In my mind there are six seasons in the Adirondack Mountains: summer, fall, winter, ice, mud, and spring. The one to really avoid is ice. It happens every December and January. We get early snow, then a thaw and sometimes rain. The end result is ice, black ice, crusty ice, you name it. It’s all slippery. And dangerous. Each year there are a few broken bones and head injuries; sometimes even death.
This is our driveway this morning. I keep a pair of mini crampons (microspikes) on a pair of shoes that I wear to do chores in these conditions and to walk to the hot tub. On Thursday night, my winter 46’er ( he climbed all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks above 4000 feet between December 21 and March 21) slipped on the ice on our front step and shattered his wrist.
We drove to our local ER where they confirmed he had indeed shattered it beyond what they could set there. They arranged for us to meet our orthopedist in the ER at the hospital in Lake Placid. The problem was we had to cross two mountain passes with ice on the roads and get there in under an hour because it closes at 11 pm. With some white knuckled driving on my part we made it.
I expected some violent maneuvers to get the wrist back in position but it was all very gentle with traction and weights. Then it was cast and we were sent on our way back home. We’ll know in a week or so whether it remains in position. The ride back home was much more relaxed, my 46’er had pain medicine on board and we were no longer under a time constraint.
Until we reached the last hill right in front of our house. It was sheer ice. I made it halfway up, slid into a 45 degree angle on the road and couldn’t go any further without skidding. Going downhill would have meant sliding into a snow/ice bank, which I had done once before under similar conditions. We were stuck. And it was 1 am, well past my bedtime.
We decided to abandon the car but still had to get to the house without another fall. I thought my socks would stick better to the ice than my Blundies. They didn’t and I had to drop to my knees and crawl and slide, uphill to the car, to the side of the road where I had better traction. Then I walked in my socks to the house. I retrieved our microspikes, brought them back to the car and then we walked carefully home.
We called the highway department to let them know I had left the car stranded. The next morning as I was checking the temperature to decide if it was time to try to move the car, there was a knock on the door. The plow driver had walked up to my house and had a plan. He had backed the whole way down the road in the event he couldn’t make it to the turnaround. He had sanded behind the car and the crew had hand shoveled sand in front of the car. All I had to do was drive forward, straighten the wheels, roll back down the road in neutral and let the plow pass with more sand and then come up the hill. I chickened out and asked if one of them wanted to do it. One did – with aplomb. He slipped and skidded the car so it was no longer at an angle, rolled down the hill and then gunned it and raced up the hill right into my driveway. How lucky are we to live here?
Here are some photos of the more photogenic seasons in the Adirondacks.
It seems I don’t have any pictures during mud season.