The day after my dad and I climbed Catamount Mtn, we decided to pick a hike that all four of us could do (both parents, myself, and Juno) instead of climbing another mountain, which my mom wouldn’t join us on. Since we were so close to Paul Smith’s College and the VIC, we decided to explore some of the 25 miles of trails in the VIC. Because the trails were numerous and intersected all over the place, here’s a map for reference. We arrived at the parking lot (VIC Entrance on the map) at about 11:30am, and promptly got lost in the lot simply trying to find the proper trailhead.
By 11:40, we had started off on the light blue trail called the Barnum Brook Trail, taking the lower loop to take advantage of all of the lookouts (marked with binoculars on the map). We reached the first lookout mere moments after leaving the trailhead, and were rewarded with a stunning view of St. Regis Mountain.
A few minutes later, we reached our second lookout.
And then our third. It was really nice to have so many viewing opportunities so frequently along this trail!
We continued along the trail after that, not encountering a single soul, and after a few minutes the trail descended downward to our first of many junctions. I admired a beautiful gazebo planted beneath the trees while my dad consulted the map, then we set off to the left along the Jenkins Mountain Trail. This was a bit of a tease, because Jenkins mountain was what my dad and I had originally been planning to climb.
We continued to follow the Jenkins Mountain Trail all the way to Long Pond (the dark blue trail on the map). For some reason I took a picture of every junction we reached, so here they are! We just continued along Jenkins Trail until we reached the junction to Long Pond.
Up until the trail to Long Pond, the trail had been pretty wide and easy to travel. Now, however, it was much more narrow and more like what I’m used to. The trail meandered through the forest, dropping off sharply on the left side, and angled downward until we reached the lake and the convenient Lean-to adjacent to it.
There was a long, rickety dock leading out into the water, where apparently some lucky visitors to the lean-to had caught some tasty trout. I don’t think trout would have been in our future though, because Juno didn’t miss a beat in leaping off the dock to take a swim in the water.
She jumped back onto the dock, shook the water off of herself and onto me, and contemplated going right back in while hanging out with my dad.
As we were walking along the trail, my dad and I kept noticing all of the luscious mushrooms growing alongside the trail. When I was a kid, he’d take me mushroom-picking every fall, and we’d clean and cook them up while camping (this is something he did as a kid too…must be a Polish thing.). So, naturally, we couldn’t resist. Every few yards, you’d here one of us shout, ‘OOH!’ and we’d scoop them up to smell them and see if they were any good. Of course it didn’t matter either way, because we didn’t have a bag to carry them all in and we didn’t want the hassle of having to clean them all later on, but it was nostalgic. My mom mocked us for how frequently we stopped to pick them, just to toss them back on the ground for the deer to eat. Anyway, we followed the trail to the end of Long Pond, where we crossed the inlet over a fish barrier dam.
We had originally planned to go all the way around Black Pond, but decided for sake of time that we would take the red trail left after Long Pond, which would take us to a narrow strip of land between Black Pond and Little Black Pond. When we reached the edge of Black Pond a few minutes later, I was snapping away photos like no tomorrow.
My parents left me behind to take pictures, and when I found them I realized I’d been wasting my time taking pictures between the trees; there was a perfect little bridge spanning the ponds with amazing vantage points!
When we crossed the bridge, finally, we found a little lean-to complete with pots and pans and a canoe. I was thinking ‘Yeah, we don’t need to leave, I’m living here now.’ It even had a little fire pit and picnic table. Seriously, what else do you need?
Alas, we left the campsite, and continued on the red trail. On the way, we spotted these little yellow mushrooms that mom speculated might be the kind that glow in the dark. Definitely don’t eat them though.
After this, the trail was pretty basic, just a walk through the woods. I had brought my full hiking pack, complete with snacks for all 4 of us, but my parents had only brought a bottle of water each. My mom was starting to have some pain in her lower limb joints, so I suggested we stop on a boulder and have a quick bite to eat before carrying on. Little did we know, things would soon go downhill from here. We finished eating, and headed up the trail. We knew that at some point, we would want to go left on a yellow-marked trail, so when we saw such a trail, we had no hesitation in taking it.
We’d read on the map that there were supposedly marshes on the left side of the trail, but all we saw were trees. So we were immediately skeptical that something wasn’t quite right. The trail was wide, and could have used a bit of bushwhacking, and we noticed several possible-trails branching off but they weren’t really marked and they certainly weren’t marked on the map, so we continued straight. My mom was getting a bit upset at this point, because the ground was difficult to walk on and her knees were really bothering her. This continued on for at least an hour, maybe more. FINALLY we came to a junction with another trail, and I remember saying, ‘I feel like we’re back to where we started’ just before we saw a junction sign to Black Pond….We walked a little further, and came upon an awfully familiar-looking bourler that we had had lunch on. I reassured my parents that I have enough emergency equipment and provisions in my pack for us to go back and live in the lean-to, but they weren’t buying it. Oh well, I tried!
We continued past our boulder, back up to where we had turned down the yellow path previously, and noticed a little path with blue markers branching off to the left. After looking at the map, and concluding we must be in the Twilight Zone because nothing made any damn sense, I said, forget it, I’m going down this blue trail whether it’s the right way or not. Luckily for us, it was indeed the right way, and we enjoyed yet again another beautiful walk through the woods. An hour later, we made it back to the parking lot at the VIC, and returned back to the cabin where we enjoyed a fire by the lake and the hound made herself comfy on the couch, her fur full of brambles and sticks and pine needles, and little creatures…a job fur another day.
All images are property of adktrailtalesandtails and may only be used with express permission.