Friday, March 21, 2014

St. Joe & Snow

I wouldn't generally spend the feast of my holy patron in such rustic fashion, but St. Joseph's Day looked like it might be my only reasonable opportunity in March to stay on track with my year-long quest of staying overnight in the woods.  Over course, a little winter camping seemed like the perfect way to welcome the official start of Spring, too!  So on Wednesday afternoon, Paul Poulin (who works here in the parish) and I headed out to the lean to on Copperas Pond, between Lake Placid and Wilmington.  (Despite what you see on the trailhead sign, the spelling I'm using seems to be the correct one.)

The forecast wasn't for the best of weather, but it was more than "good enough" to stick to our plan for an overnight.  Packs and snowshoes strapped on, we started mid-afternoon on Wednesday along the trail which took us first to Owen Pond.  Heavy cloud cover kept things a little warmer...but also meant my photos are a bit dreary from this expedition.

From Owen, it's on to Copperas, which comes into view in the spectacular shadow of the cliffs of Wilmington Notch and Whiteface Mountain.  Our accommodations were across the pond, tucked into the trees at the base of this beautiful scene.

With plenty enough daylight still available to us, we dropped off our gear in the lean to and completed the hat trick with a jaunt to Winch Pond.  (I'd visited the first two ponds in other seasons, but had never made it to this one before.)  There, we discovered the sturdy lodging of a year-round resident who made quick retreat as we approached and never responded to our invitations to come out and chat.

The evening did not quite include a traditional "St. Joseph's Table," but the holy carpenter of Nazareth was not far from our thoughts as we shared a camp supper under his watchful gaze...and I had already fried up a batch of bigné in his honor to share with the parish staff mid-morning.  We hung a tarp (handily left for us by some previous occupants) across half of the lean to's open face to cut some of the breeze overnight...and found that it also served as a buffer against the warm, pinkish glow of Lake Placid, only about 6 miles away.  (Oh, the long arm of civilization!)  Breakfast the next morning came with a lovely (if still kind of grey) view, and renewed gratitude for that tarp as some snow began to whip up across the pond.

Even with a fair amount of snow in the air on our return trip this first day of Spring, we left our temporary Adirondack abode as rather happy campers.

This overnight came at a particularly good time.  The last few weeks have been unusually hectic (and I don't see much sign of things letting up for a while).  With so many, many important things all vying for my attention, it's hard to feel like I'm giving any of them their due.  I've been reflecting on the way camping requires careful focus--especially when planning and packing--and even more how it's a opportunity to do just one thing while you're out there.  (Not to mention the great blessing of silence!)  Hopefully some of that wilderness wisdom will spill over into my busy workaday world.

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