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What's the Point?

Okay, so we know how I’ll benefit from this endeavor. I’ll gain experience in the great outdoors that will help me write a better book set in the Adirondacks. But you, my dear reader, may well be asking, “What’s in all this for me?” Hopefully you’ll gain a little knowledge, have a few laughs, and vicariously enjoy a sense of adventure. Think of it as a modern-day Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, where you get to sit comfortably at your computer screen – much like Marlin Perkins watching from a safe distance behind some bushes. I, on the other hand, will go out into the wild, ala Jim Fowler, and do all the heavy lifting in an effort to entertain you.

            Well, on second thought…

Entries in Adirondacks (2)


The Latest Scoop on the Appalachian Trail

Those of you who know me know I’m not a fan of hiking. Although hiking is basically just walking, it’s usually done outdoors (so hiking from one end of the mall to the other doesn’t count) and the very word “outdoors” precludes any possibility of “indoor” plumbing. To make matters worse, hiking is often done in the woods, and we know what lives there:


People who are really hardcore about hiking aren’t content just hiking, say, a hundred yards or so, either. They like to go really far, as in Appalachian Trail far. That’s 2,175 miles far, which is a lot of hundred yards, but don’t ask me to do the math. Thru-hikers (those who complete the trail in one season) have plenty of time to do those calculations in their heads during the hike.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) would require a lot of conditioning and training. That, and the whole outdoor, in the woods, math issue, not to mention that the Adirondack Mountains aren’t a part of the AT, made me pretty confident I would never attempt such a hike. That is, until I learned about the ice cream.

Turns out, there’s a challenge among AT hikers when they reach the trail’s midpoint in the Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Gardners, Pennsylvania. There’s a general store at the park that sells half gallons of Hershey’s ice cream and hikers purchase the flavor of their choice and attempt to eat it at one sitting. I may not have what it takes to thru-hike the AT, but who knew I’ve been training and conditioning myself for the half-gallon challenge for years.

One hiker reported feeling “heavy and lethargic” after finishing her half-gallon of cherry jubilee. Yeah, well heavy and lethargic is a way of life for some of us. AT hikers may have me beat when it comes to the hiking endurance part, but as far as the half-gallon challenge goes, I could take them with one spoon tied behind my back. Another hiker, who goes by the trail name “Jukebox,” finished his mint chocolate chip in 40 minutes and moaned, “I’m gonna die, bro.” I can only assume that he means die of embarrassment that it took him a whopping 40 minutes o finish it off. And “Lemur,” who chose chocolate, reported, “Two months on the trail, and this is one of the worst days.” Seriously? After spending approximately 60 showerless days in the wilderness, sleeping in lean-tos and eating only what he could carry in his backpack, sitting down to eat some chocolate ice cream qualified as his worst day. I think “Lemur” needs to get some perspective.

Hiker “Bearbait” said, “I don’t know what is harder – eating a half gallon of ice cream or hiking a trail.” Okay, it seems pretty clear to me which would be harder. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by her lack of certainty on this issue, given her lack of good judgment in picking the trail name “Bearbait.”

All this talk of ice cream is enough to tempt me to adopt the trail name “Blister Magnet” and take to the AT myself. Better yet, maybe I could start an Adirondack half-gallon challenge somewhere along the Northville-Placid Trail. Or best of all, I’ll just drive to Lake George and eat an ice cream cone at Martha’s every day during the month of July. Oh wait. If it’s something you’d normally do anyways, I guess it doesn’t qualify as a challenge. Never mind.


(Spell) check, please! The Adirondak Loj


  The other morning I was helping my first grader with his spelling words. He was having a hard time, particularly with fur, sir, and her. It was difficult to figure out a way to help him remember which vowel went with which word when they all sounded the same. The pressure was mounting because, as everyone knows, if you start blowing spelling tests in first grade it’s downhill from there. He’ll only be able to  get into some second-rate college and wind up with some dead end, loser job like writing a blog. The more we worked on the spelling words, the later I was becoming for my job writing a blog. So you can see how the whole situation was pretty stressful.

            One of the things I had to do that day for my blog-writing job was sign up to go snowshoeing at the Adirondack Lodge. Imagine my surprise when I found out it’s actually spelled Adirondak Loj. My first reaction was relief. Even if my son never masters spelling, he might be able to get a job someday at a place where no one bats an eye when you spell lodge “loj.” But then I got to thinking (I hate when that happens). I know the Adirondak Loj is pretty remote, but shouldn’t they at least have spell check? I decided to investigate further.

            Turns out, the spelling was decided by a previous owner: Melvil Dewey. If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because you’ve used the Dewey Decimal system to look up a book at the library – a system that he invented. Dewey was also the founder of the Lake Placid Club and an advocate of spelling reform.



   Ah, now it begins to make sense. Seems old Melvil (whose name was originally spelled Melville) believed we all should use “simpler spelin.” So it made sense to Mr. Dewey (or should that be Dooey?) to spell “lodge” the way it sounds – “loj” and “Adirondack” as “Adirondak.” He was even able to convince the Lake Placid Club to use his modified spelling on their menus. A menu from 1927 offered “Hadok, Poted beef with noodls, Parsli or Masht potato, Butr, Steamd rys, Letis, and Ys cream.” Although he lost me at the “Ys cream” (wise cream?), I had to admit, given the vagaries of English spelling, that his system had some basis in logic. Too bad his simpler spelin never caught on, especially with my son’s spelling test looming.

            But then I thought back to my college days when I was a waitress at a busy Lake George restaurant. Every summer I’d wait on downstate city slickers who thought upstaters were backwards because we don’t charge tolls to cross a river. Some customers would talk really slowly (which they thought was very funny – so much for sophisticated metropolitan wit) as if I’d be confused by such high falutin’ phrases as “I’d like my steak medium” and “where’s the restroom.” Little did they know I was not only capable of following normal conversations, but I could also calculate 15% of any number faster than they could say, “check please.”



            So I guess it’s just as well that Dewey’s spelling never took hold. Imagine what the downstate folks would say if our menu read like the one from the Lake Placid Club. They’d probably laff.