Lake George

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

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Santanoni Range - 6/28/12

On Thursday, I used a vacation day to climb the Santanoni Range with my dog Rev.  These were three more ADK high peaks that I needed in my quest to become a 46er.  I choose Thursday due to the splendid weather forecast and my ability to take that day off.  The weather did not disappoint.

I did, however, need to be home by late afternoon so I got an early start.  I was on the trail at 5:20 AM.  I was the first one to sign the trail register that morning, although I noted that a group of three signed in on Wednesday headed for the Bradley Pond leanto.

My plan was to go in to Bradley Pond, take the Panther Brook herd path to Harold Square, to Panther Peak, to Couchsachraga Peak, to Santanoni Peak, down the Santanoni Express back to the Bradley Pond trail and out.  This gave me a counterclockwise loop plus the 3 down and back herd paths to the summits.

Panther Peak from Santanoni Peak

Below is my GPS track from the day.  The loop portion was done counterclockwise.

The GPS track of my Santanoni Range hike at EveryTrail

I was moving pretty fast and passed the cairn marking the bottom of the Santanoni Express herd path in about an hour.  This path has just been reopened within the last five years and it made my loop hike possible.  Shortly afterward I reached the mud and was in the mud most of the rest of the day.  There is a brand new trail re-route just before Bradley Pond (thanks crew! ... nice job).  They also placed a sign with a new connector to the Panther Brook herd path, since the re-route takes you past where the cairn was.

Rerouted portion  of the Bradley Pond trail indicating the start of the Panther Brook  Herd Path

I decided to continue on to take a peek at the Bradley Pond leanto before returning to the Panther Brook herd path.  I reached the leanto about 6:40 AM and the group was still sleeping there so I didn't disturb them.  I returned to the new connector and began the ascent to Harold Square and Times Square.     

Bradley Pond

After skirting around the north side of Bradley Pond, the herd path stays left of a cliff as it ascends.  Shortly after the cliff, the herd path passes an unofficial camping spot at about 3250'.  The path then bears left to reach Panther Brook and follow Panther Brook until it peters out at about 3900'.  

Cliffs NW of Bradley Pond

High on Panther Brook Herd Path and looking back

Panther Peak indicator at Harold Square 

Cairn to Times Square from Harold Square

The Seward Range from Panther Peak

I reached Harold Square at 8:30 AM and was on the summit of Panther Peak at 8:45 AM.  I had the summit to myself at expected.  I wasn't sure if I would see anyone the entire day.  As it turned out, I saw three people but that was it.  Panther Peak has the biggest summit opening of the group and I enjoyed a snack and the views.  Rev gobbled up a portion of the chicken and beef that I offered her.  I should really get a sign for her that says "Will Hike for Food!".

Panther Peak Summit Disc

Panther Peak Summit

Santanoni Peak from Panther Peak

Couchsachraga Peak from Panther Peak

I returned to to Harold Square, then followed the path past the cairn the few paces over to Times Square which is a second small clearing and is the start of the herd paths for Couchsachraga and Santanoni.  I turned right to do Couch first.  The herd path to Couch is a 1.5 mile down and back with quite a bit of descent.  There is also the famous mud wallow at the low point.  It did not disappoint.  I managed to stay dry from the ankles up, although I could have easily gone in up to my knees.  Rev managed to get quite muddy.

Times Square

The neat summit sign on Couch is no longer there; just a yellow disc.  I had reached Couch at 10:10 AM.  Couch offers limited views, and is not a favorite peak of many.  At least I had it on a nice day.

Summit of Couchsachraga Peak

The famous mud hole on the way to Couchsachraga

On my return to Times Square, I passed two guys from Cazenovia, NY on their way in to Couch.  They had signed in on the trail register after me.  I got back to Times Square and gave Rev more food.  Just as I was getting ready to leave Times Square, a young woman from Keene Valley, NY came in from the Santanoni herd path.  She was doing the route in the opposite direction from me. She had taken the Santanoni Express herd path up, not realizing that there was more than one herd path.  She continued past me to Couchsachraga and I headed for Santanoni.  It was 11:15 AM at that point.

