Home > Family & kids, personal > Buggin’ out for the Woods

Buggin’ out for the Woods

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, … and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”
Thoreau (Walden)  http://thoreau.eserver.org/

I agree with the second prong of that famous quote – the part about not wanting to discover upon dying that I had not lived – but can’t swallow the part about living deliberately in the woods. To the contrary, the woods are a place to experience chaos, mystery, and the wild.

So, when things get particularly crazy in my life, I find a way to bug out to the woods.

Red eft eastern newt. Summit of Cascade Mountain, Adirondack High Peaks Region

But perhaps I am responding to a far less known perspective in Walden, where Thoreau observed – and concluded (more than 100 years before Pink Floyd stole the line):

“It is very evident what mean and sneaking lives many of you live, for my sight has been whetted by experience;…

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

“The greater part of what my neighbors call good, I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of any thing, it is very likely to be my good behavior.”

In my own encounters with real woods (AKA wilderness), I typically take off on a whim and shoot for something beyond my experience, skills, and equipment – always with little or no preparation (so much for living deliberately). I jam the tent, sleeping bag, some food and a book into the back of the car and take off (don’t tell my kids, but I used to do this hitchhiking).

At times, that has put me in some precarious situations. But, I’ve managed to survive and – for the most part – I have a blast experiencing a little of the vanishing wild that’s still left. My favorite place to escape to is the Adirondacks, which I did last week.

This time out, I set my sights on Cascade Mountain (4,100 ft. elevation), the easiest climb of the Adirondack High Peaks – the trail is 2.4 miles, 2,000 feet climb (one way). See:

Being over 50 and a never quite in shape weekend warrior (certainly no hiker), this was a challenge.

I camped and got rained on at Adirondack Loj.

But when the rain did let up, as a warmup, I managed to get a nice hike up Mount Jo (2,877 ft. elevation; 700 foot climb over a mile or so trail). (highly recommended, see: http://www.adk.org/ad_loj/

Check out the view of Heart lake from the top of Mount Jo (sorry about the clouds, it was raining!)

View from of Heart Lake from Mt. Jo

I now bring a camera with me as I ramble. I love everything about the Adirondacks, especially the rocks, streams, wild forests, and rustic tradition (check out some pics below). I have no words to describe simultaneously experiencing a landscape shaped by vast geological, spatial, and time scales, with the smallest and most immediate intimate beauty.

Tiny elf eastern newts crawling in patches of alpine meadow in a cloud drenched windblown summit. We don’t even need the spectacular views! Who gives a crap about rain! What more could you ask for?

In my eagerness to share some of the beauty I found, particularly this bright orange salamander (my daughter told me it was no big deal, dad), I came across this educational post by Naturegirl – check her out – she writes at the Adirondack Almanac blog:

Red Efts – Nifty Adirondack Salamanders

stream flows down Cascade Mountain
Adirondack Loj lean to
Adirondack Loj
patch of alpine meadow vegetation at top of Cascade Mountain. Rare plant community.
summit – Cascade Mountain
…with a bracing wind in my face…
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  1. dionc9
    May 31st, 2009 at 10:33 | #1

    My wife and I camped in the Adirondacks about nine years ago. It was a great trip. However, I’ve been told we will no longer sleep in tents for vacation. I can live with that but as we discus this years vacation, I’m pushing for mountain, lake, cabin while the wife is pushing for beach, ocean, hotel.
    I always loved finding those newts as a kid in the Catskills. Though the ones I saw back then were more of an orange color and had black spots.
    Music input… Listening to this under the right circumstances can evoke tears.
    *Wish You Were Here* By Pink Floyd
    So, so you think you can tell
    Heaven from Hell,
    Blue skies from pain.
    Can you tell a green field
    From a cold steel rail?
    A smile from a veil?
    Do you think you can tell?
    And did they get you to trade
    Your heroes for ghosts?
    Hot ashes for trees?
    Hot air for a cool breeze?
    Cold comfort for change?
    And did you exchange
    A walk on part in the war
    For a lead role in a cage?
    How I wish, how I wish you were here.
    We’re just two lost souls
    Swimming in a fish bowl,
    Year after year,
    Running over the same old ground.
    What have we found?
    The same old fears.
    Wish you were here.

  2. TomTallTree
    May 31st, 2009 at 12:49 | #2

    I have been hiking, camping, hunting and fishing in the Adirondacks, Catskills, Pennsylvania and New jersey for over 60 years. I have photos of my father camping in the Adirondacks in the 1930s.
    It is hard to compare one place against the other, when each has it’s own unique features.
    My advice to all is go our into the woods, learn what you can, enjoy the peace and quite. It is your choice to camp, fish, hike or hunt. What ever you choose, it is better than sitting in front of a TV or computer.
    Remember “take only pictures, leave only footprints”.

  3. nohesitation
    May 31st, 2009 at 14:16 | #3

    Dear dionc9
    – thanks. FYI, I was referring to the pink floyd lyrics:
    “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the english way”
    TomTallTree – I agree – wise words! Thanks!

  4. blarneyboy
    June 1st, 2009 at 09:16 | #4

    One of nature’s “cathedrals” is the area of Avalanche Lake on Avalanche Pass. The “Hitch-up-Matildas” walkway, bolted into the mountain, harkens back to when guides carried city slickers through the waters. It’s a tough hike from the Loj, but a wonder. We shouldn’t forget that the acid rain from the Ohio Valley has destroyed fishing on many Adirondack lakes, so that ‘newts’ aren’t just an endangered species in Washington, DC.

  1. January 23rd, 2011 at 15:54 | #1
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