Tag Archives: adirondacks

2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

2012 marks the third year I’ve visited the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, only named the #2 Winter Carnival in the world by National Geographic. Beating out parties in Canada and Japan is pretty impressive considering the town’s population hovers around 5,000. Who knew we had a world-class event tucked away in the frigid Adirondacks? Answer: National Geographic, but now you know, too.

2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Each year has a theme, and this year’s was Alien Invaders. You can see a few of them above, abducting terrestrial life forms. As usual I accompanied my friends in the carnival group the Gimps, best known for never participating in the yearly theme. This time they were killer bees. As in the classic SNL skit, complete with sombreros, which raised concerns they would be interpreted as illegal aliens (they had been permanently banned from the carnival years ago for gratuitous use of “EAT ME” in an Alice on Wonderland theme). Bright yellow stripes and bee antics seemed to do the trick and there were no international incidents.

2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

In 2010 and 2011 I went with something of a photojournalistic angle, focusing on the parade, the costumes, the ice castle and winter events. This time I decided to use the warm welcome my extended family of Gimps gives and come at carnival in a more documentary style. You may be asking, what’s the difference between photojournalism and documentation? Well, it’s quite simple: obviously I’m just using impressive words to sound like I know what I’m talking about.

Instead of staking out a spot on the parade route and shooting every float going by, I followed the swarm of killer bees to their staging area. Since they had the second to last float, this was perfect, passing by all the other groups on the mile or two walk out and making it back to the finish line about halfway through the end of the parade. Hanging out while the gimps were getting prepped was much more interesting than being roped onto the sidewalk and waiting for the parade to pass by. Maybe because they are pretty interesting. Bees on a frozen lake? Why not.

2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Walking back up the route, through the crowd, gave me a chance to shoot some of the other paraders and the spectators. I wanted to give a sense of what it’s like to be in the crowd, instead of the slightly antiseptic results I came back with in years prior. There’s a certain energy and enthusiasm we don’t get here in Albany at, say, Tulip or Lark Fest.

2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

My impression of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival has been one of high alcohol consumption, which may just be a byproduct of the people I hang out with while I’m there. After the parade there was some hotel room drinking, some food and drinking at the Moose Club, some drinking and very noise-tolerant dogs at the Rusty Nail, and drunken bee bowling. I called it a night before the swarm invaded the Waterhole, a popular local establishment I had been forcefully ejected from last year.

2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

2012 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

By the time we were near the ice castle, with ice UFOs gorgeously lit up, I was looking forward to getting horizontal. So, no photos of the castle for me this year, but honestly, it will be hard to ever top Mark Kurtz’ shot from that Nat Geo link. If you’ve never been to the carnival, you owe it to yourself to check it out at least once, see the official website for details. Think about reserving a room sometime around right now. I highly recommend checking the slideshow for larger photos, more not shown here, and a better idea of what it’s like to hang out with the Gimps for a day.

Special thanks to all of the hospitable residents of Saranac Lake, especially the police and fire departments who maintain a semblance of order. Until next year, happy carnival!

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Outtakes: Dyken Pond/Snow Train

I’ve had a couple more peices up at All Over Albany, on Dyken Pond and the Saratoga & North Creek Snow Train. Go ahead, check those out, I’ll wait.

Dyken Pond was a surprise. I’ve visited most of the environmental centers in the area but had no idea Dyken Pond existed or was as interesting as it is — and I sort of grew up in Rensselaer county. Totally my fault. I didn’t visit at the best time, but I’ll blame that on the weather, there should have been some snow already. It looks like a great place to snowshoe and I’m eager to visit again in the spring for the vernal pond and fall for what should be an impressive color show. Some stuff that didn’t make it into the AOA article:

Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center

This is a “pufball” mushroom, likely Morganella pyriformis. Pyriformis is one of the few puffballs that grow on wood, in fact decomposing the wood as part of their life cycle. I can’t be absolutely sure of the classification but it’s a safe bet. These are smaller than they seem, only about a centimeter across — I was using a 35mm lens on tubes for ninja macro performance.

Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center

This was by far more interesting to me, maybe because I’m easily amused. On the right you see a quartz vein, all over you see moss and some lichen. This tells a story, albeit a long, protracted, and uneventful one. Under all the moss to the left is likely granite, though I didn’t scrape it off to check. Lichen and moss are known as pioneer species and in cases like this one are successional. See, lichen is a symbiosis of algae and fungus — basically something you really do not want on your feet. The fungus gives the algae a hospitable place to live and in return the algae photosynthesizes and provides the fungus with some food. As someone way smarter than me once said, lichens are fungi who’ve developed agriculture.

But fungi eat more than just algae poop, they can actually slowly decompose minerals, and being extremely hardy they can colonize and live on mineral deposits — what we usually call “rocks”. So lichen actually turn rocks into soil over a long period of time, and eventually mosses are happy to call that soil home. So long lichen, thanks for all the hard work. So, why did I find the above quartz and moss interesting? Lichens are able to colonize and break down certain rock types much more easily than others, and this is a perfect illustration. Lichens can live on quartz, but it’s much easier for them to live on the granite in which we often see quartz veins. The boundary you see is there because of the particular adaptability of the lichens paving the way, and if that doesn’t quite blow your mind, this colonization likely started hundreds of years ago. It takes a long, long time for lichens to turn rock into a suitable home for moss.

Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center

There’s lots of other geeky sciencey naturey stuff at Dyken Pond, like glacial erratics. These are massive boulders that ice sheets just decided they didn’t want anymore so they just kind of left them all over the Northeast. It’s glacier trash that gets in our way, which is kind of funny but not really seeing as our trash is sort of destroying what’s left of glaciers. Whoops.

The Snow Train, now that was fun. As the AOA editors mentioned at the end, this was a media junket, which I’m not completely comfortable with. You just can’t honestly evaluate something you’re not paying for, but I took the time to talk to the poor schmucks who did pay (okay, that’s unfair, they were really nice), to help get an idea if riding in the dome car was worth it or not. When the train stopped over a mist-covered river lit with the golden Adirondack sunrise and everyone jumped toward the windows to take photos, I had my answer.

Snow Train

As I mentioned in the piece, if you aren’t hitting the runs you aren’t getting your full money’s worth, but I enjoyed riding the gondola up and stomping around. Way in the past I took three snowboard lessons and decided careening down a mountain in winter was not for me, so I’m fascinated by ski/snowboard culture and particularly life at the top of the run.

Gore Mountain

I tried to get as many candid, street-style photos as I could, but even a breakfast Bloody Mary didn’t loosen the pressure of being on assignment, so stuck mainly to what I knew would run. We were also on something of a schedule, but I tried to get an honest look at life on slopes. It’s definitely something I want to go back and spend more time with.

Gore Mountain

I like North Creek more than it may have seemed in the AOA piece. It’s a small Adirondack town that’s kept its individuality in the face of being a tourist destination — Gore may not be nationally known but it’s one of the more popular mountains in the east. Compare that to somewhere like Lake Placid, which is a blatant tourist trap. The people are great and honestly happy to see you. We stopped at Marsha’s, advertising the best burger in town, for lunch. We were the only table, but the burger didn’t disappoint, especially for the price. Medium rare came out perfectly medium rare and it was not just a preformed Sysco patty. As we walked out, the staff were playing cards on the bar, and after leaving I knew I should have stopped and taken a few photos, even if it meant switching lenses and mounting a flash. But once the idea came to me, I felt too self conscious to go back and ask, so I filed it away in the endless folder of “things to remember for next time”.

Barking Spider, North Creek NY

After some shopping and sightseeing we whiled away another hour or so at the Barking Spider, which I absolutely, 100% recommend visiting if you’re in North Creek. This is the townie bar. We were mostly ignored — probably because I’m not the most outgoing person — which I respect. The pickled eggs were fantastic. PBR cans are $2, and there’s a giant fish with a clock hung at one end of the bar and a huge wooden spider with a couple hundred dollars of small bills signed by patrons behind it. I love that place.

