Lake George

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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

XC Ski - Wilson Pond - Blue Ridge Wilderness - 1/30/16

With this January being what it is, we had to do a little traveling to find some snow worthy of using our cross country skis.  Saturday found Leesa and I in Blue Mountain Lake.  We chose the Cascade Pond Trail (#55 on the National Geographic Northville/Raquette Lake map #744).

Roadside signage
We parked on the shoulder of County Route 19, but we could have driven into the parking area.  We first skied the short distance to the small picnic area on the west side of Lake Durant, then we started down the Cascade Pond trail.

Trailhead sign for the Cascade Pond Trail.

Sign at the picnic area on Lake Durant

Blue Mountain from Lake Durant

Bridge between Rock Pond and Lake Durant
We crossed the bridge shown above and then started the uphill ski towards Cascade Pond. Unfortunately the trail had rocks that weren't covered by snow.  We decided it wouldn't be worth the climb becuase it would be tough to ski down.  We turned around after 1.4 miles and made our way back to the car.

We came up with Plan B which was to drive a couple miles west and try the Wilson Pond Trail (trail # 57). This turned out to be a better option.  There seemed to be a little more snow, plus there were fewer rocks and obstacles on the trail.

Spring on the south side of Loon Brook 

This was Leesa's first day out on skis this winter.  She skied along with me until we were about a half mile from Wilson Pond, at which time she decided she was ready to turn around.  She told me to go on ahead and see the pond and lean-to and she'd see me back at the car.

Wilson Pond

The island on Wilson Pond.

We had been following the snowshoe tracks of two guys who had signed in ahead of us.  As I came over the last rise before the pond and lean-to, I could smell smoke in the distance.  I suspected that the two guys were camping at the lean-to and they had a fire going.  I soon found that I was correct. As my dog Rev and I approached, we saw them tending a campfire at the lean-to and having some coffee.  

Wilson Pond lean-to.

Wilson Pond lean-to in use.

I chatted with the two guys for a few minutes, then headed back to try and catch up to Leesa.

Some blue skies arriving...

The sun came out as I was skiing back, and it was nice to see.  The temperature remained in the 20's so skiing was good.

I made it back to the car just as Leesa was unlocking the car.  Perfect timing.

XC Ski Stats:
Trail Distance:  5.8 miles
Ski Time:  3 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~700'

The routes

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hogback Mountain and Spruce Mountain - Lake George Wild Forest - 1/23/16

After whetting my apetite on Spruce Mountain last week, I came back for some more exploration.  I had two goals for the day; Hogback Mountain and the trail from Spruce Mountain to the old Lake Shore Road on the East shore of Lake George.

I parked at the end of the plowed portion of North Road and followed the unplowed portion over the height of land past the old building on the right (which I'm guessing was a schoolhouse).  I went downhill to a cairn on the right side.  This is where the yellow disc trail comes out, and also where a white paint blaze trail on the left heads towards Hogback Mountain.

This is where the yellow disc trail intersects the jeep road. 

The sign at the end of the yellow disc trail said 2.1 miles to Hogback and that is where I started for first.  The white blazes were easily visible and I followed them for perhaps a half mile until I came to a junction with blue blazes to the left and white blazes to the right.  I chose to stick with the white blazes.      

Standing at the white blaze/blue blaze jct. looking at the next with blaze. 
The white trail contoured around the west side of a small bump on sloping rugged terrain which was icy and tricky to walk on, even with microspikes.

A view of Spruce Mountain and Lake George.

A view of Lake George from the white trail to Hogback. 
The white trail continued south and went over a small knoll.  Soon after that, I lost the white blazes. I searched but couldn't find them.  Coincidentally some old red paint was at that location, but it looked like property boundary paint.  I followed the red a short distance and then picked up the white blaze again.

I continued following the white, but soon lost it again.  At this point, I was about a half mile from summit.  I gave up on the blazes and went to the summit where I found the blazes again.  The summit is quite open, especially facing south, where there is a great view of Sugarloaf Mountain. 

Sugarloaf Mountain from the summit of Hogback Mountain.

A zoom view of Sugarloaf.
When I left the summit, I was able to follow the white blazes back to where I had lost the trail and then retraced my steps back to the woods road.   Next up was exploration north of Spruce Mountain.  I crossed the woods road and started up the yellow disc trail towards Spruce Mountain.  I had done this same route 6 days earlier and my tracks were still visible in the snow.

The yellow disc trail ends at a white paint blaze trail which then continues all the way to the summit of Spruce Mountain.  This is a very pretty route in my opinion.  I'll be back in the summer for sure.    

The awesome view from near the summit of Spruce Mountain.

Last week I went to the summit, but failed to notice that the white blaze trail continued north; hence the need for a return visit.  If you continue northward, hugging the western edge of the ridge, you'll see that the white blazes continue.  

This sign is near the summit of Spruce Mountain and points north
From Spruce Mountain north was new for me.  The trail starts dropping down off the summit, then turns abruptly to head SW to to avoid some steep terrain.  Another switchback turned the trail back in a northwesterly direction.  Next I came to what appeared to be the remnants of an old logging road.  The white blazes became few and far between.  At one point, I lost them, but discovered the trail had turned in a westerly direction.

