"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

11 May 2014

2014 Book Review #18: Adirondack Reflections

I've been enjoying this little non-fiction book for the last couple of weeks.

It is written by several people who live and/or work in my beloved mountains.

For those of you who don't know the Adirondack Park, it is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River.  It is made up of 6 million acres  of public and private land and is larger  than the state of Vermont. It was deemed "Forever wild" by the state of New York in 1894. The Adirondack Forest Preserve which is owned by New York State is 2.6 million of those 6 million acres.  

There are over 2,000 mountains and 46 of them are high peaks, meaning they are over 4,000 feet in elevation.  There are about 2,000 miles of foot trails to hike.

There are 2,300 lakes and ponds and 200 of those are at least one square mile in area.  There are 1500 miles of rivers in the Adirondacks and 30,000 miles of brooks and streams.  That is a LOT of water!!  Many of those brooks and streams are only visible if you do deep woods hikes like I enjoy throughout the summer and autumn.  They are spectacular, quiet, surrounded by God's handiwork.

There are 240 public lean-tos in the park available on a first come-first serve basis for overnight hikers and backpackers.  I have only stayed in one back in the 1980s. 

There are 50 species of animals, over 220 birds, over 30 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 66 species of fish.

The native species include:  bald eagles, black bears, moose, white tail deer, and brook trout.

I have heard the cry of a whippoorwill at night when I was a child at our camp. I haven't heard one since the 1970s.  I would like my children to hear one. It requires being away from public campgrounds, in the deep woods, with silence all around.

I have hiked many mountains in the Adirondacks including 1 high peak and 4 mountains in the high peaks area.  I have hiked almost every trail in the southern adirondacks including one bushwhack.  I have hiked in every single region of the Adirondacks except the far northern region but that is on my list for this summer.

I grew up in the Adirondack foothills and our summer camp was in the southern region.  I am most at home in the Adirondacks and wish I could live there all the time.  Maybe someday I will............

But...these facts were not talked about in the book.  I just wanted my readers to know about my beloved mountains.  Actually, one cannot get a good sense of them unless one spends time at one of the mountain summits, or on a sandy, isolated lake, or paddling in a kayak on the calm, still waters with the cry of the loon in the distance.

The book was made up of stories/essays by various authors and talked about their love and impressions of the mountains.  One of my favorites in the book was the one written by a man who, with his wife, settled in the Saranac Lake area after being nature and hiking guides for years in places like Acadia National Park and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park (which is still on my bucket list of places to visit and hike in!).  Of course my attention was captured by this book because he was describing a place that is one of my favorites in the Adirondacks. 

The book is mainly a reflection of the life...and living...in the Adirondack mountains and valleys. All of the writers in this book are lifelong residents not just visitors to the area like most books about the mountains.  It is a celebration of life. 

The book also mentioned the hard life that Adirondack folk face.  Cold, harsh and long winters.  The cold, wet, muddy and buggy season of Spring.  Fabulous flora and fauna in the fall and summer.  Amazing people who persevere.  There is a lot of poverty in the Adirondacks and a lot of wealth.  Sadly, it is the wealthy who have sometimes spoiled our beloved wilderness by building cookie cutter type homes, eroding our trails by hiking off the trail itself, like in mud season, or who allow their dogs to just wreak havoc on the summits. 

But most people who come to our mountains are respectful.  Most campers and hikers are there because they love nature and want to get back to a simpler life style. Many of them come from the cities and want their children to experience the fresh mountain air and life without cells, computers and ipods.

Many of us just love the sports of hiking, paddling, fishing, hunting, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing and the art of photography.

Many of us love the call of the wild.....and the mountains that beckon to us.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 12 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Deb said...

Sounds like a lovely book! I would love to visit there some day! Hope you had a nice Mother's Day!

Susanne said...

It does sound like a lovely book and an even nicer area to experience!

Melanie Lopata said...

I've never been a huge fan of the Adirondacks. I mean I love Lake George and the more classy Adirondacks but not really Old Forge or area.

Faith said...

I don't consider Lake George classy! LOL...melanie it is SOOOO touristy!!! but it IS fun at times...i LOVE the million dollar beach. My FAVE place in the ADKS is the central region....the more "wilderness part" like Indian Lake, Lewey Lake, Blue MOuntain lake and Long Lake/Saranac. Now THAT's REAL adirondacks :)
i know what you mean about old forge...ugh...too.many.people.