Rich's Ramblings, 2006-2007

June 2007

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

Well folks, here it is; my last Ramble! Hopefully there aren't too many folks out there going "at last!" One of the first things I'd like to do is wish my replacement Deni Charpentier, my best wishes for her term. She has a great team of volunteers to support her. I would also like to thank all the volunteers that have helped me make our club the success it is. I have talked with a number of our presenters both before and after the programs. Quite a few of them have done their presentations for other chapters as well and have commented on both the size of our turn out as well as the number of activities we have all year round. This can't happen without our volunteers! I wish I could list all of our volunteers but I'm not even going to try because I know I'll miss some. I never did get to a mailing group meeting/party, for example, but without them, you wouldn't be reading this. Everything that you enjoy about our chapter comes from the volunteers. Thank you for helping me get through the last couple years! People have told me that I did a pretty good job as chapter chair but I didn't do it, it was all the volunteers that made me look good. Thank you.

Many people think of the Adirondack Mountain club as just a group of hikers, campers and paddlers but those of you at the May chapter meeting heard how much more we are. We got an email from a group in Buffalo concerned about the DEC's plan to harvest wood in a part of the Zoar Valley management unit, asking for our support. The executive committee discussed this but decided we really didn't have all the facts needed to get involved. Dave Harrison agreed to email the main club for advice. The response from Neal and Marissa was that they had contacted the DEC and at our request, DEC has stopped all plans for timber harvesting activities on this lot and will reevaluate the timber plan. DEC has promised ADK that it will not go ahead with a revised timber management plan without further consultation with ADK.

This is great news. First, it shows us that we, as a chapter, can influence events in our area. Second, it shows us that the main club is willing to support us in local matters. And finally, it shows that the Adirondack Mountain Club has both respect and influence with the state. We may need to call on the main club again as the issue with Hemlock and Canadice Lakes progresses.

Thank you all for your support and have a great summer!


May 2007

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

One of the perks or not depending on how you look at it of being chapter chair is that I'm on the mailing list for all the chapters' newsletters. That's a lot of reading; least if I choose to read everything! I have to admit I don't always read each and every one totally but I do try to at least skim them. There does seem to be a topic that keeps getting repeated though. That is the shape of our chapters and club. Throughout the state and our chapter, membership is down. What can we do about it or more importantly; what can YOU do about it? When was the last time you invited a friend to come along on a chapter hike or trip with you? I was at an EC meeting one night when someone took a quick poll about how we got into the Adirondack Mountain Club and over 75% said it was through one of our outings. So invite someone to go on one of our hikes with you; it's that easy. If you are on a hike and there is someone you don't recognize, introduce yourself and talk to them. Show them that we are interested and friendly!

Besides membership being down, the other common problem is the lack of volunteers. All the chapters are struggling with this, not just the Genesee Valley Chapter. Those of you that read my last Ramble were told that our Boston chapter has ceased to exist. Apparently it was a lack of volunteers that broke the camels back. We're not asking you for your life here but leading a hike might take you the length of the hike and some prep time, is that too much. I read an email a couple weeks ago that really grabbed me. It seems a couple people were talking ethics. The first person was constantly going to the bookstore; you know them, big with comfortable chairs, coffee bars and all. But he wasn't going to buy the books; all he was doing was reading them there. He was even bringing his lunch when he was going to spend the whole day there. The second person felt this was wrong; how could they expect the bookstore to stay in business if everyone did this? What's your take on this? It's the same with the Adirondack Mountain Club.

In the January/February issue of Adirondac, our club president Curt Miller said "ADK is in a world of change, with the rate of change the fastest it has been. Pressures from work and family present ADK with a clientele with less free time, interest in a different type and level of service." I think Curt is right, times are changing and our members are changing too and we would be foolish not to change as well. At the last chapter meeting Susan Aiello cornered me to talk about this very concept. She felt that given the difficulties our chapter has been having, maybe we need to do some long term planning. Susan, I think you are right and thank you for voicing this! I think this may take some time and lots of effort but we do need to take a hard look at what we are and are not doing for our members. I think the term "but that's the way we've always done it…" is the kiss of death for any organization. I don't think this is something I can finish before my term is done but I'd really like to start it. We did this with our younger members program, which is being repeated at other chapters, so I know this chapter can do it.

