I had just purchased my Hornbeck canoe in June of 2015 for the sole purpose of backcountry paddling and camping. Weighing only 17 pounds I could carry it to any remote lake in the Adirondacks.
After seeing and reading stories of hikers being lost and rescued I thought it would be wise to hire a guide to take me into the remote Essex Chain of Lakes. I just didn’t want to be that guy who gets the very expensive helicopter ride out as this would be my first adventure. I wound up hiring Adirondack guide Lynn Malerba of Tupper Lake, NY.
When I first met Lynn we hit it off immediately. We shared the same passions for the outdoors. Lynn would not only guide me into the Adirondack wilderness but also fueled my passion for it. Lynn and I have remained friends ever since.
This past weekend I had heard rumblings of a camper being struck by a tree in the Pharoah Lakes Wilderness in the eastern Adirondacks. Today I have learned that this person was Lynn Malerba. I am heart broken to say the least. Lynn was an amazing human being with a wonderful, gentle and kind soul. She will be missed.
Rest in peace Lynn!
From the Adirondack Explorer: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/view_finder/lynn-malerba-dies
As George the cranky steam roller from the Thomas the Tank Engine series says “Tear them up and turn them into roads” but in this case trails. I’ll be honest, I agree with this plan. I work in the rail industry, however I enjoy the outdoors. The original plan was to remove the rails from Big Moose to Lake Placid. Now the rails will only be removed from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake a distance of 35 miles rather than about sixty or so.
I believe that if the rails were to stay and the entire line be restored to active service it would boom until the nostalgia wore off. Who knows maybe I am wrong? I do believe a rail trail will draw more visitors than the railroad. Right now in America the “Rail Trail” boom is booming and they continue to grow in popularity. I guess only time will tell if this was the right decision.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced approval of a controversial plan to remove state-owned railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a 34-mile multi-use trail. In addition, the state is committed to restoring 45 miles of tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.
The governor’s announcement is a victory for Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) and a defeat for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR), which operates a tourist train on a 10-mile stretch of tracks that will be removed. Later in the day, ASR revealed that it recently filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court seeking to save the tracks.
ARTA President Joe Mercurio, who lives in Saranac Lake, said he was thrilled by the governor’s announcement. “ARTA and a great many others have worked long and hard for this,” he said. “Governor Cuomo deserves a huge round of applause for his support. It was the right thing to do.”
The trail would be used by bicyclists, hikers, and others most of the year and by snowmobilers in the winter.
In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the governor’s office said the trail will be finished within three years, at a cost of $8 million. The line south of Tupper Lake will be rehabilitated within the same period, at a cost of $15 million.
“By rehabilitating the railway and building a scenic trail, we are better utilizing the corridor and its surrounding lands to create more economic and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike,” Cuomo said.
One argument for removing the tracks was that the ASR train that runs between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid does little for the local economy. ARTA and many local officials contend that a recreational trail will attract more tourists.
If the tracks are removed, ASR will have to shut down the Lake Placid train. Also, Rail Explorers USA, a rail-bike operation that started last year in Saranac Lake, will have to relocate.
ASR will still be able to run trains out of Old Forge and eventually extend its excursions all the way to Tupper Lake. The Old Forge train is seen as more successful than the Lake Plaid train.
However, it’s not certain ASR will continue to be the rail operator in the corridor. The state plans to solicit bids for a rail operator.
The entire state-owned rail corridor extends 119 miles from Remsen to Lake Placid and is managed by the state Department of Transportation. The updated management plan for the corridor was drafted by DOT and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which will oversee the construction and maintenance of the recreational trail.
DEC officials said Tuesday that track removal could begin as early as December or, if not then, in the spring. ASR and Rail Explorers can continue to operate on the tracks through November.
Supporters of the railroad have argued, among other things, that removing the tracks would violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. They also point out that the corridor and the tracks are on the state and national registers of historic places.
In February, after the Adirondack Park Agency approved the rail-trail plan, ASR started a campaign to raise $100,000 for a legal fight. As of late March, it said it had raised about $40,000.
Bill Branson, president of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which operates ASR, said in a news release late Tuesday afternoon that the railroad recently filed a lawsuit against DEC and the APA. “We are an important driver of tourism in the Adirondacks, and we cannot understand why DEC is determined to destroy vital transportation infrastructure and the only operator on that infrastructure,” he said.
Steve Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage also criticized the decision. “We are disappointed by the governor’s announcement, as we feel that the railroad advocates made a strong case for the preservation of the entire 119-mile rail corridor for its economic, social, and cultural value,” Engelhart said. “In addition to destroying a significant section of this National Register-listed historic resource, this decision will shut down a successful local business, Adirondack Rail Explorers, and eliminate the northern operations of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, a popular attraction for area visitors with thousands of riders every year.”
In addition to building a rail trail and fixing up old tracks, the state intends to:
Build snowmobile trails near the corridor to connect Tupper Lake and Old Forge and improve snowmobile connections between the Adirondacks and Tug Hill.
Evaluate the feasibility of a hut-to-hut cross-country ski trail from Beaver River to Horseshoe Lake.
Establish railway stops for visitors and outdoor recreationists.
Consult with the State Historic Preservation Office to mitigate the impacts of removing the rails.
In September 2015 I had the opportunity to take a canoe/camping trip on the Essex Chain of Lakes in the Adirondacks. The camping was primitive and extremely remote. However the tranquility was undeniably amazing!
This summer I planned an two day “Overnight” canoe camping trip to the Essex Chain of lakes in the central Adirondack’s with “Adirondack Connections Guide & Outfitting” based in Tupper Lake, NY.
Finally after weeks of anticipation the weekend of September 25th & 26th arrived and I would set out on my journey. We drove about an hour from Tupper Lake to the parking area for the Essex Chain, from there we had to carry our packs (40lbs.) and our boats, Hornbeck boats the lightest boats in the woods 1.3 miles into our campsite on Third Lake. Setting up our camp was quick, easy and extremely remote. Camp setup complete it was time to paddle, so we launched our canoes and began to explore Third lake through Seventh lake arriving back at our campsite before sunset. Dinner cooked and consumed before darkness and then we sat quietly listening to the sounds of the woods as darkness would fall. Shortly there after turning in for the evening.
The weather called for clear and cool temps that night getting down into the high 30’s. I wound up sleeping in hiking pants, a wool shirt with a pair of thin gloves for my hands, I was extremely comfortable during the night. To my disbelief I slept just over 10 hours that night something I never do at home.
We awoke the next morning to fog hovering over the lakes. The warmth of the sun rapidly burning it off providing us another amazing day on the Essex Chain. This morning we would explore Second and First lake and the outlet from First. However low water and an abundance of large beaver damns stopped us about 1.5 miles in.
After exploring we made our way back to camp, packed up and began the 1.3 mile carry out ending an amazing experience in a beautiful place.