Sunday, October 18, 2009

Phelps

The McIntyer Range from Phelps Mt.


I decided at the last minute to hike Phelps Mountain today. Since this is an easy high peak, only 9 miles round trip and 1800’ of elevation gain along a busy trail system I felt that I was safe enough. Plus I always prepare for the worse case scenario.

I left before sunrise and was greeted with peeks of the snow capped high peaks as I traveled north on I-87. I reached Heart Lake and the Adirondack Log shortly after sunrise and began the hike into Marcy Dam. I was moving fast as there was a chance that a front would move in and at the moment the skies were a crystal clear blue that would make for great pictures. I made Marcy dam in 30 min 2 miles. I stopped and snapped some pictures as how could you pass by a lake nestled between such snow capped splendors. The trail to this point is very easy and the hike into just Marcy dam would make for a nice way to expose little ones to the high peaks and hiking without the hard work. Actually the trail is easy for one more mile until the Phelps trail diverts to the left. Here it becomes steep and rocky, but you only have 1 mile to the top and this went by fairly easy. The trail was icy in spots and the Yax Trax that I bought did not work well. They were better than nothing but I have to buy some mico spikes.

Has I was focused on the trail close to the summit I almost forgot to turn around, which I did and had that WOW moment as I had a great view of the entire McIntyre range. Shortly after that I summated and commenced with enjoying the excellent views that this mountain provided. It is one thing to look at the high peaks from lesser mountains or from certain areas that offer views, but it is quit another to be one a high peak looking at close of view at it’s sister mountains. There is a power in it that cannot be captured on film, canvas or words, but has to be experienced first hand and only after you have earned the right through your blood sweat and tears. I spent 1 hour on top of Phelps alone eating lunch and taking picture on a beautiful, calm, crisp fall morning. What is better than that????

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Northville-Placid trip 2009

My two trail mates and I started our Northville-Placid expedition on Aug 10, 2009 from the Long Lake Trailhead, at 9 am on a warm grey day. The trail at this point was easy and dry as it drifted close to Long Lake and then moved away. As we worked our way NE we came upon lean-tos and old foundation of long ago destroyed buildings that once lined this now forever wild wilderness. We stopped at Pawley Point Lean-to #1 and began to set up camp. We had this lean-to to ourselves and it was a gorgeous site with and nice sandy beach. I had brought my pack saw and commenced with gathering wood for this evenings fire. The light pack buck saw worked great for this trip, and is going to make it on all my excursions. I would prefer to take my Hudson Bay ax, but it is too heavy. I was able to call my wife from this location and she warned me that we were about to get slammed with some pretty hefty rain at 11 pm so we decided to stay in the lean-to rather than set up a tent. Big mistake! It did rain and rain hard, BUT the mosquitoes were very hungry and I must say plentiful, and I did not sleep at all that night. BUT I was dry and safe from the big bad thunder, the greater of two evils.

After a mosquito invested night we broke camp in the morning and started heading toward the Seward Lean-to on the Cold River. On the way the trail was good; at one point we had a doe cross in front of us and then walked parallel with us about 20 feet off the trail. She just walked and kept an eye on us. We figured out she must have had a fawn back where we came from. After a few more steps she did a button hook and rushed back in the direction we had just traveled. Another spot a little further up the trail we went through an old blowdown that was impressive. There was about a 100 yard swath of old 30-60 inch oaks that looked like a giant pull them out by there roots and stacked them on top of one and other. We soon started to see the Cold River and the trail turned to follow the river as we headed north.

