Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Parting Glass

After my hike up Blue on the 31st I continued north to Lake Placid. I'd chosen the Northway Motel because it was within walking distance of Lake Placid Pub & Brewery and cost much less than Art Devlin's Olympic Motor Inn.

Before settling in at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery I swung by the other excellent brewpub in town: Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood. I don't eat there because I think that the food is overpriced. But I do love to stop and see what beers they have available. Like Chris Ericson at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Hutch Kugeman at Great Adirondack brews a constantly rotating selection of fine beers.

The Abby Ale is an excellent representation of a Belgian dubbel. I thoroughly savored the complexities of my pint; it's no wonder that it won a silver medal. The Winter Gold isn't as complex, but I found it to be even more of a revelation. I've spent years developing a taste for hoppy beers, so it's very rare that a brewer can catch my attention with hops, let alone say something new to me. This beer did both. It's a session ale, meaning that the alcohol content is low enough that one can spend a whole evening's session enjoying it. I never thought I'd say this about a hoppy session ale, but this stuff was remarkable. The hops were assertive without overpowering the other flavor characteristics, which must be bloody hard; it gave me the impression of an exquisite balancing act. I was so impressed that I bought a growler of the stuff to take home.

I ditched the growler in the motel room fridge, walked over to Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, and bellied up to the bar. I started with the Brown Bag Ale, and liked it so much that I stuck with it for most of the evening. My, but I love a good brown ale. This one was mild enough, welcoming enough, and interesting enough to want to stick with. It had a creamy aspect that balanced beautifully with the nutty-with-a-hint-of-molasses character. Marvelous. I was sad not to see it in the growler case, although taking home a growler of Ubu can hardly be called settling.

I decided on the steak fries with chili as an appetizer. As it turned out, this was not only an excellent choice, but it was a meal in itself: the thing that they put in front of me resembled one of the mountains I'd been climbing. Mmmmmm, yummy.

So I had three brown ales and the milk stout shown above in its souvenir glass. I made the mistake of ordering a pulled pork sandwich at 10:00, when I found out that the kitchen was closing. The sandwich was good, but very tangy. Between that, the beer, and the steak fries with chili, I was ready to pass out. At 11:00 I walked my growler of Ubu and my bloated self back to the motel. I meant to call Grace at midnight to say "Happy New Year" but I passed right out.

As I checked out the next morning I chatted with the motel proprietor about snowshoeing and about getting the right pack and other equipment. He recommended The Mountaineer in Keene Valley, so I took a pleasant drive to the southeast. I didn't end up talking to anyone about packs because a blast of customers besieged the place right after I got there, and there seemed little hope of talking to a salesperson any time soon.

On my way back through town I stopped again at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery for lunch. I liked the steak fries and chili so much that I got another order of those to go with my brown ale. Best of all: the brown ale was available in growlers; they'd just run out the night before! I bought two of them to go with the two growlers already in my trunk.

So I left town and headed back toward Eagle Bay. And on my way through Saranac Lake my trip hit a big sour note: I got pulled over. I couldn't believe it. I'd been tailgated on a regular basis during the previous twenty hours: in Blue Mountain, in Keene Valley, and in Saranac Lake about a mile before I got pulled over!. Apparently this lulled me into a sense that I was the slowest thing on the road, and that made me careless. Bugger. 46 in a 30 zone, according to the cop. Bugger!

So I got back to camp and pretty much imploded. I drank my beer and dicked around with my computer, and railed at myself for bringing the thing, and at the thing itself for telling me that there was a wireless connection available. I will never bring a computer to camp again.

Sigh. Not my best night.

But at least I got the roof pretty well shoveled off. I learned my lesson last year: do not let the leaves sit on the roof over the winter, as they act as a cement for the ice and snow.

It took a long time to pack up and clean the camp. I was feeling so dour that I almost went straight home. But after Grace sent a text asking where I was hiking, the better part of me managed to wrangle my depressed self into taking one last hike up Bald. It improved my mood a bit. Here are a few pictures. See the Picasa web album for a full 360.

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