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, November 25, 2017

Tim Rowland’s Thoughts on Voting

Photo by John Warren.I voted for the first time as a New Yorker this month, mainly to vote against the constitutional convention, which might have opened the door to wholesale changes in the forest preserve, and, conversely, for a land bank that will allow small, common sense changes in the forest preserve.

I have to hand it to New York voters. Back in West Virginia, we never would have figured that out. As dearly as I love my home state, it is safe to say that the color gray simply does not exist. You’re either fer-it or agin-it, and the idea that fine tuning is not dependent on wholesale destruction, as a concept, simply does not exist. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Forest Preserve Oil Cars And Iowa Pacific Intentions

stored tanker carsI have a history of missing the big picture. When I see that a cleaning product “kills 99.9 percent of household germs,” instead of being comforted I worry about that one tenth of 1 percent. What’s that germ got? And will it destroy us all?

So I might be missing a perfectly logical reason why the Chicago-based Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC would think it a good idea to junk 2,000 flaking old oil tankers in the heart of the Adirondacks, where hikers and fishermen are seeking natural and spiritual repast, not a chain of rolling testaments to a (nearly) bygone era of dirty energy.

You wonder how this is this even possible in a land where, to hear some people tell it, you can’t even look at a spruce sideways, and the regulators sit around just waiting for you to commit some overt act that they can take you to court for. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tim Rowland On Hiking Slips

ampersand mountainClimbing Ampersand recently, I slipped on a rock. Fine. It happens. But not that much, not to me. Lacking other things to be proud of, I at least take satisfaction in a good sense of balance. This sense of balance was learned long ago, a factual nugget I reflected upon as I continued to hike, in the way that desultory, pointless thoughts float through your mind like breeze-buffeted wisps of milkweed on long stretches of lonely trails.

Growing up in rural West Virginia, our county’s school system didn’t have a lot of spare lettuce for playground improvements, so the janitor, Mr. Ryder — a taciturn, thickly muscled man man who was not tall, and whose darkly tanned face was deeply lined from too many years of mopping up crayon induced vomit — fashioned outdoor toys from the scrap he had on hand. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

When The World Discovers Your Favorite Adirondack Spot

jay mountain Maybe 15 years ago, having completed the 46 High Peaks and just becoming aware that there were indeed other trails in the Park, I was searching for new options when I stumbled across a brief description of the seldom-climbed Jay Mountain, the capstone of the Jay Range, smack in the center of the Jay Wilderness off of Jay Mountain Road between the communities of Jay and Upper Jay. Everything in Jay is named Jay. People even name their goldfish Jay. Less to remember that way, I suppose.

It was a mountain that, it was said, only “the locals” climbed, but if that were the case, those rascally locals weren’t talking. People whom I was certain had hiked Jay clammed up, guarding the secret with the same passion as one trying to keep the nuclear codes away from President Trump.

Of course this only meant that I made up my mind that I would find the trailhead or die. Find it I eventually did, but it wasn’t within a hundred yards of where it was supposed to be, and was marked only by three sorry old stones masquerading as a cairn. I do believe it took longer to find the trail than it did to hike it. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Constitutional Convention Vote Raises Article 14 Fears

Monuments at Monument Falls along the West Branch of the Ausable River near Lake Placid Every two decades, New Yorkers go to the polls to decide whether they want to rewrite the language in their state constitution. Historically, they take a pass on this opportunity — in more than a century, only three constitutional conventions have been called by the voters, the most recent in 1967. And even in that year, the same voters who called for the convention decided they didn’t like the result and rejected the changes proposed by the convention’s delegates.

But if last year’s presidential elections and the rise of a self-styled populist to power were reflective of anything, it was that much of the electorate is irritated with business as usual and might be willing to take chances in the name of draining the swamp. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tim Rowland’s Visit To Ausable Chasm

ausable chasmMany moons ago, not too far north of Old Forge, there was a tourist trap that — apparently believing that honesty was the best policy — gave itself the name of The Tourist Trap. It sold the usual fare of balsam-scented incense burners in the shape of a log cabin, birch-bark lamps and every piece of junk imaginable with a picture of a loon on it — all destined, in time, for some North Carolina yard sale.

As a child in search of a meaningful memento costing south of 75 cents, I invested in a “paperweight” that was a river pebble that had been covered with postage stamps and apathetically lacquered. This artifact stayed with me for a remarkably long period of time, serving not as a reminder of the Adirondacks, but as a reminder to stay out of tourist traps. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Verplanck Colvin and Politics Today

Colvin HeadshotLast month we went to see Bill Killon’s documentary, “Colvin: Hero of the North Woods” at the Adirondack History Museum in Elizabethtown. Surveyor and forest-preserve advocate Verplanck Colvin has always been something of a hero of mine, and not because he has the funniest name associated with the Adirondacks. He doesn’t. He doesn’t even have the funniest name beginning with V, an honor that goes to — and I assume I will get no argument here — the mountain that goes by the name of Vanderwhacker.

It’s an excellent film, drawing on the observations of a veritable Mount Rushmore of contemporary Adirondack voices, and deftly and artfully edited by Killon to show Colvin’s strengths, weaknesses and complexities. In a classic touch, an Adirondack downpour lends a comforting background serenade to an interview with Tony Goodwin, symbolic, perhaps, of the waters that Colvin was so inclined to protect. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tim Rowland’s Fourth Of July Adventure

view of Giant from High BankI am a firm believer in the celebrated “Ten Essentials” that every hiker should carry in his pack when he sallies forth into the bush — which for me generally amounts to a map, a compass and eight Advil. Of course the list of essentials includes a lot of other stuff, as well, and is readily searchable online.

It’s good to be aware of the list because you never know about weather, you never know about a bad step on a rock, you never know when you are going to need a little extra gas in the tank and, well, you just never know. It’s amazing to me how just a few steps off a well-beaten path can leave you feeling just as lost as Fred Noonan over the South Pacific.

But we all backslide a bit. I frequently fail to carry Essential #10, Emergency Shelter on a two-mile out-and- back to Baker Mountain. But within reason I’m pretty good about it, partly out of prudence, partly because I don’t want to get “that look” from other hikers on the trail, the one that says “Look Carol, he is wearing COTTON. To the STAKE with him.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Creeping Cascadeism: A Visit to Owls Head

owls headI try to stay away from the more popular Adirondack peaks during the summer season, because at my age I’m always afraid some college kid is going to stop me on the trail and ask me to sit for an oral history project.

But I figured I needed to climb Owls Head in Keene before it closes later this year due to overuse and the poor manners of hikers whose cars were blocking the driveways of homeowners on the privately owned property.

I had seen Owls Head many times as I descended from the Cascade lakes on Rt. 73. I’d always thought to myself, What a cute little mountain; I wonder why nobody ever climbs that? This shows what an idiot I am, because apparently about 7 million people a day climb Owls Head, part of the creeping Cascadeism that turns the stunning pass into a three-mile parking lot on the weekends. » Continue Reading.


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.


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