Lake George

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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Buck Mountain from Hogtown - 3/30/13

Leesa and I had some time today for a couple hour hike and we decided to climb Buck Mountain on the east shore of Lake George from the north, from Hogtown Road as we hadn't done that trail before.  It was a beautiful day in the woods with temps in the mid 40's.  There was no wind, lots of sunshine and blue skies.

The gravel road to Hogtown was muddy as always, but it was firm.  We got to the trail head and were surprised to see 5 cars in the parking lot.  We thought everyone would be doing yard work or getting ready for Easter.

There was a couple inches of snow on the ground in the shade.  As we climbed. the snow got deeper and there was probably a foot at the summit in spots where the sun doesn't melt it away.  We passed most of the people hiking.  They were mostly casual hikers wearing jeans and sneakers.

We had on our hiking boats but didn't use Microspikes or snowshoes.  The snow was soft and mushy.  The route to the summit from Hogtown is 2.5 miles long with a trail head elevation of 1200'.  With the summit elevation being 2330', it is only a little over 1100' vertical to the top from Hogtown.  The other approach, from Pilot Knob, is 3.3 miles long with the trail head at 500'.  Either approach is relatively easy.  The Pilot Knob approach is more popular, and also have some great views from the trail before you reach the top.

Looking north from the summit towards Northwest Bay

This route from the north doesn't reward you with any distant views prior to the summit, but it's nice trail.  Once you reach the summit of course you are blown away by the beautiful view of Lake George.

The ice is coming off!

The ice is about half off the lake and we could see a couple boats out on the open water.  It was wonderful on the summit.  With the bright sunshine, the summit rocks were actually warm to the touch and it was nice to sit on the rocks and soak up the sun.  It's been a long time since we could do that. 

The Tongue Mountain Range to the north

Our trek to the summit took about an hour and 15 minutes.  We stayed on top for about 30 minutes before heading back down.  It was a fun descent in loose mushy snow.  Other groups of young adults were having a great time glissading down the trail.  We did too.

Another group on the summit was kind enough to take our picture

We got back to the car at about 4:15 and it was time to head home for dinner.  Another 3 months and the summit will be covered in blueberries!

Another look to the north

Rev is waiting for a snack

Trip Stats:
Hike Distance:  5 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1200'

Our route shown in blue (click image to enlarge)

Our route on an enlarged topo map

Sunday, March 24, 2013

XC Ski - Upper Works to Preston Pond - 3/23/13

I suspected that this weekend would be my last chance for the season to get out and do some backcountry skiing.  The snow storm that came through last Tuesday left about 12 inches of snow in the central Adirondacks.  We were also fortunate that a relatively cold spell came in afterwards with some stable weather so ski conditions held good into the weekend.

My pick for Saturday was to go to Upper Works (near Newcomb) and ski towards Duck Hole.  I had also heard that the Henderson Lean-to had recently been moved and I wanted to see how that looked now.

Inside Henderson Lean-to - Looking out

Ski conditions were perfect.  It was in the mid 20's with a nice ski track and about 1" of powder on top of that.  It took me about 40 minutes to ski to the Henderson Lean-to.  The Lean-to was moved about a month ago.  It was moved about a 100 yards up the hill away from the trail and the stream.  It also a new roof  and rafters and some new logs.  It looks good!  Nice work.

A welcome sign

Some different angle views

Indian Pass Brook under snow and ice

View of the Henderson Lean-to from the former location near the brook

Notes in the Lean-to journal about the restoration

After I left the Henderson Lean-to, I retraced my tracks .2 miles south to the trail leading to Duck Hole.  I followed the Duck Hole trail .6 miles around the northern end of Henderson Lake to the NW shore of the lake where there is a 2nd Lean-to.  I had heard about this one and it is now shown on the new High Peaks National Geographic map.

Henderson Lake Lean-to

It is a slightly different style, and according to the plaque, it was built by several families with the help of DEC.   I am curious as to the story behind this lean-to.  I'm also curious about who owns and maintains it.  Apparently it is run a little differently.   

The Henderson Lake Lean-to has a nice location with a view of the lake.  I could also see a fire ring under the snow, although I would be surprised if camp fires are allowed here.

Henderson Lake in the background

From the Henderson Lake Lean-to, I continued on my ski trip and went as far as the Upper Preston Pond before it was time to turn around.  

Incidentally, I had my dog Rev with me on this trip.  I had her on the flexi-leash, with the leash attached to the hip belt on my ski pack.  She was able to pull hard enough that on the flat she could pretty much just pull me along.  No poling or kick striding needed.  Made my job easy!

