KEENE VALLEY - East Dix is now officially Grace Peak.
The U.S. Board of Geographic Names voted Thursday to approve the name change that had been sought by the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, a hiking club, since the early 2000s. To become a Forty-Sixer, one has to hike the 46 High Peaks that were originally measured above 4,000 feet.
A native of Ticonderoga, Hudowalski was born in 1906 and died in March 2004 at age 98. She was a founding member and first president of the Forty-Sixers, serving from 1948 to 1951. Following her term as president, she became the club's secretary and historian, a position she held until her death.
Grace Hudowalski stands on Phelps Mountain.
(Photo courtesy of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers)
During that time, Hudowalski became legendary because of her volunteer efforts to maintain files on all aspiring Forty-Sixers and to write letters to those who wrote the club. For years, aspiring Forty-Sixers chronicled their hikes in letters that they sent to the club. In 1993, the Associated Press reported in a story on Hudowalski that she had written 1,600 letters by the age of 86.
"Everyone has a mentor - a coach, parent or grandparent, friend, or teacher - who influences the outcome of their life," Forty-Sixer Doug Arnold, who led the Grace Peak campaign, said in a press release. "These angels are remembered but rarely honored. Grace Hudowalski was a mentor to thousands of people as she shared her enthusiasm for the Adirondacks with everyone.
"The naming of Grace Peak is a tribute, not only to the lives she touched, but to all of those angels who make a positive impact on our lives."
Hudowaski was the ninth person and first woman to climb the 46 High Peaks, which she accomplished in 1937.
She was active with a number of other Adirondack organizations as well. She served as executive secretary for the Adirondack Park Association (now the Adirondack North Country Association) for 21 years. She was also a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and a president of the New York Folklore Society. An active member of the Adirondack Mountain Club, she was contributing editor of its publications High Spots and Adirondac, and editor of the Albany Chapter's newsletter, The Cloud Splitter.
The Forty-Sixers chose East Dix for renaming because it did not have a unique name, according to the club. The name was a reference to its proximity to Dix Mountain (named for John A. Dix, New York Secretary of State, 1833-1839), the highest peak in the Dix Mountain Wilderness.