Lake George

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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Giant Mountain & Rocky Peak - 7/30/11

Leesa and I chose Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak for a hike on Saturday.  We had both done Giant before, but neither one of us had done Rocky Peak so it would be a new peak for both of us.

We left camp at Schroon Lake about 7:45 and were on the trail about 8:30.  When we hiked Giant Mountain previously, we had gone up the Ridge Trail, so this time we went up the Roaring Brook trail.

Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead

Summit Coordinates (Giant):  44° 9' 40'' N; 73° 43' 13'' W

Summit Cooridnates (Rocky Peak Ridge):   44° 9' 16'' N; 73° 42' 20'' W

Elev. at Trailhead: 1250'
Elev. at Summit (Giant): 4626' (12th highest Adirondack peak)
Elev. at Summit (Rocky Peak): 4390' (20th highest Adirondack peak)
Total Vertical Gain: 5000'
One way Distance: 4.8 miles
Total Hike Dist.: 10.0 miles
One way Hiking Time: 3.5 hours
Total Hike Time:  7 hours

The first mile of this trail is really beautiful.  After climbing 400 vertical there is a nice designated campsite close to the top of Roaring Brook falls.

Deginated campsite close to the top of Roaring Brook Falls
At an elevation of about 2000' there is another designated camping area with several nice sites on a ridge of tall pines.  The trail crosses Roaring Brook near this location and we stopped at this point on the return trip to take our boots off and stick our feet in the cold water.

Roaring Brook crossing at 2000'

At 3200' the alpine zone changes and the ascent also gets a little steeper.  There is a ladder at 3800'.

A helpful ladder along the trail

Several openings in the trees give fine views to the west.  After 2.9 miles, the trail connects with Ridge trail for the final .7 miles to the summit of Giant Mountain.  The trail to Rocky Peak vears right just .1 miles before the summit of Giant.

We went to the summit of Giant to have a snack and enjoy the view before continuing on to Rocky Peak.  The trail to Rocky Peak quickly descends to a col at about 3775' before ascending once again to reach the summit of Rocky Peak.

Rocky is mostly open rock at the summit and gives a wonderful 360 degree view including views of the Great Range, the Dix Wilderness, Lake Champlain and Vermont.

Looking east along Rocky Peak ridge, towards Bald Peak.  Marie Louise pond can also be seen in the distance.

Looking west northwest towards Giant Mountain, with Leesa standing next to the rock cairn on top of Rocky.

Mike on summit of Rocky Peak

One more rock for the cairn

Panorama, looking towards Giant Mountain from Rocky Peak

Leesa, enjoying the summit of Rocky Peak
Lots of these purple flowers were seen along the trail

We retraced our steps on the return by re-ascending Giant Mountain, then descending on the Roaring Brook trail.  Just before we got back to the car, we stopped to take the short side trail to the base of the falls.  There is not a lot of water coming over the falls this time of year, but its' still a nice spot to stop and get wet.

Roaring Brook Falls

We were back to the car about 5 PM and back to Schroon Lake in time to enjoy a nice view from the beach.

Schroon Lake beach at sunset

Schroon Lake at sunset

Our route highlighted in blue

We had a very nice day.  There were no bugs on this trip and the weather was great.  A future trip will be to climb Rocky from the east starting in New Russia and climbing Rocky Peak ridge and Bald Peak.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Speaker Heck Island - Lake George, NY - 7/23/11

My son Nick and I had a few hours before dark on Saturday night so we put the kayaks in the water at Harris Bay and headed north along the east shore of Assembly Point to go to Speaker Heck Island ( the day use picnic island, just south of Long Island).  From our launch point (a gravel pulloff on Rt 9L just west of Harris Bay Marina) you almost immediately paddle past the Happy Family Islands.  The western most island is large enough to go onto and enjoy a picnic.  Assembly Point has many fine vacation homes.  Out near the eastern tip is a very large "compound" owned by a part-owner of the Boston Red Sox.  You can see a Red Sox 2007 Banner from the water.

Steamship Lac du Saint Sacrement in Harris Bay during an evening dinner cruise

We carefully crossed the small channel between the tip of Assembly Point and Speaker Heck Island and pulled our boats up onto Speaker Heck to take a look around and go for a swim.  On weekends in the summer, you have to be especially careful of all the motorboat traffic as you paddle around.  Be especially careful in the open water.

Nick enjoying the paddle and the sunset

In two hours you can launch from Harris Bay, paddle to Speaker Heck, take a swim, enjoy the early part of a sunset and get back to your car.  It's about a 3.5 mile paddle roundtrip.  With more time you can paddle around Long Island, or around Ripley Point in Cleverdale and head towards Sandy Bay.

For tonight, our mission was accomplished.  A nice night's paddle and swim.

