On the surface, “Color Remote: Bushwhacking the Adirondack Mountains” by Erik Schlimmer, is a beautiful coffee table book full amazing photographs of nature. My wife’s first reaction was “This is gorgeous!” If you quickly thumb through the pages, you will see things you might expect like mountains, wildflowers, streams, lakes and birds. But to really understand the beauty of this book, one has to look at the author’s background.
Schlimmer is the author of five other books including “Among the Cloud Splitters: Place Names in the High Peaks Wilderness Area,” a history behind all 224 named features in the High Peaks wilderness area; “Cradle of the Union: A Street by Street History of New York’s Capital City,” where he decodes all 785 street names within the City of Albany; and “My Adirondacks: Ten Stories from Twenty Years,” a memoir chronicling 20 years of Schlimmer’s wilderness adventures.
Schlimmer’s other two books revolve around the Trans Adirondack Route, a 238.2 mile thru-hike created by Schlimmer that traverses the Adirondack Park from north to south. They are entitled “Blue Line to Blue Line: The Official Guide to the Trans Adirondack Route,” a guide book describing the route and “History Inside the Blue Line: Place Names of the Trans Adirondack Route,” which describes the stories behind the 125 named features found along the route.
To call Schlimmer a “Mega-Hiker” is an understatement. He has several thru-hikes under his belt and has summited every peak above 2,000 feet in the Catskills, every peak above 2,500 feet in the Adirondacks, every peak above 3,000 feet in New England, and every peak above 5,000 feet in the South. He has visited every named topographic feature within several wilderness areas, totaling 800 features across 600,000 acres. One could say Schlimmer is passionate about visiting topographical features.
Photographing the backcountry of the backcountry.
“Color Remote” contains 321 photos from his 15 years of exploration and adventure in the Adirondacks. The photos are raw, unfiltered and not altered by Photoshop. As Schlimmer puts it in the Foreword, it is both a “selfish” and “selfless” way to share the culmination of his private experiences with the audience. He calls it “photographing the backcountry of the backcountry.” Every picture in the book is off-trail, from a bushwhack; the last photo book to do this was published in the 1990’s.
The rawness of the subject matter in the photos reveals their beauty and intrigue. Sure, there are pictures of some of the High Peaks, however they are taken from locations rarely seen by humans. Schlimmer’s photos chronicle his bushwhacks detailing interesting subjects like footprints, burls (tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner), cabin ruins, marshes and old mills. As the reader, you are drawn into the story behind every picture.
As a hiker, I can relate to the effort needed to bushwhack in the Adirondacks, especially in winter. It is hard work, but a rewarding adventure. It takes planning, skill and most of all persistence. Pictures like Sway, Absolutely Silent, and Bright and Frozen, where you find yourself on a low-lying area, surrounded by mountains, with not a footstep scarring the snow, is when you really appreciate the grandeur of nature.
Being from Western NY, 6 hours from the Adirondacks, “Color Remote” provides a tangible connection to the wilderness I love. Instagram and Facebook pictures are fun to swipe through, but so many of them are hero shots of High Peaks or someone with their hands up in a popular location. I could crop one person out for the next. “Color Remote” captures the grand and minute parts of nature; Bear Track, Four Points (a shed antler), Sastrugi, Hermit Thrush Nest, Five Tier (a beaver dam) and, of course, my favorite, Moose Poop. “Color Remote” proves there is beauty and high adventure outside of climbing the High Peaks.
“Color Remote: A Bushwhacker’s Guide to the Adirondacks” is available online at Beechwood Books (beechwoodbks.com) or Friends of the Trans Adirondack Route (transadk.com). The book is $48 (retail price of $40 + $8 priority shipping). This is a limited-edition book with only 1000 copies printed. Each copy is numbered and signed by the author.
“Color Remote” belongs on the coffee table of every lodge and Airbnb in the Adirondacks. It should be the first thing guests see after they check in. For Adirondack hikers and enthusiasts of the park’s wilderness, you will be captivated by the beauty of the familiar sights from unfamiliar areas.