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Friday, August 23, 2013

Backpacking in the Adirondacks

There exists in the world a lure that cannot be satisfied by the ways of technology, which must be seen from the wilds of nature and heard through the depths of tranquillity, vice the emptiness remains. Along the open road this journey began into the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Two days of backpacking through the forests and peaks to the summit of Mount Marcy and back around the valleys beyond awaited with the mist of a cool morning.

The five of us standing outside the Marcy Dam with a clear view to the distant peak we were about to climb.

There is something about the mountain lakes and verdant foliage covering the slopes that, however many times I see it, never fails to hold my captivation. The feeling of standing there was surreal, and even many hours gone does not cease to hold that feeling.

Midway to the summit, the Indian Falls sit atop a massive slab of rock with a view of Algonquin Mountain in the middle flanked by its sister peaks.

All over the mountainside, these purple flowers grow by their lonesome or in clusters, standing out against the greens and yellows and browns with their vibrant hue.

On the trail to the summit, cairns mark the path built by hikers over the years. Piles of rock, there is something inexplicable about them that portrays the utterly placid stature of the mountains and the harmonic balance between man and nature. For decades, they will stand to endure the wind and rain without toppling, and when that day comes, someone will begin to rebuild them to be larger and stronger than before. Both a physical and symbolic guide from the past generations to the new of what challenges await.

Thus marks the summit of Mt. Marcy. Scores of peaks outline the horizon through the summoning clouds of an afternoon thunderstorm, none of which climb to her heights. Of the 46 High Peaks, Mt. Marcy is the highest, and provides a breathtaking view in every direction of the rolling valleys and lush forests.

Well above the treeline, only grasses and lichen grow at the summit.

Lake Tear of the Clouds is, in a basin on the slopes of Marcy, the highest altitude lake in the state of New York. Fed by the cool mountain streams, it is a welcome solace from the steep, rocky descent.

Moss carvings on a river rock

Along a lower lakefront, boardwalks and stairways guide the trail through the rocks towards Avalanche Pass, a sharp crack in the mountains where the land fell away long ago.

At the river crossings, the forests give way to pillars of balancing rocks, like smaller cairns with an equal tranquillity to their stature. Through over 5,000 feet of elevation gain and three hours of pouring rain in the evening, a dinner of rice, lake water and various meats cooked in the rain, and one of the most spectacular two days of scenery I have ever seen, Mount Marcy was my first of the 46 High Peaks, and will certainly not be the last.

1 comment:

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