Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

Archive for the ‘Adirondacks’ Category

Driving around the lower Adirondacks

Posted by Frum Hiker on May 12, 2008

I spent a bulk of Sunday driving around the Warrensburg-Sacandaga Lake area. I have not been up in a while and I had to be Albany for shabbos- so I said why not? I did some riding in Saratoga and then I was tired out so I threw on some 80s metal and rolled the windows down and went cruising. It was beautiful and and I just wandered on those limited use highways that go from paved to four wheel drive roads in a matter of minutes.

As I was driving I realized how much I really miss the rural areas of NY state and how dull the driving is in lower NY. Its good for me because gas prices would kill me in Albany- I used to drive at least 1000 miles on any given week. Now I am doing under 200 and I get gas in NJ.

I was really missing small towns and back country houses with no power lines leading to them, and all the junked cars and piles of firewood. I really miss thick pine forests and big mountains, oh and mountain streams- I dont have this where I live. Harriman is great- but its not the Adirondacks.

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XC skiing in the lower Adirondacks

Posted by Frum Hiker on January 28, 2008

There is only about an inch or two of snow on the ground outside my house and the Hudson River is just starting to form ice, but from some extensive research done last night I had come to realization that the central part of this state is still getting hammered with lake effect snow squalls, and much of the state lies under a thick coating of snow. Luckily the lakes are also frozen to a fine thickness to support my poor self, and hundreds of snowmobiles.

I decided to cross country ski, even though it was a mild 30 degrees out today. I could have ridden my bike or done some hiking, but instead I drove about 80 miles northwest to a small town called Speculator, about 50 miles north of Amsterdam, in the lower Adirondack mountains. I have been to Speculator many times, usually going or coming from somewhere, but rarely stopping to do anything there. Lakes in the summer and lots of snowmobile trails in the winter is what they have to offer.

On the way up to Speculator, I passed by the Great Sacandaga Lake and noticed that it was frozen well enough to support several ice fishing huts, so I got on my skis and went for a bit. It was bright sunshine with no wind making for a bright and vast expanse of snow. The mountains to the north were lovely, as was the bright sky. Unfortunately the snow was rather wet, from being pounced on by the sun, and there was some sort of snowmobile meet, and they were making loads of noise. I spoke with these two ice fishermen about their catches and ice thickness. 8 inches was what it was, and they had caught Walleye for the day. Skiing Great Sacandaga Lake

After barely sliding back to my car, due to the stickiness of the snow, I began to drive north along the Sacandaga River to Speculator, I passed by the Lapland Lake XC ski center, but decided against paying to enjoy the woods, if I can do it free I will. The pine trees with the fresh snow along Route 30 were amazing as were the icicles hanging off the mall cliffs on the sides.

Speculator was really crowded and after finding my parking spot, I picked up this ski trail behind firehouse on Route 30. This was my first groomed trail experience and although the grooming was not very good, I had a great time. The trail followed a river for a bit and in the distance were some pretty tall snow capped hills. Then the trees closed up around me and I was in a silent forest of pine and birch. It was so silent and beautiful, it made me miss the outdoors and wonder why I haven’t been in the woods as much as possible in the past few months.

On the way back I caught a beautiful sunset.

Posted in Adirondacks, Road Trips, Rural America, Skiing | 2 Comments »

Hiking the Tongue Mountain Range

Posted by Frum Hiker on November 1, 2007

Small shafts of bright sunlight shined through the canopy of swaying trees. The sunlight shifted with the sway, and all that could be heard was a slight rustling of the curled and colored leaves. Bright red and orange leaves hanging on for dear life struggled to stay hooked into their life source with each passing breeze, every few moments a new breeze would send several leaves into flight as they swirled and plummeted to the already blanketed ground.

