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LUXURY CAMPING ON A
PRIVATE FOREST IN JAY NY.
By Diana Bocco
Far from tourist hot spots like Lake Placid and Lake George, in a hidden Jay valley, Fourpeaks Backcountry Camps are retreats for those who want to escape city life and modern conveniences. Set on seven hundred acres between Whiteface Mountain and the Jay Mountain Wilderness, each of the six camps is located in its own secluded area.
If you come here expecting a clustered cabin colony, maid service, a swimming pool and tennis courts, you'll be disappointed. The kind of luxury offered at Fourpeaks has more to do with being able to spend your nights in a remote rustic camp and your days exploring twenty miles of private hiking trails with little chance of crossing paths with another human being.
So why exactly are people willing to pay up to $175 a night for a place where they have to hike to their cabins, chop their own firewood, pump their own water and bathe "cowboy-style" in an outdoor metal tub, and clean up after themselves before they check out?
Owner Martin Schwalbaum says travelers with a sense of adventure book vacations here for a variety of reasons, including the amazing views, a lot of open space to run their dogs and the romance of unwinding in a pretty place with little distraction. "Fourpeaks is a getaway from TV, phones, work, socializing with neighbors, friends and relatives-- the mental furniture, as it were, of everyday life," he says. This is not your average campground either: "No big, friendly campfires here at Four- peaks," adds Schwalbaum. "There's no one to come to them, and, besides, fires outdoors are not allowed."
IN 1967 SCHWALBAUM, THEN LIVING in New York City, fell in love with this part of the Adirondacks during a ski weekend with his first wife. The following year he paid fourteen thousand dollars for a ninety-acre lot, which included a building that would come to be known simply as the Cabin. The oldest camp at Fourpeaks, it was built in 1946 and has a massive stone fireplace.
Schwalbaum had a definite vision in mind. "I wanted a wilderness place, lots of trees and space, to get away to whenever I wanted," he says. No sooner had the first deal been closed when adjoining property became available for sale; Schwalbaum bought six additional parcels of land.
The idea of sharing his mountain mecca and starting a vacation rental business first came in 1988 with just a few rentals from a one-time advertisement he placed in the New York Times. And then in 1997, when he put up his website, www.4peaks.com (now a forty- plus-page collection of accommodation descriptions, Adirondack information, newspaper clippings, poetry by Schwalbaum and testimonials from satisfied customers), the concept really took flight.
At Fourpeaks, visitors can choose the basic Gypsy Camp, with a simple double bed and al fresco kitchen, or go all out at Ridge Camp, a three-building complex--the prettiest and most secluded of his six camps, according to Schwalbaum--a mile and a quarter hike up Rattlesnake Knob Mountain. Ridge Camp offers a six-hundredsquare- foot cabin with cathedral ceilings and three woodstoves, a screened- in porch, and a wood-fired sauna. Hammocks, charcoal barbecue grills and picnic tables are standard with all cabins. Each was designed and decorated by Schwalbaum, who discovers funky windows, furniture and home accessories in salvage shops.
The magic of Fourpeaks is in the details. Many visitors come and go and never notice, for example, that all of the structures have red doors (an aesthetic applied because Schwalbaum loves red against the woodsy brown of the camps), or that there are guidebooks in every cabin to help with stargazing and wildflower identification. When vacationers arrive, they even find biscuit mix and a jar of homemade apple jam waiting for them. "I treat my guests as though they were staying in my home," says Schwalbaum.
Perhaps the greatest perk, however, is the solitude that comes with the place. At Fourpeaks, visitors can choose from skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and biking, depending on the season.They can take a dip in the nearby Ausable River or simply lie down under a tree or choose to have a picnic in one of the remote, scenic spots along the trails. "Please don't bring a lot of people and don't plan to do sightseeing or shopping," says Schwalbaum. "Plan some walks with views. Find a different rhythm sleeping, eating, playing and getting around they way they did at Fourpeaks one hundred years ago. And stay out of your car as much as you can."
Fourpeaks Backcountry Camps are one mile up Stonehouse Road, off Route 9N, in Jay. For information or reservations call (518) 524-6727 or visit www.4peaks.com.
Adirondack Life is a bi-monthly magazine based in Jay, New York that covers the Adirondack region of the state. It has been published since 1969, when it began as a supplement to a Warrensburg, New York newspaper. Articles are primarily oriented towards features on the history and culture of the region, as well as recreational opportunities. The magazine also runs an annual photography contest and publishes the winning entries both in the magazine itself and on its website. It also publishes and sells annual wall and engagement calendars.
Adirondack Life Magazine www.adirondacklife.com
PO Box 410 Route 9N (At the old Methodist Church on the Green)
Jay, NY 12941
Single copies at area stores.
Subscription Service: (800) 877-5530
An Adirondack Miscellany Newspaper and Magazine articles, Books and lots more.
Ice storm of the Century Devastates Northcountry.January 1998
Town of Jay Happy 200th Birthday Party at the 1829 Southmayd Stone House May 1998
Natives and Outsiders at the Jay Old Covered Bridge. June 1998
Jane McCrae Murdered by Indians in Ft. Edward NY. July 1777
Adirondack Great Camps: Adventures in the Wilderness.
Miss P, the famous www.Internet web purrcat, interviews Tramp, our Fourpeaks barking cocker.
Ironman USA comes to Fourpeaks.
Chickadees In Winter
Flying Critters on your Adirondack Vacation.
Adirondack Letters: "Hints of Balsam and Pine from our corner of the Adirondacks."
AuSable River Swimming: Where the Pools Are Never Crowded, And Water Slides Are Nature's Own (New York Times)
A new novel about Fourpeaks: Moss Krupnick's Daughters of Utopia, 196 pages, $9.98
For your Adirondack experience--"Stay Awhile In Style!" Plattsburgh-Republican November 2002.
NATURE WITHIN REACH: Luxury Camping. (July 2004, Southwest Airlines SPIRIT (In-flight Magazine.)
Annual Jay Yard Sale. (First Sale August 19, 2006.)
Glamping. (Glamorous Camping.) (Jan-Feb, Nov-Dec 2008, Women's Adventure Magazine.)
"Imagine a place that preserves the charm of the nineteenth-century back-country dwellings . . ." ADIRONDACK LIFE, 2006 Collectors Issue.
Are you in this picture? Fourpeaks hosts now welcome paying guests to a 700-acre rest and playground for vacations in the Adirondack Great Camp tradition. Couples appreciate Fourpeaks secluded settings. Outdoor loving families have fun exploring our accessible wilderness. Folks with dogs enjoy the open spaces to run their pets. A private nature rereat. For a vacation away from it all. Are you in this picture? CLICK HERE to find out! [More about this at Frequently Asked Questions.]
Keep up with us through occasional newsletters. CLICK for sample.
"Hints of Balsam and Pine from our Corner of the Adirondacks"
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