Dan and Hannah Climb Bald Mountain in the Adirondacks of New York

Bald Old Forge map

Hannah and I have come to Old Forge, New York for a mini-reunion of her Moss Lake Camp for Girls, where she was first a camper, then a counselor and water skiing instructor in the early 1960s.

Bald Brooks


Arriving after an overnight in Ithaca, NY to see our new grandson Brooks and then breakfasting with our daughter Robyn in Syracuse, we arrive early in the afternoon in Old Forge, a summer tourist destination.

Bald Robyn

Dan, Robyn, and Hannah at Tony’s Diner in Syracuse, NY

With time before our dinner rendez-vous with Karen, Hannah’s former camper and long time friend, we have set our sights on Bald Mountain before the forecasted rain arrives.

Bald map of fulton chain of lakes

Bald Mountain lies above the Fulton Chain of Lakes in the central Adirondack Mountains.  Driving a mere four miles north of Old Forge, we turn left on Rondaxe Road for the trailhead parking.

Bald 2 H on trail

Rooted and shaded at the start of this one mile hike/climb, the trail will rise 500’ in elevation to a summit of 2350’.  The shining jewel of this hike is the Rondaxe Fire Tower for viewing the Fulton Chain of Lakes.

When you next visit the Adirondacks consider quelling your fire tower fever by taking the ADK Fire Tower Challenge by climbing to one of the 23 fire towers in the area.  Click here for more information.

Bald 3A H on stones to top

Through the forest, the trail is well-marked with blue blazes (e.g. painted blue vertical rectangles on trees) just when we need them.  Soon we are atop the boulders with Third Lake to our left.  On our early August Wednesday afternoon, there are mostly families and thirty-something couples.

The boulders themselves require some balancing and interestingly have a weathered rusted strip from the years of hikers climbing to the top.  Rarely, do you ever take what looks like a trail into the nearby forest.  The blue blazes lead you along the boulders.

Bald 4 H at fire tower

It’s a simple and sweet thirty minutes to the top with expansive views from the Rondaxe Fire Tower to the Fulton Chain of lakes.  Check out highlight pictures of our hike below.







Bald 4B lakes from fire tower

Fulton Chain from Bald Mountain


Bald 5 brown trail on rocks

Notice the faded rust color on the rounded top of the boulders that we used as a trail guide 


Bald 5A D and H above lakes


Bald 1A info on fire tower


Bald 2A D red blaze

In addition to blue blazes to guide us, we also red trail markers to keep on track


By the way, a little further north on route 28, we learn of two additional modest hikes.  Click here for Rocky Mountain six miles from Bald Mountain.   Click here for Black Bear Mountain three miles beyond that.

Dan, the Showoff at Moss Lake in the Adirondacks of New York

Moss lake trail itself

Moss Lake Trail, some 50 miles north of Utica, New York

This early August Hannah and I have come to the Adirondacks of New York for a mini-reunion of the Moss Lake Camp for Girls.  Some thirty-five of us, former campers and counselors, husbands, family members, and visitors to the area, assemble at the trailhead off Big Moose Road in Eagle Bay.  Click here for the previous blog describing Hannah as a camper and enjoy pictures of this legendary camp.

Geof Longstaff, son of the camp founder, will lead us around Moss Lake ( the trail is 2.5 miles) stopping at key spots to charm us with stories from the nearly fifty year history (1935 to 1972) of the girls’ camp.  In the early 1960s, Hannah was first a camper, then later a counselor and a water skiing instructor.

Moss trail H at lake

Hannah returns to Moss Lake, 51 years after she was a counselor/water skiing instructor there

On a hike that will take three hours, the pace is leisurely and the socializing and chatting up new acquaintances occurs seamlessly.  As one who is naturally curious to learn more about Hannah as a teenager and other people’s lives, I seek out and chat up different hikers along the trail.

Throughout the morning, I talk with Karen, Hannah’s dear friend and a camper when Hannah was a counselor.  I introduce myself to Tom, whose wife Margie went to camp a few years after Hannah.  Susie and her husband are a delightful couple, both interesting and interested in my story.  Geof’s sister fills me in on camp life with a father who was bigger than life.

