Lake George

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

XC Ski - Cronin's Golf Resort & ESF Pack Demonstration Forest - 11/29/14

1st XC ski day of the season!  Although we got our snow on Thanksgiving eve, Saturday was our first chance to pull the skis out.  I looked back at my notes from 2013 and found last year's first day on skies was 12/13. It's great to have an earlier start this year.  Leesa and I both had some time in the morning so we headed over to Cronin's Golf Resort in Warrensburg, and the adjacent Warren County Nordic Ski trail system.

This area gets a lot of use, but we beat the crowds by getting out on the trails by 8:30.  The trails had all been broken out from the previous two days, but the snow was still soft perfect for skiing.  The temperature was in the mid to upper 20's and was expected to stay that way all day.

We started by doing a loop around the golf course, which is about 2 miles.  Our dog Rev was more than happy to be out in the snow.  It was a nice blue sky day and it was nice to be out on skis again.
Golf courses are always great.  You don't have to worry about whether or not there are rocks, roots or sticks under the snow.  You can practice your technique, or just be out enjoying the day.  We enjoy Cronin's;  plus it gave us a chance to see the Hudson River while skiing.       


Frost on the grass 

Leesa enjoyed the snow and sunshine

The Hudson River flows alongside the golf course 

Moon Mountain in the background

Hickory Mountain Ski Area in the background 

After we completed the golf course loop we went into the adjacent Warren County Nordic trail system.  While the trails are pretty, there was just barely enough snow in the woods to ski without worry of scratching the bottoms of the skis up.


The Hudson River already had ice forming on it

We skied these trails, but they could use some more snow

Trail map for the Warren County Nordic trail system

After the Warren County trails, we went back to the car.  Eight cars had already arrived after we did.  It was still early, but we had to head home for some mid-day errands.

By 2 PM, I was done with my errands and went back out to check out an area I had not been to before; the Pack Demonstration Forest in Warrensburg.  The entrance to the forest is 1/4 mile north of the intersection of Route 9 and Route 28.  I started, however, on the west side of the forest at the intersection of Golf Course Road and Route 28.  I went in at the gate at that location.

There are many jeep roads in the forest.  All are very skiable and very pleasant.  I skied into Pack Forest Lake, then did a clockwise loop around the lake.  I really liked the fact that there were lots of gentle grades that were easy to climb, yet provided nice downhill glides on the return.  This forest would be a great place for novices to practice gliding on small grades without fear of gaining too much speed.

Jeep Road of left, Pack Demonstration Lake on the right 

Easy skiing here

An accessible fishing dock 

One of the buildings in the camp complex  

At the NE end of the lake, I veered left to ski up Ben Wood Mountain.  This route was steeper, (climbing roughly 350 feet in 1/2 mile).  I had great fun skiing back down, but this should be considered an intermediate level trail.  The only problem I had was that this route barely had enough snow and I hit a couple rocks on the way down.  A couple more inches of snow will cure this.

Back on the lake loop I continued clockwise.  At the NE corner of the lake, I intersected with Pack Demonstration Road.  This road had not been plowed, but it had been driven on by trucks.  I skied in the median between the truck tracks.  ( Edit - I later received a comment that the road on the east side of the lake is part of a snowmobile route.  I've indicated the snowmobile route with blue dots on the map at the bottom of this post). 

It was just after 4 PM as I skied south on the east side of the lake.  I picked up the pace so I would be able to get back to the car before dark.  I hadn't brought a headlamp with me since I hadn't expected the trail system to be as large as it is.

Nearing sunset at the Pack Demonstration Lake

After looping around the south side of the lake, I reconnected with my tracks from the west.  I climbed the small hill heading west away from the lake, then enjoyed a nice long gentle glide back to the car.

I was excited to find this area, and I'll be back soon to explore it further.  I'm sure Leesa will like it as well.  The jeep roads had more snow cover than the woods and provided enough snow at this time for some nice skiing.

