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Hiking Guides Fly Through the Summer!!

August 29, 2012

Lunch on an islandO.K. it seems like we were flying! The fact of the matter is, in our lack of wisdom (or timing) we managed to have 3 books released past May, which meant most weeks we were book signing, doin presentations or otherwise hawking our wares (books).  The books in question are:

  1. Finding Griffin: an Adirondack novel
  2. A Kayaker’s Guide to Lake George, the Great Sacandaga Lake and the Saratoga Region
  3. A 3D Guide to the Empire State Plaza and its Monumental works of Art

Happy to say, that in spite of the work aspect, we managed to get out and play (our research).  It was especially good venturing out on our kayaks to secret (for the moment) places.  Our very best times kayaking were up north with my son Dan and kayaking the upper Hudson and GSL with Mike, Matt and a variety of grandkids.


Waterfall Weekend

May 20, 2012

Waterfall Weekend 2012 at Trail’s End Inn, Keene Valley was one of the best in our eleven years of leading hikes for the inn (though we’ve loved every year! Of course, keys to enjoying the outdoors are sunshine and congenial hiking participants- which we had in spades!  Add to that, the wonderful ambience and delicious meals provided by the inn and you have a damn near perfect weekend. 

We kept the group hopping Saturday with one waterfall after another: Phelps Falls, Hulls Falls, Falls and covered bridge at Jay, Flume Falls on the Ausable and river walk towards Whiteface Mt. – plus a visit to High Falls Gorge (a commercial attraction).  After a day of flitting to various falls, the inn served another outstanding dinner; four star, I’ll wager!  Sunday found most of the jolly crew gamely hiking Baxter Mt. and from the top ledges enjoying the pretty view of the Valley and peaks beyond.

But wait, there’s more!  Russ and I had to run down the mountain, hop in our car and race to Saranac Lake for a book signing of my new novel Finding Griffin at the Community Store.  That, too, was great fun, in that we reconnected with a sister author, Caperton Tissot,…and signed a good number of books. The home grown Community Store is an excellant concept. It is ably managed by Craig Waters.

The following Monday we explored some new areas, searching for waterfalls to offer on Waterfall Weekend 2013.  We’re not sure which we’ll choose; we like to keep potential participants in suspense!  Stay tuned!

High Time at High Point

May 10, 2012

View from High PointWomans Club of Albany at High PointOn Saturday, April 28, we led a spectacular hike at High Point in the Helderbergs for the Womans Club of Albany. High Point is appropriately named, for it is part of a particularly high section of the Helderberg escarpment looming over the village of Altamont.

The hike began from the end of Carrick Road at a place we call Stonehenge. We gave it this name because there is a huge assembly of giant, 1,000-pound raised limstone slabs that looks like an American version of Stonehenge.

From Stonehenge we hiked past an old quarry, and then past an abandoned, cement-block building that was once used by a rod & gun club. It’s amazing to come across something like this lying buried in dense woods, seemingly so out of place.

We ended up at the High Point Cliffs approximately half an hour into the hike. The cliffs provide outstanding views not only of Altamont, but of an expansive sweep of the Mohawk Valley. The vertical drop off at the edge of the cliff is simply dazzling.

The group was eager to continue on, so we followed along part of the Long Path, and then veered off to another section of high escarpment bluffs called Hang Glider Cliffs. There literally was a runway at the top of this cliff. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess just how ths cliff came to be named. We met someone who biked up to the cliff who claimed that a record of some kind was set by someone who hang glided from the cliffs to New Paltz, riding the thermals all the way.

After enjoying lunch — and marveling at the good weather that made this hike so memorable — we returned to our cars via a different route, ending up on the Fred Schroeder Memorial Trail — named after the late Fred Schroeder, who did so much to preserve the natural beauty of the Helderbergs.

Waterfalls – hiking and books

March 26, 2012

     In the midst of getting three books ready for public consumption — A 3-D Guide to the Empire State Plaza, Finding Griffin, and A Kayaker’s Guide to Lake George, the Saratoga Region & Great Sacandaga Lake — we found ourselves with too much time on our hands; so we headed off to Connecticut last Friday to do some field research for Russell’s next waterfall guidebook, which will be on waterfalls on Connecticut. In order to get an early start, we got up at 4:00 am. By 6:15 were south of Springfield Massachusetts, one of hundreds of drivers already pounding away on I-91. From this point on the traffic only intensified further. Connecticut is truly the land of automobiles (and slow traffic speeds too, we might add).

We didn’t get back until 7:00 pm that night — so it was a long day; but we got to visit over ten potential waterfall sites. Looking for waterfalls is  truly a hit or miss business. In some instances, there is no actual waterfall encountered — just a dam (an artificial waterfall); in other instances, the waterfall proves to be on private property, is inaccessible for other reasons (often due to access), or is so insignificant that it doesn’t merit being included in a book.

The trip proved successful, however, for we came up with at least 6-7 more waterfalls for the book.

