Howl Away

To me the howling wilderness Thoreau speaks of how we respond to the wilderness. Sometimes it is a crazed howling and others a soothing calm. While I haven’t been in any truly remote, intense wilderness like climbing Everest, or Mt Rainier, or exploring the Amazon, I have found my own bit of wilderness that I love: the Adirondacks. These beautiful mountains make up the third largest park in the United States, the largest outside of Alaska. Every time I go it is a unique experience.

We went over New Years this year and were buffeted by snows and winds on our hike. While we were only a few miles from the trail-head it felt truly desolate. As we sheltered behind trees to get a few good shots, the wind whipped and howled around us. On a camping trip we went on in the spring of 2012 we went for a short hike to grab a peak knowing that the weather was going to turn in the afternoon despite the nice morning. The storm rolled in a few hours early and the hike ended in us sprinting through the woods in rain, thunder and lightning, and hail to the relative safety of our tent. Due to how rocky and rough the trail was I have no idea how we got back safely. We huddled in our tent, soaked with rain and hail pelting our tent. We could hear the lightning striking and splitting trees while the thunder rolled down the valleys, echoing and bouncing off the mountains on its way. The next day we had beautiful weather with only high water levels as a reminder of the storm. I’ve uploaded a few of our photos from the adventure. At times, when you summit, it feels like the wind is angry and trying to pull you off the mountain.

In 2011 Hurricane Irene tore through the area. Houses were lifted off their foundations and moved. Parts of the road and bridges disappeared. And the mountains now show the effects. Fall of 2012 we went on a 3 day trip and stayed at a lodge a couple of miles in by foot. The caretaker was there during the hurricane and said that the brook had risen 15 feet and the whole building shook as the boulders crashed down. When we were there the weather was beautiful. Brilliant blue skies and the leaves were changing. It was hard to believe any of this had happened until we saw where all the trees and vegetation had slide off the mountain.

Rock slide from Hurricane Irene

Rock slide from Hurricane Irene

Then there are the other times when the beauty and calm are all around you. The first hike I took Bryan on we were surrounded by fog until we were most of the way off the mountain. When we had lunch on the summit there were clouds floating between us. On our summit the next day we had a beautiful blue sky and had a gorgeous panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. We were in our own peaceful world where no one else existed. On our camping trip the summer of 2012 (2012 was a big year) the sunrise would wake us and we would lay in our tent listening to the birds sing. On one our hikes we found a partially dried up waterfall to have lunch. After we ate we soaked in the sun and fell asleep. There have been too many beautiful hikes to mention.

Regardless of the season the beauty of the Adirondacks never ceases to amaze me. In winter there is the bitter cold and snow that covers everything and makes it pristine. In spring there can still be snow while the rest of the forest is sprouting new life in all shades of verdant greens. In summer there are the lazy hot days with butterflies and wild blueberries. In fall you can stand on the top of a mountain and it looks like the forest is on fire with all the reds and yellows and oranges of the changing leaves. The intimate vastness of it all fills me up and leaves me yearning to go back.

3 thoughts on “Howl Away

  1. Bryan has such a sweet face … he must be a really nice bloke. OK, enough of that.
    The shot of the rock slide: does it mean that the smooth surface was formed by a torrent of .. STUFF roaring down it?!
    Was it the Adirondacks that had an aircraft crash on ’em somewhere?

    • He really is a great guy. We are so lucky to have each other.
      Rock Slide: the mountains in general are smooth rock. As time progresses vegetation grows. Little plants manage to work their roots into crevices and become big plants. As this happens earth starts to accumulate/be generated on the ground and then trees and soon it’s a very lush environment (given it’s the proper season). When the slide happens, there is so much rain and weather happening things start to loosen up. After it reaches a critical mass it starts to slide down the mountain. As it gathers speed and and force it clears out large sections of vegetation. I’ll post some more pictures in the future of that slide. It’s impressive and makes you feel so small when you realize the power the earth possesses.
      The Adirondacks haven’t had a major plane crash. Every now and then a small plane will go down somewhere. Usually it will only be carrying a couple of people and everyone is ok. The most “famous” of the crashes was when an air force bomber that ran into one of the mountains. Link here. You can apparently still see the wreckage from the mountain. When I climbed it was too windy to stick around and look for it but hopefully next time we hike it there will be better conditions.

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