Ridge to Couchsachraga Peak in the foreground; Seward Range in the background.

View to the NE from Santanoni Peak

I made my way over to the summit of Santanoni Peak at 12:05 PM.  Just before the summit, I saw a small clearing on the left and noted that the Santanoni Express herd path drops down from there. There is no cairn marking the spot.

Rev on the summit of Santanoni Peak

I gave Rev the last of her snacks and she posed for a picture at the summit.  Then we walked the short distance back to the top of the Santanoni Express herd path and began our descent.  This herd path is really steep at the top.  It's also full of mud, rocks and roots.  Perhaps a clockwise loop would have been better to ascend this section rather than descend.

At about 4000' on the descent, I came across a split in the herd path with a rock cairn on the right.  I was confused by this, but decided take the right, since the cairn was there; even though the left looked more heavily traveled.  

Cairn at split in Santanoni  Express Herd path on the way down at 4000'

Shortly after that, I came to the cliff that I had read about with the rope.  I couldn't see the rope from above and decided to go down the right side of the rock.  This proved tricky, so I went left instead. Once down below the rock, I saw the rope in the middle.  It looks like both branches of the herd path reunite below the cliff.

Rope at cliff just below 4000' on Santanoni Express herd path

I continued on until I reached a nice spot to refill my water.  This was somewhere around 3400'.

1st good water refill on the way down the Santanoni Express herd path

Near the bottom of the Santanoni Express herd path

As I reached the bottom of the herd path, the creek had some nice sand/gravel bars and I stopped to change my socks and cool my feet in the water.

Bradley Pond trail to the right; Santanoni Express herd path to the left

Once back on the Bradley Pond trail, it was less than an hour walk back to the car.  I reached the car at 3 PM.

Bridge over Santanoni Brook

It was a great day outdoors.  These peaks were #'s 38-40 for me on the high peaks list.  All I have left are the four in the Seward Range, plus Gray and Skylight.  Two more trips!

Hike Stats:

Hike Distance:  15.5 miles
Hike Time:  9 hours 40 minutes (including stops)
Total Vertical Gain:  4950'
Trailhead Elevation:  1883'
Panther Peak Summit Elevation (#18): 4442'
Couchsachraga Peak Summit Elevation (#46):  3820'
Santanoni Peak Summit Elevation (#14):  4607' 

My approximate route shown in blue.  Click picture to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Scarface Mountain & Baker Mountain - 6/23/12

Scarface Mountain  lies in Ray Brook, just east of Saranac Lake, NY.  Leesa and I decided to hike this mountain on a day when the weather wasn't at it's best.   It was a good choice weather wise.  The thunder started right as we reached the summit and light rain started shortly thereafter.  It was kind of nice though.  The storm front ushered in cooler air and the light rain took the bugs away. 

Foot Bridge over Ray Brook
We were under a canopy of trees the entire hike so we hardly got wet.   This hike supposedly has a side trail near the summit that leads to a ledge with good views, but we couldn't find it.  We did pass one ledge on the trail and had some views there.  The summit itself is in the trees.  

Mike and Rev on the wooded summit

The hike was 7.2 miles roundtrip and took us 4 hours,  The trail is generally flat the first two miles through a beautiful red pine forest.  As the trail starts to get steep, the red pines give way to hardwoods before returning to pines near the summit.  The 3rd mile was steep, with a vertical gain of a thousand feet before reaching the summit ridge.    

Pine forest with lots of moss

We didn't linger at the top since we didn't know how bad the storm was going to get.  We retraced our path to trailhead and then went to Saranac Lake for lunch.

View from the ledge along the trail.  You could tell the rain was coming.

After lunch, the weather cleared.  Leesa wanted to climb Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake, so we headed back into the woods.  I forgot the camera, and I'm sorry I did because Baker Mountain had great views of Saranac Lake, all the lakes and some of the high peaks.  It is a great short trail.  It is only 1.6 miles roundtrip, but don't skip it.  It is well worth the trip.  See the route map below.

