Phil Brown, author and co-publisher of "Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures," lives in Saranac Lake. He is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.
Phil Brown’s a busy guy. Not only does he work a day job as editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine and publish interesting books in his spare time, he’s usually found somewhere in the Adirondack Park paddling, hiking or rock climbing in familiar and unfamiliar territory.
Perhaps this is one reason why outdoor enthusiasts will find his newest book, “Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures,” such a useful resource. When reading the book, we know Brown isn’t just sending us to far-off corners of the Adirondack Forest Preserve without due diligence; he’s paddled these trips and swapped notes with Adirondack Daily Enterprise outdoor writer Mike Lynch, who also explored the 60 great flatwater adventures.
Brown speaks from experience. This is the guy who won a paddling rights court case earlier this year against the Friends of Thayer Lake and the Brandreth Park Association. He paddled from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila — including Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and a portion of Shingle Shanty Brook — which were posted. Accused of trespassing, Brown asserted the public deserved to paddle these routes. And the judge agreed, saying that the route is “navigable in fact” and ordered that the posted signs along the waterways be taken down.
Brown — as an advocate for paddlers and for all who have the right to enjoy the Adirondack Forest Preserve and its navigable waterways — writes “Adirondack Paddling” with authority. And he’s backed by a well-established team of environmental educators, journalists and outdoor professionals.
•There are breathtaking photos by Brown and other notable Adirondack photographers, such as Carl Heilman II, Mark Bowie, Mike Lynch, Nancie Battaglia, Susan Bibeau and Nancy Ford.
•There are more than a dozen photos of birds found along the waterways taken by noted wildlife photographer Larry Master.
•There are useful maps by Saranac Lake artist Matt Paul.
•And there’s the full support of the co-publisher, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), which is the leading publisher of outdoor resource guides in the Adirondack Park.
One aspect of “Adirondack Paddling” that sets it apart from other guidebooks is the storytelling. Brown doesn’t just dive into the facts; he sets up each paddle with an introduction that sums up the trip and puts it in context with the paddlers’ experience, other recreational possibilities in the Park, and the degree of wildness and solitude one can find there.
“For many people, pond-hopping in the St. Regis Canoe Area under sunny skies represents the summum bonum of Adirondack paddling,” Brown writes in the Long Pond to Hoel Pond section. “Each pond on the day’s itinerary is a new adventure. Each has its own personality. Each is an invitation to experience nature (including loons) up close, undisturbed by motorboats. But paddling is not the only way to see the Canoe Area ...”
Brown organizes trips in “Adirondack Paddling” by creating four regions of the Adirondack Park: Northeast, which includes trips around Newcomb, the Tri-Lakes and Lake Champlain; Northwest, which includes trips such as Lake Lila, the Oswegatchie River and Madawaska Flow; the Southwest, which includes trips such as East Canada Creek, Blue Mountain Lake to Raquette Lake and Browns Tract Inlet; and the Southeast, which includes trips such as the Upper Schroon River, Lower Hudson River and Kunjamik River.
If there’s one criticism, it’s the lack of paddling trips in the Southeast region. To only have six trips in such a huge chunk of the Adirondack Park makes it seems like there are very few places to paddle there, which can’t be true, can it? Yet to whittle the endless opportunities down to 60 great paddling trips for a park the size of Vermont, choices have to be made, and Brown made 60 excellent choices. Maybe the Southeast could be better represented in later books.
It was nice to see a listing of six multi-day paddling trips in the back of the book, which was mainly designed to offer day trips.
“Adirondack Paddling” is 288 pages (including the index) and retails for $24.95, a reasonable price considering paddlers will be traveling a lot with it. This is a well-designed and attractive resource, filled with color photos, and it has rightly earns its place in the stable of ADK guidebooks. It is co-published by Brown’s company, Lost Pond Press.
As in all ADK publications, Brown takes “Adirondack Paddling” beyond the guidebook basics of “who, what and where” and adds the “how and why.” The reader will learn how to safely enjoy these waterways and begin to understand why it’s so important to protect these public lands.
It’s striking how many nooks and crannies of the Adirondack Park I’m missing by not taking these trips. I’ll admit, I don’t canoe or kayak, and I’ve spent most of my time in the Forest Preserve hiking and backpacking. Save for a memorable three-day canoeing trip on the Raquette River from Long Lake to Tupper Lake, I’m no paddler. But I found a love for paddling in this book.
“Adirondack Paddling” made we want to be a paddler.
Meet the author
Phil Brown will give an Adirondack paddling presentation at two locations this coming week and holding a book signing with one of his friends.
Brown and Mike Virtanen will be holding a joint book signing at Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 20. Virtanen, the author of “The River’s Tale,” and Brown, the author of “Adirondack Paddling,” will sign copies of their latest books. “The River’s Tale” was published by Lost Pond Press of Saranac Lake (Brown’s company). “Adirondack Paddling” was co-published by Lost Pond Press and the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK).
“The River’s Tale” is a suspense novel set in the Adirondacks. Alison Reade flees New York City to escape an obsessive ex-boyfriend and lands a job as a whitewater-rafting guide on the Hudson River. After she starts a romance with her charismatic boss, life seems good—until she discovers that the Adirondacks are not the safe haven she thought they were. Virtanen is a political reporter in Albany.
Brown, editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine in Saranac Lake, will give an “Adirondack Paddling” slide show at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 20 at 8 p.m. at ADK’s High Peaks Information Center, located at Heart Lake in Lake Placid. This presentation is free and open to the public.
Brown will also give the program on Monday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Keene Valley Library Summer Lecture Series. He will talk about a variety of paddling experiences in the Adirondacks, as well as his recent legal experience: the Shingle Shanty Paddling Case, a trespassing suit filed against him in 2010 by landowners seeking to close Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook to the public. The Keene Valley Library is located at 1796 State Route 73. Admission is free. For more information, call the Library at 576-4335.