Tag Archives: Adirondacks

Not A Traverse

My friends and I love to do hard things and have fun doing it. We are all runners of one variety or another and we like to run. Our running often leads us on adventures. We like our adventures best when we can go through it together. Those of us not running during a particular adventure can often be found supporting the others in the group who are running at that time. We all enjoy running and we all enjoy being outside and we all enjoy beer and any opportunity we have to enjoy some combination of those things we try to make it happen.

Over the past year the idea of heading up to New Hampshire to run the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains was raised by one friend who has been thinking about such an adventure for a long time. We decided this was an adventure we definitely wanted to have. We put it on the calendar and planned for doing it all year. Four of us would be running the trails through the mountains while two would be supporting and probably enjoying some beers while we ran. This adventure was supposed to have happened this past weekend.

Unfortunately things didn’t go according to plan. I have been battling a nagging injury and have a 100 miler in a couple weeks. Another of our crew was also trying to recover from an injury after two challenging races, a 50 miler I was unable to finish and then a mountain scramble in the Catskills, which caused her to miss a subsequent race she wanted to run. And a third member of our party was recovering after a hard 100k. We had never really talked about what happens if we were in no shape to take on the challenges of a Presidential Traverse, we always just assumed it would work out.

Luckily the topic was raised by the more level headed of our group and we eventually came to the difficult conclusion that the Presidential Traverse adventure would have to wait for at least a year. Thankfully, our planers in chief of our friends group took over and found us a nice spot in the Adirondacks to camp and planned a nice itinerary of things for us to do while we were there.

Instead of having a short vacation that included extreme physical exertion I think I had one of the more relaxing trips I’ve had. I didn’t have to plan anything because that was taken care of by our cruise director. Thank you for planning out our trip. I didn’t drive anywhere. Thank you friends for letting me ride in your cars both to and from camp and while we were in the Adirondacks. I did very little physical exertion compared to most trips I take, just two 3 mile runs so I didn’t totally fall off the wagon with my training. We even had our meals planned.

The day we left for camp, we stopped to eat at Druthers. I ate the most enormous skillet of mac and cheese and it was soooo good. Street Corn Mac and Cheese was so good. I felt like I was going to die but it was so worth it. I hate to waste food. After we arrived at camp at Luzerne campground we set up our tents and then explored the campground itself a little bit. It was a very well forested campground. Unlike some campgrounds where there are relatively few trees for a natural area this campground was heavily forested and blocked out the sun for the most part. The entire campground was in the shade except for a few areas. This is the kind of campground I like, but the downside is it makes it cooler when you are at camp because you have no sun shining on you to keep you warm and weather was milder than previous weeks for summer. It was a wear a hoodie around the campfire type of trip. After exploring the campground we went and played some mini golf at the place we saw on the way to the campground.

Our first full day of the trip we explored nearby Prospect Mountain. By explore I mean we drove up a road that leads to the summit and stopped at the lookout points, because as I previously mentioned none of us were really in any shape for a hike up a mountain. It was still fun and the views were really nice. After we were done at the mountain we ended up being two hours ahead of our expected itinerary. The next part of our itinerary called for heading down to Glens Falls and checking out the local breweries so by unanimous decision we decided to just start that process early and find some breweries that were not already on our list to go to. First we found one to eat some lunch at and have a beer, Davidson Brothers. The food and the beer at Davidson Brothers were both good. Then we moved on to a different location. So we got additional breweries into our schedule. I think we all wish it had only been one less additional brewery because at the second place we went to it had collectively probably the worst beer that any of us had ever had. This was the unfortunate experience at Coopers Cave. The place looked very nice but their beer was very bad. Three out of five of us did not even finish our beers, they were so bad. It was so funny, because we didn’t take any pictures at the first establishment we went to but we did take a group photo outside with the Cooper’s Cave sign before going in then after having the beer we had there we decided we needed a before and after version where in the after version we all had sad faces because of our disappointment in the beer. I think we all wish we had stayed longer one place and never ventured there at all. That’s what happens when you go off book.

Fortunately there were several places with much better beer to visit. We were now going to the places we had originally planned for and the hopes were high for some much better beer. The next place we visited was Common Roots Brewing Company because it was the first place to open. We also went to Mean Max Brew Works and Northway Brewing CO.

