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Welcome to my Blog!

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir

On this site you’ll find trip reports from my personal journeys through the mountains as well as my photography portfolio. Read through my diaries to stroll with me though the woods, accompany me on my solo 46er adventures, and learn from my triumphs and failures. “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir

Click HERE to view my photography portfolio and take a part of the wilderness home with you.

Mount Colden (11)

10/14/2018

It was a month and a half into the semester and I really needed some solitude in the mountains to replenish my spirits, so I settled on heading out on Sunday to climb Colden Mountain. I woke up at 4am on a cold, dark morning and made it to the trailhead at the ADK Loj right at 7am. The lot was already about half full, and I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t have the trails to myself, but that was to be expected. While I waited in a short line to sign in at the register I took a picture of this amazing sign instructing hikers to poop responsibly and took a super glamorous selfie of my drowsy face.

I headed down the path at 7:30am with a smile on my face, so happy to be spending a day in the woods. After 20 minutes, I arrived at the first junction in the trail. Whenever possible, I like to hike a loop instead of an out-and-back, so I chose to climb up from Lake Colden (the steeper path) and head down via Lake Arnold. With that in mind, I turned left at this junction to head toward Marcy Dam and Avalanche Lake.

About 30 minutes later I arrived at Marcy Dam, 2.2 miles from the trailhead. I took some photos of the rising sun’s rays on the surrounding mountains and took my obligatory 5 minute break at a rock on the other side of the dam at the “Marcy Dam Outpost” sign. I try to take a 5 minute break once every hour to stretch, drink water, and give my back a break from my pack.

At 8:30am, an hour after leaving the trailhead, I reached the next junction and continued to the right to head towards Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden. 30 minutes later I was at the next junction. I continued to the right, and took note that I would be returning on the path to the left toward Lake Arnold.

I was excited about the next portion of the trail, which is surrounded by large mossy boulders alongside the Avalanche Pass Slide.

I was having a heckin’ hard time with my camera today! Every time I brought it up to my eye, everything would fog up! With that in mind, I apologize for the “misty” images on this trip report ๐Ÿ˜… I made it to Avalanche Lake at 9:40am, a little over 2 hours after leaving the trailhead. Avalanche Lake is one of my favorite spots in the high peaks. This 9-acre lake sits at over 2800′ in elevation right between the vertical cliffs of Mount Colden and Avalanche Mountain.

I started my way around the lake and stopped for second breakfast on a nice rock overlooking the lake. While sitting there, I passively noticed a boat on the other side of the lake…after several minutes, it occurred to me….How did that boat get there?! I assume it was helicoptered in, but I can’t help to imagine a person hauling it over their shoulders on the 5.2 mile trail in!

AFter a few minutes respite, I continued on the trail around the lake. Boy, I had forgotten how intense this trail is! Between the huge boulders to climb over and around, the ladders, and the hitch-up matilda’s along the way, it takes me a solid half-hour to traverse the lake.

At 10:20am I happily found myself at the other end of the lake. I snapped a few lousy pictures before continuing ahead toward Lake Colden.

The trail here because quite muddy, which pretty much set the stage for the trail conditions for the rest of the day. While I was trekking toward Lake Colden, I had an AMAZING moment where I was walking across some puncheon over a muddy bog while a Ranger was coming the opposite way on his patrol. OF COURSE I stepped on the end of a puncheon board and OF COURSE it wasn’t secured at the other end, so there I am flailing my arms while the board flies up in a comically dramatic teeter-totter fashion….AND OF COURSE I did the exact same thing at the OTHER END of the board…At the ONE MOMENT IN THAT LAST 4 MILES that someone else is on the trail.
My gracefulness is really astounding sometimes!

There were a few portions of the trail along Lake Colden that were completely submerged in the lake itself from all of the recent rain and snowmelt, so some bushwhacking was involved to make it across. Before long I had made it to the next junction at 11:00am. I turned left to leave the lake and head up to Colden.

The initial trail up was quite pleasant. It was never particularly steep or too muddy. I foolishly thought “Hey! Maybe it’s not as steep as everyone said it would be! This is nothing!”….Yeah, you all know where this is going. OF COURSE it was way more difficult, I just hadn’t gotten to that point yet. But in that brief moment of bliss, I happily traipsed along and let a large group of French Canadians pass me by.

After about a mile the conditions changed…a bit…(read: The trail amped up to a 10 to cruelly haze the unworthy). Thankfully some AMAZING trail crews had built ladders and steps to traverse the truly difficult sections.

