FOLLOWING UP on his successful “Peak Finder for the Northern Adirondacks,” Thatcher Hogan has produced a Peak Finder for four of the High Peaks plus Mount Jo. The High Peaks are Algonquin Peak, Mount Colden, Phelps Mountain, and Wright Peak. The first Peak Finder covered two other High Peaks, Cascade and Whiteface, plus eight smaller peaks in the northern Adirondacks.
Hogan got the idea for the Peak Finder a few years ago after he climbed Owls Head on the northern edge of the Park with his wife and son.
The Peak Finder is about the size of a large bookmark with two-sided plastic panels held together with a single rivet. Each panel contains a detailed line drawing of the skyline, based on original photography. One can open the panels like a jackknife for any of the peaks and use the rest of the panels as a handle. A pair of adjoining panels encompasses 180 degrees of the view; one just turns it around to identify the other half of the panorama. Even though one is not likely to be identifying much of the view if it is raining, the panels are completely waterproof. More important for use on a high bald summit, the panels are stiff enough to withstand at least a moderate wind.
Before the Peak Finder, one had to orient a map and try to line up unknown peaks with a name on the map. Provided the wind wasn’t too strong, this technique worked for peaks close at hand, but the views from the High Peaks extend far beyond any map a hiker would likely be carrying. With the Peak Finder, one can identify distant peaks such as Debar Mountain near Malone and Black Mountain near Lake George. To aid in the identifi cation of the more distant peaks, the Peak Finder includes the distance to each peak. Thus, it is easy to differentiate Hoffman Mountain at eighteen miles from Black Mountain at forty-three miles. The Peak Finder even identifies some of the more prominent peaks in the Green Mountains.
The panels contain brief text, often with tidbits of history or geology. Equally important, the text tells the user just where on Colden or Phelps one should stand to obtain the best view. The brief biography of Orson Schofield “Old Mountain” Phelps, the namesake for Phelps Mountain, is a bit misleading in that it refers to a “biography” published when he was sixty-one years old. In reality it was a lengthy profile by Charles Dudley Warner titled “The Primitive Man.” Hogan selects a few choice sentences by which Phelps is remembered to this day, including this one: “His clothes seemed to have been put on him once and for all, like the bark of a tree, a long time ago.”
Like the first Peak Finder, this newer Peak Finder adds to the Adirondack hiking experience and deserves to be in the pack of every hiker who ascends these peaks. Hogan says the next deck, available this spring, will cover ten fire-tower peaks, including Blue, Hadley, and Poke-o-Moonshine. Later Peak Finders will include some of the more easterly High Peaks such as Dix or Giant. If so, I finally will be able to confirm that I have correctly identified the peaks in the Green Mountains south of Killington (Okemo and Stratton mountains, among them) and that the peak one can sometimes see far off in New Hampshire really is Mount Moosilauke.