Goodbye warm-weather gear!
Sadly, on November 1, I hung the kayak and canoe in the garage, but I was still holding out for another bike outing which was scheduled for November 7. Unfortunately, as that date approached the nights grew colder and so did the days. Biking in 30-degree weather was not something our group wanted to do - so we changed plans!
Brr... get acclimated!
Once there is enough snow, we are eager to jump on the cross-country skis even in frigid temperatures — but getting into that mindset takes some work. We know to dress in breathable layers and to keep moving! However, this time of year, I need a little push. My friend Gretchen was our motivator for this outing, she had the location and the time planned and even knew the distance. After being inside for several days due to rain, Kathy, Trisa, and I were ready to join Gretchen in her proposed outing. My belief is you have to get acclimated, especially after experiencing our gorgeous fall weather. But, when the temperatures drop quickly, how do you get acclimated? You get outside — there is always something to enjoy!
Our meeting place was my old neighborhood — I have been there a lot lately on my bike! We met at 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 86 in Paul Smiths. Gretchen wanted to hear the highlights of what we'd find along the Keese Mills Road. I may have disappointed her — there were no stories of haunted houses or Big Foot sightings, just landmarks with funny names and a few cute stories. Growing up we made our own fun by riding bikes, hiking mountains, and just hanging out on someone's front porch as we did not have a movie theater or snack bar in our rural community. On occasion I was allowed to play baseball with my brothers and their friends, simply because I filled a spot on the field! I was not invited to partake in their hiking and camping adventures, therefore I never became familiar with the Black Pond Trail — today's destination.
A short ride put us at the parking area at 12:40 p.m.. The trailhead is on the right hand side of the road, approximately 2.5 miles from Paul Smith's College. It was a bit nippy and when we got to the parking area I realized I had left my gloves and hat in my car! Oh well, I had pockets, a hood on my jacket, my snacks and my camera!
Gretchen’s plan was for us to walk around Black Pond with a little detour to Long Pond. The loop around the 72-acre glacial Black Pond is 2.3 miles, the detour to Long Pond would only add another mile to our total distance. At the trailhead we headed clockwise around the pond. I have paddled in this area a few times, but had only walked on the trail between Black Pond and Long Pond with Trisa. Although that was a memorable little foray as I had stumbled on the walk and ended up paddling out with a very sore wrist, luckily, it was a short paddle.
We had only walked a short distance on the southern end of the pond when we spotted a privy off in the woods prior to reaching the first lean-to. We admired the lean-to and made comments about the high picnic table. It was a beautiful spot for a picnic. We continued to walk around the lake on the gently rolling, well-maintained path — taking special precaution to be careful on the numerous boardwalks, which were a bit slippery due to the recent rain.
We were shocked to see a few juvenile loons on the pond! Kathy commented on how it is common for the juveniles to be rescued as they wait too long to head south. They require a runway just like a jet as they need to run about a quarter of a mile across the water in order to take flight. When they wait too long the ice prevents them from having a long enough runway. If they are not rescued, sadly they will freeze to death on the lake. As I am writing this blog, I am thinking I do need to visit the Loon Conservatory in Saranac Lake.
The moss along the trail glowed when the sun peeked out. There were many downed trees, but only one in our path. At one point, near some downed evergreens I stated it smelled like Christmas! We then passed Chokeberries bushes on the shoreline which again made me think of Christmas and the shopping which I need to do!
Near this area, Kathy pointed out that we had a good view of St. Regis Mountain, so of course I had to take a photo of the mountain that I had frequently climbed as a teen. I haven’t climbed it in years; it is on my list for 2018! On one hike we were caught in a horrible thunder and lightning storm on our way down. At that time there was a Ranger's cabin near a beautiful mountain brook where we took refuge on the screened porch until the storm subsided.
While looking at the mountain and the pond, we spotted a small boat, I thought they must be cold on the water!
We passed the intersection where we could do the loop around Black Pond or continue on to Long Pond, we continued on to Long Pond as planned to the 2nd lean-to. Gretchen headed to find the privy and exclaimed, "I found it! You have to be climb one of the 46 peaks to get to it!" It was a good distance away and up a very steep hill! Not where I would want to venture in the middle of the night in the dark! This lean-to also had a rustic dock which we checked out.
Back at the intersection we crossed the footbridge which is between Black Pond and Little Black Pond to continue on the Black Pond loop. Across the bridge was the 3rd lean-to, this too had a large picnic table, I commented they must have been building it with Paul Bunyan in mind! At this site we noticed the beautiful signage indicating all directions!
Woods and Water Trail!
On our way out we talked about coming back to explore this area more due to the number of trails. We were specifically interested in the Woods and Water trail which appeared to be wide. Upon getting home I searched the internet and learned the VIC property covers 3,000 acres and has 25 trails! The trails are for walking, traditional xc skiing, skate skiing, and snowshoeing! The Woods and Water trail is 3-miles long one way and a footbridge crosses a Heron Marsh! It sounds like a beautiful trail and I am anxious to ski it.
Our outing on this chilly day was perfect, just enough to get our bodies a little adjusted to even colder temperatures and an inspiration to get out more! The ladies were headed to Saranac Lake and so was I - this walk had worked up an appetite. Now, to decide which delicious spot to grab a bite to eat!