A Quick Hike
If time to fit in a hike is short, then Mount Baker is always a good bet. After all, it is only about a mile to the summit, and it offers a rewarding view for the effort. And so, with a few friends in town in search of an easy hike, Baker was our choice.
Colors and Birds
Wren led us up the trail, through a golden beech forest on the backside of the mountain. It was a warm, breezy, fall afternoon – our colors were late again this year, just like they were last year. I took advantage of this fact by taking photos of the trail and trees as we went, and we paused to admire the foliage as I snapped some shots. We also halted for Wren to drink at the small stream not far along the route, but she was the one who had to wait the most, as we stopped regularly to chat and catch up on life since it had been a while since we had seen each other.
And while the leaves kept me occupied when I wasn’t yakking, I did note a few fall birds as we hiked – including Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, Black-capped Chickadee, and Winter Wren. For the most part our forests are quiet at this point in the year, but the birds we have are fun, nonetheless. The riot of color that composed the forest more than made up for this, and Wren patiently waited for us to start walking as we talked, and for me to use my camera.
Those delays aside, we had plenty of daylight for the hike and we soon stood on the top, admiring the view of McKenzie Mountain and McKenzie Pond and chatting with other hikers. Waves of color stretched out below us, accented by the dark green of evergreens, as a cool wind blew away the sweat and heat we earned during the climb. I realized I neglected to bring an extra long-sleeved layer to cover up on the summit, but at least the day was warm enough that I didn’t get terribly chilled. Wren nosed her way around the summit in search of food dropped by other hikers, and after enjoying the view and taking more photographs, we started back down the main path to the trailhead.
This route soon takes hikers to a few views of Saranac Lake, the nearby lakes, and the distant High Peaks, and I pointed out several features and landmarks to my friends while making sure Wren didn’t wander too far – it’s a series of ledges, after all, and she can sometimes find herself with a challenging path to rejoin me. With the view of the low, setting sun enjoyed, and more photos taken, we continued down the trail feeling unrushed — we knew we had time before nightfall.
We were soon immersed back in the golden woods of American beech, hophornbeam, sugar maple, red maple, and yellow birch, and the leaves glowed in the late afternoon shadows like lanterns leading us down to the trailhead. We reached the dark green stretch of the trail surrounded by eastern hemlocks, and we were back to Moody Pond and the car. While the easy hike did not tax us, it – and the cooling evening – made us quite hungry, and it was time to head home for the first batch of fall chili.