[Book Giveaway] Color Remote: Bushwhacking the Adirondack Mountains

When I hike in the American West, I casually reach for one of my cameras and take photos pretty much where I’m standing. The West is quite photogenic, and snapping beautiful images is a cinch, especially because it’s sunny nearly every day. In my traditional stomping grounds, the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, though, beautiful images don’t come easy. This range possesses fewer than 100 acres above treeline. The rest of the six million acres are choked with dense evergreen forests where a hiker can see maybe thirty feet ahead. Lush deciduous trees tower over the evergreens, shutting out the sky. And when a hiker can see the sky, it’s probably cloudy. While residents of Colorado Springs enjoy an average of 300 sunny days each year, residents of Albany, New York, tolerate half that amount.

I am the black sheep of the adventure world. For example, I’ve climbed the 770 Northeast peaks above 3,000 feet but haven’t considered thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. I stick with that black sheep mantra when it comes to photography. While other photographers climb fire towers, scale high peaks, and wander down scenic trails to get their images, I bushwhack, heading into “the backcountry of the backcountry.” What I’m rewarded with are unique images of remote ponds, peaks, and passes that your average photographer, even your average hiker, will never see. The fruit of my labor is Color Remote: Bushwhacking the Adirondack Mountains (Beechwood Books, 2019).

Besides being a coffee table photo book that contains images exclusively captured off-trail, Color Remote enjoys three other special aspects. One, it’s the most expansive Adirondack photo book ever produced. Containing 321 images, it’s double the size of traditional photo books. Two, no filters were used during photography, and no Photoshop was used to touch up images. The photos are natural and authentically portray the landscape. Three, only 1,000 copies will be produced, and you may get one of these 1,000 for free. More on that later. For now, let’s look at my ten favorite images.

Page 36. “749AT Meadow” This may be my favorite image in the book for two reasons. One, the view isn’t expansive, which is very “Adirondacky.” Two, it’s one of the most remote regions I’ve been to. To get to this point, I had to drive to the end of a twenty-mile-long dead-end dirt road and then bushwhack for two full days.

Page 84. “Way East” The view from Hail Mountain is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and it was taken on a surprisingly cool June day. The humidity was relatively low, which extended the view to fifty miles, taking in the Lake Champlain Valley and Vermont skyline.

Page 109. “Populus Grandidentata” The title of this image is the Latin name for bigtooth aspen, the tree that dropped this leaf onto the forest floor. In the Adirondacks, bigtooth aspens are rare compared to quaking aspens, and I like my forests rare. The leaf itself was unique. This photo was taken on August 5, six weeks before leaves usually change color.

Page 154. “The Biggest Burl in the World” It’s certainly the biggest burl I’ve come across in thirty years of hiking. A burl is an anomaly caused by injury, disease, or mere chance. This one is attached to a yellow birch, the largest hardwood species, in volume, in the Adirondack Mountains.

Page 178. “Perfect” Deep in 160,000-acre West Canada Lake Wilderness Area I reached Metcalf Lake. I found a rickety abandoned boat on the shore, not having a clue as to how it got there. It was a five-mile bushwhack to reach the lake. I paddled to a small island, camped on it, and snapped this at 7:21 p.m.  The crescent moon does it for me.

Page 219. “Ampersand Lake” It was a tough bushwhack to the summit of Van Dorrien Mountain, and my reward was a sunset over Ampersand Lake. A descent off the backside of this peak was choked with cliffs and thickets. I reached my camp – a bivouac near a swamp – at night and then slept the sleep of a winter bushwhacker.

Page 239. “Rookery” Deep in Taylor Pond Wild Forest I reached a pond that was shown as a minor swamp on my topographic map. It’s home to a rookery–a community of eleven great blue heron nests. Standing up to five feet tall, these are the largest birds that live in the Adirondack Mountains.

Page 269. “Old Stove Door” Adirondack history is logging history. Since I began hiking in the Adirondack Mountains in 1985, I have found ten old wood stove doors. Most have the stove’s name on them. Here it’s “Magic Welcome.” I imagine loggers of the late 1800s or early 1900s standing near their stove after a long day in the wilderness.

