On June 21, a large group of hikers gathered on the summit to celebrate—with champagne and cake—the renaming of the 4,012-foot mountain from East Dix to Grace Peak in honor of the late Grace Hudowalski, the longtime historian of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.
The hikers attached a wooden sign to a boulder on the summit identifying the mountain as Grace Peak. Etched into the sign was one of Hudowalski’s favorite quotations: “It is not important whether you make the summit; it is important how you make the climb.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation did not authorize the sign, and a spokesman said a forest ranger will take it down at the earliest opportunity. “State policy does not allow the placement of commemorative signs,” said DEC’s Pete Constantakes. He said the sign will be returned to its owner.
Most of the hikers in the June outing belong to the Forty-Sixers, but the club president, Sally Hoy, said the event was not sponsored by the club. “DEC has every right to remove that sign,” said Hoy, who did not take part in the hike.
In the past DEC has placed small signs on the summits of the trail-less High Peaks, but many were stolen as souvenirs and have been replaced by plastic disks. The signs were meant to keep hikers from trampling vegetation while searching for the summits. Tony Solomon, who succeeded Hudowalski as the club’s historian, said of the wooden plaque on Grace: “The sign isn’t going to last anyway because somebody’s going to take it down and put it in their game room,” he said.
Solomon and his spouse, fellow Forty-Sixer Jane Nye, both said they understand DEC’s decision. “The important thing is that the peak was renamed,” Nye remarked.
Hudowalski was the first woman and ninth person overall to climb all forty-six of the High Peaks (in 1937). As the club’s historian, she corresponded with thousands of aspiring Forty-Sixers over the decades and encouraged them to keep hiking and record their observations. She died in 2004 at age ninety-eight.
Photo of Grace Peak sign by Lisa Godfrey