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28 July 2012

Mini-Trip to Vermont and the Adirondacks

My wife and I recently did an impromptu whirlwind trip to locations in Vermont, and to the Adirondacks in New York.

The main goal of the VT portion of our adventure was to further explore the awesome Island Line bike trail in the Burlington area.  If you're a regular reader of my Blog, then you might recall that I posted a report in May 2012 about exploring the northern end of this bike trail. (Click HERE to read that report.)

On this most recent trip, we explored the bike trail from Airport Park to North Beach (click HERE for a trail map).  What a marvelous bike trail!  There are many places where you can park your bike and then scamper to Lake Champlain's shoreline.  The wide sandy beaches that are shown in the next series of photos makes it difficult to believe that you're in northern VT, and are only about 40 miles from Canada.  You'd almost think you'd been magically transported several hundred miles away to some location in the southern U.S.!
Lake Champlain: looking southward

Lake Champlain: looking northward

However, one of the things that lets you know that you've not been transported to the far southern part of the U.S. is the presence of northern hardwoods which are adjacent to the sandy beaches.
Manicured hardwood forest adjacent to sandy shores of Lake Champlain

According to one of the informational placards posted at one of the shoreline locations, Lake Champlain did have a saltwater connection several thousand years ago!
Informational placard along the bike trail

Hmmm! I wonder if this ancient saltwater connection has anything to do with the "Lake Champlain Monster" that I spotted along the way (see photo below).
Lake Champlain monster?

And who (you might ask) are the people shown in the next photo?  These are our "guardian angels"!  While biking along the Island Line Trail, I experienced a flat tire!  These kind folks just happened to come along at my "hour of need".  The guy had an entire bike repair kit with him and happened to be a very accomplished bicycle repairman.  Just like a pit crew at the Indy 500, this guy had me back on the trail in very short order!
"Bicycle Repairman" and his wife

After a day of biking in VT, my wife and I headed westward across Lake Champlain for Saranac Lake.  This is a lovely village in the heart of the Adirondack high-peak area.  Shortly after crossing over into New York State on the Crown Point Bridge, we stopped to take a photo looking eastward across Lake Champlain.  At this particular point, there was a yellowish algae near the shoreline.  It made for an interesting scene.  Shown below is the yellow algae, along with a sailboat on the lake, and the very distinctive profile of Camel's Hump Mountain on the horizon (directly behind the sailboat).
Yellow algae, plus sailboat, plus Camel's Hump

When we arrived at Saranac Lake, the weather was deteriorating rapidly.  It was decided to jump right into a short hike (1.8 miles round-trip) to a little nearby peak named Baker Mountain (2,452 elevation).  The next photo shows Baker Mountain as viewed across a pond in the village of Saranac Lake.
Baker Mountain as viewed from pond in Village of Saranac Lake

From Baker Mountain, there was a nice view overlooking McKenzie Pond with a view (on the distant horizon) of the western rock face of the Gothics (I think!).
McKenzie Pond with rock face of the Gothics on distant horizon

The next photo is a zoomed image of what I'm presuming to be the western rock face of the Gothics.
Zoomed image of western rock face of the Gothics

From Baker Mountain, there is also a nice view of areas within the village of Saranac Lake, as well as the many lakes that surround it.
Village of Saranac Lake and surrounding lakes as viewed from Baker Mountain

When we awakened on the day following our arrival in Saranac Lake, it was overcast and drizzling.  We decided to head for home via a circuitous route which would take us by the village of Long Lake, NY.  Many times (and many years ago), we camped along the shore of this lake.  It was fun to re-visit this location after many long years. 

In between the rain showers, we did a 2.2 mile round-trip hike on the Northville-Placid Trail along the eastern shore of Long Lake.  We found a campsite that looked very reminiscent of a place where we had once camped.  We could not be certain that it was the same site.  However, it was fun to fantasize that is was indeed THE spot!
Possible site where we camped many times, many years ago

To sum it up,  although this was merely a mini-trip, it produced maxi-fun!  The Island Line bike trail is beyond awesome. And the miniature hike in the Adirondacks, coupled with our trek down memory-lane was simply precious!