Page 281. “First Light” An unnamed pond near a bigger pond with a fun name, Pug Hole, was lightly bleached when I took this photo at 8:49 a.m. It was still cold, 14 degrees, but it was much colder the night prior when I bivouacked in a nearby forest. My alarm clock was a ruffed grouse hopping from branch to branch above me.

Page 341. “Electrified” I added this image at the last moment of book production, thus it’s the final image in Color Remote. This view can be found along the 240-mile Trans Adirondack Route on a summit I dubbed “Peak X.” I camped on top and woke at 5:00 a.m. on a hunch that an outstanding sunrise would be waiting for me.

Want to win a copy of Color Remote?

Like what you see? We’re giving away two free, signed copies of Color Remote to two readers. In the comments section below, let us know why being in wild land is important to you, and let us know which image is your favorite one and why. Winners will be chosen by EOB on Friday, 9/20.

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Comments 32

  • Chris Long : Sep 16th

    These photos are amazing. I’m a rural high school art teacher and these are the type of photos that I try to teach my students to take. BEAUTIFULLY done!

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 16th

      Thank you for your compliment. The 321 images in Color Remote were fifteen years in the making. Having this book finally come out is like giving birth (well, I can only imagine).

      Reply
    • Sam Perkins : Sep 16th

      As someone who loves to bushwhack, I can truly appreciate what the woods have to offer. I have been following your adventures since I started hiking. Each of the pictures posted above are amazing, but “Ampersand Lake” brings back memories from two winters ago… bushwhacking up Kilburn in late March to watch the sunset. I was thinking to myself “I wonder if anyone else has seen this?” Chances are, I was probably the first one. That’s always a special moment. It’s so cool to travel to places that very few people venture to. It’s neat to find pieces of history out there, too. It’s almost like walking back in time. Looking forward to your book and thanks again for the amazing adventures.

      Reply
      • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 16th

        Thank you for your comment and for following my adventures. I love hearing about others who are as passionate about wilderness, and the Adirondack Mountains, as I am. Kilburn Mountain is a gem. Winter sunsets are difficult to beat.

        Reply
    • Steve Venable : Sep 16th

      The images are transcendent, carrying the value of their subject. Like Muir’s words, your photography invites readers away from their desks, out of their homes, to experience wildness now.

      Reply
      • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

        Wilderness, at least for me, is a place where I’m safe, fulfilled, and in awe. I don’t really get that feeling in civilization, and it sounds like John Muir didn’t either.

        Reply
  • Scott A Brotherton : Sep 16th

    In my case I guess it is hereditary. My parents introduced me to hiking and the outdoors at a young age and I have done the same w/my kids, who now, as teenagers are fairly accomplished in the outdoors. Since we always tend to ‘seek out’ wildlife and new and interesting things – I would choose the “Rookery” as the favorite of this lot. I’ve never spent anytime in the Adirondacks so the subject matter interests me as well. And, my daughter is a bit of a photographer – it is always advantageous to view others perspectives.

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 16th

      Thank you for your comment. Keep them kids hiking — that builds a lifestyle that may last a lifetime. I, too, like “Rookery.” I’m a birder.

      Reply
  • Robert Carpenter : Sep 16th

    Being in the wild in the Adirondacks is where I feel most alive and centered. As a teenager, my friends and I tried an April camping trip which failed miserably; we trudged through the snow with WAY too much gear, only to turn back after a few miles in. We only wound up spending the night in the car at the trailhead parking lot! But the solitude I felt that day changed my life forever. A couple years later I went back, but this time it was a great success. My wife and I now bring our 3 kids there for a week every year! It’s our only family vacation and I wouldn’t want to spend it anywhere else in the world. It’s very rough spending a week in a super remote area in a lean-to, but the bonding we experience gets stronger every year. I love the fact that there is absolutely no cell service in the spot we go, which makes it such a perfect trip to be without technology for a week. The photo I LOVE is “Perfect” as it looks exactly like the sunsets we see where we go. Our family looks forward to our trip all year and there’s always tears from all of us when we have to leave. We wish we lived just a bit closer and had the means to be able to visit more than once a year, but we are so very grateful to be able to do it at all.

