Tag Archive 'wilderness experience'

Sep 10 2022

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Wildness or a View?

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This week I did two day hikes in the Adirondacks on two completely different trails. One took me deep into the wild. The other provided great views.

First I went to Pigeon Lake Wilderness on the western side of Adirondack Park. I hiked a narrow, mostly earthen path in a 7-mile loop through the woods. The trail was wet and muddy in places as I skirted beaver ponds and wetlands. I stopped at Queer Lake for lunch. It was so quiet there that I could hear water lapping to shore and leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. After lunch I sat against a fallen log and let my mind wander. I closed my eyes and napped for a short while. Then I slowly packed up and hiked out. Even though I took my time leaving the forest, I still worked up a good sweat. And I never saw anyone the entire time I was out there.

The next day I drove to the trailhead for Blue Mountain –– one of the most prominent features in the central Adirondacks. I got there early. There were no other cars in the parking lot when I arrived. I set forth up the mountain, following a heavily eroded, rock-strewn path about five feet wide. It was uphill all the way for about two miles. Even though I took lots of breaks, I managed to do the 1,800 feet ascent in less than 2 hours. The view from the fire tower on the summit was phenomenal. The Adirondack Park spread before me in all its glory, making me truly appreciate the sheer size of it. Two young hikers appeared just as I was descending the fire tower. While sitting below the fire tower, I listened to them chatter excitedly as they pointed out the summits and lakes in the distance. On my way back down the trail, I passed nine or ten more parties of hikers. There were over a dozen cars in the parking lot when I reached it, with more arriving.

Without a doubt, the view from the fire tower on top of Blue Mountain was well worth the climb. And I enjoyed the endorphin rush that came with the physical effort necessary to get up there. But hiking up that mountain wasn’t a wilderness experience by any stretch of the imagination. For that I would recommend a venture into Pigeon Lake Wilderness, or something like it. There is something about being alone in an undeveloped, rarely visited place that completely changes the way one looks at the world. Doing both was great, of course. But if I had to choose between the two, well, I’d choose the latter.

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