Monday, June 7, 2010

Northern New York

Leaving Vermont, I took the ferry across Lake Champlain into New York. Riding back into the Adirondacks was lovely, a homecoming for sure.

Lake Champlain with the Adirondacks in the background

More Adks

I spent my first night back in NY at the trail head for Giant Mt, as I wanted to get a little hike in. I'd decided to do one of my favorite "slide climbs," friction climbing up an avalanche slide area. Getting an early start, I hiked up the trail, then bushwhacked up a creek to the base of the slide. Of course, it was an overcast morning and as soon as I reached the slide the rain came down. I hesitated, knowing it wasn't a good idea to climb this when wet as it's steep, smooth and lichen-covered, but the thought of a long bushwhack back down the creek was not appealing either. I decided to go for it and hoped for the best. Some spots were alright, others no fun at all. I admit, it was a bad idea, I was very relieved to make it up. Unfortunately, I lost my sunglasses as I crawled through the trees near the summit. Although I attempted to retrace my steps it was hopeless (after losing my second pair of good glasses, I'm sticking to cheap ones from now on). This was not a good way to start off the day. Jogging on the way down felt good though and I pedaled my way to Lake Placid for lunch.

Giant Mt. slide climb

A little bit of a view from the summit

Riding through the High Peaks region of the Adks towards Lake Placid

The ride to Lake Placid was full of cyclists. I figured there must be some event going on, then found out they were all training for the upcoming iron man. In town I ran into a friend from Seattle who'd just graduated from St Lawrence (where I went to college), he gave me some advice on routes which was great. From Placid the riding was gorgeous, mostly on small roads I'd never taken, though wished I'd explored. It was typical North Country, wetlands and lakes that I learned to love while living up there.

Typical North Country views

Reaching Canton and my alma mater I enjoyed riding the familiar back roads. My timing was poor, arriving on Memorial Day weekend and three weeks after classes had finished, things were very quiet. I managed to get into the athletic building for a shower then just walked around campus and town. I was disappointed that the SLU security wouldn't let me set up my tent on campus stating it was a "safety and liability issue," some alumni relations. I was banished to camp in the swampy woods full of mosquitoes.

I'd neglected to call anyone before getting to town, so just rode to people's house hoping to catch them. Fortunately, Glenn, my college advisor, was out working in his yard. It was great to catch up and see him.

Back at SLU, the Environmental Studies building

Out of Canton I took a beautiful and quiet road alongside a river with falls to stop and swim at. It was fabulous until I got to the two mile section of soft dirt, which I had to alternate riding and walking as the bike just dug in in places. The deer flies there happened to be horrendous. My riding consisted of pedal slap, slap, itch, itch , itch, pedal, slap, etc. Mid May through June it is Black Fly season in the Adirondacks and those who know better stay out during that time. What no one told me was the Black Fly season doesn't just have horrible black flies, but also mosquitoes, deer flies, horse flies, and noseeums. The combination of these left me bloody and deformed from the swelling that some of these insects induced.

I made my way to Arcadia at Massawepie Lake, the site of an off campus semester I did in college. It's a beautiful place, full of good vibes and memories, even when taken apart as it is when not in use. (It's a semester focusing on sustainable living, we live in yurts, learn local history, ecology, etc). Although it was raining and the mosquitoes were terrible, I always love going back to visit that site.

Back dock at Arcadia

Oh, how I do love the bugs. This was necessary to get out of Massawepie as I had to walk my bike a bunch.

The Snapping turtles are out to lay their eggs. I've seen so many; they're huge and scary!

Arriving in at a gas station in Long Lake, I heard: "Robin! What's going on ?" This was a total stranger who said this to me, so I was very confused. It turned out a past instructor that I'd hoped to see but ended up leaving a note for, had driven by me (not knowing it was me until he got home and found my note), had expected I'd stop at that station and told them about me. Calling Michael, he told he was working in the area and would be back through in the morning, so I decided to stick around that night and hang out the next day.

Michael is a woodworking instructor for the Adirondack Semester and does historical restoration. Although he was working on job that day, he brought me his mountain bike to use and gave me a whole list of things to keep me busy. I hiked up a little mountain to a fire tower for a great view. Then rode into Santanoni, one of the Adirondack Great Camps, now a national historical landmark. Michael has been living out there and working on restoring the place for the past 13 years. The place is beautiful, the camp is the only structure on a large lake, surrounded all by state land. It's incredibly peaceful, quiet, and gorgeous. I was able to take a canoe out and paddle the lake, go for a swim, and float and read-so relaxing! After work, Michael came in and made me a great dinner as we sat out on the 280' porch talking until late in the evening. This was a fabulous surprise and so much fun that it worked out.

Fire Tower on Goodnow Mt

View from the top of the Adks

Michael at Santanoni

From Long Lake, I rode through then out of the mountains. It was sad leaving them, knowing it will be a very long time until I reach mountains again.

North Country wetlands

However, I came across another surprise when once again stopping at a gas station to fill up on water I ran into Jody. I haven't seen another tourer for a long time and haven't seen another solo female since Oregon. Jody's is riding the Northern Tier, for now from Maine to Cleveland and them picking up the rest later on. After talking a bit, I invited her to camp with me that night and we rode together most of the next day. It was a lot of fun again having someone to ride/camp with.

Jody and me

Jody, lunch time!

At Lake Ontario

After parting ways, Jody continued on the Northern Tier route, and I rode on into Oswego to spend a few days with Kim and Bob Schaefer. They have been spoiling me rotten as I've enjoyed a few days of rest. It's been rough laying out by the pool reading, eating great food, and hiding from the rain while watching tv.

I'll be leaving here shortly, headed to Niagara Falls and then it'll be into Canada for a long ways.

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