Even Here……

Last night I was relaxing with a nightcap of coffee (a rarity for me after 6pm) and had a local talk radio program on my stereo. The cat was curled up asleep on the couch. I was leafing through a trade magazine and the most recent National Geographic while the conversation on the radio turned into something……..that I was even surprised at.

The host was a woman……she’s conservative (small letter “c” conservative) probably because she supports lower taxes, and she doesn’t like abortion. That makes her an extreme-fundamentalist-right-winger in The Bay Area of California.

Anyway……she casually mentioned “what happened to men?” she went into the drivel on how we were once “confident, we worked hard, were inspiring, natural leaders” type of thing……….the monologue went on with “she knows so many amazing, educated, sexy, smart, brave, confident women who just want a nice guy…..who want a man who will work, stand by her and for her…….”

A bunch of calls came in……from women……it was a whine fest of more of the same “I totally get you, after my last boyfriend five years ago, I am dateless, alone, no men talk to me” and “Oh amazing radio host! Men today are so useless, all ages……they gripe, they complain, they don’t do anything…” added as well “they all play video games, live at their mom’s house* and only want a Barbie type of woman.” Another caller, “in my church in Marin, all the single guys don’t ask any of us girls out….we are so amazing, have so much to offer……and the guys are wimps!”

*Before I continue, who are all these men who live at their mom’s house???? Not one did in my Corps in Fresno. None here at the local Corps in Santa Rosa. The large AG church I attended here and there for “mens fellowship” did not live in mom’s house. The men I worked with did not. The men I have met in Santa Rosa do not. The men I met at Motown Night in Fresno did not.

It was turning into a gripe-clatch of a conservative-radio version of “The View”

Suddenly a man called in.

He went on about how “women are just not women anymore.” He was immediately cut off and questioned about “exactly what he meant by that statement!”

He tried, guy did try to explain calmly and precisely about the “#metoo” movement, tried in vain to explain the passive aggressive put-downs by women on all men, tried hopelessly to say “hey, a lot of us were tired of being shot down by many women, so we gave up!”

The conversation went down from there. His call ended in defeat.

Another man called in, and he was a divorced fire-fighter living at “mom’s house” because the divorce took everything from him. He was shot down too! He “should be striving for that promotion in the department so he wouldn’t have to live at mom’s house at the age of 35, and your wife must have had a good reason to divorce you.”

Another man called in tried to explain aspects of men today….this radio host could not or would not grasp it. He quoted Dr. Helen’s book “Men On Strike” and this host even had the gall to say “You know……yeah, you bring up some points, but how come a woman had to write a book like this? Why did it take a woman? Where are all you men standing up? Obviously something is really wrong with you guys if an accomplished woman like Dr. Helen has to speak for you all.”

Another man called in, mentioned how “everything is a competition with women today” and he was passively shut-down with “Well, we women just want a nice guy and we love to laugh…..maybe you guys need to learn how to do that and be that.”

It was painful to listen to. More women callers, all validating the hosts’ stance on this “important issue” today.

You are all wondering……did seventiesjason call in? Did he get on the air? Did he talk to this woman?

No. There was no point in doing that. There was no way her stances were going to change, and it would take a very articulate and rare dude to hit with questions in the right way, with the right inflection, tone and attitude to even get this host to listen.

Even here. In Santa Rosa…..the liberal North Bay, that voted over 95% for Hillary in 2016, women are still dateless, lonely, single, and still blame men for this problem. Their problem.

 

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I Am 48

Happy birthday to me!

I am 48. In 1970 at a hospital called “St. Claires” in a city called Schenectady I was born. I spent the day working. Might take myself out this weekend. Might not.

All bets are off at this point. I finish and leave this life alone. All women are taken, have only fifteen billion requirements to have a date with them……..or are single moms who think they’re “Cinderlla” and still wouldn’t date me anyway. No tears. No pity. Just reality…….”bites” as it does sometimes (remember that GenX?)

Winona Ryder of course was always out of my league. As was Tina Fey. Harriet Wheeler from The Sundays was always with the guy……David I think his name is……..

Doesn’t matter. I have hikes to do still. A trip to the UK in 2019. Conforming myself to Christ. Staying clean and sober.

I have nothing a woman wants or even needs. Anyway…..happy birthday to freakin’ me! I never thought I would live to this age, and well…….here I am.

seventiesjason in his abode, Santa Rosa. California

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The Northville-Placid Trail III. (Final)

It was a great hike and vacation. The memories I will take with me until I breathe my last. Dare I say, if heaven doesn’t have a glimpse of the beauty of this region that I witnessed on earth…..well, then I’ll have to accept a piece of heaven was indeed on earth.

