Lake George

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Unnamed "Palmer Pond" Mountain - Hoffman Notch Wilderness - 7/26/15

One hike often leads to another for me.  Back in May, I had climbed Peaked Hills in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness.  From the summit of the northern Peaked Hill, I could see an attractive open rock summit to the north.  I looked at my map and determined that it was the unnamed summit just north of Squaw Mountain and just south of Palmer Pond.  As usual, I made a mental note to add it to my list for future exploration.

Fast forward 2 months and the day had come.  As luck would have it, I had just read an account of a trip to this summit by Spencer Morrissey on the Schroon Lake Region blog.  That jogged my memory and now it was my turn.  Spencer had named it Palmer Pond Mountain, so I'll use that name as well.

I chose a shorter route than Spencer; my route started with the route described by Tom Dubois in his book "Life Under the Fast Lane - A Bushwhacker's Guide to Northway Access Routes, Exit 28 to 31".   

My goal was to cross the Northway at culvert # 3; the Wyman Hill culvert in Tom's book, then bushwhack NW to the summit. To access culvert # 3, you take Route 9 to the Schroon Lake/North Hudson town line.  There is an attractive welcome to North Hudson sign at the location.  A log home is on the east side of Route 9, and a woods road is on the west side.  The woods road leads to the Schroon River on public access land owned by the Town of North Hudson.

I parked a couple hundred feet in on the woods road, although high clearance vehicles can drive all the way in.   Deer Flies were swarming the car as I parked.  I was ready for this.  I was wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt and I put my head net on before I even got out of the car.  I let Rev out of the hatch and off we went.  

The woods road leading to the Schroon River in North Hudson 

The woods road walk was pleasant and led slightly downhill to a sharp 90 degree bend to the right after 0.75 miles. At this location a faint herd path leads straight ahead a short distance to the Schroon River.  At this location, you can see a drainage entering the Schroon from the opposite side.

The Schroon can be crossed just 50 downstread from the mouth of the drainage during times when the water level is low.  On the day, the Schroon was flowing at knee level at the deepest point.  I had brought water shoes and stopped to put them on.  Rev and I crossed without issue.  I left my water shoes by the river to use later for the return trip.  Next we followed the drainage, staying on the south side of the drainage as we approached the Northway (I87) at the one mile mark.  There is a water culvert for the drainage, but just south of the water culvert is a walking culvert.  We used the walking culvert (the named Wyman Hill culvert) to gain access to the west side of the Northway.

Our river crossing location

Safely across.

The "Wyman Hill" walking culvert

Once on the west side of the Northway, we crossed the drainage to head NW towards the unnamed "Palmer Pond Mountain" hill, following the path of least resistance.  I generally hugged the left (south) side of the ridge as we climbed.  The woods were open and there were pretty stands of red pine.  It didn't take long to get views to the south.   

An early viewpoint.

The ridge looked like this for much of the climb (with occasional rock bands).

It was warm and humid and soon my shirt was soaked from sweat.  The bugs had mostly disappeared and I removed my headnet as I climbed.  There was an early steep section that took us up to the ridge, then moderate climbing until a second steep section prior to a false summit.

From the false summit to the true summit, the woods were thickly but still not bad.  At 2.6 miles from the car we topped out on the true summit.  Rock cairns dotted the summit and nearby ledges. From the summit, the only views are facing east and south, but just west of the true summit is a fantastic set of ledges and rock where you can see south, west and north. 

Rev is on the summit

... and now I'm there.

 I really enjoyed this spot and I actually stayed on the summit for an hour.  First I ate lunch and fed Rev, then I laid down on the warm rack and let the sun and breeze work to dry my wet shirt.  I closed my eyes and it felt like I was at the ocean.  The wind substituted for the waves, but it was very relaxing.

From this spot, I could see the Blue Ridge Road winding westward, the Adirondack Buffalo Company, and the High Peaks beyond.

A worthwhile reward for a 2.6 mile climb!