I stopped for a moment to wipe my sweaty brow, I listened intently for I could have sworn I had just some sort of sound, but all was quiet, in fact, other then distant breezes shaking the forest above me not much could be heard. An airplane in the distance, a chipmunk squirming into a dead log, my heavy breathing. My brows fluids deposited onto the sleeve of my long sleeve t-shirt I continued with renewed vigor of the steady incline, I was making a racket as I plowed up hill parting the thousands of leaves with a crunch as if I was parting the red sea.

The sugar maples were bursting forth in this red like never before, it must should have been past peak foliage I thought to myself as I drove past the placid gray waters of Lake George on my way to this most magnificent trail system, but nevertheless here I was walking through a fall forest of color and crunch. The damp leaves in the nearby water filled depressions sent lovely damp autumnal smells to my nose. Smells that only come with autumn, smells that remind me that snow is near and the days of summer are gone, a distant memory only to return with a bud on a tree and maddening rain storms to wash away the remnants of winter in the forms of overflowed ice choked creeks and flooded basements.

I stop again, amazed that such silence exists so close to such vast human development, why the road is only a couple miles away, a road that during the summer is choked with tourists who come up to the area to eat soft serve ice cream from road side stands and miniature golf before retiring to the million dollar beach. Thankfully the tourists were gone as well, to be replaced by contractors fixing the damage and a few locals like myself trying to shake off society and be y ourselves in the wild.

Suddenly the light fades, I can see perfectly but I just passed into a thick and dense patch of evergreens, fully green and full of needles they make he trail into a soft carpet like path. Tall grayish cliffs rise up to the side of me with trickles of water seeping from the moss that dots the rock outcroppings. Suddenly I am once again in the bright forest of deciduous trees and crunching along savoring the few scrambling rodents and sucking in the smells of vast amounts of dead fall and decaying leaves.

At the intersection of a few trails I whip out a banana and debate where to go, to the left I can see a steep incline and a mountain of 2200 feet. A fellow hiker with a tripod sticking out of his pack, whom I passed a bit earlier recommends going his direction, although superb views he assures me are in store either way you go. I begin to walk with him and decide to engage him in conversation. I passed him before because I wanted to be alone, lost in my thoughts and fantasies, he was the first person I spoke to the entire day.

Joe was from Queensbury, which is just down the road near Glens Falls. He appeared to be very knowledgeable of the area so I decided to use his knowledge to my advantage. Turns out Joe worked for International Paper for many years and managed a tract of land in the Adirondacks totaling 350,000 acres, I was impressed. We spoke of the best areas to hike in order to be alone. I have always heard the Pharaoh Lakes wilderness area to be best- and he readily agreed, unless I wanted to venture out to the Cranberry lake region in the west of the park.

He has never seen a bear in the wild, in fact he has only seen 10 bear all of which were crossing roads during his 35 years working. That is better then me because the only bears I ever saw on the trail were on an open ridge while hiking in Kenai Fjords in Alaska, and they were 300 yards away. I have seen numerous bears on roads in Glacier National Park, northern British Columbia and the parks in Alberta, but never in the east.

We spoke of hunting season which was taking place at the moment, I told him that most of my favorite mountain biking trails close for bow season and open for shotgun season and that I debate every time whether to ride or not, always opting for many articles of clothing in orange blaze if it is too nice out not to ride. He likes the hunting downstate best, since the weather is milder the deer stay out longer and are more active, unlike upstate where most of the vegetation is gone by the end of October.

Then he made a turn towards the Fifth Mile Leanto and I decided to continue on to the mountain itself because for viewing I would rather be alone. I hadn’t driven 75 miles north of my house to share the views and contemplations that I have while looking over vast mountains, lakes and valleys. I hiked down onto a ridge and up again, all the while glimpsing light views to the east and west. The sun was making it so the views to the east were in better detail.

The first ridge I came to nearly took my breath away, I bounded out onto the grippy, moss covered rock that protruded out of the woods onto this small grassy knob looking to the east. Big, dark and mysterious Black Mountain was facing me directly across Lake George, its dark rounded top was covered in pine, but as my eyes slowly scanned the sloping ridges that appeared to jut right out of the perfectly flat Lake George I realized that they were a maze of yellow, red and orange colored trees.

