Pretty much anyone who has read my blog knows it has been a long time since I have done any serious hiking or camping. I think it has been about six years since I’ve been to a National Park. It’s been even longer since I slept in a tent. For the record, I definitely prefer sleeping in my bed to a sleeping bag in a tent. Despite that, I have missed camping for quite a while. I love relaxing by a campfire. I have spent more than 50 nights camping in National Parks spread out across five road trips out west. So, I’d say it became a fairly big part of my life for a few years. I know there are tons of people that camp out much more than that, but I centered all of my travel on getting across the country to my favorite parks out west once a year.
I’ve written before about how I’m excited by the possibility of eventually traveling back out west to my favorite National Parks with my family. My daughter just turned four years old and my son will be six this summer. I think we’ll probably wait a few more years because any trip out west will require a long plan ride and a lot of time in a car. Those are two things my wife and I do not enjoy with our children at this point.
I’m still not expecting to return to any of my favorite parks out west any time soon, but a different hiking opportunity has recently popped up. A good friend of mine has suggested that we go on a hiking adventure. We mostly talk about visiting the great parks out west, because we’ve been to a few of the same ones. However, he also has a couple of young children at home, so he isn’t ready to travel too far or for too long yet either. More recently we’ve talked more about planning something shorter and sooner. Nothing is set in stone, but we decided (with our wives’ blessing) to try to camp somewhere for a weekend this summer.
I told my friend I’d rather not drive more than a couple of hours away since we won’t be away long, but I said I’d also really like to hike up a mountain. I’ve written before about how I like canyons, waterfalls, lakes, beaches, and forests; but I love mountains the most. We live in Western New York, in the suburbs of Buffalo, so there are no mountains anywhere near us. He was on board with my mountain idea though, so he suggested the Adirondacks on the eastern side of the state. It’s a little farther than we’d prefer to drive for a weekend of hiking and camping, at around six or seven hours depending on where we end up in the Adirondack region, but we think it will be worth it.
The Adirondacks are dwarfed in size by the great peaks of the west, but there are more than 40 peaks over 4,000 feet tall. Most of their summits require long day hikes with a lot of elevation gain, because most of the trailheads start near sea level. In my experience, most mountain trails I’ve hiked in the east have been rockier than those out west. So, due to their trail length, elevation gain, and trail conditions, the hikes can be more difficult than many of the mountain hikes out west (or at least some of the National Park mountain trails I’ve hiked).
Again, nothing is definite for this summer, but if we can find the time to do it we will. We are obviously in the early planning stage, even though we could hypothetically hit the road in less than two months. Still, it’s the closest I’ve been to going on a nature-based vacation in a while, so I’m pretty excited about the possibilities.
I’m looking for ideas and hiking suggestions. As I mentioned earlier, I’d like to hike up a mountain, but preferably not one that is too difficult since I’m a little rusty. I’ve been to the Adirondacks three or four times before. I hiked to the top of Mount Marcy, which is considerably more difficult than anything I would like to try this time around. I think the smaller mountains I’ve climbed in the Adirondacks are named Buck Mountain, Blue Mountain, and Black Mountain. I don’t recall any of them being too strenuous. I’m ideally looking for a peak with an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet or less. We’re only going to be there for one full day, so I also don’t want the hike to take the entire day, maybe more like something between two and four hours.
I really like the Lake Placid area, so I’m leaning toward camping somewhere near there. We tossed around the idea of bringing my two kayaks or his canoe, but we’re thinking we’ll leave them at home and just do some hiking this time. Maybe we’ll do some boating on a future trip.
Summer is always a busy time, but hopefully we are able to coordinate our schedules so that we can go on a short Adirondack adventure. I’m not that worried about finding a hike or two, I’m sure we’ll figure something out. I’m just excited to spend some time in the woods and camp out for the first time in years. I’d love to grill some steaks and drink a couple of good local beers beside a campfire. Sure, I’d miss my wife and kids, but it would only be for a couple of days. Maybe I’ll hike a mountain that I can return to with Noah in a few years.