Sunday, July 6, 2014

Adirondack Guide and Dog Scout Boreas River

Ellie and I by the Boreas River. Photo by Carey Pooler 
 I shared a story with Carey along the Boreas. I'll be telling a story at the Adirondack Museum.
 Check museum website at:

There I Was . . . Adirondack Guides Share Their Stories of Woods and Waters Adventures"

July 7, 2014

moderated by Betsy Folwell, with Pete Burns, Don Mellor, and Becky Pelton

Monday, 7:30 p.m. in the Museum Auditorium
FREE for museum members, $5 for non-members

Guiding in the Adirondacks may be the oldest profession here, dating back to the 18th century and the men who could find their way safely through the war-torn woods as soldiers followed.

In the last century and a half the Adirondack guide has risen to mythic status, as someone who could catch a mess of trout and fry them perfectly, put the trophy buck in front of a neophyte hunter, and even make a snug balsam bed for the sports' restful nights. Every watershed and mountain range had its resident experts whose skills were in demand.

In the 21st century we have guides for any outdoor passion, from bird-watching to snowshoeing, rock-climbing to whitewater rafting, fly fishing to snowshoe hare hunting.

This evening guides from Lake Placid, North Creek, and North River talk about what they do, how they learned their specialized knowledge and where they take their clients to show them the best of the Adirondacks.

The program begins with a brief overview of historic guides and then modern-day guides take turns in the spotlight. There will be plenty of time for woods wisdom, tall tales as well as questions from the audience.


Betsy Folwell is creative director of Adirondack Life, where she has written hundreds of articles over the past 25 years, led its transformation into one of the top regional journals in the country, and enlightened thousands with Adirondack stories past, present, and future. She served as the first director of education at the Adirondack Museum and was the director of the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts for many years. She and her husband, Tom Warrington, live in Blue Mountain Lake.

Pete Burns, grew up in North River, N.Y., a fifth-generation Adirondack native with the wilderness waters in his blood. His grandfather "Jack" Donohue was in charge of the log drives on the Hudson River watershed for nearly 40 years. Pete himself has been guiding professionally for more than 30 years, in New York, Maine, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest. In 1991, he started Beaver Brook Outfitters in Wevertown, N.Y., where he and his staff guide fishing, whitewater, canoeing and kayaking, caving, and hiking trips full-time from April to October each year. In the winter, Beaverbrook Outfitters offers ski rentals, and Pete also coaches the Johnsburg Central Alpine ski team. The man who fished the Adirondacks almost daily as a child and never tired of exploring the local streams, rivers, and ponds ("It was better than mowing the lawn") has found a life of excitement and exuberance in sharing his outdoor-adventure passions and skills. He and his wife, Diana (they met while both were guides on the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania) live in North River about one hundred feet from where he grew up, with occasional visits by their three daughters, all of whom have been, or are, Adirondack guides as well.

Don Mellor is a climber, teacher, writer, and guide who has spent most of his 40+ years of climbing here in the Adirondacks. He has been guiding professionally for more than 30 years, and gets more of a kick from seeing the light go on in the eyes of a newcomer than from any climbs he gets to do on his own. As a climber, Don knows the area's rock and ice potentials as well as anyone. And as an educator, he understands not only how to teach skills but also how infuse an appreciation of the wild places that climbing can take you. His resume ranges from multi-day ascents of the biggest rock walls in Yosemite to first ascents of ice routes in Newfoundland. Locally, he's done more than 100 first ascents, including Big Brother (NEI 5), Airie on Moss Cliff (5.12) and the first free ascent of Mental Blocks (5.12) on the big back-country cliff of Wallface. Among his books are four rock and ice guides to the Adirondacks, the instructional Rock Climbing: A Trailside Guide, American Rock, and Alpine Americas. Don also serves as a volunteer for a high-angle rescue team, a peregrine falcon restoration project, and the steering committee of the Lake Placid Outing Club. He's been seen on The Outdoor Life Channel, The Travel Channel, NBC Morning News, and NBC EXTRA! Don holds a master's degree in counseling and serves as school counselor at Northwood School.

Growing up in a suburb of Albany, Becky Pelton learned how to swim in her backyard pool. Her passion for clear, cool, moving, mountain water came from her family's regular summer vacations camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It was there, on the pristine Saco River, that Becky canoed on class-one whitewater at the age of 10. While studying communication sciences and disorders at Plattsburgh State University, she discovered the Ausable Chasm and the opportunity to guide her first raft of people on the Ausable River. She became a licensed guide on the Hudson River, and has been on it ever since. She feels a special affinity for the Hudson River because in 1636, her ancestors settled along its shore in Albany. After working for the biggest rafting company in the Adirondacks as a guide, and then the smallest one, Becky and her husband, Nate, started North Creek Rafting Company in North Creek, N.Y. When off the river, Becky is a speech and language pathologist at Long Lake Central School; she also has a private practice in which she sees individuals at all levels of development in their homes.

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