In 2020 I plan to return to hike and camp in an area called “Pharoah Mountain Wilderness Area” It was the area of the park my family camped and hiked when I was a teenager and boy going back to the 1970’s. I plan to spend a week traversing mountains, bushwhacking up-stream to remote ponds and reflecting.

Some Answers to questions you may be having…..

What about water during this hike? 

The Adirondacks are blessed with ample water. Plenty of  water along this whole trail from streams, brooks, rivers, ponds and lakes. Beaver-fever is rampant though, you can get a bad case of “tummy ache and the runs” from drinking it (beavers, bears, deer and moose peeing or defecating in the water)…….though I never had a problem as boy and teenager when I took gulps of this water while hiking or swimming. However, on this hike I had purification tablets made for the British Army. One tablet in a liter of water which my canteen just happened to be, shake……let set for a half hour….safe to drink. Does not protect from mercury or arsenic contamination. Not a problem here.

Hiking and camping in the California mountains; water is more of an issue there or in the foothills / chaparral. Mercury from all the gold mining has made much water unsafe to drink. Lakes and streams are also fewer and more far between. In California, I “pack” a bladder of water that fits in the backpack, holds way more than a canteen but heavy. Even with tablets, I usually boil water rolling for five minutes out here, especially in the foothills….or some would call ‘gold country’

How about bathing?

Stripped down pretty much every other day and jumped in a pond, lake, or deeper stream. COLD. Even in June. The water was about 45-50 degrees. The standard bar of Ivory Soap which is the safest soap environmentally to use out in the woods to wash, even your hair….and it floats! Wasn’t worried about anyone seeing me. I did get a leech on my one leg one night, burned it off.

Sometimes it wasn’t always at camp I made. One day…..it was mid morning at the Sacandaga River. I washed, bathed, and took an early lunch……….got dressed and hit the trail again.

Mosquitoes? Black flies? Horse flies?

In June black fly season is starting to wane, mosquitoes are everywhere. Horse flies / deer flies are starting up but July / August is when they peak. I used “Ol’ Woodsman” repellent. It smells like fishing tackle, tar, pine pitch, creosote, pine needles and 1960’s camping. It’s a black liquid, but wipes on clear. Works very well. It’s what I always have used when camping back there. The mosquitoes would “halo” around you in a thick cloud when you stopped walking, but while sweating, the repellent would sometimes smear, sweat or rub off……..and they would attack that spot. Some areas on the trail were worse than others. I had to break out “netting” only one evening over my face. I also would throw on the fire every night if they were a little worse than usual, a fresh hemlock bough…..mosquitoes don’t like that smoke smell.

My Scout jackshirt, hiking shirts, and shorts / pants STILL smell like “ol woodsman” even after many washings. Even after a year! I like it. It smells like The Adirondacks. One night after a bath in Spruce Lake during the hike. I came out. Clean. Ahhhhhhhhhh….all that repellent washed off, dirt, sweat…..but you could still smell a hint of it on me…….I was then attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes! On went a fresh coat. Yes, a pest but it did not take away from the experience.

Mosquitoes in California are not as vicious.

Were you scared?

I’d be a liar if I said no. I am a city boy now and have been since moving to California. I have camped extensively out here with the Boy Scouts…..and I was more worried in that situation as a papa bear watching the cubs. I will admit, especially the first few nights…..it was hard going to sleep on the trail. Here I was ten, twenty…..forty, fifty miles from any road or town….by myself.

It did get easier as the hike progressed.

I was more scared about straining an ankle, or breaking a bone. I had a flare gun with six charges. I made sure I signed in at all registers along the trail.

When I left Cedar Lakes, in the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area…….it started to rain. Then harder. Then deluge. No letting up. I covered the pack, got out the hat, my jackshirt I oiled with mink oil before the hike, water beaded up on it…..for awhile. The trail got soggy and muddy. Travel was slow. All the feeder streams that crossed the trail flooded. I had to bushwhack. Take detours. Thunder. Lightening. At one point. I stopped. Broke out the map……figured I had a mile or so to the next lean-to, probably less. I would get there, make camp. Travel got slower. Really slow. Rain was hard. My feet were soaked. The waterlogged jack-shirt was getting my hiking shirt wet and my fingertips were getting a little numb.

I had a cigarette, muttered a bunch of profanities to the uncomprehending trees. All I heard was rain on the leaves and on my pack, my hat was soaked………I was starting to shiver. I sat down. Cleared my head. Okay. Set my watch. If I don’t make that lean-to in the next half hour. I am going to have to make camp on the trail. get inside the tent and just get warm in the sleeping bag. As fate would have it…….about ten minutes later…..the lean-to showed up. What a sight of relief! My situation was WET and I made no time that day…but I knew I was going to be dry. After getting out of my wet clothing……the rain slowed, then slowly stopped within an hour. Cold and damp the rest of the day, and night though. Got the clothing dry. I had backup clothing, mostly socks.

