Our next stop after Washington would be a little bit further north. In fact we had to drive a whopping 800km to get there, and since we didn’t want to lose any time, we did so in a single day. Our detour via Washington had uprooted our original schedule, but we were trying to catch up with our second destination after New York City: The Adirondack Mountains in the Adirondack Park in Upstate New York. During our 2008 trip to the East Coast this was one of the highlights of our tour and we were determined to spend some time in the park again.
We had booked the hotel for the night one day in advance as we usually do on these sort of trips. We only ever book our first night before we fly. For the rest of the journey we pick a city and a hotel every night, just one day in advance. This way we can shuffle our schedule as we go along and extend or shorten stays. For the Adirondacks we had booked a motel in Lake Placid (New York), site of two Winter Olypmics. After spending most of the day on the road, we arrived in Lake Placid way after nightfall and immediately noticed the crisp and clear mountain air. What a difference to Washington indeed.
The next morning we went looking for breakfast in downtown Lake Placid, which is basically just one strip of road with restaurants, bars and shops all catering to year-round tourist. We found a really cute coffee place that still had a spot on the porch, which is where the photo above was taken.
Obviously we had come the Adirondack Mountains to do some much-needed hiking after a week of city sightseeing. We knew that there were some good hiking routes nearby, close to where some of the Olympic sites outside of city were situated (Ski Jumping etc.). The 20-minute drive to the trail head took us through the absolutely gorgeous countryside around Lake Placid. It may be hard to grasp, but this was apparently the absolute best week to watch the Indian Summer as we had been told. And true enough, on our way to the trail we saw cars on the shoulder every few hundred meters with the drivers getting out and taking pictures of the fall foliage. Amazing!
After a few miles we left the plains and forest on a small gravel road, already alive with hikers and cars parked on the side of the road. We decided to park there as well only to discover that it was another kilometer to the trail head and that there were hundreds of cars park along the road. Hard to believe, but all of these people had come there just to hike! There was no hidden amusement park, no souvenir huts and no rides, just plain and exhausting hiking routes. We even had to get in line to sign into the trail log which we had tried to skip until a ranger explicitly asked everyone passing by to sign in. Rush hour!
Fortunately the parking lot was the start to many different trails and after a few minutes we had lost sight of nearly everyone. We kept alongside an older lady for quite a while who was out hiking with her kids and grandkids. She told us that going Upstate New York and hiking was a regular family tradition. That day she was hiking the easier 7-mile round-trip trail up to Phelps Mountain (the one we were hiking as well) because she had sprained her ankle the day before and the rest of her family was doing a more demanding trail that day.
The rest of the trail took up past a wooden dam (Marcy Dam) which was almost destroyed by hurricane Irene and all the way up Phelps Mountain. The fall foliage along the way was simply breathtaking. I didn’t take that many photos but the hike took us the better part of the day. Back at the parking lot the sun was already setting. The next morning we left Lake Placid headed north, but before we were outside of the Park boundaries we stopped a few times to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. This last (and prettiest) shot was taken in Saranac Lake, New York.