FALL IN THE ADIRONDACKS
by Pete Lamb
Devilishly steep. Incredibly rocky. Deeply muddy. These are just a few of the adverbs and adjectives that describe the Adirondacks. It’s also an area of beautiful lakes, stunning waterfalls, wonderful Fall color, and quaint little towns. Don Wold led six SOLARites (Karen Kish, Michelle Delaporte, Bonnie, Carolyn Francis, Jim Coe, and Pete Lamb) on a trip to this awesome area at the height of the fall colors.
The trail finally veered away from the stream and became steep and rocky. The party had to do some easy rock climbing to reach the top of the sheer cliff of Indian Head overlooking Ausable Lake; it was a great view although it was blowing like hell. After making a slight detour to see Rainbow Falls—no sun so no rainbow, but well worth the detour—we were back on the road. At this point we had a choice, three miles on the road or three miles on the river trail. We opted to walk the river trail back to the cars;
(We did have to camp one night
though.) Valley, is
after all, how bad could a riverside path be down hill. Part way down the trail, we met group who was also doing the river trail.
since rivers go the rest of the The river trail
centrally located, so it is possible to bag many of the peaks
in the area—which we attempted to do.
was three miles of hell that had us clinging for dear life the sides of cliffs and enduring many hundreds of feet altitude change. It was getting late; we were in danger
to of of
It’s easy to underestimate the difficulty of hikes in the Adirondacks. We soon found that doing a 13-mile hike and two peaks in one day was way more than we could manage. Flat or easy hikes in this area just do NOT exist despite what Don told us every time we went out. On our first day there, in a state of blissful ignorance, we attempted to bag the summit of White Face Mountain. Most of us made it to the top. Unfortunately, only three made it back down, and they had injuries. The other four were to await a car rescue three hours or so later. Yes, after climbing the bloody thing, we found a road going up it. Fortunately for us, we had a blond with us, and she got us lifts to the bottom of the mountain. It was fortuitous as the road closed at four o’clock that day and would not open again until spring of 2007, which was a bit longer than we were prepared to wait.
The next day, nursing blisters, twisted knees, sore heels, and an assortment of other ills, we hiked up to Avalanche Lake, a supposedly easy day. Actually, it was a very nice hike though it required some boulder climbing skills and a bit of a head for heights. In one area, the whole side of the mountain had just peeled off down to the bedrock for a quarter mile up the mountain and dumped thousands of birch trees in a huge pile at the foot of a small cliff. Someone with a chain saw had spent quite a while hacking a path through this Lincoln Log mess as it was in a very narrow canyon, and there was no way around it. However, the woodpile is not why it’s called Avalanche Lake; it’s because the sheer cliffs on each side of the lake drop straight into the water and, during the winter, the avalanches roar straight down the cliff onto the ice of the lake.
On day three, the party split up because of injuries and the weather report, which predicted very high winds on the peaks. One group (me and three of the women) went off to conquer Indian Head, one of the lower peaks while Don, Jim and Carolyn set out to do Gothic. That group was turned back by high winds on steep terrain short of the summit. The second group had an enjoyable hike alongside Gill Creek admiring the many waterfalls on that stream.
gave me her backpack and cars (I was most impressed
stuff and started running for since it was a two mile run).
I got within a quarter mile up by Karen. She drove me
of the car park
and got picked
back to get the
second car, and
we went back and picked up the a very weary group that emerged into the cars after that fiasco.
rest of the hikers. It was from the woods and piled
We spent one rainy day at the museum of the Adirondacks where there are some magnificent hand-built guide boats. The museum was well worth the $15 admission fee. The museum complex contains 21 buildings to see, so it is an all day trip with plenty to look at.
Much to Don’s delight, we finally had a two peak day. We did Cascade and Porter Mountains. It was quite a slog to do both, and close to the top we had to watch for ice-glazed rocks. Even the deep mud puddles were ice covered. Don was hoping to do ten peaks in the week we spent there, but that was not to be. Nevertheless, we accomplished quite a bit.
The Adirondack area is an outdoor enthusiasts dream--a wonderful place to visit any time of year. Besides more hiking trails than you could do in a lifetime, the area offers rock and ice climbing, and down hill and cross country skiing—not to mention a 700-mile canoe and kayak trail and many places to fish. The towns boast the usual tourist traps but they also offer many interesting places to eat. On our last day there four of us did the Olympic bobsled run. It was a blast! Karen and Jim beat Michelle and me by four one hundreds of a second and now we owe them beers. I, for one, will go back to this wonderful area that is as big as Yellowstone Park.