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.
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.