A mountain goat, or Rev?

a zoom view looking to the High Peaks

Schroon Lake can be seen in the distance to the SW.

Zoom view of Schroon Lake

a couple more high peak zooms

Hoffman Mountain in the distance

The Adirondack Buffalo Company

Hoffman Mountain (L), Blue Ridge Mountain (R)

A parting shot...

I could have stayed on this summit all day but I had to be home by 3 and it was now 1:15.  Alas, down I went, pretty much backtracking the way I had come.  Leesa missed out on this trip, but I have the feeling I'll come back here with her in the fall to take another look.  Using this route, it took me 2 hours to climb and an hour and 25 minutes to descend.  A great half day bushwhack to say the least.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  5.1 miles
Hike Time:  3.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1700'   

The route

The route on the National Geographic topo map

Monday, July 13, 2015

Henderson Mountain (3752') - High Peaks Wilderness

I had a day off from work today and my choice for a hike was Henderson Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness Area.  This is one of the ADK Hundred Highest peaks.  Henderson rises to an elevation of 3752'.  There is no trail to the summit, but the bushwhack is less than one mile from the trail to Bradley Pond.

I parked at the trailhead for Bradley Pond and the Sananoni Range.  Most of this hike would be a trail hike.  In fact, I stayed on the Bradley Pond trail for 3.5 miles, to the height of land before turning right to access the southern ridge to Henderson.

As expected, the two broken bridges along the trail portion are still broken.  Resources just aren't available to keep up with trail repairs.      

A newer sign at the Santanoni Parking area.

Broken Bridge #1

Broken Bridge #1

Once I began the bushwhack up the southern ridge, I was immediately in moderately thick spruce.  Travel was slower than I had hoped for, but then again, I only had to go less than a mile to the top.  As I approached a false summit, I had my best view of the day, a view of Santanoni, Panther and Bradley Pond.    

The first view

A zoom view of Panther

Travel got even thicker at the false summit.  My dog Rev was not having any problems, but I had to pry way way through a lot of trees.  I had also passed 2 cliff bands that I had to find seams in the rock to work my way up.

A look at the summit. 

Somebody's way of marking a route.

Finally after a lot of clawing, I made it to the summit.  My 0.9 mile bushwhack route had taken an hour and a half and it felt even longer than that.  There were no views from the actual summit and I didn't linger.  The forecast was for scattered thunderstorms and I didn't want to get caught in one during the bushwhack portion of the hike.

The summit!

The easy part of going down is that I can usually just follow Rev and she backtracks following our scent.  It saves me time from orienteering on the way out.  I just do an occasional check to make sure she is still on track.  The downhill bushwhack felt better and only took an hour.

Once back on the trail I started to hear thunder and it rained lightly on and off, but it didn't matter at that point, and I stayed dry under the tree canopy.   An hour march on the trail and jeep road and I was back at the car by 1 PM. 

The best view of the say from near the false summit.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  8.9 miles
Hike Time:  5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~2000'

The route (click image to enlarge)

The route on the National Geographic map

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Long Pond Cliff Loop - Siamese Ponds Wilderness - 7/5/15

It was Leesa's turn to plan a trip today and she wanted to see the Long Pond Cliffs in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.  I did a little research and we were on our way to the Town of Speculator where we picked up Elm Lake Road which we followed to near the end (just past the 6 mile marker) where the road branches left, right or straight.  To the right is a small parking area where we parked alongside two other cars.  There is a kiosk there for the Speculator Tree Farm.

First we took the short 0.5 mile woods road to a flooded portion of the Kunjamuk River.  There is a designated campsite there overlooking an old weir.  

An old weir on the Kunjamuk River

 We then returned past the car and took the continued road north which now became a rougher section of road.  We shortly passed a camp on the right that had about 8 dogs chained to trees surrounding the house.

Just past this camp saw signs we were entering the Forest Preserve.  We were entering the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area at this point on the Cisco Brook Trail.  There is a sign-in log and then a foot bridge over Cisco Brook.  

