Monday, September 5, 2016

Siamese Ponds - Siamese Ponds Wilderness - 9/5/16

When I asked my wife Leesa what kind of a hike she wanted for Labor Day, she said wanted a trail hike (no bushwhack), kind of long, somewhat flat, with water along the way and not a lot of people. The hike that came to my mind was Siamese Ponds from the Eleventh Mountain parking area on Route 8.  While I often xc ski to the Sacandaga leanto at the suspension bridge, I hadn't been to Siamese Ponds since 1983!

We got a late 10:30 start, but knew we had plenty of time to do this hike.  I've only done this route in fall and winter, so it looked a bit different today.  It was another beautiful day today; as it has been all week.  I can't remember a Labor Day weekend with weather this good.

Signs at the trailhead.

Looking towards the southern shoulder of 11th mountain from the trail. 

The trail starts with a quick climb to a pass just south of 11th mountain.  Once through the pass is a nice mocerate descent (great on skis) to a footbridge at Diamond Brook.  About a half mile past the footbridge is a nice waterhole on the river and we stopped for a bit.  Leesa took off her shoes and soaked her feet. 

East Branch Sacandaga River (with a low water level)!

Leesa... getting ready to soak her feet.
Continuing on, we passed a man who had been backpacking for a couple days and he was on his way out.  After a total of 4 pleasant miles, we arrived at the Sacandaga leanto.  I was really surprised that no one was there, since we had seen 5 cars in the parking lot when we arrived.  

Orange and yellow leaves on this tree.

This must be a practive log for this beaver.

We sat down in the leanto and started to pull out lunch.  Almost immediately two guys with a dog came across the bridge from the Siamese Ponds direction.  Unfortunately their dog and Rev played for a minute but then got into a tussle.  We had to seperate the dogs and they went on their way.

Sacandaga leanto 

With it quiet once again, we ate our lunch at this beautiful spot.   I'm still amazed that a suspension bridge was built here.  I know one was needed to cross the East Branch Sacandaga River, but the hiker traffic through here is rather light, even on holiday weekends with perfect weather.  In any case, I'm glad the bridge is there.  We used it after lunch.  Leesa and Rev aren't super comfortable with suspension bridge, especially long ones like this, but it isn't very high over the river and they did it. 

Sacandaga suspension bridge.

The view of the river from the bridge.

It's lunchtime...

From the leanto it is another 2.3 miles to Siamese Ponds.  This is the portion of the trail that I had not been on since 1983.  I had no recollection of it.  I thought it would be somewhat overgrown, but I was wrong.  It was in pretty good shape except for a couple recent fallen trees.

After an hour of hiking we reached the pond and it was quite beautiful.  There was a sandy area at the trail terminus and the pond bottom was sandy as well.  Leesa went for a swim and I walked north a little ways on the eastern shore.

A large nice campsite just before the trail reaches the pond.

The end of the trail.

There is actually a pair of ponds, and I've never seen the more westerly upper pond.  There is supposedly a nice campsite on the small piece of land between the two ponds, but we didn't have time today to bushwhack around the lower pond to check it out.  Sometime I'll have to go back in to see it, or we'll have to camp and do some more exploration.  Not a bad idea.

 The only trail back was the way we had come.  Not horrible, and it was such a nice day.  We stopped again at the same waterhole we used on the way in to stop again and stick our feet in the water.  A very peaceful day and a nice hike.  Leesa said that my choice of hikes was just what she had wanted for the day.  We got back to the car around 4:45 PM.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  12.9 miles
Hike Time:  6 hours, 15 minutes, including stops
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1650'

The trail

The route as shown on the Nat Geo map

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