The Adirondack 46ers want a pair of High Peaks renamed for two of its own, but they have found reluctance to the idea from people who live in the town of North Hudson, where the mountains are located.
The Adirondack 46ers are asking that East Dix be named Grace Peak, for their former historian and founder Grace Hudowalski, and South Dix take the name Carson Peak for Russell Carson, the author "Peaks and People of the Adirondacks."
Of the two, Hudowalski is better known because of her role interacting with thousands of hikers as the long-time historian of the club.
The Adirondack 46ers would like to change the name of East Dix Mountain (on the right with the slides) to Grace Peak in honor of its longtime historian Grace Hudowalski. Currently, Esther Mountain is the only High Peak named after a woman.
(Photos courtesy of the Adirondack 46ers)
To become an Adirondack 46er, hikers are required to climb all 46 High Peaks and then write about their experiences. For decades, those written remembrances were sent to Hudowalski, who responded to each letter and then archived them.
"She really was the heart and soul of the 46er organization through the four decades that she did this," said Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth. "She was a major part of popularizing climbing the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks."
Although the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) is a separate organization than Adirondack 46ers, it has decided to back the renaming of the two peaks. In September, the club's board of directors voted unanimously to back the proposal.
The mountains and the people
The Dix Mountains
In the Dix Mountain Wilderness, southwest of the AuSable Lakes and Nippletop Mountain, there are three mountains named after John Adams Dix, former New York governor: Dix Mountain, South Dix and East Dix. The main mountain can be accessed from a trail starting in St. Huberts off of state Route 73. There is also a trailhead from the south near Elk Lake. South and East Dix have herd paths to their peaks.
Grace Hudowalski (1906-2004)
Founding member of the Adirondack Forty-Sixer Club and served as the club's first president from 1948 to 1951
Founding member of the Forty-Sixers of Troy, a hiking club that started in 1937 at the Grace United Methodist Church in Troy
In 1937, she became the first woman, and ninth person, to summit all 46 High Peaks.
Adirondack 46ers secretary and historian from 1952 to 2004
Editor of the Cloud-Splitter, the journal of the Albany Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club
Established essay contest with scholarship awarded at Schroon Lake High School from 1957 to 1974. Was re-established last year.
Worked for Commerce Department of the State of New York to promote tourism from 1948 to 1961.
Russell Carson (1884-1961)
Glens Falls native
Author of "Peaks and People of the Adirondacks"
Founding member of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) in 1922. He became president of the ADK in 1930-1931
Served in the armed forces, as a captain in the 105th Infantry, New York National Guard.
Member of Rotary Club of Glens Falls
Wrote column for Glens Falls-based newspaper, The Post-Star, about the Adirondack Mountain Club.
Member of the Glens Falls Tree and Recreation Commission and the Wilderness Society of New York
Vice President of the Adirondack Historical Museum at Blue Mountain Lake
Trustee for the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks
But the real people spearheading this campaign are the Grace Peak Committee of the Adirondack 46ers, who have had an educational campaign about the two peaks for about seven years. Leading the way has been committee chair and an Adirondack 46ers director Doug Arnold.
Arnold is a passionate person who has no doubt that that Carson and Hudowalski deserve to have mountains named after them. In recent weeks, he said he has been meeting with officials from Essex County and the town of North Hudson, providing them with the reasons why this cause is so important.
Persuading people from the town of North Hudson to rename the mountains is important. Local support is needed in the renaming of the mountains, which is ultimately done by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.
But there doesn't appear to be a lot of support in North Hudson. Town Supervisor Robert Dobie said he has brought the ideas to his town board three times, and each time it has been opposed.
"It's more people coming from the outside telling us what they think is best for us," Dobie said. "I'm not against the name change necessarily, but give us a reason. To this point, I don't think we've ever been given a good reason to change. No one in North Hudson is opposed to Dix Mountain."
Dobie said that one of the main problems is that most people aren't familiar with Carson, so it's hard for them to support naming a mountain after him. Hudowalski might have more backing.
"We do know a little bit more about her," Dobie said. "I truly think she'd be more palatable. If they came with just Grace, they probably would have had a better chance than both of them."
Still, Dobie said he was willing to listen to Arnold's reasons for renaming the mountains and would continue a dialogue with him on the matter. Arnold definitely plans to continue pushing for the renaming of the two mountains, saying that he has support of people across the state.
"We respect North Hudson and their opinion in this matter," Arnold said. "But we also understand that Grace and Carson influenced communities throughout the Adirondacks and also hikers and climbers and all sorts of people (across New York state) who enjoy the history and the lore and the wilderness."
Tom Both was supervisor of the town of Keene from 1998 to 2006 and is an ADK member. He believes that if the peaks were located in Keene, things would be different.
"If those two peaks were in Keene, at least as far as Grace Hudowalski is concerned, I think their would probably be support for it, only because of the makeup of our population," Both said. "We have a lot of retired people and a lot of ADK members, who would be supportive. That's not as true in North Hudson."
For his part, Arnold is trying to make the issue less about the statewide organization and more about the mountains and the people he wants them named after.
"The argument is not me," Arnold said. "It's not about ADK. It's not about the 46ers. It's about honoring two people who are worthy and two people who are true-blue Adirondackers."