Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back from the mountains!

So among the many things I've had going on this week, there was a weekend at Indian Lake that we'd planned months ago, back when I had no idea I'd be moving at this time. Come to think of it, back before I realized it was Father's Day this weekend - the 21st honestly seemed like too late a date, so I didn't check with the calendar.

Anyway, Indian Lake is a pretty sizable body of water up in the Adirondacks. It's a great place to go because all the campsites are on water (the sites are boat access only), they're generally very well-spread-out and therefore private, and there are a wide range of habitat types around. In the same weekend you can explore swamp, ponds, streams, the lake, mountains, and of course woods.

It turned out that we arrived too late to canoe to the campsite we'd reserved. We'd gotten it based on the fact that it was one mile from the marina - but it was the boat launch that we should've paid attention to. It was eight miles from the boat launch, meaning a probable two and a half to three hour canoe; and it was already 7:30.

Thankfully the staff there are either really quick-thinking, or accustomed to n00b campers coming along that don't know what they're doing, because they were able to switch us to a closer site in pretty short order. It took us at least an hour and a half to get there anyway, and it was pretty danged dark by then, but we made it.

Our site was on one of the islands there, loaded with interesting wild stuff despite its small size. Cattails, yarrow, interesting grasses that root on the rocks. The best part, though, was that on one entire end, almost all of the underbrush were wild blueberries. They're still green, this time of year - the Adirondacks run a bit behind us down here - and I probably wouldn't have done more than eat one or two for the sake of tasting them anyway, but I never find wild blueberries down here, so it was pretty exciting for me. At any rate, next month the birds will be excited to have them there. I didn't forage for anything else, either; I didn't find anything much to forage in any case, but I'm not at all sure that you're allowed to, or that it's a good idea, in this location.

Most of our food was chosen for convenience, and a lot of it was decidedly non-local. Newman-O's and le Petite Ecolier cookies come to mind. But we did make a stew before leaving - who wants to be tied down to cooking when you're in the woods? - out of some Lewis Waite stew beef, some Sheldon potatoes, some carrots from Kilpatrick, and some leftover rosemary from Bowman Orchards. We also used shallots and green garlic from Kilpatrick.

We ate it Saturday night, out on the rocks in front of our site. Good stuff. I'd offer the recipe here, but to be frank, we cheated and used one of those seasoning packets from the spice aisle. Yeah, we're some of those people. I've never been able to get a beef stew to come out right without it. At least I can make a proper chicken stew with dumplings from scratch! That'll be coming up this fall, since apparently Matt's never cooked his own. Time to try it out!

When we got home - after a long shower which I was ever so grateful for (there are no showers on site at Indian Lake, and no running water or flush toilets at the campsites, either; I also landed face first in some wetlands in a hike, leaving mud on my face and grit in my teeth) - we discovered that just outside Matt's window is a mulberry tree! I don't care for them much by themselves, since they're kind of fibery and bland, but I bet mixed with some blueberries and/or raspberries and black caps, they'd be pretty tasty in a pie or a cobbler. Can't wait till they get ripe!

Until then, the squirrels and birds are having a field day with it.

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