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2012 Annual Guide

Highlander

A High Peaks heavyweight talks scotch, sheep and "the big M"

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.

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