OPW5000 said...

The Lake Champlain area is such a great place! I immediately regretted not allocating more time for Burlington on my roadtrip last month.

Looks like you were a bit south...the Crown Point Bridge you mention has an interesting history.

Great terrain is always fun.

Ellen Snyder said...

Hi John,

My sister lives near Burlington and we've not yet explored this area so you've provided another tempting destination. The Champlain Valley is quite beautiful, on both sides of the lake. Thanks for detailing some cool spots to visit.


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Owen,

Thanks for posting your comments. And, as I think you know already, I’m a huge fan of exploring new things, and so I completely agree with your last statement, i.e. “. . . new terrain is always fun”.

For certain, Burlington is a terrific city along the shore of Lake Champlain, and the biking there is top-notch, in my opinion. You mentioned taking a roadtrip in that area last month, was that a biking roadtrip?

The Crown Point Bridge itself does indeed have an interesting history, as well as the entire surrounding area which also includes nearby Fort Ticonderoga. My wife and I were elated when the Crown Point Bridge was finally re-opened after being closed for nearly 2-years. We prefer that route between VT and NY, rather than taking a ferry across Lake Champlain.


1HappyHiker said...

Thank you Ellen for posting your comments.

As my wife and I are discovering, there is a lot more than just the bike trails to explore in the Burlington area. And so, it’s not surprising that you and your sister have been kept busy with visiting venues other than the Island Line bike trail that is highlighted in my Blog report. But, when you get a chance, give it a try. I think you’ll like it.


Steve Smith said...

Nice exploring, John. Baker is a neat little mountain. Gothics has to be the coolest peak in the Adirondacks - great name, impressive rock faces.


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Steve . . . WOW, I completely agree with your comments about Gothics! It must be a truly awesome hiking destination! Have not been there, but hope to do so, someday!

And yes, Baker Mountain does provide nice views for relatively little effort. Wish the weather had cooperated and allowed for some longer hikes in the area. Oh well, there will be other times. And besides, the weather provided an opportunity to take a roundabout way home via Long Lake. It was fun re-visiting a few places from our past-life when we lived in Upstate NY, not far from the Adirondacks.


Marty said...

what a nice change of pace from the Whites. Need to get to that bike trail with Cookie as well as the other spots in your post.
How often does one get a flat tire and then have on the spot road service???
good karma


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Marty,

Yes, I think both you and Cookie would really enjoy the Island Line bike trail! It’s just about a 2 hour drive from Bethlehem, and of course you’re driving through the picturesque VT countryside for nearly the entire distance.

And yes, it was “good karma” indeed to have that bicycle repairman there when I needed him. A lesson was learned, i.e. I need to start carrying an inner-tube patch kit and a small pump for extended bike trips! :-)


Rita Wechter said...

Wow John, what a wonderful mini-trip you and Cheri enjoyed. Sometimes these quick get-aways are packed with fun and excitement as this trip certainly was!

Your pictures are wonderful too. That Lake Champlain Beach is amazing and I liked your photo with the explanation of the saltwater connection to the lake.

As I've said before, I always learn something new from your posts, and I always look forward to reading them!


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

It’s terrific to know that you learn something new from my posts. I think that’s one of the many benefits of blogging. We each learn something new when we set forth on our individual adventures, and then we share it via blogging. And as a result, you learn a little something from me, and I learn a little something from you. Seems like a win-win to me! :-)


Summerset said...

Ok, that beach does not look like a New England beach at all! All that sand! I've lived in FL and CA, and have seen plenty of beaches, so that's pretty neat. Looks like you had a great trip and were able to relive a few fond memories, too.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Summerset,

Yes, we experienced some fond memories, indeed!

Regarding the beaches on Lake Champlain near Burlington, I completely agree that the photos are not representative of a New England beach! However, I’m pretty certain that photos taken from the same locations during January – March would confirm a New England location! :-)