Whiteface Mountain & Lake Placid, New York. [May 2015]
Memorial Day Weekend, or MDW in JerseyTalk, meant sitting in traffic for hours on the Garden State Parkway to make it down to a grimy Jersey Shore town back in the high school days. Today, all I want to do is escape NYC in hopes of discovering tranquility somewhere far, far away.
Turns out, we don’t have to go far at all. 5 hours driving up Route 87 in Upstate New York we find Lake Placid, most aptly described as a WASP-y Key West without the ocean and public intoxication. But more on that later. Today, our main endeavor was hiking up Whiteface Mountain.
Whiteface is the 5th highest peak in New York and a popular ski resort in the winter. As summer takes over in late May it is still quite chilly on the summit, with streams of water dripping from still-melting icicles on the rocks. For the able-bodied and adventurous few you can make a 3000-foot elevation gain hike over 5 miles (~2.5 hours), and for the lazy many you can simply drive up a nicely paved highway towards the summit.
But you still need to put in 15-20 minutes of physical exertion to climb the final, steep steps to make it from the parking lot to the tip top (that is, if you don’t cheat and take the elevator instead). The views at the top reward you for the effort: Lake Placid lies in full view beneath, with its characteristic twin islands creating an iridescent Figure Eight amidst a sea of green conifers.
Take your time to breath in the fresh air. Let your eyes indulge in the infinite layers of mountains in the horizon. Nobody is operating on NYC time here. Did I mention, bring a thick jacket in May? My trigger finger is a little frostbitten.
“Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden