Lake George

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

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Haystack and Basin - 6/21/14

It's been 3 weeks since I posted anything.  Sorry folks!  I've got a rental house that was pretty much destroyed by my last tenants and I had to spend a great deal of time there doing repairs.  I'm not done not, so bear with me.  Anyways, this weekend had been planned for awhile the the plans weren't going to be changed to work on a house.

My wife Leesa planned this trip.  She is getting close to finishing her round of climbing the Adirondack 46 high peaks and she wanted to now tackle Haystack and Basin.  This trip is close to 20 miles as a day trip, so she wanted to break it up by staying at an ADK lean-to on the Johns Brook Lodge property.

We made reservations and got the Myers lean-to.  There are 3 lean-tos available for rent.  It's nice because you have the whole lean-to to yourself.  We were able to set up our tent inside the lean-to (to contain our dog Rev).  It eliminated any worries about her for the night.  We reserved the lean-to for both Friday and Saturday nights.

We met at Marcy Field on Friday afternoon after I got out of work.  I left my car there and we drove the other car to the Garden parking lot in Keene Valley.  We paid our $21 for 3 calendar days parking and we were on the trail at 5 PM.

It's a 3.5 mile hike to Johns Brook Lodge and the lean-tos, so we got there in plenty of time to set up before dark.  We turned in and got a great night sleep.  The temperature dropped into the low 40's. The forecast for the entire weekend was perfect so we were psyched.  

Saturday we woke early, had breakfast and were on the trail at 6:30 AM.  This was Leesa's first time on all these trails, so everything was new for her.  The Phelps trail to Slant Rock is a gentle grade and we sauntered there quite easily.

Leesa and Rev at Slant Rock
After Slant Rock, the going gets noticeably steeper.  We slowed our pace and continued on the Phelps Trail until reaching the State Range Trail.  The State Rainge Trail is rocky and steep as you make your way up towards Haystack.  You don't get rewarded with any views until you reach a small bump just shy of Little Haystack.  At this point you are rewarded with views in all directions.

A first look at Little Haystack and Haystack

The hardest part of getting to Mount Haystack is getting up Little Haystack and down the backside before you finish up the ridge of Haystack.  I fact, going down the backside of Little Haystack can get quite tricky in wintertime.  Crampons are often needed to safely descent Little Haystack.  No problems on a dry summer day however.

Heading for Haystack and looking back at Little Haystack

Skylight (L) and Marcy (R) from the ridge to Haystack

We hadn't seen anyone all morning, but ran into 3 different groups on Haystack.  It was a beautiful morning.  We were on the summit at around 10:30.  We stayed for awhile and ate an early lunch.

Little Haystack (L) and Basin (R) from Haystack

Look at Pinnacle Ridge.  No wonder I thought it was bumpy when I climbed it last fall!

Leesa on Haystack
Next we continued along on the State Range Trail towards Basin Mountain.  I recalled the last time I did the route in summer, there was only one spot to obtain water.  It was in the col between Haystack and Basin.  This time there seemed to be no shortage of places to get water.

We noticed a tent was set up at the Snobird campsite.  We continued dropping into the col.  It's a long descent before the trail begins its rise for the final .7 miles to Basin.  It's a tough .7 miles, making the climb seem much longer.

The toughest for me is the ladder, about halfway up.  I always have to grab Rev by the harness and carry her up the ladder.  She doesn't appreciate it.  It's even harder going down.

The Basin Ladder (I always have to carry Rev up and down this)

Haystack from the side of Basin

Knob to the west of Basin

Entering the Alpine Zone on Basin

We just took our time ascending Basin.  We were in no hurry.  It was a beautiful day, cool and breezy with no bugs.  The sun became more prevalent as we neared the top of Basin.  

Saddleback from Basin

We reached the summit and had it to ourselves.  We laid out on the summit and enjoyed the sunsshine.  It was just a perfect day to be in the High Peaks.  We had more food of course.  Rev made sure of that.

