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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Waterfalls and Views in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area - 8/24/14

I guess my theme this weekend was bushwhacking to waterfalls and open rock with views.  Saturday was in the Dix Wilderness and today was in the Giant Wilderness.
I parked near Chapel Pond at the Zander Scott Ridge Trail for Giant, only instead of taking the trail, I began bushwhacking the right side of the drainage just east of the ridge trail.  The topo map has a falls labeled that I had not yet taken the time to explore.
I encountered a faint herd path on and off.  No doubt others had done this same trek.  The grade was relatively steep, but the bushwhacking was not a problem.
It was a .6 mile hike to the falls, with an elevation gain of about 500 feet.  The falls lies in a deep ravine so some care is needed getting down in there.  It is worth it.  The falls is spectacular and there is a great swimming hole at the base for those that like cold water!  It's amazing how remote this spot felt even though it is so close to the road.   I posted a video of the falls on You Tube.
My dog Rev and I spent about 30 minutes here poking around and watching the falls. 
Look at that grotto to the left of the falls!

Just awesome
This swimming hole looks about 6-7 feet deep

From the falls, I continued to climb and headed over to some promising open rock which is essentially the southern terminus of the slope to Rocky Peak Ridge.  I passed an old abandoned hunter shanty on the way.  The southern promontory is comparable to Giant's Nubble and offers excellent views of the Dix Range, Round Mountain and the Great Range.  I got lots of great pictures from this location.  

The Great Range

a closer look

Dix Range

Round Mountain

Dix Range and Round Pond


My viewpoint and the Ridge to Giant in the background

The Great Range
The southern slope of Rocky Peak Ridge


My kind of view

The Great Range

Round Mountain
a mountain goat, or my dog Rev?
 Rather than bushwhack back the way I came, I decided to go past the Dipper and connect with the Ridge Trail to Descend.  I ran into some horrid blowdown south and west of the Dipper, but it didn't last for long.  Once on the trail it was an easy cruise back down.  Rev and I passed a dozen or so people on the way out. 

The Dipper

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  4 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours (including stops)
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1200'  

The route (click image to enlarge)

Dix Wilderness Waterwall Ramble - 8/23/14

This hike ended up being somewhat of a re-run of a hike I did last October.  I'm not complaining, since that hike was fantastic.  This is the Dix Mountain Wilderness area, and the hike is a hike from the West Mill Brook trailhead to a waterfall SE of Macomb Mountain, plus a visit to an un-named hill 1068 (3550').   
This time I wanted to re-visit the waterfall (a fantastic place), and then continue on to Sunrise Mountain.  I made several mistakes however.  The 1st - I didn't start until 9:45;  the 2nd - I stayed at the waterfall too long; the 3rd - I just didn't have the steam to day to push all the way to Sunrise.
I made it up to the Hill 1066 and it was 2 PM.  I knew it was only another mile to Sunrise, but it was a tough mile and I would have been heading further from the car.  I decided to save Sunrise for another day.
So back to the beginning...
I parked on Route 9 at the sign for West Mill Brook.  You can drive in the first mile if you have a high clearance vehicle.  You then come to a gate with two barrels affixed to it.  From there it's foot traffic only.  An old jeep continues on, following West Mill Brook for a total distance from the car of 3.25 miles.  The trail peters out at that point.  This is a great spot to begin a bushwhack to Camel's Hump, but that wasn't my trip for today.  

A fall giant alongside the West Mill Brook path 
I crossed to the west side of the brook as soon as the path ended.  I skirted west then south path a beaver pond and continued southward until I needed to begin the climb to the waterfall.  The climb is fairly open until you get near the falls.  I find it easiest to get close to the falls from the south side, but it is tough walking there due to blowdown and slippery moss covered rock.
The falls has 2 large tiers, followed by a 3rd cascade a little lower down.  When I was here last fall, the water volume coming over the falls was a bit less than it was today.  The added water made the falls even more impressive, but it also made it harder to walk out on the ledge between the upper and middle falls. 

The 3rd cascade
I made it to the falls in 2 hours, 15 minutes from the car on my 4.4 mile bushwhack route.

Upper and Middle falls 


After spending an enjoyable about of time at the falls, I continued my climb towards Hill 1068.  The view there is nothing, but if you grope around and head south-southeast a short distance you come to a fantastic ledge and viewpoint that offers views east and south.
I reached this point at 2 PM and it was decision time.  I sat at this great viewpoint and looked over as Sunrise Mountain, a mere mile away.  It was a rugged mile and would probably take at least an hour and put me further from the car.  I didn't had it in me to push hard to get out there, so with that decision made, I was able to sit and enjoy the view from right where I was.

Rev out on the great open rock below Hill 1068 

Wyman Mountain
Wyman and the "Igloo" 
Hoffman and Blue Ridge Mountains from the ledge south of Hill 1066


Lots of dry dead wood everywhere 
After eating my late lunch, I decided to loop around to the north to check out some more open rock that would be new to me.  The last time, I had gone south, then southeast following an open rock ridge down.
The push northward was thicker than what I had experienced climbing up.  I was on a relatively level plateau north of Hill 1068, but the tree density was thicker.  At last I reached the open rock I was searching for and got to enjoy views to the north and east.  I was also starting to finally get some blue skies and sunshine as well.  That was ok with me.


Camel's Hump, Niagara, Nippletop (Dix Wldns) and Marsh Pond Mtns 

Camel's Hump




Grace and Wyman

the "igloo" east of Wyman




From here it was just a straight shot east down the slope back to the West Mill Brook path.  Descending wasn't much faster than climbing due to a terrain that demanded a little caution.   
Eventually I made it down to the brook.  It's always a relief to be back on a foot path after spending most of the day bushwhacking.


a hard life

some leave are staring to turn!
A last look back...
I ended up getting a lot of good pictures from this trip.  If you want to see more, you can find them on my Picasa Web Album.   I also took a couple videos of the waterfall, which you can find here on YouTube.
I didn't make it to Sunrise Mountain on this day, but I had a full and rewarding day.  No complaints! 
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  12.6 miles
Hike Time:  9.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2950'
The route (click image to enlarge)