In this digital age, it’s hard for anyone to escape entirely from the eyes of the world, and that goes for Adirondack hermits, too. Even dead ones.
A case in point is Archie “Bobcat” Ranney, who lived in a cabin near Bakers Mills, sometimes surviving on porcupine meat.
I learned about Ranney from Dick MacKinnon, a native of Schenectady, who in turned learned about him from Jim Osterhout, a childhood friend who once met the hermit. Dick sent me a bunch of emails with articles about Ranney as well as a few photos. I then stumbled across more articles about him on my own. Everything was online.
Alvah Dunning was perhaps the most famous of Raquette Lake guides, said to have helped lead the first excursion of sportsmen to Raquette Lake at age eleven. Born in Lake Piseco in 1816, he lived there until 1860 when he was forced to flee after beating his wife.
From that moment on, he removed himself from society in favor of the freedom of the wilderness. » Continue Reading.
In 1951, Dr. Roger D. Freeman found himself sharing a lean-to camp at Indian Falls in the Adirondack High Peaks of Essex County with none other than legendary Noah John Rondeau.
“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. » Continue Reading.
The snow is still falling, but not as fast and furious as it was earlier. I heard on the solar radio that this is now called Winter Storm Euclid, but I think most people will remember it as the Blizzard of 2012. I’ve got about twelve to fourteen inches on the ground, and it is still coming down.
I woke up early this morning to a text message from a friend letting me know that she had made it to Colorado alright. The sun wasn’t up, but it was starting to get light out, so I got up and fed the pets and the wood stove. » Continue Reading.
On Saturday of Easter weekend, April 23, Dave Greene of Johnsburg and Syracuse will present a power point program in North Creek about how he broke the secret code of Noah John Rondeau (1883 to 1967), the Adirondack hermit who lived ten miles back in the wilderness for 30 years. Rondeau was sure no one would ever decipher his journals, which was written in a code simple enough for him to write in every day but which had some diabolical variations.
Like many hermits, Rondeau was very sociable and was well-loved by many mountain hikers and sportsmen who were glad to carry in food and other supplies for him in exchange for colorful stories and scratchy fiddling. They tried to avoid having to partake of his “everlasting stew”, however. Game wardens were definitely not welcome visitors. At the age of 22, when Greene, just out of college, was living pretty much as a hermit himself at the foot of Crane Mt. in his family’s primitive cabin, he had time to focus on the puzzling “hen scratchings”. After just 22 hours of work, he had the gist of the code, though some problems and meanings of words remained mysterious. For a good description of Rondeau, the code and Greene’s work, see the February issue of the DEC Conservationist magazine, though the time frame given for breaking the code is not accurate.
The program, in which Greene will explain how he deciphered the code and also teach the audience how to do it , will be held at 7 p.m. in Tannery Pond Community Center, opposite the town hall/library on Main Street, North Creek. Donations will be accepted for the support of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP), a volunteer water monitoring project of Protect the Adirondacks, in partnership with the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) of Paul Smiths College.
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