Street (31) and Nye (45) Mountains

08/15/2016

Weather: Unpredictable, apparently. (mostly sunny, some clouds, 75 degrees)

I’d been planning to climb these two on my birthday (tomorrow!), but weathermen said it’s supposed to pour all day, so I decided last minute that we’d go today. It was supposed to be sunny in the morning and overcast in the afternoon, which didn’t really matter to me since there aren’t views from either summit. So, with our (my) bags packs and boots on, we left the house at 7am to arrive at the Adirondack Loj sometime before 9. It’s a Monday, and it was already packed at the Loj! Luckily most people were doing the more popular peaks. We took the trail back behind the welcome center, and got a nice view of Heart Lake along the way, and thought maybe we’d take a dip when we were all finished!

We passed a cute little museum that I’d seen when I climbed Mt. Jo back in June, but it still wasn’t open šŸ˜¦ The flowers and their little description signs were cute though!

I didn’t reaaaally know exactly how to get to the mountain trail, I just assumed I’d figure it out along the way. The last time I stayed at the campground, I walked the trail all around the lake, and I thought I remembered a sign with “Nye” on it somewhere, so that’s all I was going on. At the first junction, I continued straight and passed the trail up to Mt. Jo. Soon after at 9am on the dot, I came to the register for Street and Nye, and signed in. While I was signing in and taking an only somewhat creepy photo of myself (took me 4 tries to get a decent one, so it was obviously going to be a really photogenic day), I heard loud splashing in the lake to my left…Juno had taken it upon herself to catapult through the brush, down the bank, and take a dip in the lake…twice. So she was pretty much soaking wet right from the get-go.

At first, I really did try to keep her on leash, as you’re supposed to do with dogs. The problem became that she is just really bad on a leash. She’s really not great off-leash either, but she usually comes when I call her, and she at least can’t pull me down when she goes charging off after chipmunks.

After a few more minutes of walking along the rocky trail, I came to the sign I had remembered! Except it said “Old Nye Ski Trail,” which really threw me off. In retrospect, I have no idea why it’s called that, I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone skiing down that trail. No way. Upon closer inspection, however, I saw someone had thoughtfully scribbled “& Street” onto the sign, so I was feeling a little more confident. And if I was wrong, well, at least I’d be on a trail somewhere, on some mountain, maybe. Who knows. Better than being at home all day.

So apparently I missed the sign saying the “Trail is not maintained after this point,” which I thankfully knew already and had an idea of what to expect. For being unmaintained and trailless though, it was a decent trail and definitely looked cared forĀ (puncheon, sawed logs, etc.). I’m not sure how I missed the sign, it is literally in the picture I took of the sign for the other route up Mt. Jo (on the left, cut off). I made it here only 10 minutes after signing in. Time to start the real trail!

About 20 minutes later, we came to our first little stream. Actually, it was not-so-little, thanks to all of our recent rain! The trail up to this point was a little damp, but no real mud issues, and I was optimistic the rest of the trail would be the same (lol) and bug free (LOLOL). Juno enthusiastically jumped in and splashed around a bit, and we continued on our way. Up until this point, the trail had been just a nice (albeit uneventful) walk through the woods.

Not more than 5 minutes later we came to a much more boisterous…creek? River? Brook? I don’t know, but it was pretty. It was this point that I was sure we were on the right trail, as I’d read that you have to cross the water just by your own will…there is no bridge, fallen log, or stepping stones, just a cairn to tell you that you do indeed have to cross. We hung out for a few minutes and shared our first snack (cheese crackers!) while a group ahead of us took their time getting their boots back on after crossing. After being thoroughly SOAKED by Juno leaping out of the water, carrying a veritable wave of water with her which of course landed all over me and my pack, I took off my boots and double-layered socks, and VERY carefully stumbled my way ungracefully through the cold water. I was not looking forward to doing this on the way back! We safely arrived at the other side, and while I was drying my feet and stuffing them back into my boots, Juno pulled her leaping-water-wave thing again. So if I wasn’t already soaked, I was now, and I might as well have just swam across the freaking river.

