Lake George

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dix Mountain from Route 73 - 2/23/13

This hike was a repeat of a hike I tried back on 4/20/12 when I attempted to climb Dix Mountain from the  Route 73 trailhead at Round Pond.  On that hike, there was absolutely no snow at the Trailhead, but there was 18" of fresh snow on the steep section above where the trail crosses the slide.  That new snow made it impossible for Rev to climb.  We ended up turning back.

On this day, my son Zack and girlfriend Hannah were visiting and they came along with me for the hike.  It was a nice day for a hike (at least below treeline).  It was just below freezing and there was light snow coming down.  Hannah uses an inhaler for asthma, but had forgotten it at home.  We were hoping she would be able to do the hike OK.

Zack, Hannah and Rev

Rev treat!

We started on the trail at 8:15.  There is an uphill section after passing Round Pond that is a moderate grade for awhile before leveling off until you pass the Boquet Leanto.  We covered the first 5 miles in 2 hours and then reached the beginning of the next grade which takes you past the slide on the east face of Dix.

Hannah noticed that she was not going to be able to climb the steeper section without difficulty and we stopped to discuss what to do.  It was decided that she and Zack would go back to the car and go get some lunch at the Noonmark Diner while I climbed the remaining 1.8 miles of steep terrain to the summit.  I figured I would be about 3 hours behind them.

I gave them the car keys and a walkie-talkie radio so we could still communicate.  They then headed back and I began the steep climb.  I was following a fresh snowshoe track so the trail was easier to climb than I thought it might be.  I reached the summit about 11:45 and was still able to reach them on the radio.

The summit weather conditions were quite different (as is often the case).  Visibility was poor and it was quite windy.  I stayed long enough to take a couple pictures and then I headed back down.  It was a fast butt slide down the steep section, then an easy downhill walk out.

On the summit ridge

The summit

A nice walk in the woods down below

I made it back to the car at about 2:30 and was only 1.75 hours behind Zack and Hannah.  They had just pulled back into the parking lot 10 minutes before I came out of the woods.  Great timing!  It was nice to get to hike with Zack and Hannah for a while.  Hope they can get back again soon for another hike.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  13.7 miles
Hike Time:  6 hours, 15 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 3600'

Our route for the day (Click image to enlarge)

A topo of the route

Cliff, Redfield, Gray and Skylight - 2/26/13

Another wind free mild day for me to take advantage of.  This time I decided to head for Cliff and Redfield Mountains from Upper Works.  I left Schroon Lake at 5:45 and it was 27 degrees.  Somehow when I arrived at Upper Works at 6:30, it was 7 degrees.  It always seems cold there.  Every time I drive that direction, I see my temperature gauge dropping.

In any case, I knew it would warm up.  I was on the trail at 6:35 and I could see the sun just coming up over the mountains.  I was on the Calamity Brook Trail heading towards Flowed Lands.  I believe this trail is my favorite winter approach trail to high peak hiking.  It just feels nice to me, compared to other trails.  In the summer it's quite rocky, but in the winter it's nice.  It's also a great ski route.

Heading north on the Calamity Brook Trail

I was on snowshoes and covered the 4.6 miles to Flowed Lands in 1.5 hours.  Flowed Lands is just a magical place, and on a day with no wind, it's a joy to step out on the ice and cross.  It also saves time as opposed to skirting around on the trail.

The sun just about to rise

Mount Colden and Avalanche pass

Looking Back towards the Calamity Brook Trail

McMartin Leanto

I made my way over to the crib bridge that crosses the outlet of Lake Colden and began climbing the trail alongside the Opalescent River.  In the summer, this area is spectacular.  In winter there is not much to see around the flume.  I reached the suspension bridge at 8:30, crossed the Opalescent and was up at the Uphill Leanto at 9:10, 2.5 hours from Upper Works.

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I found the snowshoe track from the previous day heading up the herd path to Cliff and Redfield and I followed it.  At the split, I decided to climb Cliff first.  I did Redfield first in the summer and decided that next time I would do Cliff first.  I managed to climb the icy cliffs in my snowshoes by grabbing branches along the way for added security.

Summit of Cliff Mountain

At 9:45 I was on top of Cliff.  There was some visibility and no wind.  It was about 20 degrees.  I stopped to have a snack and explore the different view points, then it was back to the junction for Redfield.  

Views from Cliff

Mount Colden from Cliff

 I forgot how steep and continuous the trail is to Redfield, but at 11 AM I was standing on the summit wondering what happened to the views.  The fog had rolled in and that was the end of my summit views for the day.  Not much to see any longer.

Redfield summit sign and disc

View from Redfield

Although the climb to Redfield was steep, the descent was easy.  I found myself back at the Uphill Leanto at 11:30 and it got me thinking.  If I returned to the car, I would get back at around 2 PM.  I decided I had enough time to head for Gray and Skylight.  I could always head out the Calamity Brook Trail by headlamp if need be.

