Waiting for Winter
It is that time of year again, when the question Did ja get yours yet?, is considered an acceptable formal greeting, whether at the Post Office, grocery store or on the street. Currently, in many Adirondack communities, more attention is devoted to the results of the local Big Buck Contest than the outcome of recent local elections. Thanksgiving Day weekend is traditionally one of the busiest timeframes of the North Country's long, hunting season. Friends and relatives returning for the holidays will gather for an annual feast and a few will attempt to squeeze in some time on the trail of the whitetail. Skis have now replaced canoes on roof racks and the din of snowmobiles will soon resonate from the trails. Thanksgiving weekend, which signals the traditional transition from fall to winter, appears to be on schedule to jump start the season. For many hunters, the holiday signals the end of the season and a return to their regular occupations, which have received second billing over the past few months. Serious hunters will hang in there until sunset of closing day on December 2. Real hard cores will seek out late season muzzleloading opportunities that continue for another full week in some of the surrounding wildlife management units. Forests are finally white, as winter weather now wraps the woodlands in a pristine blanket of snow. Many area waters have already put on winters hard shell and skiers now flock to the golf courses to lay down the first set of tracks of the season. It sure feels like a traditional Thanksgiving, as the region moves beyond the depths of autumn with the onset of winter-like conditions. Backcountry skiers and snowshoers are beginning to salivate at the mere notion of a looming storm. And although hikers are still to be found on the trails, their numbers are declining on pace with the mercury in the thermometer. While current snow depths are still not enough to require snowshoes or skis in the valleys; such items are necessary if traveling into the upper elevations. Hikers should note that crampons and ski poles are now necessary for summit journeys and skis or snowshoes are now required equipment in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Giving thanks for an Adirondack Life
As the Holiday season approaches, I often like to reflect on the unique opportunities that are available simply by living in the Adirondacks. Like the old saying, A man is not without honor, let it be in his own hometown, so too are our own homes here in the park. We often take some of the common elements of our existence for granted or tend to overlook them. Yet many of the items and activities listed below are as crucial to our every day existence as are long johns and a down jacket at 30 below. I give thanks for establishing a home in a small town where you know your neighbors on a first name basis and know that they can always be relied upon for assistance if needed. I value small schools and the thrill high schools sports which can bring a great sense of pride to the community. I appreciate that I can walk out my back door and travel over public lands through undeveloped forests for over twenty miles in almost any direction. Whether it is by foot, bike, sled or canoe; its all free! I like the fact that opportunities for outdoor recreation that change with each season and are as limitless as the imagination. Ive also come to realize that they are always more enjoyable when pursued in the company of children. I love the spring, mud season, ice out and whitewater season; though I'd still be willing to pass on black flies. The multitude of greens, the sweet maple steam and flies hatching along the stream is a great way to recover from a late winter slump. I enjoy swimming in the deep, crystal clear pools of cool, mountain streams in places such as Split Rock Falls, Styles Brook Falls, US Falls, High Bridge or the slick rocks at the Covered Bridge in Jay. I delight in camping out by the lakeshore, eating smores around the fire and falling asleep in the open air while listening to the wail of coyotes, the hoot of an owl, the peep of frogs and the chirp of the crickets. I treasure sitting on a grassy hillside, overlooking the town while watching fireworks on Fourth of July and later watching the sky for shooting stars. I can never get enough of visiting antique shops, rustic furniture builders and local diners of which every small town has a few. Ill never been too old to enjoy berry picking, whether for mountaintop blueberries, wild raspberries or backyard blackberries, some as long as a knuckle. I live to cast a dry fly to native brook trout on a small mountain stream that cascades from pool to pool or to troll a long line across a remote, stillwater pond. I embrace cold winter mornings when long shadows of the morning sun highlight the ski tracks of yesterdays journey and beckon me to repeat the trip. I cant wait for the time when friends are visiting Up North again, to barbeque on the beach over an open fire while fireflies speckle the night sky and a loon offers a mournful tune. I savor autumn and the chance to crunch along a trail, carpeted with frosted leaves, in anticipation of what lies just beyond the next knoll. Most of all, I give thanks for holidays that allow us to gather with family and friends to reminisce about all of the memories we have to be thankful for.