“I remember descending from Mt. Marcy to Indian Falls and I remember the rainstorm” that evening, said Doctor Freeman, who was taking a break from his studies at Colby-Swarthmore Summer School of Languages in Maine to traverse the Great Range in the Adirondacks. Freeman wished he had known the old woodsman he shared the shelter with was the famed Cold River hermit. “I didn’t learn that until much later,” he said. “He was friendly. He was an expert at building and keeping a fire going on a day when it rained.”
Freeman’s is just one of the stories in The Hermit and Us: Our Adventures with Noah John Rondeau (2014) by William J. O’Hern, which recalls the experiences of backpackers who visited Rondeau’s Cold River hermitage where he lived for over 30 years.
Some met Noah John unexpectedly as they were passing through on a quest to a nearby summit, but chance meetings made Noah John no less unforgettable. Other visitors were close friends who frequently visited the hermit, bringing him everything from art supplies to birthday cakes.
The Hermit and Us includes dozens of photos and reminiscences by Rondeau’s friends and old-time associates who the author interviewed, many who knew Noah John well. The pictures evoke the beauty of the Cold River country, and the degree to which it has changed over the years.
Books noticed at Adirondack Almanack have been provided by their publishers.