Moss trail outlet better

Geof speaking while Hannah chills at the bridge at the outlet to Moss Lake

After Geof’s commentary at the bridge over the outlet stream of Moss Lake, Hannah stays to skip stones with the millennials (twenty-two Longstaffs of all ages of are here for a family reunion) while I go ahead.  I see Bo, a Longstaff by marriage, one hundred feet ahead and figure I’ll strike up a conversation.

I step around three hikers and then pass two women.  As I pass the women, one says, Show-off.

I am immediately put off.  Who wants to be labeled a show off?  It feels like an indictment.  I don’t know what to say, and just continue on, without looking back.

I’m just thinking, Really?  It seems that saying something encouraging might have built a momentary bridge between us.  Like, Looking good  or Way to go.  Either comment would have made me smile.  Show off does not make me smile.

I get that yelling out show off is all about her not me.  I don’t take it personally; I’m just surprised.  Is it a joke?  It certainly isn’t a friendly joke.  As Ellen DeGeneres says, If it were a joke, we both would be laughing.

Readers, What am I missing? 

Dan and Hannah Hike the Moss Lake Trail in the Adirondacks of New York

Moss trail around the lake

Looking for a delightful family hike in the Adirondack Mountains?  Hannah and I have the 2.5 miles Moss Lake Trail for you.  To get to the trailhead, go north from the New York Thruway at Utica, head a simple 47 miles to touristy Old Forge.  Continue on route 28 for nine miles to the well-marked left turn onto Big Moose Road where two plus miles later you will find the Moss Lake trailhead on your left.

Moss trail Geo on trail

Geof Longstaff, tour guide, on the Moss Lake Trail

Assembling with three dozen others for a guided tour by Geof Longstaff, the son of the founder of the Moss Lake Camp for Girls, we have come this first week of August to where Hannah spent six summers as a teenager, first as a camper, and later as counselor/water skiing instructor.

If you come in early August, you too can take this three hour, mellow hike/tour.  Contact the Town of Webb Historical Association.  Click here for their website.  Geof was at the top of his game.

Moss trail H and Karen P

Hannah with Karen, the reason Hannah came to this reunion.  Karen was a camper when Hannah was a counselor at the Moss Lake Camp for Girls

Other campers from the 1960s have joined us including Karen, a dear friend to this day.  Check out this roster of activities at this camp: classes in horseback riding, tennis, swimming, water skiing, fencing, canoeing, ballet, sailing, archery, and riflery (pictures from back in the day below).  Girls were divided into two teams, the Blue team competing against the Gray team.

Hannah was regularly the captain of the Gray team and Suzie the captain of the Blue.  Suzie would beat Hannah in the tennis finals while Hannah would outswim Suzie.  They each were Honor Girls for being ones whom the other campers looked up to.

Moss trail H and Suzie

Hannah with Suzie with Moss Lake in the background

Well, it turns out Suzie is here today, the niece of Dr. George Longstaff, the founder.  In his introduction, Geof introduces Suzie as the top athlete years ago at camp.  And then Suzie, does a a Suzie thing, which indeed, is a Hannah thing.

Suzie speaks up for all to hear and says very humbly that Hannah was right there with her athletically.  I am so pleased for Hannah to get the brief recognition that often gets left unspoken.

Moss trail H at lake

Moss Lake Hannah

You see, those six summers at Moss Lake were when Hannah learned she was really good at sports, people genuinely liked her, and she had something unique to offer the world (i.e. herself!).  She was acknowledged and celebrated for who she was and who she could become.  In her own words, I didn’t know then, but now I realize that I discovered parts of myself at Moss Lake that might have remained undiscovered for years.

Moss trail by outlet

Moss Lake from the outlet stream bridge

And now back to the Moss Lake Trail which is almost entirely shaded, basically level with a hillock or two.  Enjoy the pictures of the Moss Lake Trail and then the historical pictures from the past of this girls’ camp, home to Hannah’s Coming of Age.

(Consider commenting on this blog so I know you are out there.)




