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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fifth Peak and 5 Mile Point - Lake George Wild Forest - 4/13/14

I was hoping to get out this past Sunday and do a hike, but the weather forecast wasn't promising.  Rain was basically expected for most of the day.  My youngest son Nick was on spring break and he wanted to hike, so I was really hoping it would clear.  My wishes came true, so we pulled together a last minute plan to do some hiking on the Tongue Mountain range in the Lake George Wild Forest.

It was 11 AM when we started from Clay Meadows on Route 9N in Bolton.  I thought we could climb to Fifth Peak and the lean-to there, and then go south on the range to French Point Mountain and perhaps First Peak.  Nick had not been in the Tongue range before, so I thought it would be a good hike for him.

My wife Leesa, and dog Rev also went with us.  I didn't bring the snowshoes, but we had 2 pair of microspikes.  If conditions got too bad, we would just turn around.

At .2 miles we came to the trail junction with the trail that follows Northwest Bay.  We continued straight and within a couple minutes we came to the first waterfall of the day.  It's a great one, especially in the spring.  I knew there would be lots of water, but that these trails would still be passable. 

The first waterfall of the day! 

 Another extremely long waterfall was enjoyed at a small bridge a couple minutes later.  The trail was wet, but not much snow remained.  Soon after the 2nd small foot bridge, all that changed.  There still wasn't much snow (except for a couple small shady areas), but we encountered quite a bit of half rotten ice on the trail.

Leesa put on her microspikes at that point.  Nick and I walked without them.  It was relatively easy to find non-ice footing.  Besides, Nick was enjoying the "challenge" of searching for good footing. 

Waterfall #2
Rev of course had no problem negotiating the terrain at any point in the day.  

... and it's a long one

As we reached Fifth Peak and the lean-to, we saw two guys there.  The older of the two told us he is the trail maintainer for the trail.  I didn't ask it he does the ridge trail, or the trail up from Clay Meadows, or both.


The view south from the lean-to at Fifth Peak

We enjoyed the view from Fifth Peak for a bit before continuing on.  It was plenty warm and it wasn't raining, but the skies were overcast at this point.  That lessened the impressiveness of the views southward a little, but Nick was still quite impressed.

We forged ahead to continue towards French Point Mountain but the ice conditions became more prevalent.  Since we were short one pair of micospikes we decided to follow Leesa's suggestion and take the trail from the ridge down to the lake at 5 mile point.  None of us had done this trail before and Leesa really wanted to do it.

I wasn't expecting it to be much more than a steep trail down to the water, but I agreed to try it.  I knew it faced east, so it would probably be a lot drier.  

Sign for the trail to 5 Mile Point
 As the sign said, the trail drops 1100 feet in 1.5 miles.  After passing through a col, and a small body of water there, the trail began it's steep descent.  I found it to be interesting though since there was a maze of small seasonal drainages all flowing rather profusely.  

Water in the col on the way to 5 Mile Point

Rev prancing in the water.  It was a hot water but she had plenty of water available 

Soon we could see Lake George down below.  It seemed to be close, but it's deceptive, and as worked our way down, the lake didn't seem to be getting closer very quickly!

Lake George visible down below.  Black Mountain in the distance.

About 2/3 of the way down, we traversed a section that had been built up impressively with some of the native rock. 

Someone did a lot of work creating this section of the trail
Finally we made it down to the lake.  Wow, we could feel the air temperature drop as we approached the cold water and ice.  The lake was still mostly ice covered except near the shoreline.   We stopped to eat here and quickly got a little bit of a chill. 

Looking north from 5 Mile Point

A good look at Black Mountain 

... and looking south

A new meaning for "black ice"

An old fire ring at the point

Nick at 5 Mile Point
As soon as we began to re-climb we were quickly warm once again.  It was 70 degrees, and we were climbing a hill banked into the sun.  The water drainages were all tempting to stop at and soak our hot feet, but we knew the water would be ice cold.   

Climbing the rockpile section of trail

It felt like mid summer while climbing the eastern slope.  Once on top and working our way down the western slope, we were back in the ice and scattered snow piles.

Back to the col

Rev takes the high road...
In the end, we all decided it had been a great hike, in spite of the change of plan.  Leesa was vindicated for making us all hike downhill to the lake and back up again.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  8 miles
Hike Time:  6 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2500'

The Route (click image to enlarge)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pilot Knob Preserve - Lake George, NY - 4/10/14

At a good pace, the gazebo on the Pilot Knob Preserve trail can be reached in 15 minutes from the trail head on Pilot Knob Road in Lake George.  In my opinion, it has the best view that can be obtained in a 15 minute hike.  You have to climb 500 feet, so you may want to climb more slowly, but the vantage point is awesome.
From the the gazebo you can see most of the southern half of the lake.

This property is owned by the Lake George Land Conservancy and the official name is the Lynn LaMontagne Schumann Preserve at Pilot Knob.  It contains a small network of trails that total about 3.7 miles.  Two loops are possible; a lower loop to the gazebo only, or a second loop to a waterfall.

I did both, and spent about 1.5 hours here last night.  The trail rises steeply to the gazebo.  There was still some rotten snow and ice to contend with, but it is disappearing fast.  I had decided to do this hike on a Thursday night because it was 60 degrees and it was a nice night to be out.

Decision point.  I chose left.

The wind picked up quite a bit while I was climbing and as I reached the gazebo, it didn't feel anywhere close to 60 degrees, but I didn't care.  I stopped at the gazebo and took pictures before continuing towards the waterfall. 

Looking towards Assembly Point

Looking towards Northwest Bay

Same view from the deck of the gazebo

 Beyond the gazebo, the trail can be continued to the waterfall, zigging and zagging following an out truck trail.  Watch carefully for the blue trail markers; they are sometimes few and far between.  You get a little disoriented since you are going back and forth.

As you get close to the waterfall, there is another loop option.  This is a small loop.  I chose the right fork which leads to the base of the falls.

Choice #2

The area near the falls is shaded and there was still snow cover

I've been here before quite a few times, but never during the spring runoff.  The waterfall dwindles quite a bit during the dry season, but not in the spring.  There was a beam of light from the sinking sun that hit the waterfall.  It wasn't quite captured by the pictures, but it looked really neat at the time. 

You can't tell perspective, but this is probably a 25 foot drop on the primary falls

I scampered around the falls, careful not to slip on the ice and snow still in the area.  My dog Rev doesn't get concerned about this, but I kept her away form the edge as well.  

Looking down on where the falls spills over

There are several cascades in this area, but the primary one is probably on the order of a 25 foot fall.  The one shown below is probably 6 feet.

Another cascade higher up

Rev was patient

What a good girl!

 The trail loops around and passes by the top of the falls before heading back.  It quickly reconnects with the beginning of the loop and their is a sign pointing the way back to the gazebo.  If you take this additional trail to the waterfall and back, you climb another 500 feet for a total vertical gain of about 1000 feet.  It makes a nice little evening trip for me.

Back to the gazebo

At the gazebo I gazed out over the pre-sunset skies, then dropped down the other part of the first loop to get back to the trailhead.  

Hike Statistics:
Hike Distance:  3.7 miles
Hike Time:  1.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1000'

The route (click image to enlarge)