A selection of new regional reads
by Niki Kourofsky
Common English was too plain common for Orson “Old Mountain” Phelps as he stood atop his beloved Mount Marcy. So the fabled High Peaks guide fathered his own phrase: “heaven up-h’isted-ness.” Whether the term captured a feeling of being “hoisted” up to heaven or was simply a play on “heaven up high” is still open for debate—although the pronunciation favored by his descendants would point to the latter.
Regardless, the authors of Heaven Up-h’isted-ness! The History of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and the High Peaks of the Adirondacks (Adirondack Forty-Sixers, 2011) are never at a loss for words in this 702-page love letter to the High Peaks and the fraternity of climbers who have summitted the regions’ top 46 (recorded at 4,000 feet or higher in the 1897 U.S. Geological Survey). After a recap of the group’s birth and growth—with a peek into the often uneasy marriage between recreation and conservation—15 veteran 46ers (plus one wannabe) turn their attention to the mountains themselves, building on the foundation of Russell M. L. Carson’s Peaks and People of the Adirondacks with a new generation of research and insights ($29.50, hardcover, color photographs, 518-293-6401, www.adk46r.org).
Periderm and lenticels are generally not topics to inspire poetry or jump-start conversations, but naturalist Michael Wojtech’s Bark: A Field Guide to Trees of the Northeast (University Press of New England, 2011) may change that. Packed with cocktail-party-ready facts and an easy-to-use identiﬁcation guide for 67 Northeastern species, the surprisingly readable text is a must-have for both tree nerds and new-to-nature types (264 pages, $24.95, softcover, maps and color photographs, 800-421-1561, www.upne.com).
Before she painted ﬂowers in the desert Georgia O’Keeffe spent summers at Lake George with her lover (later her husband), photographer Alfred Stieglitz, at his family’s retreat. My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz: Volume One, 1915–1933 (Yale University Press, 2011), edited by Sarah Greenough, documents that time together, but the heart of the book is the stimulating exchanges—650 in this volume alone—that peppered the artists’ time apart (832 pages, $39.95, hardcover, black-and-white photographs, yalepress.yale.edu, 800-405-1619).
Wildlife photographer and Adirondack Life contributor Eric Dresser shares his “lifelong passion” for the outdoors and its residents in his ﬁrst photo collection, Wildlife Images of the Adirondacks (North Country Books, 2011). This not-to-be-missed book includes tips for observing critters on their turf as well as a pack of animal youngsters sure to cause a case of cute-overload (144 pages, $24.95, hardcover, 800-342-7409, www.northcountrybooks.com).
For your own cuties there’s Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes & High Peaks Regions (Hungry Bear Publishing, 2011), by Adirondack Daily Enterprise columnist Diane Chase. It’s a user-friendly guide with detailed descriptions of mini-hikes, ski trips, historic forays and more, organized by location, season and age group. Chase also offers helpful safety tips, bug-battling strategies and rainy-day boredom busters (176 pages, $17.95, softcover, maps and black-and-white photographs, 518-569-5877, www.adkfamilytime.com).
Adirondack Roots: Stories of Hiking, History and Women (History Press, 2011) showcases historian Sandra Weber’s articles published over the last decade (including a few from this magazine). The collection travels familiar territory, but the author’s distinctive voice and enduring love for the region set it apart (126 pages, $19.99, paperback, black-and-white photographs, 866-457-5971, www.historypress.net).
For a glimpse at a mid-19th-century camping trip from the Champlain Valley to Wilmington, check out Footprints and Sunset on Adirondack Trails: The Memoirs of James Manchester Wardner 1831–1904 (Graphics North, 2010). This lively oral history, recorded by his son Charles A. Wardner and compiled by Joan Wardner Allen, follows James from his early years on a Keeseville farm to his later life on Rainbow Lake, as a mover and shaker around the young town of Brighton (480 pages, $25, paperback, black-and-white photographs, 518-352-7311, www.adirondackmuseumstore.com).
Sugar and Ice (Walker & Company, 2010), Kate Messner’s most recent middle-school read, is Mean Girls on ice skates. Messner captures the highs and lows of tween life beautifully as her novel’s perky heroine, Claire, is whisked from a world of maple-soaked pancake breakfasts at her family’s sugar bush to the glittering lights of Lake Placid’s competitive rinks (275 pages, $16.99, hardcover, www.bloomsburykids.com).
