Lake George

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kayaking Glen Lake & Dunham Bay Marsh - 3/23/12

This was another unbelievable day of 75 degree March weather.  I went for 2 kayak paddles on this day; a morning paddle at Glen Lake in Queensbury, NY, and an afternoon paddle in the Durham Bay marsh in Lake George, NY.

Glen Lake is accessible from Glen Lake Road, just off Route 9 and Exit 20 of I87.  There is a small boat launch owned by the Town of Queensbury (adjacent to the Docksider Restaurant, a popular local restaurant) for car top boats.  In addition to the lake, you can paddle along the inlet stream for quite a ways in the Spring (it gets choked with lilies and grasses in the later part of the season).  

Great Blue Heron along the Glen Lake inlet stream

There is normally quite a bit of wildlife along the inlet stream (herons, geese, ducks, red-winged blackbirds).

My daughter Lindsay passing the heron
As you transition from the lake to the inlet stream, you pass under the Warren County Bikeway, which is very scenic and wooded between Glen Lake and Lake George.

Lindsay heading back towards the lake

The lake is mostly lined with houses, but there is a scenic view with French Mountain to the North.  From the northern end of the lake, West Mountain Ski Area and the Luzerne Mountains can be seen to the southwest.

My Glen Lake paddle shown in orange (click map to enlarge)

A leisurely paddle around the lake (and including the inlet stream) takes about 2-1/2 hours.  It is about 2-1/4 miles from the beginning of the inlet stream to the outlet at the northern end of the lake (as the crow flies).

Part II - Afternoon paddle 

In the afternoon I paddled the Dunham Bay marsh near the south end of Lake George.  There is a convenient private boat launch where you can pay $5 to launch a canoe or kayak, or you can launch from somewhere else in Lake George and enter the marsh by crossing underneath Route 9L.  The private boat launch is at the intersection of Route 9L and Bay Road.  There is plenty of parking there.  Many motor boats launch there to enter the lake.

Dunham Bay marsh extends southward from the lake about 2-3/4 miles and provides a nice flat water paddle with great wildlife.

My route shown in orange (click map to enlarge)

The marsh can be paddled down and back in two hours.  You can go north into the main lake for additional paddling.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kayaking the Schroon River - Warrensburg, NY - 3/18/12

I enjoy kayaking the Schroon River (although I've never done it in March before)!  I haven't done the whitewater sections, since I have a touring boat, but now I've done most of the quiet water sections.

Today's paddle was the meandering section beginning in Bolton, south of Riverbank, at the location where the river starts to wind back and forth.  Just to the north are some small rapids, which I would have done in the summer, but I didn't want to take a chance in March.

I must say it felt strange kayaking in mid-March, even though the weather was more like May.  As I paddled though, I came across both cool and warm thermals in the air.  The water was certainly cold, but I managed to stay dry.

Map showing my Launch and Take Out locations - click to enlarge

This paddle measured 6.8 miles and took an hour and a half to paddle.  There were lots of Mergansers along the way and some geese.  I had not paddled this section of the river before.  It is a little wider and deeper than my favorite section (Schroon Falls - south the Schroon Lake).  There are not as many inviting little beaches either.  Still a nice paddle.

A nice easy launch location - I didn't even get my feet wet
Several embankments line the river
Not too many sandbars on this section of the river, but here's one
I love these old small "out-buildings"

Quite a few ducks and geese were in this field

Another small beach


Still some ice on the back bays, but not in the main river channel


The "take out" was just beyond the bridge (County Home Road) on paddler's left

Just so you know, you will hear some interstate noise as you get closer to the take-out (especially with the leaves down).  In my mind it's not horrible.  That section of the interstate doesn't get much traffic.  By the way, since I was solo on this trip, I left a bicycle at the take-out.  It provided an easy way to get back to the car after my paddle.  I simply peddled north on scenic County Route 10 for 4.25 miles.

