Tuesday, May 10, 2016
George Washington Sears (Nessmuk)
George Washington Sears (1821 –1890) was a sportswriter for Forest and Stream magazine in the 1880s and an early conservationist. His stories, appearing under the pen name, "Nessmuk" popularized self-guided canoe camping tours of the Adirondack lakes in open, lightweight solo canoes and what is today called ultralight camping.
Canoeing had been popularized by Scottish lawyer John MacGregor in the 1860s, but the typical canoe trip of the day employed expert guides and heavy canoes. Sears, who was 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) tall and 103 pounds (47 kg) had a 9-foot-long (2.7 m), 10 1⁄2-pound (4.8 kg) solo canoe built by J. Henry Rushton of Canton, New York.
He named it the Sairy Gamp (the name of a Dickens character) and in it he completed a 266-mile (428 km) journey through the central Adirondacks. He was 62 years old and in frail health (tuberculosis and asthma) at the time.
William Henry Harrison Murray's Adventures in the Wilderness, published in 1869, had praised the Adirondacks as having a healthy atmosphere for consumptives and Verplanck Colvin's enthusiastic writing about the Adirondack wilderness had further inspired the trip.