adirondacks

The Adirondack Park is a 6 million acre nature reserve with 10,000 lakes and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams. It is oldest protected area in the US, and is protected by Article VII, Section 7, of the New York State Constitution.

The High Peaks

There are 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks (defined as mountains over 4000 feet). The image below shows a stylized map of the High Peaks area, with Algonquin Peak (5115 ft), Mt. Marcy (5344 ft), Dix Mountain (4840 ft), and Giant Mountain (4626 ft).

Stylized relief map of the High Peaks Area from Google Maps.

The view from many of the peaks are stunning. Here is the view from Cascade Mountain, looking at many of the other high peaks.

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A view of Gothics, another High Peak, from Porter Mountain.

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The weather can change dramatically as you go up a High Peak. Even past summer, ice from last winter clings to trees on the top of Cascade Mountain.

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As Camus said, Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower. The lower slopes of the mountain seem to have taken this to heart:

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View of Lake Placid from Whiteface Mountain, which is the only High Peak that is accessible by car.

Panorama shot with iPhone 5

On the Trail

On the trail down Phelps Mountain. Note the windswept trees
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There is only one way up the top, and it is via fantastic trails that snake up the mountain, crossing a variety of ecological zones before ending in the Alpine wastes at the top. Early morning mist on the lower sections of the trail up Cascade and Porter Mountains is captures in the sunlight:

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You can see the vegetation change slowly as you climb up the mountain, with deciduous trees giving way to firs and pine, and then finally to small stunted trees, and after you cross the tree line, nothing remaining but a few tenacious lichen.

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Infra-red image of the path up Rooster Comb Mountain. Under infra-red light, leaves turn bright while wood turns dark.

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Not every mountain is accessible with a short day hike. Some of them require you to camp overnight in the wilderness. Our first trip the Adirondacks involved us losing our way, not knowing that there were bears, and wandering in the dark in circles while we tried to re-locate our tent after cooking. This picture was taken somewhere in the Dix Mountain Wilderness, in a dark forest inhabited by what we felt were several bears.

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Some trails are stunning, especially in the Fall. This is the trail from the ADK Loj to Phelps Mountain.

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Infra-red photograph of a small stream on the trail up to Phelps Mountain.

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Fall in the Adirondacks

Reflection of fall foliage in puddle on Cascade Mountain
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Fall is the best time of year to climb to High Peaks. Apart from the trails being mostly free of winter snow, the trees are brilliant. Looking up, you can see the speckled gold of the sun-lit leaves peter out into the brilliant blue of the mountain sky.

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Every part of the forest is vibrant, and lit with a golden light. When I took this photograph, I remember noticing that the camera failed entirely at capturing the sheer intensity of color that I could see in front of me.

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Maple leaves turning in a puddle of water.

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The gentle slopes of Cascade Mountain roll down to meet the two Cascade Lakes. Here, trees on the far shore of the Lower Cascade Lake are arrayed brilliantly in their autumn finery.

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Winter in the Adirondacks

In the winter, the Adirondacks become an entirely different beast. Casual hikers do not return, and instead, new species move in to fill the void: ice climbers, winter hikers with enormous snowshoes, and ice skaters. Here is the same view of the Lower Cascade Lake, but in winter. The Lake has frozen over completely, and the deciduous trees are bare, leaving only the conifers.

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There's quite a bit of snow, as you can see in this photograph of the delightfully named Fangorn Forest. Snowshoes are essential.

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But even in winter, the sun pokes through, lighting up the trails.

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