Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'd Walk a Mile for a Blueberry

August 9, 2009

... How about 2.5 miles, straight up a mountain!
Despite being not-quite-over a weeklong cold (I’m feeling better, really!), today I accompanied my friend Marie and her father in a walk up Buck Mountain.
We had read in the local paper about the fabulous blueberry-picking on its summit.
Since I didn't grow up here, I had never been to this popular mountain, which overlooks Lake George from the east. I think every kid who ever lived within 20 miles of here has been up that mountain at least once.

Marie and I are in our fifties, and her dad Gordie is eighty-two. Our thinking was, “Dad’s determined to go with or without us, we’d better go along to make sure he is OK.”
Didn’t we get a rude awakening!

Gordie is one tough dude.
Well, maybe that’s not the right word to use, especially for someone who has been active in the local Rodeo Circuit for many years! Gordie excels in Team Roping. He keeps on winning those big fancy buckle trophies. Marie and I have less, er, athletic occupations, mainly centered around A Desk.

After a nice walk in level woods, the trail started snaking upward.
That’s when Gordie hit his stride! It was all we could do to keep up with him, as he led the way, stopping just long enough to wait for us.

He has spent many an hour in these particular woods, and entertained us with stories of fall hunts from years ago. To hear him tell it, it was only yesterday.

The day was hot, cloudy and very humid. The forecast was for a front to come through, with thunderstorms (possibly severe) by noontime. The hike took longer than I anticipated, and was more difficult, too. Maybe I wasn’t in the best of shape to be a-hiking.

But the Call of the Wild Blueberry was strong.

The woods were dark and still, and full of interesting things:
Miniature forests of shining club moss :

Green frogs :

The tallest black birch I've ever seen

And ferny canyons sprinkled with plants like Common Wood Sorrel, Bunch Berry and mosses:

There were lots of glacial erratics lying about, some of which made a fine place to take a break. That's Marie and her dad, waiting for me to catch my breath.

The top third of the “trail” was an eroded gully – Gordie did not even slow his pace here.

Near the top, he was thrilled to surprise a red fox taking a nap under a spruce tree.
We were far behind him, and didn't see it.
Knee-deep in blueberry plants, we went right into picking-mode. There were huckleberry bushes mixed in with them, too.

At the summit, the usual panoramic view of Lake George was somewhat muted by threatening clouds just above us. It was still beautiful.

I was tired, hot, coughing and fearful of lightning striking us down at any moment.
But O! the berries!


  1. What a great story. Things for us middle-agers to aspire to when we reach Gordie's age, eh? Maybe we should take up roping!

  2. Oh lord, I'm dripping sweat and my knees are hurting just reading about your climb. But then you remind us of the rewards: the blueberries, sure, but look at that view!

  3. Mmmmmmm, that last photo! Are those huckleberries mixed in with juicy blueberries? Aka the things I ate 90% of at Pierce's Point? ;)

  4. ellen - I have heard tell that Gordie attributes his good health to eating a dish of ice cream, EVERY day!
    woodswalker - ah, notice I did not write of the hike back DOWN the trail, in many ways that can be more difficult.
    lindsey - yes those are huckleberries! (and you didn't get all of them at P. Pt.)

  5. What a great adventure! That birch is AMAZING! And the treat at the top -- nothing quite like those wild blueberries.