47.0 mi / 10.8 mph / 2412 ft. climbing
Home: Lake Harris Campground
Now fully on top of the Adirondack plateau, we had a relatively flat morning of cool forest riding, and that inspired Rett to put the pedal(s) down and fly through the first fifteen miles without a stop before 90 minutes had passed.
A tough 400 foot climb brought and end to the flattish, and took us up to our Adirondack high point of 2200 ft, our highest elevation in quite some time, and a record that might hold for some time longer.
Downs-and-ups brought us into the crossroads of Long Lake, where a “Stewart’s Shops” gas station represented the only “grocery” opportunity of the 47-mile day (and significantly further beyond that). Even with Google reviews and photos, you still never know what you’re going to get at a “glorified gas station” until you show up, but this place was really good. It had a bit of fresh produce, hot food to order, an ice-cream parlor, good bathrooms, shaded picnic tables outside, and, of course, gas, which I used to fill our fuel bottle for $0.60 (even here in the remote mountains, gas has gotten relatively cheap again!)
At one of those picnic tables, we spotted our second lunchtime pair of bike-touring women (with Arkel panniers!) in two days; I’m happy to see that my gender is being outnumbered out here! They were also coming from the opposite direction, doing a week-long Adirondack loop. For the whole ride today, I had been getting increasingly nervous about tomorrow’s planned route: Google Maps refused to route through a section of Blue Ridge Rd., which I initially thought was just some sort of glitch, but I had begun to worry that it was due to a bridge being out or something like that. And that unrouteable spot was 10+ miles down the road, with no alternate beyond turning around. So I had been thinking that maybe we should take the “safe” route and stay on the much-longer state highway.
But when I heard these women were pretty familiar with biking in the Adirondacks, I asked if they had any familiarity with Blue Ridge Road. Not only were they familiar with it, they had just rode it yesterday. What luck! And there is no one better to get a road report on than other touring cyclists (I was also concerned about trucks or other traffic on the shoulderless minor road), and they set my mind and heart at ease (especially since they said the significant climbs they struggled through would be downhills for us!) Now I don’t need to figured out a whole new plan, and can dive into our current plan with full confidence.
From that high-quality lunch stop, we put in another strong 17 miles to the end, even through the many ups-and-downs. The campground was a couple miles off the main highway, on the opposite side of Harris Lake (out of which the Hudson River flows), which made it some extra work to get to, but gave the campground a more-isolated feel. There were only a few sites available when we’d booked a couple days before, so it wasn’t a terrible surprise that the only access to the water was a steep rough bootpath to a marshy shore, but hey, it’s something!
On a late-evening walk back-and-forth to the bath house to pick up my shower glove I had left behind, I was struck by the quiet beauty of this campground. The non-electric, linearly-oriented sites were again large and spread out, each customized to the landscape, but I could see a campfire glowing in nearly all of them, some with the dark-glass water of Harris Lake behind them through the shadowy trees. Unfortunately our end was making up for the warm hush of the rest of the campground, with a screaming kid in site #3, and some late-arriving group of hikers in site #1 hammering in thousands of tent stakes for some reason.