Hillstomping Update: The Adirondacks Trip
Well, for all my big talk about bagging all those peaks, we ended up only bagging one. The hiking trip to the Adirondacks turned into more of a camping trip since the summits were immersed in clouds. We camped the first night in the Garden parking lot and then headed down the John’s Brook trail by the dawn’s early light, seven easy miles to the Slant Rock area where we made camp for the night. It was chilly, drizzly, and uniformly overcast that day and the next, too. When we climbed up Mt. Marcy the next day, we were right smack in the middle of a cloud with visibility of about 50 feet. Since there was nothing to see from any of the high peaks, there was no point in climbing any more of them so we broke camp and hiked on out. Back in town, we purchased adult beverages and camped out at Marcy Field where we built a raging inferno, imbibed liberally on fermented grain beverages, and ate MREs.
Miscellaneous trip notes:
- Crossing Lake Champlain on the ferry is always a pleasant experience. The ferries are well-run by friendly crews and very economical at only $13.50 round trip.
- We met the hut master at the Johns Brook Lodge, a cynical fat guy who loved to hear himself complain about cynical fat guests.
- At the Bushnell Falls lean-to, there were five older guys from Ohio staying there when we passed it on the way to Slant Rock. One guy had an enormous hairy beer belly that hung over his waist with a giant scar that ran down the length of his belly and flacid, droopy teets to complete the picture of health. Another one was smitten by Ouzo, my German Shepherd hiking bud, and we stopped to chat for a moment. As we were leaving, I noticed wads of white toilet paper in the woods in front of the lean-to. Not 50 feet up the trail from the lean-to was the outhouse. These guys either didn’t know the outhouse was there or they enjoyed taking dumps directly on the forest floor in full view of the lean-to. I think I now see why Ohio is called the Buckeye state.
- German Short-Haired Pointers are the most neurotic dogs I’ve ever seen.
- The AMC is a superior mountain club to the ADK. I think this is probably due to the AMC’s prominence in its domain, the White Mountains, where it works in partnership with the USFS to educate hikers on the wise stewardship of the land. The ADK, on the other hand, is forced to play a subordinate, peripheral role in the Adirondacks to a heavy-handed state regulatory agency, the NY DEC, whose keyword is “mandate” rather than “educate.” For example, in the White Mountains, the AMC teaches that dogs should be on a leash or otherwise under control. A good-tempered dog obedient to verbal commands is under control and it’s left to the owner to make the final decision on whether or not his dog should be leashed. The NY DEC, on the other hand, mandates that dogs must be leashed at all times with threats of rangers patrolling and slapping you with a $50 fine. This basic mistrust of the individual to make the right decision is the cultural keynote for New York. Where New York has legions of bureaucrats sitting around spewing out Rulz, New Hampshire prefers to give the individual good information and then trust that they’ll make the right decision. New York relies heavily on government action; New Hampshire relies on volunteerism and cooperative action. The Adirondacks would be a great place to hike except for that thing around it called New York.
- But New York almost totally redeems itself with its flagship product, Genesee beer. You can still purchase this fine light-bodied beer for only three bucks a six-pack at the Stewart Shop in Keene Valley, NY–a real treat for the quantity beer drinker.