Lake George

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

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Saddleback, Gothics, Pyramid, Armstrong & Upper Wolfjaw - 8/24/13

We took advantage of perfect weather on Saturday to make a tour of most of the lower Great Range.  Leesa wanted to climb Gothics and Saddleback so we planned to park at the "Garden" parking area, in Keene Valley, and hike into Johns Brook Lodge before climbing the Orebed Trail.
We knew we'd have to arrive early to claim a parking lot.  The Garden fills extremely early on summer weekends.  The set the alarm for 4 AM and managed to get to the lot by 5:30.  There were still about 5 parking spots left.  We happily took one and geared up to head out.  I checked my watch and noted that we were on the trail at 5:42.  There was just enough morning light that we did not need to pull out the headlamps to get started.
Within minutes we saw a deer standing in the trail.  Our dog Rev wanted to make friends, but we put an end to that.  As we arrived at the NYSDEC Interior Outpost Ranger Station the sun was really coming out.  We could tell it was going to be a perfect day. 

NYSDEC Interior Outpost Ranger Station (near Johns Brook Lodge)

We crossed the suspension bridge to gain access to the Southside Trail.  From there we headed to the Orebed Trail.  Leesa had never been on this trail, so she was in for a treat. 

Suspension bridge over Johns Brook

As we began climbing, we passed the newly renovated Orebed Leanto.  It was just redone this past March.  5 guys were just up and about having breakfast there.  Next we reached the Orebed Slide.  Trail crews have recently done an outstanding job completing the stairs on the Orebed Slide.  I believe I read that there are 182 steps.  In any case, it is a marvel.  Great work done by the crew!

Rev headed up first

Leesa brought up the rear

Since we started early, we hadn't seen any other hikers yet, but that would soon change.  We arrived at the Saddleback/Gothics col and headed up Saddleback first.  We went up and over the wooded summit and stopped at an overlook ledge where we saw 3 guys taking a break.  We continued on to the top of the Saddleback Cliffs so Leesa could see what they looked like.  The 3 guys soon approached and they headed down the cliffs en route to Basin Mountain.  For us, this was our turn around point.  Leesa would not have wanted to descend the cliffs. 

The Saddleback Cliffs

We went back to the Saddleback/Gothics col and began our ascent of Gothics.  At this point, lots of other people were alongside us as we reached the cables en route to the false summit of Gothics.  The cables are not really necessary in dry weather conditions, but some people used them.  The section of slab rock just above the cables is where it gets tricky in icy winter conditions, and there are no cables there! 
At the false summit, a family was there taking a break and having a snack.  We continued on to the junction with the trail to Pyramid/Sawteeth.  I convinced Leesa that it was worth the short .3 mile trip over to Pyramid where there is perhaps the best view in all the high peaks.  On Pyramid, we took our first break an broke out some food.  Rev appreciated that!    

The view from Pyramid!

We returned to the Range Trail, a reached the summit of Gothics.  Several groups were on the summit.  We talked with 2 guys who were confused about how to get to Armstrong and Upper Wolf Jaw.  They had come from that way, but didn't realize it.
Gothics and Saddleback were both new summits for Leesa.  At this point we discussed our options.  We decided to continue on the Range Trail to complete a loop hike.  Leesa had not yet been on Armstong either, so by continuing onward, she could gain another new peak.  We would then go up and over Upper Wolfjaw before descending from the Wolfjaw col down to Johns Brook.   

Armstrong from Pyramid

Gothics from Pyramid


Rev returning to Gothics from Pyramid

... and waiting for us to scale the rock

The walk from Gothics to Armstrong is relatively easy and soon we were on Armstrong along with a probably 15-20 other people.  We had a little more food and continued on.  Soon we reached the ladder on the north side of Armstrong.  I had forgotten to dog harness, so it was a challenge with Rev.  I picked her up (like a pillow under my arm) and began going down the ladder.  I got about 2/3 down the ladder and she had had enough.  She jumped to her freedom, none the worse for wear.

a common sign near treeline

The trail between Armstrong and UWJ is rugged and we slowly picked away at it.  There is also a false summit in between the two.  As we reached the summit of UWJ we saw many of the same people we had seen all day long.  We took the 20 yard long trail to the summit and claimed our 4th high peak of the day.  This one was not new for either of us, but nice still the same. 

looking back towards Armstrong while climbing UJW


After dropping down to the Wolfjaw col we chose to return to Johns Brook.  Both of us have climbed Lower Wolfjaw several times and we didn't have the need to go up it again on this day. 
The return Johns Brook lodge was uneventful.  WE stopped in at JBL and I had a piece of chocolate cake.  We refilled a couple water bottles and soon found ourselves on the final 3.5 miles to the car.
The loop took us exactly 12 hours on this leisurely paced day.  We stopped for dinner at the Ausable Inn on the way out to cap a nice day on the range.

Our route
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  16.8 miles
Hike Time:  12 hours, including stops
Total Vertical Gain:  ~4900' 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Herbert Brook Leanto - Flowed Lands - ADK High Peaks Wilderness - 8/9/13

This past weekend, Leesa and I spent Sunday working on our adopted leanto, the Herbert Brook Leanto in Flowed Lands, High Peaks Wilderness, Adirondack Park.  For background on our adoption, see this  post from April.
It's a good feeling to give something back... in this case to the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK).   Our goal was to stain the leanto.  We left the Upper Works trail head at 8 AM carrying 4 gallons of stain, brushes, oakum. a saw, garbage bags, some small tools, rags etc.    
We chose Sunday, partly because of the weather, and partly because there would be less people in need of a shelter on a Sunday night.  The weather was absolutely perfect.

