My family recently spent a week at a pond in an area of the Adirondack Mountains that doesn’t get cell phone service. We spent our days reading in the sunshine, paddling canoes and kayaks, and basking in the quiet and solitude.
We hiked through forests . . .
. . . climbed mountains . . .
. . . and waited by the fire for stars to appear.
The Adirondack Mountains are beautiful and also, in my biased opinion, a very special part of the state. The region includes an area called the High Peaks, forty-six mountains ranging from 3,820 feet (1,164 meters) to 5,344 feet (1,628 meters). Technically a High Peak is classified as anything over 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) but original list of 46 stems from the early twentieth century when surveys were less precise. Three of us were keen to climb Gothics, the tenth highest peak at 4,736 feet (1,443 meters), which we planned to reach via Pyramid Peak, a mountain tall enough to fit High Peaks criteria but unfortunately located too close to Gothics to be considered its own mountain.
The hike is approximately twelve miles (19 kilometers) of adventure through forest, across rivers and waterfalls, and over boulders. Having prepared coffee the night before, we left before dawn and only returned close to dark. I’m very comfortable rock climbing but free climbing on slabs was a new experience.
We had lunch on Pyramid Peak overlooking Gothics, marvelling at the trees and plants that are features of alpine terrain.
The hike is divided into three four-mile sections with the middle section containing the difficult climbing. It took us 11 hours and 38 minutes to complete, longer than the nine hours we’d read about and planned on. As we finished the last stretch of trail, we realized that many people likely walked the first and third sections along the road that we had decided to avoid. This was probably why the people we encountered in the woods commented that we were taking the scenic route to Gothics. It certainly was and I highly recommend it, but we were glad we started early and that we’d packed more food than we thought we needed.
After an hour in the car, we were glad to be back at the pond.
What I love about the Adirondacks is how far away it seems from the rest of the world. The air tastes cleaner, the sky is bigger and stars brighter, and the ecosystems around water and forest conjure a tranquility that seeps into my bones. There’s nothing to do but be out there, no time to keep, no opportunity for mindless distraction. Instead, the mind switches off while watching the fish jump early in the morning, and the senses sharpen as the arms, warmed by the sun, dip the kayak paddle into the water. The Adirondacks are a special place for me because they find all of me, scattered as I sometimes am, and bring me right there. Right there where there’s no place else to be.