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The Clark Family
Read About Who We Are and What We Do
The Adirondack Forty-Sixers, Inc. is a hiking and service club whose members have climbed the summits of the 46 peaks over 4,000 feet in elevation in the Adirondack mountains of northern New York state. The organization is dedicated to protecting and reserving the wilderness character of the High Peaks region and sponsors a variety of programs on the conservation principles of “If you carry it in, carry it out,” and “leave no trace.” In coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the club supports an active all-volunteer trail maintenance and trail adoption program. The Forty-Sixers maintain a long-standing tradition of corresponding with those hikers who are seeking membership. Hikers are assigned a correspondent who serves as a mentor throughout their quest to become a 46er. Information on how to become a member is available on the How to join/Historian page.
The history of the club dates back to the 1920s, when only twelve of the 46 peaks had trails (but no trail markers and few signboards to guide hikers), when large expanses of forest that had been denuded by the timber industry and scarred by logging slash and ravages of fires, and when one could spend all day hiking, and not see another person. Brothers Robert (Bob) and George Marshall and their friend and guide Herbert Clark were the first to climb the 46 high peaks in this environment that would seem unfamiliar to today’s hikers. They began their quest with a climb of Whiteface Mt. on August 1, 1918, and finished on the summit of Emmons on June 10, 1925. Since then over 7,000 people have followed in their footsteps and have registered their climbs to become Adirondack 46ers.
Bob Marshall recounted the hiking exploits of the trio in a small booklet, The High Peaks of the Adirondacks, published in 1922. Five years later Adirondack historian and climber Russell M. L. Carson published Peaks and People of the Adirondacks, a history of the mountains and the people who first explored and climbed them. These two publications caught the attention and imagination of a group of like-minded adventurers in Grace Methodist Church in Troy, NY. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Ernest Ryder (#7) and two parishioners Edward Hudowalski (#6) and his wife Grace (#9) led members of Ed’s Sunday school class on hikes of the High Peaks throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Six months after Ed and Rev Ryder finished the 46 on Dix on September 13, 1936 they formed a hiking club called the Forty-Sixers of Troy. Grace began recording the climbs of each member of the new club and encouraged them to write about their experiences. Thus began a tradition that continues today of climbers writing in to the club to register their climbs.
Herb Herb and Bob on road The lure of the Adirondack High Peaks spread to hikers throughout the Northeast. In order to include hikers beyond the greater Troy, NY area, it became apparent that the Troy group needed to expand their reach. With the blessing of the Forty-Sixers of Troy, the inaugural meeting of a new club named the Adirondack Forty-Sixers took place at Adirondak Loj on May 30, 1948. Twenty people attended that first organizational meeting. The group elected Grace Hudowalski as President, Kay Flickinger as Secretary, and Adolph “Ditt” Dittmar as Treasurer. The rest, as they say, is history. The organization grew from being a social club whose members hiked for fun and adventure, to an enterprise that is integral to the care and preservation of the region. Today’s Forty-Sixers play the dual role of “hiking partners, mountain stewards.” The club continues to mentor hikers and register their climbs. In addition it coordinates and supports a number of educational and conservation projects aimed at maintaining the wild character of the High Peaks region for future generations of hikers to enjoy.
A comprehensive history of the organization’s development and profiles of the individuals who molded its direction, values and traditions, as well as comprehensive histories of each of the 46 peaks are included in the club’s newest book, Heaven Up-h’isted-ness! The History of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. Whether you are a hiker or a history buff, you will be led on a journey of discovery through the Adirondack High Peaks and get to know the people who climb them. Click here for additional information on the book or if you would like to purchase a copy of Heaven Up-h’isted-ness!
Click for the Forty-Sixer Timeline
Club Loses Founding Member Helen Menz, #42
The 46er family mourns the loss of Helen Menz #42 who died on Sunday, July 17, 2016 at the age of 99. Helen was a founding member of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, attending the inaugural meeting of the newly formed organization on May 30, 1948 at Adirondak Loj. She remained active in the club and attended the annual meetings until last year. Helen’s first high peak climb was Marcy on June 23, 1932. She finished on Allen on September 13, 1946.
PEEKS editor Chuck Schwerin spent an afternoon with Helen recently to talk about her hiking experiences. His article about their visit appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of the magazine. We offer it here as a tribute to Helen, her service to the club, and her spirit of adventure. Helen, may your hikes in the celestial hills be on smooth trails, with good friends, and fair skies.
