Lake George

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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Buck & Bear Mountains - Dix Mountain Wilderness Area - 11/25/12

Buck Mountain and Bear Mountain are a pair easy to reach summits in the Dix Mountain Wilderness Area that have open rock summits with great views.  In previous bushwhack hikes in the area, I could tell that this pair of mountains would be well a visit.  The open rock is easily visible from other nearby peaks.

To access these mountains, I chose the West Mill Brook trailhead, although I could have also entered from the Shingletree Pond trail.  Both trailheads are on Route 9, about 4-5 miles north of the Blue Ridge Road in North Hudson.

On this day, I was on the trail at about 8:45.   No hurry, since I figured this pair would be a half day hike.   A snow squall had just passed through, leaving a half inch of light snow on the ground.  I followed the West Mill Brook trail for 1.4 miles from Route 9 before turning North to cross the brook and begin my bushwhack.  Only one hunter's truck was parked at the end of the jeep access road.  Two persons from the truck had walked in the the West Mill Brook Trail, but I never did see them.

I entered the draw to the east of the steep false summit.  After skirting around the early ledges through some open hardwoods I followed a straight course at 315 degrees to the summit of Buck Mountain.

The beginnings of open rock on the SE flank of Buck Mountain
 It was an easy approach.  The hardwoods were light and were dotted with a few spruce and pine.  About 400 feet from the summit I reached some gently sloping rock slabs that were partially covered with moss and were easy to climb.  I reached the summit at 10 AM.

Approaching the summit of Buck Mountain from the SE

From the summit there are sweeping views of the Dix range, Giant & Rocky Peak Ridge, Camel's Hump, Camel Mountain and Niagara Mountain as well as lesser peaks.

From the summit of Buck Mountain looking West.  McComb and South Dix (Carson) in the distance 
Looking South to Old Far, Niagara, Camel & Camel's Hump
The Sentry on duty
I believe this is the high point, on top of the big rock with the little cairn on  top

From Buck, I turned a little more westerly, to a course of 290 degrees to get to the south face of Bear Mountain.  The south face of Bear looked to be an easier approach than the east face.  It turns out I  didn't go quite far enough along the southern face.  At the point I chose to ascend, I ran into a steep slab and had to pick my way around to a seam where I could get a hand hold.  Somehow my dog Rev wasn't bothered by the steep slab.  I couldn't watch her.

Looking back at Buck Mountain from the shoulder of Bear Mountain

At 11 AM I was on Bear.  Bear is a little larger than Buck and has some open rock interspersed with small clumps of pines.  All the summits that I've been to in this area have been quite nice.  The temperature was still down in the high 20's but the winds (which were predicted to be 10-20 mph) weren't bad, and the sun was out.  Rev and I had an early lunch on the summit.

A zoomed in look at Saunders Mountain from Bear Mountain

We stayed until I started to get a little chilled and then it was time to go down.  This time I took a route a little further to the west to find an easier descent.  Once off the summit cone, I followed a compass reading of 160 degrees until I was back a the West Mill Brook.  From there, we found spot with a log across the brook and made our ways across and back to the jeep road.  20 minutes later we were back at the car.  It was only 1 PM, but I had things to do at home, so this half day hike was perfect.

Another look back to Buck Mountain from Bear Mountain

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  7.2 miles
My Hike Time:  4 hours, 15 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  1835'

My approximate route shown in blue (Click image to enlarge)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tongue Mountain Range - Lake George, NY - 11/22/12

Last year on Veteran's Day, I hiked the lower portion of the Tongue Mountain Range in Lake George, NY for the first time.  It was a strange weather day with hale and snow squalls followed by sun and then more snow squalls.  

Today I did the same loop with Leesa, only we went clockwise this time instead of counter-clockwise as I did last year.  Three reasons for this:  1)  We'd catch more sun that way; 2) We would do the most rugged piece first, and 3) We'd be looking towards the view coming down the ridge. 

The map below shows our route.  We started at the Clay Meadows parking lot on Route 9N, north of Bolton Landing.  The trail crosses the Northwest Bay inlet creek almost immediately before beginning the climb to the Tongue Range trail.  We hiked quickly, and reached the intersection with the ridge trail in 55 minutes.  I noticed that there are new signs and trail marker discs on the trail.  Last year, I remember there were long stretches with no markers.  Good to see the new ones.