Tongue Mountain Range

In the distant many of the leaves were already gone, but I should have known the leaves in the valley would still be hanging on. You see the lake moderates the temperatures as do valleys themselves. The lake was probably still warmer then the air causing the valley to remain warmer and letting the trees hold their leaves longer. North to south was a huge mountain range jutting out of the lake, I could see Vermont’s’ Green Mountains off to the north east, probably somewhere around Ticonderoga.

I could also see the peninsula I was standing on very vividly. The Tongue Mountain Range jutting out on this rather wide peninsula in the middle of Lake George was where I was standing. I looked back at the ridge that Joe had hiked to and it was the most vivid scene of all. It was a huge rounded mountain full of robust colors. Very little green stood amidst the hundreds of brightly lit trees, with the sunlight beaming onto it and changing its color combinations every couple minutes as it disappeared behind wispy clouds that were dominating the south west portion of the bright blue sky.

Small islands stood out in the middle of the lake with one rather large, lush and green one hugging the opposite shoreline. I sat down onto some brown tall grass and marveled at the sights. After a while I dozed off with a cheek to cheek smile plastered on my mouth. I woke up to the sound of birds in the distance several minutes later and could see a rather cute and small white bird eying me intently, wondering “hey how did you get up here” 1700 feet or so above the lake.

I took several pictures and then headed back down towards reality. The best thing about fall in my mind is the shortened days and how it allows you to visualize many different shades of forest with limited time. The closer to sunset it gets, the more orange the hues become and the shadows grow long, until its almost dark under the canopy of leaves. The may not have even gone down yet, but its ebbing can be sensed hours before its actual conclusion.

I walked casually down hill, stopping every couple minutes to listen for animals scurrying away from me. I also enjoyed the silence immensely and prayed it wouldn’t end, though I knew it would. I got back to my car feeling refreshed with a renewed sense of appreciation for the southern Adirondacks and a thirst for more of autumns wonders.

Posted in Adirondacks, Hiking | Tagged: , , , , , | 15 Comments »

What have I been up to the last few weeks

Posted by Frum Hiker on October 29, 2007

I have been out and about taking advantage of the pre-ski season warmth that is gracing the land. Tonight is going to be a frost and with that most of the leaves will continue to fall and hopefully some low pressure systems will grace the area and bring some damned snow already. I wanted to be able to ski some over the Thanksgiving holiday, and most New York State mountain biking trails are closed for hunting season. I remember last year that towards the end of shotgun season they open up, but for now I am limited to some trails in the Adirondacks and stuff down near Poughkeepsie.

Since the last time I wrote, I have done a sunset, night hike up overlook mountain and it was beautiful with an almost full moon illuminating the colorful forests. Gold is dominating in the Catskills. I have been riding my road bike pretty steadily in the past week due to my non-diverse mountain biking options. I did get to ride the Skidmore trails in Saratoga a few times and I ride the Vassar Farms trail in Poughkeepsie as well.

Last week I rode over 100 miles on my road bike. I am addicted to this time of year, 55 degrees, shorts and a long sleeve tee- light breezes and fresh smells of composting leaves and bright sunshine reflecting of the orange and red hues being forced out of the trees. Oh how I love those sugar maples. I road around Scohairie County this week, and wandered up to Thompsons Lake State Park and discovered that the lake offers a great fishing and kayaking spot less then 20 minutes from my house- I was overjoyed at the discovery.

I kayaked today down in Harriman State Park and it was lovely, my hands got cold- because I didn’t think I would need my gloves, but the pre-peak foliage was well worth the minor pain. I had some chilling times sitting on my boat in the middle of Silvermine lake, I had to get around the bend away from the city folk who always like to make noise when faced with the silence of the woods. I also bushwhacked to the top of this craggy knob off of Route 106 to view one of the most gorgeous sunsets ever. This burst of orange pink and red coupled with lumpy cumulous clouds really made my day.