Historical exhibit highlighting Grace Hudowalski on display in Elizabethtown
The Adirondack History Museum and Essex County Historical Society are presenting a special exhibit on 46er #9, Grace Hudowalski. “Grace Hudowalski and the Mountains We Climb” will open at the Museum in Elizabethtown, NY, on Saturday, June 7th. The exhibit tells the story of mid-20th century Adirondack recreation, highlighting Grace Hudowalski, a founding 46er and the first woman to climb the 46 High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Her lifelong passion for the mountains and her devotion to the 46ers are legendary. She was the long-time historian of the organization and wrote thousands of inspiring personal letters to climbers during their quest to become 46ers. Many of the exhibit artifacts, including her manual typewriter, hiking clothing and boots, and photos, are on loan from the Adirondack 46R Conservation Trust and will be on display through mid-October. Plan to visit the Essex County Historical Society the next time you are hiking in the area and experience a part of 46er history. For directions to the museum go to: www.adkhistorycenter.org/pla/planavisit.html
“Ditt” Dittmar is best known for his many contributions to the Adirondack High Peaks. He was instrumental in the formation of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and served as its only Treasurer for 53 years. Additionally he was active with the Adirondack Mountain Club and was remembered for his many fund raising efforts. He and his family produced hundreds of picnic tables in their home for sale and use at the Loj. “Ditt” was also recognized for his work with the Adirondack Council, Boy Scouts of America and was a founding staff member of the 46er Outdoor Skills Workshop.
A meticulous organizer and efficient leader, “Ditt” possessed a wealth of knowledge and history. He took numerous trips to the camp of Noah John Rondeau and established a great relationship with the “Hermit of Cold River.” His stories of the “early years” of the high peaks fascinated all who had the opportunity to listen. At his passing a 46er member expressed the sentiments of many members who worked with “Ditt” through the years. “’Ditt’” was such a well respected officer for so many years who, with his unmistakable humor sprinkled such a fine attitude into his professional administrative contributions. The shared experiences on the trails and his outstanding leadership capabilities will remain unforgettable attributes.
From the Fessy Washburn Collection
Fessy Washburn, a chemist and naturalist, took many photographs and home movies of her adventures around the world. Her family donated to the Forty-Sixers movies she shot in the Adirondacks between 1949 and 1954.
These movies offer fascinating glimpses into the Adirondack Park just before devastating storms closed many trails. Fessy photographed camping and canoe trips, and visits to Whiteface Mountain, Buttermilk Falls, and other popular spots.
The movies are also early examples of Ansco Color, an 8mm film stock marketed as a rival to the Kodak brand.
Because of their historical significance, these irreplaceable films were selected for safeguarding by The National Film Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America's film heritage. Through the work of Colorlab in Rockville, Maryland, Fessy’s 8mm films were cleaned, scanned, and then migrated to 16mm film stock and digital files.
The 16mm prints of Fessy’s films can be viewed at the New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections. And you can view the films online on our YouTube channel.
Thanks are due to Fessy’s family for making these available, to the NFPF for its financial support, and to Colorlab for doing the technical work necessary to save these movies for a new generation of viewers.
We hope you enjoy Fessy’s movies. If you have home movies of the Adirondacks, or are aware of other collections that need preservation, please let us know about them.
Delivered at the Fall 2014 annual meeting as part of Vespers
What do we know of the tradition of holding a Vespers service at the 46er spring and fall annual meetings? To start at the beginning, what is Vespers? I am sometimes asked this question and the answer is simple. Vespers is an evening worship service. Many, probably most of you, know that Vespers became a Forty-Sixers tradition because of our roots in the 1930s in a Sunday School Class in the Grace Methodist Church in Troy, New York.
Grace Hudowalski, Forty-Sixer #9, told me some years ago that Vespers became our tradition because many members had only Sundays for climbing. Being church-centered folks, it never would have occurred to them to omit worship. When they worshipped around a lean-to campfire after a challenging and satisfying day in the High Peaks they were experiencing Vespers in the original strictest sense of evening worship.
However, it seems that the Forty-Sixers of Troy and later the Forty-Sixers used the term Vespers to worship at other times as well. For example, when the Forty-Sixers celebrated the 100th anniversary of Esther McComb's ascent of the mountain named for her, a dawn service was a natural part of things. The meditation given by Clarence Craver stressed themes that we still hear in nearly every Vespers message: It's not only about getting to the top, but about the knowledge, satisfaction, and inspiration gained from the climbing experience.
