Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Tribute to Jim Goodwin

Jim Goodwin, Age 9, on top of Hopkins Mountain (1919).

Jim Goodwin’s broad lifetime achievements and involvements have been chronicled sufficiently. He broke many records and achieved many “firsts” but that is not all what Jim was about. He was a gentle and a humble man, civilized and yet modern in a way, and still Jim represented a world that does no longer exist in today’s age.

Those who study Adirondack history and lore will find many Mr. Adirondacks. Jim Goodwin was perhaps the last Mr. Adirondack our generation had the opportunity to know personally. That is a distinction and honor to Jim, and does not diminish the many other outstanding servants that still contribute in our days to the well-being of the Adirondack Wilderness.

In his private autobiography Jim reduces to 127 pages his life story sharing many unique photos with us of historical value: „And Gladly Guide“‚ ‘A Life in the Mountains’ is his summary of his life. Early on he notes “My identity appears to be that of a nineteenth century Adirondack guide, and by improvising on this theme, I have managed to keep practicing my art through most of the twentieth century.” He certainly was different than some of the hermits of older times that roamed the Adirondacks or the earlier explorers whose work made possible the establishment and management of the Park.

Having had privileged access to the area since early childhood he learned to appreciate the values that the Adirondacks represent and the responsibilities that needed to be developed and cherished. His vision for organized access, for the good of the Wilderness, can be exploited by today’s many visitors.

Late in life when he drafted his notes he realized: “Looking back from the objectivity of the 1990s, one side of me regrets that I ever helped bring more people to out of the way places in the mountains by constructing trails and describing routes to trailless peaks in the guide books. … But my other side argues that our good Lord created the world to be used by mankind and that we must be willing to share the good things of life, even though they get tarnished a bit in the process. Effective leadership in educating people to use the out of doors wisely and appreciatively can limit the amount of tarnish, and I am encouraged to see how successful, so far, education has been.”

Jim, it was my privilege to be able to share with you many hours in trail maintenance and summit reseeding efforts – work earmarked to guaranty future enjoyment of the Adirondacks. Those who now travel to the “Garden” parking lot to park their cars and begin their hike should bow their head and tip their hat when they pass by your cottage on the access road. It houses so many memories of what the Adirondacks are all about.

Friedel Schunk
member NYSAAC

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