North Creek NY

Unfortunately, as you can read in the article, the trip didn’t end as well as it could have. The vast majority of my traveling companions, most of whom had paid for the thing, were still in good spirits. I used that as further anecdotal data (hah) that the trip is worth it, and had I spent $80 I would still feel that way. Riding in that dome car is great, giving a view of the Adirondacks that’s impossible otherwise. If we get some more snow I’ll probably take the $55 dome car round trip and just chill in North Creek. And if they continue the service year-round, it’ll be a great way to get up to to some rafting, hiking, and camping.

I know posts have been few and far between. I’ve got a few things up my sleeves, stay tuned. Thanks for reading.

2011 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

2011 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Ice Castle

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival began 114 years ago as a one day event in this small village in the Adirondacks, and is now a ten-day extravaganza of parades, games, music, the famous ice castle, and lots and lots of snow.

Every year has a theme, and for 2011 is was “medieval times”. The parade included princesses, knights on horseback, witches, dragons, and yes, a Trojan rabbit. I accompanied some friends in a group calling themselves The Gimps, a crowd favorite, who of course dressed as sock monkeys. Were there sock monkeys in the dark ages? Let’s say probably.

2011 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

This year’s Carnival ran from February 4 through the 13th, bookended by the two parades and fireworks shows. We visited at the tail end, which is probably the best end since everyone is desperate to enjoy what’s left of this huge party. It’s really pretty crazy; hundreds of people descend on this three square mile village, and I’d say at least three square miles of alcohol are consumed. I have to give a shout out to the Saranac Lake police and fire departments, who do a great job of keeping things orderly and safe. I’m sure that’s no easy job, and they handle it well.

2011 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival 2011 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Most of my photos are of the parade itself; we headed up early Saturday morning to catch that, and I followed the Gimps to a few watering holes before we finished up the party at the very hospitable Hotel Saranac. So, I missed most of the other festivities, but you can see more from last year’s event. I did get a chance to spend some time at the ice castle at night, which is gorgeously lit as you can see at the top.

A little shop talk: I took most of the parade photos with a 50mm lens, which is a dicey proposal. A general purpose zoom is really ideal unless you have a lot of freedom to move around, which I didn’t; step away from the edge of the roped off street and you won’t get back in. I do have a 19-35mm zoom that I used for the 2011 Santa Speedo Sprint but that wouldn’t quite give me enough reach here. So, I’m stuck in one place at one focal length, and that makes it a challenge to get a variety of shots from individual closeups to wider views of the groups in the parade. I think I did a good job, but I had a secret weapon: I stood next to a kid. Paraders coming up to give him candy gave me great opportunities for closer head and body shots. Thanks, kid!

If you can make it, and especially if you can find a place to stay (try booking now but even that’s a little late), you should check out the Carnival in 2012. You definitely won’t be disappointed, and during a time when it can be a little hard to find outdoor things to do if you don’t ski, it’s a great little escape. See you next year!

2011 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival 2011 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival
2011 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival 2011 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

There’s a slideshow with more photos, and you can check out the official Winter Carnival site.

Canoe Camping on the Oswegatchie River

Oswegatchie River, Adirondacks

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time. -Leonardo da Vinci

Four days, four people, three coolers, and two canoes. There are no better ways to spend a long weekend that don’t involve getting arrested.

The Oswegatchie River, in the northern Adirondacks, is a substantial water system that feeds from the Five Ponds Wilderness Area. It’s well known as a recreation area; the water is comparatively clean, the fishing is good, and the section we traveled, navigable by canoe or kayak, is dotted with riverside campsites. We put in on Friday at Inlet and paddled upstream, looking for a good campsite that would put us not too far from High Falls, our Saturday destination. Since the weather was good, everyone else had the same idea, and they took the decent campsites before us. The trip in is not so easy; not only are you heading upstream, but there are several rocky sections and lots of beaver activity partially blocks the river in places. Five hours of canoeing later, the sun was starting to go down and my little T-Rex arms were getting tired when we finally found a great vacant site and set up camp.

