A Trip to the Adirondacks in April
A Trip to the Adirondacks in April, or Why You Should Always Listen to Locals
Written by Susan Torres. Photos by Allison Sterrett.
Last April my boyfriend Seth and our friends Allison and Ed decided to take advantage of Easter weekend by getting out of New York City. After a long, endless winter full of snow and Polar Vortexs, we were excited to walk in the woods and go for a hike.
Since the snow had only recently melted and the nights can still be cold and unpredictable in April, we decided to see if we could find a cabin so we wouldn’t have to sleep directly on permafrost. Instead of a cabin, we found a yurt. In case you don’t know, yurts are awesome. They’re kind of like round teepees and if they work for Mongolians we figured they’d work in upstate New York.
It is surprisingly easy to find a yurt to stay in for the weekend. Our biggest issue was price as fancy yurts with studios are apparently a thing now? (They are most definitely a thing now and they are very expensive. Probably awesome, but definitely expensive.) That is not what my friends and I were looking for - we wanted to camp but didn’t necessarily have the proper equipment for cold weather camping.
I eventually came across a website that lists yurts in every state that has yurts. It’s a really helpful website once you weed out the dead links. We settled on the Falls Brook Yurts as it was located near good hiking trails, in our price range, and was heated. There was an outhouse and no running water. It seemed perfect.
A week before we were set to go yurting, as the snow was melting across New York City and it looked like our long national nightmare of winter was coming to an end, I received an email from the woman who owned the yurt. Tucked away amidst details about payment and directions was this: Note that the trail still has a ton of snow and ice so snowshoes with crampons are recommended for getting to and around the yurt. I forwarded the email to my friends with a message saying “I have the car and does anyone have crampons? Will we actually need those?”
In case you haven’t picked up on it by now, my friends and I are a little cheap so we decided against purchasing anything that would prepare us for this trip in anyway. (Except whiskey). We also doubted this woman’s claims about snow and ice everywhere on the ground. When we looked out our windows - four hours south of where we would eventually be going - there wasn’t any snow on the ground. Why would there be snow on the ground in the mountains in northern New York?
The day of our trip arrived and we piled into the car and headed out after we all got off work. “Hey look at all this snow on the ground” we would joke every hour or so as we passed the completely snow free landscape. “Good thing we brought our crampons, hehehe.”
We arrived at the trailhead to the yurt around midnight. Can you guess what we stepped in the second we got on the trail to the yurt? Yes, snow. Not only was it snow, but it was thickly, packed icy snow. We had about a 1/10th of a mile walk in the pitch black with our poorly packed supplies and sneakers in the snow. I’m pretty sure one of us said something to the effect of “oh there’s the snow and ice” and we turned on our headlamps and began our slow, icy walk to the yurt.
About 20 minutes and only one slip later we found the yurt. Once safely inside with the whiskey bottle open, we all felt free to discuss how dumb we all felt for not trusting the yurt owner when she told us there would be snow and ice everywhere. The yurt, however, was awesome. It had a full gas stove, a skylight, games, and trail maps. It was also in the middle of nowhere, we couldn’t even see the other yurt that was supposedly on the property. We felt like we owned the woods.
The next morning as we boiled water from the nearby stream to drink (because we were also not prepared with enough water) we picked a hike. Ed went to college in the area and remembered some of the trails that had great mountain views. Multiple books mentioned how quickly “the weather in the Adirondacks changes.” Since it was sunny and in the mid-50s when we left, we all wore tshirts, sweatshirts and brought zero additional layers.
Walking back to the car from the yurt we all realized how lucky we were to not fall on the ice and seriously hurt ourselves during our midnight walk. The trail was covered in ice. Walking in and only using our headlamps to see we couldn’t really tell how winter was not really done in the Adirondacks. For some reason, we still didn’t anticipate that a steep hike would be any problem.
After driving for a bit we worried we might have missed the trailhead. Fortunately, we saw a nature center and pulled in. We asked one of the rangers about the hike we had planned to do and if we had missed it. “You didn’t miss it but let me ask you, how prepared are you?” “We are slowly realizing not at all,” I replied. “I wouldn’t advise doing that trail unless you have snow climbing gear. It’s all going to be ice and it’s really steep. You should probably just do one of the loops around here at the center,” said the first person in the Adirondacks we finally decided to listen to.
Why did we refuse to listen to the people who could best tell us what we would need and what to expect from this trip? Hubris? Laziness? Probably a little of both. I think we probably all figured we were only going to be gone for a short trip and would survive - which was true. But because we didn’t heed any warnings thrown our way we weren’t able to hike like we wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time in what ended up being a really relaxing weekend in the woods - which is just what we wanted. But we now know the Adirondacks in April are not something to mess around with, and living in New York City doesn’t prepare you for all of New York.
Editors note: if you came to our November Mappy Hour you have actually already learned how to be prepared for adventures such as this (or read this post on layering).