Sign on Route 9, just north of Route 28

Morning Ski Stats at Cronin's Golf Resort & Warren County Trails
Ski Distance:  3 mile loop
Ski Time:  1.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 50' 

Cronin's Golf Resort & Warren County Ski Trails

Afternoon Ski Stats - Pack Demonstration Forest:
My Ski Distance:  6.9 miles
Ski Time:  2 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 500'

Pack Forest - My ski route in red.  Blue dots indicate snowmobile route.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Split Rock Mountain - Hammond Pond Wild Forest - 11/22/14

Today Leesa and I were in the vicinity of New Russia and Elizabethtown and we found a nice pair of short bushwhacks that were relatively easy and each offered a great view.

The first was Split Rock Mountain in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest.  On the east side of Route 9 in New Russia, just south of Split Rock Falls, there is an old jeep road with two large rocks placed near the entrance to prevent motor vehicles from entering.  We parked off the shoulder and began our hike.

The jeep road is in excellent shape for the first .3 miles, at which time you arrive at the remains of a view old foundations and a stone wall.  We continued on the jeep road continued, but with a few trees across the old road.  At .5 miles, the jeep road hooked left and began to go slightly downhill.  This is where we turned right to bushwhack eastward up Split Rock Mountain.

We had filtered views of Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge to the west in the Giant Mountain Wilderness.   

Views westward from the slope of Split Rock Mountain 

At 1.25 miles and 1000' vertical, we took on top of Split Rock Mountain.  There is a small cairn marking the top.  We still had filtered views to the west, but then the leaves are on the trees, those views would be gone.  The climb had been mostly through hardwoods and the summit was the same.

A small cairn on the summit of Split Rock Mountain

The Giant Wilderness from Split Rock Mountain 

From the summit, we could see a slightly higher mountain just a short distance to the east.  We weren't sure if it was considered the other part of Split Rock Mountain, so we decided to head that way.  We could see more pines and many rock outcroppings on the eastern peak.

We dropped into the col between the 2 peaks and as we began to climb, the eastern peak was indeed quite different.  It was a bit more rugged and we skirted a little north to have easier access to the top.  The peak was shrouded mostly in the pines, but there was a hardwood ridge at the top.

At 1.8 miles, we reached the 2nd summit.  This summit offered a great unobstructed view of the Giant Mountain Wilderness, the Dix Mountain Wilderness and beyond, as can be seen in the pictures below.   

Looking west from the summit east of Split Rock Mountain

Dix Mountain in the background center

Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge 

New Pond and the Dix Range

Giant and RPR again

This was the viewpoint from the 2nd summit

On the way back, we bypassed the summit of Split Rock Mountain by contouring around the southern side of the summit.  We soon reconnected with the old jeep road and finished retracing our way back to the car.

New Pond to the south

The stone wall along the jeep road just uphill from the foundation remains 

It was only 1:30 at this point.  We stopped at Stewart's in Elizabethtown to grab some food, then we headed east on Route 9N 2 miles to a small piece of State land encompassed a hill named Green Hill. This parcel is also in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest and lies immediately west of a DOT facility, and is midway between E-town and I87 Exit 31.

Once again, we parked off the shoulder of the road across the street from a duplex apartment house. There is an old jeep road that heads south toward Green Hill that runs along the fence of the DOT property. Once past the DOT property, we crossed a utility ROW, and continued to follow an old jeep path.  At the height of land on the jeep path, we left the path to turn SW towards the eastern ridge of Green Hill.  We followed a faint herd path and as we began to climb, we found a climbing rope attache to a tree to assist in ascending a steeper section.

An early view east from the shoulder of Green Hill 

Next we continued upward through scrub and mossy rock slabs.  We began to get some nice views to the east.  We could see past I-87 to Lake Champlain which lies about 6 miles east of Green Hill.     

A first peek at Lake Champlain

Raven Hill to the north

A better look at Lake Champlain

Just as the grade began to taper near the summit plateau, we came across a small hunters shelter and a fire ring.  This was just above the nice viewpoint in the picture above. 

a hunters shelter

I was expecting the summit to be thick pines and softwood, but it was rather open with oak trees, some pine and scrub.  We followed the ridgeline west to the true summit.  A small cairn marked the location.