Saddleback Cliffs

My favorite pic from this trip (The lower Great Range, Giant and RPR from Basin)  

Zoom of Gothics (with Giant and RPR in the Background) from Basin

Leesa on Basin

Leesa and Rev on Basin (Haystack and Skylight in the background)

I spent some time looking at the knob that lies just west of Basin and decided that someday I would return to investigate.  It looks rather similar to Sheperds Tooth (south of the summit of Iroquois).


Basin from Shorey Short Cut

On the return, we took Shorey's Short Cut Trail to get back to the Phelps Trail.  We then made our way back down, taking side trips to look at the Bushnell Falls lean-tos and Bushnell Falls itself.  I was quite impressed by the new Bushnell Falls lean-to #2.  It has been beautifully made, and has been moved to a wonderful location a couple hundred yards off the trail and near an excellent water hole. 


The new Bushnell # 2 Leanto.  Awesome!

Bushnell Falls
We returned to Johns Brook Lodge to refill our water bottles.  I went inside and purchased a bowl of fabulous Vanilla Fudge Brownie ice cream.  It was the next best thing to heaven.

Afterwards we returned to our lean-to and cooked a dinner before settling in for the night at 8 PM!  Sunday morning Rev woke us up at daybreak so she could go to the bathroom.  She then went back in the tent and went back to sleep.  Leesa and I had breakfast and packed everything until it was time to kick Rev out of the tent to pack it up.  

We took the time to climb the .4 miles to the Short Job overlook before returning to the leanto to shoulder our packs and head back out to the Garden parking lot.  We were back at the car at 11 AM.  We couldn't have asked for a better weekend.  Everything went according to plan and the weather was perfect the entire time.  What more could one ask for.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  19.8 miles
Hike Time:  ~ 12 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 4000' 

Most of the route (except the early part of the Phelps Trail) 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bushwhack Hike Up Blue Ridge Mtn - Hoffman Notch Wldns - 6/1/14

Sunday I did a bushwhack hike up one of the peaks on the Adirondack hundred highest list, Blue Ridge Mountain.  This was the Blue Ridge Mountain just north of Hoffman Mountain in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness.

The most common routes are from the south via a traverse over Hoffman Mountain or from the north starting on Blue Ridge Road.  I chose to start from the east on Route 9 just south of Schroon Falls.  I parked at the recently established Dirgylot Hill parking lot.

The first 3 miles were a re-hike of a hike I did on 5/24/14.  This was a herd path that lead to an old abandoned jeep road which then followed a nice drainage that leads towards the col between Hoffman Mountain and Blue Ridge Mountain.

This time I would continue on past the end of the abandoned jeep road and bushwhack my way to the top with any luck.   I started quickly, traveling the first 3 miles in an hour and fifteen minutes.  The mosquitos were after me for the first 15 minutes, but didn't bother after that until the same spot on the way out.

I had a late start (11:30), so I knew there was a chance I would have to bail if I didn't make good progress.  At that time I came to a small clearing at the end of the gentle terrain.  There was also a fork in the drainage at this spot.  It is here that I came across the only human artifact of the trip; the remains of an old iron cook stove.  There had obviously been a camp of some sort here long ago.

Remains of an old cook stove at the end of gentle terrain
From this clearing I followed the right drainage, staying on the right hand side, still following the old road which was becoming faint.  It quickly disappeared, just as I had anticipated.
The drainage had some pretty spots and a few 4' falls and water pools that looked inviting.
Here are a few pics of the water falls and pools


At the 3.7 mile point and an elevation of 2200' the terrain began to get noticeably steeper and the drainage was now in a deeper ravine.  It became harder to follow the stream.  It was now time to turn towards Blue Ridge.
I had been headed mostly west and now turned to a course of 290 degrees.  At around 2500', I did get a small look back at Schroon Lake.  This was my only view of the lake.  

