Lake George

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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


  1. Man, you are knocking off the winter peaks faster than I can even read your trip reports! You must be well on the way to finishing your Winter 46. We did Gothics on Sat (it was awesome by the way) and I haven't even written up my trip report yet!

    Great photos as always.

  2. Thanks. I've got the Macs, the lower Dixes and the lower Great Range left. Hopefully 3 more trips and the winter list will be done.