Thursday, June 17, 2021

What Defines ‘Adirondack’?

adirondack mapI had an interesting conversation with my brother recently in camp. It began innocently enough, with an observation he made about the difficulties the Saranac Lake Elks Club was apparently having recruiting new members for their lodge.

He said “You could probably get grandfathered in for membership because of Dad. RJ (my son) could never be a member here though, because he’s never lived here.”

Though I know he meant nothing by it, the comment made me stop in my tracks.

“RJ’s never lived here! He just graduated from Paul Smith’s College! He just proposed to his PSC graduated girlfriend at the VIC! He’s never lived here!!? For Christ Sakes Ray!  He’s lived here for the past three years!”

My brother paused, then replied, “Hmmm…You may be right. I never thought about that.”

The conversation ended there, for the moment, but it has stuck in my mind. It was not the first time I have encountered this perspective on my frequent trips back to my Saranac Lake home town.

A year or so ago, I signed up to attend a local writer’s club conference. It was going to be held in Lake Placid at a downtown coffee shop, after business hours. I had never attended such an event before, and very much looked forward to it. I had made reservations for an overnight stay in Saranac Lake, driving up that afternoon from my family’s residence in Watertown.

The conference itself proved interesting and fun. A mixed group of local writers, sitting around a conference table, sharing experiences, each having the opportunity to read aloud some of their work.

As the conference neared its conclusion, one of the conference leaders announced a local writing contest that was upcoming. It sounded interesting. I inquired as to the details.

“Those writers submitting must be “Adirondack.”

This gave me pause. So I asked: “What constitutes “Adirondack?”

The woman replied firmly, without hesitation: “Current residency within the Blue Line.”

Taken aback a bit, I protested. “But I grew up here! I graduated from Saranac Lake High School! I spent two summers living and working out of the DEC Ranger Cabin at Lake Colden!  My father lies buried here! My son is a student at Paul Smith’s College! My brother and his family still live in Saranac Lake! I spend a good part of every summer here! You mean to tell me- I don’t qualify!?  Simply because I moved away, I surrendered my membership? My hometown? My upbringing? My identity? You mean to tell me I’m not Adirondack!? When did that happen? And by what authority?!”

Her response was quite firm. “Your brother qualifies. You do not. However, if you wish, we will grandfather you in. If you wish to submit a story, you may do so under your brother’s name and using his address.”

At that point, I was just downright mad.

“That Saranac Lake Free Library you hold your meetings at? My mother worked as a librarian there while I was growing up. Those conference rooms you meet in? One of my first paid jobs in high school was cleaning and vacuuming them after library hours. I used to shovel that library sidewalk in the morning before school. I’m not Adirondack but my younger brother is?! What gives you the right to define what is or is not “Adirondack?”

I did not wait for an answer.  I stormed out of the conference. And no, I never submitted a story to that contest.

I am not the only one who has encountered this attitude on trips back home. Others have shared with me similar experiences. I could tell several more similar stories of my own.

I share this perspective to bring to light an unfortunate attitude that exists in the region, not with everyone, but it’s fairly evident & prevalent among those with the good fortune to make their home within the Blue Line in today’s moment.

“I live here now. I am Adirondack. Everyone else is either a visitor or a tourist. They don’t qualify. They simply are not.”

For those who have this outlook, I share these thoughts:

Like so many others, I grew up in these mountains we all love. I’ve lived on both ends of the Northville Placid Trail, Northville twice.  I grew up in Saranac Lake, made my home there until after I graduated college and entered the Army. Nearly all of my important “firsts” in life, I experienced in and around these mountains, forests, trails and lakes. I spent three summers working on a DEC trail crew. I daresay a good number of the ladders and stringer bridges, even high peaks privies, that today’s hikers use, I helped to build, on trails blazed by those who came long before all of us.

Like so many folks out there, life and its circumstance took me from the mountains. We may no longer reside within these mountains we love, but they still define us. Our souls never left.

These mountains were here for 400 million years before humans arrived. Once we are gone, they will most likely be here 400 million more.  We as humans don’t determine what does or does not constitute “Adirondack”. These mountains touch each of us in very unique and deeply personal ways on our life journeys, individual and shared. They are time’s constant. We are but falling leaves from a tree on earth’s clock.  We simply pass through them, fortunate to have experienced the magic they hold.

Current residency or life circumstance is irrelevant. For those who’ve had their lives touched in a significant way by these mountains, that touch is indelible.  We as humans do not define what is or is not “Adirondack.”  These Adirondack mountains hold that authority. These mountains we love. These Adirondacks. We do not define them. They define us.

