Onward, to the Dam

By guest blogger Kaet Wild

It was only my second time skiing, but I felt confident enough to continue on alone. My friends insisted we were close to the dam, but they had to work and needed to turn around. I solo hiked many times over the summer, but this would be my first solo ski adventure.

“I’ll text you when I make it out, and if you don’t hear anything, please send help,” I said jokingly, but I meant it in all seriousness. It’s always smart to have a check-in buddy, someone that knows what you’re embarking on before you head out alone.

We were coming in from the truck trail off Adirondack Loj Road, and I had never been to Marcy Dam via that route before so the terrain was all brand new to me. It was rather flat and wide to start, but about a mile in, the trail forked to the right and entered a pine tunnel of sorts that lead to a small bridge and the trailhead. From the bridge, I could see mountains and a winding river disappearing around a bend.

Beyond the bridge, the trail started to roll and wind. My friends taught me how to V my skis and dig the inner edges into the snow to get up the steeper hills. The downhill bits were a different story. I lost track of the amount of times I almost ran my dog over. I would yell, “BEEP BEEP!” at him and he’d look back at me over his shoulder with a look of panic and take off. Luckily, he’s pretty fast and he outran me every time.

After my friends turned around, I began to recognize the landscape. We were coming up to the new river crossing just after the dam and I was overcome with nostalgia. I’ve only been to the dam twice, both times over the past summer. I recalled memories of hiking past Marcy Dam, through Avalanche Pass, and on to Lake Colden with a dear friend just three months earlier. 

I’ve always enjoyed revisiting places and contemplating the changes that have happened in my life, as well as the changes of the landscape. I wondered what it must feel like to have visited the dam before it was destroyed by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Now there’s rushing water where the dam once was, and the pond that was behind it looks more like a wide stream.

I sat with my dog at the edge of the creek bed. We looked out at Wright Peak while giant white fluffy flakes of snow fell upon us. I snapped a picture of us and sent it to the friend I sat there with months earlier. “Can you recognize this place?” I asked. He responded,  “barely” and “it looks like a winter wonderland.”

I had been dreading winter, but why? I heard a woman speak in weeks prior of the seasons being bench markers in the timeline our lives and thinking of this, I recovered a deep gratitude for the seasons and all the changes they bring. As I stood up to leave (very awkwardly because my skis were still attached), I felt a restored sense of contentment. I was excited for all the winter adventures to come. 

The way back was a gradual downslope, so it was a bit faster and quite enjoyable. There were still hills to climb, but I was feeling much more graceful in my uphill technique. We made our way through the winding, rolling forest, over the bridge, through the pine tunnel, onto the truck trail, and back to my car where I texted my friend to let her know I made it out: “Hey, I’m alive.”

Directions:

From Lake Placid, take Route 73 and follow it for 2.5 miles. Turn right on Adirondack Loj Road, a little past the ski jumps. Follow Adirondack Loj Road to South Meadow Lane; it's on the left after about 3.5 miles. Park near the boulders at the start of South Meadow Lane.

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