Lake George

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Calamity Mountain (3620') - High Peaks Wilderness - 10/5/14

Back in January, I had attempted to climb Calamity Mountain.  I was unsuccessful at that time.  There was lots of snow in the trees and clawing my way through the pine boughs I was soaked before I was a third of the way there.  I also lost one of my Hillsound Trail Crampons.  It had  come off my foot and I hadn't noticed it.  I aborted the attempt with the idea that I'd return to try again.

On this trip, I decided I'd follow my route from January (as best I could), in hopes that I'd be able to retrieve the lost trail crampon.  I arrived at Upper Works at 9 AM.  The parking lot was only half full.  It was 42 degrees, but sunny, and a nice day was ahead.  On the way in the Calamity Brook Trail, I passed a dozen or more backpackers that were on their way out after having camped and hiked at various places.

At Calamity Pond, I turned right to bushwhack along my January route.  I spent an hour and a hour looking for the trail crampon, to no avail.  I gave up the idea that I might find it and I headed for Calamity Mountain.

The mountain lies less than a mile south of the Calamity Brook Trail, but it is pretty rugged, so I took my time.  One lesson that I've learned is that you can't rush in when you are bushwhacking.  As it was, I still fell many times during the day.  Rotted roots, slippery logs under leaves; you name it, I found it.  Bushwhacking solo really isn't the smartest thing to do, one wrong move and I could be in serious trouble.

I followed a general compass bearing of 200 degrees, angling my way up the slope.  My dog Rev was having a grand time.  Once we got off the trail I unleashed her as it's impossible to use a leash in thick terrain.  She stayed close.  I couldn't always see her, but I could always hear her, and she always knew exactly where I was.

Rev getting a drink from a drainage
I worked my way around 2 cliff bands that I bumped into on the way up.  Once I was near the summit ridge, the tree density got thicker (as often happens).  Rev and I ploughed our way upward.
I thought I reached the top when I found a large glacial erratic on what appeared to be the height of land.  My altimeter said 3602'.  The summit elevation in books is listed at 3620'.  I had a decent vantage point from this rock so Rev and I stopped for 20 minutes to eat and I took some pictures (most of the ones that are on this blog post). 
Perhaps not the true summit, but my altimeter says this rock was 4' higher than where the sign was

I could see the Macintyre Range clearly.  I could also see Flowed Lands, the Herbert Brook leanto, Lake Colden, Mount Colden and Mount Marcy through filtered branches.  There is no view of Flowed Lands and beyond that is quite like the view from Calamity Mountain and I was wishing I could climb a tree or get just a little bit higher to see better.  Still, as you can see from the pictures, the hike was worth the effort. 
The Macintyre Range
Zoom of the Macintyres
The Macintyre Range, Lake Colden and Mount Colden
I loved this view of Flowed Lands, Lake Colden and Mount Colden
... and this closer zoom
Zoom of Mount Marcy
You can make out the Herbert Brook leanto behind the Opalescent River  
The rocky "beach" near the Herbert Brook leanto

Mount Marshall and Iroquois Peak
Zoom of Mount Colden
Lake Colden

Flowed Land and Lake Colden
After Rev and I left the rock that I thought was the true summit, we "nosed" around a bit.  I saw one other spot that I thought was about the same elevation, so we went up to it.  Low and behold, there was a sign there.  I checked my altimeter and this was 4' lower than the rock I had been on just north of this location. 
The views from the sign location were not as good.  The Macintyre Range could still be seen to the west, but there was no view to the north of Flowed Lands, Lake Colden, or Mount Colden.  The other bump (where the rock was), blocked the view.

The "true" summit? 
In any case, I believe that one or the other location was the true summit, and I was quite happy with the view from the rock.
After finding the sign, Rev and I carefully made our way down, heading west.  We came back out on the trail a little south of where we had gone in.
Once on the trail, we continued north so I could pay a visit to check on the Herbert Brook leanto.  I was dismayed, as the leanto adopter, to find that the leanto sign-in register was missing.  It was there just 4 weeks ago when I had stopped in on September 1st.  I'll get another one put in, but it's sad that after all the comments that were written in the book, the book is now gone.  I don't know if someone burned it in an illegal campfire, or if someone just took it.
The leanto and toilet were in fine shape so I reversed my track and headed back out to Upper Works.  I've claimed another peak on the hundred highest list.  

The rock beach by the Herbert Brook leanto

Mount Colden in the background
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  12.8 miles
Hike Time:  8 hours (including stops)
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2500'
The route (click image to enlarge)
The route on the National Geographic map


  1. Some day I'll get around to hiking all the peaks you've bagged in the past couple years! That's a cool view of Whiteface directly through Avalanche Pass (the pic labeled "and this closer zoom")

  2. Yes, Whiteface was another peak that was visible. I liked the perspective from the Calamity Mountain vantage point.