Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Alone in the woods: A place of hermits and hermit thrushes

Noah RondeauThere’s an abundance of serendipity in these parts, and in our work.

Often, related themes and stories emerge like magic, to make it appear to readers that we had planned them to run side-by-side in our magazine. Sometimes we do that, but others, like in our upcoming May/June issue, the stars just align. And one of the stars of this issue is an old-time hermit named Noah John Rondeau. (The photo of him here is courtesy of the Adirondack Experience museum in Blue Mountain Lake.)

He lived in the same Adirondack woods where hermit thrushes are now returning for spring, and where hikers and backpackers will soon flock to seek refuge from another pandemic summer. If you’ve been following our online series about the struggle to form the Adirondack Park Agency 50 years ago, you’ve had a preview of the history story in which he’ll make an appearance in print. The writer, author Brad Edmondson, presents him as a sort of bridge from the old and truly wild North Country — squatting on public lands in a time when no one really cared — to the modern, regulated park. He died just as the Northway’s fresh pavement was about to deliver a surge of new visitors.

While planning and editing that story, I had completely put out of my mind a recreation story that writer Betsy Kepes had delivered to us last year for use in this issue. She and friends had hiked a long, lonely loop around the Seward Range in the western High Peaks Wilderness — and right through territory once occupied by Noah John Rondeau. She had featured him, or the memory of him, prominently. Turns out, that area remains a place where one can find a lot of time to themselves, though maybe not as long a camp as Rondeau had staked out.

Speaking of Brad Edmondson and his writing about the APA’s formation and the characters who made it happen — or fought against it — we’re planning a webcast interview with him sometime in coming weeks. If you’re interested in viewing that or asking questions, keep an eye on my upcoming newsletters, or on adirondackexplorer.org.

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Brandon’s “Explore More” newsletter. Click here to sign up and click here to subscribe to Adirondack Explorer’s magazine.

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Brandon Loomis

Brandon Loomis is editor of Adirondack Explorer.




2 Responses

  1. Alan Jones says:

    As a 14-year-old on a camp canoe trip in 1951, we entered the Raquette River from Long Lake toward the Raquette Falls. A mile later we passed the Cold River on the right as it flowed into the Raquette. It’s hard for me to realize that Noah John Rondeau was, at that time, still living up the Cold River. Makes me feel very old!

  2. Steve B. says:

    I hiked the NLP trail in 2 segments, ’74 the southern half, then returned in ’75 to complete the northern portion (Long Lake to LP), passing Rondeau’s camp that year on the Cold River. Some of the buildings were still there that year, it was remarkable to see that history. I believe the DEC removed all the buildings shortly after, some I subsequently seen at the Adirondack Experience.

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