A map of our paddle (highlighted in blue)

Steere Island - Lake George, NY - 7/28/11

Another kayak camping trip to Steere Island in the Mother Bunch Islands of Lake George, NY.  The last trip was 6/26/11 (see earlier post), and it wasn't quite warm enough to swim.  This time the water was great  and we swam 3 or 4 times.

This trip was with Leesa and Nick.  We launched from Huletts Bay about 4 PM. 

Paddling south from Deer Leap towards Steere Island

We paddled to the island in 30 to 40 minutes then setup the tent and got everything arranged.  We took a dip in the lake and then headed south to paddle around the Mother Bunch Islands.

We turned around at Hatchet Island to return to Steere Island.  On our way, we stopped at Picnic Island (a day use island), and looked around and took another swim.

Looking west near sunset
Looking south, just before sunset
We returned to our site and took one last swim for the day, then got our campfire going and had some dinner.  It was a nice night for camping.  There was a light breeze and the temperature stayed in the mid to upper 60's.

Nick read a little as we were getting dinner ready

The fire is started and time to cook dinner

We had a good nights sleep.  The loons were making some noise at dusk and again in the morning.  It's such a nice sound to listen to.

An interesting church on the small private island called Harbor Island

Heading to the eastern shore before going north back to Huletts Landing

We returned our car at 9:30 AM and got home just as the sky was beginning to threaten rain.  This was Nick's 1st kayak camping trip and he enjoyed it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Buck Mountain - Lake George, NY - 7/24/2011

It was a Sunday morning full of sunshine.  The weather forecast was for the upper 70's and sunny all day.  Leesa, Nick and I decided to climb Buck Mountain in Lake George from Pilot Knob.  Trailhead parking is just south of Pilot Knob, on CR32 (Pilot Knob Road).

Trailhead register
 We arrived at the trailhead about 9:15 AM and there were about 10 cars in the parking lot, on what promised to be a busy day.

Trailhead Info.

Elev. at Trailhead:  334'
Elev. at Summit:  2334'
Total Elev. Gain:  2000'
Dist. to Summit:  3.3 miles
Total Hike Dist.:  6.6 miles
Hiking Time to Summit:  1.5 hours
Total Hike Time:  3 hours

The trail is a well traveled trail, and is a jeep trail in the beginning.  The hike follows a stream bed for a ways , and the stream probably carries quite a bit of water in the spring and after periods of heavy rain.  On this day there wasn't much water flowing.

The first view isn't until 5 minutes from the summit, but what a view looking south towards Long Island, Assembly Point and Lake George village.

Looking South toward Long Island, Assembly Point and Lake George village

Once we got just this vantage point we were suddenly surrounded by blueberry bushes, and they were just right for eating.  We all had our fair share (as did everyone on the summit).  You could see all kinds of people foraging for berries.

Looking W towards Bolton Landing.  Dome Island just L of center.  The Sagamore Hotel is visible in the center.
Looking NW towards the Tongue Mtn ridge and the Narrows of Lake George
Another view looking NW
Our Group - Mike, Leesa and Nick - On the Summit
Adding one more rock to the cairn
After eating blueberries and enjoying the view, it was time to descend
Our route highlighted in blue
After an enjoyable time on the summit, we descended the same trail to the car.  We arrived back at the trailhead at about 1:30 PM and went in search of lunch.  All together we probably saw 100 people during the course of the hike.  The parking lot was filled to capacity when we left.
We'll have to do this hike again in the different seasons, since it is close to home, perhaps try the trail from the east starting at Hogtown.  A great hike was had by all.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

St. Regis Mountain - 7/17/11

After having stayed the night before in a leanto near Paul Smiths, it was time to climb St. Regis Mountain.  Trailhead parking is on Keese Mills Road, 3 or 4 miles west of Paul Smiths. 

St. Regis Mountain - Trailhead Parking

The weather promised another sunny day with a little more humidity, but there was a good breeze. Leesa and I started towards the summit around 9 AM.

Elevation at Trailhead:  1614'
Evevation at Summit:  2874'
Total Gain:  1260'
Distance One Way:  3.3 miles
Total Distance:  6.6 miles
Approximate Total Hiking Time:  3 hours

Our route is highlighted in blue

The trip to the summit was uneventful.    After climbing a small rise near the trailhead, the trail drops approximately 250 feet before a steady climb to the summit.  This day was quite windy and the breeze at the summit felt great.

We were somewhat disappointed to find the the summit fire tower is no longer open to the public.  The bottom two flights of stairs have been removed.  We did not know this in advance, and were looking forward to climbing the tower (at least I was)! 

St. Regis Mountain firetower
 You did not need to be in the tower to have a great view, but it would have been nice.

From L-R, Lower St. Regis lake, Spitfire Lake and Upper St. Regis Lake
We stayed on the summit for about half an hour, and then returned to the car by the same route.  It was a hot day, so an ice cream stop was quite nice on the way out.  We like to stop at small unusual places such as this (Donnelly's on Rt 86 between Paul Smiths and Saranac Lake).  Their sign inside said they serve twist and only twist, so that is what we got.

