I always love to get out after a fresh snow, especially the first one of the season. I knew a little snow was expected in the North Country overnight and that a sunny, windy day was expected. I also wanted to hike another peak on the ADK hundred highest list. The one I chose for today was Saddleback Mountain in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area.
My wife Leesa was too busy to hike today, but she offered to drop me off at my starting point if I wanted to do a traverse of Saddleback and Jay and finish at the Jay trailhead. Thank you Leesa! I always prefer a traverse to an out and back.
She dropped Rev and I off at the height of land on the Jay Mountain Road (just south of Frenyea Mountain). I asked that she arrive at the Jay trailhead in about 5 hours; just in case I was that fast! I didn't want to be waiting around in the cold. She agreed, and off she went.
The start of the bushwhack looked a little intimidating, but it wasn't bad. There are some cliff scrambles on the south side of Frenyea Mountain, so I went NE to avoid them. Once I was east of Frenyea, I turned west to hit the summit (I can't skip a named mountain). The summit of Frenyea is moderately thick.
From Frenyea, I could see Saddleback through the trees at a compass reading of about 20 degrees. I was pleasantly surprised to find the travel to Saddleback to be fairly easy along my route.
|First look at Saddleback Mountain from Frenyea Mountain|
I had several vantage points where I could get a good look at the false summit of Saddleback. It gave me the opportunity to plan my ascent route. I skirted a little west to avoid some of the steeper slab rock that faced south.
|Look at this easy walking!|
|Rev usually picked a good line for how to travel|
After an hour from the car, I was on the false summit of Saddleback and minutes later I was on the true summit. What a beautiful mountain. I'll have to go back with Leesa.
|Looking at Whiteface Mountain from the false summit|
|A zoom view of Whiteface|
|Looking SW from Saddleback|
|The summit of Saddleback Mountain|
|It really was a pretty day with the blue skies and fresh snow|
There was a moderate breeze on Saddleback, so after admiring the views for about 15 minutes, I moved on. I has expected the travel to Jay to be a light bushwhack, but I'd say it was more like a moderately difficult walk. I tried to follow the ridge, but I had to maneuver about a bit. I was finding thick spruce and boulders on the ridge, and blowdown on the slopes. I was expecting about an hours walk to Jay, but it took more like 90 minutes.
|A look back at Saddleback Mountain|
|Nearing the summit of Jay Mountain|
|The summit of Jay|
|The Jay Range|
Once on the Jay Range, travel of course was easier. I was quite surprised that wind wasn't bad on the ridge. I think the wind was coming from the NE and the ridge felt nice in the sunshine. It actually felt windier after I dropped off the ridge and was descending to the car.
|A couple crows were bothering Rev on the ridge|
|looking back up the Jay range|
I only ran into 2 people all day. I saw one woman on the middle of the Jay range while I was leaving and she was climbing. I saw a second woman with a dog enjoying the sunshine from the western most bump of the range.
I was able to call Leesa from the Jay Range and let her know that I could be down to the car in about 90 minutes if she could get there then. From that point on, it was just an easy stroll down the new Jay trail back to the warm car.
Hike Distance: 7.1 miles
Hike Time: 5 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~1950'
|The route (click image to enlarge)|