Our second day we were originally planning to go tubing down the river but the weather forecast made that seem like a less than completely enjoyable option as the high was for about 70 and that wasn’t even until 3pm. So instead we stayed in camp a little extra long after enjoying breakfast. Then at the time we were going to go river tubing we set off for an early start to what was our later part of the day that was brewery hoping in Lake George. So since we had extra time to spare we were able to just park and wander around Lake George and hit the local spots we wanted to visit by foot. We started at one location and ordered a bite to eat with our food, Adirondack Brewery. At this location I took a shot on a beer that sounded like it had potential to be something I would like because it was called “Eleanor” and was a sour beer and had lemon in it. I like sour beers. I thought this was a safe bet, but unfortunately the description of the beer also referenced leather. As I found out the hard way, never order a beer that references leather in the description. It was the only beer I did not finish the entire trip. It only got about 1/4 gone and that was only because I was able to convince a few of my friends to try this disgusting concoction. I think the consensus is that it tasted a little bit like Pine-sol.

Luckily the reward for visiting the first establishment was a free sampling at High Peaks Distilling where they had bourbon and whiskey. I am not a regular bourbon or whiskey drinker but I do enjoy them from time to time. The offerings at this establishment were phenomenal, especially the Sugar Moon Maple Whiskey Bourbon they had. The service and hospitality there was also great. Walking around Lake George and experience the town on foot and being able to pop in to the other establishments we wanted to visit while we were out and about worked out nicely. We also stopped in to Lake George Distilling Co. We each had a tasting there of a selection of 3 different spirits from their selection. I tried the Bullhead Bourbon, Apple Pie Moonshine, and the Adirondack Wildfire Whiskey and I enjoyed all of them.

We also stopped in at a winery a few hops went down to the waterfront and got ice-cream at Ben & Jerry’s. Sometimes it is really nice to just wander around town on foot with no real plan or intention. I do not like this experience when I am on my own but it was nice to do it with my friends especially since at least one of us actually knew where we were going. I think in general we all mostly enjoyed our experiences at all of the locations we visited.

After our visit to the Lake George Area we decided to go back to the place that was roundly hailed as the best stop of the trip, Common Roots, for a few more beers and eat some snacks we had with us that we thought we would eat while were tubing down a river.

On our way home we stopped at a brewery closer to home that I had never been to, Beer Tree Brew Co. We had lunch from Fox & Farmer and enjoyed a beer.

Camping with my friends was a very different experience than camping by myself for some very obvious reasons, but for some less obvious reasons as well. My friends do camping much different than I do. When I camp I generally am very simple/lazy when it comes to food. I generally do not cook much if at all and eat easy sandwiches or granola bars. My friends like to cook meals when camping and they did a great job doing it. We had a hot breakfast and a hot dinner every night prepared by a different member of our group and I am so thankful for each of my friends preparing meals for us. I enjoyed having cooked meals, but I am not sure I will do it when I am camping on my own.

This was not the trip any of us was planning for earlier this year and I think some of us were disappointed that this is how it went but none of us are sad in the least over the four days we had together. I think we all had a great time on this trip even though it was not the original plan. The main focus of the trip was to get together with friends and enjoy life. WE still did that. WE spent time in nature and we enjoyed beers together. Things we all like to do. It might have really been what we all needed the most an opportunity to rest, relax, and enjoy each other’s company without any other pressures looming. Sometimes things unexpectedly work out for the best in a way you wouldn’t imagine.

Be open to a different kind of adventure.

Even if you don’t get to have the adventure you had hoped for and things don’t go according to plans spending time with friends is about the best thing anyone can ask for.

I enjoyed spending a few days doing nothing but just hanging out with my friends.

10 Days of Freedom

I went on a 10 day camping trip to the Adirondacks. I reserved campsites at two different campgrounds because I couldn’t get 10 days straight at one site. That is the extent of the planning I did for this trip. I had lots of ideas running through my mind of what I wanted to do, but I did not actual planning of what I was going to do or when I was going to do it. I am not the kind of person that needs to have an itinerary of my day planned out or me on trips, but generally I do plan when I am going to do big things during a trip. But for this trip I didn’t even know what the big things I was going to do were. I was just going to wing it and have a nice relaxing trip. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.