Map courtesy of the Adirondack Park Agency









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Richard Monroe

Lifelong NYS resident. Raised in Saranac Lake. Cornell graduate(ROTC). Army veteran, Airborne/Ranger qualified, 10th Mtn Div, stints in Honduras and with JTF VI. 3rd degree Black Belt; 3x cancer survivor; published writer with several featured stories in Adirondack Life Magazine. Residing in Watertown NY with wife Robin & our 3 adult children. Loving Life. Living in the Day I am in. Follow my adventures at

82 Responses

  1. Eric says:

    I’m inclined to grant you Adirondack status just because of the trail work, ignoring all else. Thank you for that. I’m sorry some people are so tribal.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting Eric. The DEC Trail Crew was far and away the very best job that I ever had.

  2. ADKresident says:

    Richard~ what defines Adirondack?
    In this case, I can define in one word : YOU!

    That ridiculous “rule” has robbed them of a fountain of Adirondack experiences lived, and yet to be shared, coming from a true ‘Adirondacker”. Their loss, indeed! Post your stories here-“We will enjoy reading them!

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Your reply made me evening! My sincere ADKthankyou to ADKresident. As far as my stories go…I’ve truly enjoyed sharing my work through the Almanack. A sincere “Thank You” to Melissa Hart for that. It has allowed me to feel connected to and become a small part of something familiar that feels like home.

  3. Joel Rosenbaum says:

    Right on!!

    Joel Rosenbaum

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Joel. I’ll take “Right on!!” any day! Have a great summer!

  4. Dale F Jeffers says:

    Wow, that organization has a very parochial view of the “Adirondacks” based on a political construct. Since you are living in Watertown where I grew up, you must know that there are magnificent lands outside the Blue Line that many of us consider to be part of the Adirondacks, particularly in the northwest quadrant outside the Blue Line.
    While I lived outside the Blue Line for most of my life I have been involved with Adirondack advocacy for the last quarter of a century or so and have lived in the Park since 2014. People need to think on a larger landscape basis if we are to protect the flora and fauna that many of us hold so dear.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Dale, yes, it would be interesting to know what The Adirondacks considers to be its boundaries. Human boundary lines can be very arbitrary. The house I grew up in on Stevenson Lane ,in Saranac Lake is a prime example. The North Elba town line ran through one corner of our house. According to my Mom, My parents never worried about it, everything was fine, until everything went on line. Then suddenly, they got a notice from North Elba that our house was going up for sale for non-payment of taxes! Apparently we were never residents of North Elba- until we were, when a computer said so!

  5. Vanessa Banti Vanessa says:

    I don’t have energy right now for a lively debate, so at risk of not replying to anyone who doesn’t like the following…

    …this is an especially touchy subject for those of us who have never been permanent residents inside the blue line, but nonetheless have had these mountains contribute a huge amount to our lives. And we come in all political stripes, it should be told.

    It is a deep privilege to be able to live in such a beautiful, naturally intact place, and of course it is challenging to both live and also to move there economically speaking. I really hope that changes someday, but for now, it remains tough for people to move in in order to adopt the label, and too often, challenging for some residents to live economically dignified lives.

    The vast majority of us classified as visitors or etc want to contribute positively. We may not have the same cultural backgrounds, but we have the same love for this natural treasure that is irreplaceable. Nor should it be a requirement that we always have to agree with all opinions expressed by every person who lives within the blue line – as this publication regularly shows, there’s a lot of diversity of thought within the local population itself.

    I don’t encounter too many people at all that take the tack Richard describes here, but it’s a real bummer when they do. If I am ever lucky enough to be a permanent resident, I will try to be as welcoming to all as possible.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Vanessa, as always, your comments are both thoughtful and well articulated. Greatly appreciated & always welcome. Have a great summer!

  6. Bob Meyer says:

    I second Joel’s sentiment exactly.
    I have only resided year round within the Blue Line for 2 years. All else is as someone who has camp in the Park (our 83rd year). I have hiked and climbed all the big ones, many of the small ones and some of the medium ones in all seasons, explored the Park from Lk. George to Chateaugay, Champlain to Stillwater (well, you get the idea).
    I LOVE everything and anything about the Adirondacks! I dare say I know more of that land than some natives. I define myself in several ways, musician, father, husband, friend and Adirondack person. Ask anyone who knows me.
    Indeed, the Adirondack Mountains and Park defines us.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Bob, as always, thanks for sharing your insight. 83 years…Wow! that’s amazing. I hope & pray that I’m lucky enough to get somewhere even close to that! As far as knowledge goes-I’m sure you are right. The Adirondacks is so extensively diverse. There are a few specific areas of it that I know extremely well, a few more I am comfortably familiar with, but many I readily admit don’t know at all and on which I am smart enough to defer to and learn from folks like you who do. Take care& have a great summer. Be well.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        Well, slight correction…me personally, 76 years, my age, but family wise since 1938. Also: As much as I know about the Adirondacks, there is much more I don’t know nor will I ever get to see in this vast magical Park. My heros in that category; Clearance Petty, Gary Randorf the Marshalls and Herb Clark and of course Verplanck Colvin among others.
        But, we are ALL Adirondackers at heart and that is what really matters.

        • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

          Bob, I suspect that by the time one achieves those impressive longevity numbers, whether it be 76 or 83 matters little. That represents an immense wealth of Adirondack experience & knowledge. I hope your younger family members listen when you share it with them. I know for myself, as much as I learned from my father, I constantly find myself thinking, “I wish I had paid closer attention when Dad was trying to mentor and guide me into Adirondack adulthood.”

  7. Boreas says:

    I have never been a fan of people labeling other people. Never seems to turn out well…

  8. Steve B. says:

    Some places just seem to like to label people. I have seen the same type of labeling for older residents of Long Island. Apparently my 33 year residence does not qualify me to be a Long Islander and indeed, I often fail the “You are a true Long Islander if you know” test they frequently run in the newspaper. I wasn’t born here as my wife was, though I know my way around better than most locals. I feel homeless sometimes. I feel for you Richard, though in my eyes, you are indeed an Adirondacker,

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Steve, I know that feeling. It’s funny. In Saranac Lake it’s “He used to live here, but he moved to Watertown.” In Watertown it’s always “He’s that guy from Saranac Lake.” It’s tough to be treated like a visitor or tourist at home.

  9. Todd Eastman says:

    Ah, yes you are indeed a citizen of “Parkistan”…?

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Well Thank you Todd. I must admit though, that’s a 1st. I’ve never heard The Adirondacks referred to as “Parkistan”‘ before. Then again, I’ve never encountered an Adirondack moose either!

  10. Eliz says:

    I believe that individual private organizations and groups are free to make restrictions as to those who may apply/participate. For example, I support academic scholarships where candidates must meet very specific criteria. My father was a founding member of the Long Island chapter of the ADK in the 1970’s. Membership criteria was you had to be a resident of Long Island.

    I was not born upstate but spent 3 months a year in Indian Lake until I graduated from high school just inside the Blue Line-Corinth. Then I left for like 15 years. But I have been back inside the Blue Line for over 20 years now. I am currently a year-round resident and plan to stay that way.

    I think the issue might be more about year-round versus seasonal or second homeowners. The workshop leader might have better specified that it was for current year-round residents of the Park. I am guessing they just want the perspective of people who currently live here year-round.

    I was a young kid on Long Island in the 70’s. If a writing group wanted to restrict me from joining their current group writing about Long Island topics I’d have no issue with that whatsoever. My perspective would just be very different than perspectives of year-round residents of Long Island.

    Year-round is different from seasonal or occasional. If those are the criteria of a private group, that is completely fine.

  11. Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

    Eliz, Thank you for your perspective and comments. I agree somewhat, groups are certainly free (to a point) to make certain membership restrictions. What I take issue with more than anything is anyone (group or individual) thinking they have any right or authority to define what ( or in this case who) is or is not “Adirondack”. If she had said simply “current residency is the submission criteria.” That would have been one thing. That was not the case. The year-round vs seasonal thing- I will disagree with you on that one. For many, one becomes the other, for a wide variety of reasons. I grew up there, entered the service after college & from there life took me away. How does that cause me to forfeit my identity? I don’t believe it does. Tough to return to one’s hometown and arbitrarily be excluded – from anything.

  12. Gbear says:

    I have lived within the “Blue line” for 50 years. I am still a “flatlander” to some.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Gbear-50 years-Wow! That’s really awesome. I bet you could tell some great Adirondack stories! I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading and sharing you own experience. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

    • Anita Dingman says:

      I have lived in the Adirondacks for 80 years and am proud of it. My family has been here since the 1700s. I wouldn’t call you a “flatlander” unless you acted like one. Some never lose the attitude of a “flatlander” no matter how long they
      live here. We are very accepting here unless you want to change us to flatlanders-which, unfortunately, many who move here want to do.

  13. Ray says:

    There’s a story about a man whose parents had a farm in eastern Vermont. He grew up and ran the farm and lived to be 94. As it happened, he was born in the nearest hospital, which happened to be in New Hampshire. When he died the local paper ran the line “New Hampshire man dies in Vermont.” That’s what it takes to be a real Vermonter.

    I don’t know what it takes to be an Adirondacker.

  14. Paul says:

    Thanks for sharing this, and I completely empathize with your surprise and frustration at the time, but reading it after the fact it’s comically preposterous and shows the rule (and those who conceived it) to be staggeringly “tone deaf.”

