A Grace-ful new name for a mountain

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Juliet, lovely girl that she was, was young and full of wishful thinking. Names do matter, and although the Shakespearean teen didn’t care what her beloved Romeo’s last name was, she knew everyone else in their families did.

The same goes for mountains. Consider, on one hand, East Dix, named for the most boring of reasons – because it is east of the larger Dix Mountain – and on the other, Grace Peak: elegant, concise and calling to mind Adirondack Forty-Sixers matriarch Grace Hudowalski.

There’s been a movement afoot to rename East Dix as Grace Peak, and we fully support it.

After all, there’s also a South Dix in the mix. All three peaks and the entire Dix Range are named for 19th-century New York Secretary of State John Adams Dix, who later became senator, U.S treasury secretary and governor – a prominent citizen, for sure, but he could spare a peak or two.

He would, we suspect, especially give one to Ms. Hudowalski, who is perhaps one of the four or five people most closely associated with the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, of which East Dix is No. 42. The 46, as most people up here know, are set apart because they were the peaks originally surveyed as being over 4,000 feet in elevation. Later, some were found to actually be under that benchmark. At 4,012 feet, East Dix is the last that is, without a doubt, over 4,000.

Ms. Hudowalski, who died in 2004 at age 98, was the ninth person and the first woman to climb all 46. She is best known, however, as historian and record-keeper for the Forty-Sixers from 1937, when she finished hiking them all (the same year the hiking club was formed in Troy), until she retired in 1996. For all those decades in between, aspiring Forty-Sixers recorded their hikes with journal entries and mailed them to her. She personally wrote more than 50,000 response letters. As such, she probably was exposed to more stories of Adirondack adventures than anyone else, ever.

“She was always so excited to talk about the mountains and share stories,” Fred Schwoebel, a filmmaker who interviewed Ms. Hudowalski in 1993 for a documentary released last year, told the Enterprise. “She just lived, ate and breathed mountains.”

The Forty-Sixers submitted the name-change proposal to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which may decide on it later this month. Also coming before that board soon may be a proposal to take away another of Gov. Dix’s mountains.

The Grace Peak pitch has been paired with one to rename South Dix as Carson Peak, in honor of Russell Carson, a mountain climber, author, wilderness guide and early president of the Adirondack Mountain Club. That proposal by the Forty-Sixers is not yet ready to be considered by the board, however.

We think both changes make sense. Mr. Carson is less well known to the Adirondack public but is still an excellent namesake. The Grace Peak decision, meanwhile, seems like a no-brainer.