A beforehand look

We arrived at the site at about 10:30.  The first item of business was to cut down a small Hemlock that was jammed into the right side of the leanto.  I also reattached a board to the cover of the "thunderbox" outhouse.  The screws had pulled out and the board was laying on the ground adjacent to the box.
Partially stained

Before beginning on the staining, we added oakum, where needed between the logs, to improve the  "weathertightness" of the walls.  We started on the staining at 11 AM.  I quickly realized that this would take longer than I thought.


 One of the issues was how to keep our dog Rev entertained while we were working.  We found that we pretty much had to take turns walking her while the other one stained.  She just wouldn't lay down and take a nap.  There was too much excitement about being in a different place.

For the staining, we were using 3" brushes.  5" Brushes might have helped us do the job a little faster.  Brushing stain on logs is slower than staining smooth siding due to the irregularities in the logs.  We did the inside first so the floor could start drying.  We did the whole inside except the underside of the cedar shake roof before we moved on to the exterior of the structure.  
Bottle Gentians in the meadow


The Opalescent is a short walk from the leanto.  The water is still cold, but is nice on the feet. 


Staining complete 


 It was 6 PM before our job was done.  Just before we finished, we had a visit from Ranger Shawn from the Lake Colden Interior Outpost.  He thanked us for the good work we've been doing on the leanto.   When we were done working we had no time to relax afterwards.  We still had our 5.3 mile walk back to the car.  We quickly packed the empty cans and our equipment and headed out, arriving back at the car just as darkness was setting in.   
Flowed Lands and Mount Colden at about 6:30 PM 
It was a good days work, but we were beat.  Staining a leanto is tough work!
We usually start at Upper Works to approach Flowed Lands

Friday, August 16, 2013

John Dillon Park - Long Lake, NY - 8/10/13

We were in the vicinity of Long Lake, NY last weekend to climb Owl's Head Mountain.  That hike took the morning.  After lunch, I wanted to drive past John Dillon Park to take a look at it since  I had heard really good things about the park.  It is located 4 miles north of Long Lake.  The entrance is on the East side of Route 30.
John Dillon Park is named after a former CEO of International Paper.  The story is fascinating.  You read about it on the park website;  Paul Smith's college runs the park.  There are 9 leantos; a single leanto near the park office and 4 leanto pairs.  All leantos are available free of charge and can be reserved by calling the office.  Firewood is provided (also free of charge)!  The main portion of the park is located on Grampus Lake.  There are also 2 leantos at Handsome Lake, 2.5 miles down an accessible trail. 

Entrance Sign

The park is only open during the summer months, since it is run by the college students of Paul Smith's College.  Camping is available to all, not just the mobility impaired. 
One of the leantos.  Outstanding!

We were so impressed, we walked all the grounds including the 5 mile roundtrip trail to Handsome Pond.  The grounds are spectacular.   The park is reached via a rough gravel road that is 2 miles long, however any vehicle should be able to drive the road.
One of the accessible paths

If you are in the Long Lake area, but sure to stop in and check out the park, even if you are not looking for a place to stay.  You will be impressed.  The website gives all the information, but seeing is believing!  This year the park closes on August 23rd.  Too bad it closes so early, but make a mental note of it for next year. 
A lookout on Grampus Lake

The lake is about 1 mile long

You can go for a free ride in the parks electric pontoon boat, or you can launch your own pleasure craft

The boat launch

Park Office

Inside the park office


A map of the grounds.




Another of the fine leantos

The pair of leantos at Handsome Lake

Quite a fancy intricate entrance gate!
Our route
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  6.4 miles
Hike Time:  2.5 hours

Total Vertical Gain:  600 feet

Monday, August 12, 2013

Owl's Head Fire Tower - Long Lake, NY - 8/10/13

Leesa picked this hike for Saturday.   It's a nice choice for a family hike and the fire tower is great.  We started about 10:30 or so.  The parking lot at the trailhead holds maybe 10 cars, and we took the last spot before people began parking on the shoulder of the road.

It was a beautiful day out.  We passed a couple families on the way up and reached the summit at just about noon.  Great views of lakes and mountains.  A couple seaplanes flew over en route to Long Lake.  We stayed on the summit to have lunch.  There were 3 other groups up there when we arrived, but we soon had the summit to ourselves.  We could have just taken naps on top, it was so nice.  Unfortunately, our dog Rev, is not one to sit still for very long, so once the food was gone, it was time to move.

The tower is in great shape, and feels nice and sturdy.

The hatch was open to the cab.  I don't know if it is ever locked.

A seaplane heading for Long Lake

USGS summit disc

On our way down, there were lots of people on the way up.  I think a combination of the weather and the proximity to Long Lake, made for a big crowd.  

We chose to take the side trail to Lake Eaton as well.  We arrived quickly at the lake and followed the old jeep road trail clockwise around the lake until the trail started to veer away from the lake.  We saw one nice but illegal campsite (too close to the water), and a legal site (not as nice) a little farther down the trail.

After we turned around, we were back to the trail head in about an hour.  Some folks had paddled Lake Eaton to the south shore, then tied their boats and climbed the fire tower.  Another nice option.

Lake Eaton

Beaver Dam near the trail on the west shore of Lake Eaton

Our route for the day

Long Lake and Owls Head Mountain

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.2 miles
Hike Time:  5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1800'