Cotton = Death: Getting Ready for an Adirondack Adventure

In highschool, I was lucky enough to be able to whitewater kayak every day after school on the Potomac. Our instructor was known for his pithy tips for surviving the outdoor elements; his most famous being the reminder that “COTTON = DEATH”.  In case you didn’t know, cotton is fine warm weather fabric but is dangerous in cooler weather. Cotton soaks up water and then sucks heat from your body. Synthetic fabrics are a much better option as they absorb less water, dry more quickly, and provide some insulation even when wet. Also, you lose a lot of heat through your head, so always bring a hat!

Why am I talking about outdoor gear, you ask? Because I have an outdoor adventure planned!

In late October I am headed to the Adirondacks, birthplace of those awesome wooden chairs! While this will not be a legitimate camping trip with tents and campfires, it will at least involve paddling and hiking. If the weather cooperates, we will canoe Saranac Lake and hike Ampersand Mountain. Darkness comes early to the Adirondacks in late October so we will spend our evenings strolling the streets of the village of Saranac Lake and visiting an establishment or two. We will stay at the Adirondack Motel, which is at the edge of the village on the shore of Lake Flower.

Ampersand Mountain

View from the summit (source:

Ampersand is one of my favorite words and I am thrilled to learn that it names a mountain! The mountain takes its name from nearby Ampersand Creek, which twists and turns like an ampersand. Ampersand Mountain is a popular day hike as it is just three miles to reach the 3352 foot summit. The last mile of the hike ascends 1700 feet.  The summit has a lovely view of the Saranac Lakes and surrounding countryside.

I may be visiting one of my favorite stores, REI, in preparation for this adventure!  I will certainly need a new rain jacket.  I recently gave up my old green Marmot jacket that got me through a rainy semester in Ireland several years ago.  Any recommendations on rain apparel? I’ll post about my purchases and give a post-trip recap complete with pictures.

For those of you who have been to the Saranac Lake region, I’m taking suggestions for must-see places or must-try activities.  This can include favorite restaurants, coffee shops, local brew, old house, whatever.  Please share!