Lake George

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Project 100 - A Highly Impressive and Admirable Fundraiser

Why Fundraise?
How many of you have participated in an organized sporting event to raise money for your favorite cause?  Perhaps a walk or a run?  Maybe even a cycling or kayaking event?   Not only do you get exercise, you gain friends and raise money for something that matters to you.

Often you can support many of these types of activities with very little preparation. Sure, a full marathon requires an advance training regimen, but the majority of the "support a cause" events can be done with very little forethought...just sign up, show up, and have fun!!

Then there's Herculean Efforts and Passion
You know what I mean: those endeavors where you have to plan the entire event and train, train and train until you can train no more... and then go back and accomplish the entire set of obstacles you have set for yourself... perhaps in the worst of weather?  Yes there are a few crazies who do these things.

Neil Luckhurst is no stranger to fundraising, and no stranger to punishing his body through a set of physical and mental obstacles that energize others to pledge money to support his favorite causes.  In this case, the ADK High Peaks Foundation is the lucky recipient of his passion.

This Year it's Project 100
Neil's "Project 100" will be taking place this winter and will surely raise some hard earned funds for the foundation.   I'm not going to give away Neil's secrets here, just spreading the word so more of us adventure seekers can be in the know.  You can find out all the details on Neil's Project 100 blog for the event.  He's put just as much effort into his blog as he has to training (well maybe not, if you've seen him train)!     

In case you want the the whole link revealed, here it is:

It's sure to be a spectacular fundraiser.  Neil's got a fire and passion to make this happen.  There are many ways to help.... and once again make friends along the way.  Don't miss out.  Project 100 is coming to the ADK's this winter season!



Monday, September 11, 2017

Buck and Bear Mountains - Dix Mountain Wilderness - 9/4/17

On Labor Day, Leesa and I were pondering where we wanted to go for an enjoyable hike.  I thought about Buck and Bear Mountains in the Dix Wilderness.  I described the hike to Leesa and she said perfect, let's do it.  Last time I went, it was on the verge of winter and it was a blustery cold day with a little snow up high.  This time, it was still blustery, but it felt nice on such a warm day.

Perhaps the easiest way to access these two is via the West Mill Brook access.  We had our jeep with us and we were easily able to drive in the 1.1 miles to the gate.  The water depth at the Schroon River crossing was only a couple inches deep.

After we got started, we only walked on the West Mill Brook woods road for less than a half mile before we exited the trail on the right.  Rather than climb in the draw to a col, we sidestepped the unnamed hill to the southeast of Buck.  It has quite a stone face (as seen in the picture below.

Leesa contouring the unnamed hill and massive rock wall SE of Bear.

The woods throughout most of this entire area is light density for the most part and moderate density at worst, mingled with slabs of rock. 

An early view

We poked around and climbed steadily towards Buck Mountain watching Rev zig and zag towards things that caught the interest of her nose.  When we topped out on Buck, Leesa was quite impressed with the view of the Dix Range, Giant & Rocky Peak as well as lower peaks in the area.

Rev observing part of the Dix Range (Macomb, South Dix and Wyman) from Buck Mountain. 

Wyman in the center with Grace on the right and South Dix on the left.

Some "lesser" Dix Wilderness peaks

Me... looking at familiar territory.

Giant Mountain in the back right.

Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge
Leesa was game for more so after some time on Buck, we continued on to Bear Mountain.

Ah yes, some early fall colors

Buck from Bear

Views from Bear

Buck from Bear again
We got to Bear and it wasn't quite as open as I remembered it, but still a nice peak.  I gazed at the "igloo", the stone wart on the east side of Wyman, but we didn't head that direction on this day.  Leesa was content with our 2 peaks so we meandered about before dropping off Bear to return to the West Mill Brook woods road.

a foot bridge leading to a camp

Rev was OK using this bridge.

We made a short stop at a watering hole.  It was too cold to swim, but we stuck our feet in.

The start of the West Mill Brook woods road at the gate.