Moss trail outlet better

Geof speaking to the assembled hikers at the bridge over the outlet to Moss Lake

Moss trail group picture

Moss Lake campers, family, and counselors

Moss Lake photographs from back in the day (1935-1972)

Moss archery better


Moss horses even more


Moss tennis


Moss fencing


Moss canoes


Moss main house

A former Moss Lake camper got in touch with me after reading this blog and provided this additional information about the death of Eleanor Roosevelt’s granddaughter, Sally Roosevelt. Hannah was on the hike when this accident happened in 1960!

Aloha, Dan & Hannah – Came across your blog via the Moss Lake facebook page and enjoyed your Moss Lake hike post. I was a Moss Lake Camper in the 60s and early 70s. However, it was this story that I wanted to share after reading your recently posted Eleanor Roosevelt quote. https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/myday/displaydoc.cfm?_y=1960&_f=md004825
ER’s granddaughter, Sally, was a camper who was injured in a fall from a horse, a very unfortunate accident. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about it in her diary which I came across online.

Hannah’s Sandal Tells Her Side of the Story 

Three days ago, I posted a blog on the miraculous recovery of Hannah’s sandal from the side of the New York Thruway.  Click here for that blog.  Teacher/blogger/former UNE student of mine Molly Hogan suggested I write from the sandals point of view.  Challenge accepted.

sandals right one

Really!  You are just leaving me here.  It’s damp, gravelly, and my goodness the cars and trucks are roaring by.  I can hardly hear myself think.  As I was minding my own business on the floor beneath Hannah’s feet as she drove, their car slows, and all of sudden I’m dumped by the side of road.  And then she and her loser hubby (really that’s too harsh, just unobservant) drive off in their fancy, shmacy Prius.

And all the while, these two clueless ones have no idea that I am back by the side of the road.  Oh, she’ll find out soon enough and wonder how he could have been so careless.  There’ll be smoke coming out of her ears, I predict, when she learns of my predicament. 

I know their itinerary is traveling to Ithaca, Syracuse, and Old Forge, New York, and then returning home by this very thruway in two days.  Lying four feet off the shoulder in these nasty small stones, I’m starting to itch and damn if those aren’t storm clouds above.   

sandals hannah sans right one

You know, I had it pretty sweet, nestled on the top bookshelf in their bedroom.  It’s warm there, and she takes me out when she wants to kick back, be uber comfortable.  I am her go-to shoe.  She gently caresses me with her foot as she slides in.  She’s light, delicate and gives me just the right Reiki massage on a daily basis.

She found me at Marshall’s after months of looking for just my style.  She loves me.  She said so.  As dark approaches, car after truck ignores me, and for that I am thankful.  I am waiting for my deliverance back to Maine.        

Two days later – I am certain that she hasn’t slept well thinking of me lost and alone.  He has his doubts, but damn, he’ll support her come hell or high water.  She is the girl of his dreams going on 51 years.  She’s the faith; he’s the what-the-hell, let’s-give-it-a-shot guy.

By later afternoon Thursday, I still don’t see their Silver Prius with Maine plates.  And now it’s time for me to have faith in the Sandal God.  I close my straps and pray for the return of her loving foot embrace. 

Prius 2

A little before 5P, for the fifteenth time a car pulls over, the last time to change a tire, but this time it’s his yuppie Prius.  OMG.  She’s driving, he jumps out with the cars racing by, cradles me, and returns me to the most appreciative sandal wearer in the Known World.  Clearly, the Sandal God answers prayers. 

Dan and Hannah and the New York Thruway Sandal 

Hannah and I pull into the Dunkin’ Donuts near Central Bridge, NY (between Albany and Binghamton) on I-88 for a pit stop at noon on an early August Tuesday.  As I sprint to the men’s room (AM coffee on a travel day is a bad mix for me), Hannah looks for her other sandal.  It’s nowhere to be found.

sandal map of central bridge

Sturbridge is to the east of Springfield.  Ithaca is to the southwest of Syracuse

Upon my return from the men’s room, Hannah looks daggers at me when I say I have no idea where her sandal is; she feels I should have seen it when she and I changed drivers.  I have no defense but wisely remain silent.  Let me back up to set the scene.

