New York, Vermont and Quebec. It was formed in 1963 to oppose plans to turn Lake Champlain into an international seaway, like the St. Lawrence Seaway. After successfully stopping the seaway, Committee members voted to stay together and to be an advocate for Lake Champlain and its watershed. “We were probably one of the first watershed organizations in the country,” said Lori Fisher, executive director of the Lake Champlain Committee. “In Lake Champlain, that’s particularly important because there’s a large ratio of land acreage to surface water, so the land has a big influence on water quality in the lake.” The Lake Champlain watershed covers about 8,234 square miles, making it roughly equivalent to the size of Massachusetts. Committee members turned their attention to preservation of the lake and the watershed through a science-based, land and water focus, regardless of state and national boundaries. Along the way, they successfully opposed a nuclear power plant proposed for Charlotte, and pushed for a ban of phosphate laundry detergents in Vermont and New York. Today Committee members advocate strongly against invasive species in the lake, as well as the issue of nutrient runoff reduction. Nutrient loading is a direct cause of potentially dangerous algae blooms that have plagued the lake in recent years. “Today over 90 percent of the nutrient loading excesses coming into Lake Champlain comes from what we categorize as

source ... not distinctive pipes that you can point to, but rather that land runoff that comes from urban areas and from agriculture, so it’s a much more challenging issue to address in some ways than our wastewater treatment facilities,” Fisher said. Urban areas contribute three to four times as much nutrients to the lake, per acre, than do agricultural areas, according to the Committee. Along the way, the Lake Champlain Committee became an advocate for personal-power recreation on the lake as well. In 1988, the Committee sponsored the Green Mountain Club in an end-to-end paddle of the lake to focus attention on issues facing the lake. Eighteen people took part in that first paddle, in kayaks and canoes. “We wanted to claim space for a use that doesn’t really claim space by established footprints (like marinas),” Fisher said. “The trail was officially opened in 1996, and just having a very careful process and running an implementation plan that would fit everything from science to signage, is our goal.” The first Paddler’s Trail consisted of only six sites in the northern part of the lake. The sites were located so that a competent paddler, in good conditions, could make each paddle in about one day. Today there are more than 40 campsites on the trail along the entire length of the lake. The number and locations change yearly, as sites are evaluated each year to minimize human impact and maximize the paddlers’ safety and experience.

“In this increasingly complex and fast-paced world, the Lake Champlain Paddlers’ Trail provides an opportunity to slow down, to move gracefully and quietly in concert with the rhythms of the lake,” reads a passage from the 2013 Paddlers’ Trail Guidebook and Stewardship Manual. “All around us, the wild places are disappearing and our access to what remains is shrinking. The trail is a portal to places that nourish us where our minds can run free.” Sites sit on both private and municipal land. Most are located in Vermont because of friendlier liability laws, but many of these sites are on islands in the middle of the lake, so the paddler isn’t forced to hug the east side of the lake the entire trip. With sites added and removed yearly, the Lake Champlain Committee updates the guidebook annually. It’s the “bible” of the Paddler’s Trail. Joining the Lake Champlain Committee for a donation of $45 or more is the only way to get the updated guidebook, and also helps in supporting the lake through the Committee’s ongoing efforts. Committee members also want to make sure people are using the trail and getting guidance on stewardship, on low-impact camping. Paddler’s Trail guidebooks, and information on all of the Committee’s projects, as well as information on volunteering, are available through the Lake Champlain Committee online at www.


Vol. 2 No. 4 | North Country Living Magazine | 59


Coleen Beck, CRS 802-388-7983 ex22 802-343-7240

20 Seymour Street Middlebury, VT

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COUNTRY CLASSIC  Surrounded by those classic Vermont farm fields and  a magnificent view of the Adirondack Mountains, this ca.1840 Greek Revival  home  still  exudes  the  charm  of  the  era  in  which  it  was  built,  while  at  the  same time offering many of the modern updates today’s families want and  need. The kitchen has been recently renovated, there are 4 bedrooms each  with their own private bath, a formal dining room, and a 4-season sun room  designed to take advantage of the panoramic vista. Formerly run as a B&B,  you  can  do  the  same  or  use  it  as  a  gracious  family  home. There  are  two  outbuildings. Five acres. $449,000. 