I was scared. It was still ten miles to the ranger station, and I was worried about getting a good fire going. Everything was wet. Being the Scout that I am……it worked out. But I was scared.

On my way from Duck Hole to Moose Pond…..my original plans were to finish the trail that day, only just over twelve miles to Lake Placid……..well…..it was foggy, and cloudy that morning. Humid. About a mile into the hike, the rain started again, it made the previous thunderstorm look like a sprinkle. The trail had blowdowns that I had to traverse, which is dangerous when wet………or bushwhack around and orienteer off the trail with a compass. The Moose River which followed the trail was boiling, deep, and the trail followed it…….causing the trail to be soaked. I was up to my ankles in mud on ‘good parts’ that I could still walk on.

I recall……….with the flashes of lightning, the echoing thunder in the mountains…..crawling under a tree that had blocked the trail. I got under the trunk. I just suddenly froze. I wanted to move. But couldn’t. I wasn’t stuck. It was out of pure, pure fear. A fear to just wail, cry and rail against the world and my situation. I forced myself to move. I got up, kept moving, but I was crying. The last lean-to was Moose Pond. Only five miles from Duck Hole. It took me ALL DAY to hike 4.8 miles. The trail was flooded. When I arrived at that lean-to I feel to my knees praising God for getting me through this.

Yeah, I was scared.

The forest can and will kill you. We are not pioneers anymore. Those men are gone. Even the modern-day survivalist needs food, fuel, supplies, amunition……hunting……yeah sure, ‘curing’ meat in the woods……sure you will……that same month I was in the Adirondacks…….three people had died in the park. You have to keep you head. One broken ankle out where I was could have been a catastrophe. I rested when I was tired. I pushed harder when I felt good. I kept hydrated. I also respected the forest.

What did you think about?

Mostly “time” and how quickly it goes, my mother at that point dead eight years. My father in his eighties. Me pushing fifty. Memories of the Adirondacks flooded me. Camping in the 1970’s near Ticonderoga…….Paul McCartney, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, the “Abbey Road” album and Supertramp always seeming to be on the radio………the way the light filtered through the trees. It’s different in California, the bronze water near the shore of a pond, and a crisp blue twenty feet out. The way the air smelled.

I thought about my own life. Wept over my past choices. Happy that I was “okay” again. Solace and peace just from a stream, lilly-pads on the small ponds………the trees, trees of my youth. It was great. I never once thought about California, or work or anything not relating to where I was at the moment.

Once in Lake Placid, at that convenience store waiting for my dad to pick me upo…..coffee never tasted so good! That instant stuff I had on the trail was nothing to compare it to! I ate a bunch of “Twinkees” too. Ah! Processed food! I ran out of cigarettes…….well, the last ten or so I had got soaked the day before………a fresh pack was purchased.

After I called my dad, he said “I’ll leave right now, give me just over two hours, I should be there”

It was surreal when dad pulled up in his 1989 Dodge truck……..he had it repainted professionally, so it looked new. He bought that truck the summer I finished high school. He never bought another one “When Dodge decides to build a decent truck again, I’ll get another……” He always said since the late 1990’s……in 2017, I guess that day had not come yet!

He got out. The door, making the “thud” unique to a Dodge when slammed closed………he was smiling. I got up, walked over. He shook my hand, gave me a ‘bro hug’ and said “You look great! I am so glad to see you…..really I am!”

I just said thanks.

He then said, “You smell like the Adirondacks, have to say……for once I am jealous!” He slapped me on the back…….”Come on, want some McDonalds?”

“You buying?” I asked while smiling. After dad and I always came back from camping, a canoe trip, a long hike together growing up……we always got McDonalds. I understood the moment he said it, and there was no other reply for me to make.

“Hey, you stink pretty bad….any respectable establishment here in this town would throw you out…..and scrub you pink with a toilet brush.”

We drove past the rink where the “miracle on ice” happened. Each of us watching it on TV about two hours south of where it happened back in 1980.

It wasn’t some TV “after school special” but my dad asked me a lot of questions about the hike. The trail. The woods. My dad was really excited to see the pictures. He said after we got “drive thru” in between mouthfuls of McDonalds…..

