Lake George

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

Knob Lock Mountain - Giant Mountain Wilderness - 10/9/16

This year, as always on Columbus Day, we headed for the hills.  The quiet hills were what we were after.  All the high peaks and all the popular trails would be crawling with people.  We were hoping for a sunny day and a chance to catch the peak of the fall life season in the north country on a quiet peak with views.  Knob Lock Mountain came to my mind.

Knob Lock (also known as Elizabethtown #1) is  a fine peak with a fantastic rock summit and it is relatively unknown.  There is no trail or even well defined herd path to the summit.  I had visited this place on 2/1/14 on a cloudy day with snow squalls.  I had done that trip alone with my dog Rev.

This time, Leesa and Rev were both going with me and we parked at the Owl Head Lookout/Giant Mountain parking lot and only one other car was there at 8:15 in the morning.

An early look back to Owl Head Lookout 

We took off on the trail towards Owl Head Lookout (a wonderful destination on it's own) but after a half mile or so we veered off the trail to the right to locate the eastern spine of Knob Lock.  It's not hard to locate.  We were climbing the ridge after 0.4 miles from leaving the trail.

I brought Leesa on this bushwhack because my recollection was that the woods were not that dense. It turned out to be a little thicker than she would have liked.  I thought the bushwhack was through  moderately dense growth at the worst, but she thought it was thick.  I told her that if it was too thick for her taste, we would turn back.  She pressed on.  It did alternate between moderately thick and open rock.  That probably helped her.

We had an early view of Owl Head Lookout and soon we could see the Elizabethtown valley down below.      

Views starting to open up as we gained the ridge

I forgot my camera so the pictures here are from my cell phone.  It was a bit overcast and the phone didn't pick up the color too well.  The colors were more impressive than the pictures indicate. 

The summit is in sight

Looking towards Elizabethtown.  Route 9N is down below.

Leesa appreciated the views that appeared often as we climbed higher.   The best part of all was the open summit we had to ourselves!  I expected as much, but it's always nice to find.  We looked across the valley to Hurricane Mountain and we could see at least 30 cars parked on the north side of the road at the trailhead.  There were probably more parked on the south side.  Who knows; there may have been a hundred people on Hurricane.  We had a summit almost as nice to ourselves.   It was an extremely busy holiday hiking weekend, but our plan paid off.  I will take a bushwhack over a trail any day for the solitude that is awarded and for the exploration that a bushwhack provides. 

Looking south to Green Mountain from the summit of Knob Lock

Rev - On the summit

It was a little windy and chilly on the summit so we didn't stay quite as long as we might have otherwise.  We did enjoy a lunch in a sheltered spot out of the wind before heading back.  We swung a little further northward to avoid a dense area in the col prior to the summit.  We were successful, but then we reclimbed to the ridge to enjoy the views again on the way down.

Looking NW

Part of the nice rocky summit.

Hurricane Mountain in the distance with Route 9N down below.

When we regained the trail, we saw 3 groups of hikers just in the short distance back to the car.  Upon reaching the parking lot, we found an overflowing lot with cars parked out on the shoulder of Route 9N.  Most the these hikers were probably hiking to Owl Head Lookout, with a view others headed to High Bank or Giant Mountain.  Driving home on Route 73 we were amazed the the overflowing parking lots everywhere.  It just confirmed for us that we made the right hiking decision on this day. We were content!


Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  6.2 miles
Hike Time:  5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2100'

The approximate route

The route on the NG topo map

Friday, September 9, 2016

Squaw Mountain and Wyman Hill - Hoffman Notch Wilderness - 9/8/16

Today took a bit of a twist.  I left the house headed for work and immediately began to hear sounds from my clutch whenever I pushed the clutch pedal down.  Soon it became hard to shift.  Rather than get on the highway towards work, I headed straight to my mechanic.  Leesa came and picked me up.  My day was now a couple hours old and Leesa's as well.  She had a lot of work to do, and had our dog Rev underfoot.  I decided to take the day off and spring Rev and myself for a hike.  It also took Rev out of Leesa's hands for the day so it was a win-win.

I set my scope on 2 nearby peaks that I had never climbed:  Squaw Mountain and Wyman Hill (not nearby Wyman Mountain in the Dix Wilderness).  These two peaks lie in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness in North Hudson.  I decided to access them the same way I had attacked the un-named "Palmer Pond Mountain" that I had climbed twice previously; namely to take the woods road on the North Hudson trail system to the Schroon River, ford the river, cross under the North I-87 using the Wyman Hill culvert, then bushwhack.

The North Hudson fish weir on the Hudson River.

At the Schroon River I detoured north a couple minutes to revisit the remains of the old fish weir.  At the weir it was obvious how low the current water level is in the river.  I crossed the river a little ways south of the weir where it was only ankle deep.  I had brought my water shoes with me and I left them of the far side of the river for the return trip.

Once across the river I nosed around to find the walking culvert.  It's not easy to spot and even though I had been through it several times before, it took me a few minutes.

On the west side of the interstate, I made my way southwest.  I wanted to pick up the beginning of the long ridge on the eastern flank of the mountain.  This approach ridge turned out to be the best part of the entire hike.  After an initial steep climb, negotiating some rock faces, I ascended a very scenic ridge, staying on the south edge of the ridge.  This scenic ridge lasted for 0.7 miles before it reaches the actual summit cone of Squaw Peak.  The next 12 pictures below are from this ridge.

A sampling pictures from the eastern approach ridge to Squaw Mountain. 

Looking south from the approach ridge.  Pharaoh Mountain in the back left; I-87 in the back center. 

While climbing the Squaw Mountain summit cone eastern face, I was in a hardwood forest with no views.  Perhaps when the leaves are down this changes.  I stopped for a minute on Squaw then dropped a 100 feet into a small col before climbing 500 feet to Wyman Hill.  The summit of Wyman is open rock, but it is enclosed by tall pines so the view is minimal.  Looking around a bit I was able to find a filtered view of Paradox Lake.

Zoom view of  Paradox Lake

The summit of Wyman Hill

The sky was getting dark with the threat of rain by the time I reached Wyman.  I told Rev it was time to go back and she put her nose to the ground and led us back the way we had come.  When we got up on the approach ridge to Squaw Mountain it started to rain so I decided to drop off the ridge heading northwest.  When we reached a drainage, I knew to follow it southeasterly back to the drainage culvert and adjacent walking culvert.  I the river I put my water shoes back on for the crossing and then we took the North Hudson woods road trail back to the car.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  6.9 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1500'

The route (click image to enlarge)

The route on the Nat Geo Map.  The northern line was from the trip to "Palmer Pond Mountain".