Almanack Contributor Pete Nelson

Pete Nelson

Pete Nelson has been a lover of the Adirondacks since his family discovered Blue Mountain Lake in 1954 and made it a family summer destination. As the years have passed, his love for unspoiled territory has changed his focus to wilder areas in the Central and Western Adirondacks and the High Peaks.

Pete recently purchased an Adirondack in-holding and writes about his adventures exploring it.

When not in the Adirondacks Pete is a college math teacher, musician and professional stilt walker in Madison, Wisconsin.




Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: Wrecked by the Wild

Collapsing AdirondacLate one June afternoon in the Year of Our Lord 1995 I checked into the Lake Placid Econo Lodge with my brother, spent a comfortable night and left in the morning.  I have not been back since (through no fault of Econo Lodge).  It’s just as well – if Econo Lodge has any sort of institutional memory I will never again get another room.

In the summer of 1995 I took a long –and long awaited – backpacking trip with my nephew Michael.  Michael and I are roughly the same age and we are close, so “brother” serves us as a more proper salutation.  By the mid 1990’s I was an experienced backpacker but Michael » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: Blown Away

Harris_LakeI’ve been writing about the central role our Eureka Wind River 4 tent played in our family’s life.  One reason for its prominence in our stories is its longevity.  That sucker was the most resilient tent I’ve ever owned.  I mean we beat the hell out of it for more than twenty years and it never failed us.  It survived every extreme of Adirondack weather you can imagine plus a couple of doozy storms out west.  It survived five people (sometimes six), a dog and various gear crowded in, often sardined up against the walls.  It survived inexperienced winter campers learning the hard way that you bivouac tents, not pitch them directly on snow. Even during » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: Henry

Henry at the EurekaMy first marriage was a troubled one.  There were good moments but it seems that each day held pain and conflict.  The ups and downs finally led to a violent dissolution in 1992.  But for a brief time in the mid 1980’s there was hope and even some progress.  Two acquisitions, one for Christmas of 1984 and one in the following summer, marked that progress.  The summer purchase, a Eureka Wind River 4 tent, was an emblem of that progress.  The Christmas purchase, a puppy we named Henry, was the very cause.

Anyone who ever met Henry would tell you that he was an extraordinary dog.  He was half Golden Retriever, half Irish » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: End of an Era

T-Bar Lift Whiteface, early 1950'sAmy and I are putting a lot of resources into fixing up our house these days in order to get it on the market.  As part of that we have begun to wade into the accumulated years of clutter that have accreted to us.  The walk-in cedar closet in which we store all our camping gear is packed from floor to ceiling with an ungainly array of equipment ranging from our current go-to gear to remnants of bug spray untouched for a decade and random utensils we have not taken on a trip since before the millennium (apropos of nothing, I have a powerful urge to have a contest with Dan Crane » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Betrothed on Indian Head

Amy and Pete at Indian HeadThere is a date fast approaching, a twentieth anniversary about which I have thinking a long time.  It is a date – a singular moment, really – that changed me from a lost person to one battered but once again harboring a dare somewhere inside, a dream of possibilities.  That may sound dramatic but I could not possibly overstate what I experienced.  That moment was a saving; those of you lucky enough to have had a moment of saving will understand.

The anniversary date is March 17th, 1994, Saint Patrick’s Day, and the singular moment is when my future wife Amy, having arrived at a party she had chosen to drop » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Diversity and the Adirondacks: Moving Forward

DiversityToday I wrap up my series on Diversity and the Adirondacks.  The response has exceeded my expectations, even as it has – not unexpectedly – raised some troubling voices.

I have always believed that the initial step in addressing a deep and difficult issue – especially one that is controversial – is recognition: we must first understand that something matters; that it is real; that it affects people’s lives.  Without recognition, without an embrace of the importance of an issue, we risk what will likely be at best a display of sturm und drang when we try to talk about it, signifying nothing but ego and personality.  Yet despite the sometimes perfunctory dismalness of on-line comments, » Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Adirondack Diversity: More with Carol Cain

John Brown FarmhouseTwo weeks ago I posted my initial interview with noted travel writer and blogger Carol Cain.  That column set a record for comments here at the Almanack.  My own reaction to those comments taken as a whole is that they persuasively demonstrate the need for this conversation (fortunately the off-line discussions that have been spurred by this issue are leading to some productive initiatives… more on that in the future).

Subsequent to my first interview with Carol I asked her a series of of follow-up questions.  I share her answers today.  These questions were formulated previous to the posting of the first interview, thus not » Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Best Vista in the Adirondacks

Wallface in SnowI’ve been preoccupied with Adirondack vistas of late.  Two recent copies of Adirondack Life had pictures with Burton’s Peak in them: one was a cover picture and the other placed in the 2014 Photo Contest (those of you who are savvy about my Lost Brook Dispatches and have followed the clues can see if you can identify it).

Like so many of us, I cherish beholding a corker Adirondack view perhaps more than any other experience in the park.  There is something magical about the combination of grandeur and intimacy in wild Adirondack vistas, studded with lakes, ponds and streams and infused with a dark, raw primeval power impossible to capture in words.  Quite » Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Adirondack Diversity: A Conversation with Carol Cain

CainAs we debate diversity and the future of the Adirondack Park it is high time to hear from another voice besides mine.  Today I bring you a subject matter expert: traveler and travel writer Carol Cain.

Born in Brooklyn to a Dominican-Puerto Rican family, Carol lived and studied in the Dominican Republic as a teenager before returning to New York City to pursue a career in public relations.  She speaks three languages.



