The journey to the Boreas Ponds

At this stage in my life, I know there’s no way I could successfully hike up any of those Adirondack High Peaks.

But with the recent opening of the Boreas Ponds tract in the Adirondacks, I have the opportunity to photograph the High Peaks from a beautiful, secluded spot.

And I might even be able to achieve … oh, I don’t know … some night photography to go with it?

Walk with me.  No, seriously, walk with me, this is a hike.  No kidding.

It’s Columbus Day morning, and I’m traveling to the Adirondacks.  Exit 29, then a left turn on Blue Ridge Road.  It’s a beautiful, cloudless day.  Perfect for a hiking excursion.

And a right turn onto Gulf Brook Road … and here we go.

Gulf Brook Road. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Gulf Brook Road. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I should let you know that Gulf Brook Road is filled with jutting rocks and deep ruts, and driving up it was very dangerous for a 2013 Chevrolet Cruze.  One wrong move, and I could have cracked my car’s front valance or punctured a tire or ruptured my gas tank.  The three-mile trip to the parking lot at Gulf Brook Road barely cracked five miles an hour.

Still, I made it to the parking area.  A big gate on the trail meant that no cars were permitted at this point.

Surely the Boreas Ponds can’t be too far from here.

Cameras at the ready – my recently repaired Nikon Df, my Krasnogorsk FT-2 super-ultra-wide (“Raskolnikov”), and my BlackBerry PRIV camera phone.  That, plus a bag of trail mix that I bought at the Adirondack Buffalo Company … and off we go.

As I walked along the trail, I was amazed by the breathtaking and spectacular foliage changes.  This was the perfect day to make this trip.  Perfect indeed.

Amber brilliance. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Amber brilliance. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I had to watch my step along the trail.  There were rocks and ruts aplenty, and even though cars were prohibited on the road, there were plenty of signs that horses had recently traveled along the path.  Yep.  Big steaming piles of horse manure.  One wrong step and your man could have landed in some of that.

I kept walking.  It’s amazing what you can see and hear on a hiking trail.  It makes you feel as if you are one with the outdoors.

Gulf Brook Road. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Gulf Brook Road. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Walking along the trail, I could imagine the journeys of the hunters and trappers, the hikers and the campers of generations long past.  It’s spiritual and exhilarating.  Clean, fresh mountain air.  Tranquil sounds of wind and birds.  This feels good.

I’m so glad I made this decision to hike to the Boreas Ponds.  Yeah, I’m old, I know it, but I figure I could at least make a few miles of hiking without dropping dead.

Tree and color. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Tree and color. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Kinda wish I knew what these trees were.  I mean, I can identify a birch tree and a palm tree, but I’m not sure I’ll find any palm trees up here in the Adirondacks.  I could post a picture of the trees to the social media site reddit, but I’ve heard that their r/trees subreddit is NOT designed for wilderness flora or fauna.

After more than an hour of hiking, I reached a body of water called the LaBier Flow.  This is NOT the Boreas Ponds, but it does tell me that I have completed at least two-thirds of my journey to my destination.

LaBier Flow. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.
LaBier Flow. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Man oh man, if I can get a view of the Adirondack Mountains from this point… imagine what the Boreas Ponds might look like.

Can’t be too far from here.  Just another few minutes.

Public Fishing. BlackBerry PRIV camera phone. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Public Fishing. BlackBerry PRIV camera phone. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I saw some hikers on their way back from the Boreas Ponds.  Of course I asked.  “How close am I to the Boreas Ponds?”

“Just ten minutes,” they said to me.

Fifteen minutes later, I saw another group of hikers on their way back from the Boreas Ponds.  “How close am I to the Boreas Ponds?”

“Just ten minutes to go,” they told me.

Holy Sisyphus.

And twenty minutes later… just around the bend…

There it was.  The Boreas Ponds, with a spectacular view of the Adirondack High Peaks.

The Boreas Ponds. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.
The Boreas Ponds. Nikon Df camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Super.

Let’s get a shot of this with the BlackBerry, considering that the BlackBerry also has a panoramic feature.

img_20161010_1307391-panorama
Boreas Ponds panorama. BlackBerry PRIV camera phone. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Damn.

This is freakin’ awesome.  Those are the freakin’ Adirondack High Peaks in the distance.  I don’t know which Adirondack High Peaks they are, but they’re certainly not molehills.

I also took some shots with my super-ultra-wide film camera, but since it’s film (and since I haven’t dropped them off at McGreevy Pro Lab yet), you’ll have to wait until later to see those. 😀

Wow.  This is amazing.  Now I understand the journey and what it brings.

Okay, back to the car.

Of course, I realize that “back to the car” means two hours of hiking, after I just COMPLETED two hours of hiking to get to the Boreas Ponds.

Okay.  All I have to do is continue to hike.  Every step.  Watch out for the rocks.  Watch out for the ruts.  Watch out for the horse manure.

And let me tell you this.  Two hours later… after I finally returned to the parking lot… my hamstrings felt like wet rope.  My feet were throbbing.  Owie owie owie.

But I made it.  And I made it home.

And after this “dry run” to the Boreas Ponds, I understand what I need to do should I return to this sacred spot.  What to bring, what not to bring, and how to pace myself throughout the travel.

Because if I can get back to the Boreas Ponds again in my lifetime…

I have a feeling that there’s an epic Milky Way or star trails photo or sunrise photo just waiting at that location.

I’m sure of it.

But right now, the only thing I’m sure of is that I need a couple of gallons of epsom salts and a trained masseuse.  Oh my GOD my legs are in pain…

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2 thoughts on “The journey to the Boreas Ponds”

  1. Gorgeous!!!! I would love to walk that with you, but unfortunately you will have to be my legs. Thank you so much for sharing these photos. I really enjoyed this hike, even vicariously. Spectacular!

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  2. “Ten more minutes…”

    The running joke is that if anyone ever asks how far something is on the trail, it’s always “mile, mile and a half.”

    Glad you got out there, and glad to see more people enjoying the Adirondacks outside of the high peaks! I was at Pharaoh Lake all weekend myself and the leaves couldn’t have been better, great timing. You’d love Wintergreen Point for night shots. That was about 15 miles all told though… with 45lb packs… well, you’ll work up to it.

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