This is the first time I've gone skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, bicycling and kayaking in the same week.  It was great.  I hope the boat gets to stay out.  With this warm weather pattern extending for most of the coming week, perhaps I'll go kayaking again mid-week with my daughter during "spring break"!  This time I'll let her choose between all the activities mentioned above.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Glissade to Freedom

Here in the great northeast of the U.S., the 4 season climate is something I really enjoy.  I always look forward to the seasonal change as it gives me a chance to mix up my activities.  I make full use of each season and then I’m ready for the next one.
I’m still sneaking in some last days of skiing, but with our current stretch of warm weather, I put the kayak racks on the car last night.  I’m ready to hit the water; perhaps this weekend!

In addition to skiing, I like winter hiking; perhaps more than any other season.  I like the cold, I like the beauty of the snow and I like being able to control my body temperature through layering.  Once spring and summer hit, the bugs are out, the humidity arrives and I leave the woods for my kayak or bicycle.
In many ways, winter hiking is easier.  You don’t have to climb over rocks and roots.  Snow is the great leveler.  And then there is the downhill.  Snow can provide an additional opportunity – Glissading!

Glissade is a climber’s term meaning “a way to descend a snow-covered slope”.  A glissade can be done in the standing or sitting position.  Often, climbers will practice glissading on a steep slope with an ice ax.   The technique provides a means of a quick, yet controlled, descent.  The ice ax is used to arrest the slide.  Hikers, like myself, just like to do a little butt sliding on the way down.  With optimal trail and snow conditions, a glissade can be the most enjoyable part of a hike.  Of course, caution is necessary.  You don’t want to go so fast that you can’t control your descent.  By keeping your feet in front of you, and your hands at your side, you can “rudder” to steer and/or slow yourself down.
Usually on the ascent while hiking, I’ll inspect the trail for a possible glissade on the return trip.   I’ll make mental notes of where a glissade is possible, and where it should be avoided.  It’s good to have some advance idea of what the trail will be like below you. 

Some hikers carry a small piece of plastic, or a small preformed plastic butt slider (available at places like EMS and REI).  The plastic helps to keep your pants a little drier, protects your pants and butt from obstacles and gives you added range to glissade a little farther on a flatter slope.  I’m also told there is even such a thing as pants designed specifically for glissading, although I’ve never seen them.
Skiers often do a bare boot standing glissade on a hard pack slope; to retrieve a stray ski, or just for the fun of it.  Some skiers who have practiced the standing glissade even have good technique; you would swear they are on skis.

Before winter makes its’ final retreat, get out there and glissade to freedom.  Soft spring snow is ideal.  You’ll get wet, but you’ll have fun.
To celebrate the sunny days of spring, the Sierra Nevada company offers a Glissade Golden Bock beer.  Perhaps a fitting end to a fine day in the snow.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gothics & Armstrong Mountains (attempt) - 3/11/12

Our plan today (Sunday) was to climb Gothics and Armstrong Mountains.  It was a beautiful day, with warm temperatures, blue sky, and no wind.  We got a little bit of a late start ( the phone alarm didn't adjust for daylight savings time).  In any case, we were on the trail at 8:30, excited about the chance to claim 2 more winter ADK 46 peaks.

We made good progress on the first 2.5 miles from the parking lot out the Lake Road to where the trail diverges and begins to climb.

Squirrel watching us as we began our ascent from the Lake Road

I think this guy was cheering us on as we made our way up the trail. 

After .6 miles of hiking, once leaving the Lake Road, we reached Beaver Meadow Falls.  Note how much ice was on the falls in the morning compared to the subsequent picture from the afternoon.

Beaver Meadow Falls (morning)

Afternoon... note how much ice fell off!

Signs at Beaver Meadow Falls
Hurricane Irene really altered many slides in the Adirondacks and the one we passed was no exception.  It is now like a wide open highway.  It would be great skiing here under the right conditions. 

Trail crosses this slide at 3100' (slide enlarged by Hurricane Irene)

Looking uphill at same slide

Amazing strength!

We continued onward and upward until we were just shy of the col between Gothics and Armstrong where the trail splits.  It took us 3 hours and 20 minutes to reach this point.  Just before the col the trail hooks clockwise around the summit cone of Armstrong.  At that point, the trail is very narrow and slopes slightly downward towards a massive cliff that drops to Cascade Brook.