At about this time, I kept catching up to the back end of the large group that I had let pass me. I was getting quite frustrated to have to keep stopping every time they stopped, so just as the trail started to get icy I opted to pass them all and hustle a bit to make sure they didn’t catch up again. (They were quite nice, it was just a large group and I didn’t want to hear voices behind me while I was hiking!) At this time, a couple were coming down the slick slides verrrry carefully and they informed me that there was a lot of ice up ahead. With that in mind, I trudged on.

Sure enough, they were not lying. And I am SO SMART that I, being the stubborn mule that I am, opted not to put on the microspikes that were conveniently strapped to the back of my pack for easy access.

I clawed my way up tooth and nail very carefully along Colden’s smooth rock slides until I reached another ladder, and I just KNEW that this one would bring me to the top.

I turned around at the top and let out a hearty laugh in awe at the views. Those views make everything worth it, every time.

I had really thought I was close to or at the summit, but, and I’m sure this comes as no surprise, I most definitely was not. So onward I went, but now I had some stunning views every step of the way.

I loved seeing the path that I had taken up there from the “almost summit” or whatever it was that I was on. And even better, I had a fantastic view of my favorite trio of peaks along the MacIntyre range.

I climbed up one final stretch to see a stunning view of a chilly Mt Marcy, with some supplied that may have been dropped in for some impending trail work.

I was a little bit confused, as I continued along the snowy trail and was unsure of exactly where the summit was. I came upon a sign designating where to leave a rock carried up from the trailhead, and wandered down a path to a rock in a small clearing. At 1pm, while I was standing on that rock, a couple of fellas came down and “tagged” the rock, at which point I shouted (or yelled and frightened them probably) “WAIT. Is this the SUMMIT?!?” and it was! How anticlimactic! So I snapped a picture of some circle on the rock (I’m so technical) and wandered back out of the clearing to find a nice spot to have lunch.

I enjoyed my lunch of a sandwich, babybel cheese, and some gherkin pickles (oddly delicious after a day of hiking) while looking out towards Algonquin. And can’t forget the victory chocolate!

Now, let’s talk again at how intelligent I am. AFTER I had passed over all of the steep icy sections of trail, while I was sitting at the summit, I thought, hey, it’d be such a great idea to put my spikes on now! So I did….and encountered no more ice along the trail. Ha! At least I tried. As I headed down the path toward Lake Arnold, the trail passed over a bare rocky outcropping, so I sat for a break and to take in the breathtaking sight of Mt Marcy right next door.

At about 2pm I left again for Lake Arnold. The trail down from Colden was quite tough. It was all mud and rockhopping. Almost immediately, my right knee began to ache, so I stopped frequently to stretch and roll out my IT band with my trekking pole. Who knew trekking poles were so versatile?

By the time I made it to the junction with Lake Arnold 45 minutes later, the twinges in my knee had ceased to subside and an old injury in my SI joint was starting to cause lightning-like spasms in my lower back. It’s so fun having a body that acts like it’s been bowled over by a steamroller with the slightest provocation! So I chose not to visit Lake Arnold but went left to keep slowly making my way down the mountain.

Along the way down, I met a couple coming up who seemed perturbed. They thought they were on the wrong trail coming down from Colden because it looked so different from the path they were on that morning. After looking at the map, I suggested that there was no other path down from the previous junction, and that the trail looked so different because all of the snowmelt was turning it into a veritable river. Still unconvinced, we all continued our way down. I passed them up, and about 30 minutes later I came to another junction which verified the path we were on was the correct one. It’s incredible how much water just a little bit of snow can create!

I didn’t take many photos after that. The pains in my knee and back were intense and it took all of my mental acuity to focus on getting down the mountain. Finally, at 4pm, I made it to the junction and lied down on this wooden bridge to stretch my legs and back.

After I probably freaked out a few passing hikers by lying there on that bridge, I continued my way back toward Marcy Dam.

And that’s the last picture I took of the day. The pain was relentless and I lulled myself into a trance-like state to focus through the pain. I continually reminded myself to take one step at a time, and that the worst was behind me. After continuing on like this for 3 more miles, I dragged my aching body out to my car just before 6pm and let out a frustrated huff as I sat down to drive home.

I’m so disappointed that these so-called “overuse” injuries are still plaguing me, considering I’ve been resting with minimal straining activity for 15 months. Back to the drawing boards, hopefully I’ll be back soon.

19 down, 27 left!