 Our approximate route for the day
A new sign at the intersection with the ridge trail

At an hour and 15 minutes we were at the leanto on Fifth Peak.  As far as I can recall, no leanto in the Adirondacks offers a better view than this one.  If someone else can think of one, let me know! 

The view from the Fifth Peak leanto!

From the leanto, it is a downhill roller coaster hike to Montcalm Point at the tip of tongue.  We followed the trail south to French Point Mountain (FPM), which offers an even better view than Fifth Peak.  From FRM, you can see the Mother Bunch Islands to the North, and the Narrows Islands to the south.  Black Mountain is across the lake on the east side.  Leesa was thoroughly impressed with the view.

The view from French Point Mountain

We paused for a while on FPM.  It was warming up quickly from our 27 degree start.  It must have been at least 40 degrees already by 10 AM.  

Looking north to Fifth Peak from FPM.  The Mother Bunch Islands down below

As we made our way further down towards First Peak, we had views most of the time since the leaves are off the trees.  At First Peak, we enjoyed another fantastic spot.  It is hard to pick a favorite between FPM and First Peak; both are awesome.

We ate our lunch at First Peak.  We only saw one boat out on the lake.  All was quiet, except Rev whining for more food.

View south from First Peak

More food please!
Some of the Narrows Islands

Time to take Rev's coat off.  It was getting warm
Surprisingly, the steepest part of the ridge is probably the last rock outcrop heading south before you get to the point of tongue.

Leesa making her way down the last rock before Montcalm Point

At Montcalm Point, the sun was strong and the waves were lapping the shore.  It was almost like summer.

Looking south from Montcalm Point



From Montcalm Point, we followed the shoreline route back to the car.  Don't be fooled that the shoreline route is an easy walk along the water's edge.  There are quite a few ups and downs and some parts have a lot of rock in the trail.  Not difficult, but not a stroll either.

Allow a full day for this hike and enjoy all the ridgeline views.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  12.9 miles
Hike Time:  7.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  3600'

Our route as shown on National Geographic Topo

See more pics on the Picasa Web Album

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yard Mountain from South Meadow - 11/12/12

Yard Mountain (4009’) doesn’t get much attention.  Being in the close proximity to Big Slide Mountain, it doesn’t qualify as a 4000’ mountain, since it doesn’t have enough prominence of its’ own.  Still, if you are climbing it from the opposite direction and summit Yard without climbing Big Slide, it “feels” like it should count.  
Leesa and I climbed Yard on 11/12/12 with our dog Rev.  We started from the parking lot at the end of the South Meadow Road (off of Adirondack Loj Road).  Our approach was via the Klondike Notch trail.

Very fresh beaver action right near the South Meadow trailhead
The first trick is to negotiate the South Meadow drainage that you arrive at within a minute from leaving your car.  The foot bridge crossing the drainage was washed out, and a replacement bridge is not yet in place.  The crossing is not that deep, and we utilized some planks and branches that others had previously laid in the water.  Not bad.  We crossed without getting wet.

Leesa on the makeshift water crossing

Intersection with the Mr. Van trailhead
It’s a slow gradual climb from South Meadow.  The trailhead elevation is approximately 2100’ and the trail gains only 700’ in the first 1.5 miles as it sidesteps up the slope away from Klondike Brook.  The trail then follows the contour of the slope for a mile with little elevation gain at all before dropping slightly to reach the Klondike leanto at 2.6 miles.  The leanto is in great shape and is located a few paces south of the trail.  A sign marks the side path to the leanto.

Klondike Leanto

After the leanto, the trail crosses Klondike Brook and enters some softwoods and once again climbs slowly for .8 miles before dropping for .5 miles to the intersection with the trail to Yard Mountain.
Intersection with the Yard Mountain Trail
This day was windy but warm, and it had been warm for several days prior, so ice was nonexistent and traction aids were not needed.  We had reached the intersection in 2 hours and the trail had gained 1000’ in the 4 miles to the Yard Mountain trail intersection,.  The 1.2 mile push to the top would be 1000’.  On this day there was no difficulty in the climb.  It took about 45 minutes.