About 1:30 pm, about 8 miles from the Pawling Point Lean-to we arrived at the Seward lean-to and one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been to. The lean-to is up on a little hill over looking a pool in the Cold River. Upstream there is a little flume that flows into a wide and deep pool that provided us with a great cool place to swim and cool off from the hot humid day. After our swim and a little snooze on the one of the many flat rocky areas in the river, I went and collected wood for our campfire and also looked for some worms or grubs to use for bait with a little hand line I brought with me, but gave up. Bear Grylls makes it look so easy. We found as we explored the rock formations in the river that we had a great view of the Seward Mountain range. We ate dinner and slept in our tents mosquito FREE!! I slept like a log as the night was cool.
We awake to a clear cool morning, made our breakfast, packed up and headed northeast to our next location one of the Duck Hole Lean-to’s. I want to take a second to talk about suspension bridges. We crossed a couple the day before and on our way to the Duck Hole I had to go over a couple of more. I hate these things. They scare the crap out of me. There was one that had a steel grate that was 30 feet over a steep gorge. I made it over and even gathered enough courage and took a picture of the Cold River. Then I looked down and hustled off the damn thing. But I digress…The trip to the Duck Hole is best described as a pleasant scenic walk We stopped at a lean-to about 3 miles from our destination to grab a bit of lunch, when it poured for about 20 minuets, then cleared off and the skies again turned blue. We were lucky like this throughout the entire trip. It rained every day for a little while, but we were always in a shelter. One of the highlights of the trip for me was to stop and visit the location where Noah John Rondeau built his hermitage and stayed until 1950. I remember reading about him as a kid and was fascinated about how he survived in the Adirondacks the way that the pioneers did, except alone and not with a community. Anyway, it met a great deal to me to be able to finally reach this area and now I know why he selected it. It was beautify remote…A place that is nice to visit for me, but not to leave society for.

We arrived at the Duck Hole and again had our pick of lean-tos. We were treated to some great scenery and spent most of the rest of the day observing the multitude of wildlife that was just fluttering and jumping around that wonderful place. I had a humming bird just stop in front of me and hover looking at the white patch on my hat for 20 seconds. In the morning when the mist was still on the pond we observed a deer on the opposite shore, unaware of us, just eating and drinking as she slowly walked along the edge of the pond.




We set out the next morning, which was day 4 or our trip, the day was clear and warm, but we had a downpour during the evening so this part of the trail was difficult do to the blowdown and the muddy trail condition. Now even though the trail was slick and difficult to traverse we made our destination at Wanakena by 12:30 pm. This was yet another wonderful place. 120 foot falls that drops into a 30 foot pool at the bottom that you can swim in (water was very cold here), and you can set your tent up right there. We were thinking of straying the night there or that was the plan, but we arrived earlier than expected and all three of us really wanted a beer. Sooo…after spending a couple of hours resting we decided to hike the remaining 7 miles and get that beer. That made for a 12.5 mile day with full packs, but it was worth it. There were not many views along this section, but we did get to see a Merlin, a type of Falcon that our birder in our small troop had never seen. It swooped right over my head and perched in a tree nearby. Anyhow we made it out and drank our beer (not very cold, but boy it tasted freakin’ good and so didn’t the meal at the Noonmark we had later. Just a jumbo burger and fries, but I was HUNGERY!

This was a great trip for my friends and me. They had done it before, but said they never tire of that section of the N-P trail. I will do that section again and again if I can ever find the time. That and the West Canada Lake region: all in all a magnificent trip!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Pitchoff Mt Experience

Today was a perfect day. We drove to the north trail head of Pitchoff Mt and spotted a car there and continued down Route 73 and parked at the south trail head and began our hike. I am not going to lie to you there are some steep sections. But, there are a lot of places to stop and take pictures which is the main reason to do this trip.


What makes this trip magical is as you increase in elevation your perspective on the view is always changing in a very noticeable way. As we came to our first vantage point Cascade Mountain dominated our view with little peeks of Marcy and Colvin and Algonquin. Then we came to another viewing spot and Cascade became less dominate and Marcy and Algonquin become more promiate. We came to one huge rock outcrop, about 3 acres in size that offered a spectacular view of the above mountains, and Lake Placid. At this point were saw periquin falcons, golden eagle and red tailed hawks, all who flew right next to us.