The sign at the entrance to the West Mill Brook Access

This area is full of great peaks.  Even at 2000'-3000' they offer great views and nice terrain.  We're do for another trip to the igloo, so we'll be back.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  5.6 miles
Hike Time:  5 hours, including stops
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1700'

The route...

The route on the Nat Geo map

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sleeping Beauty and Erebus Mountains - Lake George Wild Forest - 9/2/17

To kick off the Labor Day weekend, Leesa and I were invited to join Dan, Joanne, Cole and Eric for a trip to Sleeping Beauty and Erebus Mountains in the Lake George Wild Forest.  These two peaks are part of the relatively new Lake George 12ster challenge.  The challenge, of course, draws additional hikers to these peaks.  What some people don't realize however, is that both true summits are only reached via bushwhacks.  While trails pass nearby, there is a bit of orienteering needed to find the true summits.  Each peak now has a summit sign, which helps hikers validate that they've reached the high point.

We were happy that the group wanted an early start.  We met at the Warren County Municipal Center at 7 AM and were on the trail by about 8 AM.  The woods road to Dacy Clearing has been "improved" by DEC.  They've added crushed stone where needed and have smoothed out the road so 4WD is not needed.  Any vehicle should be able to make the trip from Hogtown to Dacy Clearing at this time.

There were already almost a dozen cars at Dacy Clearing.  Most were probably from people who had claimed the campsites there.  We only saw 1 person ahead of us on the trail.  

The weather was cool and clear and really ideal for hiking.  The trails were dry since it hadn't rained in awhile.  Our dog Rev was also with us and she appreciated the cool weather.

Looking at the Tongue Range from Sleeping Beauty
We reached the Sleeping Beauty open rock viewpoint and had the location to ourselves.  

Little Buck and Shelving Rock Mountain from Sleeping Beauty/

Some of this area was burned by a forest fire a few years ago. 

Dan and Rev 

Rev on one of the lower ledges

I like this spot!
We hung out at the viewpoint for quite a while and also explored the ledges below before moving on.  The group goal was to hit the true summit, which was actually a short distance away.  I had been there before and knew where to veer off the trail.  The summit is perhaps a couple hundred yards off the trail; no real effort was needed to find this one.      

The new sign on Sleeping Beauty.

Proof that Dan made it....
After we all took pictures at the summit, we went northeast to regain the trail and continue towards Bumps Pond.  Once at the pond, we looped around the north end and visited the old chimney that remains near the west shore.   

Bumps Pond.

Next was our final goal for the day - Erebus.  The Erebus Mountain Trail passes west of the true summit and it is very steep from the trail to the top.  I suggested we work our way up the ridge from the south and the group agreed.  This choice wasn't bad,  There were areas that were moderately dense, but the grade wasn't bad.  We reached the true summit without any issues.    

Another new sign...
We had lunch on Erebus.  This summit, like Sleeping Beauty, has no views to offer, but we had seen the views early in the day from the Sleeping Beauty viewpoint.

Our next task was to get back to the cars.  The group had to get back by mid-afternoon and it was 11:30.  We retraced our steps for awhile before turning east to regain the trail south of Fishbrook Pond.  This is when we had our only incident of the day... bees.  I was in the lead and made out OK, but I believe Eric, who was behind me, stepped on a yellow jacket ground nest.  He received several stings as did Dan, Cole and Leesa.  Joanne and I were the only ones not stung.  It put a little damper on our otherwise great day.

When we got back to Dacy Clearing the parking area was overflowing with cars.  There was no room left.  The Hogtown lot was full also.  We were thankful that we beat the crowd.  

Thanks Dan and Joanne for inviting us to join your group.  We had a great day. 

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  7.2 miles
Hike Time:  5.5 hours, including stops
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1500'          

The route

The route on the Nat Geo map

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Peaked and Slide Mountains - Siamese Ponds Wilderness - 8/5/17

My last (and only) visit to Peaked Mountain in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness was on 2/20/12 with plenty of snow on the ground.  This trip gave me a chance to see the area in the summer time, plus tack on a bushwhack to neighboring Slide Mountain; a mountain that I had not visited previously.

