Memories of Tradition and Community in Lake Placid | St. Lawrence University

Memories of Tradition and Community in Lake Placid

Friday, November 8, 2019

I peered around the bustling town in curiosity. It was my first time in Lake Placid; the town was chock-full of visitors and chalk-covered climbers. Early October air, golden-hour, hikers hawking, window-shopping, pre-season ski gear, weekend warriors, all sorts bundled, scarves and down vests. Make your way, in this warm atmosphere, to the town center. 

“I could totally be down for a burrito right now.” Our student guide spoke for the masses, nine friends who had just summited Mt. Marcy. The sweaty, hungry, happy hikers clambered inside the Mexican joint, stoked to get nutrients back into their depleted—but thankful—bodies. That first burrito at Wyatt’s Mexican Restaurant? Heaven sent. Two years later, I was a trip leader – you better believe I brought my group to Wyatt’s! This little side-trip will always wrap up my Adirondack hikes.

Lake Placid links tradition and community in several notable ways. Lake Placid is most famous for hosting the 1980 Winter Olympics. I walk past the immense Sports Center draped in Olympic Rings; this is where America won gold in hockey against the Soviet Union – known as the “Miracle on Ice.” The Saint in me is reminded of our own campus hockey traditions. The patriot in me is reminded of a defining moment of unity, in this prideful memory immortalized in sports history.

Nestled in the Adirondacks, the presence of the outdoor community in Lake Placid is strong. Located in close proximity to breathtaking slab climbing, Saranac canoe camps, high peaks hiking, and powder days at Whiteface, Lake Placid is the ideal base camp. Among the wilderness areas, Lake Placid adds a human experience; the trips to Wyatt’s, for example, are a reminder of the community that makes these outdoor experiences so meaningful. Even when the conditions of the weather—or the limitations of a tired body on a Sunday morning—prevent a fast day of skiing, student groups will lead trips to Lake Placid simply to relax, smile, and breath cheery warmth into their hot chocolate among friends.

Towering above the trees, the daunting Olympic-size K120 ski jump challenges “one last send!” as the weary skiers weave the North Country roads, westward, to campus. We keep driving, hoping to make that 7:00 Dana meal – after all, one burrito is never enough. We will return soon, and Lake Placid will anticipate and reward our hunger with community, tradition, and irreplaceable memories.