I want to share mine.
In 1991 I witnessed a middle-aged woman lift a small canoe from the top of her car, carry it down an embankment to Lake Durant, slide onto the bottom of the canoe with ease, and paddle away. “I want that!” I said to my friends who were with me at the time. My first introduction to a Hornbeck Canoe.
Shortly thereafter I visited Peter Hornbeck in his house, where his office was located. The boats were manufactured in the near-by barn. I ordered the only model he was making commercially at the time – the 10.5-foot Lost Pond Boat weighing 15 pounds. I was ecstatic.
Peter said he just retired from his teaching job and was recovering from a heart attack. He seemed pleased to tell me that a woman was using one of his Lost Pond boats on a multi-week canoe excursion and was writing a book about her experiences. I found out later the woman was Christine Jerome who, in 1994, published the acclaimed book An Adirondack Passage: The Cruise of the Canoe Sairy Gamp.
Not living in the Adirondacks at the time, I explored the lakes and streams around my home in Central New York, occasionally venturing onto Adirondack Lakes. Peter said that once you are secure in your seat the boat is very stable. And I found that to be true. On Third Lake, however, I decided to test its limits by attempting to stand up. Of course I soon took a swim (see photo at top).
I found few others with Hornbecks during these early days of ownership, and thankfully I found many once I moved to the Adirondacks. I ended-up being canoe buddies with a number of Hornbeck lovers, all women. Six of us originally bonded after a horrifying experience canoeing on Little Tupper Lake during a Hurricane, called Isabel.
So we named ourselves the Isabel-6, or I-6. Peter took a liking to us, even using one of our photos in his ads. He gave us a present of a signed poster of a photo by Daniel Way.
Speaking of Daniel Way, he authored the article Visions of Paradise in the July-August 2013 issue of Adirondac magazine on an outing on Lows Lake of their ‘boys-club’, the League of Extraordinary Adirondack Gentlemen, where Peter was an active member. In this same issue, I published the article Birth of the Isabel Six on how our ‘girls-club’ came about.
The Isabel-Six had many canoe outings throughout the years. Peter sponsored two, one to Vermont for excursions on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. We rented a trailer that held our six canoes with a “Hornbeck” banner draped on the side. An article on the front page of the Newport Daily Express, September 13, 2007, told our story.
As we aged, it became harder on our bodies to load and unload our boats for camping trips, especially if there was a carry involved. Peter was kind enough to sponsor Adaptive Adventures to help us set up camp on Lows Lake.
Peter was well-known for donating his boats to raise money for raffles for non-profit organizations, including the Ausable River Association. I was involved in the planning for their second annual Ride for the River event. Peter delivered the canoe himself and trailered it as we biked Route 9N from Jay to Upper Jay.
As much as I loved my experiences on Adirondack waters in my 10.5 foot Lost Pond boat, I cherish the personal times with Peter, when I went to the shop and attended meetings of Protect the Adirondacks as fellow board members.
In this last photo, Peter is third from the right, in the rear listening attentively.
Peter was a generous and kind man, full of joy. After hearing of Peter’s death, Evelyn Greene emailed Board members of Protect the Adirondacks, “He was a unique and generous person whom many of my ‘nature nut’ friends and I will always thank for making our wild adventures possible, without needing the help of a man or other person younger and/or stronger than we. He gave us Freedom!”
- Photo by Linda Johnson – 3rd Lake Testing
- Photo by Lorraine Duvall – Poster signed
- Photo by Anne L. Squires – Newspaper Daily Express
- Photo by Jeri Wright – ASRA Peter & boat
- Photo by Lorraine Duvall – Protect meeting