    From a distance this rule doesn’t seem really to be about who applies per se, if that were the case it would not need to be defined by “Adirondackers” instead of just “current residents.” Seems more, and perhaps subconsciously, about making someone feel like “Adirondackers” because as you noted, ‘if I’m living here I’m an Adirondacker” is a great way to bridge the gulf of “belonging” for those not born here but wanting to belong. Irrelevant, but I half wonder if that person that night enforcing the rule was born here herself.

    What is also interesting about this is that it is an entirely unexpected inversion of what I thought was far more common – if you’re not at least second generation born and raised here you’re still an outsider.

    I’ve spent almost my entire life living in the park, either part time or full-time, but would never dare call myself an Adirondacker. When people ask I say “no, I’m local, not native.” I can’t and won’t claim being and Adirondacker because rightly I am not, and contrary to that contest’s rule I don’t believe just living here qualifies you to claim you are.

    But both my daughters were born here, are growing up here, and even while they are absolutely natives, I don’t know that will ever be considered “Adirondackers” by many of our neighbors. I’m not sure they will ever really qualify by the unwritten rules. I have been incredibly fortunate, and am deeply grateful, to have been so welcomed and accepted by my adopted community here, but it nonetheless always feels, subtly, never directly expressed, that one generation is still just a hearty tourist, and ‘we’ll wait and see’ if living here really takes hold in the family. And honestly, I get it.

    I’m sincerely sorry you were questioned in such a meaningless way, but the last laugh is on them, because that contest is not what will ever define who is and who is not an Adirondacker. It is what we carry with us in our lived experience of this amazing place, and you have a life-time of that, starting from birth. [Separately, thank you for your service.]

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Paul, First, thank you. And thank you for reading and taking the time to respond with some extremely well articulated experiences & thoughts. As I just commented to someone else, the “local vs native” experience is one I am quite familiar with. I too always used to qualify my status by “local but native”, an obligatory qualifier I felt thrust upon me by the prejudices (some quite vocal & vehement) of others. I guess my personal perspective is this: In my opinion, the two are not mutually exclusive. One can be “Adirondack” without being “native”. I think your last paragraph, for me, sums it up.

  15. Alexander Gasowski says:

    “We are but falling leaves from a tree on earth’s clock.” Bravo! What a way to put things in perspective. Great read.

  16. Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

    Ray, that’s a very compelling (& somehow sad) ” real Vermonter” story. Thanks for sharing it. The sort of thing I am talking about. As to what it takes to be “an Adirondacker”? I guess I would say there’s no “one” set of qualifying criteria. The term, “Adirondacker”- as I suspect does “Vermonter” – covers such a widely unique life experience. I guess we each know us when we see us. I have run into quite a number of folks who focus on the “native” theme. “He wasn’t born here- thus he can never be one of us.” For the record- I was born in Bath, NY. To some, that alone forever excludes me from membership. Have a great summer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  17. Andrew says:

    AMEN… You may now close your books!

  18. Zephyr says:

    I’ve had the privilege of living in many different states and locations within those states, and in some other countries, though I grew up and spent many years in upstate New York just outside the blue line. Almost everywhere has its locals who pride themselves on having lived there since forever, but I have always prided myself on not being from there! I think I was born a nomad, and my parents moved with me to several different locations before I was 1 year old. Frankly, I think everyone would be better off and the world would be a better place if people routinely left their insular happenstance of a geographic bubble and spent time living elsewhere.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Thanks for your insight Zephyr- Sounds like you are well travelled and as a result have led an interesting life. I like that concept. “Adirondack Nomads”. I know a few of those too!

  19. Kristen Draveck says:

    ???????????? I cannot stress enough how concerning it is that the thread of ‘exclusivity’ winds it’s way through the beautiful Adirondacks. Throw the lack of diversity in there too. It’s a real issue!

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Kristen, thank you for pointing that out. I have no particular scientific or census data to back your observation, other than reflection on my own experience growing up. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the diverse student & faculty population at Cornell, & then the U.S. Army, that I fully realized just how starkly insular my Adirondack upbringing had been.

  20. Alan Fisher says:

    I suppose there is a certain amount of pride in being exclusive. Usually it stems from a common struggle for those who survive. They share something that can’t be imagined by outsiders. There is a quiet internalization of just knowing that doesn’t need verbal expression. Anything outside of that is boastful selfish arrogance.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Thanks for your comment Alan. I certainly acknowledge the significance of long standing family traditions and pride. That’s a good thing, I think. Exists everywhere, I suspect. Part of our nation’s fabric. I think, however, that it becomes misconstrued. While It certainly does give any family it applies to a strong connection identity, of which they should be proud, I’m not sure it conveys any right to determine “exclusivity” or label others “outsiders”. Those individuals or families did not achieve that long standing struggle for survival on their own. Others blazed trails before them, struggled at different times alongside them, helped to build and maintain the communities and resources that sustain them. Some stayed for generations, others have not. Each left their mark in some small way on the Region, and it too- on them. An indelible stamp. It reads but one word: “Adirondack.”

