Category Archives: Hiking

The view from the false summit of Catamount

Knowing When to Stop

This weekend on a hike up Catamount with the usual pack of young teens I was reminded of an important lesson that I have learned, sometimes forgotten, and relearned: Know when to stop.

This weekend on a hike up Catamount with the usual pack of young teens I was reminded of an important lesson that I have learned, sometimes forgotten, and relearned: Know when to stop.

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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.”

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Silver Lake Mountain Scenes

Brigid and a friend hiked Silver Lake Mountain with me over the holiday weekend.

This little 1-mile climb with striking views of Silver Lake and Taylor Pond is a perfect hike for a busy weekend when traffic in the High Peaks is so intense that some trailheads were temporarily moved.

More musings on the trail later in the week.

Advice from the Original Adirondack Dad

Of the several Dennis Aprill hiking books, my favorite is “Paths Less Traveled.”

"Paths Less Traveled" by Dennis Aprill

“Paths Less Traveled” by Dennis Aprill

As I mentioned in my earlier post, influential Adirondack outdoor writer Aprill died in 2010. His books are mostly out of print, but you can pick up reasonably priced used copies at area bookstores or through online booksellers.

In this book, Aprill includes two short chapters about kids and hiking.

First, in his “Hiking with Children” chapter, Aprill gives some of the usual advice: slow down, bring snacks, carry a basic first-aid kit.

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Coon Mountain: Quiet Corners of the Park

Brigid finds a friend on the Coon Mountain Trail.

Brigid finds a friend on the Coon Mountain Trail.

As the days shorten, the nights cool and the first fall color strokes the maples, the hiking season heats up.

The bugs are gone, the summer dwindles and hikers feel a pull to the mountains.

In this corner of the Adirondacks, that means the popular and central trails can be mobbed.

Even on the northeast outskirts, at Lyon Mountain, Silver Lake Mountain and Poke-O-Moonshine, trailheads are busy. And in the Heart Lake region, you won’t find any late-summer solitude.

Instead, I look for the quiet corners of the park for a fun family trek. This weekend that meant Coon Mountain.

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Owl’s Head Family Hike

Took advantage of a break in this summer’s rain and a cool morning for a hike up Owl’s Head in Keene with Patricia and Brigid. Signs confused some people, who parked on highway. But some others showed poor judgment, parking in ways that nearly cut off the private road, adding evidence for the landowner’s plan to close the trail.

What Owl’s Head has taught me

Every hike teaches me something: the changing light in the pines, a fresh and mysterious bird song, the startled shock when a trail runner bounds past.

Summit of Owls Head with Brigid.

Summit of Owls Head with Brigid.

But hikes with my children have taught me the most. Here are a few things that I learned hiking Owl’s Head, one of my favorite family outings:

  • Boulders aren’t something to get around, they aree something to play on.
  • Trees have personalities, feelings and sometimes we have to give them names.
  • A shady perch on a hot afternoon deserves more than a quick drink.
  • It’s lunch time when you’re hungry … wait too long and you’ll be sorry.
  • Getting tired? Pull out a chapter book and read a bit.
  • Are there elves watching from that dense brush? Could a dwarf fit into that little cave? Is that walking stick really a wizard’s staff? Yes.
  • And the summit doesn’t matter. Maybe we’ll get there, maybe we won’t

Want to get out of that summit focused, head down, oblivious hiking posture? Take a kid along.

Owl's Head

Owl’s Head: Get it While You Can

Owl’s Head in the eastern Adirondacks on the edge of the High Peaks is a classic family hike. It’s also about to be closed. Let me explain.

Perfect for a child’s first hike or a relaxed family outing, with a summit that delivers much more than the easy investment in a short climb, Owl’s Head has become too popular for it’s own good.

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