It’s been a busy outdoor week for me. I paddled out to re-visit Schuyler Island, hiked up Rattlesnake Mountain, SUP around Point Au Roche, and lost myself on the Blue Trails of Plattsburgh. I admit that I have heard about some trails near the Plattsburgh State Fieldhouse in the past, but I never thought much of it. Something made me think that any trails within the city limits are going to be short paved trails similar to the bike paths that traverse the city in all directions. This is where I was wrong.
The Blue Trails are tucked in the wooded property behind Plattsburgh State Fieldhouse. These unpaved, ever-changing network of trails are perfect for mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, trail running, you name it. I don’t wonder why I never visited the Blue Trails based on my pre-conceived notion of their less than rugged landscape. Right up until the moment I got there I was still pretty sure it wasn’t going to be all that great. Fortunately I was nudged in the right direction and thankful I was.
I started off at the Plattsburgh State Fieldhouse near one of the many dams on the Saranac River. The trail very quickly dives into a dark mixed wood forest. Only a few steps in and you’d never guess that you are in a populated area. The distinctive smell of pine and soil, sounds of insects, birds, and the occasional snake will greet you right at the door to their woodland home along the river. Behind the dam the Saranac is as smooth as glass. I felt as if I were in more of a southern bog setting than that of the Adirondack Coast. Insects buzzing the top of the glassy water were often snatched up by a fish looking for a quick snack. I could have (and probably should have) sat at the river’s edge for hours soaking it all up. Instead I continued to wander along this maze of dense forest and winding paths.
The dense forest occasionally gives way to fields of Cattail reeds, open pine stands, and sand pits. My hiking partner and I found ourselves rather imersed in the terrain and not paying so much attention to how far we had gone. With the sun low in the sky and the moon shining it’s hue off of the flat river water, we knew it was time to turn back toward the car. I don’t think we thought much of the setting sun being an issue.
With the sun fully set and just the sparse light from the nearly full moon shining through the trees, I started getting visions of television programs depicting people lost in the woods for months living off of the earth. The jokes began to fly on how we might survive living in the woods for a while. I have always told people how much I love to get lost while out on the road. You always find things you would otherwise never know existed. Getting turned around in the woods at night has just about the same effect. With our bellies grumbling and our perceived notion that we had a sense of direction fading as fast as the sun had, we took to a different route that we knew would land us on a road. After hours of wandering, thinking we were on the right path, crossing the same grassy spot and hanging sleeping bag more times than we could count, we popped out on the road.
I had considered not posting about this adventure, but losing ones self in the woods truly was an experience I’m going to cherish. I’m also going to give the Blue trails a few more visits in time, and might just have to pick up a mountain bike soon to really get out there. The Blue Trails can certainly fill ones need for outdoor time without involving much distance for travel.