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Adirondack Explorer

May, 2009

The Hudson: America’s River
Author: Frances F. Dunwell

Review by: PHILIP TERRIE

In the summer of 1894, in the midst of a frightening drought, New York State convened a constitutional convention. Along with such issues as judicial and civilservice reform, education, and home rule for cities and villages, the delegates considered the future of the Adirondacks. They were meeting in Albany, near the banks of the Hudson River, acutely aware that two years of drought had left the water level ominously low and equally mindful that human activity—chiefly a frenzy of ruthless logging in the Adirondacks—had made a bad situation even worse. Anxiety about the streams flowing off Adirondack slopes—mainly the Hudson—and >>More


March, 2009

High Peaks A History of Hiking in the Adirondacks
Author: Tim Rowland

Review by: TONY GOODWIN

Tim Rowland’s High Peaks: A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene is an impressionistic review of those aspects of Adirondack history that helped form the landscape that modern-day hikers traverse. Rowland, a humor columnist for the Herald-Mail in Hagerstown, Md., began visiting the Adirondacks in the 1960s, staying at his grandfather’s camp on Third Lake in the Fulton Chain. His first climb was up neighboring Bald Mountain at age 6, an ascent he fondly recalls in the introduction. He quickly admits, however, that at 8 he was allowed to operate his grandfather’s motorboat, and it was another >>More


March, 2009

The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State
Author: Kevin J. McGowan and Kimberly Corwin

Review by: EDWARD KANZE

In 1988, Cornell University Press published The Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State. The book, which sits before me, filled 552 pages with maps, text and elegant line drawings of every bird found courting prospective mates, hatching eggs or raising young in the Empire State. The culmination of more than 200,000 hours of skilled volunteer fieldwork beginning in 1980 and ending at the end of 1985, the book was a knockout. It contained a wealth of information, including first-ever range maps showing the meticulously documented distribution of every grebe, heron, blackbird and sparrow. I still refer to my >>More


January, 2009

America’s First Wilderness
Author: Norman J. Van Valkenburgh

Review by: NICHOLAS MANN

Have you ever wondered about the origins of the Adirondack Park? Have you ever found yourself guessing at the difference between the Park and the Forest Preserve? Well, your guessing is at an end, because America’s First Wilderness by Norman Van Valkenburgh answers all those questions and more about the origins, history and development of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. This book, written for young readers, will fill you in on the forefathers of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, such as George Perkins Marsh and Verplanck Colvin. Colvin was a student of law in his father’s office in Albany, but >>More


January, 2009

The Adirondack Book
Author: Annie Stoltie and Elizabeth Folwell

Review by: JOHN ROWEN

The sixth edition of The Adirondack Book is a treasure trove for visitors to the North Country, with information about 1,300 hotels, restaurants, stores, recreational opportunities and other attractions. Authors Annie Stoltie and Elizabeth Folwell, both editors at Adirondack Life, write well, often with wit, and are objective in their evaluations. They tell you the positives and negatives of a place and let you make up your own mind. The Adirondack Book opens with a historical overview, “The People’s Park.” If you’re planning a trip to the Adirondacks, the authors suggest that you bring “your love of mystery and your >>More


January, 2009

Echoes in These Mountains
Author: Glenn L. Pearsall

Review by: NEAL BURDICK

Nineteenth-century railroad tycoon Thomas Durant. Modern-day wilderness- preservation star Howard Zahniser. Pioneering Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. Cover girl /poet/confidante of the glitterati Jeanne Robert Foster. Tory sympathizer Sir John Johnson. They may not seem to have a lot in common. Each of these disparate characters does, however, have a tie to the town of Johnsburg, a huge chunk of real estate in the southeast Adirondacks. One of the largest townships in New York state, it encompasses North Creek, North River and several other hamlets; Gore, Crane, Puffer and other mountains; a hefty portion of the huge Siamese Ponds Wilderness >>More


November, 2008

Benedict Arnold’s Navy
Author: James L. Nelson

Review by: JOHN ROWEN

The weather was nasty. The British were sailing up Lake Champlain, ahead of a blustery north wind. The Americans, drenched by waves, were lying in ambush in the mile-wide channel between Valcour Island and the mainland, manning a small, hastily constructed fleet. The British expected to sweep away the Americans so they could freely move troops up the lake to strike at Fort Ticonderoga and the northern frontier. The Americans desperately wanted to delay the British, perhaps even score a victory, so they could hold Ticonderoga. James Nelson tells the story of the ensuing battle, which took place on Oct. >>More


November, 2008

Adirondack Birding
Author: John M.C. Peterson & Gary N. Lee

Review by: ALAN PISTORIUS

Adirondack Birding: 60 Great Places to Find Birds is just what the title suggests—a guide to birding hot spots within (in a couple of cases just outside) the Blue Line, written by veteran birder-naturalists John M.C. (“Mike”) Peterson and Gary N. Lee. The selected sites range from the Four Brothers Islands and Ticonderoga Marsh in the Champlain lowlands to the Five Ponds Wilderness and the Tug Hill Wildlife Management Area in the west, from Lyon Mountain and Debar Pond in the north to Powley-Piseco Road and the Washington County Grasslands in the south. Each site treatment features a map and >>More


November, 2008

Adirondack Paddler’s Guide
Author: Dave Cilley

Review by: CHRISTOPHER ANGUS

Some of my favorite canoe trips are included in Adirondack Paddler’s Guide, a highly welcome guidebook by Dave Cilley, the owner of St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake and Floodwood. The Lower Osgood is one of them. I’ve paddled and written about it many times, though only once did I choose to start from the highest navigable point, encountering, as Cilley warns, considerable brush-whipping from alders whose branches had grown across the river. It can be a little disconcerting when faced with a brisk spring current. The branches sting, they tear off eyeglasses and hats, and there is little >>More


September, 2008

American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau
Author: Bill McKibben

Review by: PHILIP TERRIE

The written word has been fundamental to the story of how Americans have interacted with the natural world. Nature writing comes in a diverse range of genres, from travel and exploration narratives to poetry, from the literature of contemplation and reflection to polemics. In a new anthology, American Earth, editor Bill McKibben has collected the subgenre of nature writing that he calls the “literature of American environmentalism.” His selections are largely about conflict, about people challenging the status quo, raising an alarm. Environmental writing shares with nature writing the awe for and delight in nature’s wonders, but it also displays >>More