Monday, August 14, 2006

The Hikes

Day 5 -- July 20th
We had another solo breakfast (I loved the croissants) since we were the only guests staying at the Forest House Lodge, which was nice since the bathroom was not attached to the room (it said in the brochure private bath!)... this was a good thing since Keith could stand up and extend his arms to touch the walls. I exaggerate, but it was a tiny room with a double bed that wasn't the most comfortable, but still better than the Book & Blanket's bed.

The first hike: Snowy Mtn: 7.4 miles
We cruised down the road past Indian Lake and hiked up the muddy stream bed of Snowy Mountain. Very muddy and in one place, the foot bridge was 4 inches underwater. We only lost the trail once, but I found it again and then we made it up to the summit. This photo shows Keith overlooking Indian Lake and its little islands. There were lots of black flies and other flying pests, but my sunscreen/bug repellent helped (although it did make me break out in huge welts).

Up Snowy's Fire Tower
Fire towers exist to monitor forest fires and we'd never seen one before, much less climbed one in all of our hiking travels. Snowy's was bolted down into the granite, so it wouldn't topple in a strong breeze. The tower had stairs that were broken up into multiple landings, so the climb wasn't a big deal. We had lunch inside the tower, which was bug-free and when I sat down, I only saw clouds. Quite the peaceful setting. Keith found out he had cell phone reception! (we couldn't use our phones to call home while in Blue Mountain). He called in at the office and talked to one woman, but then he lost his signal. Lots of messages were scrawled into the steel like, "Seth Merklinger is a fag" and other people indicating their existence. While Keith was talking, I was pondering how to go about structuring my thesis curriculum, and in fact had thought about it all the way up the hike. I now had a plan! I just have to write it (my problem this week).

We descended and cooled off at the Blue Mountain Lake beach. The water was so clear and cold when you first jump in. There was a diving platform and swimming lanes -- we vowed to come back after the Blue Mountain hike, so we could scrub the dirt off before we drove south to East Greenbush near Albany.

Day 6 Blue Mountain Hike -- 4 miles
I thought this hike would be a snap becaue of its length, but it kicked my butt. First of all, my boots kept slipping on the sheer rocks of the stream bed, and second of all, the rocks were all pointy. Going up wasn't a problem, but I wasn't looking forward to the descent. My legs were sore from Snowy and I proceeded to get more sore as we climbed higher. Nothing to see but forest, forest and rock, rock. After a sweaty climb, we made it up to the Blue Mountain Fire Tower, but this one was closed and we couldn't see the views because of the fog. Darn!

I changed out of my T-shirt and took a few deep breaths, preparing for the down-climb. As predicted, I slipped and prevented about 105 disasters, while Keith wondered what was taking me so long. The rock did win, when we were almost at the end. I cut up the heel of my left hand (I still have a mark a month later) and used an old napkin in my shorts pocket to staunch up the blood. The lake swim made up for this hateful hike, and then we were on the road again.

We found East Greenbush pretty easily after a two-hour ride and I noticed how stairs were a problem for me, both up and down. We swam again in the hotel's pool and my wedding band slipped off, but I recovered it without a problem. We had to rack up our swimming time because at home we don't belong to a pool and our friends have stopped inviting us to theirs (why is this?) After pool time, we delayed our Cracker Barrel dinner to watch "Death on Everest," all about the fateful May 6th, 1996 climb that Krakauer made into his book. It was fascinating stuff and I wish I had time to read "Into Thin Air" -- Please comment if you've read it.

We drove back to Long Island the next day and we were shocked by gas prices -- in CT, the prices were $3.40! After not finding any gas in the Bronx, we finally found a place 1 mile from JFK, but then adjacent to Hertz there was a gas station with reasonable prices.

What I learned on this year's trip
  • My body is not used to fruit
  • My hiking boots don't do downhills
  • I don't do well in busy New York traffic while Keith's driving
  • Sunscreen/bug lotion combos make huge pimples on my chest, neck and back
  • Pedestrians don't have the right of way in Saratoga Springs
  • Many Adirondack trails are in danger of being permanently damaged because of overuse. I wonder way NY hasn't implemented a permit system, because one's sorely needed to limit trail wear and tear!
  • We sleep better in a queen-sized bed
  • If your Advantix camera conks out on you, yet still advances, it's already dead (Yes, I wasted a whole role of film thinking my camera was still working and it wasn't)

Well, this concludes my Adirondack travel blogs -- hope you had fun reading about our trip.

Till next time!


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