It’s been a while since I have walked eleven miles in one day. I wasn’t really planning to come up to the cabin this past weekend, but two downstate commitments I thought I had evaporated so I decided to tag along with Robin to her 40th high school reunion at the Emma Willard School in Troy Friday night. I had always wanted to ride the tourist railroad from Saratoga to North Creek, and arrive at our cabin sans auto, and this seemed like a good chance.
So Saturday morning found me clankety-clacking through the pines north of Saratoga, which eventually thinned out to glimpses of the Upper Hudson, rapids, the river valley and enclosing mountains. I got off at the last stop, North Creek. A golf cart was waiting to shuttle passengers to town, up to the left, while the road to the wilderness trails went right. I went right.
A half mile up route 28, the Raymond Brook backcountry trail climbs from the river up to the pass near the old Barton Mine Road, four miles and fourteen hundred vertical feet away. I paced along through the woods, pondering life’s imponderables and crossing the streams along the way. At Barton Road, I stuck to the wilderness trail instead of taking the road straight to the cabin. I know these trails from backcountry skiing on them, but I haven’t walked them in late spring before. I saw some mergansers on the land near the Vly, flushed a buck in the woods, and watched one beaver swim across William Blake Pond. At the Garnet intersection, I took a detour to climb Balm of Gilead mountain. It would be a shame to walk all this way without getting to the top of something. Down from Gilead, I followed the ski trails to Rogers Road and the welcome site of our little wilderness cabin, five hours of walking later.
There was beer and rum at the cabin. I cut some wood and stacked it to dry out, cooked an easy meal of canned chicken and rice on an open fire, then stretched out, exhausted, on the porch, and listened to the hermit thrush ringing in the red pines. It was a good exhausted.
I’d like to think that getting here without a car counts as low carbon travel, but I suspect not. . . . It all depends on how you count the two cars and sixteen restless riders, two locomotives and no sacks of mail on the Saratoga and North Creek railway. I suspect that you could have put all of us in Lincoln Navigators instead with a smaller carbon footprint. But it is nice to declare independence from the private automobile, and the train was only sixty miles out of the 210 mile trip up there.