By Brendan Wiltse
|Johns Brook Lodge in Winter|
While staying at Peggy O, I wondered who took care of the building and how the heck the large barrel of “you know what” under the privy was changed out. At that time, I never would have imagined I would one day work for the Adirondack Mountain Club and eventually be the person overseeing the operations of the entire Johns Brook Property. I have been working there since 2009 and took over management in late-2011. I spend 5 days a week on property from May to October and about 2 days a week the remainder of the year. I’ve learned a lot about the operation and maintenance of the property since that first experience several years ago.
So how do those blue barrels under the privy, affectionately referred to as “honey buckets,” get changed? They come up through the floor with a hoist, and then get gently rocked across the snow where they await airlifting. Winter presents unique challenges; lids freeze, barrels deform, or “deposits” don’t make it in the “honey bucket" When working with such substances one must keep a sense of humor. I have often mused that I could write a book about the state of the American digestive system, based on my experiences with those “honey buckets.”
I also have the pleasure of being in a position to help people in need. Johns Brook Lodge often serves as a vital communication link during backcountry rescues in the Johns Brook Valley. I have a folder in my desk full of incident reports that staff have dealt with. They range from sprained ankles to dislocated shoulders. Our staff and volunteers are occasionally called upon to assist the Forest Rangers in backcountry evacuations. ADK takes traditional mountain hospitality to heart and is always willing to help a person in need.
I am incredibly grateful to be in a position to spend a considerable amount of time in the backcountry. The Johns Brook Property and surrounding wilderness mean so much to so many people; I am honored to be a steward of this land and the facilities on it. The property gives people a chance to connect with nature and the closer people feel to nature the more likely they are to protect it, whether it’s the Adirondacks or their local park. The Johns Brook Property is not operated to generate large profits; it is operated to fulfill the Adirondack Mountain Club’s mission of the protection and promotion of responsible recreational use of New York State wild lands and waters. The revenue from the property helps support other mission oriented programs such as our conservation and advocacy department, education department, and the field programs department.
If you haven’t visited the camps on the Johns Brook Property before, you should. Nowhere else can you stay in a heated cabin full of amenities in the heart of the High Peaks Wilderness. I can guarantee you will have an experience to remember. Hopefully that experience will help you connect with nature and lead you to become a steward of the land as well.
Photo Credit: Seth Jones
Brendan Wiltse is the Adirondack Mountain Club's Johns Brook Property Coordinator. He has worked for ADK since 2006 and is a former High Peaks Summit Steward. Brendan has a B.S. in Field Biology from Paul Smith's College and is pursuing a PhD in Paleolimnology at Queen's University . He enjoys a variety of outdoor activities that include skiing, hiking, bushwacking and photography.