Almanack Contributor Tim Rowland

Tim Rowland

Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth will be residing in Jay, N.Y. by spring.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Tim Rowland: New Sympathy for Blue Ridge Road Flaggers

Blue Ridge RoadComing to the Adirondacks as a visitor for a week at a time, it felt as if I was always rushing to a trailhead or a boat launch or a fishing hole. I rigorously, almost militarily, mapped out my schedule to include hikes that must be completed and waterways that must be paddled, and heaven forbid that anything should get in the way of these forced, forested marches.

You miss a lot that way. For example, on each trip to the Upper Works for a crack at peaks like Marshall and Cliff, I would drive Blue Ridge Road from the Northway toward Newcomb without noticing its splendid array of creeks, waterfalls and feathery green tamaracks.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Tim Rowland: Adirondack Ticks

deer tickAt some point in the last 20 years, ticks have moved up on the Most Feared Insect ladder, thanks to the spread, and the greater understanding, of lyme disease. Early on, lyme’s vagaries and a lack of medical advancement made for a tricky diagnosis; after standard blood work came up blank, doctors would tell men to suck it up, and women that they were hormonal.

Thankfully, we have a better handle on it today, and while the disease is still terribly problematic, we at least know what we’re up against, and someone who contracts it has a far better chance of being properly diagnosed and treated.

But even though, rationally, I know this knowledge is all for the good, my emotional side pines for blissful ignorance, when ticks were of no more concern than congressional oversight committees. It’s kind of a Wile E. Coyote situation, in which he walks off a cliff, and as long as he doesn’t know he’s walked off a cliff he’s fine — he keeps walking on air, until he looks down and sees where he is, and which point he plummets to the bottom of the canyon. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tim Rowland on Technology

Technology - Courtesy Loma Linda University School of MedicineBeing heavily internet-dependent, I have followed the pursuit of universal broadband in the Adirondacks with considerable interest. I have rooted for broadband, screamed with passion for download speed and drooled greedily over every last blessed MBps.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

After the week-in-tech that I’ve had, broadband can just get out. And it can take all its little electron friends with it in whatever form they might be taking. I’ll just start writing my columns in chalk on cave walls, and if someone doesn’t happen to walk through the cave to see it, well too bad for them. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tim Rowland: Bass Fishing And Drag Performance

large mouth bassRemember the good old days when, as it applied to fishing, “drag” was something that you had on your spinning reel? Well, that quaint definition has gone by the boards, now that a fundraiser for a North Country bass tournament will include a drag show to be deliciously known as Camp Fishsticks.

Money raised from the affair will benefit the popular Bass Masters Elite tournament in Waddington this July, which draws thousands of manly sportsmen each year, but costs upwards of $200,000 to produce. So organizer Bob Giordano, who is a true genius in my mind, came up with the idea of Camp Fishsticks to feature, according to North Country Public Radio, the region’s “vibrant community of singers, dancers and comedians who dress up as the opposite gender.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tim Rowland On Adirondack Experience

Adirondack Experience Adirondack Museum“Good things,” said that wise old sage Homer Simpson, “don’t end in -eum. They end in -mania or -teria.”

Yes, sadly, “museum” is an unpopular word. Which is why the magnificent Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake is changing its name (or its “identity,” as marketing jargon would have it) to the Adirondack Experience. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tim Rowland’s Project Farmhouse

tim rowlands project farmhouseThe preachers have never had much luck getting their tenterhooks into me because I’m not all that enamored with the idea of everlasting life. Everlasting life is like Moose Tracks ice cream: After the first bite you never want it to end, but by the time you pack away a quart and a half you start to see a down side.

And everlasting life is about the only arrow the preachers have in their quiver. They never say, “If you lead a wholesome, righteous existence you will have everlasting life — plus you get to date Emma Stone.”

Still, it has to be acknowledged that Ponce de Leon wasn’t the only fan of perpetual youth, and when I was younger I confess to feeling the same way, largely due to a curiosity of what will happen next—tomorrow, and 2,000 years from tomorrow. I have, however, discovered that it is a simple task to live well beyond the average, 78.2-year lifespan. It is no great effort to live for a hundred, five hundred or even a thousand years. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tim Rowland: Hiking The Cobble With Addie

I enjoy the ongoing debate over leashed v. nonleashed dogs on Adirondack trails, not because I have a strong opinion one way or another, but because I am in the process of teaching a young pup to learn to love the mountain trails as much as I do.

Her name, reflective of the Peaks, is Addie, and her breed is a Bouvier de Flandres. This in itself is slightly problematic, in that when you are trying to pass yourself off as a rugged outdoorsman walking in the footsteps of Old Mountain Phelps, you lose a little face when someone asks the breed of your companion and you are forced to respond that it’s a “BOO-vee-yea d’ FLAWND-rah.”

So to save both of us a little face, I now tell everyone she’s a Belgian War Dog. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tim Rowland: An Old AuSable Valley Farmhouse

Heading south to Utica on Route 28 there’s a highway sign advising travelers that they are “Leaving Adirondack Park.” No three words have caused anyone as much pain and suffering as those three words have cause me over the past five decades.

Everyone has a home, but it’s not always where one lives. My family’s roots to the Adirondacks or “The Woods,” as we called it, predated the Great Depression. It’s where my grandparents honeymooned, and where with my great-grandpa purchased a sprawling lakeside camp, fully furnished, for $3,000. So this is my existential excuse for feeling more at home in the Adirondacks than in whatever community I was more permanently hanging my hat. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Words Of Wisdom From “Old Mountain” Phelps

Plenty of entertaining statements are attributed to Orsen “Old Mountain” Phelps, the over-commercialized Betty Crocker of Adirondack Mountain guides.

I don’t know exactly who Phelps was, but after 30-plus years in the journalism business, I recognize the type: He wanted to be a lot of things, and was pretty good at it, but lost something of his identity in the process. His Swiss Army Knife approach to life led him down paths not just as a guide, but as a writer, scientist, geographer and philosopher-at-large.

The one thing he seemed pretty clear on, and I can relate, is that he did not want to go through life as a manual laborer. He cut trails, sure, but in Phelps’ world this was no more work than writing is to me.

Phelps was no intellect, but neither was he the semi-literate hayseed he passed himself of as when trying to land a guiding gig. I always fantasize that Phelps talked like Sir Kenneth Clarke when he was at home, but broke into a full hillbilly rag on the job, ladling in heaping helpings of dagnabbits and conswarnits to impress the clientele. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tim Rowland: The Cub Hunter At Old Forge

bald mountain post cardDespite visiting the summits of the hallowed 46 High Peaks over the years, I believe it’s still hard to beat the view from lowly Bald Mountain just north of Old Forge. I know it’s officially known as Rondaxe Mountain today, but I still call it Bald Mountain in the way that old people still call NYSEG “the light company.”

I first climbed it when I was 6; at that time it seemed quite the mighty massif, but by the time I was 10, scooting up the gentle slopes barely took the edge off of a mischief-seeking boy. » Continue Reading.