Mount Colden: Elevation – 4714′ Elevation Gain – 2535′

Round Trip Distance: ~14 miles

Total Duration: 10.5 hours

Tabletop (19) and Phelps (32)

07/19/2018

Nearly 1 year ago to the day I unknowingly climbed my last 46ers for an entire year (Iroquois, Algonquin, and Wright). Shortly after what was the best hike of my life, I developed a brutal overuse injury in my right knee/leg and was left unable to hike for MONTHS. Not just mountains, but any trail at all. This past year has been quite a journey. From getting my PhD and being hired as a professor of Electrical Engineering, to getting divorced, launching my professional photography career, and learning two new instruments, all while sloooowly recovering from my knee injury, this year has been fraught with personal growth and change.

A few weeks prior, I had climbed Hopkins Mountain and used that as a test of whether I was ready to return home to the high peaks. Needless to say, that adventure was a success, so I set off at 4:30am to head to the Loj. I arrived at 6:30am, paid the $10 parking fee, and wasย just a littleย excited as I signed in at the trailhead.

It was a balmy 43 degrees F at the start, but I quickly warmed up as I treaded along the packed dirt trail.

I really love starting hikes early in the morning and catching the rays of light as they filter low through the trees.

There were more people than I expected on the trail this morning, but no one else had signed in for Tabletop and Phelps, so I was hoping to have the summits to myself. I was however leapfrogging with a young couple (I won’t get into how ill-prepared they were assuming they were headed up Marcy…in flat tennis shoes and cotton >.<). I let them go ahead because I was stopping every 10.5 seconds to take pictures. While I slowly crossed this bridge, I spotted this little snake warming itself in the early suns rays!

After half an hour I came to the first junction sign and headed left toward the Marcy Dam lean-tos.

The trail up to the dam is so nice to walk. Packed earth, no mud, and a gentle easy ascent. I feel it’s a great warm-up to a strenuous hike. As I crested one hill, I heard a loud rustling to my left, and caught a snowshoe hare foraging in the woods! Of course it started to move just as I got my camera ready, so this is the best I got:

At 7:30am, an hour after leaving the trailhead, I found myself at Marcy Dam alongside a large group of trailworkers enjoying their morning breakfast.

I didn’t want to disturb them, so I crossed to the other side of the dam to follow my “1 hour” rule and take a break to stretch and drink water (and have a snack of course).

I read this heap of signs from my perch on a large rock while I stretched. There seems to be a discrepancy in the overall distances to Phelps and Tabletop between my guide book, map, and the trail signs. Perhaps they need updating?

After a good 5 minute respite I continued on my way and signed in at the next register before starting the next leg of my journey.

After this point the trail (the Van Hoevenberg trail) climbed a bit more steeply and steadily, however it was still very easy going. There were no sections where I had to pull myself up or figure out how to make it from one point to another. As I watched the rising sun filter through the trees, I reflected on how far I’ve come in the past year, from my knee recovery to living the best version of myself. As I strolled through the woods I momentarily closed my eyes and breathed, letting all else go and relishing the freedom of the woods and feeling so, so thankful for the progress I’ve made.

About 15 minutes after leaving Marcy Dam I came to a high water bridge. I was unsure at first which way to go forward; I could continue on the right side of the stream, or I could cross the bridge; either way the trail continued with blue markers. I had figured there is another rock-hopping crossing further up ahead, and I was correct; the trail diverges slightly just to reconnect further up ahead.

After this point the trail was like a freaking highway. I’m thinking it would be a good choice in a night-hike since it’s super easy to follow and relatively free of tripping hazards.

Two hours after leaving the trailhead I reached the junction to Phelps. I had decided to grab Phelps after hitting Tabletop, so I passed it on up and continued on my way, passing a pretty cascade and sooo many toads along the way.

I passed a couple of other signs leading the way before finally arriving at the junction to Tabletop at 9:15am. I was feeling pretty darn good at this point, but I still took a short stretch-food-water break before starting the inevitably steeper ascent.

I had heard that there were no views from the summit of Tabletop, but I was really enjoying the trek up to the summit. It was more rugged, narrow, with lots of towering pines and verdant moss. Though this is technically a “trail-less” peak, it’s nearly impossible to accidentally end up off trail.

At this point I was finally feeling like I was on an Adirondack trail! That highway up Marcy is really deceiving and not at all indicative of the real Adirondack experience.

I was enjoying the trail so much that I was a bit surprised when it spit me out right at the summit, with the summit marker AND A VIEW!

I was so pleased that there was a view! Why is everyone saying there are no views from up here?

I immediately sat my butt down and started shoveling food into my face hole. PB&J sammich, victory chocolate, victory cheese, and a pickle! I’m so proud of my 4:30am food prep!

I was so happy to have the summit to myself. I couldn’t believe that after a year I was finally back on a high peak. The 46ers had become on a pedestal in my mind, and every day that passed and I still couldn’t hike made them seem that much more insurmountable.