The kiosk at the start.
It wasn't going to be a long hike.  I waited out the morning rain and got to the trailhead at 1 PM with clearing skies.  It was going to be a nice afternoon.  My dog Rev was my only companion for this one.  The parking lot was 2/3rd's full, mostly with boaters and campers.  There were still empty campsites available right on the water, but of course the weather was just clearing.   

Thirteenth Lake, looking southeast.  
It was a quick 0.9 miles south on the trail along the west side of Thirteenth Lake (passing two designated campsites) before the trail turned west and I began to climb, following Peaked Mountain brook.  This brook is quite nice and there are many inviting spots to stop and stick your feet in the water or take a snack break.

Peaked Mountain, looking impressive. 
 The trail crosses Peaked Mountain brook a couple times before arriving at Peaked Mountain Pond after 2.5 miles.  There is a nice designated campsite at the water's edge on the east shore.  There was also an aluminum canoe and paddle (marginal seaworthiness).  

Campsite at Peaked Mountain Pond.
 The last 0.5 miles or so is steep, but it's a short jaunt to the top of Peaked Mountain.  When I climbed in the winter, the last 0.2 miles was quite icy.  This time it was just steep, but the trail was in good condition.  The summit offers nice views in several directions.

Peaked Mountain Pond from the summit of Peaked Mountain.

Looking southeast from Peaked Mountain.

Looking east to Slide Mountain.

Looking NW from Peaked Mountain.

The U.S. Geodetic Survey marker

Heading back down Peaked Mountain.

After leaving the summit, I backtracked halfway down to the pond, the contoured over to Slide Mountain, bushwhacking though light to moderate woods.  I picked up the southern approach ridge and made my way up to the top.  It wasn't as open as I had hoped, but a few viewpoints opened up. There were no views from the actual summit highpoint. 

Nearing the summit of Slide Mountain.

Looking northeast to the Ruby Mountain mine.

Zoom view looking towards the mine.

From Slide Mountain I went almost straight south to return to the Peaked Mountain trail for my exit.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  7.5 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1500'

The route

The route on the Nat Geo map.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

T Lake Falls - West Canada Lake Wilderness - 7/30/17

Today Leesa, Rev and I took up the quest to go to T Lake Falls in the West Canada Lake Wilderness. I had heard talk about it for years from friends and it was high time to check it out.  A perfect weather day was in order and we had our plan in place.

We chose to just do an out-and-back day trip, but a camping trip would have worked fine as well. Rather than take the trail to T Lake and the reportedly dangerous herd path from the top of the falls to the bottom, we chose to start from the southwest; starting at the end of Mountain Home Road (just off of Route 8, west of Piseco Lake).  The road is drivable all the way to the end (even in a two wheel drive car with average clearance).  Continue past what looks like a small parking lot.  It has posted "No Parking" signs.  The road ahead looks questionable, but it's not bad.  Soon you'll enter forest preserve lands.  You can drive past The Floe and a fork in the jeep road just before Mad Tom Brook. We observed 4 designated camping sites there.  One of them still had a smoking fire ring with red coals in it, but nobody in sight...  These sites would be a good starting point if you'd like to have any easy car camping start point.

The unmarked trail (the South Branch trail #97 on the National Geographic Northville/Raquette Lake Adirondack Park map) is the left fork.  The right fork crosses the South Branch and heads towards privately owned Pine Lake.  We parked and started down the left fork.  Three pickup trucks were parked at the fork, but no campsites were taken.  We expected to see the owners of the trucks someone along the way.

A foot bridge (the one and only) near the start of the unmarked South Branch trail.

The unmarked trail is an old woods road for 3 miles.  There are some spots that appear to be continuously muddy, but you can bypass the quagmire sections.  At about 2.2 miles, we noticed a faint herd path branching off to the left (near Wagoner Brook).  It may go to a place called Fisher Camp (which a number of people put as their destination in the log book), but not sure about that. Another trip will determine that.  At the three mile mark, the South Branch appeared once again, and now it was time to cross.  We found a group of about 10 backpackers here taking a break on their way out.