Upper Preston Pond

Once at the pond, it was time to head back.  This summer I want to go farther in to see how Duck Hole looks, now that the dam is breached.  I haven't seen it since the damage from Hurricane Irene.

A canoe carry disk near the pond
The snow conditions really were great.  A couple snow squalls came through while I was out.  It really didn't feel like it was the end of the ski season but I won't we skiing Easter weekend, and by the weekend after that who knows how the snow will be.  I savored this trip in case this weekend is the end for this winter.

Trip Stats:
Ski Distance:  8 miles
Ski Time:  3 hours, 20 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 800 feet

A map of my route (click image to enlarge)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pole Hill Pond - Lake George Wild Forest - 3/13/13

One of the things I do when I buy a new version of a map, is compare the map to the previous version to see what has changed.  In 2012, National Geographic published an updated map # 743 (Lake George / Great Sacandaga).  There are quite a few changes on the new map.  One thing I like is that most of the state land parcels are now labeled, so you know what tract of state land they belong to.

Some new trails are shown on the 2012 map including trails in the Cat & Thomas Mountain Preserve, operated by the Lake George Land Conservancy and trails just west of Route 9N at the north end of Northwest Bay.  These trails are on a piece of land that is now shown on the map as state land, whereas the previous version showed this land to be private.  Three loop trails are indicated on the new map.  I decided to visit these trails today to take a look.

The first thing I noticed is that the trail network is not obvious from the road.  I drove up and down the road and finally found a little unmarked pull-off that was the only possibility for where the trailhead was.  I parked and started in, to see if this was indeed the trail.  I quickly saw yellow discs placed by the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.  There was no trail register or kiosk or parking sign.  I followed the yellow loop   which went alongside an unnamed brook.  A blue trail forked off to the right, but due to high water from recent rain, I was unable to cross the brook.  The yellow disc trail creates the smallest trail loop, which I measured at 1.7 miles.  I took the loop counterclockwise.  At the halfway point, the trail crosses a little knoll with a seasonal partial view of Northwest Bay. 

The knoll at the far end of the yellow loop

I continued on and did not see any other loop trails.  Near the end of the yellow trail loop, the discs not few and far between and suddenly became Lake George Land Conservancy discs that were obviously much older.  When I reached my starting point, I was surprised that I hadn't found the other loop trails, so I took the loop again.  This time I found the western point where the blue trail meets the yellow trail.  It was just south of the knoll at the midway point in the loop.

Northwest Bay in the background

Some of the rushing water from yesterdays heavy rains and snow melt

I started out on the blue disc trail, which was also Lake George Land Conservancy discs.  Once again these discs looked older and they were spaced very far apart.  I was spending too much time trying to find the trail discs, so I just began bushwhacking towards Pole Hill Pond, which was my destination.  The blue trail was headed that way and sometimes I ran across discs.  None of these trails are visible on the ground.  They must not get much hiker traffic.

After approximately 1.5 miles after leaving the yellow trail, I came to east shore of Pole Hill Pond.  The pond was still covered in ice.  I started counterclockwise around the pond.  At the center of the north end, there is a spot that would be nice to camp at.

Nice location to camp at the north end of Pole Hill Pond

I continued on from the pond to climb the unnamed hill to the north.  The map showed largest loop of the trail went over the summit.  Once again I saw occasional blue discs, but they would have been hard to follow. 

Just northwest of the pond, I hit the state land boundary and saw new signs, yellow paint and flagging.

Brand new state land signs

The inside corner of the state land boundary, just NW of Pole Hill Pond 

After I hit the state land boundary, I followed an old road that started to go up the hill.  When the road hooked left and started to go down again, I hooked right to continue up the hill.  I reached the lower part of the ridgeline at about 1300', then followed the contour of the ridgeline easterly to the high point of the ridge at 1590'.  Just prior to the high point, I came to a viewpoint with a great view of Lake George.

The view of Lake George from the unnamed hill to the north of Pole Hill Pond

Great View!

Along the ridge of this hill I saw more blue discs, but it wasn't worth trying to follow them.  I continued easterly to descend the hill, then hooked back around to head SW and work my way back to the trail.

Interesting swirls on an old decaying log

I regained the blue trail near where I had started my bushwhack, then followed my track back to the yellow trail and back to the car.  This whole area was pretty.  The tree density was light throughout the hike making it easy to head whatever direction I wanted to go.

