The Adirondack Mountains: No Place I’d Rather Be
Reminisce about lean-to stays while reading No Place I’d Rather Be
No Place I’d Rather Be is an interesting collection of snippets of Adirondack experiences. Author Stuart Mesinger artfully constructed a book of excerpts from lean-to registrars. The Adirondack Park is home to over 200 lean-tos. A lean-to is a three-sided structure designed to provide shelter to those with enough moxie to spend the night in the wilderness. At many lean-tos, registrars are kept as a running camp journal. Hikers, canoers, hunters, bird watchers, boaters and general outdoor enthusiasts alike record their journies in these mosaic-like journals.
As noted by Mesinger, the official purpose of the registrars is safety. The journals provide a written record of a group’s presence in the case of a rescue mission. Most of the time, though, the registrar’s provide entertainment or advice to future hikers who read the entries.
Sometimes, an entry will provide both, such as this tongue-in-cheek excerpt, “Plumbing needs fixing, toilet does not stop running. Board on outhouse needs fixing. Lean-to could use chaulking. Rocks need Velcro. Fireplace needs a flu. Trees need trimming on other side of lake.”
Reading this book reminded me of my hiking and camping experiences. On my family’s first Adirondack camping trip, my then 8-year-old sister thought every little noise was a bear. A twig would crunch outside our tent and she would say with a gasp, “It’s a bear!”
While we (thankfully) never had any bear encounters on our trips, not everyone who wrote in the registrars had the same animal-free outdoor experience as we did. Take this entry from a Cold River lean-to: “Friday evening I came face to face with a bear on the Calkins Creek Road at dusk. He and I came to an agreement as to who had the right of way. I breathlessly waited in silence as he ambled by, then catching my last scent he took off up the hillside. Honestly, 300+ lbs. A bear on the run always seems to me to defy the laws of physics. There is nothing faster.”
Though passages like this were somewhat sobering, most of the book remained on the light side. Another entry provided flippant advice about bears, recommending bacon grease as a bear repellant and food scraps as a deterrent.
Remarks from Mesinger lay between registrar excerpts. Mesinger does a good job setting up the entries and transitioning between topics. Between the journal passages and Mesinger’s writing, I often found myself laughing out.
For example, here is what Mesinger had to say about outhouses, “The privy holds an iconic power, evoking horror even among those for whom wearing a week’s worth of dirt is a badge of honor. I’ve had several companions who somehow shut down all bowel functions for the duration of the trip rather than face the horrors within.”
All-in-all, I enjoyed this book immensely. It was a quick, entertaining read. I think part of why I enjoyed it so much is because I could identity with many of the situations. The short of it: outdoors enthusiasts, give No Place I’d Rather Be a go. It will make you laugh and reminisce about your own adventures in the woods.
No Place I'd Rather Be: Wit and Wisdom from Adirondack Lean-To Journals
By Stuart Mesinger
Publisher: Adirondack Mountain Club
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