Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Monday, February 1, 2016

XC Ski - Camp Bliss and Bum Pond - William C. Whitney Wilderness - 1/31/16

I'm not a happy camper when the the forecast calls for temperatures in the 40's in January.  Still, there was no reason not to go outdoors.  I brought my xc skis and snowshoes with me, not knowing what the day would bring.  I was determined to ski if possible.  I headed for the Long Lake area and settled on trying to ski the old Burn Road on the west side of Little Tupper Lake in the William C. Whitney Wilderness (National Geographic Trail #135 on the Old Forge/Oswegatchie map #745.

There was about a foot of snow on the ground.  The temperature was 25 when I left the house, but 38 by the time I got to the trailhead.  I put some fresh glide wax on my skis and started out.  The trail is an old woods road that still feels more like a woods road than a trail.  No one was parked at the trailhead, but there was an old ski  track from 3 days prior.  There was just a dusting of snow in the old track.  Even though it was warm, the skis still were moving OK.   If all went well, I'd go at least as far as Bum Pond.  The sun was making an appearance, but after an hour, clouds rolled in for good. 

Map at the kiosk.

The rules...

First stop, Bum Pond

Wide open old woods road 

This trail is very flat and would be classified as a novice level ski trail.  It would also be a good ski route for a full moon ski.

At the two mile mark, I saw a big number 2 hanging on a tree.  There were no more numbers after that.

Perhaps each mile had been numbered at one time. 

At the 2.5 mile mark was an old outhouse that had been painted (kind of a nice idea).  The door had a plexiglas top and wood frame bottom. 

Not your typical weathered board outhouse. 
There was only one significant tree down in the trail and that was at the 3 mile mark.  It was easy enough to ski off the trail and around it.

A typical scene along this trail.

Eventually I came to Charlie Pond stream; a significant water crossing at 4.0 miles.  No worries though, there was a very sturdy bridge in place with steel beams and new wooden deck.

The bridge at Charlie Pond Stream

After I crossed the bridge, I noticed that the old tracks I was following decided to call it quits.  The person that made those tracks was probably worn out from breaking trail.  I took over the trail breaking and pressed forward.  

I was moving slower now in the untracked snow.  I could tell it was getting warmer as well.  I was skiing with no jacket and no gloves.  Even the hat came off.

Next up was a trail junction at 4.7 miles.  The red disc trail from Sabattis Road ends at this junction. It becomes a blue disc trail going straight ahead, or a yellow disc trail by turning left towards Bum Pond.  I made the left and soon found that the yellow discs were almost non-existent.  No worries though, the woods road was still plain as day to follow. 

Perhaps a little water under the snow blanket here.

These signs have seen better days.

At 5.0 miles, I came to Bum Pond (as advertised by the trailhead sign).  Unfortunately with the snow on the ground, I couldn't get much of a vision for what the pond looks like. 

Bum Pond

Bum Pond (street view)!
At like point, I decided to plod forward to one last stop - Camp Bliss (on the southwest shore of Little Tupper Lake).  With an intriquing name like that, how could I not visit?  0.7 miles later, I skied upon a designated campsite at Camp Bliss.  It looked like a nice location.   I wonder if there was ever an old camp at this location that caused the name Camp Bliss?

Campsite at Camp Bliss

I went to the edge of Little Tupper and looked at the expanse of white on the snow covered lake. Once again it was hard to visual what this place would look like in the summertime.  

Sign by the lake, indicating the trail.

Little Tupper Lake
I was hoping that the return trip on skis would be a little faster, utilizing my fresh tracks on the exit. It wasn't to be though.  The temperature had continued to climb, so even though I was skiing in my own fresh track, the snow was getting softer and slower.  My legs were tired when I got back to the car. To my surprise, it was 46 degrees at 2 PM when I reached the large parking lot.

Ski Stats:
Ski Distance:  11.8 miles
Ski Time:  4 hours
Total Elevation Gain:  ~700'  

The route 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

XC Ski - Wilson Pond - Blue Ridge Wilderness - 1/30/16

With this January being what it is, we had to do a little traveling to find some snow worthy of using our cross country skis.  Saturday found Leesa and I in Blue Mountain Lake.  We chose the Cascade Pond Trail (#55 on the National Geographic Northville/Raquette Lake map #744).

Roadside signage
We parked on the shoulder of County Route 19, but we could have driven into the parking area.  We first skied the short distance to the small picnic area on the west side of Lake Durant, then we started down the Cascade Pond trail.

Trailhead sign for the Cascade Pond Trail.

Sign at the picnic area on Lake Durant

Blue Mountain from Lake Durant

Bridge between Rock Pond and Lake Durant
We crossed the bridge shown above and then started the uphill ski towards Cascade Pond. Unfortunately the trail had rocks that weren't covered by snow.  We decided it wouldn't be worth the climb becuase it would be tough to ski down.  We turned around after 1.4 miles and made our way back to the car.

We came up with Plan B which was to drive a couple miles west and try the Wilson Pond Trail (trail # 57). This turned out to be a better option.  There seemed to be a little more snow, plus there were fewer rocks and obstacles on the trail.

Spring on the south side of Loon Brook 

This was Leesa's first day out on skis this winter.  She skied along with me until we were about a half mile from Wilson Pond, at which time she decided she was ready to turn around.  She told me to go on ahead and see the pond and lean-to and she'd see me back at the car.

Wilson Pond

The island on Wilson Pond.

We had been following the snowshoe tracks of two guys who had signed in ahead of us.  As I came over the last rise before the pond and lean-to, I could smell smoke in the distance.  I suspected that the two guys were camping at the lean-to and they had a fire going.  I soon found that I was correct. As my dog Rev and I approached, we saw them tending a campfire at the lean-to and having some coffee.  

Wilson Pond lean-to.

Wilson Pond lean-to in use.

I chatted with the two guys for a few minutes, then headed back to try and catch up to Leesa.

Some blue skies arriving...

The sun came out as I was skiing back, and it was nice to see.  The temperature remained in the 20's so skiing was good.

I made it back to the car just as Leesa was unlocking the car.  Perfect timing.

XC Ski Stats:
Trail Distance:  5.8 miles
Ski Time:  3 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~700'

The routes