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 was just a little 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. 😀 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

Mt. Jo

4/21/18

SPRING IS FINALLY HERE! I was seriously thinking that winter would just roll through spring, summer, and autumn, and we’d just be winter year round until I woke up Friday morning and checked the weather for the weekend…60 degrees and sun!! Holy moly theres no way I could stay home on a day like that, so I set my sights on Lake Placid.

Saturday morning, Juno and I got up, packed our bags, and headed out. Our first stop was to see some freaking baby goats at Asgaard Farm!! (We were a little bit excited about this).

I could not believe the amount of cars there. I had to laugh seeing all of the families with little kids, and then there’s just me and my fur-kid powing around. The line to see the newborn goats was crazy long, so we opted instead to see some of the older ones.

Then we stopped by to see some other babies!!

Looking at baby goats really works up an appetite, so Juno and I took our leave after an hour or so and headed into Lake Placid for lunch. I left Juno to nap in the car while I had a delicious meal at the Upstairs Grill (BBQ pulled pork…my stomach is growling just thinking about it now). Afterward, Juno and I went for a stroll around town to help digest the massive amount of food I’d just consumed, while I contemplated an adventure in the mountains. My knee has been slooooowly recovering since last July, so I settled on climbing Mt. Jo. We left the town shortly after arrived at the Loj at about 4:30pm and set off.

Fortunately, though there was of course snow covering the trail, it was not enough to warrant snow shoes, so we had a nice easy ascent going up the shorter, steeper path. Juno was the happiest I’d seen her in a long time, zipping here and there tearing new paths through the snow. I, on the otherhand, took my sweet time like an 102 year old lady so as to not hurt my knee. After about an hour of climbing, we reached the summit!

That moment when I stepped foot on the summit absolutely took my breath away. It felt like my soul could finally breathe again after being away from the Adirondacks for so long. After standing in the sun breathing the mountain air for who knows how long, I set to work taking some photos.

Since it was already like 6:30pm and the sun set at ~7:30, I figured I’d just stay up there to watch the sun set behind the mountains before heading back down. It was so warm when I first got up there, but as that sun went down boy did it get cold! I put on every layer I had in my pack, which included like 3 jackets, mittens, and a fleece cowl, and wrapped a travel blanket tarp thing around my legs to keep warm. (Side note: Juno and I are now starting our own line of ultra fashionable mountain-top gear XD).

Finally the sun began to set and I made my way off the summit to a more convenient ledge to capture the last rays of the day.

I didn’t waste any time in getting off the mountain after that and slid my way down the slushy trail. My knees were feeling so good that I actually jogged down much of the way, giggling like a mad-woman all the while (good thing we had the mountain to ourselves!). We made it down in no time at all without ever even needing to use a headlamp. We left the Loj at about 8:30pm, and stopped along the way to enjoy the stars in the perfectly clear night sky.

 

Looking toward lake placid; You can see the ski jumps towards the middle

Happy and exhausted, we (…I) filled our bellies with ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s and made our way home.

Who knew a half-moon could be so bright?

Iroquois (8), Algonquin (2) and Wright (16) Mountains (+Boundary Peak)

7/16/17

It’s been a couple of weeks since I climbed Nippletop and Dial, and with my PhD dissertation defense looming over me (it’s on the 24th of this month, and I’m dreading it), I desperately needed to get into the mountains. I signed in at the trailhead at the ADK Loj at exactly 6am, grabbed a rock to take to the summit, and set off.

The trail was nice and wide and flat, with nice puncheon and walkways throughout. A few times, I had to check the map because the trail intersected with several ski trails, but I just continued straight, following the blue trail markers.

Not long after starting, I came across a junction sign and followed the path towards Avalanche Lake, 4 miles away.

Most people climb these three mountains by going right at that first sign to hit Wright first, then Algonquin, then Iroquois, then BACK OVER Algonquin, then back down the way they came up. I was determined to make this hike a loop by going up the steep pass after Avalanche Lake, going up to Iroquois, then to Algonquin and Wright.

Half an hour later, I came upon a trail sign for Mt. Marcy, and Marcy Dam followed shortly afterward. The dam itself wasn’t crossable, but a sign led me down towards a nice bridge.

Moments later I encountered another junction sign and went right to continue towards Avalanche Lake. 15 minutes later I came across another bridge over the brook, and took the opportunity to sit on a rock and have a snack.

