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MtnManJohn 09-08-2017 10:36 AM

High Peaks Canister/Container photos + history
For another research project I am on re: canisters and containers (eg jars, tin boxes, etc) on the High Peaks, I have been gathering photos of canisters on the peaks, which I will eventually put into a photo album and post. Pete Hickey et al have been very helpful in this endeavor.

Canister photos in need of, still missing: Iroquois, Phelps, Rocky Peak Ridge
(these had canisters, according to the NYS Museum)

Also, any photos of containers other than canisters on the high peaks prior to the canisters being put in would be great!

Finally, any historical information on when the canisters on each of the peaks were put up, removed, stolen, and other interesting info would be much appreciated.

TCD 09-12-2017 10:07 PM

Hi John,

I waited a while, because I figured others with longer history would respond...

So the one I am not sure about is Iroquois. When I climbed it the first time in 1984, there was no canister. I was told at the time that there never had been a canister on Iroquois, because it was always considered "line of sight easy" from Algonquin, and it was thought that a canister was not necessary.

Now Phelps I know was once trail-less, because the Phelps spur trail had not yet been constructed. So it makes sense that there was once a canister there.

I don't know the history of the Rocky Peak Ridge trail.

Good luck with the project!


Trail Boss 09-14-2017 11:37 AM

Hey there John!

For Iroquois, I believe you will have to reach out to hikers who climbed it no later than the mid-1970s. Here's what Heaven Up-Hi'sted-ness! has to say on page 352:


... first official logbook welcomed hikers from August 12, 1967 through July 9, 1969. By the late 1970s, the logbooks of Iroquois disappeared, much sooner than those on other trailless peaks.
I tried to corroborate this statement using evidence from my own ascent of Iroquois on September 9, 1979. In the second letter I sent to Grace Hudowalski I listed all the peaks I had climbed and only the entry for Tabletop included the names of previous hikers (that I had recorded from its logbook). This lends credence to the claim that Iroquois's logbook was gone by the late 70s.

I climbed Phelps on May 14, 1979 and RPR on July 18, 1981 and, once again, my correspondence reports no previous hikers for these summits (but it does for Cliff, Macomb, South Dix, East Dix, and Hough).

All this to say, photos of canisters on these summits will be old and I wish you luck finding them. I have slides from 'back in the day' but not a single one of a canister.

I don't know if I was representative of the average hiker back then, but I'll share my experiences to highlight the challenge faced by John, and anyone else, who attempts to locate old photos.

I used to carry a Canon FTb ("umpteen pounds of brass and glass"). Given that it would be loaded with a roll of just 24 or 36 exposures, plus the cost of processing the film, I didn't normally shoot "everyday objects" like trail-signs, summit canisters, registers, and the like. Odds of including these objects in a shot were improved if I was taking a photo of someone next to one. However, I often hiked alone (and in rainier weather than I do now) so, there was less opportunity to take self-portraits on summits. "Selfie" was an unknown concept to me ... without the use of a self-timer and a mini-tripod (or some jury-rigged equivalent).

Good luck!

SpencerVT 09-14-2017 01:07 PM

Just my personal opinion: I wish the Adirondack HH had canisters again. I like 'em. I like reading the entries, seeing the history etc. Canisters are a temporary fixture so in my opinion not a significant affront to the wilderness setting. I really liked climbing Calamity mountain the other day and seeing that there was a sign up there. In my opinion small signs and canisters are cool. I respect those who have a different personal opinion on the matter however.

TEO 09-17-2017 10:08 AM

Spencer, I agree. I've really enjoyed reading through the entries found in the canisters of the New England 3k'ers. As you begin to recognize the different names, and see them again and again, you begin to feel a bit of community with them. Sometimes it feels like your concurrently chipping away at the lists, even though the other entries may be a decade or more older.

Also, canisters and signs cut down trampling of the summit areas.

Trail Boss 09-25-2017 06:23 PM

During yesterday's hike to Cliff and Redfield, I learned something interesting from two gentlemen camping at the Herbert Brook Lean-to. One had started hiking in the High Peaks in 1979 (same as me) and finished the 46 in 1984 (that's where we differ). He climbed Iroquois in 1979, found no canister, and started to descend. He promptly returned to the summit upon being informed, by ascending hikers, that the canister was inside the cairn.

This may also explain why I never recorded the names of previous hikers when I was atop Iroquois in 1979. Not necessarily because there was no canister but because I had no idea it was hidden inside the cairn. FWIW, Grace never mentioned it to me nor challenged my claim after I reported climbing Iroquois.

It's entirely possible Heaven Up-Hi'sted-ness! got this part wrong and Iroquois' canister did not "disappear" by the late 70's, as in it was removed, but was simply out of sight.

Of course, this doesn't make your life any easier. Now you may be looking for a photo of a canister that was normally hidden from view!

Dave Bourque 10-15-2017 11:31 AM

I can verify that there once was a canister on Iroquois. I first climbed Iroquois on 8/19/75. It was my first "trailless" peak and I definitely signed the register in the metal canister. I also remember that the canister was quite noticeable on the open rock summit.

Dave Bourque
ADK46er #1457

tgoodwin 10-17-2017 09:58 AM

Tha canister on Iroquois may have been removed when, at the request of Ed Ketchledge I believe, a bypass trail was constructed around the bog located not far from the Algonquin trail. When I first climbed Iroquois in 1959, there was so little traffic that I remember it being mostly mossy. Ten years later, it was starting to become quite muddy. I can't remember exactly when the bypass was built, but the canister probably was removed sometime afterwards as the path became more of a trail.

Early in my career of editing the ADK's High Peaks map, I added the path to Iroquois as a trail, as we hadn't yet created the "unmarked/minimum maintenance" category. I did this so that hikers heading for Lake Colden would realize (if they bothered to look at the map) that they had to make a sharp left turn and not go straight as many did, ending up on Iroquois instead of Lake Colden.

Bagadeez04 10-17-2017 07:39 PM

Sorry for the silly question, but what were these canisters? I'm relatively new to hiking/backpacking and haven't heard of them before.

Assuming they contained some kind of log book?

Sent from my SM-G900P using Tapatalk

Trail Boss 10-17-2017 10:15 PM

Yes, the canisters contained logbooks. They were located only on the 46er peaks without trails. Perhaps 50+ years ago they were truly trail-less but, through usage, developed "herd-paths". Now they have official "minimal maintenance" trails. They remain unmarked as a nod to the past.

You signed the logbook and copied the names of the last three hikers. You would send the three names to your 46er correspondent (mine was none other than Grace Hudowalski, ADK46er historian) who would use it to confirm their ascent. Eventually someone else's report would confirm your ascent.

It was a fun little custom but eventually eliminated because the canisters did not conform to the Unit Management Plan. Anyway, ascents of the other peaks, with marked trails, were always done based on the honor system. Basically, the honor system was extended to all 46 peaks.

Woodly 01-21-2018 09:33 PM

And having 'Grace' as your 46'er correspondent was way cool since she always hand wrote you a reply. She was as nice as a lady could be.

MtnManJohn 02-25-2018 08:53 PM

Hi all! Sorry for the belated reply but thank you for the responses. For some reason I did not get email indicating I had replies. Anyways, a gentleman on my Adirondack History Facebook group contacted me and said photos of the canisters he took from 1973 to 1974. I just received them (hi res), and they include a nice one of the Iroquois canister. Unfortunately, no pic of a canister on Phelps or RPR.

The Adirondack History Museum in Elizabethtown will be having an exhibit on the history of hiking in the High Peaks. I contributed to the development of several panels. I'm trying to encourage the AHM to have on display photos of the canisters.

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