We parked at Adirondack Loj at 8:30 and were on the trail within a couple minutes. There was only an inch or two of snow on the ground. While the mountains are trail less, a fairly well used herd path exists. We followed a trail west along the north shore of Heart Lake until we came to a fork where the Long Trail proceeds to the right towards Mount Jo and the fork to the left had a sign that said "Trail not maintained beyond this point". This was the old Nye ski trail. No one had been on the trail yet, but foot tracks were visible under the recent dusting of snow.
We took the fork to the left, and after a mile or so we came to Indian Pass Brook. We had been forewarned that the crossing was difficult at best. Several hiking parties had recently signed the trail register saying that they could not cross the brook. Another recent comment said to go upstream 500 feet or so from the usual crossing and that a crossing was possible. We looked over the area and also decided it did not look safe to cross. We started back towards Adirondack Loj contemplating our next move when we came across another hiker planning to do Street and Nye. We retraced our footsteps with him and the three of us surveyed the brook. While the gentleman and I found the proposed crossing and were discussing the possibility of fording the brook, another hiker arrived who was a guide. He was scouting the crossing for a proposed guided hike on Wednesday 12/28. While he and Leesa looked at the traditional crossing spot, the hiker who was with me managed to cross the brook at the alternate location. There were several decent size rock hops involved onto ice/rock areas where you couldn't be certain you would land safety.
After he crossed the brook, he went downstream to try and relocate the herd path. The guide and Leesa came back to where I was and reported that the traditional crossing spot was indeed too dangerous. The three of us were looking at the alternate crossing when the first hiker came back into view saying he couldn't find the herd path. He started to come back across and the ice broke. He fell back onto a rock and luckily didn't get wet, but that was enough to decide our fate for the rest of us. We waited for the first hiker to get safely back across and then the four of us headed back towards the lodge. It was 10:45 at this point.
Leesa and I decided to salvage the day by going up Mount Jo. The first hiker decided to join us, while the guide went back to the trail head. In all the times I've been to Adirondac Loj, I had never climbed Mount Jo. I just considered it too small and I had bigger hikes planned. I'm glad we chose to do it. The summit elevation is only 2851', but the views are spectacular. The ascent was only a half mile or so but steep with 700' vertical gain. The three of us got to the summit and were admiring the views for quite a while before 2 other groups reached the summit. At that point, Leesa began to feel a little chilled so we descended to the Loj on the Short Trail.
|The fork between Mount Jo and the old Nye Ski trail|
One of the reasons we had originally chosen Street and Nye for the day was that it was supposed to be quite windy and blustery and we thought that Street and Nye being treed summits would provide us protection from the wind. As we climbed Mount Jo, there was no wind and there was a beautiful blue sky. Standing on the summit we looked at the great views of Street and Nye, Wallface Mountain/Indian Pass, Avalanche Pass, Mount Colden and Mount Marcy. You could also stand on a different portion of the summit and see Lake Placid. After we had been on the summit for awhile, some interesting cloud formations began rolling through Avalanche Pass and Mount Colden. The view was changing minute by minute and we just watched. It was quite a site.
We returned to the car just after 1 PM not feeling horribly disappointed. We'll tackle Street and Nye another day.
Total Hike Distance: 4.7 miles
Hike Time: 4.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain: 1280'
Mount Jo Summit Elevation: 2851'
Mount Jo Height Rank: #290 in New York