How Much Have We Lost?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hiding in the Adirondacks

In case you were wondering what all my tweets were about. . . I have been in Schroon Lake, New York. I'm about 2 hours north of Albany and about 2 hours south of Montreal. My father's parents were from Brooklyn and the Adirondack Mountains were the playground for New Yorkers since the late 1800's. My grandparents started bringing my dad up here in the late 1940's to some family cabins.

My parents brought me up here when I was one year old. During the summers, I would usually spend about two weeks up here and two weeks with my maternal grandparents at my grandfather's homeplace on Smith Mountain Lake in Franklin County, Virginia near Hales Ford and Hardy. Water skiing, fishing, canoeing, and hanging out by the water are pretty ingrained into my DNA.

The Adirondack Park is the largest park in the United States. It was created in the late 1800's after the state became very concerned about New York City's water supply due to excessive logging. It consists of about 100 glacier sculpted mountain peaks and countless smaller hills in about 6.1 million acres or about 1/5th the area of the Commonwealth of Virginia. New York State owns about 2.3 million acres and the rest of privately held although a lot of privately held land is owned by the hiking, hunting, and private clubs. The state land is protected by the state constitution as "forever wild."

We stay in the "more populated" end of the park - on the south and eastern side. There is no traffic, few stoplights, no planes, and few people. Where I am, it's 30 minutes to Walmart or Lowe's (Ticonderoga) and 45 minutes to the nearest significant shopping or hospital (Glens Falls). Mobile phone service can be spotty. The western side is really remote. In a lot of ways, it is very opposite of Northern Virginia. It is a very remote place and natural place. It's a place of big open skies, open spaces, wilderness, solitude, crystal clear water, and quiet.

This place is so remote there were not even many Native Americans up here before the Europeans arrived. Those that lived here were called Adirondacks by the Iriquois which meant "those who eat bark."

There are 46 peaks that are over 4,000 feet. During high school and college I hiked about 18 of them. A few years ago, I decided I need to finish the rest. I was actually planning to do 10-15 last summer, but then a campaign happened so now I am up to only 28. I took the picture up top last week on my way to peaks #27 & #28. I took the picture at the right with my mobile phone today from our house.
My kids punish me if I'm not swimming in the lake with them virtually every day. We're doing lots of hikes and other adventures - whitewater rafting, canoeing, horseback riding, WAY too much ice cream, etc.

It's a place I come to recharge my batteries, hang out with my family, and reset my bearings for the year.

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