The water laps gently beneath my hammock.
I turn the page of my tattered book, the cover still soggy from an unexpected swim. I, for one, had meant to jump in the frigid lake: it was the only way to wash off the sweat and dirt after our hike to the waterfall.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Life can be a busy thing. Even as the community manager for a group of active explorers, I spend the majority of my days anchored to a laptop beneath fluorescent lights. It only takes a few days of crisp, clean air and a couple of nights around a crackling campfire with good conversation (and without an iPhone glow) to remind me how utterly essential escaping into nature is.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

For one weekend in June, five campsites on Phantom Island were reserved for outdoors-focused journalists like me. After flying into Albany and meeting at the airport, we’d made our way to The Inn at Erlowest. We sampled a boat ride with Prosecco, a mouthwatering cheese-and-bread spread on an outdoor dinning table and a bubbly bath in a Jacuzzi tub facing the lake.

The next two nights would be significantly different.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Lake George contrasts high-class luxury resorts with 300-some campsites spread across 130 camping islands. The massive lake is located in Adirondack Park, the largest wilderness preserve in the United States. Not bad for a state mostly known for a city. A few months prior, I’d visited NYC for the first time. If you’d told me I’d find myself in a kayak on a glass-surface lake only a few hours north, I doubt I’d believe you.

And yet.

After launching off the mainland, our group paddled slowly to absorb the gorgeous views. The sun illuminated hundreds of islands. The fresh breeze blew the heat off our backs. We arrived at Phantom Island after about an hour. Serviced by two composting outhouses, picnic tables and fire pits, the island was otherwise rustic.

It was exactly what I needed.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Which brings me here, to this moment. This water, this hammock, this bug flitting around my head as I re-read the same sentence of my lake-soaked book between heavy eyelids. It’s a quote from John Muir: “We are now in the mountains and they are in us…”

After two days of camping, one-and-a-half books, six fantastic meals prepared by Beaver Brook Outfitters guides and a brave dip in the cold water, it’s time to return to my laptop-riddled, WiFi-dependent life. But even as I pack up my tent—with a perfect sunrise lake view—and roll my sleeping bag liner back into its bag, I know I’ll never truly leave. I’m taking this moment, this lake, these mountains with me.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Disclaimer: some of the activities in this article were provided as part of a press trip. All opinions are my own.