The pond and the hill were nice features.  There was no snow on the first half of the hike, but there was knee deep snow up on the shady side of the hill.  All the creeks and brooks were overflowing with water and snow melt from the heavy rain yesterday.  It made for an interesting walk.  The sun came out later in the afternoon.  It was a fine day in the woods.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  ~ 10 miles (including my double loop of the yellow trail)
Hike Time: 5 hours, 40 minutes
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 2000'

My approximate route drawn in blue (click image to enlarge)

A screen capture of my GPS track on a topo map

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hough Peak & My ADK Winter 46er Finish- 3/8/13

I was so excited to today's hike to start.  Hough Peak was my remaining peak for my ADK winter 46er finish, which is climbing the 46 ADK high peaks of  "46er" status, between the dates of 12/21 and 3/21, the official dates of winter.  Last weekend I tried for the 4 lower peaks in the Dix range, but only got 3: Macomb, South Dix (Carson) and East Dix (Grace).  That was OK.  Why tag my last peak at the end of a day under gray skies.  Why not start fresh and climb it by itself on a blue sky day.

Today turned out to be just that.  It was forecast to be cloudy until late afternoon, but the blue sky and sun came out by about 9:30.  I did this hike with Bill B, who needed this peak to draw within one hike of finishing his own winter 46.  He has Giant/Rocky Peak left and plans to do them tomorrow.

As I was packing my gear last night, I noticed one of my snowshoes was broken.  The metal plate under the plastic binding was broken all the way though on my MSR Evo Ascent snowshoes.  My only option was to swing by my camp in Schroon Lake and pick up my other snowshoes, an older pair of MSR Lightning Ascents ( the 2 buckle model).  So that is what we did.  I carried extra straps in case a strap broke.

We got started at the winter trailhead on Elk Lake Road, at Clear Pond, at 8 AM.  There was just a dusting on new snow on the ground.  We quickly went up the road to the summer trailhead and found the trail to still be well tracked and not drifted over.  We hiked past the Slide Brook Herd Path and the Slide Brook Leanto and made it to the Lillian Brook Herd Path at 9:40.

We think this was a moose scrape

Before we got to the Slide Brook Leanto we noticed a young tree on the left side of the trail with deep scrap marks on it, about 4 feet off the ground.  It didn't look like deer antlers, or porcupine.  We thought maybe moose teeth?  Moose antler scrapes would have been higher on the tree.  Any thoughts?

Once at the Lillian Brook Herd Path, we started up, and found the broken trail to be pretty good.  We took our time climbing.  It was turning out to be a nice day and the sun and blue sky were coming out!  Hurray!
As we approached the col, the snow was at least knee deep, but we were still following the packed herd path, so we moved upward pretty easily. 

Approaching the Hough/Pough Col

By 11 AM we were at the top of the Lillian Brook Herd Path under full blue skies.  This was the first sunny day I had seen on the trail in the last 8 hiking days.  I was excited to be close to the top of my W46er peak.  We pressed upward and soon were at the rock outcrop just below the summit.  The views were beautiful.

Bill B reaching the col

Pough and Macomb from the rock outcrop below the summit of Hough

Elk Lake in the distance

East Dix from Hough

Elk Lake

The Beckhorn as seen from Hough

After a couple more minutes at 11:45 AM, we reached the summit of Hough Peak at 4400', my W46 finish!  What a perfect day to finish.  The weather was outstanding at this point.   We stoppe for high 5's and had some great cookies that Bill had brought.  I could have gone for a nice cold beer, but I hadn't thought about it in advance.  

My W46er summit shot

Hough Peak

Snowcapped Skylight (L) and Marcy (R) in the distance

Our descent route was the same as our approach route.  We went back down the Lillian Brook Herd Path.  Down low near the bottom of the path, I was crossing the brook in a muddy area, and my snowshoe got caught on a route.  I managed to only have my right hand and right knee go down in the mud.  It could have been a really messy moment.  Bill B got a tear in the back of his pants, probably from a butt slide along the way.

Snowy Moss

Once back on the Dix trail, it was an easy hour and 45 minute walk out.  We passed 3 guys pulling a pulk who were going to stay at the Lillian Brook Leanto.  I was going to be a great night for them to camp.  We later met a father and daughter who were doing the same thing.

When we got back to the Elk Lake Road at the summer trailhead, I took off my snowshoes and we began 2 mile walk back to Clear Pond (winter trailhead).  As we were walking, I glanced at my snowshoes and saw the metal plate on the bottom of the left snowshoe on this pair had broken now too.  Two broken left snowshoes in the last two hikes.  I'll have to call MSR and see what they say.

We made it back to the car at 3:30 and signed out after a great day.  My winter 46 are done!  Good luck to Bill B in finishing Giant and Rocky Peak on 3/9/13 for his winter 46 finish.

My broken snowshoe from my 3/3/13 hike of Macomb, South  Dix and East  Dix

My broken snowshoe from today

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance: ~ 14 miles
Hike Time: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Total Vertical Gain: ~2900'

Our route from today (click image to enlarge)