What’s That Blue Thing?

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Industrial, North Country

On the last few urbex camping trips, we kept noticing something on the side of route 3 that looked huge, abandoned, and very, very blue. After a bit of research, I figured out that it was Benson’s Mines, and no one had really bothered to explore it yet, since it’s in the absolute middle of North Country nowhere, and no one from the ‘establishment’ thought it was worth the trip at all. And they were so, so wrong. I left this place with a very profound feeling of ‘coming out’ as an explorer: this was my first find worth anything at all, and half a day here nowhere near enough to see what the giant complex had to offer.

Step 1: walk past oblivious guard, through open gate.

Step 2: Take one. Don’t forget, safety fourth!
Take one

Step 3: Register at the ticket booth!

Step 4: Pick some buildings and explore.

Don’t forget your hard hats
Hard hat

Spare parts here if you need any

Plenty of room to grow your enterprise

Something exciting must be back here

Or just another failboat.

The Beatles + 8
Group Shot
Finally, before you leave, please take the time to rate us and offer any suggestions how we can provide a better urbex experience next time 🙂


Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, North Country, Outdoors

Just some non-exploring shots from the Adirondack campout.

How not to light paint

Cascade Peak

Brian, the tetherboat and a bit of fire!

You may be wondering by now about the title. Strange things happen when you get enough explorers in a small enough space, and keep them awake all night. At some point we began communicating only in Beatles lyrics, and then only in oblique rewordings of them. I forget if this was before or after taking out a boat on a 100 foot rope, propelled only by a frying pan and a jet of expletives.

I’d suggest all of you look into The Coleopterae’s latest finely grooved thermoplastic oblate toroid, “The Interval Of Darkness Following, or Belonging To, A Tenacious Fraction of the Week”!

Hit singles off it include:
— Every Single Individual has a personal secret that they are trying to keep hidden from others, with the notable exception of my quadrupedal primate and I.

— Contentment is an isolated combustion driven projectile weapon with an appreciable concentration of thermal energy.

— Let it be known, infant, that your abundance of personal savings makes you a member of the class of gentlemanly aristocracy.

— Sylvester Stallone : Procyon lotor?

— Which exists gainfully to a personified glider;

— Her approach looked down upon the loo

Look for it in record stores (or at least UrbEx meetings) this Sunday, October 25!


The Lonesome Crowded West

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Amusement, North Country

Frontier Town was one of the first theme parks ever to open in the United States, in 1952, capitalizing on the old west folklore that was then so popular with American children. (There were amusement parks since the turn of the last century, but not themed to one particular canon.) It finally closed long after Westerns fell out of fashion, in 1998, and most of its contents were auctioned off in 2004. This was a particularly strange exploration for me, having been there and vaguely remembering it from a day there in 1996 (I didn’t like it much at the time, I remember that much).

This was once an arena with rodeo and cops-and-robbers shows in it:

Frontier industry. One of the main attractions was a functional early 1800s museum village, with a saw mill, blacksmith, one room schoolhouse, etc.
Old Mill

This giant hammer did … something. We weren’t able to figure out what a saw mill would need it for.

Frontier Town’s main street
Main Street

An oxymoron in those days!

Nature is the frontier’s only law

Apparently a gas station moved in at some point

More photos from the weekend here.

Apollo 14

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Outdoors

Climbing mountains is such a strange affliction. Almost everyone who has tried it enough times, knows that it usually ends in freezing, exhausted misery… then counts the days until they can try again! This trip started innocently enough, warm, sunny and perfect midnight hiking conditions

Every mountain has its vengeful side, this one had four!

This is no ordinary snow. Under the brittle white crust is a few feet of air space, then a frigid creek. The pouring rain only made the creek run higher and the snow lower.

We were just too frozen to take any pictures of the third phase. The rain turned to full on blizzard, and the mountain tried to blow us away. I probably deserved it for thinking I could climb all 46 peaks. In the disorienting mess of it all, we decided this was the best trail down, to make matters even worse!

