Tag Archives: adirondacks

Sister’s Lake

Back in September, G and I spent a warm weekend in the Adirondacks. I was desperate for the smell of spruce forests and the feel of cool water. We packed our car, loaded the canoe, and headed east after work on Friday September 22. It is a long drive from Buffalo to the Adirondack State Park, so it was well into the night by the time we pulled over at a trailhead and lay down across the trunk and back seats in our small hatchback. Gazing through the back windshield, the wide canoe on our roof cut a black gash across the starry sky.


On Saturday, we took our time reaching our final destination. We first bought cider doughnuts and coffee in Old Forge, then drove Uncas Road to the trail for Black Bear Mountain. It was a perfect blue-skied day, warm enough for mid-summer though technically autumn had arrived. The maple trees were burning red and orange across the landscape, with the birch just beginning to glow yellow.

When we first arrived, G and I were the only people at the summit, but we were soon joined by an extended family with young children. They reached the peak, and immediately began to search for something. When we inquired, the father explained that one of his sons had passed away a few years ago and he, the father, had carved his son’s initials into the rock as a memorial. Now they were back a year later and could not find the carving. They looked for at least an hour, with no success. Perhaps they were on the wrong mountain. At the risk of sounded insensitive, I must say that we were glad that they did not find their carving. Engraving the Adirondack granite is leaving a trace to say the least. It implies a sense of self-importance and a disregard for the value of a natural area. It affects other people’s experiences. Fellow hikers, please follow Leave No Trace ethics and keep your penknives away.

In the afternoon, we drove to Big Moose Lake, where we parked our car at the public boat launch and headed out for the night. Our destination was a lean-to that lies three miles past the far end of the lake and is only accessible through a combination of boating and walking. This lean-to is perched on the edge of Sister’s Lake, with a natural rock outcrop serving as a swimmer’s ideal entry. We shared the location with three men who were also out for the weekend.

I had brought my Acadian hat with me as the weekend’s knitting project, which I had first knit as a memory piece from our honeymoon to Nova Scotia. The hat is made with Quince and Co. Lark yarn in calming blue-greens that remind me of early twilight. The original was in need of brim modifications. One of the men who was staying at the lean-to saw me knitting and liked my Acadian hat so much, he requested that I sell one to him. And so, I did. Last week, PH received his own Acadian hat, with just a few modification. I hope it keeps his cozy and warm all this winter long.

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Snow Geese

Each March, our families and a few good friends make a pilgrimage to the Adirondacks. Last Friday, G and I got on the I-90 in the late afternoon. The wind was blowing fiercely across the open landscape, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining.

After two hours, we were north of New York’s Finger Lakes. G was asleep in the passenger seat and I was in a typical highway trance when a small flock of high flying birds caught my eye. Something subtly different in the shape of their silhouettes made me pay attention. As my eyes shifted across the sky, I spotted more birds until suddenly there were hundreds, moving swiftly west and north in loose Vs.

“Wake up! Snow Geese!”

There are few things that lift my heart like seeing snow geese flying overhead on a clear winter day. It feels like something magical and timeless is occurring. How fortunate we were to be in just the right place at just the right time to see their migration.


The rest of the weekend was spent on cold mountains and by warm fireplaces. Of course, knitting was present at all time, and near the summit of Mount Baker, my sister posed for a few project photos. These hat and mittens are for a generous family friend.

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On Ravelry here.

Machrie Moor

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Two weekends ago, my family hiked Mt. VanHovenberg near Lake Placid, New York. At the peak, I celebrated the completion of a new Memory Piece.

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This sweater has been in progress, mentally and then physically, since April 2015, when my sister and I visited the Machrie Moor standing stones on the Isle of Arran, Scotland.

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The Machrie Moor standing stones have been in place for ~4000 years. M and I have been to many historic places, but I felt particularly honored to be at Machrie Moor. We spent a beautiful, windy morning touching the rocks, breathing in the wind, and warming our face with the sun. Our experience was intimate, but also shared with an unknown number of other humans. There were settlers who lived on this land before there were stones, there were workers who erected the stones, there were  worshippers who gathered at the stones, there were and are farmers who have maintained the land around the stones, and, now, there are visitors like us, trying to understand our own places in history.DSC_0144
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This particular stone especially appealed to me, and I chose the yarn (Tormentil in Alice Starmore’s Hebridean 3-ply) for my sweater based on its tone and texture.DSC_0153 - Copy

The cables in my sweater represent the ridges, and the different front and back reflect the distinct sides of the stone.DSC_0155
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On Ravelry here.