“I…….well, I was pacing the house the day that big storm swept through where you were hiking. I was on the Internet……on the “weather channel” webpage. Then, someone had died up on Ausable Pass / River while hiking. It was all over the Adirondack NBC affiliate in Plattsburgh. They also had a missing person in the Wolfjaw Wilderness. I………………..I was……..a bit worried about you. I knew you’d be okay…but, what the hell…..you’re my kid…….and to me, you still look like that teenager I brought up Mt. Marcy me with over thirty years ago. You’re still that boy who would ride in the back of the truck when we all went camping.”

It was the closest thing or way my dad would say “he had forgiven me” for my past. I guess the hike was a success. He mentioned “You’re mother would have been so tickled to death to see this right now. She would.”

We talked a lot more. He loved the pictures. He choked up a bit a few days later when he dropped me off at the airport to send me back to California.

But…..if I know my dad……..and I do. He finally had to acknowledge that “the boy” had done something he had not. I hiked The Northville-Placid Trail. It’s not a one-upper thing……but my dad has done everything or “could” have done it. He never hiked this trail…..and his son did it. From his excitement over the pictures that we put up on his big screen TV, you could tell………..he wished he could have shared “his” stories about this trail. For once, and in a good way……..he had to hear mine.

It was a great hike. Wish you could have been there. I will take the memories of this til I breathe my last.

-end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Northville-Placid Trail II.

Here are some photos of the trail. I will add more comentary on upcoming “Part III.”

All photos taken by me. Photos of me on the trail were set by time delay so I could get into position.

The digital camera was a 90.00 Sony purchased at Walmart. I made a mount on top of my one walking stick to put the camera on for some shots.

Hiking shoes by Orboz. These shoes were awesome. No blisters. Socks, Boy Scouts of America offical gear. Shirts. I had two LL Bean ‘cresta hiking shirts, orange-plaid’ and they were amazing. LL Bean makes the best outdoor and camping wear. Period. Shorts by Boy Scouts of America offical gear and LL Bean. Backpack is a German company called Deuter. I was carrying between 55-35 lbs. The pack got lighter as I progressed (I ate the food). I took over 200 pictures. Obviously on the rainy days, I took none or only if there was a break in the rain. Here are a few!

The YouTube clip is typical sounds one hears in The Adirondacks. I am very grateful to the man who recorded this. My hike sound like this too! Play the clip and start looking at the pics, will give a bit more flavor and “wash” to the photos!

Here is a video with Adirondack sound! Oh man, it takes me back!!!!

 

 

All photos, June 12th thru June 25th 2017. Adirondack State Park. Northville-Placid Trail.

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Trailhead. Northville New York. Upper Benson Road. June 12, 2017
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Abner Creek. Silver Lake Wilderness Area. About four miles in from the Trailhead. Abner Creek comes off Cathead Mountain which I hiked with my dad in 1988.

 

 

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Dinner the first night on the trail Some Liptons “noodles and sauces” and some cooked canned chicken I boiled over the fire!
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Crossing a bog or “vly” as they are called in The Adirondacks. This one had a footbridge. Many were flooded. Crossing a vly is very dangerous. The thin mat of vegetation and debris can give, and you can get stuck!

 

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Another vly in the Silver Lake Wilderness Area.
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Crossing Hamilton Stream. Day 3 I believe. Suspension bridge put in by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1966. Silver Lake Wilderness Area.
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Typical dense pine forest along the trail. One can still walk days or longer without hitting a road in The Adirondacks. The park is vast, and big!
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Signage along the trail. Usually at the junction with another trail. At this sign, I was heading north…..to West Canada Lake. West Canada Lake Wilderness Area
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Then the rain came. I left Cedar Lakes, and got caught in the rain. Man, did it rain. All day I hiked, trail turned to soup. I got soaked. Came to a lean-to at Cedar River. Only made 7 miles that day. The rain then slowed to a drizzel. I decided to grab a shave and get my gear as dry as I could.
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Clothing drying at Cedar River. The wood was wet, so as I got a fire going, I was scurrying around getting more wood, stacking it around the fire to dry it…..along with my clothing. I decided, even if raining in the morning. I had to push to get to Stephens Pond, 12 miles away! Fortunately, it only drizzeled in the morning, then cleared up
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Stephens Pond. This pond was noisy at night with bullfrogs, woodpeckers, loons, geese, and owls! Me posing with the fire I got going that evening. Thus far, I had only met one other hiker. I was just about at the halfway mark of the trail. Blue Ridge Wild Forest. Day 6!
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Leaving ‘Blue Mountain Lake’ hamlet. Day 8. Started to rain. Boy did it rain for the next two days!
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Tirell Pond during a break in the rain. Blue Mountain Wild Forest
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At one of the many “trail registers” along this trail. It is important to register in case you get lost or hurt. There was no cell signal anywhere on the trail.
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This photo represents the whole hike. Behind me is Tirrell Ridge. Covered in clouds. I got rained on hard as I went up into them. This mountain meadow just says it all. On the cusp of my fifties. On a lonely trail, most of it accomplished at this point. I could actually feel confidence grow by this point. A point where I knew where I came to terms with my past. This meadow was an ancient beaver pond. Blue Mountain Wild Forest. Day 10.
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Last road crossing until Lake Placid. About 30 miles away at this point.
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At a fire ring at Kellys Point along Long Lake. High Peaks WIlderness Area
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Cold River. The trail followed this wild river for about ten miles. What a sight. Taken from a footbridge crossing. High Peaks Wilderness Area
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Call me “Victorian” or a “Real Scout” in a British sense…..I love being clean shaven, and I love shaving in the woods. Duck Hole lean-to. High Peaks Wilderness Area.
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The end….well, actually a mile hike along a road into the village of Lake Placid! I did it! Northville 132 miles behind me. My beautiful Adirondacks and I. A fitting close to a very long relationship. Age 47.
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At a 7-11 type of shop waiting for my dad to pick me up in Lake Placid. I am showing where I am on the map! Other hikers and campers were here as well from other destinations inside the park! It’s kind of the hang out place to get picked up or dropped off! I stank of woodsmoke from campfires, “ol Woodsman”mosquito repellent, sweat, cigarette smoke and “pinaud” aftershave! I felt like a man, and what a good feeling it is to be one!