  21. JCurt says:

    Exclusivity can run both ways. I was born and brought up in Essex County, moved out west after college and moved back to a small farm on a mountainside. My husband and I both had professional jobs that we commuted to outside the park (Albany and Vermont) and we held on through thick and thin as we slowly restored our farm. I joined various Adirondack preservation/conservation groups, but was treated as a “local” or “woodchuck” by the snobbish elitists that ran those organizations, I was just a hayseed to them as I did not look or act like the “educated” uppercrust that they saw themselves. In fact, I had an important environmentally related job and training that would have been helpful to the cause of preserving the Adirondacks, but I looked and sounded too much like a local to them. So, I gave up trying to interact with any of these Adirondack preservation groups. Their same attitude is found in “flatlanders” that buy property in the area. A woman came to our gate one day looking for her dog. She said she had just bought “lakeside” property down the road. I was dressed for cleaning the barn. She shrunk back as if she would catch something from me. But she did take time to emphasize that she had just bought lakeside property, which was in fact a small,old fishing camp that had once been owned by my husband’s grandfather. I didn’t bother to tell her that the hundreds of acres of mountainside behind me was mine. I take great comfort in being in my home town where many of the natives still have that distinctive local accent that my grandfather and his generation had.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      OK, I just have to say that this attitude, labeling everyone in “these Adirondack preservation groups” and ““flatlanders” that buy property in the area” is just as rigid and backwards thinking as any other exclusionary attitude.
      Please, lets realize that there are good genuine people from every category whether, native born, flatlander, camp owner, environmentalist, visitor or whatever…just as there are jerks, fakers and snobs in every category.
      Let’s hope for more inclusion and acceptance all around.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Thank you JCurt, for sharing your insightful experience & comments. There’s a lot to unwrap there. I will do my best to respond. I know, that growing up as kids in Northville, Placid & SL, fishing was important to us. It was our lifeblood. If we weren’t in school, playing vacant lot baseball, or out riding bikes, we were fishing. It always frustrated us that so much of the lakeside access to good fishing spots was “posted” “private property” – most owned by wealthy families. They were invisible to us. People we never saw. Luxurious “cottages” nicer than our houses, always vacant, boats that never hit the water, big vacant docks. As local kids, we knew every in and out of those lakes. all the best fishing spots, what baits worked, even where the ECO’s hung out from time to time to try & catch us outlaws. Most of those homes had been in the same family for generations. I’d bet a good nickel that most folks who owned them wouldn’t know a perch from a trout.
      Your comments made me think, so I did a bit of quick research: Martha Reben, famous writer of “The Healing Wood” fame, was born in NYC in 1906, didn’t first come to the Adirondacks until circa 1927. John Brown, of John Brown’s farm fame, was born in Connecticut. He didn’t come to the Adirondacks until he was in his late 40’s. Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, of Trudeau Institute fame, was also born in NYC, in 1848. He didn’t arrive in Saranac Lake until circa 1882. I could go on, but I think these 3 make my point. Not one of them born here, yet all left their mark on the region, and it on them. That mark reads one word. “Adirondack.”

  22. John Gagnon says:

    Ridiculous for sure. My grandparents were native Quebecois who moved to Tupper Lake to work in the lumber industry shortly before my father was born. As a result, I have always felt a kinship to Canada and more specifically, Quebec. On a pre-pandemic-who-shall-not-be-named-here trip to Gatineau, I encountered many wonderful Quebecois who graciously treated me as one of their own although I never lived a day of my life in Canada. It was as if they were saying, “his grandparents were from here. He has come home.” With tongue nearly poking through cheek, your article makes me even prouder to be “Adirondack” – as it would seem that is a much more exclusive and prestigious club.

  23. James Bullard says:

    I live on the Potsdam side of Colton and the Blue line is a few miles south of me. I have never been a resident of the park but I have done a lot of hiking there including being a 46er, Saranac 6er, Tupper Triader (summer & winter) and I was a lean-to adopter in the High Peaks for 25 years. I am also a photographer who primarily photographs the Adirondack landscape and nature. As such I consider myself an Adirondack photographer/artist and (so far) I have been accepted as such when I enter my work in shows. I have never encountered the regrettable attitude you describe and am sorry to hear that you have. To me the effect that the Adirondacks have on one’s creative work is what makes them “Adirondack”. Winslow Homer did not live in the Adirondacks but his Adirondack paintings are happily accepted as icons of the region. “Adventures in the Wilderness” was written by William H.H. Murray who was a “tourist” by the definition you encountered and his book is a, perhaps *the*, classic piece of Adirondack writing. I could go on but I think whoever made that decision needs to rethink his/her bias.

