Is This Heaven? No it’s the Adirondacks!

Bowie in Heaven aka the Adirondacks

On this very cold Adirondack morning, a thin skin of ice on the Oswegatchie River held up a mirror to the altocumulus sky, making for one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. Whenever I catch a stunning sunrise from a perfect vantage point like this, I always feel like I’ve landed in the right place, at the right time, a priceless feeling for a drifter.

The Oswegatchie River, near where it flows into Cranberry Lake

One of the great challenges of winter road tripping is that most campgrounds close for the season around Halloween (Rule of the Road Trip #6: Always camp out). On this road trip, I had been getting by mostly on luck, staying at free National Forest sites, trailheads and only one night at an RV park near Niagara Falls. When I’m on the road, I usually have no idea where I’m going to sleep each night but things always seem to work out. Only once have I settled for staying in a WalMart parking lot– blech.

I ended up camping on the edge of the tiny wooded town of Wanakena, on a tip from a fellow wanderer. I met Paul at a trailhead near Cranberry Lake. I was hoping to camp there, but a big “No Camping” sign was making me reconsider. I didn’t want to worry all night about a ranger knocking on my Teardrop door.

As I was lacing up my boots for a hike, Paul wandered over to ask me about the solar panel on the Teardrop. Eyeing his camo and flannel outfit, I asked him if he was going hunting and he said, “Nope, just wandering”. We talked for a bit – one of my goals on the road is to have a real conversation with a stranger at least once a day – and learning he he was a long-time local, I asked if he knew anywhere nearby that I could camp for the evening. Sure enough, just up the road in Wanakena, was a free campground, right by the Ranger School. Thanks to Paul for the tip and the hot chocolate. I owe you one for this sunrise!

View from my free campsite at the Ranger School in Wanakena, New York

Ranger School Canoes

Weather-worn Lifesaver

No problem.

I’ve met a lot of really wonderful people on the road and not one psychopath. Read about some of my encounters here: The Loneliest Road in America, Tahoe Knows Hospitality and The Lost and Found Coast. On to Vermont!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
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9 Responses to Is This Heaven? No it’s the Adirondacks!

  1. TBM says:

    Great photos, but I simply adore the first one. I’ve never been, but just added it to my list.

  2. Kendall says:

    Wow, stunning photos!

  3. Luisa says:

    That river is simply marvellous!

  4. The photo of the lifesaver is my favorite. Great photos.

  5. So beautiful! The Adirondacks are a wonderful place!

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