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The Worlds Garage Sale largest


ver the first weekend in October, the streets of Warrensburg will be awash in humanity — as people cram the town for frenzied bargain hunting at the annual World’s Largest Garage Sale event. Both Saturday and Sunday, a swarming mile-long crowd will be browsing amongst wares from hundreds of vendors and 1,000 or more garage sales in the vicinity. The event has attracted national attention, and its fame has endured for decades. The community sale has set records and launched knock-off events across the nation. It’s helped local families cope with winter fuel bills and depleted 401k’s. It’s earned its place in the Guinness Book of Records. And whether visitors are seeking collectibles, specialty or distressed goods, vehicle parts, antiques, old toys, vintage jewelry, household goods, tools — or virtually anything imaginable — it’s for sale at Warrensburg’s huge sale. The event officially begins this year at 9 a.m. Saturday Oct. 5 and runs until dusk, with the same hours for Sun. Oct. 6 — and these are just the sanctioned hours. The advance sales start up to two days earlier. The event is not just about bargains. There’s also a street-fair atmosphere, with plenty of carnival food: from “blooming” onions and fried bread, to ethnic food outlets and home-cooked delicacies prepared by local churches and community groups. The variety and quality of wares to be offered are unsurpassed this year according to event organizer Lynn Smith she added. “There’s always an incredible turnout, and it’s a really fun event,” she said. “It’s a beautiful time of year for people to get out and enjoy the foliage and the weather.” Smith and others have said the 1,000 or more private sales yield a wide variety of treasures. “The real bargains are on the side streets from the private property owners,” she said. Hints for stress-free shopping include arriving well before the weekend, checking into an area inn or motel, and getting into town before 7:15

a.m. on the weekend. A lot of vendors are setting up before the weekend, and the many savvy shoppers who know this are getting “first pick” of a wide range of wares. • Shoppers who do arrive on the weekend should get into Warrensburg as early as possible, and take the Northway to exits, 22, 24, or 25. • Avoid Northway Exit 23, the primary road into Warrensburg, since it becomes very congested by 8:30 a.m. If you do use Exit 23, take a right turn to go via East Schroon River Rd. and follow signs to a free parking lot at the Warren County Fairgrounds and take a free trolley downtown. • Arriving from Northway Exit 22, turn left onto Route 9 and drive just a few miles north to Warrensburg. • From Northway Exit 24, go south on Schroon River Rd. and park at the fairgrounds where shuttle buses will take visitors in and out of town. •Or, from Northway Exit 25, head south out of Chestertown on Route 9 into Warrensburg. Residents extend a warm welcome to all visitors and urge all to return and enjoy a visit when the true character of the town is evident — when there are 3,800 year-round residents here, rather than the tens of thousands filling the streets.

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The county fair is a summertime staple in the Champlain Valley. Well before the television, home computer and Big Screen the county fair offered a place for locals to gather, showcase the fruits of their labor and enjoy a bit of downtime away from long arduous work days. This summer, North Country Living documented a number of local fairs in photographs, including the Clinton County Fair and Essex County Fair in New York and the Champlain Valley Fair, Addison Fair & Field Days and the Vermont State Fair. The following is a sample.

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Photographs by Nancy Frasier, Lou Varricchio and Keith Lobdell

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Autumn fun

abounds in the Champlain Valley


igns of autumn appear early in the Northeast. Trees at the highest elevations begin to show some foliage color change before Labor Day. Let’s face it, summer is short and autumn is even shorter in the North Country, but it’s sweeter by far. Vermont has the highest percentage of maples trees in New England, if you believe state tourism blurbs. And one-third of these trees are sugar and red maples, which produce all the vibrant red hues making Vermont and New York two of the most stunning fall foliage states in the Northeast., one of the state’s most popular autumn foliage and activities destination websites, listed its “Best Bets” for this fall season. “During the earliest part of foliage season, viewing is more about elevation than location. Your best chances for spotting color are to get high or get low. Higher elevations with panoramic views will allow you to spot smatterings of color in the valleys below,” says “Alternatively, you can get low — marshy areas near bodies of water typically offer the first areas of foliage change and also offer a wide variety of tree species which enlarges the palette of early season colors.” Regarding the elusive “peak foliage” date, admits there’s no perfect time to see the region’s maples, birches, ashes