  24. Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

    John, Thanks for your comments. I dunno, “Quebecois” is pretty awesome. Like so many “Adirondackers”, I grew up rooting for the Mets, but watching “Les Expos” at old Jarry Park. My Mom & Dad used to drive us in our old green station wagon across the border to The Farmer’s Market in Canada. I was still young. I don’t recall where. I remember one time for some reason the border was closed. My Dad ignored the sign that directed us to another border customs station. Bad move! All to buy enough tomatoes, pears & peaches for my Mom to can & keep us kids in bananas. Plus, I suspect, if most true Adirondackers were blood tested, the results would show at least 5.5% Canadian, (beer that is)- eh?

    • John Gagnon says:

      For sure, eh. Also a Mets fan who spent many an afternoon / evening at both Jarry and Stade Olympique. In the final years, the Mets fans often outnumbered the Expos fans. Wish I could have taken a count as there were probably more Adirondackers than Quebecois! I do so miss the Expos.

  25. Hope says:

    Native – someone who was born to parents who were/are local Adirondack residents.
    Locals – those who have lived and/or work here 10plus years
    Residents – those that live here permanently for less than 10 years
    SnowBirds – those that live here between May and October
    Summer Folk – those that live here in July and August
    Tourists – those who visit
    Sportsmen- those who hunt and fish here
    Recreational folk- paddlers, hikers, cyclists, skiers, snowmobilers, etc.
    Adirondacker’s All.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Hope, An interesting breakdown. According to this list, if I read it correctly, I would loosely fall under the multiple headings of “Local sportsman/summer/recreational folk Adirondacker”. And I’m good with that! Thanks!

    • Zephyr says:

      The problem with putting people into neat categories and labels is that most of us don’t really fit well into one or the other and we are all individuals. For example, I have never lived within the blue line, but I’ve been visiting and hiking in the Adirondacks year-round for more than 50 years. I worked fulltime within the blue line for more than 12 years. In other words, I might have a lot more Adirondack background than someone who was born and raised there and has only lived there for say 30 years, or someone who moved there 10 years ago. And, how many can claim they are more “native” than the original Native Americans who were there long before any of us of European descent? One thing I’ve also learned is that being from some place doesn’t mean you really know the place–you know certain things, but you probably don’t know many others. For example, just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t automatically make it the best way to do things, and if you haven’t been elsewhere to compare you will never know.

  26. Naj Wikoff says:

    I think the woman who felt you were disqualified has a very narrow view of what it means to be an Adirondacker.

    I live in Keene Valley grew up in Placid) and know many seasonal residents whose families who have been coming here for two, three, four or more generations – their ties are far deeper than many who live here year-round. They often marry here, and many have relatives buried here. Some have explored far more of the Adirondacks than I have. They are as Adirondack if not more so than anyone else.

    In my mind and experience, they should be thrilled and fortunate to have you participate in their writing contest. By excluding you, they exclude the rich history, knowledge, and experiences you’d bring to the endeavor.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Thank you Naj both for reading & for taking the time to share your insight and your kind comments. I agree.

  27. jeep says:

    Howdy Dick, I just recently completed a short stint outside the blue line myself. Curiously of the NSY corrections Department! I’m back and never considered myself anything other than a local while i was gone. I think you should consider yourself the same as well brother! Did we go to school together?

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Howdy Jeep! Great to hear from a fellow local Adirondacker. Thanks for reading and commenting. I don’t know. I graduated from SL in ’81. I know quite a few classmates went into corrections. It’s very possible.

  28. Sue says:

    We have lived in Vermont for nearly 50 years. I will never be a Vermonter. I live here. Our sons were born in Vermont and by many standards they are Vermonters. Others say you must have grandparents in the grave in Vermont to be considered a Vermonter. I understand this view… and agree with many Vermonters that “flatlanders” more than often want to bring their baggage with them. Chittenden County is a perfect example of this. I understand when ADKers have a definition of who is considered from the Park.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting Sue. I am certainly not in any way qualified to speak or pass judgements on what it takes to be a Vermonter. Great state though! My Dad & I spent a fair amount of time fishing Lake Champlain. I remember he was heavily involved in a lot of the lamprey eel mitigation efforts in that watershed. Zebra mussels too, as I recall. I have always been fascinated by the legends & stories about “Champ”. As to who is or is not considered “from the Park”- I’ve lived my life as an Adirondack Outlaw. Those mountains are home to me. I sing with the loons, dance with the bears, and was raised on wild blueberry pancakes & stick cooked brook trout. I’ve lost and found myself trekking those mountains more times than I can count. ‘Til I draw my last breath, they forever shall be my refuge, my lifeblood, my Zen. “Forever Wild” “Carry It In, Carry It Out”. I think I’ll reserve the right to define who I am for myself.