The Great Range!

The summit of Yard Mountain is treed, so the wind didn’t blow us over.  There is a nice view of the Great Range from a rock on the south side of the summit.  Marcy, Colden, Wright and Algonquin are also visible.

We had lunch at the top and poked around a bit.  I had also wanted to check out the trail that continued 1.5 miles to the summit of Big Slide, but there wasn’t time.  It will be there another day.

Colden, Wright and Algonquin

No time on this day to continue on to Big Slide

the summit
and of course a snack for Rev...

We descended back down to the Klondike Brook Trail and backtracked to the car.  The Klondike is a good trail for cross-country skiing in the winter and it is in good shape.  I only counted 2 trees down across the trail in the 4 miles we were on it.   We didn’t see any other hikers on the trail all day.  Next time here will be on skis!
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.6 miles
Hike Time:  5 hrs, 50 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  2830'

Our route for the day (click image to enlarge)

Our route as shown on National Geographic Topo (click to enlarge)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Camel's Hump, Camel Mtn, Old Far Mountain & Little Far Mtn - 11/16/12

I took advantage of some seasonal nice weather and a Friday off from work to do another bushwhack hike.  This one was in the Dix Mountain Wilderness Area of the Adirondack Park.  For this hike I began at the West Mill Brook trailhead on Route 9, 5.4 miles north of the Blue Ridge Road.  I didn't have a high clearance vehicle, so I walked the mile and a quarter to the gate before following the old jeep road along the West Mill Brook.

For the first hour I followed the old jeep road three miles until it faded away.  At that point I headed SW towards Camel's Hump Mountain.  Within a hour hour I was up on the northern most open rock of the ridge and it's quite a nice spot with good views.  From there I continued SW going in and out of the thick spruce and over a false summit before reaching the true summit and hour later.

Standing On the northern most open rock and heading SW to Camel's Hump

Camel's Hump has a good view of McComb, South Dix, East Dix and Wyman mountains. There is also a great view of the wide Niagara Brook valley.

Camel's Hump
Summit of Camel's Hump - Nippletop and Niagara in the Background

I had considered continuing SW to Niagara Mountain.  It was 10:30 when I was on Camel's Hump and I still had 3 more unfamiliar mountains to traverse, so I decided to leave Niagara for another trip when I can perhaps combine it with a hike of Nippletop.

The ridge to Niagara
East Dix and Wyman on the left
Nippletop and Niagara from Camel's Hump
Looking SE from Camel's Hump towards Camel  

I headed SE down off of Camel's Hump towards Camel Mountain.  The spruce continued to get thicker and my progress slowed.  Even though the 2 mountains are less than a half mile apart, it took me 40 minutes to go from one to the other.  Camel has a couple open spots with views, but the trees are generally thick.  

Thick spruce on Camel Mountain
South Dix, East Dix and Wyman from Camel

I headed NE down of of Camel and it was tough going until I got out of the spruce.  I made my way up an unnamed peak to a rock ledge for views back to the west.  From
there, it was due east to Old Far.  Just as I approached the western edge of the summit, I could see something in the distance.  At first I thought it was a tent, but as I got closer, it turned out to be the wreckage of a small airplane.  I had not heard that there was a wreckage here.  Not too many parts left. 

Plane wreckage on the west face of Old Far Mountain

More plane wreckage

I liked the summit of Old Far.  It is quite open with lots of rock and some nice pines.  Great views from many points.  Lastly, I headed further east to Little Far Mountain.  It is somewhat similar to Old Far, but the views aren't quite as nice.  

Buck Mountain from Old Far

Bear Mountain  from Old Far
To complete my loop, I headed North to return to the West Mill Brook trail.  I skirted west of Jug Mountain, since it is on private land. 

A good watering hole for the summer along the West Mill Brook
Here is one of the many nice spots along the West Mill Brook.  I took the jeep road back to the car, and was out at 2:45 PM.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.8 miles
Hike Time: 7 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  3650'
Approximate route (Click image to enlarge)