When it rains in the Adirondacks, we often find ourselves hard pressed for activities. As an outdoor place, I often spend my rainy days inside, drawing or surfing the internet. After days of doing this, I was happy to get a text from my friend and professor Kyle, who wanted to go scouting for shooting locations. When he offered waterfalls and caves, I couldn't decline.
We spent the afternoon exploring, starting out over a river near the gorge just outside Lake Placid. Though you have to pay to get into that part of the park, this stop is free! Parking just after a bridge, we headed down a muddy trail alongside the river. We saw painters all around, and people swimming nearby, and it seemed like a great spot to come hang out. Like many other stops in my mind, I bookmarked it as a place to bring people in the future.
Driving on, we passed through a few small towns before locating a residential road on the GPS, and taking it up to a four-way fork, where several trails led off from the dead end. Parking the car, we picked the one that seemed right, and headed in. We were presented with what seemed like a secluded area highschoolers favored for parties - a fire tower with cell tower equipment, and a few electrical sheds. Passing on, we continued down a trail we thought to be the right way, only to find it was an area carved out down the hill for power lines. We were sure we were wrong. Getting back in the car to find another trail in in search of the caves, little did we know we'd stopped but five feet from the entrance to the large mine.
Treading into the woods, we came across a small cave, and some beautiful light hitting the water. Just before getting some good shots however, the light died on us. Hoping it would come around, we slapped mosquitoes in wait for a few more rays. When they didn't come, we almost decided to give up. But we knew that small cave couldn't be it. There were supposedly hundreds of feet of connected mines, and the big cave had to be somewhere.
Heading north along a wooded trail, we finally found what appeared to be a main entrance, covered in piles of rocks. It was astounding to think anyone made a living hiking up into the woods and diving down into these dark holes. But we continued on, finding a string of deep cuts into the earth, projecting a series of dark abyss'. None of them seemed friendly enough to enter, and we were worried dark holes might be all we'd find - until we spotted a familiar area. Not too far above us was the cell tower we'd witnessed not too long ago, and we thought we'd been wrong! All along we'd been two feet from it. We must be close. Up ahead, we were glad to see some promising sights, where large holes opened into the earth, letting down light into a much more open section.
Descending a rocky, muddy trail, we emerged from the stones into a refreshingly chilly cave bathed with light. Two large openings in the rock above let in mist that sunk in the humid air, and it felt almost like natural air conditioning amongst the cool rocks. The ground was littered with grasses and pools of water, and with bags, cans, and the occasional article of clothing. We'd come to realize it was also a local hangout spot, probably for teenagers looking for a place to drink. Remnants of fires and burnt wood sat damp in a rocky outcrop, and graffiti lined the dark walls along the inside - I questioned who would ever want to wander into a cave potentially drunk during a dark Adirondack night. But despite the mess, it didn't take away from the area's beauty at all.
Loosing track of time, we took photographed and explored every rocky crevice and grassy hill inside. It felt nice and cool, both relaxing and mysterious, and certainly breathtaking with it's awe-inspiring and wondrous atmosphere. I regretted leaving my wide-angle lens back in the car, though I know where the cave is now, and will certainly return.
We were hesitant to leave. After goodbyes, we hiked out and back up towards the cell tower and down the road, favoring the roundabout route for it's clearness, instead of taking the buggy almost-bushwhack wooded trail back to the car. Ending our expedition with the area's best local ice cream, we sat on the parking lot benches watcing the clouds over the mountains, in hopes the rain would lighten up for future summer days.