Adirondacks 4.0

I was super excited in mid-August to go on a fourth hiking/camping trip to the Adirondacks, this time with Rachel and Vikkie and three of their friends who I didn’t know well at the time, but got to know better: Mauri, Jason, and Ryan. My job and research fellowship were keeping me very busy up to the day of departure, and I actually made the mistake of thinking that the trip was from the Saturday until the Monday but then on Thursday near the end of the workday I realised that it was in fact Friday to Sunday. I don’t think I ever packed that quickly before but luckily I am familiar with what items to bring camping. I am also fortunate to have a flexible job since I had asked for the wrong day off! Rachel didn’t want to get stuck in traffic picking me up somewhere off of the TTC, and there was no certainty that I would be able to catch the first bus going to Unionville from Union Station. So Rachel and Vikkie came to pick me up from my house…. at 11:30pm. They are such amazing friends! We didn’t get to bed until after 1am and so would be running on 5 hours of sleep. The next day we were on the road by 8ish. We were a bit delayed because we couldn’t get the cargo container closed because we had tried to fit too many things into it. The drive was smooth. It started raining when we stopped in Lake Placid to get groceries, but we were lucky that the showers were local and that Wilmington had stayed dry. We set up camp and then drove around, and after stopping at a very abandoned santa’s workshop and a closed High Falls Gorge (that charged money anyways), we eventually found a place where we could walk down to the river and see a small waterfall.The others enjoyed getting to the middle of the river by climbing across some logs and jumping rocks, but I was tired so I just sat on a rock by the shore and watched them. Back at camp we made chicken fajitas and had a beautiful fire. I treated everyone to Saranac beers, although because I was so tired I ended up with a mean headache.

We woke up at 6 and after breakfast and lunch prep we were on the road by 8. I was eager for us to leave early because I was worried we might have trouble finding parking. We went to a place called the Garden in Keene Valley and got lucky because we got there just as a group that had returned from an overnight trip were leaving. Otherwise we would have had to drive back, park at the airfield, and take the shuttle. We hiked Big Slide via the Brothers and it was a beautiful ascent! The Brothers offered views from several ridges that kept us wondering if we were almost at Big Slide. It was further than we thought (as always is the case), but the final reveal was stunning! Near the top there was a glimpse of the big slide that gave the peak it’s name. We decided to make a loop and descend towards John Brooks Lodge instead of going back the way we came. Even though the route was longer, we would get to explore more of the unknown, have the final few kilometers on fairly flat ground, and check out what this John Brooks Lodge place was like. It was helpful that we stopped at Johns Brooks lodge because several of us were getting short on water and they had a tap where we could fill up. The lodge seemed like a great place and I think I want to stay there some time! It is similar to a hostel and during the high season it costs more ($70-80 in high season, $30-40 in low season), but they provide breakfast and dinner and a packed lunch for day trips! From the lodge we followed along the valley back to the Garden. We were all pretty tired by that point, but we kept our spirits up by singing random songs. I was thankful that we all made it back safely. I always feel a little protective of a group when I am introducing them to hiking in the Adirondacks for the first time! It is important to choose a route that is exciting and challenging, but also not too difficult.

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Looking back on the first Brother

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“Are we almost there?” snack break

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Big Slide

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At the summit

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Following the creek down to the valley

On our drive back, Rachel was determined to find a swimming spot. I didn’t really care either way, but in the end I was glad because we had a great time. She pulled into a little parking area on the Ausable River across from the airfield in Keene that had picnic tables and a shallow area where people could wade. I watched for a while as the others went in, and finally decided to go in too but with my sandals because it was so rocky. There was a line of larger boulders where the water flowed over and you could get a foot massage. We found out that the area on the other side of that small water fall was better for swimming because it was deeper and surprisingly went up to our shoulders. Vikkie had an underwater camera and so we then proceeded to try and take group pictures and selfies under the water! We decided that we would eat out in Lake Placid that evening. Rachel wanted to go to a place called Smoke Signals, but they were full up with a two hour waiting list, and so instead we want to a place I had been recommended called the Cottage. We got a seat on the patio which overlooked Mirror Lake. The atmosphere was nice but the food was only okay. You would think we would be tired by this point, but the guys were determined to have smores! So we went to the grocery store to pick up supplies!

The next day we packed up camp and I decided to take us to hike Little and Big Crow which would be nice and short but still promised nice views of the High Peaks in the distance. Again we had some trouble finding the trailhead, but eventually took a small road we thought would lead us there. It brought us to a small parking area that had a trail going directly to Big Crow, instead of the one that involved a loop as I had originally planned. In the end it was better because we had more time to relax and enjoy the scenery. At the top we met a man who was very familiar with the peaks and was able to point out Mount Marcy (the tallest peak), Big Slide (the peak we had hiked the day earlier), and Giant Mountain (one of the peaks we hiked two years ago). We decided not to hike to Little Crow so that we would have more time for lunch. We planned to have a picnic to finish up all of our leftover food. Since we couldn’t think of another place to go, and because we weren’t that far anyways, we returned to the swimming spot in Keene Valley. On our way there a truck in front of us lost a skid from the back, and I thank God that we had enough space to move around it and not hit it! We soon forgot about that event because in the airfield across from the swimming spot there was a Sunday market going on. We decided to stop there and check it out. Then we went back to our swimming spot that was full of people this time. We claimed a picnic table and enjoyed our leftovers. From there we hit the road back home. The trip felt far too short, but any chance to get into nature (and mountains) is worthwhile. I am thankful that despite being so busy I was able to enjoy these moments in nature with friends! The next time I go to the Adirondacks I plan to do back-country camping!

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Pointing out Giant Mountain to us (it looks like an armchair from the back)

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The summit of Big Crow with a view of Mt. Marcy and Big Slide

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