This time of year is all about transitions.
The leaves fall. The temperatures drop. Family hikers leave the peaks behind for you technical types and instead embrace the lowland trails. The first snow paints the peaks.
And the snow geese appear.
They stop in the protected bays of Lake Champlain, gathering by the thousand. They rest on the sandy beaches and scavenge in nearby fields, cleaning up the chopped corn the mechanical harvest misses.
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.
Friends Eniola and Brigid gulp some water halfway up the first climb at Silver Lake Mountain.
Friends Brigid and Eniola taking a break at a favorite photo-op spot on the Silver Lake Mountain trail.
Snacking at the top of Silver Lake Mountain.
Snacking at the top of Silver Lake Mountain.
Brigid studies the trailhead logbook as Eniola looks on. She is checking the “out” box as we head for the car.
A solar eclipse in stages.
Now that the “Great American Eclipse” and all that solar hoopla is over, let’s turn our attention to the April 8, 2024, solar event: The Great Adirondack Eclipse.
On the afternoon of that early spring day, a total solar eclipse will be viewable from almost all of the Adirondacks and northern New York.
Draw a line from Plattsburgh to Watertown and you’ll have the path of totality.
So if you are in Saranac Lake, Lake Placid or hiking in the High Peaks that day, you’ll see it. Of course the path of totality also includes Burlington, Syracuse and a big swath of the central and southern United States as the eclipse track heads through Dallas and into Mexico. But in the interest of marketing, let’s ignore that.
September and October are a time of valley fog in the Adirondacks.
The waters are still warm enough and the nights are already cool enough that our mornings are sometimes bathed in white mist.
I’m sure, if you know ocean fogs, those impenetrable white banks that block highways and lead to massive pileups, you will think our fogs are tame. And they are small scale.
Of the several Dennis Aprill hiking books, my favorite is “Paths Less Traveled.”
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.