Lake George

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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Erebus Mountain - Lake George Wild Forest - 11/23/13

I hadn't planned on getting in much of a hike today, but plans changed and I found myself with some time to get outdoors.  I decided to climb Erebus Mountain in the Lake George Wild Forest (a new peak for me). There is a trail encircling the mountain, but a short bushwhack hike is required to reach the summit.

I chose to start from Parking Lot #3 on Shelving Rock Road.  This is the primary parking lot and trailhead for Shelving Rock Mountain which I've hiked many times.  From this lot, I'd be taking a trail I hadn't done before as the trail splits from the Shelving Rock Mountain Trail within a couple hundred yards from the start.  
The Erebus Mountain trail heads northeasterly, following Shelving Rock Brook on an old carriage road.  There are many trails in this area.  Most are old carriage roads.  Be sure to bring a map and compass.  I passed 2 trails branching right to Dacy Clearing and 2 branching left towards Lake George.  The trail climbs steadily gaining ~1400 feet in 2.75 miles to another trail junction.  Here I chose to head west to Bumps Pond on the Bumps Pond Spur Trail, rather than north along the west flank of Erebus.

In .7 miles I was at the familiar Bumps Pond.  I stopped at an old chimney on the west side of the pond to have a drink and some food.    

Remains of an old stone chimney on the west side of Bumps Pond

Still pretty solid

From the pond, I began a bushwhack north along a ridge line towards Erebus.  The beginning of the bushwhack followed an old abandoned trail.  I saw some yellow markers still on trees.  The abandoned trail ended on the 1st bump at a rock outcrop with a view of Lake George.  In the rock are some pieces of iron bar from some former structure. 

View south to Buck Mountain from the abandoned trail

Looking north to Erebus Mountain

After the 1st bump, I continued to bushwhack northward generally following the ridge line.  There are several views of Lake George and I was able to zoom with the camera and get some good pictures.  It was still mostly sunny.  The weather forecast called for mostly cloudy, but fortunately, it was wrong. 

Zoomed view of Lake George.  Gore Mtn Ski area in the background

Erebus Mountain

The bushwhacking wasn't bad at all.  No blowdown and no thick woods.  I was moving rather slowly at about a mile an hour just enjoying the walk.  I reached the summit to find a nondescript high point.  There were no markings or signs of human visitation.

Rev... near the summit 
Looking north to Black Mountain

From the summit, I followed the ridge northeasterly it it dropped down to the trail leaving Fishbrook Pond.  This was familiar territory for me.  I followed the Hogtown trail past Fishbrook Pond and past Bumps Pond back to Dacy Clearing. 

Beaver pond just NW of Fishbrook Pond



Leanto at north end of Fishbrook Pond

Leanto on east side of Fishbrook Pond

Bumps Pond with a thin layer of ice
From Dacy Clearing, I took another old carriage road back to Shelving Road Road.  This trail was a steady downhill, dropping about 1500 feet in 3.7 miles.  It would be a nice XC ski trail if you get there before the snowmobiles get there.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  12.3 miles
Hike Time:  6 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2500'

My route (click image to enlarge)

My route in blue on the National Geographic map

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Phelps Mountain from Klondike Brook - 11/16/13

Who doesn't kike a loop hike better than an out and back hike?  I always look for loop possibilities when planning a trip.  I also look for routes I haven't done before.   In this case, I had hiked all the marked trail routes in the area, but I could make a loop hike out of Phelps mountain by adding a short bushwhack from Klondike Brook.
Leesa and I headed for Adirondac Loj Road and then followed the South Meadow Road to the end.  There was about an inch of snow on the ground and the road was still open (it closes once the snow starts to pile up).
We started on the Klondike Trail and quickly crossed the new footbridge over the South Meadow Brook.  :)   The walk along the Klondike Trail was a an easy walk along the slope above the brook.  There was about 2 inches of snow for most of the trail.  The temperature was about 40 degrees and the snow was soft.      

The Klondike Brook Trail

It was 2.75 miles to the Klondike leanto, which we reached in about an hour and 15 minutes.  We stopped and had something to drink and a couple snacks.  From the leanto, it would be a 1.7 mile bushwhack to the top of Phelps Mountain.   We started upward and found that the approach was an easy open forest with a mix of hard/soft woods.  

Klondike Leanto

We started to see lots of deer tracks and deer beds as we climbed.  All of the sudden I noticed a much bigger track.  It wasn't a deer, but a moose track.  The hoof print was about the size of my hand, and the tracks were at least 3 feet apart.  The moose had come down the sloped and we were following it backwards.

A large moose track!

We followed the tracks until they turned along the side slope and we needed to continue upward.  What impressive tracks.  I would have liked to follow the track to see the moose bed.   It would have been enormous. 
As we reached the false summit about a half mile to the northeast of the summit of Phelps, we got caught in a thick patch of pine growth.  It looked like the ridgeline would be tough to claw through, so we dropped off the ridge on the east side and found the terrai n easier to negotiate.

Leesa was liking the snow covered woods

Not long after that we found a herd path heading for Phelps which we followed.  By now, there was about 8 inches of snow on the ground and it looked like a winter wonderland.  It was really pretty.  Leesa and Rev were both enjoying the snow,  I was as well.  

... and so was Rev

It was funny as we popped out on the summit.  We were suddenly surrounded by about 10 people and the sun was hitting the south side of the mountain.  It had already melted all the snow off the trees.  It was like a different world.     

