Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Adirondacks 2012 - Reflections

Rating the Trip

Mountain stream
The campground that we stayed at had very nice facilities, and the two campsites Leo reserved with advice from the staff were fantastic. They probably were the best two in the whole place. Kudos to Leo. A ready supply of ice and firewood made things convenient. The bathhouse was acceptable, although a shower stall larger than a narrow phone booth would have been helpful. A two minute walk down to the lake was beautiful.

The scenery was nice, and very nice in places, but not generally spectacular. Photography opportunities were just ok. I might have a significantly different opinion if my Marcy experience was different. Perhaps I am being overly harsh and the better way to say it would be that the scenery was not widely varied. That certainly is true compared to the west.

Drained lake behind Marcy Dam
The hikes were fun and challenging, and certainly proved what the guys had been saying from their prior experience. In Pennsylvania, when they make trails that go up very steep slopes, they tend to make switchbacks. In the Adirondacks, they just draw a straight line up the mountain. This park is a climber/hiker's dream with all the mountains that have trails on them. My only complaint about the hikes we did, and I know that this is mainly a function of those specific trails, is that for most of it, everything looked the same. The view from the top of Mt Jo was terrific, and the boulder and gravel strewn mountain streams are always beautiful, but the trails don't have vistas along the way. You see woods, woods, and more woods. Then if you make it to the top, there is a view. I would have preferred more variety in the scenery. (Clearly I am nitpicking here...)

The food was terrific and the companionship was first rate. The amount of time on the road was perfectly acceptable to me, as I have a fairly high tolerance for hours in the car.

Random Thoughts

Adirondack Loj waterfront
Additional experience makes it more and more clear to me what I like in regards to hiking and camping, and where my preferences lie. To lean on a cliche to make the point, for me it is more about the journey than the destination. By that I mean that I want to see nice scenery along the way. Be able to do some sightseeing. Have some variety to what I see. It is nice when a hike can be an event by itself and not just a means to an end (insofar as it is nice to see stuff along the way).

Continuing with the above line of thinking, photography is an important part of one of these trips for me. On the Dakotas trip I took approximately 800 pictures in 8 days. On this trip I took 219 pictures in 5 days (not counting the drive day home). A lot of the 219 are "campsite life" shots, and lots of repetitive shots of Heart Lake at every time of day and in every light. Nobody could argue the beauty of the Adirondacks, but it is a problematic (and unfavorable) comparison to the scenic wonderland that was the Dakotas trip. Part of this, of course, is that to have that trip have been my first has set a ridiculously high standard to follow.

On the trail
I do myself a disservice by committing to these trips, investing time and money in them (especially the rare and valuable time away from my family), and not getting myself into better shape to make the most of them. My failure on Marcy (aside from the navigational glitch) has everything to do with being lazy in the months leading up to the trip and not getting my butt out onto some trails to get my legs and cardio in better shape. Inexcusable. In the Dakotas it didn't impact me, but here it did. Shame on me.

Having one campsite to stay at the whole time and operate out of was very different from the last trip, where we were moving from place to place with regularity. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both have their place. Last year I loved the "road trip" aspect of what we did, and all the different things we were able to see. This year, it was nice to settle in and know we were in one spot for the duration, and we wouldn't be packing up and moving.


I'm not a kid anymore. I can't expect to sit behind a desk for weeks on end without exercising and expect that doing this sort of thing will be easy. Or even possible, apparently.

"Yes, I can fit all this in the van!"
I find lists helpful with planning and packing, and have two trips worth of experience with which to tweak my personal gear lists. My Dakotas list was put together primarily with assistance from Dave, but also had valuable input from Leo. That list and my own experience from that trip led to this list. It can be improved from what I have learned on this trip as well. In addition to that, though, I want to tweak some of the group lists that we put together while the memory of what we used and didn't use (and how much) is fresh in my mind. Things like more peanuts and less mixed nuts, way less dry breakfast stuff, less condiments, etc...

This is a great bunch of guys. Not a learning, of course, just a comment. And a fitting way to end my writings on this trip.

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