Leesa and Rev on the same ledge

Why are you taking me out here in the rain... I want a snack!

Red Pine forest for the first two miles

Hike Stats:
Scarface Mountain
Hike Distance:  7.3 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours
Vertical Gain: 1730'
Scarface Summit Elevation:  3058'

Baker Mountain
Hike Distance:  1.6 miles
Hike Time:  1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  960'
Baker Summit Elevation:  2457'
Our Scarface Mountain route shown in blue (click map to enlarge)

Our Baker Mountain route shown in blue (click map to enlarge)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Iroquois, Boundary, Algonquin & Wright Peaks - 6/24/12

Some of the most most accessible alpine terrain in New York lies in the Macintyre Range (Wright, Algonquin, Iroquois) of the High Peaks Wilderness.   Mount Marshall is also part of the Macintyre Range, but its' summit is below treeline.  Leesa and I had been on Algonquin and Wright previously, but had never continued on to Iroquois, so today was the day we decided to do that.

Wright Peak from the tree line of Algonquin

The weather forecast was good for the morning, but questionable for the later part of the afternoon, so we got on the trail about 7:15 AM.  The climb to Algonquin is short and steep with a vertical gain of about 3000 feet in 3.8 miles or so.  The trail becomes quite rocky and has one steep long rock slab that is also sometimes wet.  Wear some sturdy footwear with good traction.

Leesa going up Algonquin

We climbed pretty quickly, and we enjoyed the fact that we were somehow mostly devoid of bugs for the majority of the day (very un-Adirondack like, especially for June).  We reached the summit of Algonquin at 9:45.  The only person on the summit was an ADK summit steward.  He told us he had arrived at the summit  around 9 and that he had only seen one person before us at the top.

Mount Colden from the summit of Algonquin

We continued on and soon left the marked trail for the Iroquois herd path.  At the beginning of the herd path, there is a trail sign pointing to the left, and on it is written Iroquois with a right arrow (see picture below).  The herd path was easy to follow.  There was one muddy quagmire shortly after the start, but not too muddy after that.  

Lake Colden and Flowed Lands from the summit of Algonquin

We reached the summit of Iroquois at 10:45; an hour after leaving Algonquin.  What a great summit, and we had it all to ourselves.  We sat down to eat part of our lunch.  The weather was fantastic.  After owning the summit for awhile, we returned to Algonquin at exactly noon. 

Boundary Peak and Iroquois Peak from Algonquin

On the way back, I decided to climb Wright (so Rev could claim it!).  Leesa decided that she would slowly continue her descent, knowing that Rev and I would catch back up to her.  When Rev and I reached the summit, we talked with another summit steward.  There were about a dozen people on top of Wright when we got there.  We stayed for about 5 minutes and then dropped back down to catch up to Leesa.

Iroquois from Boundary Peak (Wallface Cliff at right)

We found her about halfway back to Adirondack Loj.  Once rejoined, we all made our way back to the car.  We had our boots off by 3:15 PM.  Still nice weather.   We didn't see any rain until 6 PM while driving home.

The start the Iroquois Herd Path trail

We unleashed Rev briefly to negotiate the mud on the Iroquois herd
path and gave her one moment of freedom on rock for a photo op

The summit of Iroquois

Rev getting some good snacks on Iroquois

Algonquin from Boundary Peak

Climbing back up Algonquin (from Boundary Peak) 

Heading down Algonquin (only to head up Wright Peak) 

Mount Colden from Wright 

Algonquin from Wright

Hike Stats

Hike Distance:  9.95 miles
Hike Time:  7 hours 45 minutes (including stop time)
Total Vertical Gain:  4660'
Trailhead Elevation:  2095'
Algonquin Peak Summit Elevation:  5114'
Iroquois Peak Summit Elevation:  4840'
Wright Peak Summit Elevation:  4580'

Our route shown in blue (click to enlarge)

My Iroquois, Algonquin & Wright Peaks GPS Track