Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hike. Canoe. Swim. Camp. Hike. Sleep.

How refreshing it is to even take just two days to enter into a totally different way of life - showering in a mountain brook, sleeping with just a piece of canvas between you and the sky, cooking rice with a stick, swimming in crystal clear water, canoeing with a lone loon, eating a chocolate bar on the highest mountain in NY, hiking for ten hours at a time, soaking in pure sunshine, laughing uncontrollably with a friend, cutting cheese with a jack knife, wearing clothes that reek of camp smoke and drinking gallons of water - these things make life seem so simple and pure and beautiful.

Laurel and I had the loveliest of times in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks where we camped at the Adirondack Loj at Heart Lake. Laurel is truly a forest ranger at heart. (I was simply her very awestruck understudy.) She knows every flower, every tree, every rock, every bird call, every mountain and every fruit by name. She builds campfires before I can put water in a kettle, she pulls out a map and a compass to mark our location before I can find my water bottle and she carries two rocks up the mountain in her pack to help with restoration projects while I sweat incessantly just carrying a gallon of water and five shirts (!) up a mountain. Needless to say, Laurel is quite the amazing outdoors woman.

We summited two Adirondack Peaks - Mount Jo and Mount Marcy. Mount Jo was a tiny hike to 2876 feet elevation that we did our first day as a warm-up.

Mount Marcy is a much more significant 15-mile round trip hike that climbs over 3000 feet to an elevation of 5,344 feet. We woke up our second day at 5am to cook oatmeal on the fire, dress and make the trail head for Marcy by 6:30am. The hike was fairly intense in my book, but there were some very rewarding spots: hitting Marcy Dam just after sunrise was breath-taking and finding a lovely creek at Indian Falls in which to bathe our salt-crusted faces provided some much needed refreshment. The Van Hoevenberg Trail followed a mountain brook for a good couple of miles and listening to its babble was a very relaxing experience indeed.