Thursday, January 15, 2015

Travel Thursday (January 15, 2015) -- Beginning The Northville-Lake Placid Trail (August 9, 1998)

(L to R) Christopher, Molly, Jonathan and John minutes before setting off on a 133-mile trek into the Adirondack wilderness.

As the 1994 edition of the Guide to Adirondack Trails: NORTHVILLE-PLACID TRAIL states, "The N-P Trail is a 133-mile trunk-line footpath that traverses the heart of the Adirondack wilderness as a generally lowland route. it is not intended for beginners. The person who sets out on this trail should have the experience and confidence necessary to be self-sufficient. It is not a training ground, nor is it a place where help can be expected in an emergency." [Introduction, p. 4]

The Adirondack Park in upstate New York is the largest park in the nation outside of Alaska. It comprises about 6 million acres. Since Molly's parents had a "camp" on Lake Placid for a few decades we have been going to the High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Park for almost 40 years and our sons spent time up there every summer since they were born. We have climbed many mountains, paddled many lakes, and hiked many trails over the years.

After having visited Lake Placid and the Adirondack Park for more than twenty summers and several falls and winters, I finally decided in 1997 that the summer of 1998 was my time to backpack the famous Northville to Lake Placid Trail. I had read about it, seen photographs from along its path through the Park, and yearned to take up the challenge of doing a through-hike. 

In the fall of 1997, I announced my intent to spend my time in the Adirondacks the next summer hiking the N-P Trail. Since our sons would be 14 and 12 the summer of 1998 and had some decent hiking and backpacking experience I told them they were welcome to accompany me IF they agreed to do some training hikes over the next ten months leading up to our August 1998 vacation. I gave them a few months to decide and then told them I had to know how many to plan for so I could begin assembling the necessary gear and back-ups, map out the food drops I would ask their grandparents to do for us, and purchase missing equipment and supplies. They both said they wanted to join the expedition -- and then Molly (an experienced backpacker herself) announced she was not going to have her family go traipsing off into the Adirondack wilderness without her. So, to my delight, the dream of conquering the N-P Trail became a family adventure!

The Northville - Lake Placid Trail (NPT) was first laid out in 1922 - 1923 by volunteers of the Adirondack Mountain Club. This makes it older than the famed Appalachian Trail! By 1993, just five years before our family expedition, only about a thousand people had accomplished a through-hike of the NPT to become recorded End-to-Enders. It was my goal to add our names to that list.

The photograph above shows the Tew Family at 8:20 AM on the morning of August 9, 1998 at the southern terminus of the trail about to begin a planned ten-day trek north to Lake Placid through a wilderness of woods, lakes, rivers, bogs and unbelievable starry nights. 

This post begins a long-planned series of posts as "Travel Thursday" documents (more than 16 years after completion of the trek)  some of the highlights of our trek, which still ranks as one our greatest family adventures! 

Our well-used, trail beaten 1994 edition of the Northville-Placid Trail guide book

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Images scanned from original documents in the author's collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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  1. I look forward to this series. Love the photo and now I know why you all look so energized and ready to go.

    1. As always, thanks for visiting and commenting Barbara! The second in this series was posted yesterday and probably sets the tone and format for the series posts. I hope you and other readers enjoy them.