The water level was moderate and we were able to rock hop across the South Branch without getting our feet wet.  Immediately on the other side was an illegal campsite (too close to the water), but it was a nice spot and it looked like it had been used quite often. 

The unmarked trail was now gone.  The Nat Geo map shows a short head path heading east following a drainage and we followed that path for perhaps 0.2 miles where we came to a faint herd path fork and a tree with 3 ribbons on it.  It was time to take the left fork to resume the northeasterly bearing, keeping the South Branch on our left.

The South Branch (looking downstream from where we crossed).

The South Branch (looking upstream from where we crossed). 

After another 0.2 miles or so, we came across the one and only place where the head path was hard to follow Which Hobble and ferns obscured the faint herd path and we lost it for a couple minutes.  We just kept heading northeast and we soon regained it.  We had veered left of the herd path for a few moments.  Along the way we saw some old metal trail markers and a fair amount of pink ribbon.  In the last couple miles, we saw extremely fresh hatchet blazes on the trees.     

This is what the old metal trail markers looked like. 

Hatchet Jack's handiwork.
Soon we were wedged between the South Branch on the left, and steep incline on the right.  No getting off track anymore.  We passed an oxbow in the South Branch and saw another illegal campsite (once again too close to the river and no "camp here" disc).  This was at the 4.5 miles mark in our trek.

We continued on and eventually hit the T lake Falls outlet and it was time to climb the short distance to the falls.   We were happy to see that nobody was at the falls when we got there.  What a glorious spot.  It was amazing to have such a beautiful spot to ourselves on a perfect weather July weekend day.  With stream running a little higher than normal for this time of year, the falls had a good amount of water spilling over the top.  

A first look...


Rev... our non-water dog.
What was exciting for us was that there is a nice pool of water for swimming at the base.  It was a little chilly when first getting in, but once in, it didn't feel bad.  The water was probably seven feet deep in the middle.  What was neat was that the water entering the pool was warm from having traveled down the sunny rocks.  Leesa and I swam for awhile.  Rev is not a swimmer, so she just watched and had a drink. 

Leesa... enjoying the water pool at the base of the falls.

We felt good as new after the refreshing swim.  We got out and had lunch and then got back in for one more swim.

Some claim that this is the highest total drop waterfall in New York State.  Niagara Falls is about 170 feet.  OK Slip Falls is about 250 feet.  There is discrepancy as to how big the drop is at T Lake Falls, but it is impressive.  At least 4 persons have died here from slipping at the top and plunging down the length of the falls to the bottom.  Apparently from the top you can't see much, and the arc in the rock continues to dive down and people edging forward make the mistake of waling on wet rock.  When they start to slip, it is too late.  We were quite comfortable with our approach from the bottom and had no desire to look at the scene from the top.     

The walk from the end of Mountain Home Road to the falls taking the heard path that we followed was 5.9 miles one way.

In case you get to the falls and there are too many people there for your liking, there is a much smaller, but decent sized swim hole and small waterfall just downstream from the large falls.

The consolation falls and wading area...

After our 2nd swim, we headed back using our same route.  We had started at 10 AM and it was now 3 PM and time to leave.  It took us exactly 3 hours to return to the car.

The South Branch... just upstream from the oxbow.

Campsite at the oxbow.

This was on the knoll at the oxbow... the only evidence of humans we saw other than the head path.  

Our rock hopping spot on the South Branch.

If spectacular waterfalls are your thing, and you don't hike a 12 mile round trip hike with the herd path and bushwhack time, this trip is well worth your time.  Doing the trip in July/August is definitely a bonus for the swim you can take when you get there! 

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  11.8 miles (along our heard path route)
Hike Time:  6 hours (plus time at the falls)
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 1250'

The route...
The route shown on the Nat Geo map