Baker Mountain summit with Brigid

Hiking honestly … or trying to

So what about lying to your kids on a hike.

I don’t mean the normal: “Oh, I think we’re close to the top now,” when you and they know you’re not much more than half way. That’s an inspirational half-truth.

Or my oft-repeated, “If you fall down you don’t get ice cream,” which no one takes seriously.

What about a perfect fall weekend, clear and crisp, when dozens of families crowd onto the trail up Baker Mountain, a friendly little climb that starts in what is almost downtown Saranac Lake.

And about three-quarters of the way up I see mom, standing over a young girl, maybe 6 or so, pleading, “Just 100 more steps and we’ll be at the top … only 100 more little steps.”

I know, and mom probably knows, that we’re about to turn the corner and find that this fun family hike transforms into a lengthy hillside scramble of exposed rock: fun for a 15-year-old, slow going for a 50-year-old and no go for a 5-year-old, unless the tyke is very ambitious or the parent is ready to do some heavy lifting.

So change the scene to this weekend, another easy family hike, Baxter Mountain just outside of Keene.

Baxter Mountain on a cloudy day.

Baxter Mountain on a cloudy day. A fun hike with three teens.

Rain threatened, but we lucked out with only a sprinkle at the top. Clouds crashed into and climbed over the High Peaks all around our little one-hour hike.

As we were leaving the summit after a quick lunch, not wanting to face a downpour on the tricky rock jumble near the top, we paused to say hi to a young mom and her little one, again maybe 6 or so. “Hope you beat the rain,” I say, the always pessimistic dad.

“Oh, well. We travel at our own pace,” the mom answers.

Our own pace. Now there is a good hiking lesson, and one I need to learn in so many ways.

As far as hiking goes, now that I’m slow down, I have a bunch of 13-year-olds who should probably be challenged with something more than these easy family hikes. Guess I have to pick up my pace. And that’s no lie.

Silver Lake Mountain with three teens

Silver Lake Mountain, a classic Adirondack hike, with three teens and a photo-bombing dog saying hi.

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