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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Green Mountain - Giant Mountain Wilderness Area - 7/20/14

Green Mountain, in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, has been near the top of my future hike list for quite a while.  I've looked at it every day on my way to work.  At 3980', it is the 2nd highest of the non-46er peaks.
This peak is trail-less, but there are short bushwhack options.  This past Sunday I decided to climb this peak by hiking the 6 miles from Route 9N to the Giant Leanto, then bushwhack north the .6 miles to the summit.  The trail portion of this hike is known to be wet at times, but with a long dry spell prior to this day, I wasn't too concerned.     
I hadn't been on this this trail before, so it was all new to me.  My dog, Rev, and I were hiking alone on this day.  As I signed in at the trailhead, I noticed only two cars in the lot.  One person was headed to Giant Mountain and back.  Two persons signed in the previous day for an overnight backpack.
Another proud adopter... the 46er's
As usual when I'm by my self, I move quickly on the trail.  Soon we encountered the 2 backpackers on their way out.  These were the only 2 people we saw all day.  We traveled the first 2.5 miles and 1000' vertical in 50 minutes.  This brought us to the junction with the Owl Head Lookout spur trail (a fine destination on it's own).  I decided to save a re-visit until on our way out.
A couple hundred yards past the junction, we stepped into a clearing that offered a fine view of Bald Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge.

The first view from the trail -Bald Mtn (L), RPR (R) 
From here we followed rolling terrain through hard woods; travelling over some mostly dry mud holes.  At the 4.2 mile mark, we reached an area known as High Bank (which is really the SE base of Green Mountain.  At this location the trail takes a 90 degree turn to the right.  We stopped here and walked left out onto high bank.  It is an embankment of open loose sand and gravel.  Fine views are afforded of Giant Mountain from this location.  You can also see (and hear) Roaring Brook down below.    This was a great spot to stop for a break, and we did so.  

Giant Mountain from High Bank
Looking back towards the trail from High Bank
Roaring Brook below High Bank
Back on the trail, we continued 1.8 miles following a steady moderate incline to the Giant Leanto.   A short spur trail takes you a couple hundred yards off the main trail to the leanto.  I refilled my water bottles here.   It had taken us just over 2  hours to travel the 6 miles to the leanto.

Giant leanto
Directly across the main trail from the leanto spur, I began bushwhacking towards Green.  Someone had put up some illegal orange flagging.  This flagging continued all the way to the false SW summit of Green.  I removed the flagging as I went. 
I passed through alternating areas of moderate and thick growth as I climbed.  The summit is pretty nondescript and offers no views.  I believe there are some views from the eastern end of the ridge, but I didn't go over there.  

The summit of Green Mountain
I descended generally along the same bushwhack route that I had just climbed and returned to the trail at a point near the Giant leanto.  From here it was just a return along the trail.
When we reached High Bank, we descended down to Roaring Brook.  I took off my boots and let the cool water run over my feet.  Rev played in the water. 

Back to High Bank
Looking SE from High Bank

Open sand and gravel

Looking up High Bank from Roaring Brook
Roaring Brook



 Once watered, we reclimbed High Bank and travelled the 1.7 miles to the Owl Head Lookout spur.   This time we climbed to the lookout.  We had the summit to ourselves and there was a nice breeze.  The lookout offers fines views of Iron Mountain, Bald, RPR, Giant and Green.

Owl Head Lookout

A closer view

The view from Owl Head Lookout


From the lookout, we had a quick 45 minute walk to the car.  The highlight of this hike was not Green Mountain but rather High Bank, Owl Head Lookout and the nice quiet trail walk.
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance 13.4 miles
Hike Time:  7 hours
Totabl Vertical Gain:  ~ 3700'  
The route (click mage to enlarge)
National Geographic map of the approximate route

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hopkins Mountain & Blueberry Mountain - 7/19/14

My primary purpose for hiking last Saturday was to get my dog Rev tired so that my wife Leesa and I could go boating with friends on Lake George in the later part of the day and the dog would rest.  Leesa wanted to do a half day hike so we decided to climb Hopkins Mountain in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area and then I would do another hike with the dog.

We chose the Mossy Cascade Trail since it was the only approach that we had not previously taken.  I think it is now my favorite approach.


This trail has been adopted by ATIS
The trail runs parallel to Route 73 for a short while before turning away from the road to follow Mossy Cascade through an old growth pine forest.  There are some big trees in there!


Mossy Cascade
Alongside the trail partway up is an out outhouse with the remains of a camp lying on the ground nearby.

A first viewpoint offers views of Dial, Nippletop, Colvin and Blake.

The first viewpoint
Eventually the trail moves away from Mossy Cascade and connects with the Ranney Trail at 2.3 miles.  The trail continues to steepen as it heads for the col between Hopkins and Giant.  Once at the col, it is a short .2 mile climb to the summit. 

The sign at the col
The summit of Hopkins is right up there among my favorite non high peak summits, along with the Jay Range.  The views are just so outstanding.   We spent about 30 minutes on top having some lunch. 

The summit is near...

Lots of high peaks front and center
 I was debating my afternoon hike at this point.  I could climb Giant and then go down the Roaring Brook Trail, or I could hike down with Leesa and do another hike from Keene Valley.  I chose to hike with Leesa.  
Once back at the bottom we drove a couple miles north to Marcy Field.  I had decided to climb towards Porter Mountain as far as Blueberry Mountain, a fine summit on it's own account.   Leesa dropped me off and went to do a couple errands.  I headed up the trail at a quick pace.  I wanted to get to Blueberry without taking all afternoon.  It is a 2 .2 mile hike with 2000 vertical.  Near the start, I blew past a young couple carrying heavy packs to go somewhere.
I reached the first viewpoint in 45 minutes (three side-by-side cairns adorned the open rock at this point.  I continued on the trail which became a little less steep from this point on.  At the 2.2 mile turnaround point I reached a huge glacial erratic perched on a large expanse of open rock.  People had built quite a few small scattered cairns on the rock.  It had taken 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to this point.


The large glacial erratic on Blueberry Mountain
Going down was of course even faster and I managed to get back to the trailhead in 50 minutes.  I passed the backpackers who had only traveled about 1.3 miles and were just starting up the steep part.   I was wondering how far they were going to get.



The two hikes gave me a combined distance of 10.4 miles and about 4000 vertical.  It worked well for the dog.  She had no problem sleeping later in the day while we boated!
Hike Stats: 
Hopkins via Mossy Cascade:  6.4 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours,  including stops
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 2000'
Blueberry Mountain:  4.4 miles
Hike Time:  2 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2000' 
The route to Hopkins Mountain (click image to enlarge)
Nat Geo version of the route
The route to Blueberry Mtn
Nat Geo version of the Blueberry route