Change is the only constant
It seems that the only constant we can expect in life is change. Change, whether welcomed or not, is inevitable. Pages turn and life’s chapters evaporate into new ones, whether we’re prepared for it or not. This inevitability is something that Adirondack Wildlife Refuge owner Stephen Hall is all too familiar with. An accomplished author in his own right, Stephen (or Steve), is now simultaneously turning the page to a new chapter for the Wildlife Refuge and in his own life as well. While the bears, wolves, and foxes are no longer here, the charm and draw of the refuge remain. Change, no matter how difficult, does a beautiful job of leading us to exactly where we need to be, and that couldn’t be more true at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge.
As I entered the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge (and took a wrong turn), I passed the containment fences and cages that had housed the aforementioned bears, wolves, and wildcats, making me feel like I had entered a mild Jurassic Park, and like that, the stage was set that I would be in for a neat wildlife experience.
After turning around and heading up to the main cabin (it’s the cabin on the right as you enter the property and not at the end of the road as my GPS led me to believe), I parked my vehicle and entered the welcome center. Immediately, I was greeted by Steve at the front desk. From here, the tour began. First, I was shown “the world’s largest ant farm,” which sat firmly between two pieces of glass donated by the NHL. For the record, while I don’t know how official these ant-farm size rankings are, I’d be hard-pressed to argue otherwise. While showing me the ant farm, Steve discussed our society’s lack of focus on keeping insect populations intact and how we’re already facing a decline in population that could have serious ramifications for our planet in years to come.
From there, the discussion became lighter. I was then turned around to find a boa constrictor deep in an after-meal nap that would most likely last for days. I was shown a young tortoise who spent his time doing laps in his pen as I listened to Steve. It’s important for him to stay active, he’ll likely live at least another 150 years, and pack on enough weight that he’ll be nearly impossible to pick up and move.
Finally, the last thing I was shown in the welcome center was a falcon with West Nile Virus that Steve’s late wife, Wendy, had rehabilitated. The falcon was very talkative. Unfortunately, I don’t speak falcon, but I assumed he was telling me just how happy he was to have found a welcoming home after falling ill.
On foot from here
From the welcome center, we set out on foot. Steve began to tell me more about his background and the refuge’s history as we passed some goats and geese before ending up at the intersection of the observation deck and the nature trail that loops around the property. While stepping on to the observation deck, I was blown away by the view of Esther and Whiteface mountains. The observation deck, according to Steve, is a popular spot for guests to take selfies and a place to even see an occasional moose. As we stepped off the observation deck, we proceeded to pass by owls and then passed chickens that are native to the continent of Asia before heading back to the welcome center. The new cast of wildlife at the refuge is certainly different from years past, but I, for one, was not disappointed.
The new chapter
The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge is, like everything else, not immune to the inevitable winds of change. Today, Steve spends much of his time traveling west into Canada in search of bears, moose, and wolves. The passion Steve spoke with about the refuge and his late wife, Wendy, was genuinely moving. He spoke glowingly of the work that the “love of his life” did at the refuge, and in facing his own mortality, he spoke confidently that he wanted his own ashes to be spread on the grounds of the very refuge that he loved deeply. Even if you miss the animals that were re-homed, the tour remains interesting, insightful, and worth your time. Seeing the current group of animals and listening to Steve’s monologues of knowledge and passion for wildlife as we moved our way through the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge created an enlightening experience that I was happy I had. As the refuge turns the page on the past, it should come as no surprise that the owner and author, Steve, is ready for the new chapter.
Make a day of it
The Whiteface Region is where you get close, and there's no better place to get close to wildlife than at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge. If you plan on exploring the refuge, why not make a day (or weekend) of it? Find a place to stay, create an itinerary, and find the best food the region has to offer.