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The business of wilderness

Soaring mountain cliffs and gentle backcountry lakes are key features of the rugged Adirondack wilderness.

Soaring mountain cliffs and gentle backcountry lakes are key features of the rugged Adirondack wilderness. Photo by Joe Hackett.

Throughout the 1980’s, I often flew into First Lake on the Essex Chain of Lakes with Helms Aero Service out of Long Lake. The big lake held a fine population of trout, and it provided plenty of solitude. However, it was not unusual to see or hear a motor vehicle, as there are many miles of roads woods roads lacing the vast property.

Boreas Pond, which is the centerpiece of the Boreas Pond Tract, has a wonderful, log lodge situated along it’s shoreline. Located nearly six miles distant from the nearest paved road, the existing log lodge would provide a wonderful setting for an Interior Outpost, similar to Adirondac Loj on Hart Lake.

However, it is unlikely the structure will be allowed to remain after state acquisition, due to land use restrictions in ‘wilderness areas”.

Although the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) owns Adirondac Loj on Hart Lake, as well as Johns Brook Lodge, both of these properties are located on private lands which are adjacent to and surrounded by state wilderness or primitive corridors.

ADK opened Johns Brook Lodge in the Johns Brook Primitive Area in July 1925. In addition to a Main Lodge, ADK maintains several outbuildings as rentals, which include Camp Peggy O’Brien, Winter Camp and a small hut built for volunteers. In the early 1990s, both Winter Camp and Grace Camp were renovated.

According to a 1903 opinion by the NYS Attorney General, the term wild forest lands was intended “To preserve such lands as a wilderness, in which the work of man should not appear; these lands should remain subject to natural conditions and results, without the intervention of man, in cutting, pruning or otherwise cultivating the woods or the land.”

Quite obviously, over the years exceptions have been made, most significantly in the High Peaks Wilderness.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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