Bear Den Mountain, Adirondacks
I long for the days when I had a constitution of steel, driven to climb all of the peaks arrayed before me, and all the other compass points I could turn and look out at from this vantage point. This place has long been a favorite spot to break out my gear and look for compositions, whether as part of the longer hike south of me, or as a destination for a shorter outing. This morning the sun has gained on me, low in winter trajectory and casting its shadows as it clears the ridges behind me. Its burn highlights the iron oxide in an erratic deposited here in the pleistocene, as the massive ice sheets sculpted the Adirondack dome. North Country lore is sprinkled with iron. Furnaces and ore pits still stand in parts of the landscape, a history hinted at in my reddish-tinged granite boulder, posing on the verge of the Ausable Valley. I’ve been fortunate to have explored so much of America’s wildness; this country stands as hard as any landscape I’ve been in, and it hardens those willing to return after being scathed. Switchbacks were mostly unheard of up here, so topping these mountains is as much a matter of iron will as physical prowess. I have a long and chequered history of loves, romantic and spiritual, each accusing the other of time spent devoting my fidelities elsewhere. My regrets haunt me still. Rock will wear smooth, the forests will darken, iron will rust, and youth fades. The heart never concedes.