This was a very unstructured trip. I really had no idea what I was going to do as far as specifics. I knew I wanted to hike up several of the high peaks. No idea which ones really. No plans as to what hikes to do when. I had a few guide books to help me sort things out. But when I drove from my camp to Lake Placid and saw a sign for the trail head to Haystack Mountain, one of the 46 high peaks, just a few miles down the road I decided that was a perfect opportunity to take on that hike.
I looked at one of my guide books that I had and looked up some info on the hike for Haystack Mountain. The book I had talked about it being quite along hike that could take up to all day. So I prepared accordingly. I packed my Nathan pack with plenty of food and two liters of water. When I train for long trail runs I try to have a food option for every hour I would be out there so I made that my standard for hiking. I got up early in the morning and set out prepared to spend potentially the whole day on the trails.
The hike was pretty tough and the heat did not help. It was well into the 80’s that day. When I reached the summit I was greeted with fog. There was not much to be seen. I stayed on the summit for a while hoping that the fog would clear. I had no such luck.
The fog cover, however, did allow me to shift my focus from distant landscape photography to examining the nature literally right at my feet. As I not so patiently waited to see if the fog would clear, I began to examine the plant life and flowers that were making that mountain summit their home.
Despite the lack of scenery at the summit, the trail itself was full of scenery. It is difficult to understate the beauty of the scenery you are surrounded with in the Adirondacks and the trail up Haystack did not disappoint. The Adirondacks are so much more than mountains. I climbed this mountain hoping to see expansive mountain vistas. I wanted to photograph the iconic mountain landscape that everyone recognizes as a feature of the Adirondacks.
Instead I had my focus shifted from what is out there to what is right below my feet. What does this trail right here right now have to offer me. Sometimes just having a mental shift will really help things clarify in one’s mind. Instead of being disappointed by the lack of visibility at the summit I was in awe of the surrounding forest. I took my time and absorbed the wilderness air. I just let myself look out across the forest and see what was there and focus on it and try to capture images that would tell the story of what the trail is like.
There are downed trees. There are woodland streams. There is graceful forest land with a narrow path carved in between for miles and miles. And there are of course on of my favorite features, the enormous boulders just randomly deposited in the forest. These really captivate me because in the woods I typically inhabit in the Finger Lakes Region of New York you do not see these types of features.
I am not sure if I did something wrong or if my starting point was just different from that in the guide-book, but it did not take me nearly as long as I had expected it to take for me to hike tot he summit and back down to the trail head. That was fine with me because it meant I had more time for exploring other areas in the afternoon.
Update: The funniest thing happened. After sharing this article on Twitter multiple times I eventually received a response back from someone who read the article. They informed me that the mountain I reported hiking here is not the Mt. Haystack that is one of the Adirondack 46er’s. They said that he could tell it was not the Mt. Haystack that is a 46er due to my description in this article and the photographs. They informed me that there are actually multiple mountains in the region named Mt. Haystack. I am glad that I wrote descriptive enough article and that my photographs were good enough that this individual could provide me this useful information. So, even though I did not climb the mountain I thought I did I think this makes the story and the process as a whole a lot more interesting. It certainly explains my confusion during my hike.
Great post – thanks for sharing