Saturday, February 1, 2014

Diversity and the Adirondacks: A Demographic Stasis

Lyman Epps SeniorOver the last few weeks I have been making an argument that socioeconomic and racial diversity is a primary challenge facing the Adirondacks.  The core of the argument is that the Adirondack region is becoming ever-more sequestered racially as the rest of New York State rapidly moves towards a non-white majority and this poses problems for the future of the park.  This sequestration cuts both ways – the Adirondacks lose and an evolving population that does not have a relevant connection to the park loses too.

So far my argument has been rooted in experience, raising questions of equity and social justice along the way.  Proceeding from this experience I would contend that the » Continue Reading.



Saturday, January 25, 2014

Diversity, Sequestration and Relevance in the Adirondacks

yupLast week I wrote a column about my personal experiences on the South Side of Chicago.  My purpose was to frame the issues in terms of sequestration: when a region or area is overwhelmingly of one socioeconomic or racial class, it gets cordoned off – literally and figuratively.  Other classes know little about it in experience and understanding.   Stereotypes predominate.  Economic and cultural gaps persist, even widen.

This is a two-way street.  An obvious example is the gap in understanding between people who have lived all their lives in hyper-urban areas – say East 55th Street in Cleveland – and people who have lived exclusively in very rural areas – say farm country near the Ohio » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pete Nelson: The Myth of Pristine Wilderness

Our Christmas tree. Forgot lights. Oh well. Nature does it best.Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed a substantial increase in reader comments on various posts claiming that environmentalists who are uncompromising about preserving or restoring pristine wilderness are absolutists, because there is no such thing in the Adirondacks.

The idea of pristine wilderness, they say, is an elitist fantasy.  The real-world approach, they suggest, is some common sense pragmatism.  When we don’t take that approach, residents suffer, recreationalists suffer, the economy suffers – in short, people suffer. 



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Adirondack Diversity And The South Side of Chicago

Mom's House, 89th and MayLast week I began a series arguing that racial and socioeconomic diversity is the number one issue facing the Adirondacks.  My multi-part argument is sustained in part by overwhelming demographics that I will be presenting soon.  But there is a deeper moral and cultural dynamic to my argument far more important than statistics.  I need to get to it first or the rest of the argument will suffer a lack of meaning.  As always, I’ll try to accomplish that with a story.



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity and the Adirondacks

Lyman Epps SeniorAbout a month ago I crafted a little poll for readers to take.  The purpose of the poll was to test a hunch: that of all the issues affecting the future of the Adirondack region, the one I happen to think is most important goes all but unrecognized.  So I wrote descriptions of the ten issues I had selected, trying not to tip my hand or show bias, and released the poll.  The results, while interesting in their own rite, validated my hunch even more than I had expected.

Here is your ranking, the aggregate of more than 150 responses (some of » Continue Reading.



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Remote New Year’s Perfection

From Burtons PeakAfter four nights at Lost Brook Tract with Amy, two adult sons and our irrepressible dog Henderson, I’m raring to go for another year of Almanacking, though my contributions will be a little less frequent as I bear down with more purpose on the book I’m undertaking.

This stay at Lost Brook Tract was the best ever.  The weather conditions and quality of light were the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced in the Adirondacks, to which the photo can attest.  It was truly luminous. There was less snow than in past years but no less winter.  The temperatures ranged from a positively balmy 35 degrees on the first afternoon to properly Adirondack zero-and-below readings » Continue Reading.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Poll Results: What Readers Are Thinking About

Gothics Mountain Medium ResThank you readers!  The results of my little poll exceeded my expectations.  I received nearly 150 responses, a great number.

Let me remind you that this poll was intended to be neither scientific nor comprehensive.  It was designed by me to see if the results would highlight what I think is a hidden issue concerning the future of the Adirondack Park.  It did that for sure, but it also provided other insights.

Here is how the issues fell out, ranked by weighted average:

 



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Take a Poll: Is There a Hidden Issue in Adirondacks?

part of the great range from the brothers trailWhen it comes to major issues that impact the future of the Adirondacks this year has been one of the most event-filled in decades.  From the ongoing Adirondack Club and Resort debate and the orbiting cluster of questions related to private land use to the continuing economic wins for the North Country, the recent constitutional amendments and the classification of the Finch Pruyn lands, this has been a pivotal time.

My reading of recent events is that most of the news is good news for the park.  It seems to me that stakeholders in the Adirondacks are responding to the challenges we face with concrete initiatives that are » Continue Reading.



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Shay Effect

Lost Brook Tract in WinterThis Thanksgiving unfolded for me in traditional and typical fashion, promising that the standard playbook would be executed all the way through: take the family to my in-laws, help cook a massive meal for twenty, monitor my Mother for too much wine or too much stimulation (Mom is 92 and can overload either way), overeat, get teary looking at my wife and drive seventy miles home while fighting indigestion and narcolepsy.

By early afternoon all was going to form.  How could I possibly have known that an earth-shaking revelation was about to completely overwhelm me?  How could I be prepared for the sheer jubilation, the exaltation this imminent moment was going to » Continue Reading.



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Commentary: Implementing a New APA Land Use Policy

APA officeMy last column in this APA series was a proposed new land use policy organized around a consensus-driven process with a development plan and ecological assessment as the primary inputs and a design that maximizes both ecological protection and the profitability of the project as the desired output.  I expected a number of less-than-receptive comments but instead I received a lot of good ones including some questions and challenges that I hope are at least partly answered this week. 



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Glade

Henderson's glenI have been experiencing potent daydreams over the last week.  Really they are little flashes of transference, brief moments where my conscious self is in a different place than I am.  It is less than an out of body experience – a concept which my reason will not allow – but it is much more than simply thinking about or remembering or longing to be somewhere.  Everyone has had similar experiences, when all of a sudden another place or time from memory, or even a fiction from imagination, floods into one’s head so strongly that the smell, sound and feel of it is palpable.

My daydream is no fiction: it is a small glade two » Continue Reading.



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