Lake George

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Crowfoot Pond - Hammond Pond Wild Forest - 12/27/13

Right near I-87, Exit 30, is a trail that leads to a pond named Crowfoot Pond.  I hadn't hiked this trail before and I wanted to scout it for cross country skiing.  The terrain on the topo map looked relatively flat.  It is 2.5 miles from the road to the pond.  Once you reach the pond, there is an end of trail sign, and beyond that, the state land ends and private property begins.

Trailhead sign
There is a summer parking lot just off the road (Tracy Road), but it is not plowed in the winter.  We parked on the straightaway just west of the trailhead and got as far off the road as we could.  There is not much car traffic on this road, but there did seem to be a lot of logging trucks traveling the road.
Immediately after walking past the summer parking lot, we had to cross Crowfoot Brook.  There is no bridge there, but when we were there, you could cross on a log or a frozen ice bridge.  After this initial crossing all the remaining water crossings were on nice timber bridges, apparently designed for snowmobiles.  The trail follow Crowfoot Brook all the way to the pond. 

This portion of the trail near the beginning suffered through a mini ice storm 
Leesa crossing one of the bridges

The trail follows a steady slight grade gaining 500 feet in the 2.5 miles to the pond.  At 1.7 miles, we saw private property signs on both sides of the trail.  Also at that point, unfortunately, were ATV tracks on the trail from there all the way to the pond.
This trail would be nice for skiing if it is not used by snowmobiles for ATV's.  The grade is easy enough to climb with no effort and it would be a gentle glide down.  I suspect that motorized vehicles often spoil the skiing on this trail, but I'm not sure.   

In any case, once we got to the pond, we watched Rev prance around on the ice, but we weren't comfortable doing so ourselves.

Crowfoot Pond
What are you waiting for, she says...



We retraced our steps back down the trail.  Hopefully there will be a chance for some skiing here.  The bridges are nice, and the grade is perfect for an easy glide.
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  5.2 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 500'
Our route (Click image to enlarge)
Our route on the National Geographic map

Monday, December 30, 2013

Bushwhack Hike to Peaked Hill - Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness - 12/26/13

If you are looking for a relatively easy bushwhack to an open Adirondack summit, consider Peaked Hill in the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness, just west of Rock Pond.  The goal for me on this gray day was to do a little bushwhack exploration.  I had heard that Peaked Hill had a really nice summit, and I had eyed it during a previous hike to Rock Pond. 
Walking was tough due snow conditions.  There was about 4" of crusty snow on the ground.   I broke through with each step.  Snowshoes might have been better, but on a bushwhack, snowshoes don't always work so well.  Once I got in the woods a little bit, the snow wasn't quite as crunchy. 
Trailhead at Putnam Pond Campground
I started by hiking from Putnam Pond to Rock Pond via the Clear Pond Trail.  At Rock Pond I turned north to a height of land, then walked west on the ridge of Rock Pond Mountain until I reached the true summit.  The woods was open throughout this hike allowing for easy movement through the trees.  There were filtered views of Rock Pond to the south.

Rock Pond, with Peaked Hill in the background

From Rock Pond Mountain, I decided to head north to take a look at Gooseneck Pond.  The land along the northern tip of Gooseneck Pond is private property but the remainder of land abutting the pond is state land.
I made my way towards the peninsula on the inside of the dogleg of the pond.  At the south shore I had my first glimpse of the peninsula and I saw an incredibly large rock formation at the water's edge.  Adjacent to that was a long rock point with a steep east face.  I had to walk several hundred feet inland to be able to get up on the rock and walk out to the point.  It was quite an impressive extension of rock.
Even more impressive was the tall rock face immediately to the west.  My dog Rev and I climbed to the top, but didn't go near the edge due to the slick ice surface.  This place must look great in the summer.  I'll have to go back to see.  
This rock feature is amazingly big

The water was covered in snow and ice, but it was not thick enough to trust walking on it.  I made my way back around the pond and headed south towards Peaked Hill, bypassing Rock Pond Mountain on the west.  Rev and I scouted and found a means to cross the Rock Pond outlet brook and soon we were climbing the open woods on the eastern flank of Peaked Hill.  About halfway we passed several large sections of exposed rock.
In minutes we were on the nice open summit.  There are great views of Pharaoh Mountain, Potter Mountain, Rock Pond and much more of the surrounding area. 

Pharaoh Mountain in the distance

A zoom in look at Pharaoh 

The open summit of Peaked Hill



A boardwalk on the South Rock Pond trail
I left the summit at 2:30 PM and was able to make it back to the car by 4:30.  On the way back, I took the South Rock Pond Trail to the Clear Pond Trail, stopping at both the Rock Pond lean-to and Little Rock POnd lean-t0 on the way out.
Rock Pond lean-to


Little Rock Pond lean-to

Soon access to this area will probably be a little more difficult, since the campground road isn't often plowed in the winter.  That adds a couple miles each way onto the trip.
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  10.2 miles
Hike Time:  6 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~2000'



Friday, December 27, 2013

Morgan Mountain & Cooper Kiln Pond - Taylor Pond Wild Forest - 12/25/13

As is usual in my family, we don't get the chance to get everyone together for Christmas on Christmas Day.  It is usually the day before, or the day after.  This year it is not until December 29th!  That left the door open to do some hiking on the 25th through the 27th for me.  I had hoped to climb some high peaks, or do some backcountry skiing, but the trail conditions weren't good for either.  I didn't want to bring my dog Rev up any steep trails in the crazy ice conditions that have been reported.  So with that in mind, I looked on the maps for trails that I hadn't done yet that would provide a nice safe outdoor adventure for us.
On Christmas Day I choose to hike the Cooper Kiln trail to Cooper Kiln Pond.  I also wanted to take a short bushwhack to Morgan Mountain and possibly Wilmington Mountain, both on the ADK hundred highest list.  I decided that Leesa and I would start the hike from the trailhead on Bonnie View Road to the east.  This route would be slightly longer (3 miles vs. 2.6 miles) one way to the pond.  It would also be a bit steeper since the trailhead is over 1000 feet lower than the trailhead to the west on the Wilmington Highway.  That was OK since we wanted the exercise.

Things didn't go quite as planned.  We parked on John Buss Road, near the intersection with Bonnie View Road, and started out.  We had traveled just over a half a mile when we came to a stream crossing.  I was able to cross on a nearby log, but our dog Rev wanted no part of it.  Leesa and I decided that we would go back to the car and try the trailhead from the west approach on the Wilmington Highway.

As we drove around the north country on this Christmas Day, we noticed that there were many little pocket areas that had ice storms.  It was funny, one neighborhood could look like an ice storm hit, while the next neighborhood could look totally different.  Some areas had lots of ice, other areas had little to none.   
Ice under snow

Mini Ice storm on the trees in spots 

That trail proved to be OK and we made our way towards Cooper Kiln Pond.  The trailhead is at 2360' (much higher than the 1330' and the eastern end).  The grade is really easy for the first mile, gaining only 250'.  At this point the grade got moderately steep and we climbed 600' in the next .9 miles before reaching the height of land where it was time for us to bear right and begin our .2 mile bushwhack to Morgan Mountain.
On the entire length of this trip, the snow depth was only 1-2" deep.  There was lots of ice under the snow, however, so we wore Microspikes the entire day.   
Nice blue skies
As expected, the bushwhack was quite easy.  The woods were relatively open and it was easy to make our way to the tops in a matter of minutes.  The summit offered no real views, but we poked around and found some small openings facing south.
Me on the wooded summit
"Filtered" views!
A little better....
A window on the world
After a little exploration, we headed north to get back on the trail and go to the Cooper Kiln Lean-to and pond.  Once back on the trail we followed the slight down hill grade a short distance and before we  knew it we reached the lean-to and pond.  Frozen ponds in winter just look fields with no trees, but we envisioned what the pond what look like in summer.    

