We've recently returned from the Adirondacks of New York state. We spent a week at a cabin nestled amid the pines on the shores of Lake George, at the foot of Elephant Mountain.
Lake George is huge! Miles and miles of water, water sports vehicles and scenic views. We had a blast while laughing at the antics of those in our party tubing behind the power boat. Some of them were even brave enough to try their prowess at water-skiing in those chilly and choppy waters. Just about the time I'd decided to try my luck with skiing, the weather turned cooler and even breezier which caused the water to become too violently roiled for water sports, so we decided to climb a mountain instead. Now, if you've never had the experience yourself, let me fill you in on a few details.
The pathway to the summit of Elephant Mountain is marked by white paint splotches every so often on the trunks of trees and on rock faces. Most of the path isn't really a path at all, you just look for the next white mark and plow ahead. Some of the trees with markings on them have suffered the effects of weather and have fallen, leaving the hiker to try to figure out the path from a different perspective. At times we looked for trodden vegetation, straight-cut trees (like from a chain-saw), and sometimes we just had to fan out looking for the next clue. Much of the pathway was at a pretty steep upward slope, with just a few switchbacks of fairly flat terrain to allow a few moments rest for the weary. To the best of my knowledge, the height of Elephant Mountain is 3416 feet. The length of road travel to get to the head of the trail is approximately a half-mile, to a mile. Now that you have some topographical details, here's the rest of our story.
Mid-morning after a late breakfast we headed out of our driveway on foot. Four adults and five children under the age of 12. Two of the children had just reached the grand old age of five, and one was almost there. On the way up the drive I predicted that my son would maybe make it to the trail-head before we'd have to turn around and head back; after all, my little fella hadn't even walked a mile on flat ground before, let alone six miles of mountainous terrain.
My prediction was only slightly off; he made it to just inside the main trail before saying he was just too tired to make it. With some cajoling and a bit of ego pumping, (he's a huge Indiana Jones fan, so we started calling him that) we started off again. We were going on!
Two and a half hours later, after lifting each child over dead-falls, leading them up and around rock faces, and covering a lot of slippery pine needle covered trail, we were victorious! Every single one of our party made it all the way to the summit of a professional hikers mountain. The very top of Elephant Mountain! The intensity of feeling we experienced when we had achieved our goal was almost enough to bring us to our knees; the view however, kept us upright for a good ten minutes. We could see for miles! Miles and miles of wilderness, along with a few very diminutive boats seeming to sit nearly motionless upon a vast expanse of water. Teeny-tiny human habitations dotted the shore-line every so often, but I was enthralled by many thousands of trees, swaying gently and rather musically in the delightfully invigorating breeze wafting across the summit of the mountain.
We all sat and rested for a bit. The kids had half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich each, some chips, and a refeshing splash of water. Everyone gathered for a photo shoot of the group looking out over the edge of the mountain with the lake down below in the far distance, and then we headed back down the mountain. After a few wrong turns, the deployment of reconnaissance teams to relocate the trail, a few slippery falls, and plenty of additional encouragement we made it back to the main trail and eventually the roadway. One of the children was given a lift on Dad's shoulders for most of the remainder of the walk. If you'd have asked me before we did this if children that young could climb a mountain, I'd have certainly snorted and stated vehemently that it wasn't possible. It just goes to show that there's never a limit on what heights the human spirit is able to reach.
The participants of this hike will almost certainly remember it for a very long time. The children may regale their future audiences of our daring exploits on the mountain trail for years to come. Thank you Uncle Kerry for sharing both the idea and the rather fierce determination that each and every one of us would make it all the way!
I didn't carry my camera up the mountain. I wasn't sure who would be carrying who home, so the photos taken from the summit will be added later when I receive copies. Here's a shot taken from the yard behind our cabin. Elephant Mountain rising up, and up; right at our very feet!
Here's a photo of the view from our deck; gazing out over the lake and into the mountain range on the far side.
In closing let me just state that it was fun and ultimately rewarding, but I'm glad to be home. The gardens needed a bit of TLC, and I needed a rest from vacationing!
Additional photographs have been posted in the threads attched to this article.
Thanks for joining us in our adventure!