Sandra Woods
Art despite pain

In the news

(posted on 15 Oct 2023)

My husband and I recently spent a few days in the Lake Placid area, hiking in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York State. This has been one of our favourite places to visit ever since I introduced him to this spot during our honeymoon, almost thirty years ago.
He'd never done any alpine hiking before, but happily agreed to try it. So we got him good hiking boots, wool socks, a backpack, and a few other outdoor sports goodies.
At that point I was still a reserve officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, an aircrew (wilderness) survival instructor with my Squadron, so I already had plenty of hiking equipment.
As you may have guessed, because I convinced my better half to spend our honeymoon hiking, I already adored this outdoor sport - along with its winter counterpart; snowshoeing. From the first few steps of his very first alpine hike - two days after our wedding - thankfully he also fell in love with hiking, particularly in those mountains.
This weekend was our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary, and we now stay in a hotel and choose slightly shorter hikes; our days of ten-hour hiking routes are likely behind us! And that's fine, because we continue to enjoy the time outdoors together - and each summit still feels like a challenge ... and a victory.
Because when I was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) in 2016, now called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), we didn't know whether I'd ever be able to complete summit hikes again.
Although I don't take the time to paint while on the mountain trails, I did bring my travel easel and a small selection of watercolour painting supplies on this trip.
Our hotel room had a balcony overlooking Mirror Lake and the surrounding mountains, so I was able to get out for scenic plein-air painting whenever we'd spend any time in our room.
It was rather chilly, just above the freezing point most mornings, so these plein-air paintings were very quick studies - with lots of clouds as we had quite a bit of rain during this trip.
I'm already feeling inspired to paint a number of these scenes, along with many others that I photographed during our hikes. Although we had been visiting the Lake Placid area several times a year for twenty-five years, the last time we were there was four years ago - before the pandemic began.
It was wonderful to be back, and to reconnect with the mountains that we both adore. Keep an eye out for watercolour paintings of the Adirondack Mountains this winter, when I get back to doing studio paintings indoors - when it's too icy or cold for me to do plein-air painting off the back of my bicycle.