Lets’s face it, spring can be a difficult time of year in the Adirondacks.
Mud makes our hiking uncomfortable, mosquitoes are out and blackflies are getting started. More and more we have to worry about ticks, bird breeding sites, over-population on the trails. And for me, the end of the college semester brings a flood of work that washes away my will to post to this blog.
My antidote is a not-so-quiet meditation on the spring song of our Adirondack wetlands, woodlands and lakes. Spring peepers join with with a chorus of trilling and and buzzing to create a white-noise like wall of sound these evenings.
Stay to the end of this recording to hear the loon that zoomed through, just off camera: another classic Adirondack sound. And what sounds like a bit of dog barking is actually a grumpy Canada goose bedding down for the night.
Watching winter storm “Hunter” — thank you Weather Channel, like winter storms needed names — drop a dense snowy blanket outside my dining room window, should I be glad this isn’t a “bombogenesis,” “snowpocalypse” or “snowmageddon?”
We love to be afraid of the weather, maybe in the same way we love horror films. We all like a good scare. But bombarded with media messages of weather fear, that occasional scare has become a constant drone of weather worry. We’re inured to it; our children are basted in it.
What’s the problem? Fear leads to bad decisions. Worry wears us down and inures us to real dangers.
And there are dangers out there to judge, to weigh, to consider.
Take a quiet ski on your own first, then have some noisy fun with the kids.
Cross-country and kids aren’t a natural match … but that’s usually because we want to turn out kids into little adults, making them ski the way we do.
Cross-country also lacks the “cool” factor of downhill skiing. It’s like trying to get your kids to kayak when there is a jet-ski tied to the dock.
But if we focus on the fun instead of the destination, skiing can be a great family activity, a fit for 5-year-olds, 15-year-olds and 55-year-olds.
Too early to ski?
Sure, if you are a eager backcountry type you’ve driven and hiked to find snow.
Me, I’ll wait till the snow finds me, although I am tempted to take a trip to the Whiteface Toll Road for an early season session.
Too late to hike? Sure, many of you hike all winter.
Me, once the temps dip and the trails get icy, I keep my hikes on the flat lands of the Champlain Valley. Thanksgiving is often my cutoff, although a brisk hike up Lyon Mountain can make the turkey taste better.
So what to do in the between-times?
Geocaching is the perfect outdoor fun in the fall/winter, winter/spring transitions.
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.
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.