I continued on the trail along the Opalescent River until the junction with the trail for Lake Tear of the Clouds.  The trail for Lake Tear was the killer of the day after having done Cliff and Redfield.  It is a steep trail for almost the entire 1.2 mile to Lake Tear.

At Lake Tear, I dropped my pack and went up Gray Peak.  Still no views.  I was on the summit of Gray at 1:05 PM.  The fog was getting worse.  I dropped back down, left my pack where it was and headed for Mount Skylight. 

Summit sign and disc

Looking from Gray towards Mount Marcy

4 Corners

I had finished my 46 high peaks on Skylight, and it is a fabulous mountain, but today it felt like I was walking on the moon.  It was just white.  White snow, white sky, white cairns.  The cairns were the only feature that was identifiable.  I made my way to the summit rock pile and it was even hard to see my tracks in the snow.  It was now 1:50 PM.

The summit of Mount Skylight.  Nothing was visible.

It was all downhill now.  I made my way back to Uphill Leanto, back to Flowed Lands, then down and out to Upper Works.  Downhill in winter is so much easier.  I signed out at 5:10 PM.   Not bad, 10.5 hours for 24 miles and 4 peaks!  Time for an Advil though...

Lake Tear of the Clouds

Uphill Brook Leanto

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  24 miles
Hike Time:  10.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 6000'

My route for the day (Click image to enlarge)

A topo of the route

Haystack & Basin Mountains - 2/25/13

I take my mountain days when I can get them.  Monday's forecast called for light winds and temps close to freezing.  I've been wanting to head to Haystack on a windless day and this was the first chance, so I took it.
I planned to start at The Garden and climb the Phelps Trail to the State Range trail.  I was then going to make my way north along the Great Range, and if the stars aligned, I would get all the way past Upper Wolf Jaw.

Well the day turned out to be a comedy of errors.  No problem with my pace.  I got started at 6:15 and traveled the first 6.9 miles to Slant Rock by 8:40.  First mistake... just past Slant Rock I mistakenly turned left onto Shorey's Short Cut.  I made the same mistake in summer.  The sign says Mt Marcy straight ahead, and State Range Trail to the left.  It only added .3 miles onto the hike, but Shorey's adds a lot of unnecessary vertical in that extra distance. 

Bushnell Falls Leanto

Slant Rock

Slant Rock Leanto

This sign has messed me up the last 2 times.  Hopefully I'll get it right and stay right  next time

No big deal on Shorey's, it just made extra work for me.  I reached the State Range trail and followed in to Little Haystack.  I made the decision to stay in my snowshoes going down the Hillary Step on the south side of Little Haystack.  That was probably a mistake, but luckily I made it down OK.  I proceeded up Haystack with no issues and reached the summit at 10:30.  Still great progress.

Sign on the Phelps trail to Mount Marcy

Little Haystack from the shoulder of Mount Haystack 

Little Haystack again

Looking to the summit of Mount Haystack

the summit!

Visibility wasn't great.  I couldn't see the summits of any of the surrounding peaks.  They were all in the clouds.  At least I could see the lower parts of the mountains, and the wind was negligible as was predicted.  That was great!

Little Haystack

Looking towards Mount Marcy

This feature on the east side of Basin Mountain is interesting

The summit of Mount Marcy almost visible

Haystack and Little Haystack from the shoulder of Basin Mountain

I left Haystack and made my way north on the State Range Trail past Shorey's Short Cut and up to the summit of Basin Mountain.  It was 11:15 and all was going well, except the lack of visibility.  I started towards Saddleback Mountain and quickly came to the point on the north side of Basin where the trail broke of the mountain in 2012 and the trail crew did a little reroute.

There is a steep descent at that point, then the trail hooks right at the edge of a cliff.  The descent was icy and it made my knees weak to look at it.  I wasn't to keen on putting on my crampons and relying on them to prevent my loss of traction, although I'm sure they would have done just fine.

I took my pack off to have a snack and noticed that my crampons were no longer tied to the side of my pack.  They must have come loose and fell off.  Well that ended any thought of continuing down the north side of Basin.

I turned back the way I had come and found the crampons on the south side of Basin, just a little ways below the ladder, maybe a third of a mile from the summit.  I didn't want to turn around again, so I went back over Shorey's Short Cut and back down the Phelps trail to the car.

This picture and the next are from the summit of Basin.  Nothing was visible

On the way out from John Brook Lodge I stopped to look at the newly redone Wm. Howard Leanto


I signed out at 3:15, so the trip was exactly 9 hours.  I wasn't successful in getting the 6 peaks I was hoping for, but I got 2 and an excuse to go back in the near future.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance: ~20 miles
Hike Time:  9 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 5000'

My route for the day (Click image to enlarge)

Topo of the Route