On our way to see our new grandson Brooks in Ithaca, NY from our home in York, Maine (390 miles), we switch drivers after 110 miles at the Sturbridge, MA rest area; then later we switch again at a wide gravelly spot off the New York Thruway near Albany.

During Hannah’s drive, she removes her sandals and places them on the floor by her feet.  Since cars are flying by at 70 mph, we switch quickly.  But…it seems in my haste to get in the driver’s side, her right sandal fell to the ground.

sandals hannah sans right one

Only 40 miles later at the Dunkin’ Donuts does she realize the sandal is gone.  Non-verbally, Hannah wonders how I could be so unobservant not to notice the sandal falling out of the car.  I’ve learned in 46 years of marriage, Hannah does not want solutions or explanations at such times; she just wants to vent.  Mama didn’t raise no fool and I keep quiet.

Later that Tuesday afternoon we arrive in Ithaca for the overnight with Will and Laurel.  Wednesday, we drive to Syracuse for breakfast with our daughter Robyn, then on to Old Forge, NY for a reunion of the Moss Lake Camp for Girls.  Thursday, after a hike around Moss Lake with other campers, we head for home.  In her heart, Hannah still believes we will find her sandal.  We don’t know exactly know where near Albany it is, but we both think we’ll remember the gravelly pullout when we see it.

Heading south on I-87 near exits 24 and 23, we see across six lanes of highway where we both think the gravelly pull out is.  Exiting immediately, we turn around after the toll booths and head north a half mile to the pullout.

sandals right one

Only the replaceable rivet on the ankle strap was lost over 48+ hours alone by the side of the NY Thruway

Hannah pulls over and unbelievably, the right sandal is there after two days of rain and a million cars passing by.

All is right in the Valley of Hannah.

PS (from a chagrined/embarrassed Hannah) – Dan offered to order me new sandals that very night…I preferred holding on to the hope of a lucky retrieval. 

Dan and the Adirondack Bear Alert

bear map of adirondacks

Hannah and I have come to the Adirondack Mountains in northeastern New York for her Moss Lake Reunion.  Back in the day (i.e. the early 1960s) Hannah was first a camper at the Moss Lake Camp for Girls for eight weeks in the summer, then later a counselor and a water skiing instructor.

bear hannah at moss lake

Hannah at Moss Lake, August 2018

Arriving at our overnight motel two days ago, the Adirondack Lodge Old Forge, I present my driver’s license and credit card to the clerk.  At that point, she says, Please sign this bear release form.  Bears can get into cars, but they can’t get out.

Really!  Yes, really.

bear release form

The highlight detail is that we are not to leave any food in our car.  Quoting from the release form, The bears are very smart, and they do know how to open doors!!

I am not one of those hikers who just can’t wait to see a bear on the trail.  We hiked in bear country in the Shenandoah National Park and never saw a bear.  Thank you, Jesus.

bear in ferns

Once when Hannah and I were hiking at Rendezvous Mountain just outside Grand Teton National Park in early July 1992, we came across a three foot stump shredded on all sides by a black bear looking for insects.  I couldn’t believe we were that close to bears!  Tepidly, we hiked a half mile more into the mountains and then turned around when our common sense finally kicked in, not wanting to be an afternoon snack for some Rocky Mountain version of Smoky.

bear in tree

Three years later in Denali National Park, we saw a sign at the trailhead, Moose calving, Bear alert.  Seemed like the standard, run-of-the-mill warning.  Not to worry.  Within ten minutes this first week of July, a nearly seven foot moose blocked our path.  A bambino moose can’t be far away!  We knew all the warnings that moose will kill you if you get between a moose and its young.  Again, we pretended that we weren’t bothered by seeing mama moose, but the joy and excitement of hiking in this Alaska Wonderland was gone.  We again turned around within minutes and beat a hasty retreat back to our campsite.

So, when we see the bear release form suggesting, bears are in the neighborhood, I want no part of these ursine creatures.  We clean out the car thoroughly.

Mama didn’t raise no fool!