Photos left to right: Trailhead. Four legged family members love to hike, too! You know you've reached the summit when you find one of these (trailer marker).
Engaging with the outdoors brings us closer to nature…and to each other.
After visiting the trifecta of major sports hall of fames in the United States, it was time for our end of summer trip to the Adirondacks. Sure, Canton, Cooperstown and Springfield are fine to visit but there is something about time in the mountains that allows one to relax before the grind of the school year starts back up. Usually, we try and get in a few hikes while visiting and this year was no different. Up first was Baker Mountain with an elevation of 2,452 feet and several lookouts that supply spectacular views of Saranac Lake, Lake Flower, and the High Peaks to the east. This mountain is a superb hike, right in Saranac Lake.
After watching the forecast in the morning, we hustled to get going before the rain started. It was a quick drive to the trail head at the north end of Moody Pond. The route up to the summit is about a mile in length with 884 feet in ascent. Parking at the trailhead was very limited but we were determined to get it in before the rain. Both mountains we had chosen were popular and we ran into quite a few other hikers. Finally, the kids and dog were ready to go, we checked in and started our ascent. Only a few short minutes into the hike, the kids started complaining but we coaxed them to continue.
Shortly after starting, the trail starts to climb and never really lets up, however, halfway through it meanders through several sweeping bends and levels out. It was a tad strenuous after this as there are short ledges and bare rock that must be climbed. After explaining the trail markers to the kids, we let them get ahead of us. They enjoyed exploring the trail as they trekked on. Before the woody summit there is an overlook that includes magnificent views of the village of Saranac Lake, the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area, and the High Peaks.
After spending time at the lookout and getting a family photo to document the journey we went to find the geographical summit marker. Once we reached it, we met another group of hikers. We happened to overhear one of them talking about one of the pine trees near the top that was special to them. The grandkids had spent summers in the area and climbed Baker Mountain every year they visited their grandparents. When their grandfather passed away, they planted a pine tree with his ashes on top of the mountain, showing it to us.
Sure, it could have been just another summit checked off the list of ones we have hiked as a family. However, the chat with these other hikers really brought to the forefront the importance of families spending time together outside. As we traversed down the mountain, the rain clouds moved in. Sprinkling at first but as we reached the car the intensity increased. We had completed another peak and, in the process, recalled how important family is.
Joel M. Herrling is a freelance writer and amateur wildlife photographer, and a member of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association.
Unless otherwise noted, photos for this story provided by and copyright of Joel M. Herrling