 

The Northville-Placid Trail I.

I grew up in the rolling foothills of the infamous Adirondack Mountains of New York State. If you look on a map, the whole “northern lobe” of New York State is where these ancient and mystical mountains lay.

It’s a state park….but also has people living within its borders (the blue line as New Yorkers call it). It is a unique public / private state park. A model that has been in place since 1892, and has for the most part “worked” well.

It is the largest state park in the continental USA, and the oldest. It was established not  initially for environmental protection. It was set up to protect New York State’s vast watershed, including to prevent the Hudson River from salinating and to keep the “Erie Canal” full of water.

As the pioneers and manifest destiny spread across the USA to majestic lands like California and Colorado…in the 1840’s…there was a renewed discovery of another majestic and inspiring place in the northern reaches of New York State. In one of the original colonies! The Adirondack Mountains. Separate from the Appalachian chain, they rose to heights of over 5,000 ft in many areas. Dense, thick forests of elm, beech, maple, spruce, oak, pine, and hemlock……..thousands upon thousands of small lakes and ponds, and another 31,000 miles of streams full of trout, pike, bass and walleye. Over six million acres! Forests full of bear, moose, beaver, otter, mink and deer. Birds….a thousand species or more! They were not as tall as the Rockies or Sierra Nevadas…..but forebording, ancient, vast and just beautiful. So beautiful.

To this day, scientists and geologists discuss and ponder…….many believe they were once as tall as the Himalayas are today…..others disagree….what is agreed though is that the Adirondacks are some of the oldest rock on the surface of the earth today.

Logging for spruce began quickly, for the tanneries to make leather. Then the strong elm. Then the softer pine…….expeditions of hunting depleted the forest……..the use of mercury for mining of flint, and other ore polluted many of the streams. Then the end result by the 1880’s……………massive runoff and flooding from all the logging in large swaths of the region. Then fires that burned and spread quickly, decimating more areas. The flooding would destroy Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga every spring. Something had to be done. The Erie Canal……lifeblood of New York Sate’s economy was drying up in many areas………

A man named Verplank Colvin was charged by the New York State Assembly to look into solutions to the flooding issue, and a quickly salinating Hudson river south of Albany. His findings shook New York State residents to core! It was discovered that The Adirondacks protected and helped the watershed at a level they never appreciated. With trees, the runoff would stop, and the watershed would return to normal. It was proposed that a “preserve” of sorts be drawn up to enable, and restore the watershed. It was done. The Adirondack Park was born. It was 1892.

The forest, lakes and ponds quickly recovered. By the 1960’s a new “climax” forest was in place…….though the park had been healing for decades, and flooding stopped after a decade or so of protection…….

The Adirondacks is home to many a famous moment in history. The most recent, and probably the biggest is in a little town called Lake Placid. In the winter of 1980, the Winter Olympics were held here and the infamous “miracle on ice” happened. A bunch of rag-tag college kids playing for the US olympic hockey team ended up in the semifinals, then the finals………..and shocking the world………..defeating the Soviet Union and going on to win the gold medal. A small hockey rink that maybe held 5,000 people witnessed an upset in sport history that has never quite been replicated in the same manner.

Lake Placid is also a place where a long hiking trail ends.