I have been checking out some quick hikes in my area, since the days are getting real short and although I am bound to do some solo pre-winter High Peaks backpacks- I need some good day hikes. I have been looking at the Lake George area and although I have ridden the Tongue Mountain Range near Bolton on my mountain bike, hiking can take me deeper and it is easy. Hadley Mountain looks like a great jaunt and I would like to get up Slide Mountain within the next few weeks.

Posted in Adirondacks, Catskills, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Road Biking, Skiing | Leave a Comment »

Fall Foliage Hikes of the week

Posted by Frum Hiker on October 15, 2007

Every fall I say that Autumn is my favorite season, the crunchy leaves, crisp air and Indian summer all come to mind, the threat of snow at the end of fall and the diverse weather patterns also make it such a great season for the outdoorsman. I tend to hike most during the fall, ordinary hikes that would have been boring in the winter or summer seasons, come alive with the colors on the trees and opened up views. The bugs are gone and the air is crisp which always works to get the sweat off your brow.

In the past week I was able to get away with 2 short hikes; both of them could have been longer if not for prior arrangements which took me to those spots. The first hike was in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks, where I had to appear in traffic court last Wednesday and the second hike was located in the Catskills, hen I was on the way to New York.

The fall is hit or miss in the Adirondacks, the weather changes fast and rain is common, while it may be sunny downstate. I was able to hike up part of the Giant Mountain Trail last week to gain some gorgeous views of the high peaks and amazing fall foliage sights and smells. I crunched my up this rather short and rewarding hike, it is steep, but well worth the painful rise in altitude above Route 73.

Instead of going all the way up Giant Mountain which is also relatively short at only 3.0 miles each way, but with an ascent of 3000 feet or so I headed up the same trail to the Nubble as they call it. On the way, you pass some amazing views and if need be you can literally hike less then a mile to the washbowl and call it a day, or shall I say hour. The washbowl is a beautiful little lake with towering cliffs and mountains in the back of it. If you choose to continue to the Nubble a total of 1.4 miles each way, you are rewarded with superb views of the washbowl as well as the high peaks to the south and east.

I also hiked to Giant Ledge in the Catskills, are we noticing a theme? Giant Ledge is on the way up to Slide Mountain, the Catskills tallest peak. Giant Ledge is by far the shortest most rewarding hike in the Catskills, ¾ of a mile takes you to a soaring cliff overlooking the highest mountains in the Catskills and during foliage season which is peaking any day now, I definitely recommend getting out there.

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Dear Hotel Saranac: Your Pillows Suck

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 20, 2007

Dear Hotel Saranac:

I was excited to be staying at your historic hotel for this entire week. I was even more excited when I arrived and found my bed stacked with four pillows and beautiful quilts that were smooth and not rough on the inside like most chain motels. I loved the toilet with its extremely powerful flush and the old world tiling, as well as the deep bathtub. I enjoyed the little basket of soaps and shampoos that came with my room and they have all been taken and deposited into the bottom of my duffel bag.

I was paid good money to be up here and my room was paid for as well, so its not as if I spent my own money to stay here. I expected to come back after a full work day followed by a 40 mile bike ride, or a 4 hour paddle down the Raquette River to a nice cozy bed and a great nights sleep, but you know what?

Those four pillows were worth about as much as a roll of that thin toilet paper you find in restrooms along highways. THEY SUCKED and they prevented me from having a single good nights sleep. They were soft enough for a baby to be born into, but they did not do their job, which is to cradle my head above the bed, and not suck it down between multiple layers of cotton and feathers. Two of them acted like one big soft pillow. Three of them and you had an aching neck, and one of them was like sleeping with a towel folded once over under my head.

Such a shame to waste such a beautiful hotel, one that has one of the old cutler mail chutes made in Rochester, one that has a beautiful old mens club on the second floor and good adequate free parking that one needn’t walk through a maze of room service equipment to get to.

