Saturday, May 19, 2012

One Day South, Next Day North (Part 2)

View from the top of Olympic ski jump platform - Look at the grandstands at the end below.
Can you believe people actually jump off here?  I can't even believe we were UP there.  Way Cool!
Lake Placid, New York - May 17, 2012

Don't miss Part 1 of this post published yesterday afternoon!

After a good night's sleep, we were ready to go again on an adventure of a totally different sort.  We headed north from Bolton Landing on a route I'd configured utilizing a terrific map outlining all of New York's scenic byways.  Over the course of our 200 mile drive today, we traveled all or part of the High Peaks Scenic Byway, the Olympic Trail, the Adirondack Trail, and the Central Adirondack Trail.   We got up and out very early and as we headed north, once again, we were amazed at how rural and unpopulated this area is.  We drove north on Interstate 87 for about 50 miles before exiting onto the High Peaks Scenic Byway and I sincerely doubt that we saw more than 20 other vehicles traveling in either direction.  The beauty of the area continues to capture us.  As we began seeing some of the higher peaks of the Adirondacks on this perfect day, we were both just quiet and reflective of how thankful we are to have this opportunity to see different parts of our country.  

Enjoy a couple of photos of our early morning drive towards Lake Placid.

Our first stop turned into disappointment number two for the morning.  Earlier, I'd learned that the Olympic Museum in Lake Placed is closed for renovation and now, upon arrival at the highway leading to Whiteface Mountain, we discovered that it was not yet open for the season.  To add fuel to the disappointment, it was opening the very next day.  Wow, what a bummer!

Both the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics were held in Lake Placid, New York.  Whiteface Mountain, located approximately 13 miles from Lake Placid, is where the alpine ski events were held.  It is the fifth highest peak in New York (at 4,600'), but boasts the largest vertical drop in the eastern US.  The top can be reached via the Veterans Memorial Highway and supposedly offers a 360 degree view that is stunning on a clear day.  Guess we'll find out next time around because once again, just because it was US, no one seemed inclined to open the road a day early!

The highway to Whiteface begins in the little town of Wilmington, so we made our way to the visitor center looking for guidance as to whether anything else we hoped to see would be closed.  Turned out to be one of our better moves as the very helpful person guided us to the Olympic Ski Jumping area, but first said the magic words, "do you hike?"  Given that it hasn't worked out for us to hike once on this trip, I was immediately interested.  Turns out there was a network of trails very close by that she highly recommended because of their water views plus a chance to see a huge beaver dam and five occupied blue heron nests.  Off we went and it took about 50 steps into the woods for me to realize how much I needed it and how badly I'd missed it.  The hike was relatively short (2 1/2 miles) but wonderful.

Following our hike, we drove on to a commercial attraction we had on the agenda.  High Falls Gorge is one of two places in the area that has built a series of walkways along the Ausable River capturing the force of the river as it makes its way through narrow chasms with exploding force.  We'd heard it was something not to be missed.   And I'll have to say it was pretty impressive.

We seem to be following (totally unintentionally) the path of last summer's very destructive hurricane Irene.  We first noticed the effects along the seawall near our house in Connecticut and at High Falls Gorge, we learned that the wind and force of water from Irene completely devastated the walkway system.  The park was closed for quite some time, but now is open with even better walkways that actually extend out over the gorge in some places.  Neither of us were too fond of the clear glass platforms looking straight down into the chasm!  Reviews on Trip range from "wonderful" to "rip-off," and I'll admit the price was a little steep for something that took less than an hour, but we enjoyed it and are glad we took the time to do it.

Walking along these catwalks and over the upper and lower bridges was pretty exhilarating.  And how totally awesome was it that we were there completely alone?  I imagine that during the season these walkways are crammed with tourists.  Being on our own was special!

But little did we know what fun lay just ahead.............on to the Olympic Ski Jumping venue just outside Lake Placid.   You can only imagine the conversation taking place in our car when we first laid eyes on THIS..................
We'd already learned that we could access the top of the tallest tower by elevator and walk outside into the exact place from which the ski jumpers launch.  With one of us (me) horribly claustrophobic and willing to do anything to avoid an elevator and the other (Bill) terrified of heights, it became a test of wills to convince each other this was something not to be missed.  And by George, we weren't going to!  As it turned out, the elevator was fast, smooth and had windows on two sides, so never completely enclosed.  And Bill was so busy pretending he was an Olympic Ski Jumper, he forgot to be afraid.  Again, we had half an hour up there before anyone else showed up, so had a blast hamming it up.

 What fine form this Ski Jumper has

 Still can't believe he stuck his upper body through that just to pose for a picture because............

THIS is exactly what he was looking at!!
That is a LONG WAY DOWN!

 We aren't sure exactly what Olympic sport these two characters received medals in, but obviously, the silver medalist was not a gracious loser! BTW, the gold medalist is holding a dandelion bouquet lovingly picked for her by the silver medalist!

After all the fun we'd already had, actually getting to the town of Lake Placid seemed anticlimactic.  It is a charming little village, but as you might expect, terribly commercialized.  We were able to walk around freely in the Olympic Center and visit the rink where the speed skating, figure skating and the incredible Miracle on Ice all occurred.

After leaving Lake Placid, we started the journey back to Bolton Landing meandering through quaint little towns with names like Saranac Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Indian Lake and Tupper Lake.  And the lakes after which each of these towns are named can only be described as mesmerizing.  I had no idea one lake after another could each have a personality of its own and still be so uniquely beautiful.

It was a perfect weather day with clear blue skies, a few puffy clouds and comfortable temperatures.   Back at home in Bolton Landing, we were completely exhausted after two days of non-stop activity, but totally captivated by this land called Adirondack Park!  

Thanks for reading! 


  1. Never knew a Gold Medalist before! So excited!

    Love the pictures. Looks like you having a lot of fun.

    Take care and be safe!

  2. i got a nice chuckle out the ski jump story:)

  3. I absolutely cannot believe people jump off there...what a view!
    Gorgeous images again today for us to enjoy....thanks

  4. Your trip sounds wonderful. I'm sure it took lots of advance planning. 65MD and I have only done one 'roaming' vacation. We usually go one place and stay. Last spring we went to North Georgia & the Townsend area. It seemed like every place we went was closed on the day we were on town. Oh well, we made the best of it, as did you.

  5. Loving these posts! Love seeing the things I love through the eyes of someone seeing them for the first time :) I was in the High Peaks yesterday, hiking Allen mountain (we are almost 46ers!). And as far as the Olympics, my grandfather raced sled dogs in the 1932 Placid Olympics.. cool, right?? :) Glad you had a nice trip!

  6. I too am loving these posts! No - I cannot imagine in a million years jumping off that thing. Gosh those men and women who do are brave or crazy!

  7. I so envy you and all of your travels. Maybe someday I will be able to do the same.