October 09, 2016
An initiation hike
I had some friends visit 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, my dog, led us up the trail which runs up the backside of the mountain. She nosed her way along as we took our time on the climb, enjoying the colorful leaves in the overcast light. I often find that dim lighting makes the colors pop more than when they are exposed to the bright sun, and we stopped to admire the colors, 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 quickly and loudly in the spring, was gone. There was a low ribbon of rocks to mark its place. 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 at McKenzie Pond and the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area. We downed some water and chatted for a while. I pointed out the distant High Peaks. 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 down for some water.
We moved to the overlook of Saranac Lake further downslope and along the main path to the summit. 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. A light rain began to fall. And so, taking one last look at the landscape below, we began to descend 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, and I knew it was only a matter of time before we linked up with the main path. We trotted along as the rain pattered quietly on the leaves. It continued to lightly rain on and off.
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 in swimming but we instead headed to Lake Colby, which has a nice beach. Some days make for good fall swimming days in the Adirondacks! At Lake Colby it was cool and dim beneath the clouds. Wren jumped in and after a few dips, we decided to warm up. We enjoyed a hot meal of chili to top off the day. It was my first of what I am sure will be many chili meals of the season.