The Sacandaga Lake from Clutes Mountain
The Great Sacandaga Lake

As the title states, this is a view of the Great Sacandaga Lake from Clute’s Mountain on the North Shore. For years, people asked us if we’d been to the “other lookout” on the Sacandaga. We hadn’t, so we placed it on our long list of things to do. There was an old logging road to the summit but no place to park for access on the busy North Shore Road. My cousin Ron, and his wife Pam, have a place near there and told us they’d take us “sometime”. We would run into them through the years and agree that we should go, but like so many other things that sometime never seemed to come around. One bright sunny evening we were all at the Presbyterian Church in Lake Luzerne for one of their great public dinners when Ron again asked, “When are we going to go to Clute’s?” Gino and I just said, “Whenever you’re ready.” After dinner Ron and Pam asked, “How about right now?” Sometime had finally come.
Ron drove his new pickup truck slowly and carefully up the steep, boulder strewn road almost to the top. We hiked the short remaining distance and were greeted with this overwhelmingly beautiful sight. The evening sun caused some wonderful deep shadows on the mountains. We took a lot of photos and savored the panorama in the clear air. Someone had placed a coffee can containing a notebook under a rock for people to write their thoughts during their visits to this spectacular ledge, and share the experience.
If we hadn’t gone that night, we would never had made it there. A short time later this mountain was purchased and posted to all visitors. We’ll always be thankful that “sometime” finally came that evening.

Canoe and pine trees on Lake Luzerne
Summer Reflections

Our friends have a double swimming dock with an electric motor. They have equipped the water craft with a table, some chairs, a ship’s wheel and a strand of mini lights. We thoroughly enjoy eating dinner while quietly traveling around Lake Luzerne. We relax and converse while watching the ever-changing scene as the sun gently dips out of sight. This painting is from one of those idyllic afternoons aboard the “Van Snooty”.

Hot air balloons flying over mountains
Remembering

The very first hot air balloon inflated in Warren County was John Marsden’s “Punchinello”. At that time there was only a small number of pilots in the entire country. I had the pleasure of meeting John some years ago. While we were chatting he mentioned how he couldn’t decide what to do with his beloved balloon since it was no longer air worthy. To discard an old friend, a colorful envelope that had safely taken him into the air so many times, didn’t seem a fitting end. He used a few pieces of the fabric to make beanbags for some balloon races but it bothered him to cut it. Having the fabric stomped into the ground as a “walkabout” also didn’t seem suitable. Our conversation prompted me to start thinking about balloons we have seen through the years, wonderful mixes of colors and shapes joyfully drifting above the earth, but now gone. Luckily many pilots get new balloons and continue the yearly tradition of returning to Glens Falls, but for some, once the envelope fails inspection they stop flying altogether and move on to other things.

This painting was used as the official poster at the Adirondack Balloon Festival.