I hung out up there for about an hour, collecting my thoughts, before heading back down just before 11am. As I headed down, I heard someone coming up the trail, and lo and behold it was a friend of mine, Gavin! So naturally I took a candid photo as he was dragging himself up the mountain.

We chatted for a moment, then continued on our way, planning to meet up on Phelps. Half an hour later I was back at the junction, turning right to get back onto the Van Hoevenberg trail and heading toward Phelps. I made it back to the Phelps trail at 12:07pm. I was getting exhausted at this point, but there was nothing in the world that would keep me from climbing this one too, so up I went.

This trail was definitely steeper than the Tabletop trail. Certainly not the steepest I’d done (see the hike up to Boundary peak from Avalanche lake….holy moly), but it was steeper than anything I’d done in a year! I stopped probably a dozen times for short breaks to curse and stretch and question my life choices.

And the damn thing JUST KEPT GOING! The sign at the junction denoted the summit at 1 mile away, but it must be longer than that. At some point, a guy descending said “You’re almost there!” and I looked at him exactly like this after clambering clumsily to the top of a boulder:

I was full of sass and said “I hope you’re being honest!”. Naturally he was a little taken aback because how weird can I be, but he assured me that in 1/8 mile I would be seeing the first views. To be honest, I didn’t believe him, but I slogged on anyway. And, I admit it, HE WAS RIGHT! I climbed to the top of this boulder along the trail to get the first AMAZING views.

Mount Colden towards left center, Iroquois, Algonquin, and Wright on the right

I was immediately energized after this, practically smelling the summit so close by. A woman coming down had warned me that the path to the top was confusing, and I suppose it was, but I followed the yellow blazes and made my way just fine.

At 1:30pm, 7 hours after starting, I planted my feet on the summit of Phelps Mountain. I couldn’t find a summit marker, but the group of people lounging at the top were a good indicator that I’d made it. And boy were the views STUNNING!

Naturally, I sat down to have second lunch, which consisted of another victory cheese, another victory chocolate, a pickle, and a fruit cup…and a couple of fig newtons…And some gatorade. ๐Ÿ˜€ Make sure you eat enough while hiking! And eat things with electrolytes! I try to stay away from dry food (like trail mix bars and crackers). I stretched out a bit up there and talked with some other hikers, and we helped each other identify the peaks in the distance with the help of my trail map and compass.

From left to right: Giant, RPR, Lower wolfjaws, Upper wolfjaws, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, Haystack, Tabletop, Marcy

I was SO glad to have climbed Tabletop first. It would have been so demoralizing to be sitting at the top of Phelps looking at Tabletop, seemingly 42 miles away. I definitely recommend Tabletop first!

After spending nearly at hour at the summit, my buddy made his way to the top too, looking just as miserable as I had felt during that climb. I hung out up there with him and an eccentric school teacher with a weeks worth of supplies crammed into a day pack for another 25 minutes or so while trying to photograph one of the dozens of huge dragonflies patrolling the area.

It was pretty darn hot up there though, and the sun was causing my contacts to shrinkwrap to my eyeballs, so I decided to set off before my eyes completely shriveled in their sockets (like that imagery?). Gavin wasn’t ready to leave yet though, so I said I’d wait for him at the bottom and took one last glance before descending.

I took a little over 2 hours to make it back to the trailhead. My knee had been doing pretty great all day, but there was some definite pain during the last two miles, requiring me to stop and stretch quite frequently. I finally hobbled out to my car at about 5pm, and struck up conversation with a gentleman who’d climbed Marcy that had passed me twice along the way. I love meeting interesting people while hiking! I feel like that doesn’t happen as much when I’m hiking with other people. Another benefit to solo hiking, I think! I waited for my friend at the bottom, and we decided to hit up the new eatery at the info center near the parking lot, the Hungry Hiker. I recommend it! It was just what we needed after a long day in the mountains.

I’m so, so happy to finally be back in the high peaks where I belong. After a couple of weeks to recover and grow stronger, I’ll be back for more. 18 down, 28 to go! Happy hiking!

Phelps Mountain: 4160′

Tabletop Mountain: 4413′

Elevation Gain: 3818′

Round Trip Distance: ~12-13 miles

Total Duration: ~8 hours + 2.5 hours at summits

Hopkins Mountain

06/21/2018

It’s been almost 1 year since I’ve been in the high peaks….The last real trip I had was Iroquois, Algonquin, and Wright, my absolute favorite trip to date, and my absence from the high peaks has been slowly eating away at my soul. A week after that trip, I suffered a mysterious injury to one of my knees, and haven’t been able to hike since. Lately I’ve been able to tackle small, easy mountains, so I made a deal with myself: If I could manage to climb Hopkins mountain without issue, then I would get myself back in the 46ers in 2 weeks. With that thought in mind, I set off determined to climb this peak.