and aspens in their glory. “Color change begins in mid-September and runs through the first two to three weeks in October and varies by elevation, progressing from north to south and higher to lower elevations during the course of the season. As such, there are many peaks, so that you can make your plans based on the timing and location that works for you,” according to the website. But there’s more to autumn in Vermont and New York than foliage. There’s the brilliant sunshine and sky light; the cool, crisp days and nights of wood smoke drifting across field and stream, and autumnal moonlight illuminating the last of the harvest. It’s also quaint little towns, church suppers, hay rides, pumpkin fests, Halloween parades, and roadside stands selling apples, cider and doughnuts. Writing on, Michael Dabney of Shelburne points out that autumn is special in the state’s Champlain Valley. “Music and other arts, indoor and outdoor, dominate the Burlington/Shelburne area ... It’s a great time of year to enjoy the 20-minute ferry ride across Lake Champlain in either direction between Charlotte, Vt., and Essex, N.Y. You can go as a foot passenger or you can take a car and explore the other side. Roadside farm stands abound,” Dabney said.

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will play host to more than 20 local bands in their “Bringing It Home For the Strand” music festival, with proceeds benefitting the Strand’s restoration efforts. For a complete listing of bands and times, consult Oct. 5-6: Fall Open Studio Weekend. Vermont celebrates Fall Open Studio Weekend, an annual statewide celebration of the visual arts when Vermont artists and crafts people invite the public to visit their studios. See www. Oct. 5-6: Oktoberfest. The Olympic Regional Development Authority will be hosting it’s annual Oktoberfest celebration at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 5 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 6. Adult admission is $16, $30 with gondola ride; Junior (under 13) and Senior (above 64) $10, $24 with gondola ride.

October Oct. 2: Cure Cottage Tour. Historic Saranac Lake offers a tour of the Cure Cottage Museum in the history-laden Helen Hill neighborhood. Meet at 103 Helen St. $5/person; children and HSL members free. Visit Oct. 4: Coffeehouse Concert. Tom Atskens & Neil Rossi to Open 26th season of the Palmer Street Coffeehouse, 4 Palmer St., Plattsburgh. Starts at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments available. The Coffeehouse is well known for its welcoming atmosphere and fine acoustic music. Call (518) 561-9418. Oct. 4-6: Music Festival. The Plattsburgh’s Strand Theater

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Oct. 9: Bela Fleck’s Banjo Summit. Includes performances

Bela Fleck

Oct. 6: Vermont Dining Train. Take a scenic train excursion

aboard an authentic Pullman Dining Car with complimentary four-course dinner and beverages. Departs 5 p.m. from Amtrak depot at 25 Evelyn St., Rutland. For reservations, visit www. or call (800) 292-7245. Oct. 6: Mount Zion Hike. With site interpreter Carl Fuller. Get an aerial view of the Hubbardton Battlefield and surrounding mountains. Meet at the Visitor Center, Hubbardton Battlefield, 5696 Monument Hill Road, 2-5 p.m., (802) 273-2282. Oct. 6-7: Cider Days on the Belmont Green. Celebrate the fall harvest. Apple cider will be pressed on the Belmont Green with local artisans selling crafts; cider sale, bake and book sale, Saturday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sunday, noon-4 p.m., in the town of Belmont/Mount Holly.

