Henry and Josephine.

August 30, 2015 — Leave a comment

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Today I hiked to Nye Mountain and Street Mountain, my 18th and 19th peaks on the way to 46. The hike was straight-forward and not that difficult. I left the parking lot at 8:47 AM, reached Nye at 11:00, had lunch on Street and was back to the car a few minutes after 2:00 PM.

Both peaks are covered with trees and the views are not as spectacular as the views from other nearby peaks. On the way down I catch a glimpse of Heart Lake and remember the story about how it got its name.

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According to the legend Henry Van Hovenberg left New York City in 1877 and visited the Adirondacks. He met a young woman, Josephine Scofield, and together they climbed Mount Marcy where he pledged his love to her. Looking out at the valley below them they saw a heart-shaped lake and decided that they would marry and build their home on its shores.

They returned to New York City together before Josephine left for a trip Toronto. On her way she stopped outside of Buffalo and was never seen again after taking a walk to the edge of the Horseshoe Falls.

Heartbroken, Henry returned to the Adirondacks in 1878, bought the 640 acres around the lake and built a hotel where he had planned to build his home with Josephine. He renamed the lake Heart Lake and a nearby mountain Mount Jo in honor of Josephine.

Recent attempts to verify this story have failed and many people now believe that Henry made up the whole thing as a marketing ploy to romanticize his hotel.

Even though there probably never was a Josephine, I suspect that at least once in the last 138 years a man and a woman hiked together to Mount Marcy and fell in love while looking down at Heart Lake and the beauty spread out before them. That is the true story of Henry and Jo.

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