A Hiking Weekend In the Adirondack High Peaks Area
Just a pleasant 3 hour drive from Ottawa. A vast multi-use park. Lots of trails to choose from. Shuttle buses to some of the trailheads. A long history of co-existance between disparate groups of users. The Adirondacks, specifically Adirondack State Park.
The Keene Farm is owned by the Alpine Club of Canada, and has great rates with a great location.
The first day there we decided to stretch our legs with a jaunt up Algonquin Peak. It's a very interesting trail for many reasons. First of all, it's a "route" much more than it is a "trail". Much of it follows up or along stream beds, and most of the rest is the kind of path that many people walking in line will produce, with minimal impact 2 or 3 feet off to either side. Stopping to fill in the trail register, then we're off.
The forecast was for a sunny and warm weekend, so we packed the tent and headed out, having made a reservation for a space in the Alpine Club of Canada meadow at Keene Farm, in the heart of the High Peaks area. Seven bucks. Pretty good. And there is a great log "cabin" for people who prefer to sleep under a roof with a basic mattress.
It is not in any way a developed trail, in the sense of money,controls,undue warnings, accessibility or smooth surfaces. It is exercise personified, has some very steep rock faces to walk up, and gorgeous views after couple of hours upward travel.
Nearing the top, there is an important sign. Note that it is informational and asks for certain behavior (Stay on the trail, and on the rock). There are no fences.
As we near the top I notice that there is someone well below us on the trail moving like a steam engine. He catches up quickly. Well, I'll be darned. It's a Ranger out on patrol. Standard Issue hat, shorts,uniform, walkie talkie and walking sticks.
We stop to chat for a few minutes and learn that he walks the Algonquin Peak trail every workday. He tells us a little about the local fauna and chats about the importance of not walking on the sensitve soil. Then he heads on up and is soon out of sight. At the top, there are perhaps a dozen people in various states of relaxation, taking in the views and the warm breeze.
It's always nice to do a loop hike rather than retracing the same way. The next option for returning is to take the steep route .....that will eventually take us down to Avalanche Lake.
This trail is unbelievable. It's as rustic and knarly as you can imagine, just without the deadfall. You are often brushing between smallish spruce trees, and only know it's the trail because a) you are following a very narrow stream bed, or b) every so often you see the Yellow Trail Tag nailed up to be seen. Here and there you can walk on narrow dirt.
You do this long enough to descend twenty three hundred feet, and wind up at the lake.
It's gorgeous. The first part has cantilevered catwalks to make it accessible off the cliff face, and then the ladders start up, over and through the boulders and talus.
It's a fascinating and varied route, from steep smooth granite slabs, to shady deciduous forest, to young coniferous forest, to arctic alpine slopes, to steep rocky descents, and lakes and streams. We got back in the dark, with headlamps. Don't leave home without them.
The next day broke sunny and warm again. This time we decided to hike Blueberry Mountain in the afternoon. Vistas ...
and neat rock formations (part of the "trail"). Getting back early, we explored side roads and discovered the local airport, the flats serving a Farmer's Market every weekend!
We also met one of the shuttle drivers after a very busy day delivering energized hikers to trailheads, and retrieving them in various states at day's end. If you get down to do some hiking in the High Peaks, say Hi to Mr. John Boisvert!
An hour at a small beach in the High Peaks, just outside of Keene..
Being the Canada Day weekend in Canada and Fourth of July here, we stopped in Lake Placid for a pizza on the cool green grass as people with deck chairs made their way down to the fireworks. Then we pressed on to Saranac Lake in time to catch this image of all the boats at anchor, with revelers BBQing and having a late meal as they wait for the fireworks. What a great way to celebrate! Jackie and I would've stayed longer, but we knew it was still a good distance back to Ottawa, and we didn't get back until 2 a.m., just in time for a quick snooze before work Tuesday morning!
That's it for the July weekend trip. Stay tuned for the big Sierra Nevada hike in September (just now writing it in October!)
This is Avalanche Mountain. The fallen trees are all at the bottom, making a huge barrier that had to be cut through with massive chain saws just to reopen the trail that follws Avalanche Lake shoreline..