An opening in the trees

A zoom of my one look at Schroon Lake 

Typical woods and fallen timber
From 2600'-2800', I went through a band of thick small spruce, followed by some taller young thick spruce.

Thicker small spruce from 2600-2800'
The grade moderated as I neared the summit ridge.  The tree density improved as well, except for a thick blowdown field between the two summit prominences.  I was going to go to the southern most summit first, but had to veer to the northern summit to avoid a fearful mess.
The northern summit had no indication that it was the high point, I was just greeted by moderately thick woods. 

The northern summit!
From the northern summit, I was able to go around the north side of the blowdown mess to reach the sothern summit.  I wasn't sure which was the true summit, but the southern summit appears to be slightly higher according to my altimeter.  I could see very slight indications that others had walked here.  I wouldn't even call it a herd path. 

Southern summit by the fallen tree root mass.  It appears that others have stood here.  No manmade indicators found. 
 It had taken me 3.5 hours to travel the 4.75 miles to the southern summit, which meant it was now 3 PM .   I reversed course, figuring I'd follow the same course down (the devil you know is better than the one you don't)!

The outline of Hoffman Mountain to the south
I wasn't able to move any faster on the way out.  It's tough to pick up the pace when bushwhacking.  It just leads to carelessness and injury.  Besides, I had moved fast on the way in until I hit the obstructions.   

The biggest clearing I found...
7 hours found me back at the car (6:30 PM).  I can't say I recommend this route, but I don't know if any route to Blue Ridge would be better.  This is certainly a nice hike until you have to leave the drainage and begin the climb in earnest.
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.5 miles
Hike Time:  7 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2750'

The route (Click image to enlarge)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sheperd's Tooth, Iroquois & Mount Marshall - 5/31/14

My primary goal today was Sheperd's Tooth, and I didn't want it the conventional way (from Iroquois Mountain).  I wanted it from Cold Brook Pass.  I knew it wouldn't be easy.  I had been thwarted previously (last October with my dog Rev).  This would be a solo trip; not even the dog was going with me.

It was 42 degrees when I got started from Upper Works.  The forecast called for partly sunny skies with the chance of afternoon showers.  I was on the trail at 7:30 heading for Indian Pass.  This was also my route last year. 

Nice bridge over Indian Pass Brook, just north of the Henderson Lean-to  
 I made good time, getting to Summit Rock in Indian Pass in 2 hours and the junction with the Cold Brook Trail in 2.5 hours.

A Painted Trillium colony!

Ladder just before Summit Rock in Indian Pass

The Wallface Cliff

Junction of Indian Pass and Cold Brook Trail

The Cold Brook Trail has some nice water pools in the early part of the trail form Indian Pass Brook.  I stopped at each of them to take some pictures.  They would be nice swimming holes in the warmer weather.  Speaking of weather, I wasn't getting any sunshine, and it fact the wind was picking up and I thought it might rain.

It took me an hour to climb the 1.8 miles to the height of land in Cold Brook Pass.  I went past the cairn to Marshall on the right, just a short distance west of the height of land.  I had hiked this herd path last year.

At the height of land (7 miles into my hike), I found a small cairn on the north side of the trail.  I went in the woods here looking for a route up the cliff band that guards Sheperd's Tooth.  I didn't find one so I came back to the trail and went a little further east.  In fact the trail was starting to drop towards Lake Colden at this point.  Looking up, it seemed that the cliffs were negotiable at this point.

I wasn't sure what my plan would be once I was on the Tooth.  It depended on the effort to get there.  I soon found out what that effort would be.  It was thicker than hell.  I was determined though.  There were no cliffs here, just really thick cripplebrush.  It took me an hour and 20 minutes to climb the .3 miles to the Tooth!  When I was about 10 minutes from the top, clawing my way through, I found a small pocketknife.  It didn't look like it had been there that long.  If anyone lost it, describe it to me and I'll get it back to you. 

