Adirondacks Climb to Formidable Peaks

The Ausable River, which drains more than 500 square miles of New York’s Adirondack Mountains, squeezes through a flume below hiking paths that form a mountainside web. We went for the view and climbed to Flume Knob, about 1,300 feet above the river. After some serious rock scrambling, Sue celebrated as black flies joined us at the top. The Ausable River area, just a few miles from Lake Placid, is known as one of the country’s finest trout-fishing places. It empties into Lake Champlain at the Vermont border.

The mountains of the eastern USA may not compare with the elevations of the Sierra Nevada and Rockies, but they offer steep and rocky challenges that make the Appalachian Trail so tough. We have gotten a taste of the Appalachians during the last several weeks, and this week we got to know a part of the Adirondacks, including New York’s fifth-highest peak, Whiteface Mountain. Forty bucks got us and our truck entry to the road to the ”castle,” several hundred feet below the peak. The last bit is advertised as a ”nature trail” to the top, but without hand rails, it would be too slippery and difficult for many. The views of Lake Placid and much more would have been fantastic if Mother Nature had cooperated. Whiteface was the site of Alpine skiing events in the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. In 1980, human-made snow was used for the first time in the Olympics.

Tackling the Appalachian Trail (sort of)

While in the eastern U.S., Sue and I just had to walk the Appalachian Trail. Not all 2,135 miles of it and not even the 544 miles of the AT that runs through Virginia.

The Massie Gap Trail in Grayson Highlands State Park took us up to the AT, where we witnessed some of the best views of the entire iconic trail, according to our state parks guide. And a rhododendron forest that hadn’t bloomed despite it being late April. There was not a wild pony in sight either, despite warnings not to feed them.

We saw a couple of northbound thru hikers with medium-sized backpacks, but they sped by too quickly for us to ask how far they were going. Then we came to a group of 15 or so adults and teen-agers laden with huge backpacks.

“You must be going a long way,” Sue asked them. ”Yep,” said a woman leading the group. “We’re out for three days!”

We are proud to say we walked the Appalachian Trail, at least a couple miles of it in southwestern Virginia.