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 16th

      Thanks for your comment and story. I have a lot of favorite places in the U.S., but there is no place I would rather be during autumn than the Adirondack Mountains. “Perfect” has special meaning to me, mostly due to the overwhelming silence that evening.

      Reply
  • Matthew Adams : Sep 16th

    I love “first light” winter hiking is truly peaceful, everything is just so bright when the sun hits it, and less people too! I love the Adirondacks especially when you can get away from the crowds, thankfully there is lots of space to do just that.

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

      Thanks for your comment. “First Light” is a good one. I like cold, sunny mornings. The snow dazzles like diamonds. For those who don’t know, the Adirondack Park is the largest park and forest preserve in the Lower Forty-Eight. Half of this six-million-acre park is state land, where you can pretty much do whatever you want. Lots of space indeed.

      Reply
  • Dan : Sep 16th

    I grew up car camping and cabin camping with my family in the Adirondacks, so they always had special meaning to me. As I got older I started to explore the High Peaks area and was solely focused on hiking the 46. More recently my wife and I have started to take our young children to some of the smaller mountain trails, Lakes, rivers and ponds in other parts of the adirondacks outside the High Peaks and I’ve seen some of the best views and experienced more remoteness in these places, as sometimes we are the only group on the trail! It’s got me interested in the whole Adirondack Region. As far as your photos go, they all are great, but my favorites are “749AT Meadow” as it reminds me of some some views I’ve recently seen with my family and “Perfect” as it reminds me of some sunsets I’ve see camping on the Lake with my family growing up.

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what’s in the mountains and what they mean. I, too, used to hike in the High Peaks. That was during the 1990s. Now I bump around in less popular sections of the Adirondacks. I never see people since I travel off-trail. Solitude is important to me. “749 AT Meadow” may be my favorite one in the entire book. It screams “Adirondacks.”

      Reply
  • Rita : Sep 16th

    While the other photos are just simply breathtaking, the one that resonates with me most is the simple beauty of “Populus Grandidentata.” I have been hiking with my toddlers in the Adirondacks all summer, and some of the most magical things they have pointed out during our hikes have been right in front of us, on the ground (ex: the crazy colored fungi we see!). My children remind me that part of the hiking experience is to enjoy all of the wilderness surrounding us, not just the amazing summit views.

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on little things. I am biased towards my own work, but I love Color Remote because it’s what the woods really look like. Too many photo books share widespread views and not much else. They miss all the little things like wildflowers, leaves, relics, and bugs.

      Reply
      • Rita : Sep 17th

        I completely agree – we actually worked on the “Adirondack: Experience It! Wildflower Challenge” this summer as a family, too. As part of the challenge, the various native flora have been assigned a certain point value based on rarity and you have to find (but not pick!) 100 points worth to earn a pin. It has been a lot of fun keeping our eyes peeled and learning the names of the native plants – though I have been inaccurately calling Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) “Swamp Candles” … but in my defense, they really do look like melted wax candles! Now my kids both call them Swamp Candles and there’s no going back, lol. We still need to find the rare 10 point mistletoe, though. I had no idea it could be found in the ADK.

        Reply
        • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

          Very cool, Rita. I am biased towards my own work, but I like Color Remote because it’s more than big views. In this book I share colts foot, hobblebush, spruce, painted trillium, blue flag, bunchberry, Dutchmans breeches, and many other “little things.” I’m fortunate enough to hike with a noted ecologist, which clearly helps with identification.

          Reply
  • Lori Semprevio : Sep 16th

    Ampersand Lake is probably my favorite because I was scared to death when I climbed Ampersand. Alone, as night fell, the tilted summit, the lone hiker heading in as I raced out wondering why he was starting up with barely anything at such a late hour. Your photos describe possibly solo treks to remote places where I would be even more terrified but you show the beauty of conquering that challenge.

