bushwacking to granite cliffs
Wednesday, December 20 2006
setting: forested Minerva Area, Adirondack State Park, New York
We'd be leaving our Yurt today, so we got the most out of it that we could. Since nobody was planned to occupy it after us today, there was no firm checkout time. So in the morning I slept in and Gretchen took the dogs for a walk. Later I took them for a second walk, bushwacking through enless briar patches to the top of a granite ridge to the southwest and then proceeding along the base of a 30 foot cliff, examining the caves at its base. Some were large enough to have served as bad-weather stalls for deer and had thick, flat floors made of pellet-shaped droppings, probably accumulated from hundreds of years of use. At first I assumed these droppings were from deer, though the pellets looked a little large. But then I saw some caves that were too small to have ever contained even a single deer, and these had similar middens made of the same droppings. (I've seen identical middens in the shallow caves in the bluestone cliffs above Englishman's Creek, where I've only been twice even though it's on state land only about 500 feet north of our house.)
From the cliffs we headed northward without benefit of a trail, eventually coming to a deep gorge through which Falls Brook passes on its way from Sherman Pond to the vicinity of the yurt (it's our source of semi-potable water, though we're supposed to boil it for three minutes before drinking it). Across the gorge I could see its steep sun-warmed south slope, and it featured the only White Pines I'd seen in this part of the forest.
After crossing this gorge and several small gulches, I found the snowmobile trail we'd hiked yesterday to Sherman Pond. When I got back to the yurt, I found Gretchen was just finishing washing the dishes. We did some final straightening up and then hauled all our stuff back out to the car and started driving homeward. As expected, the downhill hike required a tiny fraction of the energy of the uphill one we'd made the day before yesterday.
I'd been craving pizza, but we discovered the Minerva pizza place was closed (and had been for days), so we resolved to try again for pizza in Saratoga Springs.
I found Saratoga Springs just a little too precious for my blood. It felt a little like Northampton, Massachusetts, and even had a collegiate component, at least at the pizza place we managed to find on a side street (there were no pizza places on the main drag, though there was a Starbucks, which we used as a public lavatory).
Granite cliffs on today's hike.
Eleanor on our hike today.
Sally sniffs the middens of one of the caves. You can see the pelletized excrement.
Ice forms at the north end of a curved line of cliffs.
Sally sniffing for something interesting. There was a trivial amount of snow on north slopes.
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