A glimpse into the evolution of an Adirondack hermit's life.
By William J. O'Hern
He was what he was, a castaway from the world. A hermit. A survivalist before the term was ever coined. Home was positioned at the head of Cold River flow, site of Big Dam and a dilapidated Santa Clara river driver's logging camp. Two tiny ramshackle cabins and three wigwam woodpiles constituted his residence. The setting was stunning. A high bluff with a view that would have moved Thoreau to beautiful words. Satisfied, Rondeau was isolated from the Outside by high mountains and a fourteen-mile rough woods trek he resided alone from 1913 to 1950.
By the 1920s hearty "sports" men and women who were up to the challenge of fishing the trouty waters of his "Handsome World" first discovered him. A new breed of recreationalists, climbers, rediscovered him in the 1930s, designated his hermitage as the "Town Hall" and made infrequent pilgrimages to "Cold River City."
Had Noah set off on a lonesome journey, searching the world in all directions to see what kind of life he could find, only to return to Cold River and recognize the mountain air that fed his soul was all he needed to calm his uneasy blood. Noah John Rondeau found within the wrap of natural world his "Street of Gold."
In today's hectic world a large number of Moderns feel they, too, need a place to find themselves. Nature's back paths to nowhere often are a cure for stress, city lights and life's concrete main roads.
(Photographs Courtesy of Adolph Dittmar and William J. O'Hern. Reproduction is forbidden without expressed written permission.)