Saturday was a morning of bacon and pancakes. Nothing that starts with bacon and pancakes can ever go wrong. After that, we faced a decision because we slept in a little longer than we’d planned (hey, canoeing’s not easy): spend our entire day making the trip to High Falls and be exhausted for Sunday, or take a short hike in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area and be a little more relaxed. Relaxing always wins.

Five Ponds Wilderness Area

Five Ponds Wilderness Area is one of the largest wild pieces of land in New York State. There are some trails and sites marked for primitive camping, but the effects of human civilization are negligible. In addition, it holds the largest area of old growth white pine in the world, and is the southernmost edge of the important low elevation boreal forest in New York.

Some words about boreal forest; I’ll try to make this short and add some photos to keep your interest. If you have kids, this is a good time to think about research assignments. Boreal forest, also called taiga, is the largest biome in the northern hemisphere, and is a critically important carbon sink. The flora is distinctively dominated by pine and fir with birch, spruce, and aspen, a healthy mix of mosses and ferns, shrubs such as witches hobble (below) and many berry producers, various wildflowers, and abundant fungus and lichen. Boreal forests are often boggy or marshy, a feature that supports an even greater variety of plant life, and all of this botanical diversity ultimately supports a broad range of animal species.

Five Ponds Wilderness Area

Many of North America’s most notable large mammals, including moose which are making a comeback in New York, are dependent in part or whole on boreal forest. Other mammals, such as the lynx, black bear, river otter, hares, beaver, wolf, and coyote, call it home, as well as reptiles and amphibians in the wetland areas. The real story, though, is birds. Not only do threatened bird species, such as the spruce grouse, depend on areas of boreal forest for their survival, but so do half of all of the bird species you’ll ever see in the U.S. Hopefully it’s not a surprise that birds fly, so they make use of many different latitudes as the seasons change. The bird you see only part of the year is spending the warmer or cooler months somewhere else. They also need stopover locations, and the Adirondack mountains, being a sort of southern archipelago of high-elevation boreal forest, serve a vital function here.

Five Ponds Wilderness Area

Look, I know the global warming issue is politically charged and there aren’t many people on the fence about this one, and I agree that in some cases, losing a species here or there as biomes change isn’t going to throw the world into utter chaos. But there are hundreds of species of birds in the U.S.; a shrinking habitat won’t instantly kill that half of them, but can we lose 25%? 10%? What happens when migratory birds don’t have that stopover climate and can’t make it to their breeding grounds? This loss of biodiversity will have a cumulative domino effect, and it will just be the beginning. It’s not only possible but very likely that all of the boreal forest habitat in New York will cease to exist within a couple of decades. Regardless of your opinion as to why, this is actually happening, so enjoy it while we have it. And it’s not just a case of the biome shifting further north, like some other southerly biomes can. North of the boreal forest is the tundra, and it’s more than simply cold temperatures that make it currently unsuitable but the day-night pattern as you approach the north pole; once you’re at the north pole, there’s no further north. Plus, the boreal soil is extremely acidic due to the large amount of fallen pine and fir needles, and this soil property is vital to the other flora. It’s not something that can develop in the 10-50 year timepsan we’re talking about.

Five Ponds Wilderness Area

So that’s the boreal forest, in more words than I wanted to use, sorry. It’s absolutely beautiful, and a treasure that you should enjoy in New York while you can. So, right, we hiked Five Ponds, with the highlight for me being slipping from a log and dunking $1200 of camera in a river. Obviously it was okay or this would be a very different post. This is also where we discovered that every campsite has a resident chipmunk. We met the first on our lunchbreak during the paddle in, and named him “baloney chipmunk” because of a large sore on his back which was reminiscent of the baloney we were eating. At a lean-to where we stopped for lunch on the hike, we met another chipmunk who was considerably cuter and ate anything we gave him with the exception of sour neon gummy worms. So, chipmunks aren’t actually dumb.

