“The Adirondacks” | Blog #44

“The Adirondacks” | Blog #44

Nashville is in the 100’s I hear. So sorry! This morning I’m sitting on the front porch of my Air B&B in North Creek, NY perched above Main Street wearing a flannel shirt and drinking a cup of hot tea. It is a cool morning; tourists and locals walk in and out of the bakery/coffee shop across the street while I’m serenaded with birdsong. Being up in the Adirondacks has been everything I had hoped it would be.

Amy found this Air B&B in this little town we had never heard of before. We chose the location as it seemed to be near the center of the park, not knowing that it had a remarkable history of its own. North Creek, along the banks of the Hudson River, was the terminus of the railroad. It was at this railroad station that Teddy Roosevelt learned that President McKinley had died after being shot by an assassin in Buffalo, NY. It was from the North Creek station that he departed for Buffalo where he was sworn in as President. I found this lovely location a perfect location for daily explorations of the various lakes, mountains, and small towns throughout the Park. As Wiki writes: 

The The Adirondack Park is a part of New York's Forest Preserve in northeastern New York. The park was established in 1892 for “the free use of all the people for their health and pleasure”, and for watershed protection. The park's boundary roughly corresponds with the Adirondack Mountains. Unlike most state parks, about 52 percent of the land is privately owned inholdings. State lands within the park are known as Forest Preserve….This area contains 102 towns and villages, as well as numerous farms, businesses and an active timber-harvesting industry. The year-round population is 132,000, with 200,000 seasonal residents. The inclusion of human communities makes the park one of the great experiments in conservation in the industrialized world. The Forest Preserve was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963….The park's 6.1 million acres include more than 10,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, and a wide variety of habitats including wetlands and an estimated 200,000 acres of old-growth forests.

It is massive! I came up on Sunday and stopped first at Lake George in the south-east corner of the park and opted to take a cruise on the lake in one of the old Lake George Steamboat Company ships, the Mohican. The LGSC has been in operation since 1817, working first plying commercial shipping up and down the lake, which is the major waterway from Montreal to NYC (https://lakegeorgesteamboat.com/). The company morphed into sightseeing tours over time and the boat I was on first went into service in 1908. The pier to get on the ship is under the lee of Fort William Henry of the French and Indian War (and the 1992 movie, Last of the Mohicans) fame. The cruise in sparkling sunshine up through “The Narrows” was a perfect way to spend an afternoon and introduce me to the splendors of the region. The lake is dotted with many small islands that are available for public camping – if one has a boat and is into that kind of thing! From the water one could also see some of the great hotels and houses, but there was still far more open shoreline and forests than development.

For the Fourth I ventured west to Blue Mountain Lake to explore that region of the park and started with a visit to the Museum at Blue Mountain Lake (https://www.theadkx.org/) that serves as a comprehensive museum for whole park. Frankly, I was surprised to find it open on the holiday and even more surprised to find that the word hadn’t gotten out, so that it wasn’t overrun with mobs of visitors. Not only did it do a wonderful job providing an overview of the history, but the exhibits, including whole buildings filled with furniture in the “Adirondack Style” but an entire building filled with boats – birch bark and wooden canoes up to sleek wooden motorboats and sailing yachts. The best part was catching an All-American lunch complete with a complimentary cup cake with a miniature American flag eaten on the café deck overlooking beautiful Blue Mountain Lake. It was a great way to celebrate the Fourth. 

Tuesday was one of my few rainy days, so I just enjoyed the Air B&B, watched a couple of episodes of the British Antique Road Show, read, organized my writing, and did some cooking to have leftovers for the week. I also was grateful to do laundry and write post cards. It was nice to have a day to relax and enjoy being in a spot for a season.

Wednesday and Thursday allowed me to explore Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, about an hour and a half to the northeast. Lake Placid, of course, is the site of two past Winter Olympics and you can’t miss the massive ski jumps that greet you on the entrance into town. There is a large Olympic Museum, but I took a pass on it as there was major construction in the downtown area that was very busy. The Lake itself was beautiful as was the one further along in Saranac. Smaller and less touristed, I enjoyed walking Saranac and popping into the art galleries. Yesterday, I went back to go up Whiteface Mountain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiteface_Mountain), which is the 5th highest mountain in NY but as it stands alone and not in a range, one can get a 360 degree view of surrounding mountains from its top. From the summit one also can get an amazing birds-eye view of Lake Placid. I took the elevator to the summit but chose to walk down climbing over boulders and clinging to any handhold one could find; I’m not sure it was a good idea with my knee being in the state it is in but looking back up the summit gave one a sense of accomplishment! Although these mountains are not as high as the ones out west (in Colorado one can be a “Fourteener” – that is, one who climbs the mountains above 14,000 feet in elevation; in New York one can be a “46er” and climb the 46 peaks above 4,000 feet in elevation) I am told the vertical distance is often comparable since one starts at a much higher elevation out west. All I know is it was a glorious vista from the top of Whiteface Mountain and reminded me of Psalm 121, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”

Time to get today underway and explore more of what the Adirondacks have to offer!