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Doc: Orra A. Phelps, M.D.
by Mary Arakelian

Doc is a tale of adventure and accomplishment. Gifted with superior intelligence, physical stamina, and boundless enthusiasm, Orra Phelps enjoyed a multifaceted life as a physician, botanist, mountaineer, naturalist, teacher, and mentor. As one of the most influential and active members of the early Adirondack Mountain Club she wrote, in 1934, the ADK's first comprehensive trail guide to the Adirondack High Peaks Region.

Orra's niece, Mary Arakelian, draws from family letters and diaries, supplemented by extensive interviews and research, with never-before-published photographs. She shares not only Orra's triumphs and setbacks, but her personal motivations and thoughts as well. Old-timers' tales are interwoven with letters between Orra and her mother to make the book read like an autobiography.

Arakelian's story is of an exceptional woman who hiked thousands of miles in her lifetime and savored the natural world every step of the way. Orra lived her life like she climbed mountains, overcoming hardship for the pure joy of that moment on the peak. Her example and willingness to share her knowledge underscore her legacy as one of New York State's truly remarkable women of the 20th century.

Product Details
Publisher: North Country Books
ISBN-10: 0925168661
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Adirondack Books, adirondack books, Adirondack Postcards, Adirondack Photographs

First Person

This biography of an extraordinary woman whose life spanned most of the twentieth century, opens with a 1936 scene in which Orra Phelps traveled at night to Lake Colden in the Adirondack wilderness to treat a camper with a badly slashed leg. As someone on the scene wrote, "She is the only doctor I have ever known who made a house call to a lean-to." The opening scene of this biography introduces Dr. Phelps in her combined life roles as a physician, an Adirondack explorer, and a compassionate woman.

Extracted from Doc's introduction by Dr. Nancy G. Slack
Professor of Biology
Russell Sage College

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