No more mountains for us! How about some nice calm lakes? So began the voyage of the U.S.S. Eleven, proud ship of Old Voyageur.


But in my typical luck, that intrepid boat met its fate abandoned on route 3, my outdoor dreams set to wait another year.

Apollo 12

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Outdoors, Uncategorized

I said I was looking for adventure — it didn’t take me long to find it! I climbed Mt Marcy (5348′, highest point in New York State) last weekend with my scout troop. Lesson learned: mountains are big! It was an epic experience, even if it’s an experience that a certain someone doesn’t believe I could ever do, despite the photo evidence!

I should have known from the start that this was a bad sign, that not many people go this way.

The beginning of the hike was flat and easy enough, about 5 miles to Calamity Pond, where we got the first clear view of the mountain we were about to climb

And here it is (just a bit) closer, from the Flowed Lands

The Opalescent bouncy bridge marked the approximate halfway point in terms of distance getting to the mountain. Half the troop mutinied here, realizing by basic calculations that the hike would go after dark, which many didn’t plan for.

The rest of us, 11 people or so, started climbing faster up toward the top of the mountain, which seemed to drag on forever. When another few hours of climbing only got us to Tear of the Clouds, it became obvious that now was a good time to turn back. Being less than a mile from the summit, my scoutmaster decided to send me and Christian up to the top so at least someone from the trip made it!

And, almost as soon as they went back on their way, the skies opened up and it RAINED!

Of course we only kept climbing higher, ignoring the signs along the trail saying to turn back in severe weather, and the raging torrents of water pouring down the path.

The final approach looked like this: bare, slippery rock, above treeline, with heavy rain and raging winds. By the time we got here, it even appeared to be raining UP onto us, not entirely unlike the inside of a car wash.

Finally, we made it to Gray Peak, and saw Marcy in the not too far distance (it looks far, but trees at this altitude are only 3 feet tall!), and decided we might as well push on to the true summit, the weather having taken a break from deteriorating for a bit.

And then this happened: back into the rain and clouds again, and now there was something frozen falling too.

The view from the top, or something like that:

And finally, some proof, even though Scott thinks I photoshopped myself in.

Yet this was only halfway. The way down was mostly a living hell, through 11 miles in a soaking wet, increasingly chilly maelstrom. The only other person we saw the entire way was right off the top, a Russian guy in an orange and blue tracksuit, thoroughly lost looking for the way down to Keene Valley, who crossed paths with us at least twice.

From there, the descent took forever as night fell and the mud only got deeper. In the darkness, we lost any track of time and distance, and we’d already sent our map off with the first group of mutineers. The miles dragged on as we regretted giving away our food and water to people we thought needed it more, lightening our own loads at the expense of running completely out of energy in the cold rain. Making matters worse, we kept hearing voices and music out of the woods, and seeing lights in the distance, all of them of course hallucinations, to the point that we’d have to stop and look, and ask each other if it was real. And even then it wasn’t always obvious, sometimes we’d even hallucinate about the same things.

Finally, almost by surprise, we made it to the parking lot, which was empty except for one car and one tent. The scoutmaster, Larry Root, stayed behind for us, having given up hope that we’d make it out of the mountains that night, assuming we found shelter in a lean-to or something. I’m actually kind of amazed he didn’t call for a rescue on us; he must have trusted my reputation in the troop as the wild one, or remembered that i spent the last four summers teaching survival. His shock at our appearance was incredible, especially once we told him what we’d experienced up there, and even more so when we both decided we weren’t at all scared of returning, and thought it was a lot of fun!

The next morning, reunited with the rest of my troop, we told our story to them. I almost didn’t want to, knowing what they all missed out on, but they actually found it quite a relief, to know what they had been saved from! But if this is what it means to live life into the wild, I’m ready to take it on again. 2 peaks down, 44 to go!