Lake George

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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Moreau Lake State Park - Western Ridge Trail - 2/11/17

Moreau Lake State Park is one of the most popular parks in the State of New York.   It is convenient to the Capital District and lies right off I-87, exit 17.  Many people enjoy the lake and the campground but it also has a vast trail system the covers some rugged terrain.

We had a few hours free on Saturday and we chose to snowshoe the Western Ridge trail, starting on Spiers Falls Road.  The summer parking lot was not plowed, but there was a nearby pulloff on the road where we were able to park.

There were no recent tracks at the entrance to the trail.  We broke trail, but it wasn't difficult with only 6 inches or so of snow on the ground.  Snowshoes weren't really necessary, but we chose to wear them anyway.

Starting on our way.

The Western Ridge Trail is the yellow trail on the park map and is marked with yellow discs.  The trail offers many viewpoints of the Hudson River, the hydroelectric dam and points north and west.  

A first look at the Hudson River in the distance.

Junction with the Orange Trail (Cottage Park Trail).
Once we reached the orange trail we ran into a pair of fresh snowshoes tracks.  They followed the yellow trail for a bit, then turned off on the red trail.  We eventually ran into a lone snowshoer heading the opposite way from us on the yellow trail.  

Rev - standing at one of the overlooks 

My favorite picture from the day.  A look down at the Hudson.

Man's best friend

The closest viewpoint to the dam from the yellow trail.

Leesa, on the trail. 
Near the end of the trail we chose to bushwhack through the woods a bit on the return, as opposed to following our tracks back.   Later we went to the Moreau Lake State Park trails on the north side of the Hudson River and cross country skied from Hawk Road south to the hydroelectric dam and back on the maintenance road. 

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  6 miles
Hike Time:  3 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~700'

XC Ski Stats:
Ski Distance:  4 miles
Ski Time:  1.5 hours

The route

Moreau Lake State Park trail map.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Stephens Pond and Cascade Pond XC Ski - Blue Ridge Wilderness - 2/5/17

Today I went in search of some good conditions for a little cross country skiing.  I headed west towards Indian Lake, knowing that I would find more snow out that way than in the southeastern adirondacks.

I settled on parking at the large pulloff near Lake Durant where the Northville-Placid trail crosses Route 28.  Rather than ski north towards Tirrell Pond, I went south towards Stephens Pond and Cascade Pond.  I had just skied to Stephens back on January 7th, but Cascade would be a new destination for me.  That being the case, I skied that direction first.  

The sign-in register is quite a ways in on the trail. 

There was plenty of powder in the woods and the beginning part of the trail had been broken by one snowshoe track and one ski track.  The ski track ended after a couple miles leaving a sole powdery snowshoe track in front of me. 

This trail has a drainage that runs through it about halfway to the lean-to.  There needs to be an abundance of snow and some cold weather to allow this route to be skiable, otherwise you have to ski off the trail to find ways to cross the drainage.  There were no issues today.  

When I reached the trail junction, the snowshoe tracks went left towards Stephens Pond and I now had virgin snow in front of me for the final mile to Cascade Pond.

Rev did her best to break trail, but it wasn't necessary, the trail was mostly level and a foot of light powder was not an obstacle.

Approaching Cascade Pond (seen on left).

Rev at Cascade Pond lean-to

Cascade Pond
I reached the lean-to after 90 minutes.  I was intending to stop there for a food break, but there was a brisk wind blowing right into the lean-to so I opted to wait for the to stop at the sheltered Stephens Pond lean-to.  

Cascade Pond

Cascade Pond lean-to

Leaving Cascade Pond lean-to.  The pond is on the right. 

Cascade Pond lean-to

I skied back to the junction, then followed the trail (and snowshoe track again) to the Stephens Pond lean-to.  Rev and I took a break there.  The ski back was quick, following my track and the downhill descent.

Ski Stats:
Ski Distance:  8.6 miles
Ski Time:  3 hours, 30 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:   ~950'

The route.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Loon Lake Mountain - Debar Mountain Wild Forest - 2/4/17

If you are lucky enough to have the weather cooperate during a winter hike in the mountains, you can have a jaw-dropping beautiful day.  Today turned out to be one of those days although I couldn't have predicted it if I tried.

Dan Stec and I had plans to meet at the trailhead at 1 PM to hike Loon Lake Mountain.  This mountain is about 30 minutes north of Saranac Lake.  Dan had climbed it before in the summer months, but I had never been there.

It turned out to be about 1:45 before we were on the trail, but it's a short hike so we weren't concerned. It had snowed a little on the way up and it was overcast when we started hiking.  I wasn't expecting to have any views, sun or blue sky.  

My dog Rev was with us and she set the early pace, expecting us to keep up.  Of course she soon learned that we could not (she should know this by now).  To her credit, she did patiently wait now and again, or come bounding back to check on us.

It appeared to us that a recent snowfall (yesterday perhaps) hit the top half of the mountain, but the bottom half  did not.  While the lower woods were blanketed with nice fluffy snow, there was no snow in the trees.  That all changed in the last half of the hike as we began to climb.

Four groups of hikers had signed in ahead of us and they all wore snowshoes.  The trail was softly compacted and was now perfect for snowshoeing with no trail breaking required.        

The parking area at the trailhead

The first part of the trail mostly follows an old woods road and we moved quickly.  

An easy start on an old woods road.

Let the white word begin!

At about half the distance to the summit, we began to see snow clinging to the hardwood forest.  The grade abruptly changed with one mile left; becoming markedly steeper.  Conifers appeared, heavily laden with snow.  Since Dan is much taller than I, he had the added challenge of needing to duck under many snowy limbs that I didn't have to think about.


Here come the conifers...

A pause to take in the winter wonderland.

This looks like a struggle, but someone else did the dirty work for us.  We just had to deal with the grade. 

One of  Rev's waiting moments when she was wondering if we were coming... 

Partly up the steep final mile, the sun began to poke us through the tree limbs now and then.  All of the sudden, bluebird skies opened up!  It was rather incredible how quickly the transition occurred. The folks who we saw heading down said it was just starting to clear a little when they were on the summit.  They didn't sound to optimistic that we'd see more than they did.   

I've included more pictures in this post than I normally do because so many of the summit pictures came out good.  

Can you believe it?

A frosty tower (with lower steps removed).  

Rev...just poking about

Photo opp, then a treat. 

Picture of Dan taking a picture. 

We never expected to have this visibility

Looking west, into the sun 

Rev is hoping Dan also has a snack to share.

Loon Lake down below.

Ready to head back down.  It was now 4 PM.

It was a little chilly at the summit, although the wind wasn't bad.  We didn't linger since it was already 4 PM.  The downhill gave us some nice butt slide opportunities in the beginning.

One way to avoid ducking under branches...  

Or downed trees... 

Last picture on the way down.

It took us about 2 hours up and an hour and 15 minutes to come down.  We got to the cars at 5:15 and had enough daylight to start our drive out.  Thanks Dan for the great company and thank you weather gods for giving us the perfect weather at just the right moment.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  5.75 miles
Hike Time:  3 hours, 15 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1640'  

The Trail