Lake George

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

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)

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