At any rate, we continued on, and soon came to another stream crossing, though this one was a lot more lowkey. There was an impressive tree to cross over on for those more confident in their balance, but I wanted to live, so I just crossed in the shallow water 2 feet away.

After this point, the trail followed several more streams, and we had to rock-hop across one or two of them, but it was easy going. We hadn’t even started to climb yet, and it had already been over an hour!

Finally, after about an hour and 20 minutes, the trail started to climb along a brook or stream or creek or something, as it wound up the mountain. It was getting muddier the farther up we went, and I stopped to bathe myself in deet, which of course didn’t bother the flies at all but it made me feel better about ticks. There were tons of little waterfalls and crystal clear pools of water, so we stopped frequently so June could play in them.

It was about this time that Juno started to drive me NUTS. The trail became a literal mudhole, stinking wet glopping mud, and she LOVED it. This meant that she would gallop from in front of to behind me, splash around in the muck, then go sprinting past me, spraying flecks and globs of muck all over my legs along the way, and then do it all over again. Sometimes she’d pass too close and slam right into my legs. I have no idea how I made it out of this hike relatively unscathed! I put my camera away so it’s life at least would be spared, and we continued to climb…and climb…and climb. I was getting hungry, and Juno was starting to snack on bits of grass sticking up out of the mud, so when we reached a flatter area a little before noon I decided we should take a break and enjoy our gourmet feasts: kibble and dehydrated chicken for Junybean, PB&J sammich and apple for mom! I was so glad I had actually prepared food this time, and wasn’t just stuck eating crackers and trail mix!

About 5 minutes later, we made it to the junction between Street and Nye. I took my camera out of its pack, snapped a picture of the handy (but illegal?) carving in the tree to denote which path is to which mountain. We took a brief break, drank some water, and headed down the path to Street. Of course, I was able to catch a glimpse of the mountain in the distance, and it looked leagues away. Like literal years away. I knew it was closer than it looked, because they always are, but it was still demoralizing to say the least.

That’s it. The green mound peaking between the trees.

The trail got even muckier after that, with just puddles of water hanging out on the trail. We passed some cool forests though and enjoyed the overwhelming greenness of the leaves and moss and ferns. It was absolutely lush! *burning into my memory to remember come winter*

After going down, and then back up up and up, we came to the summit of Street Mountain and chatted with some people we met along the way (they go to a university right by me,Ā go figure!) They were super nice, and the girl (Rhea?) even shared some handpicked crabapples with me, and they were surprisingly tasty! We took pictures for each other, and took our turns at the “lookout,” though there wasn’t much to look out on. June and I took a little break to have a summit snack, then we said our goodbyes (or see-ya-laters, since we were all headed to Nye) and took our leave.

Observing the mud, courtesy of Juno.

We made it back to the junction after what felt like forever of sludging through the mud, and met a lady there who was just coming off the trail to Nye and heading up Street. We talked for a moment, but were too exhausted to speak words well, and just shared how long it took us to get to the junction from each peak. Luckily for me, Nye was only a 10 minute jaunt away! We made it there in no time at all, and hurriedly took a picture. The place was swarming with flies for some reason, the sun was beating down (overcast, my butt, weatherman!) and there were no views to speak of. Side note: it took me like 5 tries to get a decent picture; every time I took one, my face looked like there was something foul-smelling under my nose (well…flies). I finally got a semi-decent one, and we got the heck out.

On the way back, I spied a little trail leading off from the main one that I hadn’t seen coming up; Juno led the way, and found a nice little overlook! I climbed to the top of a large rock and got the best views I had all day. Better than nothing! I snapped a few photos, left, and ran into my new friends from Street mountain, the friendly crabapple people, and informed them of the little offshooting trail. We said our goodbyes, and carried on.

There’s Street Mountain!