HOTEL SARANAC
PLEASE CHANGE YOUR PILLOWS- TO SOMETHING A BIT MORE FIRM!!!

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Nice 40 mile ride around Saranac Lakes region

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 19, 2007

I gotta say that the shoulders in most of the Adirondacks are extremely smooth and wide for riding a bicycle on. Despite having extremely cold winters and tons of snow they remain smooth after the destructive plows rage through the back roads clearing them of snow and usually producing potholes- at least thats what the Albany area has.

As a newly formed road rider I have taken to the task of memorizing which roads have good shoulders matched with good scenery and low traffic. I have noticed that Routes 30 and 3 are the best roads in the Adirondacks to ride on. They are wide, and offer great views as well as pass by many lakes, swamps and rivers. In fact Route 30 I would venture to say is probably the best road to ride on a north-south axis of NY state. In the Catskills and the Sacandaga regions Route 30 has a smooth and wide shoulder as well as great views.

I have noticed that if I ride one way on a road and turn around I never ride as far and am less likely to push harder- since the scenery will be the same on the way back. Yesterday I rode my bike north on route 86 until I hit route 186 which cuts a path across and through a bunch of lakes and then hooks up with route 30. The shoulder on route 186 had several large holes and some gravel so watch out. Luckily I had just pumped my tires 700×23 up to 120 psi- I was riding on 80psi the other day and was wondering why I was riding so slow.

The only town you pass through is Lake Clear Junction- not really a town just an excuse for a couple old school overpriced gas stations and a car or boat mechanic. I rode on 186 till 30 south and then back to Saranac on Route 3 going east. I covered 39.5 miles at an average speed of 16.7 mph. I have no idea if that is fast or not by the way- being a complete newbie. In fact I get these looks for wearing my mountain bike shoes and camel back- with a non-fancy Jersey.

Route 30 by the way is amazing because it was so flat and fast- with avery smooth shoulder- besides for a few slowing down for bridje joints I was cruising at speeds of 21-24 mph constantly. Route 3 was a bitch and hilly as hell with some big ones. Overall a great ride with great pine smells and great scenery.

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I get to be in the Adirondacks all week for work!!!

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 18, 2007

So this week my job has taken me to Saranac Lake where I am staying at the old and cozy Hotel Saranac. The old toilets, bathtubs and beautiful furnishings in the ballroom are amazing. It is also located in downtown Saranac Lake where I have found great places to ride my bike and just plain old walk around.

On the way up on Sunday I stopped at the high peaks trail head in Tahauwus- which is by far my favorite trailhead due to its lack of cars and back door approach to Mt. Marcy- rather then the traditional ADK LOJ to Marcy Dam- this approach is just 10 miles and takes you through the Flowed Lands/Lake Colden area.

I hiked into the flowed lands and out again and it was awesome. The weather, save for a few bugs was pristine- clear and bright with a temperature of 75 degrees. I was jealous of all the folks going in on multi day trips- and I had to be at work in the morning. I hiked 5 miles to the flowed lands- it is this flat plain of water, flowing green grass and cliffs jutting out. In the distance large mountains can be seen. I think Mt. Colden looms with its bare top. The sight was magnificent and I took many pictures. I chilled there for a half hour just taking it in and enjoying the solitude and lack of any man made noise.

Then yesterday- I took a nice 18 mile bike ride up route 374 near Chazy Lake- beautiful country of swamps, lakes – pine and birch. My legs wanted more- but I had to be in Plattsburg. After work in Plattsburg I rode around the SUNY campus- which features some great ledges- stair gaps and many planters of multiple sizes. Proof of its popularity could be seen from all the skate wax rubbed everywhere.

Today after working up near Ogdensburg- I drove all the way back to Tupper Lake and visited the historic Beth Joseph synagogue that is right on route 3 in the main part of town- overlooking the lake. I will post in the future about my visit- but lets just say that the shull is very nice and I spoke to a 98 year old women named Muriel Ginsburg for about an hour. I was real happy to see the shull where it was and promised I would go into depth about my visit when I had a chance.

