The Fourth of July has arrived and summer has descended upon the Adirondacks, bringing with it a combination of summer's heat, spring's breezes and a bit of autumn's coolness. Can winter's white be far behind?
Summer in the park is the most fleeting of all our Adirondack seasons. It moves faster than a dollar bill at the gas pump and yet, we savor it all year 'round. It is a time when we all become kids again and we relive the times past.
Soon after the local kids pour out of school and tourists pour off the Northway, the ranks of summer folk begin to swell like the dry wooden planks of an old guideboat.
High humidity will produce sticky days and hazy mountain views while evening temperatures will drop into the 40's, and the black evening sky reveals a wealth of stars beyond our wildest imagination.
Falling asleep to the sounds of the forest, we are entertained by a symphony of the wilds. The bullfrog sings "jug 'o rum," as a loon's wail echoes off the nearby hills and a barred owl asks, "Who, who, who, whooo! Who calls for you allll!"
A clap of thunder and the jagged spiderwebs of lightning serve as a prelude to a deep sleep, aided by the gentle pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof of an Adirondack leanto.
Campers will awake to find a thick carpet of fog enveloping the lakes and snaking through the river valleys. Fresh cut hayfields and the pleasurable scent of a flash, summer sprinkle will bring back memories of younger days, when we rode our bicycles to the local swimming hole to launch ourselves off a cliffs or a rope swing.
Hiking trails will become crowded; beaches will fill full and motorcycles will compete for space on the highways. The sweet smell of barbecue will permeate the late afternoon breeze, as the tang of wood smoke drifts on the brisk evening breeze.
Visitors and locals alike will find readily available entertainment in traditional events such as the Hamner Guideboat Races in Saranac Lake, the Tupper Lake Woodsman Days or the wonders of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.
Certainly, we'll all suffer through a crowded Main Street, the slow moving traffic, congested highways and parking problems of a small town, yet such small inconveniences are to be expected. It's all part of living, working and playing in a region that has quietly become the 'Tourism Mecca' of the Northeast.
Decisions, decisions-what to do this summer?
Visitors may wonder what to do on an Adirondack summer's day, especially if it is too hot to hike, too bright to fish or the lakes are too crowded with buzzing motorboats to attempt a quiet paddle. In an effort to provide some helpful and entertaining options, I'd like to offer some easy and affordable ideas.
Try a dinner cruise on the water with the Raquette Lake Transportation Company, visit the sky, the mountains and the lakes with a seaplane ride out of Long Lake or take a horse and carriage ride into Great Camp Santanoni.
Take a dip in the public waters of Henderson Lake in Tahawus, where you can wade across the Hudson River, which begins at the outflow from Henderson's dam or take a drive to a mountain summit at Whiteface in Wilmington or Prospect in Lake George.
Swim at a waterfalls, some of the region's best include Bog River Falls and Buttermilk Falls on the Raquette River, Split Rock Falls and Shoebox Falls on the Boquet River, or the Rocks at the Covered Bridge on the East Branch of the Ausable in Jay, or the nearby Flume near Wilmington, where you can also enjoy the nearby mountain bike trails that stretch along the West Branch of the Ausable River.
Enjoy a bucket of freshly picked berries or a soft ice cream cone at any number of roadside 'Softy Stands' after wolfing down a few Michigan hots and a side of fries.
Finish your day with a cold drink while watching the sunset over the high peaks from the porch of Elk Lake Lodge in North Hudson, which is now open to the public for dinner. Be sure to call ahead for reservations at 532-7616.
Certainly, I've missed many other great options, yet there is no reason for anyone to be stuck for an activity to enjoy on an Adirondack summer's day! Get out and enjoy the summer while you can, for sooner than we'd like to admit; the leaves will begin to turn, the sidewalks will be empty and buffalo plaid hunters will again be stalking whitetails in the woods.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org