Did you see this month’s issue of National Geographic? A tip from one of our Adirondacks Facebook fans informed us that the Adirondack Park was featured in National Geographic Magazine this month, so we took a look online and found the feature… and I have to say, it was quite compelling.
The page welcomes you with a stunning fall snapshot of an Adirondack mountain-scape from a mountain summit, overlooking a glass lake with a reflection of the cerulean blue sky above. Then it starts in with a paragraph that puts perfectly into words the essence of what the Adirondacks are:
From where I live a couple of hours north of New York City, I can
feel the peculiar gravity of the Adirondacks, which lie another two
hours to the north and west. It’s a gravity as strong as Manhattan’s but
the opposite kind–the beckoning of few roads and few people, the pull
of a wild region large enough to have an “interior.” Here, the outside
world seems to vanish behind enfolding mountains, quarantined away by
river, still water, and wetland. Crest one of the High Peaks, and all
you see is Adirondacks.
The article continues on with an historical recap of events
that led up to the Adirondack Park being designated “Forever Wild” by
New York State, telling of the early industry and widespread logging
that plagued the Adirondack forests back in the 19th Century…. and then the recovery and protection of the wilderness.
Part of the miracle of the Adirondacks is how quickly these abused lands
healed. Just decades earlier, in the 1870s, the state had begun taking
over parcels of cutover land forfeited for nonpayment of taxes. By 1892
it was ready to make a park of them. The original boundary embraced 2.8
million acres, only half of which actually belonged to the state.
(Private land today makes up roughly half the park.) New York enshrined
its sprawling forest preserve in the state constitution, which protects
the state-owned park as “forever wild.”
The National Geographic article goes on to tell about modern day
recreation and enjoyment in the Adirondack Park, from hikers and
climbers to paddlers, bicyclists and more.
But the author remarks how
even though there are people and campfires scattered throughout the
Adirondacks, you still have that wilderness feeling. This is probably my
favorite paragraph from the article:
While these capillaries of civilization reach far into the park, there’s
an inescapable sense wherever you go in the Adirondacks that just a
short distance away a wilderness begins–many wildernesses, in fact.
What’s arresting about the Adirondacks isn’t the tantalizing promise of
another view lying out of sight, though the park is an endless beaded
chain of new perspectives. What’s arresting is the absence of a view,
the dense enclosure of the eastern forest, the depth of the biotic floor
you step across as you move deeper and deeper into a kind of
Leatherstocking shade. It seems irrational to feel the trees closing
behind you, as if the forest is cutting you off from the present. But
the gravity you feel–drawing you over rock and moss, through small
streams where the light opens overhead, across deadfalls, and into pure
dim stands of hemlock–is the returning wildness of the place.
The article closes with a somewhat open-ended final paragraph about finding balance for the Adirondack Park:
I find myself imagining a time-lapse photo of future changes, imagining,
as well, a time-lapse of the past century and a half in these timeless
mountains: the logging and mining and burning, the movement to protect
the last fragments of untouched forest, the regreening of this resilient
landscape. The remembering is reassuring. For decades now, the stewards
of this cherished park have been searching for balance. More often than
not, it seems, they’ve found it.
If you’re interested in reading the entire article (it is a bit lengthy,
but a good read), you can do so here. Be sure to come back and tell us
what your favorite part of the article was!
Don’t you love it when someone can put so perfectly into words exactly what you’re feeling? I think the author does that quite effectively in this National Geographic feature about the Adirondacks. What do you think?