“The trouble with you Flatlanders is you don’t know shit about the Dacks,” says John Thomas, stubbing out his sixth cigarette of the day before breakfast. Now let me tell you two things about John Thomas. 1) He’s about as fine a cabin builder as you’ll find in America, and 2) He’s dead right.
The Dacks are of course the Adirondacks and Flatlanders are most of you folk reading this, the name that was given by locals to the residents of New York City and its suburbs. We all gotta start somewhere. For decades New Yorkers have been heading Upstate but much past the Catskills and it becomes unknown territory for many. In this world of information overload, isn’t it great that one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast of America is less than four hours drive from New York City?
Welcome to the world of the Adirondack Mountains, and we at the Brampton are stoked to give you some seasonal tips via our good buddies at Whalebone Magazine.
Know Shit About the Adirondacks
For starters, many will complain of the journey time it takes to get to the Adirondack Park but those that get there will welcome such a grievance for its role in keeping the crowds at bay. At three times the size of Puerto Rico, the Adirondack Park spans a whopping 6.1 million acres (Yellowstone 2.2m, Yosemite 0.76m) and is the largest park found in the continental United States of America, and there are no cities inside it.
Suffice to say, there is much to explore and so much of it remains unexplored.
This clearly begs the question of where to start, and the first thing to decide is what season suits you. To say that there’s great hiking in the Adirondacks is to say that Roger Federer has a decent backhand; it’s an understatement to the point of insult. In fact, so impressive are the hikes that the challenge of the 46 peaks draws some of the world’s best athletes to its trails each year to attempt to complete them. The Adirondack Forty-Sixers, as they are known, is the select group that has scaled each and every one of the 46 peaks above 4,000 feet. Right now, October, is one of the best times of year to go hiking given the temperatures are moderate, the leaves are changing, and there are few black flies which are a prevalent nuisance around springtime and can certainly turn a glorious walk into an undignified trudge.
Our favorite local hike is Crane Mountain, which we would label as difficult but incredibly rewarding. At around 4 miles in length going up one side and down the other, it boasts stunning 360-degree views at the top and an almost animatedly gorgeous lake, Crater Lake, half-way down the other side for you to swim and cool off in on your way back home.
Let’s be very clear straight off the bat that East Coast skiing is never going to compete with many of the resorts out West, but Northeastern skiing can give you a damn good weekend if you know where to go. Our favorite option by an Adirondack mile is Gore Mountain. It’s just 15 mins from us at Brampton and is where we take all our skiers in winter for several reasons: The main reason, one that is not known to many, is that Gore is state-owned, so does not advertise as much as others that often have resorts right on the mountain. Gore does neither and as a result, has some of the shortest lift lines of any resort in the US, a happy side effect not lost on our guests who get more skiing in on Gore then they do almost anywhere else.
With 107 trails and 15 lifts, Gore provides easily enough fun for a weekend of skiing at a reasonable price. The vertical drop is 2,537 feet over 446 accessible acres and it spans four mountains, Gore, Bear, Burnt Ridge and Little Gore. For those keen to get a quick start to the day, we’ll provide you with a lift ticket and drop you at the base of Little Gore so you are up and on the mountain within 20 mins of leaving our front door.
For apres ski, the Mountain does a decent job with a canteen and large outdoor patio serving drinks all day and fun country bands starting at 4 pm on weekends. For a more refined end to the day, the newest addition to Gore’s dining scene Beck’s Tavern serves up just-right comfort food accompanied by a decent selection of beers. Two local breweries we love are Paradox and Adirondack Brewery—a must hit if craft beers are your thing.
Up until recently, we directed most of our guests towards downhill skiing but some recent discoveries have meant that we like to offer more than just Gore. At Garnet Hill Lodge, the owners have decades of knowledge between them about backcountry and cross-country skiing and they provide all the equipment you need to go off exploring. Our recommendation is to pack a lunch with a hipflask of Hudson Whiskey and head out into the wild.
For more family fun, there’s snow-tubing, ice skating, tobogganing and ice fishing in and around Lake George. If tobogganing is your thing, we can arrange a day on your own private hill to fly down with a view to die for.
Funnily enough, although still not that funny, summer has been the season that has surprised us in terms of interest, and that’s got everything to do with Lake George. Lake George is over 30 miles long and plays home to more than 150 islands the majority of which you can camp on for about $20. During summer months, we spend at least one of the weekend days taking guests on what we call an island safari. We pack the cool boxes with beer and wine and head of to the Narrows, our favorite part of the lake. There we set up camp and grill lobsters on the provided BBQs and then take turns waterskiing in the plethora of secret bays that the lake has hidden away.
If cliff jumping is your thing then we hustle the brave across from the Sagamore Hotel to a secret alcove where only the locals are found queuing up to jump the 40 feet from cliff edge to the lake.
After a day on the lake, we drive our speedboat Theora and park it at Blue Water Tavern where we hit the bar overlooking the bay for a cold margarita prepared by the barmen there we’ve come to know and love.
GETTING THERE AND BACK
Admittedly this is a concern for those of you in NYC as the train line only goes as far as Albany and the bus service is slow and a touch irregular. For this reason, we, at the Brampton, provide transport to and from Manhattan with the advisable option to stop at Hudson Whiskey to taste some of their award-winning tipples about 1.5 hours into the journey up I-87. And guess what? For our friends reading this, enter code WHALEBRAM after following the link below for 10% off your first ski trip with us this Winter. Looking forward to it. For all enquiries hit up firstname.lastname@example.org.