The old ones

Good old Adirondacks. Old, as in, older than the Rockies. Hence more worn down, but, older.

We left Saturday for our third annual Adirondacks trip. As in previous years I picked mountains to climb and planned around that. This year’s mountains were Goodnow and Vanderwhacker, near the hamlet of Newcomb, out past Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake on Route 28N. Which pretty much meant the campsite was Lake Harris State Campground. The reviews say Lake Harris is hardly ever busy, but it was about 93% full as of Saturday lunchtime, and even several weeks ago when I made reservations there were almost no lakeside sites left. We got one. Nice campground, I liked it much better than last year’s Wilmington Notch, though it failed to displace 2008’s Durant Lake as my favorite: the latter had the advantage of no Jet Skis on the water.


We arrived around lunchtime, set up camp, and spent the rest of the day reading, playing Icehouse games, and dealing with combustion. One problem with Lake Harris turned out to be that, due to its non-proximity to much of any commercial establishments (Newcomb is not exactly bustling), the only places to buy firewood nearby were houses that had racks of cut and split “firewood” out front with boxes to put your money into. “Firewood” which was uniformly damp, green, unseasoned softwoods which resisted all efforts to actually get it to burn. We did eventually get enough of a fire going to toast a few marshmallows, but that was about it. Lesson: Go through a real village on the way (we took a route that avoided any real population centers for about the last hour of the trip) where you can find stores selling seasoned hardwood.

(Bringing wood from home is frowned upon. It spreads Emerald Ash Borer and other undesireables.)

Fortunately, I found a forgotten single burner propane stove in our camping gear before leaving, and we stopped on the way to get a couple small propane cylinders, so we were able to cook.

I was a bit surprised, pleasantly, that Heather decided to go on the hike up Goodnow on Sunday. The ascent was only about 1000 feet over a distance to summit of 2 miles, so it was decidedly easier than the mountains Kenny and I did the past couple years — Blue Mountain, Cascade, and Porter. Yet the views were nice, despite the clouds, especially from the fire observer’s tower at the top.


There is a USCGS station mark and two reference marks on the peak, and a geocache hidden nearby, all of which we found. On the descent we were motivated by a desire to finish before rain arrived; we did it essentially non-stop, in half the time it took to go up.

It did start raining later in the afternoon and continued until around bedtime. Our tents were watertight, but we had nothing to keep rain off our cooking and dining area. A serious omission, one the ATM does not make. Eventually it occurred to me there was another important difference with ATM camping: the latter is generally in a farmer’s field, on mown grass; this was on a well-used campsite with nothing underneath us but bare sandy dirt. In the rain, it got a whole lot messier.

We were hoping the rain was done, but no. Next morning we woke to a thunderstorm. While we weren’t sure how long the rain would last, we figured the trails would be wet, muddy, and slippery even if the rain stopped. Besides that our car’s Check Engine light had come on the day before and we were worried about that. So we decided to go home a day early. Turns out Kenny’s boots were too small and he had a blister on his heel, though we didn’t find that out until later, so not climbing Vanderwhacker (a good deal more challenging than Goodnow) was an even better decision than we’d thought at the time.

Still a good trip while it lasted, and maybe we’ll do Vanderwhacker next year.


One thought on “The old ones

  1. yup, seasoned hardwood in ADK Park is worth its weight in gold. We’re sometimes fortunate enough to find a standing dead tree that hasn’t managed to rot yet – those are OK to harvest – but generally only when we’re fairly far off the beaten track (parts of the West Canada Wilderness spring to mind here). Sounds like a lovely trip!


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