  29. Mark says:

    Who needs ’em? I’ve been coming up to the area for many, many years, since returning from Nam. I spend my money in the area, supported local businesses, have donated to the food banks, aided several friends so they could make it through the North Country winters, and drank beer with ADKers that I have known for years. All this while making the 600 mile drive from Maryland.

    Next month I’m coming up for a week. As always, I can’t wait. Looking forward to being on Lower, Middle, and Weller, fishing and having a few cold ones!

    I’m not an ADKer, but my heart and soul is in the mountains and lakes. That is where my ashes will be scattered, followed by a round of drinks at the rusty nail.

    BTW Richard, I’ve spent many a night camped at the Bull Rush Bay. Pretty sweet spot. Always a nice breeze keeping the bugs away!

  30. Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

    Mark, First and foremost, I salute your service. I was a boy during Vietnam. I remember Walter Cronkite reporting about the war on the nightly black & white TV news. I was commissioned in ’85. Served the bulk of my time at Ft. Drum with the 10th. Nearly all of the senior officers & NCOS there who mentored and trained me were Vietnam Vets. I cold not have had better men guiding me. You probably knew some of them. I am honored to have you read and share your comments on my story.
    Beyond that- we could be brothers! (Or you my Uncle). Lower, Middle, and Weller are my primary stomping grounds. Been going there nearly for the past 50 years. My brother Ray & I calculated it up once, we figure we’ve each spent over two full years of our lives sleeping in that Bull Rush Bay Lean to. My son & I hunt up there every the fall now. Every time we go, we clean up the site, and dig the ashes out of the fire pit and carry them up to the ash pile by the tree in that old garbage can lid that’s been in camp forever. My family & I were just in for two weeks, Memorial Day. My brother has reservations for 2 more in July/Aug. We’ve probably run into each other up there without knowing it. I’m usually rowing my camouflage Zen boat canoe. You’ll know it if you see it. I usually row in from South Creek.
    And yes! Thank God for that breeze! Kept our bull Rush Bay camp free of late May Blackflies this year for sure.
    If you are ever up on the middle lake or Weller & spot my canoe, in camp or elsewhere- please swing by & say hello. I’d be honored to meet you.

  31. Joe Steiniger says:

    Labels, labels, why do we all have to be labeled? I wasn’t born here (Schroon Lake), but I got here as fast I could! We have “locals”, and “snowbirds” and “vacation homeowners”, and “weekenders”, most of which are “flatlanders” (or worse – I won’t even go there.) All of us love this place. We pay our taxes (even if we have no children in our schools) we take enormous pride in our communities, and we all realize how special the Adirondacks are. To some of the “locals” I may be a “second homeowner”, but as far as I am concerned, my second home is in Poughkeepsie. I am an Adirondacker. (Deal with it.) 🙂

  32. Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

    Amen Joe! You hit the nail on the head. My sentiments exactly.

  33. Paul says:

    Grew up in Saranac Lake, own two camps (one in SL and the other close by), spend a large chunk of my year in the Adirondacks, and have family and many friends in SL yet I don’t qualify. Bummer for them! Richard there is nobody I know that is more Adirondack than you.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Thank you Paul, both for reading & your comments. I happen to know a certain Saranac Lake Paul, sounds exactly like you. Has visited our camp with his wife & kids in a little Boston Whaler from time to time. I’ve even visited his camp. An Adirondack guy through & through. By anyone’s standard. Maybe I’ll see him later on this summer in camp. Been awhile. Hope I do.

  34. Steve B. says:

    A buddy who moved up north about 40 years ago and who has lived and worked there the entire time summed it up as “If you were not born here, you are an outsider”.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Steve, Thanks for reading and sharing your comments. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I personally disagree 100% with that sentiment. But almost anyone I know who’s spent any significant time living and working to become part of a community in the Adirondacks has unfortunately encountered that attitude. Your buddy summed it up pretty well.

    • James Bullard says:

      People get weird about such things. When I was just a kid we lived near Barnes Corners and everyone referred to our place as “the Gregg farm” after the former owners. It became the “the Bullard place” after we left. Home is where your heart is they say and I suspect ‘home’ does not necessarily coincide with official address for a lot of people.

  35. John Sasso John Sasso says:

    Thank you, Rich, for your thoughtful – and thought-provoking – commentary. I’ve hiked every stretch of the Adirondack Park for over 11 years, dedicated almost 10 years (500+ hrs) of time & effort to help build and maintain many of its trails, fire tower maintenance (Mts Adams, Pillsbury, Blue, etc.), hiker education. I also spent three years on an Adirondack-based search-and rescue team, engaged in at least eight searches in the Adirondacks alone. I also do research on and write about topics on Adirondack history.

