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A Winter's Hike up Baker Mountain
Dec
28
2014

A Perfect Day for Photos 

The icy, mixed precipitation we’ve had recently has coated the forests in the North Country white, and I was excited by the prospect of a bright, sunny day to head out with Wren and my camera for photos. We woke early on a clear cold morning and after allowing the temperature to raise a touch, I layered up, grabbed my snowshoes, and we set out into a blindingly white world beneath a cobalt sky. We were headed to Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake.

 It has been a while since we’ve hiked Baker and Wren was excited and raced up the trail while I fussed with my gear. I decided to walk with my camera in my hand since otherwise I would be likely to keep stopping to pull it out of my backpack to take photos. The risk, of course, is that I could slip and drop it - but thankfully that didn’t happen. The air was cold, but I soon became warm in all my layers as we climbed the trail up the backside of the mountain. The small mucky seeps and streams still weren’t frozen as we started out and I chose my steps carefully in order to avoid punching through the ice and getting wet. Wren trotted on ahead, her snowshoe-like feet seemingly adapted for the conditions.Wren - trail Baker

 An Incredible Winter View

The trail itself was packed down, not icy, and easy to walk without snowshoes, although crampons would be helpful if anyone chooses to go check it out. Snowshoes were an asset off-trail, however, and even Wren’s big feet didn’t always keep her from sinking beneath the outer crust. She didn’t seem to mind at all though. I took my time climbing the mountain, stopping here and there to take photos of snow-plastered trees in the morning shadows or against the blue sky. The cold morning was quiet – we heard no birds save one small group of Black-capped Chickadees as we advanced upslope. We eventually reached the summit and stepped out from the trees to a dazzling view, forcing me to put on my sunglasses. Every twig, every limb, and every peak were coated in white as if the elves had been working overtime to decorate the landscape for Christmas. The results were stunning - I couldn’t have traced the outline of the trees better with a pencil. I set to work snapping photos and changing my exposure to capture the bright world stretched out beneath our feet. Mount McKenzie gleamed in the sunlight and the distant High Peaks were ensconced in white as a layer of low clouds hung in the valley beneath them.Wren - Baker Summit

 Continuing to Take Photos

Although my own layers had made me a bit warm as I hiked up the mountain, I was happy for them as I stood in one place fiddling with my camera. That said, the sun was warm and here and there the softening snow lost its hold on a branch which would drop a shimmering cascade of powder. Wren even got into the act when she triggered a pile of snow to dump on me and my camera while she tugged on a low limb as she explored the summit. “Thanks,” I said to her flatly, as if she had intentionally played a joke on me (who’s to say she didn’t?). As I held my camera in the sun to allow the moisture to evaporate from the lens, she ignored me and continued her investigations.Trees Baker

We moved down to the overlook of Saranac Lake and I took photos while Wren continued to explore or to sit – almost reflectively – overlooking the world below. I tried to get her to sit still and pose, but such efforts are generally frustrating to both of us. Eventually a woman came up the trail, commenting about the beautiful morning. Two more people were not far behind as the warming day was inviting more and more folks to explore.

 I didn’t really want to leave the spectacle behind, but we finally began to follow the rumbles in my stomach down the trail. Every bend in the trail yielded a new composition, and we completed our loop to the trailhead snapping photos the entire way.

It was time to head into town in search of some good eats and a warm drink. Want to try some early winter snowshoeing or hiking? Need to find the right gear? Let us help!

Categories:Hiking, Snowshoe, winter
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About The Author

Alan Belford has spent much of his life outdoors exploring and learning about wildlife – particularly birds. Alan is often out hiking, paddling, running, or cross country skiing – with his Labrador retriever Wren at this side. A certified teacher and former cross country, baseball, and ultimate frisbee coach, he loves teaching others and has taught multiple natural history (specializing in ornithology) courses for both college students and the general public. He is a licensed guide in New York State, he has traveled widely both domestically and internationally, and he is also a published travel writer and photographer – focusing on outdoor and nature writing.

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