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The more I thought about this trip leading up to it the more I thought about all the things I could possibly do during a 10 day trip to the Adirondacks. While I did not plan out specific details I knew in general what I wanted to do was spend a lot of time in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. So that lead me to reason 1 that I decided to camp at Meadowbrook Campground. It was the closest state campground to the High Peaks region as far as I could tell. So I would have less traveling. This worked out perfectly because I really didn’t’ have to drive far at all for any of the hiking I did even when I was outside the High Peaks region. Reason 2 I chose Meadowbrook Campground was that it had a trail that lead directly from the campground out into the forest and up a mountain. I figured I could run or hike that as much as I wanted with no travel involved at all. In my mind I figured I would be on that trail repeatedly. In reality I only accessed the trail one time and that was for my one and only trail run during the trip. I think this was in large part due to the fact that the mountain had no view at all. When I imagined it I thought it would be perfect for hiking up in the evening and watching the sun set, but since the mountain summit was completely forested there would be no watching of sunsets. Reason 3 for choosing to camp at Meadowbrook Campground was that it was only 4 miles from Lake Placid and I reasoned that would allow me to literally run into town any time I wanted. I wouldn’t even need to drive if I wanted to go to town. Running 8 miles in a day has become something I do regularly. Turns out I never did that at all, and I was kind of surprised as to why.

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I purposefully chose to go on this trip alone. I have camped alone before. I enjoy a certain amount of solitude. It is peaceful and relaxing to me. However, it turns out that going to a small relatively bustling tourist town, Lake Placid, alone is not peaceful for me. It is the exact opposite. It was extremely anxiety inducing. I don’t know if it is because I am generally an introverted person or what but wandering around this small town amongst the other tourists was very stressful for me. I could not relax. The only things I did while I was there was go to REI and a bookstore to look for trail maps and was not relaxing at all that made things worse, go down to the park by the lake which was better than being on the strip with all the businesses, and go to the small art gallery. The art gallery was the only place in Lake Placid where I felt relaxed and calm. I love the art scene and was able to just relax and enjoy the artwork. I only stayed in ton about an hour and a half and did not return. I learned there is a very big difference between solitude and being alone in a crowd.

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I imagined so many things that I could do on this trip: Run up mountains, Hike a mountain every day, Trail running, Photography, Read books, Write, Relax, Nap in my hammock. While I don’t need plans I think that I left my possibilities so wide open that even making a decision as to what to do was anxiety evoking at times. Sometime making the decision of what to do when you can literally do anything is the hardest thing to do of them all. I did manage to fit a little bit of everything into my trip but not as much of any one thing as I imagined I would.

I ran up a mountain. I hiked up 7 mountains. I did a little road running. I read 2 books cover to cover and started a third. I spent some time writing my book. I sat around relaxing. And best of all I took many naps in my hammock at whatever time of day I felt like it. I even slept in it out under the stars one night. A funny side effect of having so many things you would like to do and the very real possibility of doing them all is that you then have to pack like you might do any or all of them. And you have to pack like you might decide to do that one activity a lot if you want to be able to do it whenever you want as much as you want to. There was a real possibility that I would decide to hike every day or that I would run every day. Those two activities require certain types of gear and most importantly proper clothing to enjoy them. I literally packed just about all my running clothes and all my regular summer clothes which at this point are hiking clothes. I think I had one duffle back full of regular clothes and a separate one of the same size of jut running clothes. I give a lot of my friends grief for having a lot of running shoes, but I also have a lot of shoes. They are all just very task specific shoes and some of which I have had for a long time. I literally took a garbage bag full of shoes on this trip. I took multiple pairs of hiking shoes, road running shoes, trail running shoes, casual shoes, and a pair of sandals. It doesn’t help the packing situation when you have size 14 feet either.

