A North Country Almanac: drawing the year to a close (June/July)

I failed to write N.C.A. posts for June and July. Obviously. It is now August, and rapidly nearing late August at that.

While I didn’t write much, or anything, really, about these months in the North Country, I had the privilege of spending the majority of them outside and very much in the North Country as I worked as a camp wilderness counselor/”adventure trip leader” for the second summer in a row. Unlike last summer, this year’s adventures were spent not in the woods, lakes, and mountains of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, but in the local Adirondacks of my own home, Northern New York.

At first, the Adirondacks seemed a lot less rugged and exciting than Alaska. But throughout the summer, I definitely grew to appreciate them more; they have a distinct beauty about them, the “forever wild” mountains of my home state, that I’m not yet sure how to describe with justice.

Highlights of my summer adventures in the Adirondacks include the following:

  • hiking up the (very short) climb to Hitchen’s Pond Overlook, which starts at the Upper Dam of Low’s Lake, twice
  • hiking a dozen High Peaks in total, including Giant, Rocky Ridge, Panther, Couchsachraga, Santanoni, Marshall, Colden, Algonquin, Iroquois, Skylight, Marcy, and Haystack
  • doing Mt. Colden as a sunrise hike
  • being up on Algonquin and Iroquois as a storm was rolling in, with a lot of wind, mist, and strong clouds all around
  • (verbally/audibly) fighting off a black bear
  • witnessing the gashes made by a bear in the mosquito nets of one of our large white canvas base-camp tents
  • seeing loons (always a highlight)
  • seeing several herons
  • seeing beavers! (I’ve seen beavers in the wild before in Alaska; however, ironically, I had never seen a live beaver in the wild before this summer, despite the fact that I grew up in Beaver Falls, graduated from a high school that had a beaver as our mascot, learned to swim in the Beaver River, was baptized in Beaver Lake…etc., etc.)
  • seeing a bald eagle on Low’s
  • attempting to make a “redneck hot-tub” with campers in a canoe

and of course, especially recalling things last summer, such a list of highlights wouldn’t be complete without the following final note:

  • THE BUGS WERE PRACTICALLY NON-EXISTENT THIS SUMMER!!! (At least, that’s how it seemed to me..then again, I did go through mosquito purgatory last year..)

Reflecting back on this year as a whole, I’m grateful I got to spend it in Northern New York. I am admittedly biased because it’s my home, but the North Country is a truly beautiful one. I have no idea when I’ll next spend a significant amount of time here, but I will certainly miss it as I go on to my next adventure, which begins this Wednesday…South Korea, here I come!

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