It’s called the Northville-Placid Trail, and it’s “the trail” of the Adirondack Park. Opened in 1922 by “The Adirondack Mountain Club” It starts in the small hamlet of Northville on Great Sacandaga Lake, and winds through swamps, by wild rivers, valleys, forests, countless ponds, lakes and riverlets. It traverses through some of the more remote regions of the state park. It’s not the most majestic trail of the Adirondacks…..but its probably the longest and the most daring of them. It ends on Averyville Road in Lake Placid. 133 miles. It’s a lightly used trail. It only crosses four roads, and hits a small hamlet or two along the way with no amenities. No, it’s not the Appalachian Trail that goes from Maine to Georgia. No, it’s not the ‘Pacific Rim’ trail here in California….but like the Adirondacks themselves, it’s understated, wild and beautiful. Just beautiful.

I grew up as a boy and teen hiking, camping and canoeing the Adirondacks……but never hiked this trail. I always wanted to, but it would take time. Something my dad didn’t have enough of when I was a teen, something I didn’t have in college and when I moved far away to California….it became a distant memory of “something I wished I could have done”

During the hot August of 2016 while at Boy Scout Camp with my Troop (Camp Chawanakee on Shaver Lake) I was by the lake on a hot afternoon. The troop all in activities. I had no meetings or patrols…..so I decided to take a break myself. I ended up sunbathing for about four hours on a secluded cove in my boxer shorts (got a scalding sunburn, but it felt great as I was burning up), relaxing on that gorgeous Sierra lake…….then……out on nowhere……a thought just hit me.

“Why not return to New York State and hike that trail?????? You are a good Scoutmaster. You have led what? 20 boys over some of the tallest ridges out here in California. You know how to behave in the woods……….the mountains and wilderness of your youth…….come on Jay……one more time…..perhaps the last time…….do it! Do it before you cannot, or get swept up by life again……..hike the Northville-Placid trail!!!! Do it!”

The seed planted. I decided to do it. I begged my boss for “just over two weeks off in June 2017”. I bought the roundtrip flight to Albany from Fresno. I prepared. More sit-ups. Push-ups. I researched. Got the “toppies” from the USGS of the region. Watched videos on YouTube about it. I had not hiked or camped by that point in the Adirondacks since the summer of 1989. Family and relatives back in New York State ‘doubted’ me about this pursuit. Fellow Scoutmasters who I had camped and hiked with “didn’t think it was a good idea” and even my father “Mr. Adirondacks” himself who loved this park so much was indifferent to my plans.

It would take me just about two full weeks to hike. I gave myself a few extra days in case of really heavy rain. I didn’t want it to be a race. I wanted to enjoy it. Take my time, to really soak this trek in. Make this a real vacation. So glad I did. So grateful I did.

June 2017 got around quicker than I ever would have dreamed. I said my “goodbyes” to friends in Fresno and landed in Albany the next morning (red-eye flight back east). My father picked me up……after the polite welcome wore off after a day……….he was kind-of dogging me about my upcoming hike. He didn’t think I was ready. He felt I was getting in over my head. He was looking over my gear as I was packing my backpack “Well, sure, you need that….but you could do it this way instead…..” 

He also was being a little too gloom and doom about it. I forgave him for the fact he had not seen me lead a Scout Troop, or as an effective Scoutmaster. I forgave him for the fact I had not lived back in New York State since 1995. I forgave him because he still was smarting from my past drug addiction….and the hurt and shame I had caused him and the larger family as a whole…….

Well, two days after I landed in Albany, dad was dropping me off at the Trailhead in Northville where my trek would begin early morning on June 12th. He told me “If you get to Blue Mountain Lake, call me….that’s a small tourist town just over the halfway mark on the trail. Sign in at all registers.”

I smiled. He still was convinced I was going to drop out, or somehow mess it up, or that I was beyond any capability of doing this. I just said “For the Adirondacks, I was taught by the best. You. I’ll be challenged, but I will call at Blue Mountain Lake, and I’ll see you in Lake Placid in about two weeks.”

He took a few photos of me with my camera. We shook hands. I headed on to the trail that wound its way into the dark forest, and he watched for a moment as I disappeared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Usual……

After all the commotion died down this morning. Papers signed. Forms filled out. Tenants getting situated with movers, their insurance company and ours……..

All that has to happen now is the cleanup, the repairs, more paperwork, more purchase orders……..and back to my apartment to clean up the mess and organize for the next few weeks of living in my living room.

I find it interesting that I wasn’t offered a hotel. Not going to ask.

A knock on my door occurred just as I was getting settled. I yelled “it’s open” and in walked the cute lawyer from earlier.

