Friday, October 23, 2009
Old Friends, New Adventures
Nothing can make you feel more like a kid again than having fun with friends you were kids with once. I'm experiencing that great pleasure this weekend with two friends from my long-ago youth: Tom and Dave. I knew these two guys when we were all teenagers back in the 1950s, running around a lake in southern Michigan where we all grew up. Despite living hundreds of miles apart now, they've stayed in touch with each other all these years, going on many outdoor adventures together all over the country. And this year they decided to have an outdoor adventure in the Adirondacks that included me. And I couldn't wait to show them "my" Saratoga woods and waterways.
Yesterday we climbed to a Hudson River overlook in Moreau Lake State Park, wearing just jeans and T-shirts in the unseasonable warmth. So we were looking forward to a pleasant paddle on the river this morning. Except that the temperature plummeted to around 35 degrees overnight. And a brisk wind was riffling the water. Undaunted, we bundled up and set forth downstream toward the Sherman Island Dam, the two guys in a tandem canoe, I in my little Hornbeck.
And it was cold! But never mind. We were tough. Besides, the glowing autumn colors along the riverbank helped us to feel a bit warmer. As did the exertion of paddling against the wind.
When we reached Rippled Rocks Point we slipped back into the marsh and behind Three Pine Island, well out of the wind. The sun even brightened to glow a bit warmer through the general cloud cover. We landed our boats to walk about on the rocks and stretch our cold-stiffened hips and legs. Although much of the autumn color is fading by now, the blueberry bushes poking up among the rocks were as red as red could be.
One tiny blueberry bush even had new blossoms. Now, why would a bush do that, with no hope this late in the season of ever producing fruit? Mysteries abound.
Our paddle back to the boat launch was aided by the wind at our backs, so we still had energy to spare for further adventures. So off we went to the lake part of Moreau Lake State Park, this time for a walk, not a paddle. I was oh, so hoping we might spy that moose that's been visiting the park of late, and send the guys home with an experience to remember. Well, we didn't see any moose, nor any sign of it, but we did find something that stopped us dead in our tracks: an Osprey, dead, sprawled on it belly in the sand.
An experienced bird hunter who knows what shot birds look like, Dave examined the Osprey and surmised that it had been shot through the belly while flying, the bullet passing through and piercing one of its legs as well. What a travesty! We all shook our heads in sadness over the senseless killing of this magnificent, legally protected, bird. I couldn't help but marvel, though, over this chance to really look up close at a bird I've only seen soaring way up high over my head.
We were pondering whether to leave the Osprey lying where it was or carry it back to the park headquarters, when Peter, the park manager, came driving along the trail, looking for stragglers like us who were supposed to have left the parking lot by 3:30 p.m. We were glad to be able to tell him about the dead bird before we were seen carrying it and possibly suspected of causing its death (which could lead to substantial fines). Peter forgave us our parking violation and asked us to carry the Osprey to the park's nature center. Which we did. Or rather, Dave did. What a game guy! (That bird was beginning to reek.)
Tomorrow, new adventures await. You never know what you might find.