When they finished arm-in-arm on Dix Mountain, Grace's husband, Ed Hudowalski, 46er #6, and Rev. Ernest Ryder, Grace Methodist's pastor, 46er #7, offered a prayer of praise and thanks for their accomplishment. Perhaps we could call this one of the first formal, albeit brief, instances of Forty-Sixers’ worship.
Of course, there have always been many instances of personal worship in the mountains. Church-going and non-church-going members alike still breathe prayers for safety, experience feelings of gratitude for success, and regard the beautiful sights with awesome appreciation of Creation's mountain wonders. Not everyone would consider these various emotions to be prayer, nor is it necessary to label them as such, but many of us do regard them that way.
When Grace Hudowalski found the going on a climb to be particularly tough, she sang a Christian hymn from her Sunday School roots,
"It is Better Farther On” Hark! I hear Hope sweetly singing
Softly in an undertone,
Singing as if God had taught her,
“It is better farther on.”
Night and day I hear her singing—
Singing while I sit alone,
Singing so my heart may hear it,
“It is better farther on.”
The earliest Vespers services of the Forty-Sixers of Troy would most probably have resembled the Christian-based services at their church. In the years since, Vespers messages have been given by Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant clergy, though the vast majority are given by laypeople, many with no particular formal religion. The Forty-Sixers perpetuated many of the Vespers traditions by retaining the practices of singing hymns while adding special mountain-related songs; reading Psalms while adding other inspired readings related to the climbing experience; and delivering a message, but one particularly relevant to the sense of spirituality we find in the mountains. Our traditional service still finds room for the moving hymn, "How Great Thou Art", as well as the songs written by Forty-Sixers Rev. Ryder and Orra Phelps. It is only natural that we each express hope and appreciation in our own ways.
The In Memoriam, where we pause for a moment of silence to remember those 46ers who have passed away since our last meeting, would not, of course, have been a part of the early services, but it has become an integral feature today. "Taps" is most undeniably an evening worship component. It reminds many people of their camp days. It remains a fitting closing for each Vespers service.
The content of Vespers has gradually become more and more ecumenical, drawing on secular sources and other faith traditions beyond just Christian. Take note of the African and Native American contributions to tonight's service.
Worship, including Vespers is one of the oldest Forty-Sixers traditions. The tradition could not have survived if the need for change had not been accommodated over the years, as climbers of all backgrounds have joined the ranks of the Forty-Sixers. But its roots remain the same—the desire to commune with the Creator and/or the Creation, which definitely includes ourselves. Regardless of the direction Vespers may take in the future, no doubt we will always find ways to fulfill this fundamental need of the spirit.
Download entire message in PDF here.
While cold rain forced the club-sponsored tribute to Herb Clark to be held indoors instead of at the St. Bernard’s Cemetery in Saranac Lake, the wet weather did not dampen the spirits of those who attended. More than 100 people gathered at the Cantwell Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library on May 26th to honor Herb Clark, 46er #1. Many of the men paid homage to Clark by dressing in his standard hiking attire—a long sleeve shirt and tie.
Forty-Sixer President Sally Hoy (#2924W) welcomed all those attending, including a large number of Herb Clark’s descendants, as well as Roger Marshall, son of George Marshall (46er #2). Peggy McKeller (#2857W) led the group in the singing of “The Forty-Sixer Song,” and Suzanne Lance (#1802W) presented an historical overview on Herb Clark’s life and his hiking adventures with Bob (46er #3) and George Marshall in their quest to be the first to climb all the 46 High Peaks. Tony Solomon (#3626W) recently retired Chair of the Historian’s Office, presented each of Herb Clark’s grandchildren with a replica of the club’s climbing Certificate of Accomplishment. Several family members recounted their personal remembrances of Herb and his wife Mary Jane.
Following the ceremony a number of hearty souls braved the wind and rain to go to the cemetery to see the memorial stone that the 46ers purchased to honor Herb Clark’s designation as 46er #1.
Grace Peak Celebration Highlights
The Grace Peak Celebration cosponsored by the 46ers and the Town of North Hudson on June 20th, was an unqualified success. It was a wonderful memorial to 46er matriarch Grace Hudowalski, #9, and a festive tribute to the club’s successful effort to officially name a High Peak in her honor.
The parking lots at the North Hudson Town Park were overflowing as 46ers and town residents –those who knew Grace personally, and those who knew her by reputation only – all gathered to join in celebrating the official renaming of East Dix to “Grace Peak.”
