The Adirondacks are a magical place. Sure, they're not as high or dramatic as the Rockies or part of a National Park like the Great Smoky Mountains, but they are nonetheless a natural wonder.
I've had the honor of spending many wonderful days in the ADKs camping, swimming, hiking and especially marveling at how small a 4,000+ foot mountain can make you feel when you're at its trail head and how alive you feel once you've reached the top.
The first woman to experience the thrill of hiking all 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks
was a Ticonderoga woman named Grace Hudowalski, a founding member of the 46er organization
and its first president.
(Provided photos from the Grace Peak Committee)
According to an online biography
, Grace started climbing the High Peaks in 1922 at the age of 15 when she ascended Mt. Marcy. By 1937, she had become the first woman and ninth person to complete all 46 High Peaks.
The effort to have one of these mountains named after Grace has been ongoing since the early 2000s
and it was made official this week.
Thus, henceforth, anyone looking to become a 46er or who hikes the former East Dix Mountain will now summit Grace Peak.
I, for one, would like to thank Grace Hudowalski for blazing the trails - literally and figuratively - with mountaineering in the Adirondacks.
Here's a bit more about this from a press release:
The high peak in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New
York State known as East Dix has been renamed “Grace Peak,” the Adirondack
Forty-Sixers, Inc. announced today. The
United States Board of Geographic Names (USBGN) officially approved the
petition submitted by the Forty-Sixers to rename East Dix “Grace Peak,” in
honor of Grace Leach Hudowalski, who promoted the Adirondack region for its
recreational opportunities in both her professional career and personal life.
The name designation was approved on June 12, 2014, at the monthly meeting of
In response to the approval Douglas Arnold, who has led the naming
effort on behalf of the Forty-Sixers for the past twelve years said: “Everyone has a mentor – a coach, parent or
grandparent, friend, or teacher – who influences the outcome of their life.
These angels are remembered but rarely honored. Grace Hudowalski was a mentor
to thousands of people as she shared her enthusiasm for the Adirondacks with
everyone. The naming of Grace Peak is a tribute, not only to the lives she
touched, but to all of those angels who make a positive impact on our lives.”
Sally Hoy, President of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers added, “How fitting to honor a woman
whose love of the Adirondacks has had far-reaching effects not only in eco-tourism
but in promoting protection of this amazing resource.”
Grace Leach Hudowalski was born in Ticonderoga, NY, in 1906,
and grew up in the surrounding foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. She was the ninth person and first woman to
climb the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks that are over 4,000 feet in
elevation, which she accomplished in 1937. She was a founding member and first
president of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers hiking club. For more than 60 years, until she was well
into her 90s, she served as the club’s historian, maintaining climbing records
for hikers who were attempting to climb the 46 peaks and corresponding with
each and every one of them. The
correspondence between Grace and those climbing the 46 peaks is housed in the
New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections to preserve a unique
and significant historical record of the High Peaks region.
Grace’s keen interest in folklore and story-telling led her
to her first job with the New York State Commerce Department in 1945 as a
publicity writer. She was promoted to Travel Promotion Supervisor for the
department in 1948 and served in that position until her retirement in 1961.
Representing the state at travel shows throughout the United States and Canada,
Grace spoke regularly on radio and television programs across the country
promoting New York State, particularly the Adirondack region, as a travel
Grace was active with a number of Adirondack region
organizations. She served as executive secretary for the Adirondack North
Country Association (now the Adirondack Park Association) for 21 years. She was
also a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and a president of
the New York Folklore Society. An active member of the Adirondack Mountain
Club, Inc. (ADK), she was contributing editor of its publications, High Spots
, and editor of the Albany Chapter’s newsletter, The Cloud Splitter.
In 1995 Grace established the Adirondack 46R Conservation
Trust, a public charitable endowment with a mission to provide financial
support for conservation and educational projects which advance, promote, and
encourage the responsible recreational use of the Adirondack High Peaks. The
Trust continues Grace’s legacy of “giving something back” to the mountains.
The Adirondack Forty-Sixers, a hiking club whose members
have climbed the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondacks, began the campaign for
naming a high peak after Grace in the early 2000s. East Dix was chosen for renaming because it
did not have a unique name. Its appellation is a reference to its proximity to
Dix Mountain (named for John A. Dix, New York Secretary of State, 1833-1839),
the highest peak in the Dix Mountain Wilderness. Robert Marshall (46er #3) gave East Dix its
associative name so it would not be a “nameless mountain.” In his book Peaks and People of the Adirondacks
(1927), Russell M. L. Carson noted that the most interesting fact about East
Dix (and its neighbor South Dix) is that “their names are not important enough
to be retained and that they can be given distinctive titles, when the right
occasion comes, without violation of old-established names.”
The naming effort has received widespread support from
recreational groups, individuals, local governments, and state agencies. In
addition to the Adirondack 46ers (8,000 members), the ADK (35,000 members,
Executive Director, Neil Woodworth) officially supported the naming as did a
number of ADK regional chapters. The Town of North Hudson (Supervisor, Ronald
Moore), the town in which the peak is physically located, as well as the County
of Essex Board of Supervisors (Chair, Randall Douglas), both passed resolutions
supporting the proposed name change. Additional government support came from the Department
of Environmental Conservation (Commissioner Joe Martens and Region 5 Director
Robert Stegemann), NYS Committee on Geographic Names, and Assemblyman Daniel G.
district) in whose district Grace Peak is located. For
those who did not know Grace Hudowalski personally, the documentary The Mountains Will Wait for You
produced by Fred Schwoebel, brought Grace to life, capturing the essence of her
passion for the Adirondacks.
The USBGN is a Federal agency created in 1890 to maintain
uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government. It serves the Federal Government and the
public as a central authority to which name problems, name inquiries, name
changes, and new name proposals can be directed.
For a complete biography of Grace Hudowalski and the Grace
Peak renaming project see: http://gracepeak.info
And, it looks like South Dix might soon become Carson Peak - in honor of Russell Carson
who wrote the first history and trailguide of the Adirondack Mountains.