To get the ball rolling what I'd like to do is ask you if there are things you think we should be doing that we aren't or if there are things you think we shouldn't be doing. I would really like to hear from the group that disappears for 20 years, those of you married with children; what can we do for you? I'm available before the chapter meetings and you can reach me at: 224-0912 or rsensen@gvc-adk.org if you have suggestions. Please feel free to make suggestions; this is your club too! Help make it a better club.


April 2007

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

Sunday afternoon I went for a walk down along the Rifle Range trail which is not all that unusual except for the warm weather. Coming back I passed a person out trying out his snowshoes before heading up north the following weekend. What's the point here, you're asking? Be patient, that's why Joann calls this a ramble and I'm rambling. Anyhow, back to the story. As I stepped to the side of the trail so this person could pass, I commented on his snowshoes, which is how I found out he was headed north. I have to admit that I was impressed by his enthusiasm, especially since he was carrying about five pounds of mud and slush on top of each snowshoe! I bet they were rentals! Anyhow, as I type this, I have to say it looks like its MUD SEASON! That means we have to be extra careful of the trails. Try to avoid trails you know will be wet and muddy. If you can't; I know it may seem like the better choice to go off the trail and around the mud but it really is better to stay in the mud and help keep the mud in its place rather than creating more, wider and deeper mud holes. Lets all do our part!"

Those of you that missed the Expo committee meeting missed a great time! We had a great dinner, company, made pop can stoves (or beer can, I made a pop & beer can stove, a peer can stove) and got some work done for the Expo. All is not lost though; pop can stoves are one of the workshops being offered at the Expo so you still have a chance.

The other committees have fun meetings as well so check them out. The meeting information is on the website as well as in the Geneseean.

As I was trying to decide what to say this month, it occurred to me that I don't have too many more of these articles to write. There are a couple things I'd like to do before I step down. First I'd like to leave a full slate of committee chairs and officers so the next chapter chair doesn't start out short handed. We still have openings in various committees: trails, conservation and programs so you can still sign on. The other thing I'd like to do is ask you if there are things you think we should be doing that we aren't or if there are things you think we shouldn't be doing. I'm available before the chapter meetings and my contact information is in the Geneseean if you have suggestions. Please feel free to make suggestions; this is your club too!

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you about a passing. As you read this the Boston chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club has ceased to exist. After a long struggle with a lack of volunteers to keep the chapter alive, the executive committee turned their charter in at the last club board meeting. They will be missed. (I hope this is not a contagious disease.)


March 2007

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

Yep, it's still that time of year! Our nominating committee has formed, met, come up with a list and is checking it twice. When they are done, I'm sure they will be happy to announce to new slate of candidates for next year's elected officers. But you are not off the hook yet! We still have openings in various committees: trails, conservation and programs are all looking for new chairs or co-chairs if that's how you'd like to do it. So here's your big chance to step forward and help your chapter! It's folks like you that keep this chapter vibrant.

We are also looking for nominations to our High Summit Honor Society. As you know, we set up the High Summit Honor Society to recognize chapter members that have given extended service to the club. What we need from you is to tell us who you think these people are because we don't always know everything our members are doing, especially from years back. So if you know of a member who has given at least 10 years of service to the club, please let us know who they are and what they've done. That way next fall, when we make the awards; someone deserving may get it because you took the time to tell us about that person.

I hope none of you showed up at the museum last month only to find that we had cancelled due to the weather. If you did, you might be interested to know that we had talked about something like this happening at our last Executive Committee meeting. We have a concern that we want to be able to get the word out quickly should something important come up. We have a number of ways to do that: our website, our telephone hotline and lately our Yahoo groups. The trails, waterways, younger members and expo committees all have a group, there's even one for the chapter (adk-gvc). The great thing about these groups is that it creates a way for the committee to communicate easily with the whole group. I would strongly suggest that you consider joining one of these groups. If you have an interest in one of the committees, sign up for the group; this does not mean you have to be an active volunteer so don't worry that I'm trying to trick you. I would like to point out though that every member in one of those groups got an email telling them the meeting had been cancelled by mid afternoon. If you don't want a lot of mail, join the chapter group ADK-GVC; that group sends a few emails a year for special events. To join, just go to yahoo.com, click on groups and search for ADK. All the GVC groups have GVC in the name, and then follow the directions to set up your account. No charge, and for you gray hairs like me, you can impress your children or grandchildren by being in a Yahoo group. Make them think you're with it! I think that's the term; whatever that means. Click here for more information on the chapter email lists.

