Lake George

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Avalanche Mountain (3800') - High Peaks Wilderness Area - 12/16/15

When I looked at the weather forecast for the week, I thought Wednesday looked like a day with no weather obstacles.  Rain early in the week and late in the week, but Wednesday had a mostly cloudy forecast.

Things changed immediately as I left Lake George and headed north.  I started to rain before I reached Warrensburg.  By the time I passed Schroon and North Hudson, it was snowing; not enough to stick to the roads, but the trees were turning white.  As I passed through Cascade Pass, it looked like a winter wonderland (although it was less than an inch of snow).  The plows were out salting Route 73.  

Not expecting to have to bushwhack in the snow, I changed clothes at the High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) to put on something with a little more water repellency.  

My dog Rev, and I, started out at 8:30, planning to climb Avalanche Mountain via Caribou Pass.  There were only 4 cars parked at the HPIC.  The person who signed in before me was going to climb the Trap Dike.  Another one was going to climb Algonquin and Marcy.  Good luck to each of them.       

Rev's always ready to get moving. 

I reached Marcy Dam in the usual 40 minutes, and stopped to take some pictures of the snow and the interesting skies.

A fun mix of clouds and blue sky at Marcy Dam.

Most of my pictures from the day were taken here, with good reason.   It's such a photogenic spot.

The breached dam has been removed.

After I had sufficient pictures from Marcy Dam, I moved along to the Kagel lean-to where I had my first challenge of the day.  Marcy Brook had to be crossed.  The rock hop looked doable, but I couldn't tell if the rocks had a layer of ice on them or not.  I took the safe approach and put on my microspikes just in case.  Rev and I were both able to cross without incident.  I left my spikes on for the rest of the bushwhack so I wouldn't be slipping and sliding on the wet snow.

When I got to the Caribou Pass drainage, I followed it, staying on the keft side of the drainage.  Eventually I decided to turn up towards the ridge.  It wasn't my best decision, but I made it work.  I ended up on the ridge a ways north of the true summit.  I ploughed through the snowy trees, and propelled my way forward.  Before the final summit bump, I reached a ledge which I could not descend.  I kept going right until I was able to get down into the small col and resume the climb.

I was totally soaked before I even got on the ridge.  I remained uncomfortably wet the rest of the hike, but I knew it wasn't a full day hike and it wasn't that cold.  Still, I had to keep moving to keep some body heat inside the wet clothes.  I had even put on gaiters to help keep the legs and feet dry, but it only bought me a little additional time.   

This is why I got wet....

At 11:30, I reached the true summit, where there is a tiny clearing.  This was my final summit on the ADK Hundred Highest list!  I was now 102/102 (including Bullhead and Wilmington) which are not officially part of the Hundred Highest.

The summit

One more summit picture

Climbing the ADK 46 is a great achievement, but it takes some perserverance (and a high pain threshold!) to bushwhack the "other 54".  They are not all bushwhacks, but some of the ones that are, have quite a high tree density.

I savored the moment for just a minute, since I knew I had to keep warm.  For the return trip, I tried something different.  I took the route that I had intended to use as the climbing route.  This proved to be more forgiving and I was able to make better time (plus I was going downhill and was already wet, so I didn't try and thread through the trees to stay dry).

As always, it was good to return to the trail.  This trail was unusually quiet, but on a Wednesday the week before Christmas, I can understand it.  I only saw one couple all day.  

Marcy Dam 

A parting look

Cascade Pass, on the way home.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.1 miles
Hike Time:  5.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1850'  

The route

The bushwhack portion...


  1. Congratulations and thanks again for sharing your adventures! I thought the DEC were going to dismantle the old dam? Haven't been hiking much the last two years myself, been working on a trail system at the Reservoir Park here in Corinth. Have about 6 miles cleared, planning some Mtn Bike trails in the future as well. It's a nice snowshoe area and possibly "telemark" skiing??? Hope you have a great Holiday!

    1. Thanks Ben! That would would be great to have another spot for some Tele skiing. Happy Holidays to you too.

  2. Congratulations, Mike - that's a great accomplishment! I've really enjoyed following your adventures, especially in the Sawtooths. Kudos for pushing your way through the wet, snow-covered conifers for your finish.


  3. Congratulations, Mike! I've really enjoyed following your adventures, especially in the wild Sawtooths. Kudos for pushing through those snow-covered conifers for your finish.

    1. Thanks Steve. Bushwhacking really leads to limitless possibilities. I'm afraid I'm hooked.