Cooper Kiln Pond

 As usual, we stopped at the lean-to and had some food.  We didn't stay long since it was pretty cold.  At this point it was about 2 PM.  We talked about whether to bushwhack towards Wilmington Peak, or head back and save Wilmington for another day.
Cooper Kiln Lean-to

Thermometer at the Lean-to read 8 degrees

Leesa at the lean-to

We decided to enjoy the emerging afternoon sun and stay on the trail heading back towards the car.  The bushwhack to Wilmington Peak is a little thicker woods and we decided to give it our full attention another day.
Trailhead sign on Bonnie View Road

Trailhead sign on the Wilmington Highway
Going back to the car was an easy downhill walk that took about an hour.  We swung by Lake Placid on the way out.
The hike to this pond, even with a bushwhack or two thrown in, is an easy half day adventure.  With 2 cars, you can hike the trail end-to-end for a total trail distance of 5.9 miles.
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  5.7 miles (including bushwhack), plus 1.1 miles from the east
Hike Time:  3.25 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1300'
My route for the day (Click image to enlarge)
My route on the National Geographic map

Saturday, December 14, 2013

XC Ski to Lower Sargent Ponds - Sargent Ponds Wild Forest - 12/13/13

Last night I decided that today was going to be my first day out xc skiing this winter.  There wasn't enough snow in Schroon Lake to ski, so I went to Intellicast to check the snow cover in the western Adirondacks.  I wanted to see how far west I had to drive  to find sufficient snow.  It looked like Blue Mountain Lake had about a foot of snow so I planned a route to Lower Sargent Pond in the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest (just west of Blue Mountain Lake).

I just wanted to go out for a half day to get my ski legs under me.  I left the house about 9:30 and was out to Blue Mountain Lake around 11.  I turned off of Route 28 onto North Point Road to head towards my trailhead.  As I drove down the road, I came across a motorist driving a SUV pulling a small utility trailer that had slide off the road into a fairly deep ditch.  He had been stuck there for 20 minutes and there was no getting out.  The ditch was about 5 feet deep.  I pulled up to him and discovered that I was the first car to come by since he went off the road.  I offered to give him a ride to his house 4 miles away.  He got in the car and we only drove a short distance before we came to his wife driving up the road.  I stopped and let him off to go with his wife, and I wished him good luck.

After another mile, I came to my trailhead, only to find there was no place to park.  I continued on 1/2 mile to a pulloff for a canoe carry to Forked Lake and I parked there.

Canoe Carry to Forked Lake

Since I was at the canoe carry, I started out by skiing the short trail to Forked Lake.  It was about a half mile long.

North Point Road

Canoe Carry

Forked Lake

I reached the lake, then turned around and went back to the car.  I then skied east on North Point Road for about a half mile to my trailhead for Lower Sargent Pond.  Along the way I crossed the Raquette Lake Outlet Bay.  Once on the trail, there was about a foot of new snow and it was untracked.  I would be breaking trail.  It wasn't hard since the snow was light and fluffy.  

Raquette River 

Raquette Lake Outlet Bay

The start of the trail to Lower Sargent Pond

The first part of the trail is mostly hardwoods with slightly rolling terrain.  There were a few small drainage crossings that weren't frozen.  I had to carefully get across them so my skis wouldn't get wet and freeze.  
About halfway to Lower Sargent Pond I passed Grass Pond on my left. 

Grass Pond

Farther on, I came to a trail junction and turned right to head for Lower Sargent Pond.  I chose this pond since it had a lean-to I could ski to and stop there for a snack.

Trail Junction 

A small foot bridge water crossing

Just before I got to the lean-to I went through some pines that were encroaching on the trail and I got covered in snow.

I got dusted skiing through here
I saw 4 boats in the vicinity of the lean-to; 3 canoes and a rowboat.  The lean-to is sited on a nice point with a fine view of the water.  My dog Rev and I stopped to have some food.  We didn't stay long though.  The wind chill was around zero and it felt like it. 

A canoe near the lean-to

Lower Sargent Pond

Lower Sargent Pond Lean-to 


Once fed and nourished, we reversed course to go back to the car.  I skied a little faster since I had gotten a chill while eating.  It was also easier on the way out since I got to ski in my tracks.  In unbroken snow, an out and back is nicer than a loop hike.  You get a chance to enjoy the fruits of your trail breaking effort.

Blue skies appearing

The temperature was dropping as the afternoon wore on, but blue skies appeared.  We were back at the car at about 3:30 and I didn't feel too tired from my first time out.  That's a good sign.  Snow is on the way tomorrow, so I'll be back out again this weekend I'm sure.  Good to be out on skis again.

Ski Stats:
Ski Distance:  7.8 miles
Ski Time:  3.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 500' 

My route (click image to enlarge)

The route as shown on Nat Geo