I’m with the Lorax

Rattlesnake Mountain has long been one of my family’s favorite hikes around the Adirondacks.  It’s always had a great mix of the things we love in a hike: a great view for a moderately challenging climb, cool mushrooms to look at, the occasional garter snake, a rock shaped like a chair that’s located at a perfect spot for a water break, and a tree that we’ve been calling "our tree" for ten years.  Here’s a picture of it we took a few years ago.

Rattlesnake Mountain was the first mountain my son ever climbed as a toddler. He was two and a half, and we made it as far as this tree before he was too tired to go on.  We played hide and seek around the tree for a while before heading down; he hid in the hollow, and I peeked around from the other side.  At one point, he lost his balance and started rolling down the hill until my husband caught him. 

On other climbs, as he got older, we’d pause at the tree and remember it as the milestone he reached on that first climb and talk about how much bigger and taller he was on each hike. And when my daughter came along and got big enough to go hiking, we told her the story and played hide and seek here, too. This strange-looking tree has become a Rattlesnake Mountain landmark for our family. A place to stop and catch our breath and say, "Remember when…."

J is 13 now, as tall as I am, and beyond fitting in the hollow tree, but he came along with E and me on our hike up Rattlesnake today.  Right away, we noticed something was different about the trail.  There’s been some serious logging on the mountain, which is private land, and there are scars.  Trails that are muddier. Tree stands that are more sparse.  E was immediately furious.  We reminded her that it is indeed private land, that the owner has the right to cut some trees, and that it’s been great that they’ve kept the mountain open to hikers all this time when it’s private property.  And the logging wasn’t irresponsible; nothing was clear cut. 

I thought I was doing a great job being the voice of reason, but then we came to this.

Our tree.

We were all so very sad. I felt like we should have tacked a little sign on it when we were here last fall: "Please leave this one. It’s important."  But that’s not the way the world works.

We continued to the top, where the view of Lake Champlain was as spectacular as always and had the added benefit of being filled with giant, prehistoric-looking dragonflies.  Can you see them?

It made us feel a little better.  Sort of.

But tonight, I can’t shake the feeling that a little bit of my kids’ childhood got chopped down along with that tree. Even here at home, hours later, I can’t believe how much I miss it.

18 Replies on “I’m with the Lorax

  1. I’m so sorry to hear that… it kind of also reminds me of the Giving Tree though- your children’s childhood marker is replaced by a marker of adolescent indignation. It’s sad that it could not remain as it always was, but I feel that it is still your tree and you experienced a new moment with your children there.

    The dragonflies are pretty incredible- I thought one was a distant helicopter at first.

  2. Oh my… *hugs*

    I know what you mean. There are things that are always supposed to be there. I had that sinking feeling when they tore down my grade school (left the steps???) then my junior high school (left the arch???) (did I mention my hometown is weird?)

    But, when those things are gone – they are gone – and we only get to go back in our memories. *sigh*

    Love the Lake Champlain picture! And, yes – the dragonflies are very cool!

  3. You know…it is a rare place you can go to mourn the loss of a tree that doesn’t even technically belong to you and know you’ll be understood. Thanks!

  4. Oh boy, I’m so sorry to hear it. Trees are such special beings, and I am glad your kids feel such a connection to them. But how hard it must have been to see such destruction when they were expecting to see a friend.

  5. Thanks, Robin~ It was impossible to capture the real feel of all those great big dragonflies. There must have been at least a couple hundred flying around the summit.

  6. random commenter

    aww, that is so sad about the tree. But it gave you good memoires, that is what counts :0)

  7. Gosh, Kate, I’m late to reading this blog but wanted to say I’m sorry your tree is gone. You lost a landmark and a friend, that’s for sure.