Secrets of an Adirondack hermit's code discovered

Rondeau wrote about a long walk to the Coreys Post Office to mail his buck tag report to the Conservation Department on Nov. 25, 1945. "Just finished a 24 mile walk to mail tag to American, weak minded Blood and dishonest American Flesh (the Conservation Commission)," he wrote.

On Jan. 2, 1947 he wrote, "A chick-a-dee bird tried my weasel trap and it worked. I read Thoreau." On Jan. 3, his entry reads, "The chick-a-dee bird that got killed in the weasel trap yesterday is still dead."

In another entry, Rondeau comments on having spent over 365 consecutive days in the woods. Remarking on having lived a full year as a hermit, he writes, "I find that I am very good company."

In his journals, Rondeau writes about visitors to Cold River City such as Richard "Red" Smith of Lake Placid, Wayne and Peggy Byrne and Dr. and Mrs. Dittmar of Plattsburgh, or of visiting with Harry Johnson in Lewis, John St. Dennis in Elizabethtown or Ted Hillman in Saranac Lake.

However, a good portion of his journals were written in code. These unique hieroglyphics, described as the "footprints of an inebriated hen" contain mysterious symbols that were believed to protect the old woodsman's deepest secrets. None of his many friends ever knew the meaning of these scratchings.

During the entire year of 1942 and 1946, Rondeau wrote nearly all of his journal entries entirely in code. For nearly 50 years, Rondeau's writings remained an enigma until David Greene cracked it. Greene, son of Evelyn Greene of North Creek, is also the grandson of Paul and Ma Schaefer, who are recognized as Adirondack legends in their own right. The story of how David Greene cracked Rondeau's code, as well as a translation of the two missing journal years can be found in a recently published book, entitled, Noah John Rondeau's Adirondack Wilderness Days: A Year with the Hermit of Cold River Flow. Author Jay O'Hern, who spent many years researching the life and times of Noah Rondeau, had previously published Life with Noah.

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