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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Rainy Day Fun at Camp

You’ve got one week of Adirondack vacation … and it rains. Sound like a nightmare?

Well, if you are stuck in a tent, it could be tough to turn a flood into fun. Even in a cottage, cabin or camp, you might be tempted to throw the kids into the car and head for the nearest mall.

Don’t. Rain can be a fun opportunity. Looking on the bright side of cloudy weather is a necessity this summer, when it seems to have rained every other day.

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Jack and Brigid Downs in the kayak

Thoughts on kayaking with kids

There are lots of reasons to introduce kids to kayaking:

  • No other kind of boating connects us so closely to the water.
  • Kayaking can be a lifelong activity
  • It’s good exercise.
  • You can do it alone or in a group.
  • Kayaking can be linked to camping or fishing or birdwatching … and so many other outdoors activities.

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The tiny ones are the real teachers.

Well said: “I’ve watched her push herself outside of her comfort zone to reach a goal. I’ve watched her little hands continue to hold on long after being torn and tired. I’ve watched her fail and get right back up like it never happened. I’ve watched her take the time to realize what she was doing isn’t working and find a way to make it work for her.”

Source: The tiny ones are the real teachers.

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.

Brigid fishing at camp on Chateaugay Lake

Return to an Adirondack Camp

If you have a cottage or camp or second home in the mountains, on a lake or at the seashore, you’ll recognize this idea: Going to camp isn’t about exploring, its about returning.

When I write “camp” I don’t mean camping in a tent or summer at sleepaway camp. Those are great experiences. But camping is about exploring and summer camp is about a time of life.

Returning to an Adirondack Camp is like returning to a home that is more than a home.

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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.