Then I drove towards my hotel in Saranac and decided that I had better sample some of the paddling around here. I launched in the Raquette River which is probably the most famous place to paddle in New York State. It is flat and an ease to paddle. It features multiple campsites on the banks and I saw one lean to. The noise of the surrounding area faded within a few strokes and I was left to the dip of the oar and my thoughts- interrupted every few minutes by a bird or a jumping fish. I was surrounded on all sides by forest and the river flowed peacefully along with me in its grasp. I paddled for a few hours and turned around. I explored swamps and marshland and took a nap on a beach. All I have to say is that it is amazing and now I want to do a full fledged multi day paddling trip up here.

I still have 3 days left…

Posted in Adirondacks, Hiking, Jews, Kayaking, Road Trips | 5 Comments »

My 52 mile sunday ride through 2 states and 3 counties

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 4, 2007


How far is Whitehall? I asked the ferry boat operator as I took my helmet off and felt the brisk breeze blowing off the lake run through my crusty hair. “Oh about 25-26 miles- straight down route 22.” Oh, I said with a sigh wondering how I could mess up this bad. I had just wanted to do a simple 25 or 30 mile ride and now either way I put it I would be up over 40 miles, and that was if I turned around. I debated in my head, 25 miles plus another 12 to my car- equals somewhere around 60 total. I debated in the wind and looked north to the green mountains and the widening Lake Champlain. I noticed two cables coming from the flat topped ferry boat and realized we were being guided to the New York shore.

I felt good, real good and pumped I had just ridden 20 miles through central Vermont’s rolling farmland with some spotty marshes and swamps thrown in. I had parked on route 22a and decided I would just ride up and back when I felt like it, loops are so much better I thought to myself and when I saw a sign for a ferry boat to New York I figured that it would be cool to incorporate that in to the trip. The road to the ferry itself was gorgeous, wide open ride void of a yellow center line in many places, freshly paved and surrounded by fields of wavy grass, freshly sown plants and rusting farm machinery and old cars. I pedaled past at 18 miles per hour and screamed as I hit the hills and sped up very quickly. Some folks sitting on beach chairs in their front yard drinking beer waved to me, their house was surrounded by an immense lawn with freshly mowed patterens snaking their way around the rusting cars for sale, where the weeds were growing near the bumpers.

The sky was overcast and rather grey, threatening rain as the ferry pulled into the dock at Fort Ticonderoga. I knew the route I had to take. I have been in this area multiple times, come to think of it I could probably get almost anywhere in New York without a map of any kind. I road passed a small hut that said Amtrak on it, a few folks were waiting for the next train that would take them south into the more urban areas near Albany and New York City, they sat on their luggage and smoked cigarettes, the wind pushed the smell to my nostrils and I momentarily stopped inhaling at the nasty and pungent smell of the smoke.

My legs were pumping my bike up and over the hills on the way to Whitehall from Ticonderoga. The shoulder was really wide and although there was some scattered garbage, small stones and quite a few carcasses of those unfortunate enough to venture to their neighbors across the road- it was a relatively worry free shoulder. There were not too many dirt roads hooking into the main road so there was none of that swerving around the stones going on. Just a heart pumping ride through Champlain country. I could see glimpses of the lake every now and then and all of the sudden it disappeared probably having ended where it becomes a river and goes into the south bay. I have actually kayaked up the river and around south bay before. If not for the multiple motor boats the paddling would have been amazing. The scenery is quite nice though, with mountains and cliffs rising from the flatlands of the Champlain Valley.