As I was crawling up the hill the sun finally began to make an appearance.  Finally I made it to the top.  I had only been there about 3 minutes when "NikeUSA" from the ADK High Peaks Forum appeared.  I had read that he was planning to hike to Sheperds Tooth this weekend from Iroquois, but I didn't know what day.  It was quite a coincidence.  We chatted for a few minutes and then I decided to continue upward to Iroquois (I didn't want to go back down the way I came up).

The top of Sheperds Tooth is near!  Finally.

Lake Colden, Flowed Lands and Calamity Mountain from Sheperds Tooth

Mount Colden and Lake Cold from the Tooth 

Zoom view of Wallface
Iroquois from the Tooth

A last look from the Tooth 
As I emerged from the Sheperds Tooth herd path onto the open rock on the side of Iroquois, I ran into "Mamamac", also from the High Peaks Forum.  She was with several other folks; one of whom told me how to get to the plane wreck on Mount Marshall!
In no time I was on the summit of Iroquois, one of my favorite high peaks.  Several other folks were there taking a rest and enjoying the view.  I decided I would take the trail from the Boundary/Algonquin col down to Lake Colden, and if I had enough time, I would ascend the Cold Brook Trail from the east to go and look for the plane wreck. 

Sheperds Tooth from Iroquois 

Algonquin from Iroquois

The nice new bog bridges.  They are great!

It took me just over an hour to go down to Lake Colden.  The water along the way was fantastic as always.  I passed 5 groups on their way down and 2 groups going up.  I was surprised by the amount of people on this trail, but I guess its the only one up to the MacIntyre Range from the Lake Colden area.
It was 2:30 when I got to the Interior Outpost.  I decided to go back up Cold Brook from the east to find the plane wreck.  I was told it was about 2/3 of the way up to the pass.  I kept stopping to scout around but found nothing.  Finally at 3:30 I found it.  It is just east of the height of land, behind a large boulder that sits 10' off the trail on the Mount Marshall side. If you walk behind the boulder, you will see it.  It is just a 100 yards or so off the trail.  There is a description of what happened here if you scroll down a little ways.  The accident happened August 9, 1969 and the plane is a Cherokee 140. 

The Mount Marshall plane wreck
The inside, looking towards the tail 

The left wing clipped a tree, broke off and lies nearby

Well now it was 3:45, and I was at the height of land of the Cold Brook Trail.  I decided to climb Mount Marshall from cold Brook and then go down the Herbert Brook herd path instead of going back down the Cold Brook Trail.  Just as I was at the cairn I came across a woman heading east on the Cold Brook Trail.  I described to her where to find the plane wreck.  She was excited since she did not know there was a wreck in the area.

I had forgotten how rugged this herd path to  Marshall is.  I was starting to get a little tired at this point.  At 4:30 I was on top of Marshall.  It was now time to high tail it down to Flowed Lands and out the Calamity Brook Trail.

I made it...
Iroquois and Sheperds Tooth from Mount Marshall 
I passed several groups going down Marshall (including a 3rd member of the High Peaks Forum, YanaLG).  Nice meeting you.  There were also a couple groups climbing who had to be camping in the area.
I reached the Herbert Brook lean-to (my ADK adopted lean-to) at 5:40 and gave it a quick inspection.  The were 3 people taking an afternoon nap in there.  They had gone to see sunrise on Mount Marcy this morning and were now catching up on sleep.
Next I made quick work of the Calamity Brook Trail and signed out at exactly 7:30 PM.  Same time that I signed in.  My last goal was to get back to Schroon Lake and catch some dinner before the restaurants closed.  I was successful!
My journey to Sheperd's Tooth is now complete.  I ended up covering a lot more ground than I expected to today, but it was a great day.  There were no bugs.  While walking though the re-route section of the Calamity Brook Trail, I was really enjoying the perfect weather at the end of the day.  More pictures can be found here on my Picasa Web Album.
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  19 miles
Hike Time:  12 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 5500'
The route (click to enlarge)
a closer look at the main part
National Geographic map