First and foremost: Adirondack Park is weird. It is supposedly a 6 million acre public and private park in Upstate New York. Don’t get me wrong, it is really pretty. There are mountains, lakes, forests… Lots of forests… But, it feels weird to me.
Yesterday, following setting up camp in Chestertown, N.Y. (Or the Town of Chester, whatever), we decided to get out and drive part of the eastern portion of the park along Lake George and Lake Champlain. It was beautiful! Absolutely beautiful! Trying to get a good picture? That was hard. We came to discover very quickly that every available place along the lake was privately-owned and all of the access to it was private. Huh? I thought this was a park, preserved for all?
We did finally find some decent lake access to take a couple of photos.
I am not sure how Adirondack Park is any different from a National Forest. Today, we drove across the southern Adirondacks to Rome, N.Y. The scenery was great, but we did not see anything about the park that was different from driving in the North Georgia mountains. Perhaps I will understand it better when we get out to the northern end of the park tomorrow for some hiking.
Fort Stanwix National Monument
Fort Stanwix is a recreated version of a Revolutionary War fort located basically in downtown Rome, N.Y. The fort was originally built by the British during the French and Indian War and was refurbished by the American Patriots during the Revolution (ramparts pictured above).
The fort was built to control the water routes from Lake Ontario to the Mohawk River, which flows east into the Hudson River. It was a four-pointed star design, built of earth and wood. Those who rebuilt the fort missed some important details, such as the proper angles for the cannon emplacements to allow for overlapping fields of fire. I know, little stuff a layman wouldn’t notice, but the soldier and history nut in me sees those things.
The British sieged the fort during the war and ambushed reinforcements to the fort at the Battle of Oriskany. Eventually, the British were run off from the fort, but the battle and siege pitted clans of the Oneida tribe against each other, breaking the peace the Indians had with each other.
One of the things that impressed me most about the fort’s exhibits was how well they told the story of the impact of the war on different groups in the area. It is easy to believe based upon the history lessons we receive as kids that it was all rainbows and sunshine for the victors of the Revolution, but there was a lot of struggle and pain yet to come.
Saratoga National Historical Park
Saratoga is one of the more important battles in the northern campaign of the Revolutionary War. Essentially, the British were moving south along the Hudson River, having great success engaging minor forts along the river. At Saratoga, Gen. Gates and Polish combat engineer Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a native of Kraków (we saw a monument dedicated to him in Poland last summer), set up very effective defenses along the river, forcing the British to engage the Patriots on the high ground. The Patriots withstood several attacks and then counterattacked, forcing the British to surrender.
It was a major victory for the Patriots and secured French naval support, which made the victory at Yorktown possible.
The park itself is a large portion of the battlefield and, unlike most Civil War battlefields, is not littered with stone monuments. We chose to take a four-mile hike though the battlefield, which was very relaxing and allowed us to stretch our legs after four hours in the car.
The trail was very nicely done, with large portions going through open field, but plenty of shaded areas as well. It took us a little more than hour (at our normal pace of about three miles per hour when hiking) to hike the entire loop with only a few steep places. We also did the driving tour, which was very informative.
Following a quick stop for groceries and gas, we headed back to the campsite. Interestingly, Alee (our cat), has become a lot more comfortable coming outside here (she is sitting out with us right now). I think she has been watching the squirrels run around in the campsite from the window of the camper. When she has seen one while outside, she is pulling at the leash with everything she has to get out after the tree rats. While I applaud her intent, I honestly think she would get her butt kicked in a one-on-one with a squirrel. Eventually, we had to put her up lest she pull her way out of her harness.