I was hammering up this very long gradual hill, and I wanted to stop but I kept pushing myself when all the sudden I saw I women standing in the road. I stopped and said what’s up, she was dirty looking, almost as if she had been crawling around in the dirt. She had on off white shorts and short that was smeared with mud and dirt. She had a small cage or some sort of trap sitting next to her. As I slowed to have a chat with her, she asked me if I had seen a cat anywhere. I hadn’t, the closest living thing I saw while riding had been a few miles back and that was a turtle. A rather large turtle in fact, I had been going slow up a steep incline and had noticed it and had to look twice to make sure I was seeing correctly. Despite all the cars and trucks flying by, the road can get pretty lonely for the cyclist.

Apparently this women had just lost her cat, yet in the next few moments I learned that it had been three days ago that she decided to leave the house, and on top of this the cat had never been out of the house. Interesting I thought, I also wondered whether this women was sane- she tried to set the trap for the cat with no such luck. I rolled on and she thought I was nuts for trying to pedal up the long hill that was still going up ahead of me. I slowly pedaled and kept watch out for her cat which was probably dead.

The problem with riding more then planned was that I had this constant nagging on my mind, basically telling me that 60 miles was a bit more then I had planned for, water and food wise. I hadn’t eaten anything all day substantial. I had a bowl of kashi in the morning and a had snacked on a protein bar during the ride. I wasn’t hungry yet, but I knew I would feel the pangs in a bit, I looked at my distance covered and it was 43 miles with a 14mph average. Not bad for someone with a stomach and who just started road biking one week ago.

I was running out of water and trying to conserve as I saw the sign that told me I was coming back to civilization. Speed Zone Ahead was written across a white sign and I braced for the snap back to the reality of gas stations, car dealerships and fast food restaurants that litter the sides of any room no matter how rural. First I saw an antique store and then the gas stations surrounding the intersection of routes 4 and 22. I needed route 4 towards Rutland and hopped into the gas station at the corner for some water. I bought a gallon and poured it down my throat very fervently, I then poured the rest into my camel back. I sat down on a picnic table overlooking the intersections and watched as trucks with boat trails and cars with kayaks on their roofs past me by. I did some stretching and mounted my ride for the last few remaining miles.

When you ride at 15-20 miles per hour instead of 55-65 mph you begin to notice little things that you would never notice in a car. Like the more remote road the less likely you are going to be able to read the signs due to their multiple gunshot wounds. In normal areas of rural America, all signs have a few holes, but in back country America- the signs are barely hanging on by a thread. You also begin to notice the sociological makeup of different sorts of garbage. In cities there is all sorts of diversity, but in rural areas it is mainly made up of 3 things. Old tires, beer cans mainly from the companies of Bud and PBR, and all sorts of leftover auto part containers. Oil cans and pieces of bumpers and air filters can all be seen on the side of the road. There are no crushed Starbucks cups here, just real American garbage.

I pondered all of this as I kept a look out for garbage going past my wheels at the slow speeds of 15 mph, swerving is something that mountain bikers are not used to, as a road biker you just can’t plow through things and jump over things. As I crossed a rail road track I realized this as my rear light bounced off its casing and broke into pieces from the bump of the track. I then rode on looking forward to the soft leather seats of my car and pounding some food when I finally got back, it was almost 5 hours since I left my car.

Suddenly I hit a small rock and I felt the air from my rear tire exhale. I had a flat and I was just 8 miles or so from my car, it was my first road bike flat, I had heard the pressure of normal pumps would never get me up to needed and I wouldn’t be able to ride as well as normal. I flipped the bike around and sat in the drainage ditch and fumbled around for my tools to change the tube. Just then a pickup truck with a trailer pulled up and asked if I needed a ride. I noticed his plates said Ontario, the Lord was looking out for me. As much as I wanted to make the ride an even 60 miles I was aching and needed to get some food. I threw my bike in his trailer and hopped in.

