Press-Republican

February 12, 2014

Peacock to host talk on 90-miler

By BEN ROWE
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Traveling the route of the Adirondack Canoe Classic, Gary Peacock uncovered stories of the Adirondacks’ past and present.

That trip inspired the presentation “Paddling an Adirondack Super Highway: From Old Forge to Saranac Lake,” which Peacock will deliver at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, to the Adirondack Mountain Club Algonquin Chapter.

Open to all, it will be held before the club’s regular meeting in the upstairs conference room at the Old Clinton County Court House in Plattsburgh.

SURVEY OF VISITORS

Also known as the 90-miler, the Adirondack Canoe Classic is a three-day canoe race held every summer from Old Forge to Saranac Lake.

Although he didn’t compete in the race itself, Peacock followed the route for six days as research for an essay he was writing for a SUNY Plattsburgh class.

He developed a survey to give to any travelers he encountered during the trip. After getting some general information, Peacock asked each person to share a specific Adirondack memory.

Of the roughly 50 memories that Peacock collected, the one that stood out the most was from a 21-year-old woman from New Jersey.

Her parents had owned a cottage at the Ausable Club in Keene Valley. A family gathering was held there with aunts, uncles and cousins when the girl was 8 or 9 years old.

Early one morning, while she was still sleeping, her uncle started chanting and waking the family up.

“Give me a ‘G’. Give me an ‘I’. Give me an ‘A’,” Peacock said, imitating the uncle’s shouting.

The chant, which spelled out the word “giant,” was motivation for the family to start an early morning trek up nearby Giant Mountain. The climb was challenging and left most of the family exhausted.

Yet, to mark their triumph over the mountain, a photo was taken of the family using their bodies to spell out the same letters the uncle had shouted that morning.

“So all of the people that were involved in that have that picture, of their family spelling out the word giant, in their living room or their dorm room,” he said.

HISTORIC ROUTE

Along with sharing the results of his survey and the stories he collected, Peacock will describe some of the historical details of the route.

Among those is the story of John Brown, an 18th century shipper, who, Peacock said, is not to be confused with the 19th century abolitionist of the same name.

Through a botched trade deal, Brown was given ownership of 210,000 acres of land in the Adirondacks. Brown and his descendants attempted to settle and develop the land, often with disastrous results.

Traveling through the Fulton Chain of Lakes, Peacock was able to think back to what he had learned about Brown and appreciate traveling through what was once his property.

“I was able to put the blinders on, and even though it’s heavily settled on that part of the lake, I was able to envision myself paddling this back in the 1800s,” he said.

Peacock said he appreciated the chance to connect with other Adirondack travelers, where normally he kept to himself while hiking or kayaking.

“To see how many people were so enthused about the Adirondacks just gave me a real great feeling about my backyard.”