Adirondack waters

Ampersand Lake

Already I am looking at the photos and saying — as one does about a place visited in dreams, or about a life spent dreaming — was I really there?

pond

To someone from the unglaciated Appalachians, more than the young, rugged mountains it’s the abundance of natural lakes and ponds that seems exotic, even without a glimpse of the elusive moose whose dark bulk we kept seeing in every lakeside spruce and drowned stump.

creek

Even the creeks looked different, wrinkling over such different rocks.

John's Brook

They seemed so impetuous, compared to the slow calm waters of a Pennsylvania trout stream older than the hills it flows through.

waterfall

Waterfalls were everywhere, as you’d expect in mountains that are still being born. I admired the shining staircases they made, perfect in their jumbled lack of uniformity.

Ausable River

We who are mostly salt water might at least aspire to an anadromous return. For me, the north woods with its bare granite outcroppings and abundant lakes conjures up an idyllic time and place I barely remember, having moved to Pennsylvania from our lakeside farm in central Maine when I was five. But I imprinted deeply on forests like these. My mother has said that as a small child, being taken into the forest was the one thing guaranteed to stop my otherwise nearly incessant crying.

Mt. Ampersand summit

More than once last week I thought of the Chinese proverb, “Humans seek out high places; waters seek the low.” I watched clouds form beneath my feet.

19 Comments


  1. This makes me hungry for hiking, hungry for mountains. Some of these photos (i.e. the last one) remind me of Acadia National Park.

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    1. Sure — it’s similarly aged Precambrian granite, subjected to the same glacial forces.

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  2. I’m really glad you took the time off and hiked these trails and summits. Such beautiful land there, dave.

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    1. It sure is. I highly recommend it if you and Roger ever feel the urge to travel east.

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  3. I was moved by these posts, Dave, and found the photos breathtaking — and, of course, utterly familiar even though I haven’t climbed in the High Peaks. So glad you went. And I’m proud of my old state of New York for doing at least one thing right, and protecting that huge area.

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    1. Hi Beth – I’m glad you’re enjoying the series. It was fun meeting up with you at your childhood home further down-state, though I’m sorry we didn’t have time for a driving tour of all your old haunts.

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  4. having been to the high peaks region myself
    within the last few weeks
    and for the first time
    even though I’ve lived in ujopstate NY since 1982
    (for shame for shame)
    I now have several hiking guides
    for the region
    and definitely plan to go back
    and hike
    love that PreCambrian rock!

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    1. Hi Suzanne – Better late than never, eh? Hey, I was also remiss: should’ve tried to swing over and visit you, and maybe some other Hudson Valley friends, on our way back to PA. It would be nice to see that cat again, too. Maybe next time…

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  5. Beautiful shots, Dave! I live in the middle of Dallas, so these are the kinds of visuals I have to travel some distance to see. I’m jealous. It looks like getting away offered breathtaking views to refuel the soul…

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    1. Thanks, Jason. The Texas Hill Country over beyond Austin does have some nice spots, but I guess it isn’t quite the same, is it?

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  6. ‘shining staircases ….., perfect in their jumbled lack of uniformity.’

    Beautiful poetic description to go with your beautiful pictures.

    Evidently the almost continual rain we have had in our junior mountain range of the Ozarks did not make it to the Adirondacks.. for which we are all grateful.

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    1. Well, it did rain a lot. Many of these photos were taken in low-light conditions at slow shutter speed, and further fiddled with and brightened in Photoshop. Glad you liked.

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  7. Great series, Dave. You have pointed out a great paradox- wondrous things happen when there’s no one around to meddle with them. Your blog is saving the land right now as I sit.

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    1. Really? That’s good. I was worried it might have the opposite effect: encourage still more people to visit the ‘Dacks.

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  8. Gorgeous photos from the trip, Dave! Looks like you got there at a peak moment for autumn glory, too. So glad for you.

    Vermont, where I’ve spent a lot of my wilderness time, has a similar feel, and even the wilder, protected bits of Western Massachusetts do too. But only in the Adirondacks have I been romanced by loons.

    Well, literal ones, anyway. ; )

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