Friday, September 17, 2010

Two Days in Paradise

Is there one single place that epitomizes all that is wonderful about the Adirondacks? Probably not, but Elk Lake Lodge in Essex County comes mighty close. Here you can find it all: mountains, lakes, islands, forest, streams, great fishing, the smell of balsam and wood smoke, the call of the loon, and beautiful, beautiful silence. Plus a cozy room, good food, friendly folks, and a rocking chair by the fire. My husband and I just spent two nights there, and here are some photos to prove I have actually been to paradise. (Be sure to click on the photos so that these vistas fill your screen.)

Dawn on Thursday: mist shrouds the mountains while a fisherman braves the morning chill to try his luck.

The rising sun touches the tops of the mountains with gold.

The view from our breakfast table.

The sun warms our backs as we paddle the western shore of the lake in the still of the morning. The Colvin Range rises against the horizon.

The quiet lake reflects the sky and mountains that rise to the east.

Elk Lake is dotted with many small islands and surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the Adirondacks, including Nippletop and Dix, pictured here.

Of course, there are loons . . .

. . . and native Brook Trout. Careful regulations are enforced by the lodge to keep alien species, both plant and animal, out of the lake's pristine waters. (I chafed a bit at the strictness here, since I was not allowed to paddle my own canoe, but had to make do with the big, heavy aluminum ones the lodge provides.)

Hobblebush, now turning vivid colors, lines the trail that we took to Clear Pond Mountain on Thursday afternoon.

Here's the view from the top of Clear Pond Mountain, with Elk Lake off in the distance, the high peaks of the Adirondacks rising beyond.

We just got back to the lodge from our mountain climb when it started to rain, and it poured the rest of the night. No matter, since it gave us a good excuse to pull up a chair by the fire and read or converse with other guests, a very amiable bunch.

Friday dawned windy and cold, but at least the rain had stopped and a rising sun was warming the lifting fog.

Soon, sunlight dappled the trail we were taking in search of a fen that lay a couple of miles off into the forest.

Recent rains had brought out the woodland fungi, such as this vivid red Russula.

Not a fungus, but it looks like one: these salmon-pink balls are a slime mold called Wolf's Milk.

Our tramp through the woods was often accompanied by the music of rushing streams.

One of those streams we crossed by a swinging bridge, which undulated with every footfall. Whee!

After making our way through the damp dark woods for more than an hour, we felt a little excitement as we glimpsed a bright opening through the trees.

At last the fen, watered by a quiet stream, lay wide open before us, the wind moving in waves through the sedges and grass, while sunlight and shadow made a beautiful patchwork of the surrounding hills.

Ripe red cranberries were strewn like rubies beneath our feet. I put a few in my pocket to refresh my mouth as we hiked on back to the lodge. It was time to pack the car and head for home, feeling happy and blessed to have spent these two days enjoying such natural beauty.


Ellen Rathbone said...

HI, Jackie! Wow - you were just down the road! Looks like you lucked out with the weather. It is certainly a beautiful place. Glad you had such a wonderful time.

Jens Zorn said...

Good to see a photo of Denis in quite contemplation.
Judging from the size of that red book on his knee, he is not yet a devotee of the Kindle.

Photos of the lake: Amazing -- I particularly like the one with the solo canoeist.

Louise said...

What an absolutely beautiful place. I have to remember to mark that down for future vacations. Your photos are lovely, as always.

Adirondackcountrygal said...

What a beautiful place!

suep said...

was thinking of you when I heard the pouring rain - hoping you both were curled up with a good book by the fire ! What a lovely portrait of Denis.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I wish I could have taken you all to Elk Lake Lodge with me.

Candy Duell said...

Wow, what a great trip it looks like you had. Your pictures are wonderful. I especially liked the one of the person reading. The morning fog is wonderful too. Would you mind if I took one or 2 for my backgrounds on my computer?

I am going to show my hubby this place, it looks just wonderful!

catharus said...

'Sure looks like paradise to me! I'll definitely have to spend some time there.

Unknown said...

Beautiful photos Mom! So glad you two had a nice time there. I remember the girls really enjoyed bouncing over that bridge!