FOR 30 YEARS, I've spent part of every summer at Adirondack Loj, a rustic hotel in the High Peaks region of New York's Adirondack Park. At the end of a winding two-lane road on the edge of tiny Heart Lake, the Loj hasn't changed since my first visit as a college hiker in 1969, and that's just fine with me.
My husband and I honey- mooned at a lean-to on Heart Lake one cold September 15 years ago. We awoke in the middle of a freezing night to see clouds racing past a brilliant moon perfectly reflected in the mirror-calm lake. After our two sons were born, we stayed in the family bunkrooms at the Loj. Each year we look forward into climbing into our wooden bunks, with their cozy reading lights, soft white sheets and warm dark green wool blankets, at the end of a day of hiking. We don't mind at all that the bathroom is down the hall and that the only entertainment is board games in the Great Room, whose huge stone fireplace is eternally decorated with antlers and paintings of 1930s Nordic skiers. Our children never tire of canoeing around the lake, catching frogs and salamanders at water's edge, or visiting the small nature center next door.
Last summer, we arrived at the Loj to discover that the entire hotel, apart from our room, had been booked for the wedding and reception of two New York artists/musicians. It all seemed somehow natural that we hung out with the bride and groom, discussing Adirondack trails, were invited to the wedding and reception, and went home with a shoofly pie and a bottle of wine they had given us.
This summer I will return to the Loj to complete the last of my ascents of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. Fortunately, my sons have completed only 19, so I still have plenty of excuses to return.
CAROL CHRISTENSEN PARKER
Adirondack Loj, 518-523-3441, www.adk.org/html/adk3a.html.