I arrived at the trailhead for Rooster Comb mountain on Rt. 73 at about 9am, crossed the road and headed away from Keene Valley toward Ranney Way. Ranney Way is a private road, hence parking at the nearby Rooster Comb lot.

This is a nice little gravel road. I continued down this way for about 0.25 miles (continue straight when the road forks to the right) before coming to the trailhead. There’s no register for this trail, just this old sign.

This wood was absolutely GORGEOUS. The trees towered tall and broad with no undergrowth beneath, with verdant rays of light filtering through a leafy canopy. Forests like these always make me feel safe and protected, and it’s so tempting to set up a hammock and lounge. Today however I was on a mission, so that would have to wait.

Much of the trail follows along the Hopkins Brook, providing a nice ambient sound of trickling water and numerous photo opportunities. Unfortunately it seems that many of the smaller off-shooting streams have dried up from lack of rain. At least it wasn’t muddy!

The path is soft and packed, climbing moderately and consistently through the pines with some steeper inclines interspersed. After about 1.8 miles I reached the intersection with the Mossey Cascade Trail and turned left to continue up to Hopkins Mountain.

The going was a bit easier at this point, with some flat sections interspersed with the climbing. I continued to employ my technique of frequent stretching breaks to take care of my bad knee and hoped desperately that it would prove effective to abate the pain during descent. During one of these such breaks, I heard a very peculiar sound coming from the undergrowth to the right of the trail…It sounded like the most pitiful animal I’ve ever heard, accompanied by the rustling of leave as the critter scooted around through the brush. Recognizing the sound as something I heard while climbing Coney Mountain in the middle of the night (and thought it was a snake eating an animal???), I was extra curious to determine the source….It was a ruffed grouse hen! I had never seen one on a trail before, and it turns out the sounds she was making were alarm, distress, and distraction calls! The calls were probably because I scared the guacamole out of her, BUT HEY IT WAS COOL! I was too focused on observing the bird to even consider recording audio or visual, so here’s a link to a video from someone who didn’t totally drop the ball (like I did :P) showing exactly what it sounded like.

These trails continued together for about 0.7 miles before coming to the next junction. At this point the forest became much more lush, full of mossy rocks and ferns, and of course many many many spider webs, which my face ย considerately caught for all those that would follow in my steps later in the day. Yep, that’s me, totally magnanimous…

I always get really excited when I see that “0.2 miles to summit” sign…I know the climb is going to be steep, but knowing I’m so close puts a serious pep in my step and I fly right up the trail. This trail did not disappoint! Though not very long, this trail has over 2000′ of elevation gain in a little over 2 miles. It’s not as easy as it seems just looking at a map, which is why I chose it as my “test” to see if I’m capable of climbing high peaks again.

I was soon scrambling out on open rock faces at about 11am and I ran ahead to see this first view.

I won’t lie to you. I knew I had been really missing the high peaks, but I don’t think I realized just how much until I reached this point. My soul, my very essence, seemed to exhale a sigh of relief to finally be HOME. I’ve never felt to belong anywhere as strongly as I feel that in the high peaks of my beloved Adirondacks. There is an almost magnetic attraction to them…After all, home is where the heart is, right? Never in my life have I shed tears of happiness, but as I stood there gazing upon the vistas of the welcoming wilderness, I cried. And I couldn’t stop! Seriously, I’m so glad I had the peak to myself for a while because I had tears streaming down my face for a solid 30 minutes. The past year has been full of trials and tribulations, and the knowledge that I was physically unable to climb the 46ers had weighed on me with a blanket of depression, seemingly deepening with every passing day. Finding myself at the summit of beautiful Hopkins Mountain, sans knee pain, the realization that I would FINALLY be able to climb again seemed to whack me over the head. I’ve rarely been so happy in all my life….but I digress.

From left to right: Dix , Dial, Nippletop, Colvin, Sawteeth, Gothics, Armstrong, Wolfjaws

I climbed my way up to the summit and sat my emotional butt down to eat some lunch and bathe in the splendor of the mountains.

I stayed at the summit for about an hour and a half. A few people stopped by, but they didn’t linger, and I was thankful. I sat to stretch my legs and enjoy my victory snacks before standing up to head back down.

It took a solid 10 minutes for me to be able to drag myself away from the summit, but at 12:30pm I turned away for the last time and made my way back down the steep trail.

I was a bit nervous about impending knee pain, but after 30 minutes of very careful, measured steps and an agonizingly slow pace, I relaxed a bit, realizing that knee pain would not plague me on this perfect day.