Unfortunately, from the summit, I was able to receive email.  Folks from work were trying to get in touch with me to have me send some files out, so we descended more quickly than we would have otherwise.  Even though this parcel of land with Green Hill looks rather small on the map, it provides a nice hike, with a nice view.  We made a loop out of the hike and we did the trip in less than 2 hours.  

Split Rock Mountain Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  3.8 miles
Hike Time:  3 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1400' 

Route for the Split Rock Mountain hike (click image to enlarge)

Green Hill Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  2.3 miles
Hike Time:  1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 800'

Route for the Green Hill Hike (clockwise)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Puffer Mountain (3472') and Bullhead Mountain (3432') - Siamese Ponds Wilderness - 11/16/14

Sunday wasn't a bluebird day near Indian Lake, but is was nice enough to get out a climb a pair of peaks on the ADK Hundred Highest list (102 highest).
My dog Rev and I traveled to the trailhead for Chimney Mountain, just east of Indian Lake to climb Puffer Mountain and Bullhead Mountain.  I wasn't sure I would have time for both, but I was hopeful.  We got started around 8:30.
I decided to tackle Puffer first, since that was the longer hike of the two.  If time permitted, we'd head for Bullhead. 
The start of the trail to Puffer Pond.
I followed the Puffer Pond trail for the first 2.4 miles to the Puffer Pond leanto.  Rev and I covered that section of trail in 50 minutes.   I noticed that there a few handtools in the lean-to:  a hatchet, an axe and a handsaw.   

Puffer Pond lean-to
From the lean-to, I turned SW to hike past the southern end of Puffer Pond.  I saw a makeshift shelter along the way.

Doesn't look comfortable to me...
Once past the pond, I hopped over the outlet and  turned SE to begin the climb of Puffer.  I was fortunate, in that the route I chose ended up being quite pleasant with very little thick spruce of obstructions.  I did encounter a fortress of rock, 0.3 miles from the summit, but was able to skirt west a short distance and find a way up. 

Bullhead Mountain in the distance from the lower part of Puffer.

Part of the rock fortress...

The very top of Puffer is moderately thick and it took a little time to determine what I thought to be the true summit.  I spent 20 minutes making sure I hadn't missed it.  I poked around and took a few pictures where I could find an opening in the branches. 

Near the summit of Puffer

A zoom of the limited view that I found

Chimney Mountain

A zoom of Chimney Mountain

Puffer Pond
On the way up, I had encountered the snow line at about 2000'.  At the summit, there was perhaps an inch of snow.  It was just below freezing and there were occasional light snow flurries.
The route up had been pleasant so I decided to just follow my tracks back down (why tempt fate).  When I returned to the Puffer lean-to, it had only been 3.5 hours since the start, so I made the decision to head for Bullhead Mountain.
To access Bullhead, I backtracked further to the John Pond trail, turned north, followed the trail for a little less than half a mile, then turned east to go straight up the western slope.

Climbing Bullhead at about 2500'.  Soon after, I entered the spruce and it got a little bit thick. 
The first half of the slope was hardwoods, then it turned to spruce.  I encountered some moderately thick spruce on and off as I climbed.  The summit of Bullhead was much more obvious than Puffer, as it was a well defined cone summit.  There was a orange ribbon on a tree at the location. 


Filtered water view

I believe this is Barton Mine in the distance and Gore Mountain.
A zoom of the mine
Bullhead had a few more views than Puffer, but still not a lot. 

Another opening!
The true summit of Bullhead Mountain

 A fine place to walk
To return to the car, I took a slightly different route down the west slope, but it wasn't much different from the route I used for the ascent.  I regained the John Pond trail and retraced the trail back out. 

A beaver dam visible from the Puffer Pond trail


The trailhead register 

A successful return to the parking area.
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  11 miles
Hike Time:  6 hours, 40 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 3600'


The route (click image to enlarge)