Five Ponds Wilderness Area

The plan worked perfectly; after the hike, we relaxed and made an awesome fajita dinner (there’s not much better than a steak grilled over fresh wood coals — maybe bacon and pancakes). We heard coyotes after dark, and howled back at them, which had nothing to do with the large quantities of tequila being consumed. Sunday was a fairly slow morning, we broke camp and paddled downriver a bit to cut some of the time from the final trip. I learned that canoeing downstream is much easier. Because most other campers had already packed up and hauled out to return to the real world on Monday, the good lean-to site on the river was clear and we eagerly claimed it. This turned out to be a very, very smart decision, because it would rain that night and Monday, and the (graffiti’d) lean-to was just the right amount of shelter. I built another amazing fire, the only thing I paid attention during in boy scouts, and Laura set up her sweet camp hammock.

Oswegatchie River, Adirondacks

This site was next to a wide marshy area, and Sunday night instead of coyotes we heard a family of foxes, and some beavers working in the river. My Audubon friends ID’d a lot of the wildlife we saw and heard, and taking stock at the end of the trip I was a little surprised at just the list of birds that I saw: phantom midge, American black duck, common merganser, merlin, sharp-shinned hawk, osprey, cedar waxwing, blue jay, black capped chickadee, swamp sparrow, hermit thrush, northern flicker, black throated blue warbler, and an amazingly close encounter with a blue heron on the final trip out. Eric is a very wise traveler able to name most of the plants we saw, and pointed out the cardinal flowers here and there on the riverbank.

Oswegatchie River, Adirondacks

If you ever see cardinal flower, you will never see anything else that is truly red again. It’s so brilliantly, vibrantly red that it destroys your previous conception of what red is and redefines your entire understanding of color. Okay, maybe it’s not that red, but the digital camera can’t quite capture it in all its glory; it’s really, really red.

Sunday was the slow pack and preparation to head out and rejoin civilization. Clouds rolled in and by noon we heard thunder to go along with the intermittent heavy rain. We’d discussed the possibility of staying an extra day, but we already had the canoes loaded and decided to make a break for it the next time the rain slowed. This was smart, as you’ll soon see. It did, and we did, but the rain picked up again almost as soon as we were on the river; the first hour or so was heavy rain, and anything that wasn’t covered was soaked.

When the rain stopped, it was an abrupt shift; the grey cover lifted, replaced by blue skies and huge, puffy white clouds. The river was mostly calm here, and every bend revealed a more gorgeous scene than the last, trees and clouds reflected in the river. This is where we saw the heron, hunting at a bend in the stream, and it let us coast surprisingly close before taking off. We stopped to visit baloney chipmunk again and have some lunch; the DSLR was safely slowed in a dry bag and I was using a point & shoot, which doesn’t quite do the weather justice.

Oswegatchie River, Adirondacks

After an hour of paddling in the sunshine the thunder started up again, threatening us for the last hour or so back to Inlet. Our timing couldn’t be better; a light rain started to fall as soon as we landed. Not only that, but about fifteen minutes after we packed the cars and headed out, on the dirt access road, something like a rock hit the windshield. But there were no cars in front of us, and rocks don’t just suddenly fly up at cars. That’s no rock, it’s hail! Violent hail, up to dime-size, pelted the cars. I can’t imagine how we’d be feeling if we’d left later and gotten caught on the river in that. Well, actually I can: not very good.

We waited it out, got back on the road, and took a lesiurely drive home. Heading west on Route 3, we stopped a few times to make some more photos, rewarded here and there with some nice post-hailstorm views. That’s how four days of canoe camping starts and ends, I guess: a chipmunk with strange sores and near-Biblical hail. As always there’s a slideshow with a few more photos.