We attempted to make our way through, but the snow was soft and unstable.  Leesa and I were on our MSR Ligntning Ascent snowshoes which grip well, but the whole snow mass couldn't be trusted.  In the warm weather, the snow was melting and the whole layer could slide underfoot.  We had microspikes also, but we didn't have ice crampons or ice axes.  If the snow mass gave way, there was a chance we would have gone into a slide and gone over the cliff.  Certain points had no trees to arrest our fall.

We were at 4330', and were just shy of the col.  From the col, it would have been an easy summit to Armstrong and Gothics was only .6 miles away.  Safety comes first however, and I decided it wasn't worth the risk.  We turned back at that point.  It was still a great day in the sunshine, and the views were great.  The winter summits will have to wait. 

The descent was no problem,  and we were back to the car by 4:30.

Great view of Gothics from where we turned around (at 4330')

Bridge at Beaver Meadow Brook (rebuilt 1999)


Beaver Meadow Brook


Hike Statistics (from our actual summit attempt)

Hike Distance:  9 miles
Hike Time:  8 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  3100'
Highest Elevation Obtained:  4330'
Parking Lot Elevation:  1300'

Our route shown in blue

Pilot Knob Preserve - 3/9/12

Anytime I want to do a hike with great views of Lake George in the Adirondack Park of NY, the Pilot Knob Preserve is the quickest place to go.  It's also a nice place.  The trail climbs steeply for 650' in a distance of about a half mile, to a gazebo that overlooks the southern end of the lake.  You can continue on for another mile to a waterfall.  The trail loops back around to the gazebo.  The whole trip is about 3 miles and can be done in 2 hours of so.

Sign on Pilot Knob Road

Trailhead register and kiosk

Gazebo at the viewpoint


Waterfall at the far end of the preserve





If you are looking for a short hike, of 3 miles or less, in the Lake George area, this is one of the best.  the combination of the lake views, and the waterfall provide nice rewards for such a short trek.

Hike Stats:

Trailhead Elevation:  350'
Elevation at Gazebo:  1000'
Hike Distance:  1 mile roundtrip to gazebo, or 3 miles roundtrip to gazebo and waterfall
Hike Time:  45 minutes or 2 hours

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Snow Mountain - 3/4/12

Keene Valley, NY was probably hit worse than anywhere else by Hurricane Irene.  That is still quite obvious as you drive Route 73 in the high peaks area and glance at the streams and rivers along the way.

Today we hiked Snow Mountain, a short hike with great views.  We followed the Deer Brook Flume trail, although a sign said the trail was impassable due to washouts.  There was quite a bit of debris everywhere, but the trail is passable, and the scenery is fantastic.  High rock walls line the flume, and this time of year ice decorates the rock with amazing formations.

The flume marks the first third of the hike.  Debris is everywhere, but observing what mother nature can do, was part of the fun.  After the flume, the trail follows what looks to be the remains of an old logging road until the trails hooks right and begins the steep push to the summit.

This was another mostly cloudy day, but the sun managed to poke itself out a couple times while we were standing on the summit.  Nice!

One of the ice flows in the Deer Brook flume

Mike seaching for pieces of the trail sign (knocked down by a fallen tree)

Rooster Comb in the distance

From left to right, Round, Noonmark and Dix Mountains (partially obscured by clouds)

The necessary summit picture

Noonmark Mountain

A spot of light through a dark cloud mass 

We had a few moments on the summit when the sun would find a way to poke through the clouds

Dix Mountain in the clouds

Leesa on the summit

It was passable, but caution is needed on stream crossings

Debris from Hurricane Irene

A few places like this were tricky to climb up and over

Another vertical face covered with an ice flow

Hike Statistics:

Hike Distance:  2.9 miles
Total Vertical Gain:  1375'
Hike Time:  3.5 hours
Summit Elevation:  2362'
Trailhead Elevation:  1107'

Our route shown in blue