The initial forecast of rain gave way to a picture perfect day of sun, cloudless skies, moderate temperatures, and enough of a breeze to fend off any black flies and mosquitoes. Attendees enjoyed a day of good music provided by local Adirondack musical groups Jamcrackers, and the Boathouse Gang; great food, including Bison burgers from the Adirondack Buffalo Company; delicious homemade baked beans and coleslaw compliments of Elk Lake Lodge; strawberry shortcake served by the Schroon Lake/North Hudson Historical Society; and a special summer ale, called “Witch Water,” brewed especially for the occasion by the Paradox Brewing Company. The name of the ale paid tribute to an old 46er legend. The early 46ers called rain water that pooled in rock depressions on the mountain summits “Witch Water.” The legend says that whoever drinks it is forever bound to the mountains.
Throughout the day members of the 46er trail crew and Lean2 Rescue volunteers demonstrated techniques used in lean-to building and rehabilitation, and trail maintenance.
The formal part of the celebration included comments by North Country Assemblyman Dan Stec, a 46er himself, Ronald Moore, the Town of North Hudson Supervisor, Robert Stegemann, DEC Region 5 Regional Director, who read a congratulatory letter from Governor Andrew Cuomo, and 46er President Brian Hoody.
The June 20th event was more than just a celebration of Grace Hudowalski and the naming of a peak in her honor. It was a celebration of 46er determination and dedication, and a salute to the club’s indefatigable spirit – from the 12-year effort it took to succeed in officially naming Grace Peak, to the individual accomplishment of each 46er in climbing the 46 High Peaks, to the volunteer service projects that the club and its members support on behalf of the Adirondack region. It was also a day to celebrate community, as hikers, many of whom are visitors to the Adirondacks, joined with local residents to work together in support of a common cause. The day exemplified the attitude expressed in one of Grace’s favorite sayings, “‘Can’t’ never did anything.”
To all who contributed their time and talents to help organize the Grace Peak Celebration and make it a successful, memorable occasion, THANK YOU! We could not have done it without each and every one of you. And to all who attended the festivities, thank you for your support. We hope you enjoyed the day.
Click here for a photo gallery of the Grace Peak Celebration, June 20, 2015.
East Dix officially has been renamed “Grace Peak” in honor of Grace Hudowalski (#9), long-time historian for the 46ers and the first woman to climb the 46 High Peaks. The United States Board of Geographic Names (USBGN) has approved the petition submitted by the Forty-Sixers to rename East Dix “Grace Peak.” The name designation was approved on June 12, 2014, at the monthly meeting of the USBGN.
The decision by the USBGN brings to a successful conclusion the campaign that the 46ers began in the early 2000s to name a high peak after Grace. In response to the approval Douglas Arnold (#4693W), who has led the naming effort on behalf of the Forty-Sixers for the past twelve years said: “Everyone has a mentor – a coach, parent or grandparent, friend, or teacher – who influences the outcome of their life. These angels are remembered but rarely honored.
Grace Hudowalski was a mentor to thousands of people as she shared her enthusiasm for the Adirondacks with everyone. The naming of Grace Peak is a tribute, not only to the lives she touched, but to all of those angels who make a positive impact on our lives.” Sally Hoy (#2924W), President of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers added, “How fitting to honor a woman whose love of the Adirondacks has had far-reaching effects, not only in eco-tourism but in promoting protection of this amazing resource.”
The Forty-Sixers chose East Dix as an appropriate mountain for renaming because it did not have a unique name. Its appellation is a reference to its proximity to Dix Mountain (named for John A. Dix, New York Secretary of State, 1833-1839), the highest peak in the Dix Mountain Wilderness. Robert Marshall (#3) gave East Dix its associative name so it would not be a “nameless mountain.” In his book Peaks and People of the Adirondacks (1927), Russell M. L. Carson noted that the most interesting fact about East Dix (and its neighbor South Dix) is that “their names are not important enough to be retained and that they can be given distinctive titles, when the right occasion comes, without violation of old-established names.” With the naming of Grace Peak, the “right occasion” has come, and the mountain now has its own, permanent designation.
The naming effort has received widespread support from recreational groups, individuals, local governments, and state agencies. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following groups and individuals for their support that helped to make the naming of Grace Peak a reality:
For additional information on Grace Hudowalski and the Grace Peak renaming project see: gracepeak.info