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Monday, August 20, 2012

Top Ten Tidbits about the Adirondack Mountains

#1:  There are 46 high peaks (above 4,000 ft.)  My brother Alex and sister Bethany are going to become "46ers".  Basically, it's a special club of people that have climbed the 46 peaks of the Adirondack Mountains.  They're about halfway there.

#2:  It's owned by all the citizens of NY State.  It's a 50/50 split of public and private land.  All the public land is open for hiking.  And free camping (in designated spots.)

#3:  ADK park is bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks COMBINED.  6 million acres of park... all in my beautiful state!

#4:  The tops of the mountains are home to some of the most rare plant life in New York State, because it only grows at high altitudes.  Unfortunately, these plants are easily prone to death by human injury... so on all the most popular high peaks, there is a Summit Steward.  He/She hikes the mountain in the wee small hours of the morning and stays on the summit all day and educate the hikers about proper care of the fragile ecosystem.  They basically make small talk with everyone while keeping an eye that you don't ruin the mountain flora.

#5:  Mount Marcy (the tallest point in NYS) is getting higher and higher each year.  Tectonic plates are constantly moving and pushing it up.  (Technically the whole mountain range is moving, but Mt. Marcy gets all the attention.  PS it's by feet/hundred years... how do they measure this stuff???)

#6:  It is the "first American wilderness".  ADK Park was the first protected public forest before it was cool to make parks.  The motto as written in the NYS constitution is that it will remain "forever wild"... kept the same for generations to come.

#7:  Within the park there are 3,000 lakes and ponds.  Obviously when people think of the ADK mountains they think of the high peaks... but the majority of that 6 million acres are the surrounding rolling hills, lakes, and ponds.  People vacation not just in the Lake Placid area, but all throughout the "mountain region".

#8:  Three of the highest peaks are actually under 4,000 feet.  And there's at least one that isn't included in the 46 peaks that is above 4,000 feet.  Old measuring isn't as accurate as new measuring.  But for the sake of tradition they keep it the way it always was... 46 peaks.  Marcy and Algonquin are over 5,000 ft.  (I did not learn that I would be hiking the second highest peak in NY until AFTER I was in the car on the way there.  Thank you siblings.)

#9:  Adirondack black bears have gotten too smart for everyone's good (because there are so many hikers in the woods with yummy smelling food) so you now have to use "bear canisters" to keep your food safe... they make it impossible for the bear to get to your stuff.  And you keep it away from your campsite so they bears also leave you alone.  My siblings use their car as a bear canister ;o)

#10:  Rumor has it that the MacIntyre Range (including Iroquois peak, Boundary peak, Algonquin peak, and Wright peak) names came from the "boundary" between the Iraquois and Algonquin Indian Nations.  More likely it was a boundary for logging companies in later times.  Believe what you want.

Bonus tidbits... #11:  There was a thing called the "simplified spelling movement" in the early 1900s, so in 1927 when the ADK Loj was built at the trail heads of the popular peaks, Melvin Dewey named it "Loj" instead of "Lodge".  I accidentally pronounced it loge.  Oops.

#12:  Legend has it that the word vacation originated in the ADKs.  People living in the cities in the early 1900s realized that sickness and summer go hand-in-hand in the cities (public sewage in your cities anyone?) so they would "vacate" to the Adirondacks for the fresh, clean, mountain air.

Three cheers for MOUNTAINS!


  1. Which peak did you guys climb? I climbed Mt Marcy my freshman year of college. One of the hardest things I've ever done.

    1. We climbed Algonquin Peak and you're right, it was so crazy! I wanted to die ;o)

  2. great post! The Adirondacks are beautiful. I've been just a couple of times (once in May, a.k.a. black fly season. ouch.) and would LOVE to go again. Too bad my H is not exactly the wilderness type!

    1. That is a bummer! I'm surprised... I kind of pictured him as an outdoor-cat. Oh well, maybe you can convince him over time ;o)