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A Hike up Mount Inez | Liberty for All

By: Jessica Grant - Adirondack Council Executive and Fund Development Assistant 
Thursday, December 16, 2021

View from Mount Inez towards the High PeaksView from Mount Inez towards the High Peaks

The Climb

Droplets of sweat were forming on one of my hiking partner’s brow. They began to look like rain streaks by the time they traversed her glasses, wire-rimmed and clear. We couldn’t see our breath yet, which was odd considering it was October 28. Nevertheless, the air was crisp and clean, something all New Yorkers now have a right to.

Our ascent of Mount Inez, Town of Lewis, Essex County, was a roughly four-mile hike at a medium to steep grade on an old jeep trail; treacherous round stones nestled themselves amongst the leaves, eagerly awaiting a misplaced footstep. This was mildly nerve-wracking as I was the youngest hiker by far – most of those in this women’s Champlain Area Trails (CATS) hiking group were in their 50s or 60s and would not recover from a sprained ankle as quickly as myself.

I chatted with a woman who had finished hiking her 46 High Peaks on top of Mt. Marcy in 2018 – she was certainly a planner, having pre-ordered a custom 46er license plate to hold aloft on the final peak – and another who was trying the group simply to do something new, just as she had done by taking a boater’s safety course without actually owning a boat. The latter went on to tell me that she’d even tried a new date night idea in the form of a scat ID hike, but apparently, that was a poor choice before dinner.

Inez Milholland Boissevain leading the National American Woman Suffrage Parade on a white horseInez Milholland Boissevain leading the National American Woman Suffrage Parade on a white horse.

The Suffragist - Inez Milholland

Once at the 1,552 foot-summit, we surveyed land for recognizable landmarks – the expansive Lake Champlain, a visually-striking Raven Hill, and the winding Boquet River. Mary, our trip leader for the day, jubilantly recanted stories of the trail, the Bunting Family Forestry who now owned the mountain, and described Inez Milholland, the mountain’s namesake, an icon of women’s effort in securing voting rights.

My mental image of women’s suffrage was unfortunately enshrined in a Disney-fied Mrs. Banks, complete with musical numbers and silk sashes. The true image, of course, was far less gaudy. Inez Milholland is best known for helping to organize the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. and leading thousands of women down Pennsylvania Avenue atop a white horse. This was only three years before her untimely death on the canvassing trail, where she collapsed while giving a speech in Los Angeles. Audience members said that her last public words were directed at President Woodrow Wilson, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” Milholland passed at age 30 of a vitamin B12 deficiency in 1916. While the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote, would not be ratified until 1920, on this past election day, I was able to cast my ballot and use the right that she and the other brave suffragists fought for.

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Interior, Board on Geographic Names (BGN) formally authorized the renaming of Mt. Discovery to Mt. Inez. This occurred after the Town of Lewis made a formal request to BGN for this change. Inez’s father, John E. Milholland, expressed the desire to rename the mountain after his daughter’s untimely death in 1916.

The Meadowmount School of Music

Back at the parking lot where we had convened in the morning, we were offered a tour of the Meadowmount School of Music, which was once the Milholland’s family home. We accepted enthusiastically and stayed to ogle the school’s diamond-shaped windows.

Inez’s father purchased part of the mountain and the lands below to establish “Meadowmount Ranch” in the late 1800s. He was a journalist, first treasurer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and inventor of the pneumatic tube, which is still used at bank drive-thrus today. While they lived most of the year in Brooklyn, New York, they were frequently at Meadowmount and were always there in time for the lilacs to bloom.

Bust of John E. Milholland at MeadowmountBust of John E. Milholland at Meadowmount

The property was later purchased by Ivan Galamian, a violin teacher, and became filled with names such as Itzhak Perlman, Michael Rabin, Yo Yo Ma, Miriam Fried, and Joshua Bell. While students were gone for the year, during our tour, a woman from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra stopped by to reminisce on her seven summers at Meadowmount and brought the place to life before our eyes.

The Legacy

I’ve only lived in the Adirondacks for a year, yet I realize that I could live here for my entire life and never fully dig through the rich catacombs of history and culture intermingling with nature in the Adirondack Park. Here, it is both the destination and the journey, and both a celebration of what exists and an acknowledgement of the work that needs to be done to leave a legacy for future generations. In addition to Inez Milholland, John Brown and the Black suffragist movement of the Adirondacks exemplify this, forming a critical intersection of equity and life in the Adirondacks to form vibrant, diverse communities. The work never fully ends, and as such, we must be impeccable with our word and with our work as we create and maintain an Adirondack Park that is for all.

 

Justin Levine

Jess Grant joined the Adirondack Council team in 2021 as the Executive and Development Assistant. Originally from rural Alaska and Oregon, Jess pursued a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology at ESF to protect all of the wildlands, waterways, and working farms and forests she calls home. She previously interned at the New York State Senate and then with the Adirondack Land Trust, solidifying her passions of environmental policy and conservation communications. The Adirondack Park is a sacred place to her, and she is dedicated to supporting efforts to protect these spaces. Outside of the office, Jess enjoys making new friends on the trail, foraging for fungi, and whitewater kayaking.

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