Lake George

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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Camel's Hump Mountain ( 4083') - Camel's Hump State Forest, VT

To mix things up a little bit on this Christmas weekend, we headed over to Vermont to climb Camel's Hump.  This was the first time for Leesa.  We arrived at 10 AM and were treated to blue skies, even though the forecast called for mostly cloudy.

I decided we would climb via the Burroughs Trail and then decide whether we would come back on the same trail or take the Long Trail to the Forest City trail.

The parking lot was about half full when we got there, and we expected more people to arrive.  I kept Rev on the leash due to the number of people on the trail.

Leaving the hardwoods and entering the softwoods

Camel's Hump is one of the most popular peaks in VT and it is visible from much of the Champlain Valley.  The trail was wet down low, but there was minimal ice and no snow.  

We saw several groups on the way and and on the way down, but we had the summit to ourselves for the first five minutes after we arrived before a group of three showed up.

Just a little rime ice. 

Mount Mansfield in the distance to the north.

Leesa on Camel's Hump.

On the summit, I asked Leesa how she wanted to proceed.  She opted to continue on the Long Trail to the Forest City Trail so that is what we did.  It turned out to be a great choice.  We got to have the warm sun in our faces as we walked south.  We got back down into the woods and I let Rev off the leash.  There were not many people on this route.  The crowds were taking the Burroughs Trail both ways.

Starting to head south on the Long Trail

Leesa... trying to keep up with Rev and I

A good look back at Camel's Hump.

I think I actually like the Long Trail/ Forrest City route better... at least being in the sun for part of the hike.  It's nice to do a loop hike and not an out-and-back.

We stopped in at the Montclair Glen lodge when we got to the Forrest City trail.  No one was there and we had a few snacks before heading down and out.  It's a great little lodge.

Montclair Glen lodge.

From the lodge it's an easy walk of 1.5 miles to the trailhead via the Forrest City trail and the short 0.1 mile connector trail.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  5.5 miles
Hike Time:  4 .5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~2300'   

Hurricane Mountain - Hurricane Moutain Primitive Area - 12/25/15

On Christmas Day, Leesa and I were looking to take an afternoon hike with great views and perhaps a sunset.  We settled on Hurricane Mountain which is one of my favorite peaks.  We hadn't been up there since the tower had been reopened so that was a big incentive.

We didn't get started until 2:30 PM, but that was OK with us.  The Hurricane trail from Route 9N has been re-routed in the last couple years, and it's no problem to descend by headlamp.  The re-routed trail is slightly longer.  The sign still says 2.6 miles, but it is now about 3.1 miles.   

There is a nice boardwalk here.  (Under our feet at the moment).

After a moderate grade for a half mile, the trail is almost flat for 3/4 mile before the real climbing begins.  Since the weather forecast called for mostly sunny, we were hoping for a sunset, but it became apparent that the sun was not likely to make much of an appearance.  Still, you never know what the skies will be like on a summit, so we continued upward.

At 4:10, we reached the summit, and I quickly went up into the firetower to check out the restoration work.  It was nice to be able to get back in the tower after having it closed for so many years. Special thanks to the Friends of Hurricane Mountain who worked tirelessly to make this restoration happen! They've done a great job.  The stair treads have all been replaced, as has the floor of the cab.  The restoration of the cab will be done in the Spring of 2016.

It would be interesting to know how many high peaks can be seen from Hurricane. 

While we didn't have much of a sunset, visibility was good and the wind wasn't too strong.  This peak often gets ferocious wind.  We stayed long enough to take a few pictures an then decided to head down to make some progress before we had to snap on the headlamps.  We did have just a sliver of pink sky at sunset.

The leftover wood will be flown out in the spring.

The last light of the day...

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  6.2 miles
Hike Time:  3.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2000'

The trail from Route 9N

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Pilot Knob Mountain - Lake George Wild Forest - 12/19/15

I typically climb Pilot Knob Mountain 4-6 times per year.  It's a quick place that I can get to and climb and be done in 3 hours.  It may be quick, but it doesn't lack for views or great terrain.

Usually I start from the Buck Mountain trailhead on Pilot Knob Road.  This time I started from the gate on the East side of Pilot Knob Road that is directly across from Echo Bay Road.  It is hard to see in the summertime, but know with the leaves off the trees, it is easy to spot.  There is parking for a couple cars in front of the gate.

Beyond the gate is an old woods road, which is actually in pretty good shape.  As you follow it for a little ways, it begins to branch out with several forks along the way.  I only stayed on the woods road for 10 minutes and then left it to climb straight up towards the shoulder of Pilot Knob Mountain.

It's a steep climb in spots, with lots of rock, and lots of rock covered in newly fallen leaves.  It doesn't take long to have great views behind you of Lake George.  As you can see in the pictures below,  the trees are sparse and tree density is not an issue.  Just be careful with your footing on the rocks, especially on the way down.  I avoided all wet rock and moss.        

You have this view in 15-20 minutes


After 15-20 minutes, you start breaking out into sloping meadows of rock and grass.  There are lots of ticks here in the summer unfortunately.  I had none on my clothes today.  Thankfully the cold weather helps.

Lots of terrain like this.

Chose a rock

There are a few cliff faces along the way, but it's easy to find a work around.

I like this terrain and it doesn't get old climbing this mountain.  Since the climb is a bushwhack, and there is no trail, each time I climb, it's a little different.

After I got to the shoulder of Pilot Knob, I continued on up the ridge towards the site of the 1969 plane crash.   The crash site is in a rugged area on the side of the mountain.  There is a memorial there for one of the victims and there are a couple piles of small pieces of the plane.  That is all that remains.  

If you see a small collapsed cabin in the area, you are about a 100 yards away from the memorial and crash site.  Just walk towards the cliff face from the collapsed cabin.

The memorial for one of the crash victims

... and plane parts

The old cabin near the crash site.

After visiting the crash site, I went up to the true summit before heading back down.  On the return trip, I dropped off the ridge in the col between the true summit and the shoulder of the mountain. Then I contoured around the side of the shoulder until I got back to the ascent route, thereby my dog Rev brought us back down, following our scent from a few hours earlier.   

Rev on Pilot Knob Mountain

After this nice hike, I was back at the car and home by noon.  If you're not afraid of a little bushwhack, and like bouldering and scrambling on lots of rock.  This is a good hike for you.  The views can't be beat.

I think the next best thing to hiking around the fjords of Norway is to hike around Lake George.  It's not quite as dramatic, but it's pretty darn nice.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  3.5 miles
Hike Time :  3 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1800'

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...