A mere 1:15 after leaving the summit and I had arrived back at the Ranney Way road.

Another short 0.25 miles and I was back at my car, taking my leaving photo. This trail, though relatively short, is an absolute joy. Beautiful forest, just-difficult-enough grade, and stunning summit views. Having successfully completed this trek, I can now confidently say to expect a new trip report from the high peaks in the next 2 weeks!

Happy hiking!

Hopkins Mountain: 3156′ Elevation Gain: ~2100′
Round Trip Distance: ~6 miles (from Rooster Comb lot)
Total Duration: 4 hours 45 minutes (including 1.5 hours at summit)

All images are property of adktrailtalesandtails and may not be used without express permission.

Coney Mountain – Astrophotography Mission!

06/11/18

As I walked out of band rehearsal at 9pm, I looked up and saw a burgeoning star-kissed sky, and realized that with new moon being only days away, tonight’s sky would be stunning. So I packed my camera gear and took off for Coney Mtn. I arrived at the trailhead at 11pm, shut off the car, and was immediately hit with the overwhelming pressure of darkness and quietude of the surrounding forest. It was a bit eerie, until I stepped out of the car and looked up. Through gaps in the trees I saw a veritable sea of myriad stars shining down on me. To be honest, I was a bit nervous to be climbing alone in the middle of the night, but having climbed this mountain once beforeย I had a bit more confidence than if I were to climb something new in the dark. So I strapped my utility knife to my leg, donned my headlamp, and set off up the trail.

I cannot express how incredibly quiet it was. In the dark and quiet, even the tiniest sounds seem to be from massive creatures lurking in the shadows. However, after just a few minutes, I was feeling comfortable and right at home in the woods. Since I tend to be a quiet walker, I decided to whistle some tunes to give warning to any animals in the vicinity so I didn’t startle them. For whatever reason, the only melodies in my mind were Civil War ditties, like this, this, and this…..Yeah, I’m not sure what’s wrong with me either, but at least the animals got some historical music to listen to! Anyway, after a mere 20 minutes I had climbed the 1.1 mile trail (I must have really hustled….There were some spooky sounds out there!) and found myself on the summit, blown away by the splendor of the milky way arcing over the distant mountains.

I dropped my pack and skedaddled further up the summit to get the full view of the luminous, shimmering night sky, and was greatly rewarded.

I had downloaded a cool app called Star Walk 2 which uses your location and phone orientation to show you what stars and constellations you’re looking at…I think I need to work on the calibration though because no matter where I pointed my phone, I was apparently looking at Jupiter.

After taking some shots (Canon Rebel T5 with a Rokinon f/2.8 14mm wide angle lens), I lay back to marvel at the sheer number of stars. Unfortunately, some cirrus clouds had swept in to obscure the view, so after about 45 minutes I decided to take my leave.

I was feeling pretty sure of myself on the hike down, until about 5 minutes in when I heard a huge CRASH across the trail in front of me and to the forest on my right. After the pounding in my ears from my adrenaline-pumped heart subsided, I realized it was a deer I must have frightened bounding off into the woods….So I resumed my whistling so as not to startle any other animals. So noble I am, thinking of the animals, because of course I wasn’t at all spooked by the incident! (heavy dose of sarcasm there, folks) After that it was easy going, and before I knew it my headlamp was illuminating the taillights of my car in the parking lot. As I walked out and gazed skyward, I saw that the clouds had dissipated during my trek down.

I cannot wait to get out and do this again! What an incredible experience. Happy trails!

All images are property of adktrailtalesandtails and may not be used without express permission.

Coney Mountain

5/29/18

After finishing Goodman Mountain, I hopped in my car and continued another mile down the road to the Coney Mountain trailhead. I decided to give my legs a break and stretch a bit, with the added benefit of letting the sun sink a bit in the sky. At 3:30pm I strapped my pack back to my shoulders and headed off.

I really enjoyed this trail, it felt the most like an Adirondack trail. It wasn’t perfectly groomed and wasn’t as easy as the other two peaks of the day. That said, it was still a very simple hike, I just felt more at home in these woods.

Just a few minutes after leaving the trailhead, I came across a sweet little stream slightly off trail and crouched down (in mud, apparently) to capture it. Immediately afterward, I encountered literally the only muddy spot along the trail and managed to completely submerge my right foot in it while trying to be a good mountaineer and go through the mud instead of around it….don’t trust rocks, folks. I’m such an athlete!

