Mountain People and Meadow People

  
Two types of people populate the Adirondacks, the mountain people and the meadow people. The mountain variety of men and women may drive from my house on Route 8 to the Point O’Pines stables at the head of the lake. At that point a path ascends through woods of white pine and hemlock. Climbing a mountain, even the innocent Hill 8, can be a challenge in this region of mountains created by ancient glaciers. Boulders dot the path, many slippery and covered with moss and, when finally reaching the top of an outcropping of stone, the descent can be even more treacherous. Fallen logs block the way, interiors softened into pulp by years of the ever-changing climate of the North Country.

The hike up Hill 8 offers only limited views since this area has never been logged. The forest constricts any openings and, even on the brightest days, the Journey is damp and dark. After approximately an hour the path levels off and, instead of rocks, pine needles cover the trail. Then, suddenly, the forest veil lifts and, where a giant flat boulder marks the peak, a magnificent view spreads beneath the hiker.To the east, Pharaoh Lake with its jagged shoreline radiates in the morning sun. The 13-mile circumference of Brant Lake lies peacefully in the foothills. Smaller ponds dot the landscape and the red roofs of a complex of barns contrast with the green fields. The view is the reward of the climber of the mountains; light emerging from darkness, vision no longer blocked.

But, I must admit, I prefer wandering through meadows. I can park next to the climber’s car , squeeze through the horse gate and head off along paths cut into the newly mowed fields. My view is infinite. A hay rack stands solitary in one of the fields. A heron takes flight from a narrow stream. September asters of light blue line the route and, in the distance , one sees the immaculately groomed rural cemetery. As a lover of meadows I prefer this wide open view rather than a sudden revelation into space. I suppose I live for the consistency of the day instead of the instant moment. Why do some prefer the majesty of mountains and others the pastoral calm and unlimited vision of the explorer in meadows? I do not know. Nor does it matter. Each species discovers their own approach to walking. And to life.

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