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

      Thanks for sharing your Ampersand adventure. The most comfortable I feel in life is in wild land at night. Most threats come from other humans, even in the wilderness (though they’re exceedingly rare). When no one can find me, I am entirely safe and fulfilled.

      Reply
      • Loti : Sep 17th

        I agree other humans have been more frightening than the wildlife. Thank you for the gorgeous photos.

        Reply
  • JP : Sep 17th

    The view in “Perfect” is my answer to both why I love to be in the wilderness and which is my favorite photo. The stillness, the beauty, the unspoiled nature give a feeling of contentment and peace which is so difficult to achieve when one is away from the wild.

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

      Thanks for your comment and reflection on wilderness. For me, wild land is a refuge. The hills are my castles, the woods that surround them are my moats to keep civilization at bay. “Perfect” has special meaning for me due to its remoteness.

      Reply
      • John Van Etten : Sep 17th

        True wilderness provides me uncluttered serenity. Havin hiked a few peaks in the Dacks, your assessment of views rings true. Even the Catskills are few in view. On my At thru hike this year, I felt the same of the Greens, one scored many, many miles and the reward of views were far and few. Great pictures – I love how verdant NY really is!

        Reply
  • James A. Tomedi : Sep 17th

    I grew up in a household where we were taught to love and respect the outdoors. Most vacations revolved around the beauty that the earth provides. Wild land is important to me because being happily lost within nature is one of the few ways I feel less anxious about the hustle and bustle of regular life.

    Now for my favorite photo. Although they were all stunning I have to choose…

    Page 219. “Ampersand Lake”

    What a truly stunning photo! I felt like I could smell the air when I looked at it. It filled me to the brim with joy!

    I wish you great success with your book friend!

    -James

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

      Thanks for your kind words. Believe it or not, I grew up in a household that was wilderness-adverse. I’m fortunate to have chosen the path I chose. “Ampersand Lake” is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. That sunset was gone ten minutes later.

      Reply
  • Christopher S : Sep 17th

    The pic of the Great Blue Heron reminds me of why I love being in nature, the woods and in a place where I can see animals interact with nature on their own terms. The sounds, and all the different animals I can run across on a walk through the woods is awesome!

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I, too, love critters. Whether it’s a moose or an odd bug, I love them all (except mosquitoes, no-see-ums, deer flies, horse flies, hornets, wasps, and black flies).

      Reply
  • Jim : Sep 17th

    I hiked a 1,000 miles this summer from Harper’s Ferry, WV to Carrabassett Valley, ME on the AT. This walk in the wilderness changed me in profound ways. I allowed the trail to provide ‘space’ for my head to clear and my pace to slow enough to wonder again and become grateful of open spaces, mountains, clear streams, lonely ponds, whispering winds, and such a quietness that passed comprehension. The wilderness also provided moments to sit and listen to fellow hikers talk and tell stories, and see their faces free from the pressure of the world they left behind. I like your #154 photo because it shows a grown up man become a boy again descovering and seeing cool stuff. 🙂

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 17th

      Thanks for sharing what wild land does for you. Many of your loves are universal. I think you mean “The Biggest Burl in the World” for your favorite. That’s surely the biggest one I’ve seen. At least in the Adirondacks, the big ones are always on yellow birches.

      Reply
  • Kirsten : Sep 18th

    There’s a moment in time when you’re hiking or doing whatever you do to get into the back country. It’s an imperceptible threshold where suddenly you are not separate from your environment. All that you came from is way behind you and like a rain drop from a leaf, you slip off the skin of civilization and just exist with what is around you. Part of it. Alert to its moods, sounds and changes.

    I like the photo “Perfect”. More so because having already gone so deep into the backcountry, the photographer still felt impelled to get in the boat and go further, responding to that inate pull to go further, to answer curiosity, to see a rickety boat and it be perfectly logical to get in it and paddle further into the ether.

    Reply
    • Erik Schlimmer : Sep 20th

      Thanks for your comment. “Perfect” seems to be a favorite here. I like to finish hikes right. Thus getting in the boat was deemed necessary, and without that I wouldn’t have gotten that photo.

      Reply

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