She instructed me that “managements behavior” earlier about the comment of “attractive women” was unacceptable, and she is personally offended.

I suggested that she talk to Lance about his comment, informed that he will be here on Monday……you know the guy who made the comment. “Ummm, no…I’m holding you responsible because you both are management with the same company, so I can take it to you as well.”

She informed me she was a lawyer (like I didn’t know) and comments made “by management” this morning were unacceptable. What was I “going to do about it”

I asked her “what should I do about it?”

I want an apology letter to the entire building. “Welll….” I started to say. “Yes or no. It’s a simple answer. Will you do this. Yes or no.” She cut in.

I informed her we could address this Monday morning with Lance, myself, and my admin present.

She was adamant still about a “yes or no” answer. She reminded me again she was a lawyer.

I politely reminded her that this was not a courtroom, nor a tribunal. I told her to come by Monday morning and this will be discussed. She then insisted that she “doesn’t feel safe in a room or place with obviously sexist men.”

I said, “Counselor. I use that term with straining respect. I had a flood this morning. I have been running all day. I have my own unit and business to handle now. You are talking to me in the doorway to my apartment in a building that is pretty much empty. I don’t see a lot of fear in you. You knocked on my door. Please, if you don’t feel safe with management, submit a letter in writing expressing your displeasure.”

She stood there, hands on her hips wanting to say something. “Are you moved? Do you need me to sign paperwork from your insurance company?”

“No.” she replied, “But this issue I want resolv…..”

I gently cut her off. “Then there is nothing left to discuss today. I’ll see you Monday, or a letter on Monday. Good day.”

I closed the door.

I heard her walking away “A**hole!” she yelled out loud…

This is called a bait n’ switch. Not in the traditional sense. But in a twisted world of attraction, dating, flirting I have seen this happen countless times. Let me explain.

You are out with a bunch of guys. One does something that is “cocky funny” and the girls giggle….think its cute. Then one of the girls, or the girl in question comes to you. The most socially awkward of the group of guys. It could happen at the bathroom, or while you are smoking a cigarette outside….at the bar getting a drink. Or in a situation like I was just in.

The girl who giggled, or one of them now *demands* an apology from you concerning your  friend or guy-pal. You see if she is offended, and the guy in question she deems is “alpha” or “hot” she’ll play along. She might even give him a blow job on a urine soaked mens room floor.

But to justify her “no-nonsense” female credentials……and this is totally logical in their world……………she will find a friend of the guy….the one she deems as a loser and then corner him. Demand an apology, or lecture him about how he should be standing up for himself, standing up to sexism, and why are you associating with that guy. She may even gently flirt or say something to the likes of “you seem smarter than the rest of them, apologize for  him!”

Nevermind she finds him hot, or she giggled, or she may even go home with him that night. A guy has to pay. Usually a Charlie Brown type.

Happens all the time.

The good-looking seem to get a pass on everything. Everything concerning their personal behavior. I have seen this countless times over the decades…..and when I first saw that lawyer in my door…………….I knew. I knew what she was there for. Happens ALL the time.

She won’t show up on Monday nor write a letter. If she has to confront the man who “insulted” her or made her “uncomfortable” the issue will be closed. The hot guy now may not “like” her. She very well may still have another try of getting me to apologize for him.

I learned how to handle this a long time ago…………but it still happens, even while I am pushing to fifty.

The good-looking, deemed good-looking can do no wrong. I won’t even mention it to Lance. He would not understand. Guys like him never do.

 

Water, Water Everywhere

It must have been 4am, or thereabouts…..I was dreaming that I was tied to a table, and I was being subjected to ‘chinese water torture’ and I was being driven mad…………I forced myself….willed myself  to wake up…..as if  I came to realization I was dreaming. 

I awoke. Drip.

“what’s that?” I muttered to myself. Drip. Drip.

Bed was soaked with water. Cat was sitting on the carpeting looking at me as if “Human, the bed, walls and floor are soaking wet. I can’t sleep in my spot. Do something. I need my rest. In my spot.”

I threw the comforter back……..flicked on the lamp on the nightstand.

Water was slowly running down the wall. Water was dripping through the ceiling. “What the hell?” I sputtered. I stepped on to the carpet. “squish” as my feet sank into the soaked floor.

I went to the bathroom, angrily flipped the switch. Water all over the wall. The floor a shallow puddle. Water dripping through the ceiling.

Muttering profanities, wet my hair. Squeezed and ran Brylcreem through it. Quick brush. Brushed teeth. Jumped into slacks, shirt, a tie. Slipped on the penny loafers. Looping a belt as I grabbed my keys, cellphone and was off out the door….

