Although the Adirondack region encompasses one of the most extensive temperate boreal forests remaining in the world, it seems to be slowly morphing into a rain forest as rainfalls in July set new records across the park.
Summer in the park is fleeting. Already, subtle signs of advancing seasonal changes are becoming apparent.
Trees are beginning to change, especially along the lake shores and riverbanks. Birds have already migrated and others are flocking up for the journey. Ferns and brackens are browning. Days will grow shorter and the nights will get cooler as summer begins to dwindle.
In a rush to pack in just a bit more excitement to the season, I've been busy over the past few days with long hikes, extended canoe tours and a few special events.
An Indian in the woods,
climbing Marcy and
back to the bog
I began the week with a quick trip to the summit of St. Regis Mountain, where I salted away clues for a special event to be hosted a few days later.
With the assistance of my daughter, Meadow, we sprinkled numerous feathers and arrowheads along the route, so that guests of a nearby private camp would find them along the trail.
Back at the camp, I related a legend of the Lost Mohawk of the St. Regis to the guests, and soon rumors spread among the children of a lone Indian being spotted in the nearby forest.
Mysteriously, more feathers and arrowheads appeared on the camp property over the next few days.
On the day of the event, I spirited Rick Salazar to a lone campsite atop a nearby hemlock ridge. Also known as "Many Flags," he works as a Native American interpreter at Fort Ticonderoga and came dressed for the role.
Throughout the day, as children swam, paddled or waterskiied on the nearby lake, they caught fleeting glimpses of a "real Indian" lurking through the towering hemlocks.
When Many Flags let out several blood-curdling warhoops, the children banded together to go find him.
They were brave, but cautious.
Atop a long ridge, they finally located his primitive camp where a small fire burned, and they cautiously approached.
But, when he stepped out from behind a huge hemlock and spoke, all of the children and more than a few adults froze in place or scrambled in retreat.
Invited back to the main camp, Many Flags related tales of the creator and legends of the Iroquois. Soon he had the whole group singing and dancing.
The following day, I joined guests for a climb of Mt. Marcy, a mountain I've rarely visited during the summer season in recent years.
Although I ski the mountain nearly every winter, the last time I hiked it was several years ago. The climb was uneventful, save for the fresh bear tracks, both large and small that we found in the mud along the trail.
After summiting and posing for the requisite evidence of success, we quickly made our way down.
On the trail above Indian Falls, we encountered Peter Fish, a retired Forest Ranger from Keene Valley, who had regularly patrolled the High Peaks.
I asked Pete what brought him back to the mountains now that he's retired. He replied, "I woke up this morning and my wife turned to me and said, 'Why don't you go take a hike!' So I did."
Knowing that Pete likely has more ascents of Marcy than anyone else I know, I had to ask, "What number is it today?"
Modestly, he replied," Oh, I'm not sure," but when pressed, he admitted "It's number 695." For Pete, it's never just another random scoot; he obviously loves these hills.
The week ended with a canoe trip back to the Bog River Flow and Lows Lake area with three young companions in tow.
Along the route we encountered bald eagles, blue herons, ravens, loons, geese and ducks. At the small island where we established camp, a pair of merlins and a small falcon offered a constant "Kee-Kee" alarm call from all corners.
Merlins were a most appropriate raptor for when we arrived at the site after a long effort; there was a lone, old, wooden canoe paddle stuck in the sandy beach.
I joked with the crew that the paddle resembled the Sword in the Stone of King Arthur's Court.
After unloading the canoes and establishing camp, one of the boys brought the old paddle over to show me.
Carved into the handle, in finely detailed lettering was the word, "Excalibur."
According to legend, since they had helped to pull it out of the sand, I dubbed them all as Royal Knights of the Bog River Flow.
We also experienced a severe thunder and lightning storm and witnessed as a wall of water poured from the sky. We watched as the rains traveled across Lows Lake with such a downpour that the roar of it striking the flat lake water could be heard far in the distance.
Later in the journey, the Royal Knights again proved their bravery while doing battle with schools of fierce, large mouth bass using their wispy lances (aka fishing rods).
Almost as magical were the numerous loons, a few of which made uncommonly frequent appearances within very close range of our canoes. They popped up right next to the boat.
It was all in a days work.