I didn’t take my camera out again until we were at the bottom. After we passed the junction, we came across a nice Bulgarian man (the father of the crabapple girl) who had just finished having a snack; Juno ran up to him, and STOLE the plastic cup that his snack had come in! I couldn’t believe that! What a brat. She ran around a bit, he laughed like it was the funniest thing, I told her to drop it, and she did. I felt bad, so I offered to take the slobbered-on garbage back down with me (my pack was already 40+lbs, it wouldn’t make a difference) and he obliged. We continued on our way, very carefully slipping and butt-scooting down the mountain. We had been going for more than an hour when I realized: I NEVER HAD MY VICTORY CHOCOLATE! Juno and I had just shared some fig newtons next to the steep brook, and I saw my little chocolate in my pack, scared and alone. Of course I took that victory chocolate out and crammed it straight into my cakehole, no-regrets style. As I was chomping on a mouthful of dribbling, melting chocolate (with raisins and peanuts and omg) I looked up to see a troupe of like 8 teenage boys slogging their way up the mountain. So as each one miserably greeted me, I had to reply with a mouthful of chocolate. No wonder they looked so miserable though, they were thoroughly unprepared! No hiking boots, no packs, minimal water, and no victory chocolate. I shrugged my shoulders at their naivete, and carried on. When we got back to the big river, it was actually really nice to put my shriveled, blistered feet in that cold, cold water and slip and slide my way across. We rested up for a minute and had another snack, and carried on. My goal from here was to make it back to the trail register by 4pm, so we hurried along. We eventually made it, after getting turned around once or twice, at…4:05. UGH so close! Oh well, close enough for me. We continued down the path all the way to the Heart Lake docks, where I tried to get Juno to swim. She plopped all 4 feet about 2 inches into the water, and looked back at me scornfully, as if to say “You have got to be joking. After what you just put me through, you want me to SWIM?” I nearly jumped in myself, but thought better of it by imagining the freezing soaking 2 hour drive home.

We got back to the car at 4:25, after 30,000 steps, 270 flights of stairs, and 7.5 hours of hiking (according to fitbit). I opened the door, and Juno passed out triumphantly, with paws and legs sticking every which way. Side note: after I snapped this final picture, I didn’t see her head pop back up for the rest of the drive home, except twice: Once to lean forward suddenly, lick my cheek, then disappear just as suddenly to the back seat, and again after I had opened a trail mix bar to eat while driving, and I turned my head and saw her snout-deep into my pack looking for morsels. She sniffed my face, then resumed her nap. After this successful, if muddy day, I decided I’ve learned 3 things: chocolate is to me as spinach is to popeye, never trust weathermen, and I am officially an Adirondack 4-er! Woohoo! 42 more to go!

Taken moments before the hound passed out

Street: 4166′ Elevation Gain: 2300′
Nye: 3895′ Elevation Gain: +400′
Round Trip Distance: 9.1 miles
Total Duration: 7 hours

All images are property of adktrailtalesandtails and may only be used with express permission.

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Cascade (36) and Porter (38) Mountains

08/07/2016

Weather: Partly cloudy, high 75 šŸ™‚

I was SO EXCITED to climb these mountains today, that I was already up at 5am a full 40 minutes before my alarm even went off. I’d read that Cascade mountain in particular is extremely popular, and the parking lots can fill up quick especially during summer weekends, so I though it would be best if I got there early. I had already made all of the preparations the night before, so all I had to do was fill my Camelbak and walk out the door. I arrived at the trailhead on 73 at about 7:45am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Good thing, too; there were already a fair amount of cars when I got there, parked in all three available lots. The day started off great as I walked right past the entrance to the trailhead, down past the 3rd lot (I parked in the 1st lot, the trailhead was behind the 2nd…oops), so I snapped a picture of some mountain nearby and asked a couple of guys if they knew where the trailhead was. They pointed my in the right general direction, and I happily headed down the steps. In my defense, it was not very obvious.