More regional reads:
The Landscape Photography Field Guide: Capturing the Great Outdoors with Your Digital SLR Camera (Focal Press, 2011) is the latest go-to guide from Adirondack Life contributor Carl Heilman II. Perfect for the field, this pocketsize reference covers equipment, technique, composition and more (190 pages, $15.95, softcover, 800-545-2522, www.focalpress.com).
From Mark Bowie, another Adirondack Life veteran, there’s The Light of Midnight: Photographing the Landscape at Night. The 93-page e-book, loaded with tips and tricks for documenting the dark side, can be downloaded at www.markbowie.com for $25.
The Fall of Fort Ticonderoga (Adirondack Kids Press, 2011) by Justin and Gary VanRiper follows the Adirondack Kids as they reenact the capture of Fort Ticonderoga during the American Revolution. It’s the 11th volume in the VanRipers’ popular series for middle readers (90 pages, $9.95, softcover, 315-245-2437, www.adirondackkids.com).
In Drifting: Two Weeks on the Hudson (State University of New York Press, 2011), author Mike Freeman begins his epic journey with an exploration of the past and present of Henderson Lake, in the town of Newcomb (256 pages, $24.95, hardcover, 877-204-6073, www.sunypress.edu). Also see Freeman’s “Henderson Lake,” an essay in our May/June 2011 issue.
The Adirondack World of A. F. Tait (Adirondack Museum, 2011) by Caroline Welsh celebrates the work of this iconic Adirondack painter. The Tait exhibit at Blue Mountain Lake’s Adirondack Museum continues through October 2012 (124 pages, $24.95, softcover, 518-352-7311, www.adirondackmuseumstore.com).
Axton Landing (Cloud Splitter Press, 2011) by Tony Holtzman reimagines the hardscrabble world of a mid-19th-century logging camp. The novel is book one of Holtzman’s forthcoming Adirondack Trilogy (267 pages, $16.95, softcover, www.cloudsplitterpress.com).
A Coming of Winter in the Adirondacks (North Country Books, 2011) by Brian Heinz, with illustrations by Maggie Henry, is a charming picture book exploring our natural world—a great snuggle-time read for your little critters (32 pages, $19.95, hardcover, 800-342-7409, www.northcountrybooks.com).
Brandreth: A Band of Cousins Preserves One of the Oldest Adirondack Enclaves: A History of Brandreth Park 1851–2010 (North Country Books, 2011) by Orlando B. Potter III and Donald Brandreth Potter tells the story of the remote Hamilton County tract—purchased for 15 cents an acre by the inventor of “Brandreth’s Universal Vegetable Pill”—and the family that loves it (275 pages, $35, hardcover, 800-342-7409, www.northcountrybooks.com).
In Old Forge and the Fulton Chain of Lakes (Arcadia Publishing, 2011), part of the Images of America series, historians Linda Cohen and Peg Masters capture more than 100 years of resort life in the central Adirondacks (127 pages, $21.99, softcover, 888-313-2665, www.arcadiapublishing.com).
Through These Doors: The Story of a Small Business in the Adirondacks (Bloated Toe Publishing, 2011) by photographer Kathleen Larkin charts the growth of Indian Lake’s Abanakee Studios, helped along by an unforgettable cast of local characters (176 pages, $18, softcover, www.bloatedtoe.com).
Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: History, Memories & Legacy of the CCC (Podskotch Press, 2011) is the latest from Adirondack Fire Towers author Martin Podskoch. Along with a thorough overview of the program, the volume provides snapshots of daily life at the camps and a rich oral history (347 pages, $20, softcover, 860-267-2442, www.adirondackstories.com).
Learning to Swim (Crown Publishing, 2011), a mystery novel by former Adirondack Daily Enterprise sports editor Sara Henry, starts in the frigid waters of Lake Champlain then twists from Lake Placid to Burlington to Montreal (304 pages, $24, hardcover, www.randomhouse.com/crown).
Adirondack Ice: A Cultural and Natural History (Snowy Owl Press, 2011) by Caperton Tissot traces the influence of ice on North Country history and culture (360 pages, $24.95, softcover, www.snowyowlpress.com).
Tags: Abanakee Studios, Adirondack books, Adirondack Forty-Sixers, Adirondack kids, Adirondack Museum, Brandreth Park, Carl Heilman, Civilian Conservation Corps, Diane Chase, Eric Dresser, Georgia O'Keeffe, Kate Messner, Mark Bowie, Old Forge, Old Mountain Phelps, Sandra Weber