In the hallway leading to the lobby area from the offices, shop, break room, janitors sink closet…….water all over the floor. Now I was burning mad to find out what was going on.

Lobby was okay………got master keys to whole building, and up the elevator I went……

I went floor by floor until I got to the 5th floor. I heard water running…..from somewhere. The womens’ bathroom! The lobby area on the floor was puddled with water. I pushed the door open. Knocked loudly……as I entered yelling “Anyone here!?Building management!”

Water was flowing from one of the bathroom stalls. I went in…….and the toilet was running, and overflowing. It must have been doing this since the close of business from 6-7 pm the evening before………the inch deep water sloshed around my shoes. I yelled “F*CK!!!!!” to empty room. I ran out to the utility closet down the hall…fumbled with the keys…..entered and “shut off the water” to the floor. I ran back to the bathroom. The water had stopped.

Back in the lobby on the 5th floor, I laughed out of frustration of “great, just great…this is great.”

I called “Serve Pro” immediately (the restoration / repair company we are contracted with). I went down to my office. Called my district manager. Called the insurance company. Called the plumber. I then went floor by floor with the master keys and checked all the offices on every floor down to the 2nd to assess the damage.

Yup. Water, water everywhere. Extensive damage to the offices immediately below the 5th floor. A total of fifteen offices effected. Not including lobbies, hallways, and the management area, utility and storage closets of the building…..and my unit.

In between Serve Pro arriving, on the phone with my district manager….I was calling each client / tenant explaining what happened. By 5:30am all the effected business owners were at the property. I called “Peets Coffee” to deliver coffee, juice, and breakfast rolls. I called my admin, “ordered” her to work. She “didn’t like my tone” with her, but she did come in. She immediately began the process of paperwork with the tenants.

The district manager showed up, Lance is his name. My age. We went up to see the plumber. We were standing in inch deep water in the women’s bathroom, watching him figure out what had happened. Lance lit a cigarette (even though it is ‘no smoking’ in the building) and offered me one. I took it.

He laughed “Well Scout, (the nickname he gave me when I was hired) you handled it well. Let’s wait for the plumber to give us a lowdown, and we’ll go calm, reassure, empathize, and kiss-a** to our tenants. This is our job. Good call by the way getting “Peets” to deliver coffee. That’s class. Good thinking. I also want a report detailing this whole thing by Monday morning.”

I looked down at the water……..kicked, made a splash of sorts………it echoed. Lance smiled, “Hey, you are not in any trouble. This was handled perfectly by you. You followed the process…..a dash of class too. You even threw a tie on. The finish on your shoes is ruined though………..”

The plumber came out from the stall, shook both our hands, Lance offered a cigarette. He took it. He told us that a “tampon” had caused the plug, and it got stuck in just the right place…….causing the air-flow mechanical system to stay open, thus causing the toilet to not shut off.

Lance laughed……”Oh that’s priceless! Scout, make sure that goes in the report….”

A Serve-Pro worker came in with a huge water vac, and we all left him to do his work. The building was swarming with a crew of these workers now.

Lance and I went downstairs. We faced the music. The tenants were rightfully upset, and our insurance agent also had arrived……just at the right moment.

Lance said, “Look you have an excellent property manager here, and property company. We’re gonna get you all back on your feet quickly. In the meantime, we have to get the offices restored……our insurance will cover the damage, the only thing it will not cover is personal items……..per your lease, you are required to have insurance…..and Scout here has verified you all do. Scout is going to supervise the basics, and I am going to get you all moved to other locations here in town at our other properties. Today. This building is full, so we don’t have vacancies here for you to move into. All your moving costs we will cover. We’re here to help, and if it’s any consolation, Scout’s apartment is wrecked too. He’s right in the mud with you. Go easy on this guy. He’s a class act.”

Lance’s stature. Voice, inflection and tone calmed this crowd down quickly. There were some questions to what caused the flood. Lance said “A plumbing issue. Happens in the best of properties….even ones that have attractive women in them.” He winked at a cute young lawyer whose office was damaged. She actually giggled.

He gave me a side-sly glance as if to say “Well…….you know I could not say it was because of a young, fertile woman.”

By 8am…….Serve Pro was doing their thing. Moving underway. Plumber done. water and toilet working.

My bedroom is destroyed, carpet and wall torn up. I have to live in my living room for the next few weeks. Priority goes to the tenants first who pay rent. As it should.

Lance is going to be on property with me on Monday. I thanked my admin, and she went home. Lance said as she left “she’s a crank, she hates men…..bay area you know….but she’s solid. when this gets settled, take her out to lunch.”

Lance, slapped me on the back, shook my hand and said he would return Monday. He yelled “Good work” without looking back as he exited the property.