An Initiation Hike
I had some friends in town this past weekend, and so like I often do with first time visitors, I took them on a hike up Baker Mountain. The mile-long hike is relatively easy and the payoff view from the top is splendid. Wren led us up the trail which runs up the backside of the mountain, nosing her way along as we took our time on the climb - enjoying the colorful leaves in the overcast light. I often find that such dim light makes the colors pop more than when they are exposed to the bright sun, and we stopped to admire them - noting the differences between the trees.
Though the sky threatened rain, the trail was completely dry – the product of such a rainless summer. Places where the trail is usually muddy were easy to walk, and the stream which can flow fast and loud in the spring was totally gone – with a low ribbon of rocks to mark its place on the map. A few birds called as we hiked – Pileated Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadees, and Yellow-rumped Warblers – most of which were hidden from view in the variably colored leaves. As we neared the summit we reached Scotch pine and other conifers along the trail from which Golden-crowned Kinglets called.
A Great View
We were soon at the top – looking out over the view of McKenzie Pond and the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area. We downed some water and chatted for a while, I pointing out the distant High Peaks along with a few of their names. After all, Baker offers excellent views of some of the prominent peaks like Marcy, Colden, and Algonquin. Wren did her usual exploration of the summit – searching for food left by other hikers – before settling for a drink of her own.
We moved to the overlook of Saranac Lake further downslope and along the main path to the summit and took that view in as well. I pointed out the various lakes, a few more mountains, and some of the buildings in town. We paused again for more time to chat, reflect, and for some more photos – I trying to get Wren to sit still long enough for me to get a photo taken with her. She doesn’t like sitting still and looking at the camera when we are in the field. To her presumed relief, we finally got cut off when rain began to fall lightly. And so, taking one last look at the landscape below, we began to descend toward it on the snaking path.
Heading Down in the Drizzle
There are many spidery trails across the top of Baker and we initially started on one of them but I knew it was only a matter of time before we linked up with the main path. We trotted along making easy conversation while the rain pattered quietly on the leaves, then stopped, and then started again. It would rain off and on lightly during the night.
As we reached the trailhead, Wren tried to race ahead to Moody Pond – her tradition on Baker and frankly her tradition anytime she gets a chance to swim. My original plan when we got to the trailhead was to join her in her swimming enthusiasm and head to Lake Colby for a chilly swim to wash off the hike. This year there have been an unusual amount of good fall swimming days! But it was cool and dim beneath the gray clouds and my friends were not interested in getting cold in the water. So I threw a stick in Moody Pond for Wren and teased my friends for their lack of an adventurous spirit – even though it was a bit cold for a swim. In fact, it was better weather for a hot meal than it was for a dip and we drove home in the drizzle to make a pot of chili to top off the day. It was my first of what I am sure will be many chili meals of the season.