State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.

lake hill falls rinse repeat

by Natalia

Hike to the top of the mountain to gaze at the calm water below, stop by the roaring falls cascading down the gorge, stroll by the quiet lake if you feel it's too cold for kayaking: Adirondack State Park is great for outdoor activities.

Including bizarre ones like catch-and-release fishing (hurting and stressing fish for dubious satisfaction of the angler), gem panning (rinsing a purchased bag of pebbles in a futile hope the seller forgot to remove valuable stones) or making campfire in the woods (too much worrying it may spread).

You may be tempted to think that those wonders of nature stayed in the pristine state since the beginning of time. In fact they have undergone dramatic change in the recent past.

Not long ago Lake Champlain was a busy traffic route dotted with heavy industrial sites like aptly named Moriah. Forests around lakes were cut for timber forming huge logjams in lakes. Ghost towns were left behind iron ore mining operation that once was giving employment to the entire region. Falls of Carillon in the center of Ticonderoga are only half of their former glory; the other half disappeared long time ago inside the long defunct paper mill. Even recreation was doing irreversible damage: heavy 2 tonnes rafts floated down the lower portion of Ausable Chasm where a wall was sunk inside the gorge to keep water level high.

With the industry gone (thank you China) the nature is slowly being restored to its roaring and quiet beauty. Especially quiet off-season before crowds of tourists descend on it in the summer.

When you get tired of all that outdoors you can head back to civilization and spend a night in a lovely inn like The Inn on the Library Lawn in Westport where we stayed the night and gracious innkeeper Alexandra took great care of us. And to make our stay even more pleasant: children are not allowed.

Just so you know, we are not spewing everything we see and experience. To give you a taste this is a full list of lakes we passed on Thursday May 6, 2010: Lake Pleasant, Mason Lake, Lewey Lake, Indian Lake, Rock Lake, Lake Durant, Blue Mountain Lake, South Pond, Long Lake, Lake Eaton, Tupper Lake, Simmon Pond, Upper Saranac Lake, Second Pond, Lower Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Mirror Lake.

chasm

Falls are in abundance in Adirondacks, and Ausable Chasm is one of the largest and prettiest. Or it would be, if not for its economic exploitation. The chasm is fenced, but not to protect its ecology from people, or people from falling into it, but to prevent you from getting a closer look without paying an admission fee. It costs $5 for a peek and $16 to hike around. Despite the price you do have to hike yourself. Although in the season they'll actually shuttle you back to the parking lot, so you don't have to walk back and look at the nature for too long. In case you don't find the chasm and the falls appealing enough, countess related activities are provided: tubing, rafting, lantern tours, historic tours - you get the idea.

lake george

Lake George was empty. Not desolate, devoid of skiers, empty at the end of the winter as we are used to, but burgeoning with hope and fresh paint at the beginning of the season. Empty is not bad. Sure, most hotels are still in hibernation and restaurants are closed except for an Indian place. But you have all that emptiness to yourself: no person in sight on top of the Prospect Mountain, which in-season must be crowded to the hilt, at least judging by the size of a parking lot and a picnic area. Yes, you read right: there is a road to the top. I hate to hike all the way to the summit only to find lazy tourists prancing around not breaking any sweat,but not this time - the road doesn't open until Memorial Day so no pesky people to contend with.