Hike to Avalanche Pass and Lake in the Adirondacks

After a hiatus of several months I’m ready to resume blogging, though my environmental focus will be more on landscapes.  This past February a friend of mine and I snowshoed up to Avalanche Pass and Lake from the Adirondack Club Lodge, a round trip distance of 11 miles with about a 1,000 foot incline. The high for the day was about 8º, though it might have been colder at high elevation. At these temperatures it was almost impossible to operate the camera, even while wearing photo gloves. My finger tips, which had to be protruded, became numb within two or three minutes of touching the camera. Nevertheless, I managed a few good shots.

The area is so named due to a major avalanche that drastically redefined the mountain sides and the lake many years ago. According to Wikipedia, “A large avalanche occurred on August 20, 1869, that created a number of the landslides on Mount Colden, the rubble from which substantially raised the level of the lake. Another avalanche in 1942 caused further slides that raised the lake level by 10 feet (3 m).”

Our hike’s first stop was Marcy Dam, where we were the first to arrive that morning, as shown by absent foot prints in the following scene. Mountain Snow ShowersIt’s a desolate but beautiful landscape. Multi-layers and warm, quick-dry synthetics were the dress of the day!

A couple of hours later we reached the pass and lunched on the lake’s edge, protected from the wind. While on the lake, I took the following photos. The first shows the trail left by four hikers, seen in the background, as they headed southwest down the lake. The second photo is the face of the mountain where we had lunch, showing windblown pockets of snow on the craggy edges of the face.

Frozen Trek The Face In Line

I photographed the hikers in the third photo as they hiked northeast on the lake back towards the pass. It’s really something to see so many people deep in the mountains under such inhospitable conditions. Of course, like us, I’m sure they knew the forecast was for sun and light winds all day.  Still, mountain forecasts are prone to abrupt change. Hiking was also made more critical due to the short period of daylight during early February.

On the way back I shot the following photo, which shows a set of tracks from folks venturing on up the mountains.

Trail Up

The next day we made a quick hike up Giant Mountain to photograph Keene Valley from the top of the falls. The water was frozen solid, allowing us to stand on the part about 25 feet away from where it went over the ledge (yikes!). Here’s what we saw, shown in the following photo (the dark straight line is highway 73 running through Keene Valley).High Peaks Winter

So much of our modern environment consists of chemicals, power lines, buildings, roads, parking lots, radio energy, and others. Although these are things upon which we all depend, our bodies, that have evolved over the millennia in nature, are not designed to work effectively in these settings, since they expose us to pollution and make proper diet and exercise less obtainable for many.

 

 

 

 

The Natural Environment and Social Issues

Some folks have asked how I came to be interested in birds and nature given that I live in an urban setting and my professional background is in labor studies, public health, and things like medical malpractice claims.

But it was not always like this. Having grown up in farm country, I was mostly outdoors in fields and woods.  The nearest paved road from our house was about a half mile away.  So I guess you could say that the camera gives me an incentive to go back out into the fields and woods.

Still, there is another reason, connected to my professional work. As well-publicized by Al Gore and many scientists, the natural environment is powerfully driven by geological and climatic influences.  However, it also driven by us, as I discuss on a separate page in this blog. At first our environmental impact was slight; however, over the course of the twentieth century our impact grew exponentially. Though our effects are not as influential as geology and climate, the data show that our influence on climate is contributing to the warming of the planet.

So as I photograph the birds and landscapes, I’m providing a sociological glimpse into what humanity is doing, and dare I say, having a lot of fun doing it.