At this point I would like to apologize to those of you I just got in trouble. You know who you are! "Gee, I'm sorry honey, we were going to that special Valentine's Day ADK meeting with the romantic programs on Tracking Your Honey and Romantic Times in Greenland, raffle prizes, snacks and candy, but I just found out it was cancelled at the last minute and didn't have time to make plans for that romantic dinner and get those special gifts! If you had been on a group list, you would have had the time.

So you have some work to do for the chapter. Please, don't let me down, our chapter needs you!


February 2007

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

Well, it's that time of the year again. Our nominating committee has formed and is looking for people to step forward. I'm sure some of you are saying to yourself: "We did just fine last year, what's the worry?" Well; let's look at some of those things. We just had some very successful programs; black bears in New York, Women with Altitude and Carl Heilman's breathtaking show. They didn't just happen; each event was set up by one of the Program committee volunteers. The Program committee has this well organized, they meet and decide on the year's programs and each member picks one to champion. The work is spread out so no one person is carrying the whole load and the result is the excellent programs we get every month.

Here's an example of something that isn't working as well. We don't have a Conservation Committee chair. Neil Woodworth, from the main club, emailed Jim Bird and I about a Great Lakes Health Conference that would be in Rochester. It was unfortunately the same day as the club board of directors meeting so he couldn't make it and wanted to know if we could get a club member to attend and send him a report. Normally, this would go to the Conservation chair that would follow up on it; but without a chair things became much more difficult. Jim finally got in touch with Bill Crowe who agreed to represent our club. We did get by on that one. On the other hand, how many of you saw the article in the newspaper that Mayor Duffy was considering selling off the land around Hemlock and Conesus lakes? This should be a major concern for you because that's our drinking water! It's also a great recreation area. Without a chair to organize a response, we may not be heard. Here's another example; I was hiking in Bay Park East a couple weeks ago and came across a spot at the top of a gully that the town had installed a storm sewer. The county apparently mandates that such projects use fill created by chopping up the glass and plastic we put in our recycling. Now, I don't know if that's legal or not (that's where the chair would ask some committee members to find out) but using this fill in a gully has got to be one of the least thought out projects I can think of. There is glass and plastic from the top of the gully all the way into the bay! What's to stop the birds and animals from eating this stuff or walking on it and cutting their feet? So if you hear of people that live on the bay complaining about this mysterious, multicolored plastic floating onto the shore; tell them they can thank the county for that little gift!

So hopefully, you can see that the volunteers we have in our chapter are important. It doesn't have to be a big job just; help us somewhere, please. Our chapter needs you!


January 2007

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

Well, ready or not, here it is - 2007! Time sure flies along when you're busy. I hope you have all made your resolutions for the New Year. I know I have. Yes, those boxes from last year's resolution are still there; but there are only half as many and the resolution has been renewed! So I feel good about that resolution. I hope at least one of your resolutions is to give back to the club in some way. I know I feel that I have more than gotten my money's worth for the annual dues. If you feel that way as well, perhaps I can suggest some ways to give back to the club. The easiest way is to just write a check and send it to the main club. As a Non-Profit organization, we are always operating on that fine line between the red and black ink and I'm sure the staff at the main club would like to see a little more of the black ink. They have made some tremendous efforts (and sacrifices) this last couple years to cut back on the red ink and are doing a great job! On a more personal level, you could give the club some of your time. Our chapter offers an amazing number and variety of activities but they don't just happen. Somebody has to make it happen! Our programs don't just happen; this Geneseean doesn't just appear at the printer; committees need members, the hikes and paddles need leaders! You don't have to give a lot of time, just a little will help! When I was a kid, we had a neighbor that caused all kinds of trouble and never did anything good. She must have caused a great deal of frustration amongst the adults but for us kids it was great to have someone there to take the fall for us. And boy did we let her! Unfortunately I've grown up some as I got older and now her relative is a thorn in my side as well. So I'm asking for all your help to banish this troublemaker from our lives. Don't let her take over our club! Don't let Ida Know run our chapter! Only you can stop Ida Know!

Every year we take any excess funds that we had budgeted toward our operating expenses and consider where we can put them to good use. This year our chapter donated: $250 to the local chapter of the Nature Conservancy for the support of the 1000 Acre Swamp, $250 to help restore the women's restroom at the Loj, $750 to the high school trail maintenance program and $1500 to the main club. Additionally, the basket that was donated to Harvest Moon Madness by this chapter sold for $150.

I hope you all had a great holiday! The chapter has some great things planned for 2007. The Loj Trip, Our 10th Outdoor Expo, great programs, highway cleanups, more hikes, paddles and camping than you can imagine as well as lots of things just waiting to be announced. Don't miss your chance to help the chapter grow!


