Adirondack Journaling: The Art of Preserving Your Memories
Adirondack Journaling: The Art of Preserving Your Memories

Adirondack Journaling: The Art of Preserving Your Memories



The summer season for hiking, paddling, camping, swimming, fishing is now upon us!


What are you doing to help preserve the most precious of memories?

Without a record all that might be remain from these wonderful outdoor adventures and relationships are vague impressions.

“I remember the weather was bad.” “I think I twisted my ankle.” “We thought we might see a bear, but never did.”

I’ve been somewhat amazed at the number of people I meet who have ascended some of the region’s highest peaks and just a few years later cannot recall which ones.

Nearly everyone has a phone now which can make video clips and take photographs. Some phones record voice as well making it an easy way to take notes even on the trail or paddle.

When hiking the Adirondack’s 46 high peaks, I kept a detailed written journal. Flipping through that book now is a lot more than “a quick trip down memory lane.” It helps me recall and relive some of the best moments with the most special people in my life. And because the notes were freshly written, any tricks played on the memory over time are exposed and corrected.

Flipping through the pages – here is a portion of one such entry. Justin was 14 years old and we were doing research for the fifth book in The Adirondack Kids® series.

September 6, 2004. My son Justin and I left the parking lot at the Adirondack Loj at 8 a.m. (We had been thinking about hiking Cascade, but the weather was so nice – hot and sunny – we decided to go for Algonquin instead.) Research for our fifth book, it was only Justin’s second hike in the peaks, and my first using hiking poles.


Justin used his old school book bag with camouflage pattern as a backpack. He left it at the junction for Wright Mountain to be picked up on our way back down. Toughest part of the hike was a long, wide, steep slab of sheer rock face. We hugged the side of the trail. Legs burning now, even using poles. Above tree line a gal from New York City took our photo.*

On the summit we discovered ‘clouds’ wrapped around the surrounding peaks. Great views of Wright and Colden and Marcy, even with the clouds.

It helped us decide on the title for the book – Islands in the Sky.

We talked with the summit steward who told us about the alpine plants. When it came up in casual conversation that we had left one of our packs at the junction, he told us he hoped no squirrels got into it. We never thought of that – fortunately none did.


Much exposure to the sun on this expanse and wide open summit. Too tired to hike over to Iroquois Mountain. Returned to the parking lot at 5:30 p.m.

I doubt I would have recalled much about that day without a written record. The photos surely help, but so many any other details would have been lost. This written record provides the photographs with captions and together transport me to the time and place as well as stirring up a strong emotional response.

I can’t recall what I had for dinner a week ago, but that isn’t important to me. But moments like these are. And I have an Adirondack Journal full of them!

How about you?

Questions: Are you planning some outdoor adventures this summer? What are your plans to help preserve those memories?

*We used a detail from this photo for our Authors’ Photo in The Adirondack Kids® #5




Levi insisted we lay out his entire series of Clifford books before he made his selection of which one to read. Glad to follow his lead!



“Recognize what boys really need to become readers. As a parent, you need to realize that the only way for boys to become readers is to read in volume and to develop the habit of reading for their own pleasure.” – Michael Sullivan, Raising Boy Readers, Huron Street Press, an imprint of the American Library Association, 2014, page 16


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