Lake George

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

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Saddles State Forest - Whitehall, NY - 1/28/18

I woke up this morning wanting to explore a new area, but I didn't feel like doing a lot of driving.  The Saddles State Forest in Whitehall, NY looked like it could possibly fit the bill.  There was one way to find out.  Rev and I hit the road.

Access to The Saddles is via an access road from Route 4, just south of Champlain Beef.  The access road is not maintained in the winter.  This adds an extra 0.7 mile walk to get to the summer parking lot.

Sign on Route 4

The access road was icy so I put on my microspikes.  Rev didn't have any issues.  The road climbs at at a continuous moderate grade.

The access road to the parking lot

The summer parking lot

Once I reached the summer parking lot, I continued to follow an old woods road.  It had many branch off locations, but I followed what appeared to be the most used old road.  It was heading SW and that was fine.  I wanted to see Clear Pond, then head for West Mountain followed by the unnamed peak to the NW.  Eventually the woods turned NW which was great.  It became obvious that it was headed for Clear Pond.

Clear Pond

Clear Pond was covered in ice but it was obvious that beavers are the native inhabitants.  I continued to follow the woods road which hooked around the east side of Clear Pond.  On the north side of the pond, I passed an old abandoned shack.

Winding past Clear Pond

Rev... looking for a beaver

Abandoned shack on the north side of Clear Pond

I eventually left the woods road to climb the named peak called West Mountain.  Just prior to the summit, much to my surprise, I crossed a white blaze trail.  I reached the nondescript summit, then backtracked to the white blaze trail.  I decided to follow it for a bit and see if it was heading the way I wanted to go.  It was!  It was heading generally NW towards the unnamed peak and cliff face that I wanted to see.

At the summit and cliff face, there were great views to South Bay, Black Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain.  The white blaze trail appeared to be heading down the ridge towards South Bay.  I followed it for a few minutes, but I didn't want to go down to the bay.  I turned around and started heading back. 

Great view of "The Diameter"; the cliff face at the outlet of South Bay 

The face of the cliff

Rev watching a chipmunk.

South Bay

Black Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain in the distance.

I decided to follow the white trail the opposite direction to see where it was heading.  It seemed to be going back towards the parking lot but it kept hooking northward.  Perhaps it goes back to the bay.
Soon I came to an intersection with a blue blaze trail.  Maybe that would go back towards the parking lot.  It did.  I followed it all the way back. 

I had expected the day to be a bushwhack, but it ended up being a woods road on the way in and a blaze trail on the way out.  That was fine.  It was a great day out in the woods.  I didn't see another person all day.

Junction of the white blaze and blue blaze trails.

A cairn along the way on the white trail.

The end of the hike.  Route 4 ahead.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  7.8 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1800'

A map of the route and the State Forest.  I traveled clockwise.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Spruce Mountain - Lake George Wild Forest - 1/21/18

There's no doubt that there are a lot of fantastic viewpoints overlooking Lake George.   On the east side of the lake, one of the best is from Spruce Mountain, a little known location near Huletts Landing.  Today was my third visit here; all in winter.

It was a warm day and a fleece and microspikes were all that was needed for extra gear.  I parked at the end of the plowed portion of North Road and Rev and I started out.  We followed the unplowed potion of North Road until we came to the Richard Phillips Hayes property and his marked trails that lead to state land.

The steep portion of this hike is near the beginning.  Once you get up on the ridge, there is not too much more elevation gain and you are treated to a series of viewpoints.  The best viewpoint is just before the true summit, near where the airway beacon used to be.

There are several trails in the area.  Some are marked with red discs and there is also a white blaze trail that hugs the western edge of the ridge.  There are also some signs.  That being said, portions of the marked trails are not well marked.  If you go, make sure you have map and compass. 
Today's view.  Some ice this year.

This photo was from 2 years ago 1/18/16 

It was overcast at the start, but luck was on my side and the clouds began to break just as I was getting to the viewpoints.

Interesting sign at the start

The seasonal portion of North Road

Richard Philips Hayes has a vision.  Thank you!

Choices, choices.

A first look

Sugarloaf Mountain back left, Black Mountain back center.

A closer look

Blue skies beginning to emerge!

Mother Bunch islands in the distance

The hamlet of Huletts Landing is tucked on the cove on the left.

My trusted scout... Rev 


A zoom view

Remains of the airway beacon

Rev on the descent

Richard Philips Hayes does a great job with his signs.  He also did the Shore Owner Association (SOA) signs in Lake Placid 

The old schoolhouse.   There is a #2 on the other side.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  ~ 4 miles
Hike Time:  3 hours, including stops
Elevation Gain:  ~ 1000'

The route

The route on the Nat Geo map.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Cascade & Porter Mountains - High Peaks Wilderness Area - 1/20/18

Leesa & I have been extremely busy with work thus far this year, but we took some time today to re-visit Cascade and Porter Mountains in the High Peaks Wilderness Area.  It was a warm day with temperatures in the mid-30's, but of course that doesn't apply to the summit of Cascade.  There was a moderate breeze that kept things feeling a little cooler.

We didn't arrive until 11:30, and weren't sure we'd be able to find a parking spot, but we were in luck.  We work our snowshoes the entire way.  They were required, but they weren't really needed.  Many folks were not wearing theirs on the way down, in favor of spikes to help with grip on the ice.

Of course since we started late, we saw many people coming down as we were going up.  We moved at a slow pace today and took 2 hours to climb to Porter.   On the way back, Rev and I dashed up Cascade.   Leesa opted to avoid the wind and get a small head start on us on the way down.

I always like to tag Cascade, even if the wind is whipping.  That last 0.2 mile transformation to climb above treeline can lead to a world of  isolation on the summit.   It always feels so cool to me.   You can tell by the final pictures below that it really is different up there.

Note:  - Leesa and I found some boots left behind in the mostly empty parking lot in the afternoon.  We picked them up in order to hopefully find their owner through social media.  If you left boots behind on Saturday 1/20 in the Cascade parking lot before 3:30 PM, send us a comment in order to reclaim them!          

A first peak below

Rev, leading the charge

Leesa climbing Porter

The summit of Porter

Leesa and Rev on Porter 

Rev heading for Cascade

Much windier on Cascade (as is often the case)

You can see the leash blowing and Rev fighting the wind

Pretty isolated looking on this day 

Leesa cautiously making her way down

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance: 5.6 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours
Total Vertical Gain: 2300'

The trails