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Also, in case you haven’t noticed the photographs accompanying this post I am also a photographer. This trip presented a plethora of photographic possibilities. I wanted to be prepared for them all. I would not want to be caught without a camera and miss out on a good photographic opportunity due to being unprepared. I have a bunch of gear but not all gear is suitable for each type of situation. I packed 2 DSLR camera bodies, 4 DSLR camera lenses, 2 mirror less camera bodies each with their own lens, 2 GoPros, 2 small tripods, and other assorted gear. If I am going to be running I need a camera I can carry and access while I am out running so a GoPro or small mirror less camera. If I am hiking up a mountain I probably will only be able to bring one camera body and one lens with me. If I am hiking a flat trail I have many more options available and could carry multiple camera bodies and multiple lenses plus additional gear.

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The purpose of this trip was to get out of the daily routine, to stop being stuck in a rut and just relax and enjoy life. I wanted some freedom. What I learned is that even if you have the freedom to do anything you want, you still can’t do everything that you want. Even on a trip with no limits on free time. No constraints. No plans. A trip where I was completely in control of what I would do. There simply are not enough hours in the day to do all the things one might want to do. Even over a 10 day trip. The depressing thing about that is, if there is not enough time to enjoy all the things one might want to do when we have the freedom to just do it how in the world are we supposed to find time to do the things we love when we have all the time constraints that daily life places on us. I am not sure what the answer to this is. I feel like it has something to do with take time out of every day to do one thing that you love. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if it is big or small. It doesn’t matter if it is accomplishing a monumental task you never thought you would get done or doing some tiny seemingly insignificant thing. It doesn’t matter if it is extraordinary or mundane. Do what you love and love what you do. Find time and find peace in that.

I didn’t do all the things I imagined I would on this trip but I grabbed every minute of peace and joy I could and I embraced it with no regrets and it was a great trip.

Buck Pond Campground

After a week of adventuring out from my base camp near Lake Placid it was time to move north to my new camping location, Buck Pond State Park. I decided that since I spent the first week of my trip driving and hiking and adventuring I wanted to really try to get into the relaxation part of what this trip was supposed to be. This decision was made easier by the simple fact that this new location was farther away from all the mountains I was interested in hiking, thus making it more logically challenging.

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Part of this trip was supposed to be about trying to unwind and relax. You know, find yourself, as they say. What I decided to do is not leave the campground at all for the two days I was there, except to buy firewood which was super conveniently close by and made a great big fire for me to enjoy. So that is what I did. It was not as easy as I thought it would be. For someone who always feels like they should be doing something or accomplishing something it was not easy to just relax and enjoy what I was there to enjoy.

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I spent time exploring the campground. I went for a nice walk around the campground to get the lay of the land. The campground is situated between two large ponds / small lakes. The only thing that could have made the campsite I was at better would have been to be along the water. As it was my campsite was perfect for me. It was nice and secluded. The campsite it itself was huge. It was set back from the park road so I wasn’t disturbed much by passersby. I could really just sit there and relax and feel like I was alone in the woods. I spent a lot of time sitting or laying in my hammock and just relaxing / napping or reading or in some cases reading until it became a nap. I also enjoyed several beers while relaxing in the hammock or enjoying a campfire during my stay there. My first night there I was happy to learn that there were loons out on the lake and I was able to relax and sleep to the sound of loons calling. If you have never heard loons calling that is one thing you need to hear. It is mesmerizing.

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In the morning I got up and went for a run. I looped around all the park roads which was just about perfect for a nice 5k run. Later I went for a walk with my camera to see if there was anything interesting to photograph. I was really hoping to see some loons, which I did but they were too far away for any good photographs. I also spent a lot of time relaxing and reading.

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Since this was the relax portion of my trip I wanted to just try something new for me. I wanted to sit and enjoy the sunset. I wanted to try to capture the sunset as a time lapse photography series. This would be something new to me. I have photographed sunsets before, but never in this method. I really wanted to capture the subtle change in colors in the sky as the sun sets and capture the clouds moving across the sky over time. I thought I had an idea about how to make this work using my GoPro. It turns out I didn’t have it quite right. One factor I didn’t think about was the water. I purposefully included the water in the photos thinking that it would look good, however the changes in the water happen at a different time scale than the changes in the sky and while my settings were geared towards capturing the changes in the sky it did not occur to me to account for how the water would change and how that would look in the time lapse footage. While the footage I captured did not come out as I had hoped it was still an enjoyable experience and I learned something about this new process I was taking on. I challenged myself to grow as an artist and as a person. Even though I didn’t succeed in that task the process was a success because I began a new journey and learned something new.

