(All photos are property of the author)
Raquette Falls was the goal. A view of the cascade on a beautiful September day caused Jim and Randy to wonder what the river would look like during the spring runoff.
Snowshoes and sled remained in the car. The lack of snow was surprising. There was more snow in the woods in the southern Adirondack foothills than in the Raquette River valley near the High Peaks. Even so, the crampons came along, because one never knows for sure. But it soon became apparent that fluid was the preferred state for local water.
Thankfully, a lean-to was a short distance from the trailhead, so dump and go was the order of the day. Hiking without major weight on one’s back is much preferred.
Though ice prevailed on short stretches of the trail, all the snow was gone. And it was a splendid sunny spring day of the kind that makes one want to leave his coat behind. But that’s a rookie move on any significant hike, since the noontime assumptions of continued warmth can go terribly wrong later in the day.
Joy is the emotional descriptor of a walk in the woods on a warm and dry spring day. Just joy. Joy because the footing is good. Joy because one can see far into the woods and get the lay of the land in a manner impossible when the trees and undergrowth are leafed in. Joy because the air is pure. And not at all least, joy because one’s knees and lungs allow such a walk to happen.
On the way back, Randy told Jim, “Yep. This is where the cabin goes.”
About 3 miles in, they ran into a small setback.
At first glance, the water, hemmed in by rock ledges, seemed insurmountable.
“Jeez,” said Jim. “Can you imagine coming all this way and not being able to reach the falls?”
Randy did not answer, and started following the shoreline. Before long, they were back on the trail.
They reached their goal and found the falls to be more of a steep rapids than a waterfall. As far upstream as one could see, the whitewater thundered down the channel.
The photo does little justice to the awesome power of the water. Click HERE to see the more demonstrative video. With audio, no less. (Maybe there is something worthwhile to this fad of moving pictures.)
There were a few small hills on the trail. They barely noticed them on the way in, but on the way back, the slight elevation provided several opportunities to catch fine views. And breath.
The last bit of most significant hikes is generally completed without much conversation. This is trudge mode. It’s just putting one foot in front of the other until the journey is complete. Mile 9 fell into this category.
At the lean-to, after dinner, Randy said, “You know, Jim, we could have done this hike and slept at a motel.”
“But hotels don’t have campfires.” Jim moved a bit closer, and flicked his cigar ash into the less-than-adequate blaze.
“Nor do they need them.”