We piled in the car, plugging an “address” into the GPS that was in about the right general location, and we were off! Rolling hills turned into mountains that towered over the landscape, disappearing into pockets of wispy clouds. The raindrops falling on our window did little to dissuade or disappoint as the excitement of climbing a mountain overshadowed the sound of the windshield wipers and our jolly moods seemed to dispel the overall gloominess of the grey skies. Driving through Adirondack territory was like entering another world. Enormous elegant old farmhouses rose out of the landscape, intermingled with trailers that seemed to be held together by the garbage and random paraphernalia all over their yards, roofs, porches…Small shacks & log cabins that looked as though they could have come directly out of a Laura Ingles Wilder book stood next to cozy cottages painted in blues, pinks and purples that boasted immaculate gardens, quaint picket fences, and coordinating shutters. And, intermixed between the rest stood huge, brand new houses with their stained decks, perfectly landscaped yards, in ground pools, three car garages, and large bay windows on the front that looked out across…a field of run-down trailers with some mountain tops barely peaking above their pine-tree filled yards. It seemed as though the area we drove through just did not bother to care. It did not waste a thought on whether it was rich or poor, whether it belonged to this century or to another, much older time…it was as though for each individual house, time stood still. Each plot of land seemed to dictate it’s own terms with no care as to what those around it were doing. We felt like outsiders looking in at a strange world. One in which the large rustic stars and black bears decorating the porches were the only things holding this area together as one community.
Blue Mountain Summit – The Mountain’s elevation is 3759 feet. The trail is a tough walk and is not recommended for small children.
Small children?? Sorry, but I have to re-write the message written in the Adirondack Trail Guide on this one: “Not recommended for children, the elderly, or anyone who questions their physical shape if asked to run a marathon in one’s current condition. Oh, and WARNING!! Do not attempt this trail in the rain. The sheer, steep rocks that we have somehow determined to be a “path” turn into large, slippery death traps. Only, you will not know this until you are within 400 ft of the summit and have walked almost 2 miles, at which point your determination will kick in and you will attempt just about anything to get to that dang lookout point. But, the scenery is great, it smells of fresh pine, and, you’ll be all alone on the secluded trail. All the smart people took another one.
Ah yes. Blue Mountain Summit. Sam and I found a trail guide in the cottage we were staying in for our honeymoon. We figured that we couldn’t spend the whole week canoeing, watching movies, reading books, and keeping ourselves elsewise occupied around the cottage. “We’re in the Adirondacks,” we decided, “Let’s go climb a mountain!”
The morning began normal enough. Showers, breakfast — I make some mean fried eggs, by the way, and cinnamon buns out of a roll aren’t bad when you’re on vacation and choosing not to fulfill your usual role of cook and housekeeper. I rinsed off the dishes while Sam filled the backpack with all of the essentials for backpacking through unknown lands…a flashlight, a pocketknife, a water bottle, some granola bars, a small first aid kit, some binoculars, a camera…we were all set! He filled the camelback (for those of you who don’t know, this is a small, lightweight backpack that contains a plastic lining and holds about a liter of water – which you suck through a long rubber/plastic tube that stretches from the back and attaches to the front of your shoulder. No screwing on and off lids to water bottles, no carrying them along, no garbage to have to worry about, heck, you don’t even have to think about how to walk and drink from the bottle at the same time. Just unpin the rubber tube from your shoulder, suck on it, and you have fresh water as you hike!! Ingenious. I knew marrying a military man would come in handy. I wonder what other cool contraptions they have that I can use??)
An hour and a half later, we finally arrived at the trail head (the point marked by an official sign stating that this was the beginning of the trail). Sam grabbed the backpack and told me to carry the MUCH lighter camelback (I know, what a great guy!) and we were off! At the start of the trail is a large wooden sign with a drop-down compartment that opens. The sign told us to sign in at the bottom of the trail and then sign back out after completing it, so that if anyone was looking for us, this would aid in their being able to find us. Comforting thought. “In case you’re lost, eaten by black bears or have fallen off the side of the mountain, this will help us know that you never came back.” WONDERFUL.
We signed in (quite pleased with how: “Sam & Bethany Miller” looked on paper), closed the book, and practically skipped down the trail. This was going to be fun! As soon as we rounded the corner, we could tell this trail was not going to be what we expected. A narrow space seemed cut out between the towering pines, but to look at the ground one would never know this was considered a path. Rocky does not even begin to describe this trail. It was ALL rocks. Large rocks, small rocks, sharp rocks, smooth rocks, rocks jutting out of the side of the mountain and rocks loosely and precariously stacked on top of other rocks. Lots and lots of rocks.
“We’re young and adventurous. We can handle it. Let’s conquer this mountain!”
An hour into our hike, it seemed as though the mountain was the one doing the conquering. The trees began to thin and the “rocky” trail turned into huge sheer rock faces. As if those were not daunting enough, it started to rain, transforming them into wet, slippery death traps. At 300 feet (in elevation) below the peak though, there was no turning back. We made it, wet and wobbly from exertion and nervous slippages, to the top. It was freezing. It was wet. We climbed the lookout tower, stayed for all of about 5 minutes, and headed back down the mountain.
An hour and forty five minutes later, we emerged from the trail…the flat ground a welcome sight. A family with two young children wearing sandals (probably ages two and four) were beginning the hike.
“How long to the top?” they asked.
Apparently they didn’t read this particular trail’s description. “Not recommended for small children” was not exactly a suggestion. We explained the trail to them – in all of it’s rocky, steep, wet, slippery glory – and they, seemingly unfazed, thanked us and continued up the mountain trail.
“You’ll find out soon enough….” we thought as we climbed back into the van. “Just you wait.”
Wet, chilly, exhausted, and having had no access to internet or real civilization in almost a week, we put Starbucks into our GPS – just to see how far one was. 12 miles out of the way. Starbucks. Pieces of heaven sold in cups. 12 miles to hot, slightly sweet, frothy coffee goodness. What is 12 miles, like 15 minutes?? HECK YES!
And so, we drove our adventurous, wet, mountain climbing selves right to that store and sipped our coffee all the way back to the cabin. Quite satisfied.