Thursday, March 5, 2009
Up North to Newcomb
Black spruce line the Boreas River near Newcomb
My husband's gone to Florida, so I'm freed from KP duty for the rest of the week. Since I don't have to hurry home to start supper, I can stay outside as long as I like. So what did I do today? I took a drive. And then I took a walk. I headed north, planning to visit Pyramid Lake, but decided instead to go further north and surprise my blog friend Nature Girl where she works at Visitors' Interpretive Center in Newcomb. Her blog Adirondack Naturalist is on hold for who knows how long (her internet service has been disconnected), and I really miss her.
I love sailing up the Northway (I-87) to the Adirondacks. Sweeping vistas open on every side, starting around Lake George. By Chestertown you can spy high peaks peeking over the tops of lower mountains. Then Schroon Lake spreads out beneath Pharaoh Mountain, like a carpet before a throne. I left the Northway to take the Blue Ridge highway west to Newcomb. Not a good choice in winter. Snowbanks crowded the shoulders and wet the pavement of this steep, winding road, with fully-loaded lumber trucks barreling around blind curves, and a frost-heaved roadway created tentative traction for my tires. But wow! what a pretty drive! I could tell right away that I'd gained both latitude and altitude by the soaring spires of black spruce, their church-steeple tops towering over the lower-growing conifers. And in Newcomb, which lies to the south of the high peaks region, the view of these peaks was spectacular today: chalk-white mountaintops against a blue, blue sky.
Nature Girl was indeed surprised by my visit. We've e-mailed and posted comments to each others' blogs but had never met in person. She's every bit as fun as she sounds from her blog. She left her desk, strapped on snowshoes, and off we went on a tour of VIC's trails.
The fat furry footprint of a snowshoe hare
The habitat at VIC includes woods and streams and a beautiful lake, where groups of school kids come to have their eyes and ears (and noses!) opened to the natural wonders around them. Myself, I always feel like a kid when I'm out in the woods, especially when I'm with someone like Nature Girl -- who knows everything! What I thought at first was a snowball's track rolling down a hill turned out to be ruffed grouse. (Later, we thought we heard the deep whirrrrr of its wings.) Then we followed the tracks of a snowshoe hare as it meandered around the woods: a first for me (if hares exist in Saratoga County, I've never seen one). We found tracks of fox, coyote, raccoon, otter, weasel, mink, and (possibly) marten; stopped to sniff some yellow snow (not skunky, it wasn't fox); marveled at the intricate beauty of a velvety hobblebush bud; traded tales about childhood adventures outdoors and harumphed about kids not playing outdoors anymore . . . in short, we had a blast! I know I did. Thanks, Nature Girl. I hope I can show you around my woods someday. And I hope your blog gets back on the web real soon. I miss it.