mumbling mountain

comfort from trees

the hike that didn’t happen. yet.


More trees for Syracuse

It looks like I have a new job. It’s been a year and a half since I had a permanent, full time job. The thought takes some adjusting too. Once the job starts, though, vacation time won’t accumulate very quickly so I decided I better play hard. Like climb a high peak. I decided Cascade would be good, the easiest of the bunch, so to speak, and maybe good for early season out of shape hikers.

I’ve hiked several of the high peaks in the Adirondacks. It’s been an on-the-back-burner goal to do all 46 of them. Maybe because I am getting closer to decrepitude it is feeling more compelling. Or maybe because running a marathon has been taken off the to do list because of my feet the idea of completing the 46 feels like my best shot at denying aging. Did I mention, though, that I had excruciating pain in my right knee while descending Algonquin last September? I led with my left leg all the way down. Boy, was I lame. Two weeks later, though, I was able to hike Azure Mountain with no pain.

On Father’s Day, the day before we were to go climb Cascade Mountain, Julia, Bob and I went for a couple of loops at the Rand Tract, a favorite place where we walk the Popster and enjoy the finest of Syracuse’s parks, the wooded hill above the duck pond at Webster Pond. There are a couple of steep sections, maybe a tenth of a mile or so for each of them. The whole circuit isn’t much more than a mile. Not strenuous. I wore my crocs in my constant desire to test footwear against my metatarsalgia. BIG mistake, I think. On the way down the first steep section, probably at .8 miles, my knee started killing me. NOOooo!!!! How was I going to make it down 2 miles of Cascade?

Pink ladyslippers in a spruc swamp on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail

Oh well. Bob and I dithered and decided to try a few miles of flat hiking on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail instead. We called our hiking buddies and told them of our change in plans. They decided to go for Cascade anyway, their first high peak. They set out early from Watertown, probably hitting the trail before we were even near Watertown. We had a wonderful walk to the spruce swamp and saw some old favorites along the way including pink ladyslippers and Indian cucumber. The trail had a few ups and downs and my knee gave me no trouble. Well, maybe a touch towards the end, but ibuprofen cured it. We missed our friends for our date for an Ubu at the Lake Placid Brewery’s pub house as they finished well before we came out of the swamp and went home pretty tired and beat up by the mountain, but awed by the view and the experience. How’s that for a hiking date? We all hiked but never saw each other. Everyone was happy, though.

Taken from Owls Head, our consolation peak, Cascade Mountain is behind Bob.

Day 2. After a night of trying to convince myself my knee felt fine and I could do Cascade I talked sense into myself. We climbed Owls Head, a little pimple of a peak downstream from Cascade Mountain. It has nice views at the top, something I crave on my Adirondack trips and a small consolation for missing a high peak peek. No knee trouble on the steep sections of the half mile trail return. My VFFs (Vibram Five Fingers) are very sure footed. I think perhaps my crocs were too loose and my attempts to be sure footed affected my whole body, especially, maybe, my knees.

So, will I attempt Cascade this coming week? Why not?

Everyone we met on our hike was in great spirits. Look at the day! How could it be

Split Rock Falls on the Boquet River

otherwise? As we started down the “mountain” we met a retired teacher who was an insatiable hiker. He had had a heart attack a few years earlier, though, and wasn’t doing high peaks anymore. He was a wealth of information about hiking with limitations. One spot he told us about was Split Rock Falls on the Boquet River on Route 9 just north of the intersection with Route 73 past. We expected a bit of a hike but it was right by the side of the road. We met a few Hasidim in the parking lot. That was a first. The men were in their Brooklyn finest hiking clothes but they were game to see what all the cars were attracted to. The lady of the group ventured to wade at the top of the falls. They were ultimately heading for Lake Placid which made me wonder if there was an iPhone app for kosher restaurants. Of course there was a family and friends playing in the water with colorful tubes and little dogs. It wouldn’t be summer on the river by the road without them.

MacIntyre furnace built in 1854. photo by Bob

On the way home we stopped at Upper Works above Tahawus to show Bob. This abandoned mining community near Newcomb is RICH with history. We met a man who had grown up in Tahawus, he pronounced it somewhat like “Toss”, who had a lot to say about life there as a kid.  His father worked for the mine and retired to South Colton. I thought he had said the  village was moved in the 90s to get at what was supposed to be a very rich vein of titanium but that the vein ran out in a couple of years. He left in 1960 to join the Navy. Other histories I have read since returning home put the Tahawus move in the 60s. I must have confused what he said. Either way, the Upper Works, not a part of the Tahawus settlement, was our destination that day. Many a person, including Theodore Roosevelt, have started their treks to Marcy or other peaks from Upper Works. My Iroquois trip started there. Our friends from Quebec come in numbers enough to have their own sign about using bear cannisters!


There should be a few books about hiking the ‘dacks for people who love to get out and see new places but can’t do the rigorous peaks. Folks need great views and good exercise. Let me know if such guides exist, Please!

2 Responses

Gaah, left hanging! What’s the job? Congratulations!

Not exactly what you were asking for but I have a copy of “Kids on the Trail! Hiking with Children in the Adirondacks”. Not that I’m suggesting you’re in your second childhood (I’m still working on my first) but of course the hikes it describes are less strenuous ones. Also I have on loan from the library “Five-Star Trails in the Adirondacks” in which each hike carries ratings for “difficulty” (as well as “scenery”, “trail condition”, “children”, and “solitude”).

But maybe it’s up to you to write the book you’re asking for…

  • Kids might be perfect, as long as they are intrepid.
    I’m thinking of making a table: hike names and locations on the left, characteristics along the top with dots in the matrix. Length, elevation gain over distance, swamp, hill, mountain, flat, bad knees, bad heart, motorized access….
    I just hate having to look up each hike to get that information. Hopefully someone will do it before I do.
    My job is with Extension Onondaga, again, working on the County’s “Save the Rain” project’s tree planting effort. The funding is for 8 years so maybe I can hang on to it for the whole thing. 8,500 public trees to plant and maintain within the sewer sheds that drain through to Onondaga Lake.