Thursday, August 7, 2014

Floodwood Mountain: 08/03/2014

View of Long Pond Mountain, Saint Regis Mountain and West Pine Pond from Floodwood Mountain, 08/03/2014.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

If you’ve spent much time in the Adirondacks, certain places have special meaning. My short list includes Lake George, Mount Marcy, Gore and Whiteface. But ground zero for me is an obscure mountain in the northern Adirondacks named Floodwood.

40 years ago, before I had even heard of the High Peaks, I got my first introduction to the Adirondacks at Floodwood, or more specifically, Floodwood Mountain Scout Reservation. When my parents put me on the bus in north Jersey that first summer, at age 11, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I was going to a place 6 hours away with no electricity and no phone, and that I’d be sleeping in a tent and cooking my own meals (there’s no dining hall) for two weeks. I loved it enough that I returned for 4 more summers as a camper, and then spent 5 more summers on the camp staff. As a camper, I learned all sorts of outdoor skills, but the 5 years I spent on staff did more to shape the rest of my life than any other experience up to that point. Through some rare combination of leadership and magic, the camp director pulled three dozen kids together to form a staff that was more than just a team – we were a family. College was great, but I couldn’t wait to get back to Floodwood each summer.

Over the years I’ve returned to Floodwood many times. For the most part, little has changed. There’s still no phone, no electricity and no cell phone coverage. It’s still a 10 mile drive on a dead-end dirt and gravel road to get to camp. Each time I’m back, I try to fit in a hike to the top of Floodwood Mountain. It’s a short hike, maybe 3 miles round-trip from the center of camp. The summit is only 2,300’, but it’s got quite a good view of the Saint Regis Canoe Area and Saranac Lakes region, with Whiteface and the High Peaks in the distance. It’s the first mountain I climbed, and it’s the view that made me fall in love with the Adirondacks 40 years ago.

We can’t go back in time, but we can take the best pieces from our past and carry them with us for the rest of our lives. That’s how I feel about Floodwood: I was part of it then, and it’s part of me now. There’s a sign outside the camp’s program building (one of just two “real” buildings in camp) that sums it up well: “We have been Up North, and part of us always will be.”

If you go: the trail up Floodwood Mountain is open to the public. Directions to the trailhead and a description of the route can be found here.