December 2006

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

Well, here it is December and I'm still trying to finish up on one of my resolutions. To my credit; I haven't just given up on it like so many other resolutions that we all make. I promised myself and my kids that I would turn all the boxes and boxes that have accumulated over the years into an organized collection of boxes, a much smaller collection. The problem is going through all that stuff. I find things that bring back memories: a rock from the top of Mt Katadin, a poem my daughter wrote me for Valentines Day many, many years ago, a Cub Scout patch I got for taking my son on one of the worst (weather wise) campouts I've ever been on. So it's pretty slow going, but I'm picking away at it. At this point, I'm sure you are wondering where I'm going with this or if I've just lost it completely. There is a point to this: one of the things I found was a business card for Footprint Press. I'm sure a lot of you remember Rich and Sue Freeman and their books on places to hike, bike and paddle in New York. Anyway, this card reminded me of a story Sue wrote for a previous Geneseean. I think this story has a message still for all of us.

It seems Rich and Sue decided to go for a couple hour walk along the Crescent Trail which is near their home and something they have walked many times. The weather was nice and it looked like it would be pretty with the sun on the changing leaves (did I mention that it was Fall). After awhile though, the sun went away, the clouds rolled in and the rain started. And as it does in the Fall, it started cooling down. So here they were, out in the rain getting wet and cooling down which normally wouldn't be a problem except they didn't do the one thing that they and we as a chapter, always tell beginners: BE PREPARED! No pack with rain gear meant a cold wet walk. To make it worse, because it was cloudy and raining, it was getting dark faster than they anticipated. In an effort to get back to the car faster, they took what they thought would be a shortcut, unfortunately it wasn't. Now they were cold, wet, not sure where they were and it was still getting dark. Long before this, I'm sure they were thinking about the gear left behind and vowing never to do that again. They eventually did get back safely and Sue wrote her article as a warning to the rest of us.

I wonder how many of us have made the same mistake, I know I have. The weather is great and you just need to get out for awhile so you just go. This sounds good, but let's face it; it's not a good choice; too many things can change too fast. So when you go out to enjoy yourselves, please plan ahead. Then have a great time!


November 2006

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

I am glad to announce that we have a chairperson for the 2007 Outdoor Expo! Barb Brenner has stepped up and volunteered to be the chair. She and I met at Brugger's to talk over ideas and such (yes, there's that thing with me and my coffee). She had some really great ideas. She would also like to hear your ideas so since we don't have an educational program for November; Barb will be there instead looking for your ideas on Outdoor Expo. This is the perfect chance for all of us who have thought "wouldn't it be neat if next year we......" so please think about what we can do to make it better and stop by with your suggestion. After all this is your Expo.

A number of years ago, the Genesee Valley Chapter sponsored a roundtable with officers from the western New York chapters to discuss issues that affected this part of the state. The idea was that while the club was interested in the Adirondack region, we also had interests and concerns about our area. Since then the main club has rewritten its mission statement to include the protection and responsible recreational use ..... of other parks, wild lands, and waters vital to our members and chapters. I think this is great because we have some fantastic areas right in our backyard. When we hosted the Fall Outing a few years ago there were a lot of folks that were very surprised by what we had to offer. I was talking to a couple who were just amazed at the park system we had here in Monroe County; they had nothing like it where they lived. I mention this because I think a lot of us take our park system for granted. I think this is a treasure that we need to guard to make sure we don't lose it. The new Genesee River trail is a great addition to this system. I know there are folks who don't really consider it an equal to say the Northville-Placid Trail. The good thing about this trail is that its accessible to people that may never do anything else. It will give them an awareness of nature and its beauty that they may never otherwise feel. That alone is worthwhile because the more people that experience this in some fashion; the better chance we have to protect this for the future generations.

Speaking of future generations; I want to remind you that hunting season is here! Hunting is allowed on Sundays. Up north it lasts until December 3rd. Around here, it will be until December 10th. So dust off those bright colors and make sure you can be seen. We want to make sure you can have future generations.

Finally, I'd like to make one more comment on the Volunteer of the Year Award. Susan Aiello and Charlie Helman have both worked hard for this chapter and I want them to know that we appreciate it. As a volunteer organization, we rely on our volunteers and Susan and Charlie are examples of why our chapter is so great! My heartfelt thanks to Susan and Charlie and all the other volunteers that make this chapter!


