Each Columbus Day Weekend finds me up at Pyramid Life Center on Pyramid Lake, an absolute jewel of an Adirondack lake that offers breathtaking vistas at every hour of the day. Because I was there to help this retreat center prepare its facilities for the winter, I didn't spend much time paddling the lake, but I carried my camera along in my pocket to capture the stunning vistas that caught my eye as I went about my tasks.
Both Saturday and Sunday mornings dawned frosty cold, and I rose at dawn while the light was blue and rising mist obscured the tops of the mountains.
As the rising sun cleared the horizon, the mist dissipated and the brilliant colors of the island's trees emerged.
These sun-warmed Adirondack chairs invited us busy workers to stop for a moment, sit for a while, and marvel at nature's glory.
From every place along the shore, the lake offered vistas of dazzling beauty.
On Sunday, our work completed, a friend and I hiked to a ledge high over the lake, from which we could see the majestic Pharaoh Mountain reigning over the lesser peaks.
Eagle Lake in Essex County
On Sunday, my friend Sue Pierce came up to meet me at Pyramid Lake, and we drove together just a few miles east to paddle on Eagle Lake.
Eagle Lake is distinguished by steep rocky cliffs that line its shores and which today offered us some slight protection from a brisk wind that drove down the center of the lake.
Big puffy mounds of sphagnum moss grow on these cliffs, along with a marvelous mix of ferns and lichens and baby conifers and other species of moss.
As we rounded this corner of the lake to pass under a bridge and out onto the larger portion of Eagle Lake, we marveled at the colorful leaves of oak trees along this shore. It seemed very early for oak leaves to be turning such colors, since oaks are usually the last of our trees to do so. But these oaks were as brilliantly colored as any maples.
As we emerged from the shadow of the bridge we passed under, we were dazzled by the spectacular colors of the forested shore around the lake. Eagle Lake has a dramatic shoreline and several rocky islands we might have explored, but the continuing wind in our faces discouraged our further explorations. When we turned around, that same wind, now at our backs, propelled us along at a lively pace, and we just sat back, rested our paddles, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
Lens Lake in Warren County
Since my friend Sue had Monday off from work, we decided to continue our paddling adventures today and headed up to Lens Lake near Stony Creek to explore the lake's convoluted shoreline and admire the autumn colors of its surrounding mountains. We made sure to bundle up in fleece jackets and gloves, since the day was cold with no sun to warm us, and a chilly wind was rippling the lake's pristine waters.
The most remarkable feature of this quiet lake is the presence of many extensive bog mats thick with brilliantly colored sphagnum moss and studded with Pitcher Plants, Cottongrass, Cranberries, and other plants typical of an acidic bog habitat.
Although many trees high up on the mountainsides had already lost their leaves, the trees that grow along the shore still held onto their gorgeous colors.
On most of the bog mats, tiny Tamarack trees had found a foothold, and were now in the process of turning from summertime green to autumn gold. Tamaracks are the only one of our coniferous trees to demonstrate this deciduous trait, dropping their needles completely each fall and growing entirely new ones in the spring.
I love how this Tamarack's gold stands out from its dark-green conifer neighbors. I took this photo at Lens Lake two years ago, and although on Monday I searched the entire shore I had paddled then, I could not find this tree again. So I'm posting this old photo again, because I longed to see it.
Although a chill wind continued to blow out on the open lake, we found some refuge among quiet coves, where glassy waters reflected stately pines.
It was here in one of those coves, its banks lined with Sheep Laurel, Labrador Tea, and Leatherleaf, that Sue spied several laurel shrubs with freshly opened flowers. This is a shrub that normally blooms in June, so yes, this was quite an unexpected pleasure. Just one of the many delights that had brought us pleasure today on this beautiful lake, despite the dark chill of the day.
Sue had an unexpected pleasure all her own when she was visited by a family of River Otters frolicking in the water around her canoe. Unfortunately for me, I was around a bend of the bogmats when these amusing mammals showed themselves to Sue, even raising their heads well out of the water before snorting an alarm and splashing quickly out of sight. Sue showed me some still photos as well as a short video she captured, and I'm hoping she will soon share these on her own beautiful blog, Water-lily.