Rt. 3, Adirondacks

Not a double rainbow all the way, but we’ll take it.

End of Summer in Lake George

Lake George NY, 09.05.2010

Sebastien has been making a yearly end of summer ritual of taking the Morgan cruise at the Sagamore in Lake George, and because I’m one of the few people who puts up with him on a regular basis he’s been inviting me. There’s something to it; a little bit of a thrill from slumming it at the ritzy Sagamore, the feel of the chill in the air during the tour of Lake George’s islands, and the views which are worth more than any dollar value you could name. Oh, did I mention there’s a bar on the boat? Yeah, there’s that.

Lake George NY, 09.05.2010

A few words about Lake George. It’s absolutely a tourist trap; the main drag is full of shops peddling absolute crap, street performers desperately looking for a few extra bucks, and one of the most pathetic but simultaneously busy arcades you’ll ever see. If that’s not enough, it hosts Americade, billed as the largest motorcycle gathering in the world. But that’s Lake George Village, we’re mainly talking about the lake itself.

The Morgan sails a part of Lake George known as “The Narrows”, island-filled and bordered by Tongue mountain range on the west Black mountain to the east. Being at the edge of the Adirondack Park, you’d guess the views would be beautiful, and you’d be right. This year, we had a chilly, overcast day, but the clouds worked in our favor a bit, or at least mine; the heavy cover diffused the strong midday sunlight for great portraits on the boat, and breaks in the clouds painted the mountains and islands with some amazing light for nice landscapes.

There are hundreds of islands in the lake,a few privately owned but most owned by the state and thus by all of us, and many available for camping. One of the more notable is Dome Island, below, which is obviously named and is also the highest island rising from the lake’s surface.

Lake George NY, 09.05.2010

The cold and windy conditions didn’t keep us from enjoying some of the frozen drinks mixed up by our kindly on-deck bartenders. The Morgan is one of the best kept secrets of Lake George, and while I’d like it to remain a secret it doesn’t feel fair not to let you in. While the Sagamore is an upscale hotel, the Morgan is open to anyone who calls or visits the front desk, and it cruises twice a day. Though I’ve only been twice, I think it’s the best way to visit Lake George unless you have your own boat. Thanks again to Seb for the idea and letting me tag along.

After the cruise, we wandered the village a bit, visiting the arcade which is only notable for the shooting gallery in the back. This thing is actually pretty cool, a big Wild West style tableau with plenty of targets for the dozen or so rifles ranged around its perimeter. As I took a few photos, someone who was either an arcade worker or interested local came to me with a secret: fire your camera’s flash and all of the targets register a hit. Did I have the heart to tell him neither my 5D nor Seb’s 5DMkII has a built in flash? Of course not, I thanked him for the advice and grabbed a gun with a few credits left. Five out of seven bullseyes later, I felt a lot better about my aim than the last time I pulled a trigger, even if no real rounds were involved here.

House of Frankenstein Wax Museum, Lake George NY

We also visited the House of Frankenstien Wax Museum. Since I had my camera on me and the reasonably fast 50mm f/1.8 lens mounted, I figured what the hell, I’ll try to take some photos. This place is dark dark dark, and to be honest the wax figures are more funny than scary, especially in the Spanish Inquisition Torture Chamber (nobody expects it!). It was a good test; I used spot metering, got readings from the 5D’s more sensitive center focus point, bumped the ISO way up, and from there just trusted the camera. Most of the photos came out well, but really, there’s not much of a subject here. It was fun, and really if you’ve never been the $8 is worth it just to say you have.

I hope a ride on the Morgan continues to be my end of summer ritual. As much as I abhor the obvious commercial tourism of Lake George Village and especially the elitism of the Sagamore, there’s something to be said for being on the water with some good friends, the wind whipping your hair, a pair of good boat shoes on your feet. Try it sometime. Maybe it’ll be a canoe or kayak next year instead.

As always, you can view the slideshow which includes some photos from last year.