It was perfect; I didn’t even have to try and attempt to hitch which on the east coast is not the brightest or easiest idea. I have done it before, usually when I hiked out of trail and was 50 miles from my car; it was never easy to get a ride. I distinctly remember this time in New Hampshire when my buddy Yosef and I hiked out of the white mountains and realized we were 40 miles or so from the car. We had been in the woods 5 days and hiked many miles with full packs. We stood at the on ramp of some trail head and after what seemed like days a girl from Quebec picked us up, then dropped us off 25 miles later. Then we waited a long time until we had a bright idea. We had noticed that quite a few orthodox Jews had passed us, probably taking pictures like real tourists of the folks hitchhiking with all their worldly possessions on their backs, we did look like two scrubby hippies. The next car we saw with Jews in it, we showed them our tzitzis and immediately they pulled over. Of course they thought we were nuts and Jewish geography proved that we all knew friends of friends.

The man who picked me up was visiting friends in Monticello, Whitehall and Lake Placid and he was from Ottawa. Real nice guy, he showed me his hotel in this coupon book and right away I was prepared to fend off sexual advances from him, of course they never came and I got out at my car and thanked him for the ride.

I sat down on the tailgate of my car and pounded honey roasted almonds, soy nuts and warm water that had sitting in the humid sticking car all day. I heard thunder in the distance and looked south at the rolling farmland that disappeared into the low lying hills of the Adirondacks and Green Mountains.

Posted in Adirondacks, Road Biking, Rural America | Leave a Comment »

Kayaking in the stormy Sacandaga Lake

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 1, 2007

I feel as if I am on a Cunard Steamer sailing through a furious north Atlantic storm in the mid 1800’s, each time the bow crests a wave the crew prepares for the inundation of water that happens when the front of the ship crests the wave and crashes into the next one momentarily disappearing beneath the murky depths, only to reappear carrying tons of water with it for its destination somewhere within the ships holds.

I am paddling ferociously against the wind and waves of the Great Sacandaga Lake just inside the border of Adirondack Park. With each hard drawn paddle stroke I each along, and with each large wave I let out a hearty whoop as I crash into the next one and watch the front of my boat go under the water for a few seconds. Then all of the sudden my boat is released from the lakes fury and I am doused with water, the water is lovely and I look forward to each of these larger waves. I don’t have to wait long because the lake is filled with them; some even have white caps crashing all around me as I paddle alone in the middle of this large body of water.
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This is the exact opposite of my paddling adventure earlier this week. Instead of the peaceful tranquility of slow paddling and placid waters I am faced with the insane task of actually propelling myself forward amidst this madness. This is not for the faint of heart, my sweat is mixing with the water that keeps splashing all about- some of which ends up sloshing around in my canoe and threatening my camera and wallet that are supposedly safe within the confines of my yellow dry bag.

A quick look around reveals that I am in the center of the lake and there is no one around. No noisy obnoxious jet skis and wave runners and no pontoon boats full of lazy beer drinkers, nothing, just me the water and the sky- and in the distance on all sides lush green hills that are hard to see because of the hot haze that has settled over much of the area today.

I can see the personless boats in the distance bobbing up in down in the waves, situated next to the numerous private docks that dot the shoreline. I can thank God that its Friday, I know that if it were Sunday it would be an entirely different story. I can just see the trails of wasted fuel in the water, spewing forth from the trolling motors and large engines that are choking the lake. I can see folks sitting on their bass boats, rods held up without hands and folks drinking beer, guts hanging out in the sun and music blaring. I can see smoke signals in the distance rising out of backyard and deck side barbeques, children running around in swimsuits and everyone just having a great time. A lazy time, no activity would actually be going on save for a few canoes or kayaks, laughed at by all those folks in their fast boats flying by rocking those small nerdy boats with their giant wakes.

Saturdays and Sundays any lake any where. The noise of the jet skis and the country or southern rock type music blaring. Motor homes choking up the parking lots and boat launches jam packed with huge pickup trucks and tattooed up men unloading their fishing boats. I would surely not be enjoying the natural silence of the waves crashing into my boat and the gurgling of my paddles that are making twisters in the deep dark water. No noise besides my singing, hollering and paddling can be heard.

Posted in Adirondacks, Kayaking | 3 Comments »