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I stopped by the register, signed in as maybe the 7th hiker of the day, and set off. It was slightly chilly, so I started off wearing a light jacket, but took it off not 10 minutes into the hike.

The trail started climbing right out of the gate, but it was a nice wide path relatively easy places to step, with no shear faces that I had to figure out how to get up. I climbed at a pretty good pace (for me), stopping frequently for just a few seconds at a time to give my lungs a rest.

After about 30 minutes of climbing, I lost all trust and respect for the weatherman, because it started raining. I took shelter under a tree when the drops got more frequent, and then stopped just as suddenly as they began. (There’s rain in the picture below, not that you can see it…)

I made it to a short, flat section just as the early morning sunlight filtered through the trees, and took the opportunity to catch my breath and let a fit young couple pass me while I took some pictures.

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Too soon, the trail began to climb again, and I clambered up some squarish rocks (bottom picture, on the right) that had a cute little smiley face painted on! It sort of lifted my spirits after climbing for more than an hour.

Shortly after, I came to a very steep, flat rock face that climbed maybe 20 feet up. I scrambled up, and met about 6 people hanging out at the top taking a breather, and enjoying the incredible views from Cascade’s first (and only) lookout.

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We chatted some, and discussed how far we thought we had left to go. No one had been up this trail before, so we all relied on my memory of having read about it; I recalled that there should be a junction sign at the split between Cascade and Porter, and after that it should be 0.3 miles. Rejuvenated, our group broke apart and continued up the mountain. Luckily, my knowledge proved to be correct as we encountered the junction sign not a quarter of a mile later, and Cascade was just 0.3 more miles to go.

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The trail was mercifully flat after this point and offered only minute glimpses of the scenery beyond the trees. I imagine the whole trail is usually very muddy (and buggy), but it was mostly dry and bug-free for my hike.

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At long last, I came to the base of the summit. Looking up, it was quite an impressive sight.

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I had a renewed burst of energy, and ran almost all the way up. When I got to the top, however…

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It just kept going! This was the coolest part of the trail; I had never climbed a mountain quite like this before, and the experience was humbling. There were cairns and blazes to show the path to the summit, and numerous signs saying to stay off of the alpine vegetation.

I got to the top at 9:30am on the dot, and looked around me. Views were complete 360, but unfortunately I didn’t take a panorama…There were just too many people up at the top (maybe 5 different groups of 2-4?). So I’ve resolved to do this climb again, but in time for sunrise! Meaning I’ll leave the trailhead at around 3am to get to the top just as the sun starts to peak between the distant mountains. At any rate, I sat down to have a snack and talked with the people around me. Though it’s nice to have the mountain to yourself, it’s also equally nice to talk with people and head their stories. One man, who had climbed up with his daughter (around my age) and her little beagle puppy (Louie!) said that of the 39 states he’s lived in, including Colorado, Wyoming, Montana…etc, New York is absolutely his favorite. His reason was in part because the mountains in the Adirondack are like no others; they have ranges, but they also have solo peaks, and when you get to the top and look down, all you see is green forests and lots and lots of lakes. I’m sold! We laughed at how so many people think NYC is all there is to New York, and how people think Albany is upstate, and then we took some photos for each other. That’s another nice thing about having other people at the summit!

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After resting up and taking in the sights, I set to work trying to capture the beauty of the mountains (and had my turn at the summit plaque). While snapping pictures, I met the guys I had asked for directions at the bottom, and took some pictures for them. I found out that one of them has climbed the tallest mountain in every state, and the ADK 46ers are his next challenge! Wow! I’d like to do that someday…One thing at a time, though.

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Looking back the way I’d come up

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The mountain in the distance on the right is Marcy Mtn, the tallest in the state. The mountain right in front is Porter, my second summit of the day.
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That road at the bottom is where I parked.
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Several light aircraft flew by. This one was so close I could practically touch it!

I’d been up there for half an hour and was getting pretty cold (it was so windy!) so I reluctantly headed back down, taking one final picture of the impressive slopeĀ  and cairns as I went.

