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
Lake Placid, NY – November 16, 2020 – After another busy year in the High Peaks Wilderness, the Adirondack 46ers have doubled down on their dedication to supporting critical stewardship programs in the High Peaks Wilderness. Last week they announced a $41,000 commitment to ADK’s (Adirondack Mountain Club’s) professional trail crew. This comes shortly after another major pledge by the 46ers of $75,000 over the next three years for the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, which ADK manages in partnership with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
Since 2001, the Adirondack 46ers have made increasing contributions to stewardship programs in the High Peaks Wilderness. What started as a $3550 donation to ADK’s trails program in 2001 has since expanded to annual donations between $30,000-46,000; a sign of just how invested the 46ers are in protecting the high peaks. All in all, the Adirondack 46ers have donated nearly $350,000 over the last 20 years to ADK’s trails program, of which $289,000 has come in just the last eight years when visitor use has been the highest. “As visitor use has increased in the High Peaks Wilderness, so has the 46ers’ investment into stewardship programming,” said Andrew Hamlin, ADK Trails Coordinator. “This support has been crucial to the success of a number of trail projects over the years.”
The Adirondack 46ers aren’t just invested in trail work; over $100,000 has gone to supporting the Summit Stewardship Program during the same period. Operating for the last 31 years, the program has played an important role in the recovery and protection of alpine vegetation in the High Peaks. “Despite increases in visitor use, we have not recorded a decline in alpine vegetation on summits with a stewarding presence,” said Kayla White, Summit Steward Coordinator. “The 46ers have been tremendously supportive of the program and its mission since its inception, and their backing has helped us achieve this result.”
“As an all-volunteer organization made up of thousands of members who love and respect our beloved Adirondacks, the 46ers take great pride in contributing to meaningful projects that directly benefit conservation and education efforts and help to preserve our wilderness experience for generations to come,” said Siobhan Carney-Nesbitt, President of the Adirondack 46ers.
Looking ahead to 2021, ADK’s stewardship programs will again play a key role in addressing high use issues in the High Peaks Wilderness. Thanks to the 46ers, the professional trail crew will be able to continue developing a reroute of the Avalanche Lake-Lake Colden Connector Trail, which they started this past summer, and begin work on a severely damaged section of the Phelps Trail between Bushnell Falls and Mount Haystack. The funding will also support the professional trail crew’s annual spring training. Summit stewards will return to the high peaks starting Victoria Day Weekend, where they will continue their work to protect and study New York’s fragile alpine vegetation.
“As we continue to reconcile promoting responsible outdoor recreation with the challenges presented by high use, this ongoing partnership between ADK and the 46ers is one reason to be optimistic,” said Michael Barrett, ADK Executive Director.
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:
– Adirondack Mountain Club, and a number of its regional chapters;
– Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth;
– The Town of North Hudson and Supervisor Ronald Moore;
– The County of Essex Board of Supervisors and Chair Randall Douglas;
– Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens and Region 5 Director Robert Stegemann;
– NYS Committee on Geographic Names;
– Assemblyman Daniel G. Stec (114th district);
– Fred Schwoebel , producer/director of the documentary The Mountains Will Wait for You;
– The Glens Falls Rotary Club;
– Catskill 3500 Club;
– New York Folklore Society;
– Dozens of individuals who wrote letters of support and who have referred to East Dix as “Grace Peak” for the past 12 years.
For additional information on Grace Hudowalski and the Grace Peak renaming project see: gracepeak.info
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.
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
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.