There are a lot of power points in my life…and by power points, I don’t mean boring work slide shows (although I have a lot of those, too). I mean special places that have significance to me. The significance might be there for any number of reasons: natural beauty, the journey to get there, an experience associated with the place, or maybe because of different phases of my life that I’ve spent there. And the more that I experience, the bigger this list becomes–sort of the opposite of a bucket list.
One of my power points is Avalanche Lake, near Lake Placid in the Adirondacks of New York. The lake is in a narrow (~250 foot) slot between 4,714 foot Mount Colden and 3,816 foot Avalanche Mountain, and steep cliffs on both sides knife right into the water. The whole area is tight enough to feel intimate, and yet the lake feels much bigger than the nine acres that it is. There’s also a persistent wind that reminds you that you are alive…especially in the winter when the wind is filled with fine powdery snow blown off of the lake.
My first trip to Avalanche Lake was supposed to happen in 1987, but that trip was cut short when the temperatures hit 30 below (which, as it turns out, also reminds you that you are alive).
In 1992, I was finally able to visit Avalanche Lake in more typical winter weather, and I’ve been back probably four times since. Each time the lake was a little different and a little the same, with ice formations, lots of weather, and that persistent cold wind.
This year’s trip to Avalanche Lake was my first in warm weather…and my first visit with Souzz. Once again, it was a little different and a little the same. For starters, Marcy Pond (on the five mile hike in) is now Marcy Brook, as the dam blew out during a big storm in 2011. There have also been a few more landslides in the pass–so I guess this place is both a power point and a slide show. But the trail is pretty much the same, although in the summer there’s of course no snow to even out the rough spots–and it’s slower on foot than on skis. But this is a cool hike to a cool place in any season.
An added bonus to our trip was a visit afterwards with our friend Matt Horner, an artist in nearby Keene. Matt is an amazing stone sculptor–as well as a fly fishing guide and one of the best ice climbing guides anywhere. Matt shares my love for the lake, and he has had the benefit of looking down on it in ways that most of us mortals can’t.
We met up with Matt at the Farmer’s Market in Keene, just south of Lake Placid, and Matt’s art speaks for itself. We added to our art collection on our trip, and it’s always nice to bring back a little slice (or carve) of the Adirondacks.
As for Avalanche Lake, I’ve said before that I rarely go to the same place twice, but that’s only selectively true (read: a lie). The Adirondacks are one of my favorite places, and Avalanche Lake is a favorite within a favorite. I love the dramatic features, the stark relief, the hike in, and the memories. And when I get to share a favorite place with my favorite person, it feels like a new adventure all over again. That’s a powerful point.