Has it really been almost two years since we were last inside the Blue Line? Last year, our 10th anniversary Caribbean cruise completely wiped out the vacation budget, and then my essay on hiking the Adirondacks was published in The Conservationist last fall; a vicarious visit at best.
We just returned from the Adirondacks last night, finally finding a place a little closer that makes a long weekend visit more practical. Six million acres of ‘forever wild’, the Adirondack Park covers most of the North Country of New York State, encompassing geography from just northeast of Syracuse and stretching nearly to Canada to the north and Vermont to the east.
With so much coverage, the closer edges of the Adirondacks are a mere three-hour journey from Rochester and the farther reaches, the High Peaks and Lake Placid, six hours. Once inside the Blue Line, as the map border surrounding the park is called, it is all one state of mind.
This weekend’s visit took us to Raquette Lake, near the geographic center of the Adirondacks. We passed through the tourist destination of Old Forge and pressed north toward the Great Camps region. I breathed deeper and slower, a familiar relief spreading through body and spirit.
Over 150 years, much timber has been cut, rail tracks then roads laid, camps built and rebuilt, and now tree-less peaks eroded to bare rock. One might say that we love it to death, but have no fear – it is fully alive. Hurricane Irene dealt a blow to northeastern areas of the Adirondacks in 2011; many homes were ruined, but to the mountains it was just another blip on a very, very long timeline. When a hiker summits a bald peak, the rock underfoot is more than one billion years old.
Our destination, St. William’s on Long Point, I came to know by way of an article I recently wrote about a local woman who made bedspreads for their 19 bed retreat center. She is a misplaced Adirondack-er, as we all begin to feel when we are not inside the Blue Line.
If her heart is in the Adirondacks, her soul specifically resides at St. William’s. After visiting myself, I can understand why.