The start of the Cisco Creek Trail.
After 0.9 miles, we reached a fork where Long Pond Trail goes left and Kunjamuk Trail goes right. We went left to head for Long Pond where we would be able to see the cliffs to the east.   

 Along the way to Long Pond, we passed Rock Pond at the 2.1 mile mark.  There were 2 tents set up at a nice campsite on the east shore of the pond.  The trail up to this point had been pretty nondescript.

Trail sign near the sign-in kiosk.

Rock Pond

The trail began to get more interesting between Rock Pond and Long Pond.  At the 2.9 mile mark we reached Long Pond and could now see the majestic cliffs on the east side of the pond.   There were 2 nice campsites on the mid west shore of the pond.  The 1st one was unoccupied; the 2nd one had a woman camping there.  We talked with her for a couple minutes and she told us that there was now a marked trail at the north end of the pond that connected the Long Pond Trail with the Kunjamuk Trail.  We decided that we could take this trail and come back on the Kunjamuk Trail making a loop out of the hike.

The southern most of two campsites on the west shore of Long Pond.  

Long Pond Cliffs

A zoom view of the cliffs

A rowboat lives on the west shore near the northern most campsite.

Just north of the 2nd campsite is a peninsula where there was once an obvious campsite.  It now appears to be in the process of being reforested.  The penisula ends with a nice rock outcropping.

The end of the peninsula.

At the NW end of the lake, we reached the junction where the new trail went eastward to connect with the Kunjamuk Trail.  This was a 1.3 mile trail.  We turned eastward.  The trail passed over the north shoulder of the cliffs and we were hoping to find a herd path leading up the cliffs.  We didn't find one and Leesa didn't feel like bushwhacking to the cliffs at this time of the day.  I saw the spot where it seemed to be the ideal place to head for the cliffs and no path was found.  We decided to continue on and perhaps a herd path would be found later.

 This new trail is well marked with yellow discs, but it is hardly a trail at this time.  The discs are needed to tell where the lightly trod trail goes.  We reached the Kunjamuk Trail without incident, then turned right to head south to return to the car.  We had 4.5 miles left to hike.

We is where the trouble began.  The Kunjamuk Trail was very overgrown and trail markers were scarce.  Our hound dog Rev knew where to go and that made it easier to stay on the trail.  We continued to wonder why the trail was not receiving hardly any use.

We soon discovered why.  We reached a big marshy area where we would have to cross the Kunjamuk River.  It wasn't much of a river at this point, but the trail discs vanished and we found ourselves in a marsh with chest high grass.  With each step we couldn't tell if the ground was going to support our feet or give way into a bog.

We headed across the marsh grass towards the opposite site, but were stopped by a water crossing with no means across.  We backtracked to a scrub tree line and stayed in the tree line until we saw a pink ribbon across the marsh grass a little further south.  We headed to the ribbon and found a narrower creek at this location.  A board was under water here with a blue trail marker disc nailed to it!  We were able to cross here and finish manuering across the marsh grass to the western side.  

The start of the marsh grass.

The ribbon in the center of the marsh.

The trail marker!!!

A log at the final water crossing gave us an exit from the marsh grass. 

This is where the trail markers indicate you are supposed to go.

So this is why the Kunjamuk Trail was overgrown.  People hiking north on the Kunjamuk Trail turned around when they came to the marsh.  The trail was fine south of the marsh and we were able to march back to the car the final mile with wet squishy shoes and socks. 

Finally a dry trail.

We rejoined the Cisco Creek Trail and noticed a benchmark on a rock alongside the trail that we hadn't seen on the way in. 

A benchmark in the woods.

If you go hiking in this area, we strongly advise against the Kunjamuk Trail.  Stick to the out-and-back on the Cisco Creek/Long Pond Trail.  That's what we'll do when we return to bushwhack to the top of the cliffs.  

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  12.2 miles
Hike Time:  7 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1000'

The route (click to enlarge)
The route on the Nat Geo topo map