October 2006

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

It was good to see so many old friends again at our first chapter meeting of the season! I also enjoyed meeting many of the people who were new to our chapter. Welcome to our chapter. I do hope I can get to know you better as well. I'm sure you will have a great time with us this year; we have lots of exciting things planned.

I would also like to once again acknowledge our High Summit Honor Society members, both the new inductees as well as the existing ones. It's folks like this that make our chapter the best. As I said at the meeting, one thing that really impressed me was the 'Who me? But I really haven't done anything attitude.' These people aren't doing what they are doing for recognition; they are doing it because they believe in what they are doing. This actually makes the selection of these members difficult. When the selection committee was meeting, it was very obvious that no one person knew the whole story. As we combined what different members knew of the candidates, then the whole picture began to emerge. The major concern of the selection committee was that we would miss candidates because we don't know what they have done. Please help us with this. If you know of someone who has been very active, especially older members who were active but are no longer; please let me know so we can add this to the selection process. Don't let them be missed or forgotten!

This month may be our last educational workshop until we get an Education Committee Chair. I thought about asking the Executive Committee to fill in until we get a volunteer but that doesn't seem fair to them, so we'll go without. If you are one of the folks that enjoyed these in the past, please consider volunteering.

We have a couple special events coming up that I'd like to mention. Twice a year our chapter picks up trash along Rt. 531. Come join us for breakfast and then work it off. See what interesting things you can find! One year a member lost her car keys and 2 years later, they were found by another member! We also will be having a member's day picnic soon. This is a great time to just visit with old friends and meet new members! It's free and fun, so come on down! The main club's annual Harvest Moon Madness is coming up on November 4th. A fun evening of wining, dining, prize bidding and just plain fun. For this event, you may not want to wear your hiking boots though!


September 2006

Rich Sensenbach, Chapter Chair

Welcome back! I hope you all had a great summer! I've read about a number of your adventures in the paper and on our website so I know you've been busy.

I went to a programs committee a few weeks ago and I have to say, this year's program lineup looks exciting. Lots of variety. Many of you would probably be surprised at how much thought and discussion goes into planning the year's activities. Feel free to come to any of these committee meetings; they are all open to you.

I was planning on writing about how busy our chapter is and even toss out numbers on how many trips we did and such; that is until I tried to sit down and come up with the actual numbers. That's when the troubles started! We really don't have a season like baseball or football does; we just shift gears and keep going. Summer hikes or paddles give way to Fall hikes or paddles which in turn give way to Winter skiing or snowshoeing as well as the paddling for the diehards (Yes Steve, I've got your number!) and so it continues just as life itself goes on. Excuse me, I'm rambling but anyone who's tried having a conversation with me knows that happens on occasion, which reminds me of a backpacking trip I was on in '87 or was it '89, anyhow after we set up camp for the night this heavy rain settled in for the night so we didn't have anything to do but set around the fire and talk so we were reminiscing about other rainy trips when..... Well anyhow I think I'm getting off the subject which was if I remember club activities. Yep, that's it! So I started trying to figure out just how many trips we did offer and ran into a number of problems. First, we have no season which I already mentioned. Second, we have trips and events pop up all the time at the last minute. As an example, I see we now have a Monday morning paddling group, I don't know where they came from but suddenly I'm getting emails about where the next paddle will be! This is why our club is so great! Somebody says, why don't we do this, steps up and does it. It makes for a dynamic, fun chapter. Unless of course, someone is trying to count out the events and finds they are happening so fast they don't always get on the website. And they are taken off the schedule promptly so you can't go back to count them. So I gave up counting and will just say we have a gazillion things going on in our chapter.

By now I'm sure your wondering where I'm going with all this. That's why I call it a ramble! The point I'm trying to make is we have am amazing chapter here. This is one of the few outdoor clubs that actually gives something back to the community through our activities, programs and donations. We have an amazing amount of activities for our members to choose from and we have some incredible folks doing this. Without these volunteers, we wouldn't have these activities. That's why we have our High Summit Honor Society, to honor those people that just keep on giving their time and skills! But they aren't the only ones that deserve recognition; all the volunteers do. So please do everyone a favor and the next time you are at an event, thank the folks that made it possible. Or, better yet, become one of them! We still need an education and conservation chair as well as committee members for your favorite activity, whatever it is.

Well, I gotta go; I just got an email from the younger members that they are doing a bike ride tonight and I'm thinking maybe if I shave off this gray beard first, I can go with them. Happy trails to you!