Haystack Mountain

DSC_0147Two weeks have gone by already since our slippery trip up Haystack Mountain, near Saranac Lake.DSC_0154DSC_0159Now, the ice is melting in the North Country, and our wool sweaters will soon be packed away. I am missing winter already, despite my excitement for signs of spring – a woodcock calling out from the brush, salamanders swimming smoothly through a dark pond, bloodroot buds pushing up through the soil.

Skylight, Marcy, and a Sweater for the Mountains

This past weekend, my dad and I drove up to the Adirondacks for two days in the High Peaks. The Adirondack High Peaks are our favorite place in the world to be, and we could not have asked for a better visit.

We arrived at South Meadows, off of the ADK Loj Road, well after dark on Friday, and quietly set up camp in a small clearing below the dense spruce trees. In the morning, we stuffed our still-warm sleeping bags into our packs, and heading off toward Marcy Dam via the truck road. The sky was just begin to grow light when we reached our first stream crossing…
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…and the sun was striking the  mountains by the time we reached Marcy Dam.
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We set up our tent at a nearby campsite, and then began the ascent to Skylight. The air was crisp and the light was soft. We took our time along the way, stopping to tape my toes…
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…and, of course, look at the plants.
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We arrived at the peak of Skylight in time for lunch, and for plenty of knit sweater photos (Thanks, Dad).
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DSC_0043 DSC_0099e Knitterly details about this sweater- nine months in the making (not counting the sheep’s work)- are here on Ravelry. The body and neckline are knit from undyed, farmspun wool from the Wrinkle in Thyme farm in Maine. I love this yarn! The other colors are also undyed fiber including alpaca, camel, and wool.

Dad pointed out each of the high peaks…DSC_0058and I looked at the plants…DSC_0059 DSC_0076 DSC_0077 DSC_0085DSC_0057DSC_0101DSC_0080

I could have spent all day looking at the minature leaves, the shades of green, and the fading flowers, but there is only so much daylight in late September, and we had to continue. Leaving Skylight, we hiked over to Marcy for another hour above treeline, and then down, down, down to our camp and hot meal by the dam. We are already thinking about our next visit…DSC_0088

Summer Wildflowers

Here in Western New York, summer has only a few precious weeks left. It has been a season full of wildflowers.

In early July, I found these Canada lily (Lilium canadense) underneath an electric right-of-way line in Schoharie County, NY. They are not a flower you can walk by without stopping to admire the color. So bright!DSCN6194 DSCN6199

And these milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) were growing in a farmer’s old field, left to go wild for a few seasons.DSCN6224 DSCN6233 DSCN6236DSCN6243


In the middle of the month, my family spent a weekend in the Adirondacks, as we do every year. On Friday, my mom and I summited Noonmark- a wonderful mountain with views of the high peaks…
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…and we found one of my favorite plants growing there- crowberry (Empetrum nigrum).
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On Saturday, my dad, sister, and I climbed Esther and Whiteface Mountains. C and my mom met us at the top of Whiteface via the road. This was M’s 46th Adirondack High Peak! DSC_0286

On the way down, we passed by this wee alpine goldenrod (Solidago leiocarpa)…DSC_0277…and then almost missed the rattlesnake root (Prenanthes boottii)!
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In late July, there were more milkweeds to be found, along with this Eastern Swallowtail slurping his lunch.DSCN6308DSCN6322      DSCN6315

Now the goldenrods are yellow across the fields, milkweeds are in seed, and I am greedily gathering their seeds to scatter in our wildflower garden and the unmowed space across the street. Next summer I hope to see one of these beautiful butterflies in our own backyard!

The Saranac Six – St. Regis Mountain

Snowshoeing Day Two!

Sunday morning, I woke up SORE. The large area on my thigh, where I had scraped by a rock while sliding down Mt. McKenzie, had turned from its typical ghostly winter white to a deep purpley red bruise.

I needed a good cup of tea and four pieces of french toast with maple syrup…

Remember:

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…in order to get out the door and on the way to the St. Regis trailhead.

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St. Regis Mountain is another of the Saranac Six. It is almost 1000 feet shorter than Mt. McKenzie, but it makes up for this with incredible views.

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Photo by R.S.

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Photo by R.S.

(OK, our views on Sunday were a bit white, but use your imagination. There are thirty lakes out there!)

St. Regis Mountain is home to the St. Regis Firetower. According to the Friends of the St. Regis Mt. Firetower, this tower was built in 1918, and has been closed since 1990.

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Photo by R.S.

We gathered underneath it for a few minutes, but the wind and blowing snow made the experience unpleasant, and we were on our way back into the trees and down within a few minutes.

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Overall, it was a wonderful hike, though more difficult for me than I would have liked! I am already thinking of when we will be able to return to the mountains this spring.


Lastly I will say it here- Having climbed one of the Mountains on the Fire Tower Challenge list, I feel that there is no choice but to hike the rest of them.

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