Adirondack peak East Dix is now named Grace Peak. Here’s why

One of the Adirondack Park’s High Peaks has a new name. Last week, the US Board of Geographic Names approved a petition to rename East Dix, a summit that rises to 4,026 feet.

The summit in the Dix Range in the Essex County town of North Hudson will now be known as “Grace Peak” in honor of Grace Hudowalski, a founding member of the Adirondack 46er hiking club and a long-time activist in the Park.

The name change follows a twelve-year campaign by the 46ers that was joined by local government leaders and other groups.

Douglas Arnold, who led the effort, issued a statement last week describing Grace Hudowalski as “a mentor to thousands of people as she shared her enthusiasm for the Adirondacks.”

Hudowalski passed away in 2004 at the age of 98.

This is the first time since 1973 that a High Peak has been renamed. In that case, Mount Marshall was named to recognize environmental activist Bob Marshall.
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Adirondack bureau chief Brian Mann met Grace Hudowalski before she passed away in 2004 at the age of 98. Here’s his profile.

Brian Mann: Born in Ticonderoga, in 1906, Grace spent a lifetime in the mountains. Writing articles about the region, editing now famous magazines, like “Cloud Splitter”, “High Peak Spots” and “Adirondack”. As the ninth person to climb all 46 peaks, she was for years a historian of the 46-ers mountaineering club. Her first climb, Mount Marcy, came when Grace was still in high school.
Grace Hudowalski: It was to be three days. Marcy was not considered to be a one day climb. Not in 1922. My father said I could go, and the only advice he gave me, was that it was not important whether I reached the summit or not. It didn’t make any difference. He said, “The harder you make the climb is important.” You know, that sort of inspired me all of my life.

BM: It was lousy weather for the climb, Grace said, the bugs were out in force. While some of the party turned around to the ranger cabin, she continued up toward the summit.

GH: And I was on all fours, it was foggy, but for some reason I had to get to the top. God only knows what it was, but I had to go on. And as I got there—just for a fraction of a moment—the clouds lifted. And there below me was the lake. You know, that did something to me. I felt it.

BM: It would be years before Grace climbed another mountain. But her fascination with the High Peaks was sealed. In 1937, she and husband Ed, formed the Troy chapter of the 46-ers. The couple began to write about the Adirondacks. They collected books, maps, and pamphlets about the region.

GH: I think that the smartest thing that I ever did about the mountains, was gradually get people to write about what they saw, how they felt. It’s just like folklore. At that time folklore was nothing, just a story. And yet they’re stories that keep a person alive later on. That add to your life. It makes it special.

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Todd Moe: It sounds like this was a woman who really made an impression, Brian you met her, in the 90s, tell us a little more about her.

Brian Mann: This really was a joy for me. She was charming, incredibly thoughtful, very generous with her time. When I met her, she was actually involved in an auction, raising funds for one of the many causes she supported over the years. Really she was someone, as you could hear in her voice, who wanted people to experience the Adirondacks, to think and write about their experiences. She had this very, sort of, democratic idea about people being in the outdoors. It could be a powerful and enriching experience for everyone. Not just naturalists and professional writers.This isn’t just a place for Thoreau and Emerson. It was really a place for lots of people to get out and enjoy.

One of the things that I just loved about what she did was, she started this idea of the 46ers—the people who have climbed all 46 High Peaks—needing to write about their climbs, but she also wrote back to people. She would correspond with them, and encourage them and respond about their experiences. One of the things that I think mattered in her legacy, was like other activists who were deeply rooted in the park, she was from the North Country. She was from Ticonderoga. She had really deep roots here, and I think that really shaped her role.

TM: I also remember you talking to her about the famous hermit who lived in the Cold River Country, between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake from the late 20s into the 1950s.

BM: That’s right. Grace and her husband loved to spend time there. They would trek back into the Cold River Country to Rondeau’s squatter cabin there. My thoughts from talking to her about it, my sense is that they really developed a real friendship. She was just delighted and tickled by him, she loved people and loved to connect with people.

One of the other things that was really exciting for her to talk about was kind of a link for me, and other people, between the park’s early history (the logging, the mining, the settling) and the more modern era—that of conservation and outdoor recreation. That is one of the reasons that it was such a privilege to meet her. She was a link to the past that seems really far away now.

There is also an exhibit up now so people can go and really learn more about her. Also, later in the summer, there will be more commemorations and celebrations of Grace in the park. There will be a group hike up the newly-named Grace Peak. It will be a fun season of really remembering her life and her work.

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Grace Hudowalski was a mentor to thousands of people as she shared her enthusiasm for the Adirondacks with everyoneA folklorist, a mountain advocate
Following last week’s decision, the Adirondack Forty-Sixers issued a press-release detailing the name change and remembering Hudowalski’s accomplishments:

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 the USBGN.

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 destination.

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 Adirondac, 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.”

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