Even though I didn’t have the end result I wanted I still want to share these images with you, because life is about more than the final outcome it is about the process and I want to share my process with all of you.

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Baxter Mountain

During this trip I camped at two different location because I couldn’t get a single 10 day block at one campsite. I had never done that before. I spent the first 7 days at one location and then I packed up and moved to a different campground in the Adirondacks. Check out time at the first campground was 11:00 AM but check in time at the next campground wasn’t until 3:00 PM. So after relaxing some and then packing up the campsite I decided to amuse myself by hiking up a mountain. Seriously, who does that.

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Baxter Mountain was listed in my guide book as an easy hike with a 2 mile round trip and 700 feet of elevation. That was exactly what I was looking for. Something that would not be very strenuous. Just a nice relaxing hike to pass the time and enjoy some nature before moving on to my next camp site. This mountain was reported to have some of the best views of the Adirondack high peaks relative to the amount of effort required to summit the mountain to enjoy them. I’d say that information was accurate. The views were great.

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One funny thing happened on this hike. When you are unfamiliar with a trail you often may not know where the trail starts or where the trail ends for that matter and thus you may not know where the summit of the mountain actually is.  AS I hiked the trail and began to get to where more of the vertical gain was I expected to reach the summit soon because I knew the hike was not particularly long. So when I reached an area with exposed rock and nice views and a family sitting there enjoying a picnic I assumed that I was at the summit so I found a nice quiet spot and sat down to enjoy the views and eat my lunch.

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The views were quite nice there. However, it turns out that assumption I made turned out to make an ass out of me after all. As I headed back to a trail to retrace my steps and head back down the mountain I realized there was more trail going away from the way I had hiked up.  Turns out I had not summitted the mountain, yet. I followed this trail farther up the mountain, not too far fortunately, and I reached what is actually the summit where the trail actually ends. And I made sure it ended there and did not continue farther. So I stopped here and enjoyed some more excellent views of the Adirondacks. That is one part that never gets old. The views are always stunning. I didn’t spend as much time as I would have otherwise at the true summit because I had already spent so much time where I first stopped and I had to head on out to my next campground. It was still a great time and an enjoyable hike and I learned something new. Do not assume you are at the summit just because you see someone stopped there.

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Mt Marcy Part 2: Running

Earlier this year a friend of mine and fellow runner posted online that he wanted to go run up Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks. He wanted to know if anyone would want to go with him. At the time I really knew nothing about what the rout up Mount Marcy was like. But it did sound like an interesting idea.

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I went to the Adirondacks with the idea in the back of my mind that I would possibly try to run up a mountain and that I would maybe even attempt it at Mount Marcy while I was there. I did get an opportunity to run up a mountain while I was in the Adirondacks, but I did not run up Mount Marcy. After doing a little reading about what the climb up Mount Marcy entailed and some realistic evaluation of my fitness level and running ability I decided it might be rash to just decide I was going to go run up this mountain sight unseen.

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I think that was probably a wise decision. I love trail running, but my weakness is definitely in climbing and Mount Marcy would require significant climbing. I did venture out to Mount Marcy and hike up to the summit. A journey that I highly recommend to anyone. While I was out on the trail Multiple groups of people ran past me on the trails. They passed me on their way up while I was working my way up to the top.  I was hoping that they would take long enough to reach the top and then hang out at the summit long enough that I would get a chance to talk to them when I arrived at teh summit myself.

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However, I would have no such luck. Before I was even clear of the forest and above the tree line the runners came back down. I wish I had been ready and was able to get more photos. Two groups completely passed by me before I could get my camera out and ready to get a few shots as they passed out of view. Luckily I was prepared for at least one of the groups and captured some nice images of a group of women running down Mount Marcy.

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When I arrived at the summit I overheard some of the other hikers saying that the runners were part of the Olympic ski team out here training. They were really kicking ass on the trails, both on the way up and on the way down. Granted I did not see them on the steepest rockiest terrain but they were making it look pretty easy running up the trail to the mountain summit.

