Lake George

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cheney Pond Road Snowmobile Trail - Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest - Minerva - 5/23/15

Occasionally I get bothered by sinuses and when that happens, it often lingers until it turns into a sinus infection.  I don't help things any because I usually try to just keep going and my lungs don't appreciate that.

This time, on day number 6 of being saddled with a nasty sinus head cold, I still wasn't willing to throw in the towel, but I decided to avoid a vertical climb for the day.  I settled on exploring the Cheney Pond Road snowmobile trail.  The trail runs from Hoffman Road in Minerva, all the way to the Blue Ridge Road in North Hudson.   

Leesa, Rev and I started at the southern end this morning.  You can drive 0.6 miles north on Cheney Pond Road before there is a parking lot on the right and the road becomes a rough all terrain vehicle road.  Before the parking lot, you pass a trailhead sign on the left that is hard to see.  It says 11.0 miles to Blued Ridge Road via Mud Pond and Lester Dam. 

The sign indicating 11.0 miles to Blue Ridge Road
We were surprised when we got to the parking lot that there was a large family there.  They were getting ready to head in to their camp near Mud Pond.  Their boys and one of the adults were going to ride mountain bikes in.  The others were going to drive in with a 4 wheel drive pickup truck.   I knew exactly the spot where they were headed to.  The 1885 topo map labels "Camp" just south of Mud Pond.  The newer topo map shows 3 buildings at that location.  I was curious about that, and this was part of the reason to hike in.  This family has a small private in-holding deep in the woods.

For the first 1.5 miles, the land on both sides of the road is private.  There are a couple seasonal houses, along with an old mobile home and an abandoned mobile home along the way.  For the most part though, the visual is woods on both sides.

At 1.6 miles, the trail makes a 90 degree turn to the left, crosses Minerva Stream (easy to cross at normal flow).  Almost immediately after the crossing you enter the Forest Preserve.  The trail and the land to the west, is part of the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.  The land to the east of the road belongs to the Hoffman Notch Wilderness.  The road defines the border.

Looking back at Leesa after crossing the stream at 1.6 miles 

At 1.8 miles, we heard water on our left.  We could see glimpses of the stream and we left the trail to investigate.  We found a nice waterhole here; something to remember for a warmer day.  

The waterhole

Looking upstream.

We went back to the trail and continued on.  There were a few mud holes in the trail along the way, but nothing really objectionable.  It was a pretty rugged jeep road though with rocks that would slow down  all terrain vehicle travel to almost a crawl.  We were surprised that the pickup truck had driven in.

As were continued, the trail entered a tighter notch and the stream dropped away to the left in the cleft of the notch.  The trail climbed to higher ground.  t 2.75 miles, the trail started to work its way back down to the stream.  At 3.25 miles the stream and trail were once again side by side.

Stream and trail together again.

You can barely see a stream crossing pair of cable here.  We saw 3 different cable crossings along the way. 

Soon we caught up to 2 of the younger boys, who were now walking their mountain bikes.  They told us that we were almost to their parents camp, but first we passed one that belonged to another of their relatives.  We went with the boys to the right of the first camp.  

The southern most camp; and another cable stream crossing  
Soon there was a wooden bridge stream crossing and the boys parents camp stood before us.  The boys joined their family who were cooking on the deck.  We passed by their camp in order to get to Mud Pond.  The camps were quite nice looking and were obviously had been replaced since 1885. 

I was expecting Mud Pond to be a marsh or unattractive stagnant pond.  The pond was worth the trip however.  It looked more like a mountain tarn.  Well not quite, but an improvement upon a stagnant pond.  We had walked 4.6 miles at this point.  I hadn't expected to hike 9 miles on this day and we turned around here.  Lester Dam was still miles ahead and I didn't have it in me today.

Mud Pond

Leesa and Rev taking a better look

Rev decided the water was safe to drink...

A beaver lodge in the pond 

The trip back felt a little easier since we were now dropping about 400' on the way out.  Not a big difference, but with my head feeling like it was in a fishbowl, downhill felt better than uphill.     

The forest along the way...

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.2 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 700'

The route (click image to enlarge)

The old 1885 topo denoting "Camp" near Mud Pond 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gelina Basin and the Jay Mountain Ridge - 5/17/15

Leesa and I spent Thusday night through Saturday doing trail work in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness.  We accomplished a lot but it was tiring work.  Today we took to hiking.

Leesa missed my trip last weekend to Arnold Mountain and Gelina Basin in the Jay Mountain Wilderness and she wanted to see the waterfalls I had found in the Gelina Basin, so I planned a different route to the same destination.

I got permission from Ward Lumber Company to access the Jay Mountain Wilderness from their property, starting at the end of Nugent Road in the Town of Jay.  We drove to the gate at the eastern end of the road and parked the car there.

The woods road we followed on the Ward Lumber Company property was in great shape.  After 0.7 miles, we reached the State Land boundary.  We continued to follow the woods road, and at 1.0 miles, we came to a private in-holding with a small seasonal camp.  We skirted around the camp and soon reached the bottom of the Gelina Basin drainage.    

Leesa making her way up the lower end of the Gelina Basin drainage

Rev had no problem rock hopping in the basin

Looking back down the lower portion of the drainage

At 1.6 miles, we reached the lower of the 2 waterfalls.  We paused here for Leesa to admire the falls, then continued the short 0.2 miles to the 2nd falls.  Another stop and then we continued to climb the drainage.  It had seen some of this terrain last week, but soon we climbed into new territory.

A tempting viewpoint which we bypassed 

We followed the Gelina Basin drainage almost all the way to the the high point, then branched off to climb the wall of the basin to the open rock viewpoint that is the short spur off of the Jay Mountain Trail. 

The open rock just left of center is Arnold Mountain    

Leesa climbed slow and steady and we reached western viewpoint of the Jay Mountain Trail.  There were a half dozen people milling about.   

Another good look at Arnold Mountain (large exposed rock summit)
Rather than work our way down the ridge, we backtracked a little, then side-sloped to reach the lower tier of open rock.  We looked back up at the western Jay ridge viewpoint and could see a crowd of people watching us... probably wondering how we got where we were... and where we were going.

Lower rock ledge

Rev looking NE towards Arnold Mountain

Looking west, Whiteface Mountain in the distance

 We decided to head NW to drop down into Kelly Basin and take a look at that drainage.  The Kelly Basin drainage turned out to be nothing more that a small creek with no features of interest to us.  We cut back over to the waterfalls to soak our feet and enjoy some afternoon sun (Rev even took a nap).   There was even a his and hers lounge rock where we each stretched out for some sun.

Rev taking a well earned drink...
The mist on our faces from the waterfall was wonderful! 

5 minutes after we got to the falls, Rev was asleep

Let sleeping dogs lie...

Look in the lower left...!

An August watering hole? 

Leesa reluctantly putting her boots back on
I guess you can tell we liked this spot.  Eventually though, it was time to leave.  We spent so long at the waterfall, we almost forgot that we had hiked.  After an easy 1.6 miles back down the woods road we were back at the car. 

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  6 miles
Hike Time:  5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~2100' 

The route (click image to enlarge)