Hiker lost and found and the 90-Miler

What better way to go into this baseball season than a photo of the Saranac Lake High School team of 1914. Some tough looking hombres, some wearing neckties with big letters down the front of the tie “SLHS.” Now the best part is we have their ID. In back from left are Vic Blumenthal, Bill Calhoun, Jack Walker, Fred (Duke) Ryan, Lyall Delamater and Leon Kingman. In front from left are Victor Jordan, Jay Neubaur and Wallace (Pete) Gay. (Photo from an old Enterprise file)

The following tales retrieved from files in the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library also carry this thread of incredibility (if that’s a word).

By-lined stories are the backbone of every newspaper. The talented former Enterprise reporter Meri-Jo Borzilleri’s by-line was on the two stories you are about to read.

“It’s hard enough to find a missing person in the dense Adirondack wilderness. But when that person is autistic and may be hiding from rescuers, the difficulty of the task multiplies a hundredfold.

“That frustrating situation confronted searchers looking for 21-year-old Ronald Adams, lost five days in the High Peaks region after wandering away from a chaperoned group of developmentally disabled young adults last Saturday.

“Rangers found Adams lying in brush at midday Thursday, flat on his back from exhaustion, but conscious, and emotionally stable enough to ask politely for a creamsicle and an Orange Crush.

“‘He was immobile,’ said Forest Ranger Gary Roberts. ‘He didn’t have enough energy to move around.’

“Adams was ‘moderately hypothermic’, said rangers, and also suffered from dehydration. A Placid Memorial Hospital spokesperson later said Adams suffered trench foot from walking in the wet woods for days.

“The physical toll was minor for someone who had spent five days in the woods with temperatures dipping below freezing at night and climbing to barely 50 during the day.

“To complicate matters, Adams was wearing only shorts, a tee shirt and hiking boots when first lost. The situation became more desperate Wednesday when rangers found that Adams had left his shirt and boots behind near a brook.

“The next morning, Forest Rangers and volunteers were conducting an intense strip search of the area about one-half mile upstream on Nye Brook, a little more than a mile due north of Rocky Falls lean-to near where Adams was last seen Saturday.

“Rangers Jim White and Roberts were part of a team of 10 searchers lined-up at arms length, scouring the area. Just after 11 a.m. the team was wading through thick brush composed mostly of witch hobble when Roberts and White heard a sound. It was Adams.

“‘If he hadn’t made that sound, we would have almost stepped on him’, Roberts said Thursday.

“Adams a slim and physically fit man, was frightened by the strangers, but did not bolt. Betty Ruth Kay, the director of Bittersweet Farm in Ohio where Adams is a resident, was told Adams was found and immediately went to see him.

“‘He was pretty frightened at first, but recognized me right away,’ Kay said. ‘His first words were, ‘Be good.’ ‘He realized he had done something wrong.'”

Above were quotes from a much longer story.

The 90-Miler

“OLD FORGE — A record number of boats shoved off here through early morning fog to begin the 3rd Annual Adirondack Canoe Classic.

“Entries for this year’s race has swelled to 103, more than twice the number received last year, for the three-day, 90-mile odyssey that wends its way from Old Forge on Friday to Saranac Lake on Sunday.

“The event, open to the hardcore competitor as well as the recreational boating enthusiast, has grown steadily in popularity. The course follows the history-laden water route turn-of-the-century Adirondack travelers. Along the way there are 11 portages.

“Canoes, guideboats and kayaks entered the water at the southern end of Eighth Lake this morning about 7:30 to begin the trek that is fast becoming a tradition in the Adirondacks.

“As much a tradition of the race itself are the nightly campfire singalongs, when competitors and race organizers relax and socialize before the next day’s journey.

“Laurie Beatty of the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce said that the number of entries for the event grew partly because of the tie-in with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Forest Preserve Centennial celebration, which kicks off today in the Tri-Lakes area. [Please read last week’s column.]

“En-Con has added to the excitement of the race by providing an incentive for department entrants in the form of a perpetual trophy for that region of the DEC generating the most points from the race.

“Today’s leg of the journey totals 35 miles, beginning in Old Forge and ending at Forked Lake. Four carries totaling 3.5 miles in the first day of competition will test the endurance of contestants, with the longest carry 1.1 miles.

“Weary paddlers will eat and spend the night at the campsite, resuming the trek at 8 a.m. Saturday with a 30-mile leg and total portage distance of 3.4 miles, ending at Axton Landing near Corey’s. A warm meal and rest at the Wawbeek Campsite will recharge the racers for the final leg of 25 miles, starting Sunday at 9 a.m. and finishing at Lake Flower. The first racers are expected at the finish line shortly before after noon.

“Two-year canoeing champion Jim Frenette is putting his titles on the line in this year’s classic that has been bolstered by the addition of two classes, C-1 and C-2 Masters, and a C-2 Mixed Class.”

[I found only a snippet of Meri-Jo’s story about the race’s finish. I love her style.]

“This year’s Adirondack Canoe Classic featured the usual blistered hands, creaking bones and groans of competitors at the finish.

“Some racers told of being recharged with a drink in a more casual manner. One team of canoeists quenched their thirst with a more common, less nutritious beverage lowered by fishing pole off a bridge on Racquette Lake.

“Frank Muller and Peter Farr’s front seat broke on the first day. A quick side trip to the woodpile of a private camp along the way yielded just the right size pine branch, used to prop up the seat for the remainder of the day’s race …”

My dear readers, all sophisticated intellectuals, will know immediately (if not sooner) that the accompanying photos have absolutely nothing to do with the stories in this column.


(Editor’s note: Howard Riley’s “… You Know What?” will return next on July 20.)


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