The mountains are calling, and I must go. John Muir
Across the street and behind the houses on the other side of my Upstate New York home was a wooded area. I remember it as a mountain . I am sure it would not look so imposing if I viewed it now from my adult eyes
On many a summer day I would take a path to the right of the Douglass’s home and head into the oaks and maples. I would sit on logs and imagine myself as Heidi or Lcittle Red Riding Hood.
This was a lone adventure. Although we were perfectly situated between the shores of Lake Champlain and Adirondack Mountains, our family never headed for the woods.
When my parents purchased a cottage on Willsboro Bay, I replaced the trips to the woods with walks to The Point, an area about a quarter of a mile from our cottage that offered views of Lake Champlain and Burlington, Vermont. It was my get-away, my place to sit and think and deal with teenage angst.Even as a adult, I viewed The Point as one of my favorite places. I shared it with friends and, of course, Larry the first time he visited me in the summer of 1973.
And then I finished college and married and started a family. Larry and I purchased a home with a private, wooded backyard. We biked along quiet country roads in Saratoga County. We took occasional short hikes into the woods in Lake George or Vermont or Williamstown in the fall. But I felt that I had lost touch with the woods, with the mountains.
That all changed in 2003. Our daughter Julie moved out to Colorado after graduation from college She took a “one-year” job as an environmental education teacher two hours west of Denver and in the middle of the Rockies.
Julie soon fell in love with Colorado, the mountains, and Sam, not necessarily in that order. On our first visit in June 2004, she took us on easy hikes in Eagle and Summit Counties. By the following summer, Sam and she were trusting us to accompany them on longer, more challenging heights.
As our hikes became longer, so did the length and frequency of our visits to the mountains. Julie and Sam completed grad school degrees, got married, found jobs, and bought a house in Frisco, elevation 9096 or 9097 feet above sea level, depending on which tee shirt you purchased. In anticipation of the birth of our granddaughter in the summer 2015, we rented a place for several weeks, a tradition we have continued every year.
Frisco, located in Summit County, is amazing in the summer—once it stops snowing! This year a long hard winter gratefully came to an end June 21.Even my then three-year-old granddaughter had had enough. “I’m so over winter,” she said. “I am ready for summer and my birthday!”
When we arrived June 30, the still-snow topped mountains had already exploded in shades of green Our first hike was to Rainbow Lake, only a mile up an easy trail near Julie’s home. As we got more acclimated to the altitude, we hiked such colorfully named trails as Lily Pad Lake, Shrine Pass, McCulloughs’ Gulch, and Cataract Lake. Creeks churned through meadows and fields. Columbines and wild roses and cone flowers peaked out between fallen logs and rocks on trails that led to waterfalls and lakes and vistas that took my breath away.
We often share the trails with both locals and others who have found, like us, that it doesn’t get much better than a beautiful summer’s day in the Rockies. We pack water and a snack and find a spot in the middle of the hike just to sit and take in our surroundings.
Larry has found a pickleball league in Summit County (“We Play with an Altitude!”), and several days a week he heads out the courts. On those days, I get ready for my alone time to Rainbow Lake.
I apply the only “make-up” I need, liberal amounts of sun screen. I put on my hiking clothes and lace up my boots, fill a small backpack with water, bug spray, dog treats and poop bags. I then pick up our granddog Neva, and we head up a trail to Rainbow Lake. Neva pauses frequently to sniff at her “pee mail” and to check out a squirrel or magpie. I savor the beauty surrounding me—the columbine growing from a dead trunk, the sunlight reflecting through the aspens, logs stretching over a small stream.
Once we get to Rainbow Lake, I let Neva off her leash and toss a stick into the lake. After a few dog paddles into the chilly water, Neva settles down next to me on my favorite rock. A beaver paddles away from its lodge and few ducks swim across the still water with its reflection of trees and mountains. A woodpecker hammers away on the bark of a pine tree.
Images of Heidi have been replaced with images of Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Ridge Trail or Bill Bryson on the Appalachian Trail. It is my time. I am grateful to G-d for the opportunities open to me in the mountains and for the health to enjoy it. I am at peace. I am back to my Adirondack roots.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish World News, a bi-weekly subscription-based newspaper in upstate New York, in the July 25, 2019, issue.
Lovely, Marilyn. It sounds so beautiful there. We had the pleasure a few years ago of being in Rocky Mountain National Park, only we saw it all from the road. I wish I had your stamina. I could do easy walks with a partner, but Yaacov does not take walks anymore. All the best. Keep writing. Love, Ruth
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I am grateful every day for the health that allows me to go out into the woods and walk and listen and smell and hear the woods!!
Another great story! I love the way you bring the reader into your experience . I too love the woods of the Adirondacks. When we would come home to the Adirondacks, I would roll down all the windows in the car and have my family smell the woods and the moist vegetation. The woods restore my soul!
Thank you, Linda! Loved writing this as it brought back such memories. I make sure I take in all my senses when I am out in the woods. Heading out for hike right now!
Marilyn – I loved reading this!! Am so excited – loved this story!
Thanks, Eve. Love writing these stories. Heading out for hike right now! Hugs!
Well done! You reminded me of my days in
college in Laramie, Wyoming. You only had to
drive a short distance and you could get out of
car and surrounded by woods and natural
beauty. There was a peace and solitude you
you can only find in nature.
Totally understand, Mike! Thank you for commenting! Please share my story if you wish!! See you in August.
This took me back to my walking/hiking trips with “Outdoor Bound” when I lived in NY! Found my photos, loved the memories. Love your stories, as you know! Enjoy your family…see you soon. Idalia
Love the way you made your hike in the Rockies come to life. Beautiful and serene. Will your little granddaughter be joining you in your hikes??
The Frisco Kid is in pre-school when I hike during the week. That is when I recruit Neva the Wonder Dog (our granddog). But on weekends, she is on the hikes with all of us. We have been with her when she has compiled a two mile hike without stopping and when she rode her father’s back the same time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!