From this spot we kept going up and down as we traversed the ridge going from one vantage to another, but as we moved along the ridge we begin to look NW and could see great views of Whiteface off in the distance. After we hiked over the last "peak" it was a short steep downhill hike to our car we spotted.


This hike was only 5 miles, but it was a long 5 miles. This is a trip that is all about the scenery and should not be done in a hurry. Bring a camera and extra batteries.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Been away for a while

I have been busy with summer activities and such so I have been neglecting this blog. Not to worry. I have plenty of adventures to write about. Namely my adventure on the Northville-Placid Trail with my two trail mates. A four day odyssey through what I believe now is the most beautiful section of the Adirondack Mountains. Right now I am gathering my thoughts and will be posting again shortly.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pharoah Lake


View of a beaver pond on the way up to the Pharaoh Lake

Beaver Dam






Today some friends an myself went in to the Pharaoh Lake wideness area via the Beaver Pond trail head. The trail in is very easy and a great beginner trail for people who would like to go into a beautiful part of the Adirondacks. There are 6 lean-to's that are placed around Pharaoh Lake. At this time of year there are usually full, but there are other campsites around that offer great places to camp and enjoy the area. There are also trout in this Lake.

We hiked in had lunch and hiked out. 8 miles of easy trails, a nice relaxing hike. The new hikers in our group enjoyed themselves.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Upper Wolf Jaw and Amrstrong


Laddder on Armstrong




Last Friday the 18th my buddy and I decided to hike Upper Wolf Jaw and Armstrong from the Garden as a day hike. This was something that I have been wanting to do for a couple of years as I wanted to see the ADK's Johns Brook Lodge (JBL) to see how the area would be for camping as it would be a good base for a lot of the high peaks in the vicinity.

The 3.25 mile hike in was pleasant and went fast. We took the trail that lead by the NYS Ranger's interior outpost, nice, and that is when we headed up toward Upper Wolf Jaw. The trail was steep, but not terrible but when we hit the 0.9 mile mark that's when it got serious. It was safe to go up without ropes, but you had to climb up ledge over ledge like steps for a giant. After some hard work we made it to the top of UWJ and spent some time taking pictures and then headed to Armstrong. It seemed that we climbed down 1000' into a col and then began the ascent up to Armstrong. This was similar to the ascent up UWJ; there was a 35' ladder to help us in one area. The view from Armstrong was better than UWJ, with an exceptional view of the Gothics. I wanted to go on and get Gothics as the elevation change was not as bad and we could then go down the Orebed Brook trail, but my buddy's knee was bothering him and we didn't want to add any more mileage to the day.

In all the day involved about eleven hours of hiking and when we saw the van back at the Garden we were very happy. It was a little scary in places but it was nice to be challenged.
Gothics

Sunday, June 21, 2009

GPS and Comapss

In the last post I talked about my bushwhacking adventure on the side of Prospect Mt and the Berry Pond tract. As I said I calculated the true N bearing and followed it to the pond. I did drift a little to the west, but I hit the pond without any trouble. Now instead of figuring my heading from Barry pond to my van, I used the GPS to do that and then sighted my compass on a point that the GPS pointed at. When all was said and done I hit about 250 meters S of my car and I had to really on the GPS as I closed in. When I plotted my track on the map and looked at what I had done, my fist 100 meters were in a straight line as the woods were open, but that straight line if extended would had missed by 400 meters. That was the course set by the GPS.

Now what I think I observed was that the GPS is good at getting you to where you need to go, but you should not rely on it to set your compass bearing. I believe the GPS constantly updates and changes your course for you as you move. I noticed this when I started out for Berry Pond I check my compass sighting with the GPS and at first it was off then it settled down and was close. I will continue to use the GPS, but will set bearings independently of the GPS and rely on them when Bushwhacking. I think that is the best bet.