Soon after that, I came to the sign pictured below.  I chose to take the spur trail (marked in blue paint), to the view.   

The view from the spur trail.
The spur led to a ledge that offered a great view south on Lake George.  I could can see all the way through the Narrows to Montcalm Point and beyond.   I returned to the white trail and continued north.  The trail hugged the edge of a ridge with a very steep dropoff.  It also sloped towards the dropoff.  I move slowly in my microspikes.  They weren't always gripping well on the snowcrust that was covered with 3" of snow.  I made sure my dog Rev stayed away from the edge as well.

Rev's last look over the edge before I moved her away from the sloping terrain that followed.

The trail continued north along the ledge for what seemed like forever.  Finally the ledge ended and the trail made a sharp turn west and started dropping down a ridgeline.  The white blazes ended, but white cloth ribbons were tied on the trees.  I descended the ridge to another viewpoint and a cliff. The trail turned north again and I followed the ribbons which soon changed back to white paint blazes.

Another viewpoint. 

The white ribbons replaced the blazes for awhile.

A last viewpoint

Bluff Head down below.
I came to another junction with a spur trail leading to yet another ledge.  Again the spur trail was marked with blue blazes.  The ledge looked promising, but I was starting to get concerned about time.  It was now about 2 PM and I still had to go all the way back.  I bypassed the spur trail and kept going.

Another spur trail in blue paint.
As I got down lower I had a great look back up to the ledge from the 2nd spur trail.  It was pretty impressive looking.

The ledge reached by the 2nd spur trail.

Finally the white trail reached the old abandoned Lake Shore Road at a location just SE of Odell Island on Lake George.  I walked the old lake road for a couple minutes to see what it looked like, but unfortunately I had to shift into high gear to get back before it got dark.  I retraced my steps and reached the car feeling pretty worn out. 

The old abandoned Ford pickup truck visible from the Lake Road.  

Late afternoon on Lake George

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  12.5 miles
Hike Time:  6.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  3700'

The 1st portion of the hike - Hogback Mountain

The 2nd portion of the hike - Lake Shore road

The combined route

Monday, January 18, 2016

Spruce Mountain (1782') - Lake George Wild Forest - 1/18/16

As most people know, Lake George is blessed with amazing beauty; both from the water and from the surrounding mountains.  Many of the mountains offer vistas that just can't be beat.  Today, Leesa and I found another one of those today - Spruce Mountain.

We almost postponed this trip because the forecast was for cloudy skies, and we wanted to do this trip on a good visibility day, but we were in the area and I figured we would come back if the visibility was lacking.  As it turns it, We'll be coming back anyway because it is a tremendously beautiful peak.   We had luck on our side today as we had bluebird skies for some of the day. 

From Route 22, head north past the road to Huletts Landing... the next road on the left is North Road. Turn onto North Road and follow it to the T in the road.  Turn right and follow it past Military Road a short distance to the end of the plowed portion of the road.  There is parking space for a couple cars.  

We started following the unplowed portion of the road.  There are posted signs on either side of the road.          

The start of the unplowed portion of the road.

After walking for just a couple minutes, there is a sign on the right hand side of the road where a orange disc trail begins.  It is private land, but the property owner has graciously allowed hikers to used the trail as long as they stay on the trail.  How awesome!

Thank you! 

The orange discs turned to rock cairns.  In the snow they became somewhat had to follow, but all you need to know is that the trail follows the west edge of the ridge and it straddles the state land boundary.  Up on the ridge there are white paint blazes the remainder of the way.

Climbing the west face of the ridge.

There is also nice signage, similar to the SOA trails in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness in Lake Placid.

Views come early and often on this hike.  On this day, we were getting slammed with 35 mph winds that were pretty continuous, but it was worth braving the wind to stand on the various viewpoints and take pictures.     

Wow, look at that view!  Black Mountain on the left, Huletts Landing down below.

Agnes Island, center right.  Harbor Island and Vicars Island center left.

Rev wasn't fast enough for a ground squirrel...

Just another fantastic viewpoint

Sabbath Day POint and Deer Leamp on the far side of the lake, center.

The trail is rugged in spots.  Between the false summit and the true summit, the white paint blaze trail dives down to the left to avoid a steep rock face.  On the return, we followed the white paint blazes back on the ridge before taking a yellow disc trail that made its way down through a boulder field back to North Road.

Rev looking at parts of the airway beacon on the summit.

The summit, and more beacon parts.

The base of the former airway beacon. 

This was steeper than it looks in the picture.

These blazes are similar to those on the long trail in Vermont.

Leesa coming down the ridge.

On the yellow trail.

Looking back up the yellow trail.

Last open view on the way down.

Almost back.

We'll be back to do this route again in the summer or the fall.  This is another gem on the Lake George coastline.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  4.5 miles
Hike Time:  3.25 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1500'

The route

The route on the Nat Geo map.  (Cross Road is actually signed as North Road)