A stormy view on Crane Mountain
Gathering Storm, Crane Mountain

Gino and I and our friends, Marsena and Bill, had a great late summer and fall in 2005. We hiked most Mondays, my day off from the gallery. Every week was someplace different, mostly of my choosing. Gino always liked me to plan the hikes, in case they didn’t turn out right. Then it would be my fault. We took our friends to many of our favorite mountains. It was great to repeat them and to show the views to new eyes. We also visited a couple places we had never gone before. The weather was very cooperative and we enjoyed leisurely days. We were rewarded with wonderful views.
Then I decided to hike Crane Mountain.
When we arose that morning the air was heavy under cloudy skies, but it wasn’t raining. The weatherman on the television said there was a chance of thunderstorms. Did that mean Crane might be spared? My fellow hikers all left the decision up to me, and I was having trouble calling off a day outside when it wasn’t actively raining. One hiking day allowed to pass is one we could never get back. I still was uneasy and ran into our friend Mike, the UPS man. I asked him what he thought and he cheerfully said, “Go! It’s a great day for hiking.” Why I took the word of the UPS man, I’m not sure, but he said what I wanted to hear. It was a go.
We were a long way up the trail that passes the pond when we were met by a group of people fleeing the mountain at high speed. They had seen storms on the horizon. That should have been our cue to turn around and join in the descent but letting a summit go when we had hiked so far was too difficult. We continued and thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful walk around the shoreline of the pond, taking the irresistible quantity of photos. On previous hikes at this point we had always picked up the short trail to go to the top, but our friend Linda told us that we had been missing her favorite spot in the world, the ledge overlooking Crane Mountain Pond. I couldn’t believe we’d never seen it and decided to remedy the situation. On the way up the trail the ominous sound of thunder started getting closer, but we were so near our goal, we didn’t want to retreat.  This painting is the scene that greeted us at the overlook. It was an exciting and wonderful view. We continued to the summit and arrived at the same time as the clouds. We were completely deprived of the view. I had chosen poorly. Even though we were ready to eat the lunches we had packed and carried, we knew the mountaintop was not the place to ride out the storm. I thought maybe we could find an overhanging rock to give us shelter for the short time that should be needed for the bad weather to pass. We donned the garbage bags we had thrown in the packs “just in case” and about two steps from the summit the downpour started. We immediately were walking in about three inches of water. There was no way to go around the growing puddles so we just walked through them. During it all, Marsena and Bill just kept plodding along, and never uttered a single word of complaint to add to my ever-increasing feelings of guilt.
I started thinking about the added electricity conduction of the water covering our feet. How I was going to explain this to Marsena and Bill’s family after their mom and dad were struck by lightning? Why were we even out on such a day? But then I found comfort realizing we’d be gone too.
Eveb though the garbage bags held some warmth, they were not efficient rain gear. The torrential downpour also didn’t help us in descending the ladders but we slowly managed to inch our way down the steep “short trail”. I noticed Gino had stopped ahead and was just standing there peering downward with a puzzled look on his face. When we were closer, he shouted over the din of the storm, “Is this the trail?”
Suddenly we saw the source of his puzzlement. We were standing at the top of a cascading waterfall with no bottom in sight. The cloudburst had transformed our path. The descent appeared hopelessly impossible. I spotted a marker below us so we knew we were on the trail. Luckily it actually was passable, but we had to inch our way along, boulder to boulder. Everything was slippery and each step had to be studied with care. The rain, thunder and lightning were unrelenting for the entire time we hiked down the mountain, so there was no relief from our misery. I don’t know if it was one storm followed by another or a monster storm just for Crane Mountain, but we persevered and finally made it to our extremely welcomed vehicle. We all voraciously gobbled up our lunches and reveled in the fact that we had survived without falling or getting fried by lightning.
It’s funny, when we talk with Marsena and Bill or other friends about that fun summer and fall, it’s not the hike on Black with visible rays of the sun reaching from the clouds to the surface of the lake, the vibrant fall colors from Potash, or the days spent climbing the other beautiful mountains that first comes to mind. It’s always the day spent on Crane that floods our memories and brings a smile to our lips. But we won’t be asking Mike, the UPS man, about the weather again.

cardinal flowers
Cardinal Flowers

I love wild flowers and looking for the treasured blossoms in the woods of my childhood home each spring.  We had many different woodland flowers, and through the years I was able to find more throughout the Adirondacks. But with all my searching, there were a few flowers I hadn’t seen. One of them was the cardinal flower. Friends told me where to look, but I never seemed to be at the right place at the right time to find them. One August day, we were visiting my Mom and Dad when my father mentioned that he had found some flowers I should see. He said that they were strikingly bright red, and I hoped they were the elusive cardinals. Dad took us to a wet area in the woods where the rich red flowers were thriving; cardinal flowers everywhere. They more beautiful than I had imagined, and were growing in our woods! We went back a few times through the years but they never have been as plentiful as that first year.  The last time I looked for them they had almost disappeared. I have found cardinal flowers in other places but only a few at a time, and never as wonderful as those at Mom and Dad’s.