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Adirondack Explorer

January, 2018

Seeing the Forest: Reviews, Musings, and Opinions from an Adirondack Historian
Author: Philip Terrie

Review by: Neal Burdick

  I first met Phil Terrie many years ago, when he invited me to his cabin on Long Lake, partway down from Long Lake village toward the outlet. At the time, he was acting as a consultant for a Mountain Lake PBS documentary on Adirondack history, so producers, cameramen, and so on were hovering around. In the midst of all that, word came that a hiker was missing. Rangers and volunteers appeared, and he began helping them get the lay of the land to the southeast in the vicinity of Kempshall Mountain and to northeast up the Cold River valley >>More

January, 2018

A Field Guide to Tracking Mammals in the Northeast
Author: Linda J. Spielman

Review by: Ed Kanze

You don’t need a magnifying glass, a deerstalker cap, and a Dr. Watson to track the mammals you suspect to be traversing your favorite pieces of Adirondack real estate. What are required most of all are curiosity and a willingness to invest the considerable time and energy it takes to study footprints, partially eaten food items, and scat. I mean to really scrutinize them, not glance at them in passing. To grow as a tracker, it also helps to find a teacher. Since most of us don’t shell out money to go to tracking schools, our teachers tend to be >>More

November, 2017

Blacks in the Adirondacks: A History
Author: Sally Svenson

Review by: Philip Terrie

The history of the Adirondacks, as it’s usually presented, is blindingly white. Nearly all of our stories—logging, tourism, the Saranac Lake TB nexus, you name it—have familiar iterations, and they seem to involve only white people. Reading, or hearing, these often-repeated narratives, you might wonder if an African-American ever crossed the Blue Line. Sally Svenson asked herself that very question and set off on a quest through a mountain of primary materials—census and church records, every New York newspaper she could find, a few rare diaries, and a host of other obscure but essential sources—and has produced an invaluable corrective >>More

October, 2017

The Stranger in the Woods The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Author: Michael Finkel

Review by: Philip Terrie

Adirondack camp owners and bushwhackers will love this book. And so will people interested in the meaning of extreme solitude—who can tolerate it, who can’t. I’m not talking about the sort of solitude we all appreciate when we have an afternoon or maybe even a couple of days entirely to ourselves. This book is about a man who lived alone in the Maine woods for twenty-seven years. During that time, he uttered one word to another human being, and that word was “Hi.” I’m also not talking about hermits along the lines of those we’ve read about in the Adirondacks. >>More

September, 2017

Big, Wild, and Connected: Scouting an Eastern Wildway from the Everglades to Quebec
Author: John Davis

Review by: Tim Rowland

The mission of John Davis is not entirely dissimilar to that of the biblical Noah. Davis is out to protect a broad platform of species in an unconventional way that faces both long odds and more than a few arched eyebrows. The central idea is that up and down the lands that parallel the Eastern Seaboard there are insular swatches of wilderness large enough to serve as habitats for big predators, such as cougars and wolves. Davis, and conservationists like him, would see these parks and forests connected in a way that would sustain a population of wolves and allow >>More

August, 2017

Western Trails
Author: Norman Landis and Bradley A. Pendergraft

Review by: Phil Brown

With this year’s publication of Western Trails, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) completed the most recent overhaul of its Forest Preserve Series of hiking guidebooks—and the club is already hard at work on the next edition of the series. ADK’s hiking guidebooks used to divide the Adirondack Park into six regions. The club has pared that down to four regions (still covering the entire Park). In addition, ADK continues to publish a separate guidebook for the Northville-Placid Trail. The regions have been reconfigured to coincide with National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated maps for the Adirondacks. Western Trails, for example, describes the trails in the >>More

July, 2017

Bogs and Fens
Author: Ronald B. Davis

Review by: Ed Kanze

Bogs and fens are wetlands. At least they are if you can call a wet place with nothing but peat, or sphagnum moss, underfoot “land.” Such features, not quite land and not quite water, dot the Adirondack landscape. Whenever and wherever we hike, we march around and over them, sometimes on boardwalks, planks, or corduroy. Botanists, birdwatchers, and naturalists in general tend to go ape over patches of peat. If you’ve ever wondered what’s the big deal or wanted to distinguish a bog from a fen and comprehend the physical factors that make such places different from each other and >>More

July, 2017

John Apperson’s Lake George
Author: Ellen Apperson Brown

Review by: Neal Burdick

In the pantheon of Adirondack conservation greats, the name of John Apperson Jr. (1878-1963) is not as well-known as it deserves to be. His great-niece, independent scholar and historian Ellen Apperson Brown, has taken a major stride toward correcting that deficiency with publication of John Apperson’s Lake George, a new addition to the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing. Apperson was an early and ardent proponent of muscle-powered winter recreation and a pioneer in the protection of Lake George’s islands and shoreline. He launched or became involved from the ground up in a number of conservation organizations, some that >>More

June, 2017

Escape from Dannemora
Author: Michael Benson

Review by: Brian Mann

In the summer of 2015, while driving my beat-up Toyota truck through the back roads of northern Clinton and Franklin counties documenting the Great Dannemora Prison Break, I kept thinking that I had been swallowed whole by a tabloid news story, or maybe a trashy pulp novel, that refused to end. The setting was the rainy, gloomy Gothic woods of the northern Adirondack foothills. The characters all seemed to come straight from central casting. There were the two brutal killers, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who had pulled off an escape that instantly drew comparisons with the film The Shawshank Redemption, >>More

May, 2017

American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of New York
Author: Corey Finger

Review by: John Thaxton

High praise for bird book   Beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated, the American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of New York covers 285 of the 485 bird species recorded in the state, and it includes a complete checklist of all the species ever seen, including those that have gone extinct or are sighted extremely rarely. The book strikes me as an excellent guide for beginning and moderately experienced birders, a casual, well-written hybrid of a field/where-to-see-birds guide. Born in Saugerties and now living in Queens, Corey Finger knows New York State well. His book includes thirty-eight pages of introductory >>More

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