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Now we already know that my navigation skills certainly were not at their best today (i.e., I couldn’t even find the dang trailhead), but I really didn’t think they’d be so bad that I’d miss the junction to porter….twice. I did find it eventually, after going down and up and down and back up again for a good workout. Once I found it, I took the path to Porter and immediately started a rapid descent. It leveled out some,Ā  I passed through an interesting forest of really skinny pines, and then the trail got muuuuddy. Luckily I had doused my cap with bug spray near the beginning of the trail, so no critters bugged me. Get it? bugggged? Well, I shouldn’t say that. One did fly straight into the back of my throat, because apparently the ENTIRE ADIRONDACK PARK was too small for it, and my mouth looked like the better option. Ugh. I tried to cough it out, but to no avail. So looks like I got some extra protein today! -.-

I soon came across a giant boulder, and of course thought “Hey! Maybe that’s the summit!” Oh how optimistic I can be. I climbed to the top, got a nice view in front of me, turned to my left, and saw the real summit. I absolutely should have known better. But at least I did know that it always looks much farther than it is. So I climbed down, and continued on.

I reached the summit soon after, and met a nice family who were also beginning their 46ers challenge by climbing these two mountains. We took a photos for each other, and I took photos for a man and his super cool kid, and for a couple, and….on and on. I did eventually get out of there, and snacked on some chocolate as a reward for successfully summiting two mountains. The peak in the top left picture is Cascade, where I had just come from.

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Victory chocolate! A brilliant idea from a fellow hiker

I made it back to the junction (and didn’t go the wrong way this time >.<) and headed back down the mountain. I passed probably between 50-100 people making their way up, and reassured them that they were almost there, and the views are well worth it.I couldn’t believe how many of those people were thoroughly unprepared, wearing jeans, sneakers, no day packs, no water, even! Come on, people, this is a mountain, not a walk in the woods! Anyway, going down actually wasn’t that bad! It was a tricky enough trail to be fun, but I didn’t have to go super slow and I didn’t get bored, either. My knees took it like champs too, I never even had to break out the hiking poles! On the way, I passed one family in particular with a kid who was playing PokemonGO; he said the whole trail was on there! So of course I had to get my phone out to see for myself…

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Ha! Way too funny. Anyway, I finally made it out after only about 4.5 hours, which wasn’t bad considering how much I dilly-dallied. When I went to sign out at the register though, there were so many people added to it that I had to go back 2-3 pages just to find my name! Wow. They weren’t kidding when they said it’s a popular hike! I proudly walked back to the car, arriving by 12:30pm, and had a quick snack of an apple and downed some water before stripping off my shoes. Notice how my feet, in particular my pinky toes, never bothered me this trip! Well, that’s because of my ingenuity…see below.

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Normal boots…
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Normal dirty socks…
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FUZZY PINK TOE SOCKS!
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And blister bandages!

My method worked! In retrospect, the toe socks probably weren’t even necessary, but they didn’t hurt! All in all, today was an amazing day. I walked out of those woods so happy, and proud, having met lots of interesting people and climbed my first two 46er peaks. I can’t wait to do more!

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Cascade: 4098′ Ā Elevation gain: 2000′

Porter: 4059′ Ā Elevation gain: +400′

Round Trip Distance: 6.2 miles

Total Duration: 4.5 Hours

 

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

Welcome to my Blog!

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

Greetings! I’m Natalie, welcome to my blog! I am a musician (check out my original folksy Adirondack-inspired music at https://www.nocturnnemusic.com/), an engineer, and an avid hiker and photographer. I also have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – a degenerative genetic disorder that affects all of my joints, that’s resulting in my muscles being the glue that holds my joints together rather than my tendons and ligaments…As you can imagine, that makes hiking quite difficult! EDS is a little-known and underdiagnosed condition largely affecting women, with very little research behind it. Learn more about EDS here: https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/what-is-eds/

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.