I couldn’t believe, yet again, how many toads were on the trail! All different sizes too. Some were the size of my pinky fingernail, while others were easily the size of my fist, like this guy:

Exactly 30 minutes after leaving the trailhead, the path opened up and I knew I was mere moments from the summit.

Sure enough, just a minute later and I was on the summit! I snapped a few pics then sought shelter under a convenient tree to sit down in the shade and enjoy a snack with the incredible views.

This little mountain is such a gem! I can’t believe I’d never heard of it before. From the trail itself to the bald summit and the views, it really has the feel of a mountain nestled in the high peaks region.

Goodman Mountain to the right

I stayed up here for an hour enjoying the breeze and a break from the flies. I could have stayed all night, to be honest, but had to get back to Juno who would inevitably be unhappy with me for having an adventure without her. So a little after 5pm I took a few last shots and started making my way down.

On each mountain, I had encountered a few snakes, but they moved so fast I was never able to capture them on camera. Finally, on my way down from the summit, I was able to get a shot of this guy, and a woodpecker hammering away at a tree!

I made it back to the trailhead about 25 minutes after leaving the peak, ran through the cloud of flies guarding the entrance, and took my leaving photos.

As I got in my car, I noticed something….the fresh blue polish on my fingernails had been mauled by the DEET wipes! That’s….kind of concerning, considering I put that all over the rest of my skin, but I guess if you need nail polish remover in a pinch, DEET wipes will do the trick…? Yikes…

This was such a fun day! Even though they were three small, easy climbs, I felt a sense of accomplishment having completed them in one day. This is the first time in 10 MONTHS that my knees and legs felt strong enough to tackle some mountains, and they didn’t let me down. I can’t wait to see what the next few months hold ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy hiking!

Coney Mountain: 2280′ Elevation Gain: 548′

Round Trip Distance: 2.2 miles

Total Duration: ย 2 hours (including 1 hour at summit)

All images are property of adktrailtalesandtails and may not be used unless with express permission.

 

Goodman Mountain

5/29/18

The next stop on my journey was Goodman Mountain. I took my time getting to this trailhead after finishing Mount Arab, deciding to stop for a quick bite to eat in Tupper Lake on the way. I arrived at the trailhead off of Rt. 30 between Tupper Lake and Long Lake at 12:30pm, took my starting photos, and headed off.

When I stopped at the register to sign in, I read about the namesake of this mountain, Andrew Goodman. In 1964, when Goodman was 20 years old, he decided instead of vacationing in the Adirondacks for the summer with his family, he would join the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi, with a group who’s aim was to expand African-American voter registration in the south. However, not long after he arrived, he and two of his fellow contemporaries were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Historians consider their deaths to be the turning point in the movement leading to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This is an excellent reminder not only of how far we’ve come, but of how far we still have yet to go as a nation. And with that in mind, I set off.

The trail started off by crossing a nice wooden bridge over a small creek. For about a mile after that, the trail was PAVED! This trail follows what is left of old highway 10, a route that used to connect Tupper Lake to Long Lake, and is wheelchair accessible for several hundred feet before becoming too steep and eroded to be accommodating any further.

After following the road for about a mile, and considering how great it would be to bring a sled up this hill in the winter, I reached the junction where the trail branches off to climb the mountain.

This time, I did pass one family coming down, but those were the last people to accompany me on this peak. This climb was incredibly easy, easier even than Arab, and in no time at all I was nearing the summit at about 1:10pm, 30 minutes after starting at the trailhead.

It was getting pretty hot out and the sky lacked clouds to shield me from the oppressive sun, so I basically just scampered up to the summit, took a couple of pictures, then scurried back down to the shade.

With the heat and the bugs, I did not stay long; just long enough to enjoy the greatest summer hiking snack of all time: Dole sugar-free fruit in gel! No, I’m not getting paid to say that (though maybe I should be??), I just feel very strongly that everyone should carry one of these on hot summer hikes. So refreshing!

With that, I took my leave, bringing with me the swarm of flies that couldn’t seem to leave me alone. Heads up: these guys don’t care at all how much deet you have on. In fact, I think they may like it.

Before I knew it, I was back at the stream crossing, making my way out of the woods and taking my leaving photo at 2:30pm.

Goodman Mountain: 2178′ย  Elevation Gain: 581′

Round Trip Distance: 3.2 miles

Total Duration: 2 hours

All images are property of adktrailtalesandtails and may not be used unless with express permission.