Lake George NY, 09.05.2010 Lake George NY, 09.05.2010
Lake George NY, 09.05.2010 Lake George NY, 09.05.2010
Lake George NY, 09.05.2010 Lake George NY, 09.05.2010

Hurricane Mountain

Hurricane Mountain, Adirondacks

On Labor Day Weekend we wanted to get away from things for a while, so we went where everyone else goes to get away from things on a long weekend; the Adirondacks. Smart. Looking for a less popular hike (any of the high peaks would be packed), and with the remnants of tropical storm Earl blowing over New York, we got the suggestion to check out Hurricane Mountain. It’s a moderate two-miler with a few steep spots, plenty of flat walks, a gorgeous section of pine forest, a boggy marsh, and most importantly a fire tower.

There are only 28 fire towers left on the mountains of New York State, 23 in the Adirondacks and 5 in the Catskills. The first towers were erected in the early 1900’s, and over one hundred were eventually built; today they’re superfluous and most have been decomissioned and dismantled. Of the ones remaining, only a few are still climbable — the Hurricane tower has been disabled and is not climbable without some gymnastics and a death wish.

We got to the trailhead around 7:30am after a few hours’ drive. Yes, we woke up at 4:30am to get on the road early, but it was worth it. We were the first on the trail, which rewarded us with sightings of four or five grouse and lots of spiderwebs. I really, really, hate walking into spiderwebs. We reached the summit around 9:30am, and had it all to ourselves for a good half hour. Patchy clouds dotted the sky, and the heavy cover was just starting to roll in, along with thirty mile per hour winds. After a quick lunch we descended, passing a dozen or so other groups, some dogs, and one dude just stone cold sleeping a few feet off the trail. I’m not sure who would hike a half hour up a trail and then take a nap, but hey, it’s a free park, do what you like.

Getting back to the car a bit after noon, we continued our adventure, but I’ll save the second half for another day. The view from Hurricane was so perfect, it was hard not to get great photos. You could practically close your eyes, aim a camera, and have a winner. I took several detail shots on the descent, but by then the sun was struggling to get through the clouds so there wasn’t much interesting light, and thus this is a small set; I don’t want to torture anyone with thirty photos from one peak. As always, you can check out the short slideshow.

Hurricane Mountain, Adirondacks Hurricane Mountain, Adirondacks
Hurricane Mountain, Adirondacks Hurricane Mountain, Adirondacks

Hiking the Adirondacks

Hiking Cascade & Porter, 11.08.2009
If a given combination of trees, mountains, water, and houses, say a landscape, is beautiful, it is not so by itself, but because of me, of my favor, of the idea or feeling I attach to it. -Baudelaire

I don’t know what it is about this fall, but it just keeps going. We should be suffering through wind, rain, and near freezing temperatures, waiting for the god damned snow to come, with not much better to do after the sun goes down at 4:30 than drink and play board games. Instead we get spring, again. What to do with the gorgeous weather?

Right, go where there’s wind, near freezing temperatures, and snow.

On Saturday morning Laura dragged me out of the house around the time I’m used to going to sleep on Saturday morning, to hike a couple of the Adirondack High Peaks. We hit Cascade and Porter; while in Albany it was pushing 60 degrees, there we had a solid layer of snow on the ground and hazy, overcast skies. The clouds blew off as we got to the blistering, forsaken peak of Cascade, so I got to enjoy the view for the three seconds at a time I could keep my eyes open.

We had a picnic, on a tree stump by a river as the sun went down, which was so gorgeously cliché that I vomited through my nose. A good day, overall.

On Sunday we grabbed Kim and Sebastien and headed down to Storm King Art Center, which is a grassy, hilly field where expensive cameras gather, attached to people who aren’t looking where they’re walking. There’ll be an entry on that later.

Hiking Cascade & Porter, 11.08.2009 Hiking Cascade & Porter, 11.08.2009
Hiking Cascade & Porter, 11.08.2009 Hiking Cascade & Porter, 11.08.2009

Check out laurakeet!‘s take too.