A Day of Decisions

January 23, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

A lost journal entry from my October trip to the Adirondacks:

Day 2:

It was another cold morning, and I had another mountain to climb for a sunrise vista.  Today I was headed for Mount VanHoevenberg, where the bobsledders raced in the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.  Unfortunately my map was of little use, as the mountain was covered in crisscrossing Ski trails.  I made my way up the twisting ski trails, slowly gaining elevation and moving in the general right direction.  Thankfully, I am really good with navigating and I managed to keep selecting the right trails to follow.  Eventually I made it out of the forest and into a clearing, where I saw the top of the Bobsledding track.  The view was wonderful! I was able to see the distant landscape stretching out past Lake Placid.

Bobsled Track

After cooling off for a bit and enjoying the view, I continued my push to the summit.  After a relatively steep, wet hike through the forest I finally arrived at a rocky outcropping.  Before me was an endless sea of trees and mountains.



Using my 150-600mm lens, I had a lot of fun zooming way in on the distant trees and landmarks.

Eventually a friendly New York couple joined me on the overlook, they lived in the area and were avid hikers.  They were in the process of climbing to the top of all 46 major peaks in the Adirondacks, in hopes of earning the 46er title.  They also mentioned that there was an Oktoberfest nearby, on top of Mount Whiteface.  I suddenly realized how dehydrated and hungry I had gotten (I was in such a rush to get to the mountain I left my food and water in the car).  I decided to make this Oktoberfest my next destination.  

On my way down the mountain I followed the Bobsled course, which was pretty neat.  The bobsleds were running that morning, every so often I'd hear one shoot past me down the track.  As I was descending the mountain the song "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd came on.  It was one of those surreal moments in life.  I have a gorgeous mountain view ahead of me, with the guitar solo blaring out of the loudspeakers.  For a moment life was perfect and I had become Comfortably Numb.

After an exhausting morning I arrived back at my car around noon.  I smashed hard on some donuts from White House, a slice of cold pizza, and a liter of water.  Now I needed to figure out how to get to Mount Whiteface for the Oktoberfest.

While I was headed to Mount Whiteface, I saw tons of beautiful areas to pull over and enjoy the Adirondacks.  Of course, I had to stop for at least a few of these.  One location was along a stream, which let me test out my new Polarizer.  A Polarizer will remove the reflections from water (or any surface really) and give much more vibrant colors and remove harsh glare.

 

Eventually I arrived at the base of Mount Whiteface, there's a road you can drive up to get to the summit.  This drive reminded me a lot of my time out West, especially on Trail Ridge Road and Going to the Sun Road.

 

At the summit there is an old castle you can go inside, and a steep, slick, rocky trail that leads to the very top of the mountain.  The view up there is spectacular, you can see for dozens of miles in every direction.  



With 2 mountains conquered before 3pm I was so looking forward to this Oktoberfest.  Unfortunately I was at the wrong location!!  Apparently the Oktoberfest was at the base of the mountain, not the top.  Time was running out, so I got back to my car and drove all the way back down the mountain to the WhiteFace Ski Resort.  Having spent the past 24 hours isolated in the mountains, the ski resort was a welcome change.  The Oktoberfest was still going strong when I arrived around 4.  I stuffed my face with some good German food and had a couple beers to wash it all down.  As I was walking around the festival I saw 2 owls, one of my personal highlights of the trip!



With my stomach finally full, I was ready to begin the final leg of my trip.  I knew I wanted to be at Elk Lake for sunrise the next morning, but I had no idea where I was going to spend the night.  I ultimately decided to just start driving down towards Elk Lake and stop when I found a suitable Hostel or campsite.  I never did.  

Around dusk I arrived at Elk Lake, a pristine backcountry gem.  There is an old lodge there, dating back to the 1800's, where visitors can enjoy the backcountry in luxury.  But I'm way too cheap for that!  I ended up sleeping in my car that night, but not before I took over 300 photos of the night sky.

 

There was a dock that I ended up sitting on for a couple hours, watching the stars twinkle in the sky.  All of the dew around me slowly started to freeze in the cold Autumn air.  By the time I got up from my seat, everything around me had frozen.  With my camera finally done taking photos for a timelapse, I looked forlornly into the warm, cozy Elk Lake Lodge, then trudged back to my car. 



To see all of the photos from my Adirondack trip, click here!


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