All in all, this hike was not so strenous as some, and the views are great, but we suspect the firetower will not be reopening for public use.  We don't know the future status of the structure.  Perhaps it is scheduled to be dismantled.  It's sad to see so many disappearing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

St. Regis Lakes - 7/16/11

In the morning we had climbed Ampersand Mountain (a seperate post) in Saranac Lake, but since ist was only 2 PM after we ate lunch there was plenty of time for a kayak adventure.  We drove 30 minutes north to Paul Smiths and then went about 3 miles west to Keese Mill on the Keese Mills Road.  At Keese Mill there is a nice kayak launch site with plenty of parking.  There is an additional parking lot several hundred feet further down the road providing trailhead parking for St. Regis Mountain.

Our paddle is highlighted in blue

We launched our kayaks about 3 PM not knowing how far we intended to paddle.  We did not have our camping gear in the boats.  As we made our way east on the river we passed an unnamed leanto shelter on the right almost immediately.  It was occupied so we didn't set foot on land to explore.  We did stop about a mile further on the stream to look at Bent Spike leanto before continuing on until we got to Lower St. Regis Lake.  Paul Smiths College sits on the east shore and is easily identifiable.  As we entered the lake, we saw Peter's Rock leanto sitting on a beautiful point on the western shore (on our right as we entered the lake).  It was unoccupied, so we decided we would spend the night there if it was still available later in the day.

We continued on into Lower St. Regis Lake.  A loon was swimming nearby.  He kept diving for food, and once surfaced about 5 feet in front of my kayak before quickly diving again.  I was surprised by how far he could travel underwater before resurfacing.

Leesa paddling in Lower St. Regis Lake, looking west towards St. Regis Mountain

We decided to continue paddling south through Spitfire Lake and and into Upper St. Regis Lake before returning. As you finish paddling through the channel and enter Spitfire Lake, a beautiful Adirondack camp sits on the left (east shore). After paddling south through Spitfire Lake you pass a small island (Rabbit Island) as you enter the channel to Upper Spitfire Island. The island was posted, but there was a plaque on the island facing the water. Apparently Rabbit Island is where Dr. Trudeau did his Tuberculosis experiments with rabbits in the late 1800's.

Plaque on Rabbit Island denoting site of Tuberculosis experiments
 We reached Upper St. Regis Lake and paddled around 4 or 5 privately owned small islands before heading back the way we came.  A bald eagle was soaring overhead as we made our way back.  We reached the Peter's Rock leanto about 6 PM and it was still vacant.  We decided to paddle back to the car, drive to Paul Smiths and relaunch the boats with the camping gear, headed for Peter's Rock.  We got back to the car at 6:45 and were at Paul Smiths College by 7 PM.

Looking across the lake with the binoculars, we saw that someone had taken the leanto we were hoping to use, so we enjoyed a little more padding at sunset before setting up camp at an unnamed leanto on the east shore of Lower St. Regis Lake, near a ranger facility.

Sunset on Lower St. Regis Lake.  St. Regis Mountain in the background.

Campfire after a long day of 2 adventures
We enjoyed our campfire until about 11 PM and then fell asleep, having completed a perfect hike and paddle day.

Ampersand Mountain - 7/16/11

Ampersand Mountain in Saranac Lake is a great hike.  Trailhead parking is on Route 3, about 8 miles west of the Town of Saranac Lake.  The trail generally heads SE towards the summit.  We started towards the summit around 9 AM on a gorgeous weather day, sunny, mid 70's.

Elev. at Start:  1577'
Elev. at Summit:  3352'
Elev. Gain:  1775'
Distance one way:  2.7 miles
Distance round trip:  5.4 miles
Roundtrip Hiking Time:  3.5 hrs

Ampersand Mountain Trailhead Sign
The trail ascends very gradually in the 1st 1.2 miles, gaining only 250', before ascending 1500' in the last 1.5 miles.  Stone steps have been placed on the trail for much of the steep terrain.

Our route is highlighted in blue

Some trees just struggle to survive

The hardwoods give way to softwoods and the area transitions to a wonderful rugged mountainside with huge boulders along the trail.

Boulder field
Once you arrive at the summit, you are treated to an almost 360 degree view of lakes, trees and mountains from the rock summit.

Looking north towards Middle Saranac Lake
Looking south towards Ampersand Lake

Be sure to bring binoculars if you have them

We couldn't believe that we had the whole summit to ourselves for an hour before another hiking party showed up.  We decided to decend and surrender the summit to them, but not after taking another look around.  We left the summit around 11:30 and were back at the car by 1 PM.  Lots of people were on there way up by that time.

It would be hard to find a more enjoyable hike.  We had a great morning.   After some lunch at the car we headed to Paul Smiths for a kayak adventure.