 

Mount Arab

5/29/18

I’ve slowly been attempting more and more difficult peaks to get back into hiking shape, so when I’d decided to attempt the Tupper Lake Triad a few days before, I though, OK, I’ll get to sleep good and early so I can get out there early morning and have a great time! So I’m in my bed, trying to fall asleep around 11:30pm the night before, and I feel something *ping* onto my head. Naturally I jumped up in a panic flailing my arms around and shaking out my hair, and through my blurry semi-blind eyes I see an inch-long SHAPE scuttling across my bed from my pillows. With horror-filled realization I immediately knew EXACTLY what it was despite not being able to see. That’s right. A centipede managed to FALL ONTO MY HEAD while I was trying to fall asleep. Literally ANY other creature wouldn’t have bothered me too much, but centipedes are my #1 most hated insect in existence. So OF COURSE that’s what fell on my head. Juno was absolutely no help, so I did what any rational human would do and launched a hard-cover book at it and hoped for the best. I screamed and jumped out of bed to put my glasses on, because at this point the battle was raging and I needed all of my wits about me. Slowly, silently I moved back toward my bed in enemy territory, searching for the intruder….and I couldn’t find it. I COULDN’T FIND IT, PEOPLE! I calmly removed the covers from my bed (read: I tore every damn linen off of my bed while shouting profanities), waiting for hell’s own creation to come darting out with it’s too-many-damn legs….and nothing. I stood there for a while, unsure of what to do, and unable to stop scratching my head feeling like there wereย things on it. After tossing my covers again, I finally gathered all of my sheets around myself in a make-shift cocoon and hours later managed to fall asleep in this burrito-style fort, with dreams of creepy-crawlies running through my mind.

So. I did not get an early start. Despite the traumatic events of the previous night (I seriously might need therapy after that), I still wanted to climb these three mountains today, perhaps even more so than before just to get away from my apartment. So I packed up my things and headed out around 8:45 to reach the trailhead and start the trail right at 10am.

I signed in at the register, happily noticing that I had the mountain to myself for now, and headed off.

This trail is a short 1 mile jaunt to the summit, and it starts climbing almost immediately, though the climbing is only moderate at it’s worst. The ground was dry and the path was very easy to follow, making this a great family hike.

I was thrilled to be back in the woods for a day on my own. There’s something about solo hiking that brings me so much fulfillment. Hiking with friends and dogs is great, but I really need time alone in the woods to de-stress and become myself again. I was even happier to see how GREEN everything has become!!

Wildlife was abundant today, especially toads and tree frogs. These things were everywhere! And so cute and plump! But they are not the greatest escape artists…I couldn’t keep track of how many times I’d nearly step on one before it sluggishly rolled out of the way.

After about 20 minutes of steady, easy climbing, I had a feeling I was starting to get close when the terrain became rockier.

Sure enough, just a moment later and I was up on a ledge with this adorable little bench overlooking the scenery. Time at summit: 10:25am (25 minutes from trailhead).

The flies were BRUTAL today so instead of resting at the bench, I carried on to the restored 1918 fire tower, passing the observer’s cabin (in which there is a little museum, but it was closed when I was there) on the way.

Ok. So notice how that image above of the firetower is super blurry? It took me a moment to realize this, but I thought, “it’s not like me to take such a lousy firetower shot, what happened here?”…Take a look at the pic below. This is how bad the black flies were; they literally interrupted my shots!

So with that lovely in-focus shot of a fly in hand, I zoomed up the tower to escape the clouds of angry flies. I opened all 4 windows and closed my eyes to feel the bug-free breeze through my hair.

The views were stunning. I love when there are some clouds in the sky to add texture and shade!

There were these cool plaques in the tower to show you what mountains you’re looking at in the distance. This is excellent for someone like me who is terrible at identifying the peaks! See if you can figure out which peaks are in the shots below.

I sat down for a bit to enjoy much lunch, when I realized I FORGOT MY VICTORY CHOCOLATE! The horror! SO instead I enjoyed a nutricious victory babybel cheese ๐Ÿ™‚ Good enough.

While I sat, I looked at the graffiti marring the tower. Most of it was obscene or stupid in some way, however one bit of writing really resonated with me. “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” I love this, and it’s exactly how I feel. I may not have a lot of money, but I feel so lucky to have everything that I do, and to be able to enjoy the splendor of the mountains in my free time. I know who I am, and I’m at peace with that. What else could I ask for?

I started to make my descent at about 11am, but not before taking one last pic for the road.

The way down was uneventful and seemed to fly by (well I guess it did; it only took 25 minutes after all).

I’d been fortunate to have the mountain to myself the whole time, and only met one couple just starting out when I was leaving. Time out: 11:30am. On to the next peak!

Mount Arab: 2545′ย  Elevation gain: 764′

Round trip distance: 2 miles

Total duration: 1.5 hours (including 30 minutes at summit)

All images are property of adktrailtalesandtails and may not be used unless with express permission.