Tuesday, August 14 2012
location: southwest corner of Lake Edward, Fulton County, New York
A group of about a half dozen drab brown ducks swam up to us as we breakfasted near the landing, and their presence drew Ramona's interest. Eventually she began to stalk them, wading further and further out into the water. When one got temptingly close, she began to swim after it. Amazingly, she could swim as fast as it could and eventually it had to take to the air to escape. Ramona kept swimming after other ducks, some of which didn't seem too concerned and apparently delighted in the effort she was expending. I was a little worried what would happen if she exhausted herself. But at some point she gave up and returned to the shore.
Yesterday when that woman had come over to repetitively explain where we could go to hike, we'd learned about a couple smallish (though completely undeveloped) lakes in the northern part of the Town of Bleecker. Today we decided to hike to the larger of the two, named Chase Lake.
After a five or six mile drive, we parked at a trailhead where the open country of private land gave way to the forested landscape of land in the state's "Forever Wild" system. Unlike in the Catskills, where the steepest, rockiest land is owned by the state while everything else remains private, in the Adirondacks any land could be state-owned, even the kind that lies perfectly flat and isn't strewn with house-sized granite boulders. Of course, since state-owned land is always "forever wild," it always tends to be forested. The hike today to Chase Lake, for example, took place entirely on public land and if there was a grade it was very gentle. Since the hike was nearly three miles, it took us about an hour to get to Chase Lake. (Sally stayed back in the car as usual.)
In the Adirondacks there is a system of publicly-maintained structures called "lean-tos" scattered throughout the wildlands. Chase Lake had a lean-to, and it was the first thing we visited in the lake's vicinity. The lean-to was a small, solid building built like a log cabin. It had three walls, a roof, and a floor, though one side was completely open and faced a fire pit. Freakishly on this particular trip to the Adirondacks, there have been few biting flies, but in normal conditions if one were to stay in that lean-to, one would want to stoke a fire in that fire pit to form a screen of smoke that would hopefully discourage a mosquito in the manner of a screen of mesh. The lean-to is a surprisingly communalist entity, originating as it did during a time when Americans weren't as flagrantly selfish as they are now. In this particular lean-to, there was a saw for cutting wood, a number of tins of canned food, and two unopened Budweisers. There was also a notebook where visitors were encouraged to leave their comments and observations. Gretchen read the last of these aloud:
Came up to lean-to with 4 friends (Rudy, Matt, Zak, Don) saw
Dana fingering herself while Greg was playing with her boobs.
Anyways we went fishing and caught a Sunfish that we are.
Yummm! Now cooking beans and Hotdogs for dinner and then
we're gonna all get drunk and who knows what will happen.
I'm excited as ever! Well gotta go. Love you bye
Down at the lakeshore the communalist spirit of the lean-to continued in the form of a flat-bottomed boat available to anyone who wanted to use it. As for the lake itself, it was absolutely gorgeous and significantly bigger than I'd expected. It was as wide as Lake Edwards but only about as long as it was wide. Its shoreline was pristine and heavily forested. I'd expected swampiness around the margins, but it had very little. Both Gretchen and Ramona went for a swim, though Eleanor had no interest.
While the landscape around Chase Lake lies fairly flat, not far to the north and northwest are some examples of Adirondack relief. I wouldn't call them mountains exactly, though their peaks rise over two thousand feet above sea level.
Unfortunately there was enough of a cellphone signal at the shore of Chase Lake for Gretchen to check messages on her Droid, and this was how we came to learn about a project manager for the company I've been working for freaking out about my not being online and then calling the house and reaching our housesitter. Evidently she'd forgotten about the fact that I was planning to be in the Adirondacks this week (or never read the email where I mentioned it). Experiencing the sudden unpleasant transition from marveling at a beautiful lake to having to deal with remote work-related communications is just one of the many miseries unavailable to humans alive before 1995. Compounding my misery was the weak nature of the infogrid there at Chase Lake. For several minutes there the signal dropped away completely, though it did return long enough for me to get off an email (but then the clunky interface of the Droid's default email software made it unclear whether or not that email had actually been sent).
A cloud hung over me for the rest of our time in the region of Chase Lake. It's hard to enjoy nature when you're wondering why it is that your project manager is desperate to get in touch with you.
Back at the house, where I had access to pirated WiFi, I learned that the freakout was mainly related to an email I hadn't even seen. It had a list of priorities on it and the project manager had wanted to go over them by phone with only a half-hour's notice. In the end I managed to arrange a call for 4:00pm, but I was also left with a nagging feeling that I had somehow not pulled my weight during this incident.
But I always feel a huge sense of relief after concluding a business call. To celebrate, I kayaked across Lake Edward behind Swampy Inlet Island, where I found another landing for boats and a trailhead. I walked up the trail a short ways and thought it might be good to come back and explore it in more detail.
This evening Gretchen cooked a meal based on collard greens, rice, and cubes of tofu breaded with nutritional yeast and perhaps other things. I had mine as a wrap in a wholewheat flour tortilla. Later Gretchen and I watched an episode of Mad Men. After that, I stayed up late doing web development using my netbook, the extra flatscreen, and a small mouse. Whenever I needed the internet (to email or check a website for something), I'd unhook the netbook and take it out to the cracked plastic bench outside the front door, where I'd hook it up to a long-range WiFi dongle placed in a hanging flower pot overhead.
Ribald notes left at the lean-to.
Ramona contemplates Chase Lake.
Eleanor at Chase Lake.
I wade into Chase Lake while Ramona flips her head back to look at Gretchen taking a picture.
A creepy hunting lodge (Adirondack Beagle Hare Club) on the road to the Chase Lake trailhead.
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