Nearly a hundred years after a 19th-century writer paddled and portaged 266 miles through the Adirondack wilderness in a nine- foot, ten-and-a-half-pound canoe, writer/editor Jerome, inspired by that very same canoe seen in a museum, makes and records a similar journey. In the summer of 1883, George Washington Sears (pen name Nessmuk), a leading contributor to Forest and Stream, a major New York sporting weekly of his day, traveled the length of the Adirondack river system in the canoe which he called the Sairy Gamp (after a Dickens character). Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Long Lake, Upper Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Upper St. Regis Lake, Eagle Lake, Lake Placid: in those days, these waters were public highways and canoeists could travel hundreds of miles without impediment. Stagecoach lines, railroads, and steamers brought hordes of tourists to the large resort hotels that developed along these lake shores—the boom era of the Adirondack ``camp'' was in its heyday. In the latter part of the 1880's, however, the wealthy began to buy up the wilderness and restrict access to the public. The wilderness that Jerome paddles through on her 180-mile trip is in many ways the same and in many ways changed. Most of the original hotels have by now burned down, but development is still a heated issue in these parts. Jerome uses her adventure as an opportunity to ponder history and nature along her route. For instance, the drowning that was the basis of Theodore Dresiser's novel An American Tragedy took place in these waters. And at all times, she employs Sears' experience as a sort of spiritual pointer. Part journal, part biography and part historical account of an era when the great Adirondack wilderness camps were at their height, Jerome combines outdoor adventure, natural history and personal insight in a satisfying manner.
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