Over the years, I have created my own Veteran's Day tradition. As long as I am not working, the day typically goes as follows:
- Early Morning - Wake and spend some time with my family.
- Late Morning - Attend the local Veteran's Day Ceremony to pay thanks to our active and retired Military.
- Afternoon - Hit the trails! After seeing the large majority of our community during the late morning ceremony, I like to escape to the quiet trails in the afternoon. This time of year, it is one of the best spots to appreciate the beautiful location that we live in and reflect on the sacrifices that are made so that we can enjoy it.
- Late Afternoon - This is where the day falls back on track (and believe me, you are not interested in learning about the usual "dinner, bath, book and bedtime" routine for our tribe of 5!)
2 Fitting Veteran's Day Hikes:
In mid-November, the trails are much different then they are during summer and early autumn months. They are quiet and crisp. There is a lot less foot traffic on the trails (and roads for that matter). The angle of the sun casts a different light than it does earlier in the year. But most importantly, there is less visual interference from the canopy of leaves that previously covered the trails. However, you should note - if you are hiking this time of year it is important to wear bright colors, as we do share the woods with hunters.
Here are a couple of hikes that are great for Veteran's Day.
Situated between Inlet and Raquette Lake, in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, you will find a small trail head for Cathedral Pines. I will admit, I drove past this sign for years before eventually pulling over to check it out. It was the trail's short distance that had turned me away. But what this trail lacks in length it definitely makes up for in character.
The .1 mile hike starts off from the small parking area with a short steep climb. As soon as you reach the top of this hill you see the first of numerous giant white pine trees. As the trail loops through these enormous trees, it passes a monument dedicated to 2nd Lt. Malcolm L. Blue. Lieutenant Blue was serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces - 491st Bomber Group during WWII when he was killed in action over France. He was just shy of his 24th birthday. The plaque on the monument states: "This tree created by God and old when our Country was born. Fine and clean and straight - gained like the boy himself, is dedicated in memory of 2nd Lt. Malcolm L. Blue, Navigator of the Liberator Bomber with the Eight Air Force. Killed in action over France, June 2, 1944. Few men have earned so fine a memorial."
The plaque was originally affixed to the tree behind the monument. When the tree died, it was later moved to the monument where it now stands.
Cathedral Pines in a nice spot to visit not only on Veteran's Day, but any time of the year, and it is a perfect hike for families with small children. It is well known locally that kids to like to see how many of them it takes to wrap their arms around the giant pines. This trail would also serve as a great place to teach children to snowshoe - its short distance and rewarding sights would make for an ideal first outing.
Colonel Peck's Grave:
At the crest of a hill on South Shore Road in Speculator, NY you will find an historic trail marker for Peck's Farm. Accompanying the trail marker is a wooden sign indicating the grave site of Colonel Loring Peck.
This easy .6 mile walk along an old dirt road leads to a small cemetery enclosed by a simple stone wall. The cemetery is a final resting place of Colonel Loring Peck, who is reportedly Hamilton Counties only Revolutionary War Officer. There he is surrounded by his wife and son.
Born in 1744, Loring Peck served in the Second Rhode Island Regiment during the Revolutionary War. In 1811 he moved to Lake Pleasant where he operated his farm which is locally referred to as "Peck's Clearing." Today as you walk this trail, which is now state land, it is an overgrown wooded area - but it is noticeable that it is "new growth" over what was once a large open space.
Peck's legacy for service to our country continued on with the next generation when three of his sons (Dr. George Peck, Richard Peck & William Burke Peck) fought in the War of 1812. After the War of 1812 his son William returned to open the first general store in the Lake Pleasant - Speculator area. Col. Loring Peck lived to reach age 90.
Like Cathedral Pines, the trail to Peck's Grave is also nice to visit throughout the year. Soon, as snow starts to fall on the Adirondacks, this road will turn into a great snowshoe and cross-country ski trail.