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After hiking it and getting a little experience on that trail and learning the layout of the trail I think running it may not be out of reach. I think I know many runners that could put on a pretty good run up and down that mountain. I don’t know how much actual running I would do after the first several miles on the ascent, but the descent could be pretty fun. I have been known to organize groups of friends to do some fun (crazy) stuff. Maybe I will have to see if I can find some friends who want to go for a day trip to the Adirondacks and give this running up Mount Marcy thing a try. I am always looking for new experiences and that sure would be one.

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Mount Marcy

During my trip to the Adirondacks one hike I wanted to try to make sure I fit into my schedule was Mount Marcy. Mount Marcy is the tallest mountain in New York. The summit of the mountain is 5344 feet above sea level. The trail is 14.8 miles round trip. There is 3300 feet of elevation gain. I figured this would be a good day trip for me. This was also a hike that was covered in my guide book so I could glean some information about the hike from that and have an idea of what to expect.

The hike from the route I took started in the parking lot at the Adirondack Loj. There was not much elevation gain for the first several miles. During the first several miles you eventually reach the Marcy dam area which seems like a nice place to hang out; several groups of people were there. There is a water crossing with a bridge to take to traverse it.

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Most of the trail is quite a comfortable hike for what one might think it would be, knowing you are hiking up the tallest mountain in the state. It helps that it was in my opinion the perfect day for a hike. The temperature in the morning was cool and the projected high for the day was only 70 degrees. This is more my type of weather, especially on days I am going to be physically active.

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At one point myself and a pair of women arrived at one section of the trail where the trail went one way over a bridge over a stream and another way straight along the stream. We were all first timers on the trail and were not sure which way to go, so we decided we would all go up along the trail where it followed the stream. Turns out it didn’t matter as the trail eventually lead to a crossing of the same stream. The bridge was available for when the water was high. For the rest of the hike myself and the two women would pass each other back and forth as we took in fuel (runner brain) or slowed down at certain sections or stopped to take photos. It reminded me of a trail race where you pass the same people back and forth because you are each better at some sections than others. We eventually even arrived at the summit at about the same time.

There is a significant portion of the trail where you emerge from the forest and are out on exposed rock. You are now above the tree line on the mountain. This is where you begin to feel the significant change in elevation you have achieved. Where before I was comfortable, but obviously still sweating with exertion, now the wind was picking up and it was significantly colder. Luckily was I was expecting this and I was prepared. I have a lightweight EMS jacket that stuffs into its own pocket and is perfect for storing in my running pack for just such occasions. It did not take long for the exposure and temperature change to prompts me to stop and take the time to take my pack off and put the jacket on. That was a good decision; it made the rest of the hike much more enjoyable.

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The summit of this mountain was perfect. There weren’t even as many people there as I thought there would be. It was just about the perfect temperature despite being a little gusty. I found the perfect spot to hunker down behind a rock outcropping that protected me from the wind perfectly as it seemed to only be gusting from one direction. I sat and relaxed there for a while. I simply enjoyed the view. I continued to sit and rest and enjoyed a bag of trail mix I had thrown together (peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips).

As I tend to be the kind of person that cannot sit still too long, especially when out in nature and especially with such a scenic landscape to explore and photograph. There is quite a bit of room to walk around on the summit of Mount Marcy, however there are areas that are off limits because they are trying to allow for alpine vegetation to grow back. People are encouraged to stay on the solid rock surfaces. So I moved around the summit and photographed everything I could think of to photograph. I used my Nikon D300 with 50mm lens, my GoPro, and my Samsung S8 Plus. All of which capture great photos but have different ways they can be utilized for maximum effect.

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One of the things I love about being out in nature, other than just being there to experience it myself, is seeing other people enjoying and appreciating nature. There were whole families up on the summit enjoying the views together. There was a guy stretched out on the rock with his hood pulled over his head whom I am pretty sure was asleep. There was a whole group of young people up there together exploring the summit and I am pretty sure they were shooting some videos of each other. One of them asked me to take his photo with his GoPro because he noticed that I had a GoPro as well. Knowing that there are other people out there that enjoy nature the way that I do brings me a sense of peace and joy that I can’t really explain.

Eventually it was time to hike back down the mountain.

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