Saturday, October 17, 2009
Hiking the Trail to Lake George
Another beautiful day that wasn't supposed to be so. And a good thing, too, since my friend Sue had planned a hike for today along a bike trail that runs from Queensbury to Lake George, and we were determined to go, rain or shine. Another friend and fellow nature blogger, Lindsey, joined Sue and me at eight this morning as we set off, shivering in the cold, heading north from a point just south of the Great Escape amusement park.
We warmed up fast, from the walking, of course, but also because the sky soon cleared and the sun warmed our backs, and also lit up the beautiful foliage all around us.
Our trail led past a wetland where waterfowl were resting among the reeds -- before our approach set them aflight --
and bright-red Winterberry grew abundantly in the marsh.
Sue and Lindsey are avid birders, so we often stopped to listen to birdsong and spy on what was happening in the treetops. Lots of blackbirds of various species were ganging up for migration, and a big source of amusement for us was a White-throated Sparrow who seemed to have forgotten most of his song: Old Sam Peabod . . . oh phooey! Who cares?
We found other evidence of wildlife, too, such as this dining table for a red squirrel, spread with pine nuts and a piece of mushroom.
My poor eyesight prevents me from spying on birds in the air, but it does allow me to peer closely at things on the ground, such as this log just peppered with a tiny, bright-yellow sac fungus called Lemon Drops (Bisporella citrina). Another common name is Yellow Fairy Cups.
I could also see the light glinting on the silky filaments of these milkweed seeds.
At one point our trail passed between high rocky bluffs, and historical markers along the way informed us that we were entering the area where British and French soldiers and their Native American allies had fought bloody battles during the French-Indian wars. We saw the remains of Fort George, now covered with grasses and moss, where the Battle of Lake George was fought and won by the British in 1755.
We also saw lots of evidence of the kitschier side of Lake George's history, circa 1955. In fact, the whole village of Lake George seems a living museum of 1950s-style popular entertainment, since places like this still attract summer crowds of tourists.
But then, there's always the lake. The beautiful lake. One of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world. No amount of touristy kitsch can overshadow the splendor of its mountains, its islands, and vast stretches of crystalline water.
This was as far as our trail would take us today. We covered about 5 miles in about 6 hours. Obviously, we stopped for many diversions along the trail, as all nature lovers do. And now it was time to reward ourselves with some pizza. Thanks, Sue, for organizing this fun day of hiking along a fascinating trail -- and with the best of company.