Lake George

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

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Number 8 Hill - Pharaoh Lake Wilderness - 12/17/17

We had about 10 inches of snow on Tuesday the 12th.  Of course that made me anxious to get out on my cross country skis.  I spent some time on Saturday at the Lake George Rec Trails.  I skied most of the trails there, then followed the old jeep road up towards Prospect Mountain before dropping down to the Prospect Mountain Auto Road and a nice glide out.

Today I wanted a combo ski and hike.  I decided to repeat a trek I've made several times before.  Number 8 Hill in the Pharoah Lake Wilderness would be my goal.  I drove to the hamlet of Adirondac and parked at the trailhead for the Sucker Brook trail on the East side of Schroon Lake.  As I passed Schroon Lake, it looked quite magical with water vapor coming off the warm water and freezing in the cold air before crystallizing on the trees on the shoreline.  I didn't get any pictures that quite captured it, but it was a beautiful site.

A beautiful morning at Schroon Lake

The Sucker Brook trail is an old jeep road and is now marked as a horse trail, but it gets little use; in fact there were no tracks in the snow when I got there, and no cars parked.   I opened the hatch of the car and Rev leaped out, ready for adventure.

The sign at the parking area.

For my combo adventure, I was going to ski approximately 3.5 miles to the southern base of Number 8 Hill, then ditch the skis and climb the short distance to the summit from the south approach.  This is a lovely route, it I believe today was my fourth time.

The old horse trail discs.  I've never seen evidence of any horses here...   

It was quite cold today; 2 degrees at the start but winds were calm and the skies were blue.  I attached my snowshoes to my pack, put my skis on, and set off to get warm.  The old jeep road is smooth in the beginning, so 10 inches of snow was adequate.  About 2 miles in the road gets rougher, with exposed rock.  Although the rock was covered  in snow, I twice hit rocks that didn't move... so I did.  It wasn't pleasant having these abrupt visits to the ground, but it's the price to pay for early season skiing in the woods.  I also came to a few small drainages that I couldn't cross on skis so I had to take them off and carry them across.

By the time I got to the location where I wanted to jump off the trail, I was glad to take the skis off.  It was a short 0.9 mile climb up the southern ridge.  Most of my pictures were taken on the southern ridgeline or on the summit.

The open southern approach (this pic and the next five!)

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Rev on the summit, with Pharaoh Mountain in the background.

A better look at Pharaoh Mountain. 

You can't tell from my pictures, but there is a nice view of Hoffman Mountain in Schroon Lake and also the Great Range in the horizon.

Rev awaiting treats... then wanting to get moving again.  

A memorial of sorts... for a Grant MacDonald 

Brant Lake
I enjoyed a thermos of hot chocolate on the summit and patted myself on the back for remembering to bring it!  It hit the spot.  It was definitely worth coming back to Number 8 Hill a forth time.  The views are awesome and the bushwhacking is easy and enjoyable. 

Rev and I returned to the trail so I could get my skis.  The return trip trip was slightly downhill and I now had my previous track to glide in, making the trip out a little bit faster.  It felt great to be back on skis again, although as I type this blog post, I can tell I used some different muscle groups that haven't been used recently!

Another nice day out.  Rev and I didn't see another person all day.

Trip Stats:
Ski Distance:  7.2 miles
Hike Distance:  2 miles
Total Vertical Gain:  1200'
Trip Time:  5 hours (including stops)