The view east from Phelps (Big Slide Mtn on the left)

There was another dog on the summit which caused Rev to start barking like crazy, so we didn't stay on the summit long.  The trip down was not nearly as pleasant as the bushwhack in the snow had been.  The Phelps trail was a combination of ice and slush and Rev was pulling me down faster than I would have liked.
Looking SW to Mount Colden

Colden, Algonquin and Wright 

It didn't take long to get down the Phelps Trail.  Once on the Van Hoevenberg Trail, I waited for a couple minutes for Leesa to catch up, then we headed down towards Marcy Dam.  When we reached the High Water bridge we ran into 3 guys headed for Mount Marcy.  It was about 2: 30.  They asked how far it was to the summit from there.  I told them it was probably 4 miles or so and that they would probably just be reaching the summit at dark. Leesa told them they could climb Phelps as an alternate and still achieve a high peak and also get partway down before dark.  They had headlamps, and we think that is what the way they chose to go.   
It was sunny and warm when we reached Marcy Dam and the sunshine felt nice.  It felt like late March or early April with the strong sun and melting snow.  

Myself at the dam
Rev posing at Marcy Dam

The view from the dam

From Marcy Dam, we took the South Meadow truck trail back to the car.  I like this trail better than the trail to the Loj for some reason, especially if there is enough snow and it is skiable.  It took about an hour from the dam back to the car.
This was our first trip of the hike of the fall where we encountered some significant snow and it felt good.  I can't wait for winter!
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.1 miles
Hike Time:  6 hours, 15 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2200'  

Our approximate route (Click image to enlarge)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pharaoh Mountain - Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness - 11/11/13

If you are looking for a half day hike to an Adirondack peak that offers a lot of bang for the buck, Pharaoh Mountain is a good mountain to consider.  The summit is large and varied, with a mix of trees and open rock and lots of nooks and crannies.  It is also one of the few mountains that has a legal camping site located within a few feet of the true summit.  There is no water available, so that should be a consideration.  From the various viewpoints, one can see many of the high peaks, Schroon Lake, Crane Pond, Eagle Lake, Paradox Lake and much more. 

There are many approaches Pharaoh.  I chose to start at the Crane Pond parking lot.  I didn't have a high clearance vehicle, so I had to walk the first 1.9 miles on the jeep road to Crane Pond.  It was a 30 minute walk at a brisk pace.  From Crane Pond I took the Pharaoh Mountain Trail (red trail) heading south.  After .6 miles, I came to the junction with the Tubmill Marsh trail which gives hikers the option to head east past Oxshoe Pond and Crab Pond.  I continued on towards Pharaoh.  Soon I heard a shot in the distance.  Hunters were out.  I had Rev in her red coat, and I was in my orange baseball hat.  Minutes later, I saw the hunter.  He had shot a 10 point buck and was headed back to his truck to get some supplies.

From the Tubmill Trail jct., the trail climbs 1457' in 2.3 miles, gradually getting steeper as you approach the summit.  I was excited to see snow as I climbed.  The ground  was white with perhaps an inch of snow at the top where it was not windblown.    

One of the open rock sections of the summit

I reached the top and looked at my phone.  It had taken me 1 hr, 50 minutes to hike 4.7 miles from the car.  It was easy to make good time on the easy approach.  Once on top, however, I spent 30 minutes looking around the summit.  The designated campsite sits in a sheltered hollow in the pines.

A non-camping hollow on the summit

I hadn't been on Pharaoh in 3 years and I had forgotten how much there was to see.

Rev is looking north, perhaps wanting to find more snow...
Schroon Lake to the west
Snow on the high peaks in the distance
Rev is looking good in her red coat

A closer look at Schroon Lake

A nice shot of Crane Pond 
The designated campsite on the summit
A panorama to the east
Pharaoh Lake to the southeast

... and the trail leading to Pharaoh Lake

Eventually it was time to continue.  I hadn't taken the trail down to Pharaoh Lake, so that is where I went.  I had my old map with me, so I thought I would have to bushwhack north once I reached the lake.  Little did I realize, there is now a trail that goes all the way around the lake.  Seeing that, I stopped along the way to look at all the designated campsites on the different mini peninsulas along the shore.  There were 3 nice sites on just the small stretch of shoreline that I walked on.

One of the nice campsites on the NW shore of Pharaoh Lake
At the NW corner of Pharaoh Lake, I took the Glidden Marsh trail NW 2.6 miles to another trail junction. This time I could choose Crab Pond or Oxshoe Pond.  I still had some daylight left, so I headed for Crab Pond.  I would cruise past the south shore of Crab Pond, then reverse direction and go past Oxshoe on the way back to Crane Pond. 
Campsite on the shouth shore of Crab Pond 

I hadn't seen Crab Pond before and it is an impressive site.  It looks almost lunar with all the rocks scattered all over the pond.  Once again, there was another nice designated campsite; this one on the middle of the south shore.  There is no longer a leanto on Crab Shoe ( my old map shows one there).

Crab Pond
Once I got to the eastern end of the pond, it was time to get back to the car. One more stop on the way back was at the Oxshoe Pond leanto.  This leanto has one of the prettiest locations I've seen for a leanto. It is sited on a great pine knoll looking across Oxshoe Pone to a large rock outcrop on the far side.  

Oxshoe Pond
Once I left Oxshoe, I had an hour's walk back to the car.  All in all, a great day with 1 mountain, 5 ponds and a marsh along with great campsites and a leanto.  The weather had been great all day.  There were some clouds and wind at 1:30 and it appeared like rain was coming, but the sun soon returned and the gray skies were gone.  

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  15 miles
Hike Time:  6 hours, 50 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:   ~2600'

My route (Click image to enlarge)

My route on the National Geographic map