Come take a walk with me.
At the lower altitudes, the Adirondacks are a mixed-wood forest consisting of deciduous hardwoods like red and white oaks, sugar and red maples, and yellow, and some paper birches. Eastern hemlock, white pine, black spruce, and balsam fir are among the dominant evergreens.
There is also the rare tamarack, which looks like an evergreen, but isn’t. The cone bearing tamarack is what they call a deciduous conifer. It has needle-like leaves that turn gold before they drop in autumn.
The tamarack is what you might call a metaphor of the Adirondack Forest metamorphism. In autumn the trees watercolor the Adirondack Mountains in scarlet reds, shadowy greens, variant yellows, and burnished golds. It is forest alchemy. You should visit in the fall.
The Adirondack Forest is also an idyllic place for meditative forest bathing, or what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku. Forest bathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system to promote self-healing through the soft and gentle whispers of the trees as they speak to you. If you should meet a shaman in a primitive area of the Adirondack Park, he may tell you what the trees are saying.
The paper birch is my favorite Adirondack tree. I imagine how young girls may have kept diaries using quill pens on the tree’s paper-thin sheets of white bark. I can also imagine that Emily Dickinson may have written one of her poems on the bark of the paper birch. Perhaps:
Frequently the woods are pink –
Frequently are brown.
Frequently the hills undress
Behind my native town.
Oft a head is crested I was wont to see –
And as oft a cranny
Where it used to be –
And the Earth – they tell me –
By but twelve performed.
Emily Dickinson, c. 1858
I like Dickinson.
The Adirondack understory is not congested by shrubs or bushes and such. There is the hobblebush with its white flowers, and a variety of small, hardwood wildflowers like Carolina Spring Beauty or the Common Wood Sorrel. Look for the rare Trillium. But the forest understory is mostly new growth competing for space and sun.
Perhaps lower hemlock branches or twisting, wild grape vines are the biggest obstacles to wandering in the Adirondack Forest, those, and downed trees or large fallen limbs that can trip you up. It is not a jungle, and it is not difficult to traverse. We should be able to enter the woods from any public roadside without many obstacles. Then we can blaze a trail.