When I was a kid, we went to the Adirondacks to go hiking. Usually we would start out from Keene Valley and over the course of multiple days of hiking, inevitably spend at least one night in an Adirondack lean-to. I remember the smell and the sense of security the simple structure provided compared to sleeping under the stars or in a tent. After all, it was just one wall away from a cabin.
After 10 years of being seasonal residents, our family decided in 2012 to transition from seasonal to permanent residents when we were lucky enough to buy our current home in Essex, NY. Our property is situated in the eastern portion of the Adirondack Park, overlooking Lake Champlain which forms the eastern boundary of the park and the border between NY and VT.
From Zip Line to Lean-To
Since moving 2½ years ago my son, Max, and I have completed several projects together, the most recent of which we wrapped up in the fall of 2013. This was the construction of a 400 foot long zip line, suspended 50 feet over a stream that dissects the property. We needed another project and together decided last winter that an Adirondack lean-to would be just the thing.
We did some research and found a set of plans used by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. The plans called for almost 600 linear feet of milled logs ranging in size from 4 to 8 inches in diameter. For about 20 seconds we thought about harvesting lumber from our woods but upon realizing that a number of local sawmills could provide the inventory at a reasonable cost (and little effort), we contracted Silva Sauls from Westport to provide the lumber.
The materials showed up in April along with spring chores, careers (Max as dishwasher at the Essex Inn and my insurance advisory practice) and thus we didn’t attack the piles of lumber until sometime in July. I blame the chores, but truly I had some serious trepidation – I hadn’t built anything, ever.
But we plunged forward and learned along the way. We sawed, drilled, lifted, dropped, twisted, and hammered various materials when time allowed during July and August. I think beyond learning various skills, the best experience was, that in virtually every phase of construction, we had to make decisions together. We rationalized, argued and laughed (together and at each other). As my wife often reminded us both – “measure twice, cut once”.
End Result: Adirondack Lean-To
We now are the proud owners of an Adirondack lean-to which, based upon its stature, should be named “iron sides”. We have yet to test its limits but we are both confident it can withstand whatever we dish out. Ahead are years of fun in all different seasons in the woods here on the eastern edge of the Adirondack Park.
- Where is the Split Rock Wildway? (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Cougar Watch Update from Protect the Adirondacks! (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Restore the Adirondack Wolf (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Spring Song: Frogs of the Adirondacks (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Adirondack Museum (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)