The quality of the book has also been increased immeasurably. Christy Butler, a well-established nature photographer in Massachusetts, will be taking professional photographs of the waterfalls for the book, making the Connecticut Waterfall Guidebook, in the end, a joint venture between author and photographer.

Have we talked enough about waterfalls and books yet?

Hopefully not. We’ll continue to keep you posted as explorations continue. In the meantime, we’re off to Washington, D.C. this Friday to visit with Barbara’s son, Mike, and his family.

Russell & Barbara

Book Signing and Exploring in the Adirondacks

March 18, 2012

This week we had mountains of fun in the Adirondack mountains.  We stayed at Trail’s End Inn, our favorite place in Keene Valley, Wednesday, 3/14 and Thursday 3/15.  Besides having fun and celebrating Russ’ birthday, the purpose was checking the trails in prep for Waterfall Weekend and doing a presentation for the Saranac Lake library on “nineteenth-century artists and Adirondack guides: how they informed our idea of the American wilderness”.  Seventy some people came to our talk – a lively bunch who were appreciative and peppered us with interesting questions.  They bought a lot of our books. Caperton Tissot, author of Adirondack ice had invited us.  We enjoyed getting to know her over lunch.

Saranac Lake is a picturesque small town where I lived for two brief years as a young mother.  My two twin sons, Matt and Mike were born there.  The town has, of course, changed – but not so much. The downtown buildings have remained and most are in good repair.  I was absolutely facinated by their Community Store – a town effort to establish an attractive department store to counter and keep out chains such as Wal-Mart.  Many individuals in the town have shares in the store.  It’s a wonderful far- sighted model that deserves to succeed.

Our scouting for Waterfall Weekend (May 4th and 5th) went very well.  I expect our hardy trekkers will be pleased with the hikes we’ve selected.  We met a real guide on the John’s Brook trail from ‘the garden’ in Keene Valley.  He’d been either tenting or sleeping in his car for over a month while he solo’d a bunch of high peaks – all to complete his winter ’46’. He spoke about fording some of the streams up to his waist.  It may be warmer than usual in the ‘dacks, but there is still plenty of ice on the river banks. I’ll admit to liking more comfort than that.  After three or four days out I long for a shower and a comfy bed. 

He was an interesting guy – we exchanged cards.

Words, Walks…and Swims

March 14, 2012

We’ve missed our blog – nothing serious, just too busy and having too much fun!  Actually, we’ve spent a lot of time working at our salt desks in a mine of information. As a result we have several new books about to be released: Finding Griffin, an Adirondack novel by Barbara Delaney, and A Kayakers Guide to the Lake George Region…etc. by Russell Dunn, and The 3D Guide to the Empire State Plaza by Barbara Delaney and Russell Dunn.  Truth be told, we’ve actually been working on these books for several years, but somehow we pushed hard to get them all released this May 2012.

Nevertheless, we’ve done some short walks in Vermont and locally.  The icing on the cake, however, was our trip last week to Puerto Rico where we walked in the lush El Yunque  rain forest to robust waterfalls, meandered along brown sugar beaches, and swam and kayaked in clear azure waters.  And guess what?  We may go back next year to write-up there waterfalls.  Of course, first Russ needs to finish-up his Connecticutt waterfall guide.

More chat next week after we return from Saranac Lake and the Adirondacks; where we’ll be doing our presentation on 19th century artists and Adirondack guides – and scouting for Waterfall Weekend


January 29, 2012

Well, our hikes in January may have been short, but they were long on fun.  We just returned from a jaunt in Vermont with C.C. skis and snowshoes in tow, hoping to find the pristine, fluffy, puffy stuff that proclaims winter in VT. We didn’t encounter crunchy snow, just forlorn, naked, grass spotted with ice. Nevertheless, we loved exploring the well marked trails at West Mountain Inn (where we stayed).  Another bonus of having cold weather without snow was that we actually got to enjoy the Inn.  We brought a pile of books with us and then bought more at Northshire Books (we’re not kindle kids yet). One day we had the inn and fireplaces to our selves…ahhhh…tea cookies and the choice of Thirity Umrigar or Barry Unsworth. 

Since we can’t be totally unproductive, we visited Elaine Beckwith Gallery in Jamaica, VT. to follow-up on a particular woodcut by Elfriede Abbe that I wish to use on a novel cover.  I was put in contact by phone with Elfriede; she and I are exploring permissions.  No matter the outcome, she was a delight to talk to; she’s ninety-three years of age and going strong.  We also went to visit Kermit Hummel at Countryman Press in Woodstock VT – they will be publishing Russ’ new book Connecticutt Waterfall Guide. We are very favorable impressed with Russ’ new publisher – friendly and professional. 

Back at home we are in the thick of getting our 3D Guide to the Empire State finished and are polishing my novel Finding Griffin.

Oh, and not to forget, we have announced Waterfall Weekend at Trail’s End Inn, Keene Valley, which is on the weekend of May 4-6, 2012.  We have a terrific waterfall hikes itnerary for May – and the inn is a perfect delight!