    No, I am not a resident (nor former resident) of the Adirondack Park. I don’t qualify as an “Adirondacker”? Well, I know I’ve dedicated a lot of my heart, soul, time, and effort to the Park – provably and undoubtedly so.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Thank you John, both for reading and your much appreciated feedback & comments. Wow! that’s an impressive Adirondack resume! To me, that represents the heart and soul of what being “Adirondack” is all about. The Adirondack Park can certainly benefit tremendously from the dedicated efforts of more folks like you. Thanks for all of your hard work.

  36. Lorraine Hubbard Pantaleo says:

    I am 91 and was born in Moriah. Went to school. Graduated from Westport High School. Worked and then left at age 20. All our ancestors – way back to the 1600s are buried in local cemeteries.Our parents and other relatives as well. I am still a member of the Adirondack Council and a DAR member. I really enjoy reading these articles. We try to get up there whenever we can even if only for a couple of days. The Adirondacks fill our souls and raise our spirits. Beautiful land. I have always considered myself an Adirondacker and say so proudly and often. Loved reading
    these comments.

  37. Michael Brown says:

    What defines Adirondack? I would venture to say anyone who has a commitment to the region and those who live in it, either year round or three months out of every 12. Once you spend time here the place and its people become part of you, and vice versa, and that I believe is what defines Adirondack .

  38. Thom says:

    I have not visited the Adirondacks since I was a young adult–I am now almost 75–but my time in the Adirondacks has stayed in my heart and will live within me forever. I have resided in Colorado for 45 years, but I regard myself as part-Adirondacker, and no one can take that away from me by their misguided definitions.

    • Thom says:

      I forgot to mention in my previous post that I hiked the Northville-Placid Trail end-to-end in six days back in 1964.

      • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

        Thanks for reading & sharing your insights & experience Thom. Once the Adirondacks enter one’s soul, they reside there forever. The Northville Placid trail in six days! I’d say that’s quite an accomplishment. I’ve lived on both ends of that trail, but for a wide variety of life circumstance, never quite got around to actually hiking it. It was always on my to do list- then I got sick, and now can’t. One of the things on my Adirondack “to do list” that I just never got done.

  39. Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

    Lorraine- 91! Wow! That’s truly an impressive accomplishment in and of itself. While my “Adirondack” credentials cannot compete with yours, I share your sentiments. There is something about the magic of the Adirondacks that reaches deep within each of us each and every time we breathe that mountain air. Thank you for your feedback and comments. I am glad you have enjoyed reading.

  40. william hill says:

    There are tons of people that think of themselves as Adirondackers because they now currently reside inside the blue line, sometimes seasonally other times the whole year. To be an Adirondacker you’ll need to have “paid your dues”. Working, living year-round, having family here all adds to your “cred”. Growing up and going to school here is a shoo-in. Having a camp on Lake Awesome and drinking a cup of coffee in a flannel shirt a few weekends a year doesn’t make you legit. It’s unfortunate that the writer had to deal with numbskulls like that. I’d be interested to compare his Adirondack resume’ with theirs.
    (This is just my 2 cents, doesn’t make it the gospel”
    PS- The River Rats on the St Lawrence River are even more rabid about what it takes to be considered legit.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      William- this is Richard responding- “the writer”. Thanks for your interest in reading, and your spirited reply! Like you, I’m not the judge, and never want to be. I don’t think any of us really can ever sit in judgement of what is or is not “Adirondack”. As I stated in the article itself, I think that authority lies with the mountains, and each of us, individually, to define who we are.

  41. Joan Grabe says:

    I really think you should all get a life ! Although I love hearing from the senior citizens who have lived in the Adirondacks forever. Why base your feelings on an arbitrary Blue Line when the Park itself is big enough to encompass us all ?

  42. Member of the human race says:

    I believe that this is a bigger problem than just what qualifies as “an Adirondacker”. We seem to want to put everyone in a category. You’re either a liberal or a conservative, you’re a canoeist or a kayaker, red state or blue state, gay or straight, some people can use certain words others can’t. It goes on and on in some ways it always has but seems to be getting worse or maybe we’re just adding categories.

    • Richard Monroe Richard Monroe says:

      Dear Member, I believe you make a very valid point. Maybe, (albeit unintentionally) this small piece about what defines one as “Adirondack”, much like the mountains all of us in our own individual ways cherish, symbolizes something far broader that lies deep within. As I’ve said in some of my previous replies to the many thoughtfully well articulated (and greatly appreciated) comments, maybe that something is the “Forever Wild” desire within of each of us, the desire to be free to define who we are for ourselves.

  43. ADKlakepaddler says:

    The Adirondacks just south of Northville were my summer residence in early childhood. My earliest memories involved ferns, pine trees, a wide lake with a sandy bottom, a brook with water skaters, the smell of the lake air, Adirondack wildflowers and wildlife. Especially toads. I consider the Adirondacks to be part of me even if I wasn’t year round within the Blue Line. What a silly rule for that contest.

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