2012 Annual Guide
A High Peaks heavyweight talks scotch, sheep and "the big M"
by Annie Stoltie
AS OF EARLY APRIL, Peter Fish, of Keene, had hiked 5,344-foot Mount Marcy 763 times. The 76-year-old retired forest ranger, who’s still a High Peaks fixture after working there from 1975 to 1998, chats about how to appreciate this place; why he sports a kilt; and where he’s planned his terrestrial exit strategy—not on what he calls “the Big M.”
Q: Why go up Mount Marcy so many times?
A: I keep forgetting I’ve been there.
Q: What did Tropical Storm Irene do to Marcy?
A: Unkind things. She tore the hell out of the trail in the Marcy Dam vicinity. I wouldn’t have allowed that kind of crap when I was a ranger. She wouldn’t have been allowed in—Floyd either.
Q: Do you really hike with Scotch?
A: I normally carry two 50-milliliter bottles of Scotch— Laphroaig if I’m feeling classy. Just enough to warm the interior and give a minor attitude adjustment.
Q: What’s your role with the Scottish heritage organization the St. Andrew’s Society of the Adirondacks?
A: I’m the chairman of the board of directors—longer in title than in what I do. I’ve assured myself a spot since I have a kilt and own the flags.
Q: Do you still give your “cotton kills” speech?
A: I haven’t given that speech since Saturday, at the Catskill 3500 Club’s annual dinner in Kingston.
Q: What’s the best material to hike in?
A: Wool is still the best. As stupid as sheep are, they know how to dress appropriately.
Q: What kind of mistakes do you see on Marcy?
A: I’ve met people up there who are just carrying a camera. I don’t know how they’re going to crawl in there if it gets windy. And hooded sweatshirts are cheap and expendible—they make a person expendible too.
Q: Is Marcy your ultimate destination?
A: I’ve been up the Crows 25 times this year—630 times total—and Baxter 25 times this year—630 times total. I alternate them so it doesn’t look like I do the same thing all the time. There’s one spot on Baxter—not even on its top—where I can sit down and never get up. My ashes will be scattered there.