ranging from solos to duets to full-tilt banjo blowouts. Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St., Rutland, 8 p.m. Tickets: $40.75/45.75/59.75. Call (802) 775-0903. Visit Oct. 12: Adirondack Coast Wine, Cider and Food Festival. This festival is one-of-a-kind to the region and will serve up unique local cold climate wines, ciders and farm products from local artisans. Noon - 8 p.m. at the Crete Memorial Civic Center, Plattsburgh. Call (518) 324-7709. Oct. 12-13: Flaming Leaves Festival. The Olympic Regional Development Authority hosts this popular festival at the ski jumping complex on State Route 73 in Lake Placid. Blues, brews and BBQs will accompany ski jumpers, craft vendors, and more. Visit Oct. 12-13: Harvest Festival. Gore Mountain Ski Center in North Creek holds its annual Harvest Festival. Free admission. Featuring local artisans and vendors, children’s entertainment, food and drink menu, and live entertainment. Visit www. Oct. 12: Brewfest. Lake Placid’s second annual Brewfest will take place at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. Admission will include a souvenir sampling glass and a four-hour “unlimited” sampling. Visit Oct. 18-19, 25-26, 30: Haunted Castle Tour. Held at Wilson Castle, 7-10 p.m. Pay at the door. Located at 2708 West St. in Proctor. Call (802) 773-3284. Visit Oct. 18-19, 25-26: Annual Pittsford Haunted House. Family fun for everyone with new attractions. Ticket sales are 6-9 p.m. Wagon ride to the Haunted House. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children up to 12. Not recommended for children under 6. Parking next to Pittsford Town Office on Plains Road in Pittsford. Follow signs along U.S. Route 7. Oct. 19: Dirty Dog Mud Run. The Titus Mountain Family Ski Center will host the Inaugural Dirty Dog Mud Run to benefit the Champlain Valley Search and Rescue K9 unit. 19 obstacles, 7 kilometers, 1 finish. Visit Oct. 19: Fall Trails Day. Held in the High Peaks Wilderness. This is the last chance of the season to clean drainages of fallen leaves and other debris before the snow arrives. Free. Visit www.

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Oct. 20: Breast Cancer Walk. Making Strides of Chittenden County, Vt. will be the site for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Dorsett Park in South Burlington. Walk, sponsor a team or just come and lend your support to the walkers. Visit www. Oct. 22: Concert. International rock and pop performers Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt entertain with an acoustic concert at the Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St., in Rutland, 8 p.m. Tickets: $59.50/69.50/79.50. Ticket office 802-775-0903. Visit www. (See photo) Oct. 26: Halloween Parade. Rutland’s 54th Annual Halloween Parade is world famous and includes comic book superhero, floats, marching bands, local dignitaries through downtown Rutland. Begins at 6:30 p.m. (See photo) Oct. 26: Halloween Event. At Fort Ticonderoga’s Treats Without Tricks, don your costume and join in the colorful costume parade, plus search for treats hidden in the 6-acre Heroic Corn Maze. Costume prizes for adults and children, sweet treats and more. 3-6 p.m. Admission is $10 per adult; $5 per child. Children 2 years of age and under are free. Visit


3260 Greenbush Road, Charlotte, Vt. Visit www.marchofdimes. com/vermont/events/events_9103.html. Nov. 9: History Program. “The First Call of Duty: Fort Ticonderoga” honors the Veterans of 1775 and beyond. Explore the service of the first American soldiers called to serve their fledgling nation. Veterans admitted free of charge. Visit www. Nov. 16: Polar Plunge. 7th Annual Lake George Polar Plunge for Special Olympics at Shepard Park Beach, Lake George, 9 a.m. Visit Nov. 16: Warren Miller’s Ticket to Ride. Celebrate those who take on the mountains with an abandon that amazes and inspires. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Door prizes at 7:30 p.m. Film at 8 p.m. Tickets $18 ($16). Visit Nov. 23: Performance. Jill Sobule and Julia Sweeney team up for an informal set that pairs Jill’s witty songwriting with Julia’s wildly funny monologues. Starts at 8 p.m. at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Visit


Nov. 1: Coffeehouse Concert. Joan Crane and Steve Feinburg at the Palmer Street Coffeehouse, 4 Palmer St., Plattsburgh. Starts at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments available. The Coffeehouse is well known for its welcoming atmosphere and fine acoustic music. Call (518) 561-9418. Nov. 1-11: Taste MTL. Montreal’s second annual restaurant week, featuring 125 restaurants from quaint bistros to five-star dining. Visit Nov. 2: Theater Performance. National Theatre Live: Othello at 1 p.m. A major new production of William Shakespeare’s celebrated play about the destructive power of jealousy, at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Tickets are $18 ($16) for adults, $12 Students 18 and under. Visit Nov. 3: Food Benefit. The Champlain Valley Signature Chefs’ Auction to benefit the March of Dimes. Featuring culinary delights from some of Vermont’s mist celebrated chefs, with a focus on local Vermont grown foods. Starts at 5 p.m. at The Old Lantern,

Lyle Lovett

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