April, 2017

Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering
Author: Maurice Isserman

Review by: Phil Brown

In 1642, Darby Field, a resident of what is now New Hampshire, climbed White Hill, known by local Indians as Agiocochook and by moderns as Mount Washington, the highest mountain in New England. Others in the Massachusetts Bay Colony thought Field daft for climbing a mountain. It just wasn’t something people did. “Following his death in 1649, it was remarked that his was a life of ‘merriness marred by insanity,’” writes Maurice Isserman in Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering, a scholarly work that covers the exploits of mountain climbers from Field’s unusual adventure on Agiocochook to an American >>More


June, 2016

Hard-learned lessons
Author: Peter W. Kick

Review by: Tony Goodwin

  Desperate Steps is a collection of twenty narratives of backcountry accidents and misadventures in the Northeast. The incidents are about evenly divided among Maine, New Hampshire, and the Adirondacks with one incident in Vermont and two in the Catskills. Most of the incidents occurred within the past fifteen years, but the book includes a 1963 incident on Mount Katahdin where both the initial victim and the intended rescuer perished. Fifteen of the incidents involved at least one fatality, and in five of these incidents there were no survivors, leaving only informed speculation as to their decision-making and final moments. The author, Peter Kick, says the purpose of the book “is to help you enact a more >>More


April, 2016

So There We Were: River Running in the Hudson Gorge
Author: Jeff Dickinson

Review by: Michael Virtanen

The flow of history Book review by Michael Virtanen Jeff Dickinson’s history of running the whitewater of the Hudson River is weighty with research: it has 111 pages of footnotes and bibliography. Those follow his 237-page narrative that launches with descriptions of the landscape and Colonial explorers, flows on through decades of log drivers and adventurers, then crests with the commercial rafting that began in the 1980s and brought tourists to the Adirondacks in the once-spare shoulder season of melting snow. Rafting has since matured into a spring and summer enterprise that extends even into autumn. Dickinson, a whitewater guide >>More


November, 2015

Celebrating our parks
Author: Ian Shive

Review by: Philip Terrie

On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation creating Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first effort to set aside a large undeveloped tract, protect it solely for its scenic and natural appeal, and make it available to the public. Exactly what Grant and the Congress had in mind for Yellowstone was unclear, as was whose responsibility it was to take care of it. For several decades, protecting the natural splendors found there was assigned to the United States Army, which for the most part had other obligations it considered more pressing. It wasn’t until 1916, after complaints from >>More


March, 2015

Lost Ski Areas of the Northern Adirondacks
Author: Jeremy K. Davis

Review by: Neal Burdick

Pages of skiing’s past When we think of Adirondack ski areas, it’s usually the charismatic ones that come to mind: Whiteface, Gore Mountain, and McCauley Mountain for downhillers, Lapland Lake and Mount Van Hoevenberg if your tastes run to Nordic. These and a handful of others can be counted on from year to year, either because they receive sufficient natural snow, even in an era of less-reliable “white gold,” or they have the wherewithal to make the stuff. But there have been lots of other, smaller areas over the years, and while they were beloved by some they have not >>More


January, 2014

Good Ol’ Fish Creek
Author: Good Ol' Fish Creek by Edward W. Larkin Jr.

Review by: Neal Burdick

CAR CAMPING is an Adirondack tradition with a long history, but not much has been written about it in comparison with the verbiage on canoeing, climbing, hunting, and so on. That gap has been narrowed with the arrival of Good Ol’ Fish Creek, Edward Larkin Jr.’s recollections of fifty-eight consecutive summers of camping at the popular state campground of that name in the Saranac Lake headwaters region. This is a love song to a venerated annual fortnight, a time-honored way of spending that interlude, and a place he calls his Shangri-La. In this thin, exuberant volume we gain insight into >>More


November, 2013

The Adirondack Slide Guide
Author: Drew Haas

Review by: Phil Brown

Post-Irene slide guide. Tropical Storm Irene did more than change the face of the High Peaks: it rendered The Adirondack Slide Guide by Drew Haas obsolete. Thankfully, Haas has put out a second edition of the book that includes new slides created by Irene in 2011. The new edition follows the format of the first: it’s a softcover publication with large black-and-white aerial photos of dozens of slides, mostly in the High Peaks. All of the photos were taken in winter, when the slides (covered with snow) stand out most against the forested slopes. Slides are long bedrock paths created >>More


September, 2013

The Allure of Deep Woods Backpacking the Northville-Placid Trail
Author: Walt McLaughlin

Review by: Betsy Kepes

AMERICANS like a challenge, and that includes our hiking trails. We’ve got the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast and the Pacific Crest Trail on the West Coast and hikers who walk them end to end. Fortunately there are also shorter through trails to explore, and one of them runs north to south in the Adirondacks. Walt McLaughlin hoped his fifty-year-old body could walk the 122-mile Northville-Lake Placid Trail (NPT) during a two-week stretch in September. “I want to prove to myself that I can still do it. I want to stop the steady erosion of my physical options. I’m >>More


July, 2013

Peak Experiences
Author: Carol Stone White

Review by: Tony Goodwin

Peak Experiences: Danger, Death, & Daring in the Mountains of the Northeast is a diverse collection of writings about difficult climbs, near catastrophes, and the occasional death in the mountains from the Catskills to Mount Katahdin. Edited by Carol Stone White (and including four of her own pieces), these are writings by the survivors. Some conclude with lessons learned by the writer, but the editor also periodically includes a “Cliff Note” to emphasize the lessons that readers should take away from an incident. As the author of the “Accident Report” column that appears periodically in Adirondac, I was particularly interested >>More


May, 2013

Women on Water
Author: Ruth Dandrea, Kathy DeLong, Carol Moseman, and Bonnie Sanderson

Review by: Betsy Kepes

Women on Water is a difficult book to categorize. It looks like a guidebook, with a table of contents that lists twenty-five day trips, most of them in the southwestern Adirondacks. Flipping through the book I admired the hand-drawn maps, beautiful pen-and-ink drawings that reminded me of Nancy Bernstein’s work in the Adirondack Explorer. Black-and-white photos show kayakers in scenic locations and close-ups of loons and butterflies. But don’t expect many facts and figures in this book. The trip descriptions rarely include landmarks or mileage, and the maps do not include a scale. I wondered, is the Francis Lake trip >>More


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