Yet again, only a few moments after I left the bridge, another junction sign pointed the way towards my destination. Up until this point, I’d been leap-frogging with another hiker (Chris!) and we’d continued to do so all the way up to the summits, so I passed him up and continued on my way.

I knew I was starting to get close to the lake when I started feeling like I was in Nelson’s Ledges (look it up…then book a trip to Ohio).

I crossed another little bridge along the way, and when I turned to look behind me I saw the most perfect spider web catching the light from the morning sun.

At 8am, I made it to Avalanche Lake and it took my breath away.

I went right, slogging through the thick mud, and was super grateful for my gaitors. I followed the trail for just a few minutes before stopping on a big boulder to enjoy another snack and take a few photos.

The trail around the lake was tricky, and included awesome hitch-up Matildas (which are being replaced in August, and are named for a story about a woman named Matilda Fielding back in 1868), giant boulders to climb over and between, and steep ladders. It was a ton of fun.

Good thing they’re being replaced, because this one was missing a board. I’m glad I wasn’t there when that happened!

I reached the other end of the lake an hour later at 9am, and another register just a few minutes later.

The trail was so luscious and green after that point, and several minutes later I crossed another bridge.

After I crossed it and started to descend again, I looked back up and saw a junction sign that I had missed on the other side of the bridge. I’m so smart guys, because I decided, ‘Nah, This path feels right!’ and unknowingly proceeded 0.25 mile in the wrong direction. I reached this little outpost, and a junction sign thereafter, at which point I took out my map to figure out where the hell I was.

Just as I was reaching the conclusion that I had to backtrack, a group of badass backpacking women came through and set me on the right path, back at the junction I stupidly passed.

I was back on the right path at 9:40am, and the path immediately started climbing and following a beautiful brook full of waterfalls.

At one point, I reached the top of the falls, and the trail actually went out into the stream bed. It was so incredible to be up there, looking up at the falls.

Despite being overwhelmingly beautiful, this trail was *expletive of your choice* BRUTAL. It involved tons of boulders to climb up, and the trail continued to follow the stream, often being directly IN the water. I was baffled at how there was water when I was up so high. Where does it even come from?? The ground, I guess, but…I just don’t know. This trail was sort of becoming my own personal hell. It just kept GOING, and going and going and….I seriously considered more than once that I had never actually woken up that morning, and was instead having a nightmare about being on a neverending stairmaster.

I was frustrated, tired, and getting a bit lightheaded from the constant UP, when I met a small group of people who asked where I was headed. I told them, Iroquois, and they looked at me confused and said I was going up Algonquin. My stomach dropped. They asked how far down until they would reach the top of Boundary….I asked, were they certain the junction wasn’t behind them? Because the trail I was on literally hadn’t stopped ascending, for even a second, since I had started it. I left them there to consider their options while I continued up, certain that I hadn’t reached the junction yet. After seriously questioning my life choices for a few moments, lo and behold, I FINALLY reached a large cairn at 11:30am, to the right of which was the looming Algonquin, and to the left was a narrow, overgrown trail that could be easily be missed by anyone.

The views were beautiful, and the ascent up to Boundary Peak was quick and painless. I was so excited, the pain in my legs and feet just faded away. Boundary peak was supposedly named because it was the boundary between the Iroquois and Algonquin Native American tribes., however I’m not sure how true this is. Despite being 4,829 feet high, is not considered a high peak because it does not have enough prominence.

Looking toward Iroquois from the summit of Boundary Peak.

At about Noon, I had reached the impressive summit of my 14th high peak, Iroquois!

Looking back toward Algonquin.

Mt. Colden behind me.

The views were phenomenal, with complete unimpeded 360 panorama. I immediately sat my butt down and ate my sammich and victory chocolate.

I enjoyed seeing the beastly trail around Avalanche Lake and up to Boundary from the summit.

Lake Colden toward the middle, with the Flowed Lands to it’s right.

While there, I met many awesome people, including the trio that had unintentionally given me a heart attack. We chatted for a time (shoutout to Matt Cook!) and took photos for each other.

I ruefully left the summit at about 12:45pm, and made it back to the junction 15 minutes later to look up at the monster Algonquin.

The way up Algonquin was steep and exhausting, but the thought of the views at the summit kept my feet moving.

20 minutes later and I was sitting near the summit ripping my boots and socks off of my blistered feet to roam around barefoot. I HIGHLY recommend this! It was made even better by the fresh clean socks I kept in my pack for afterward, so I wouldn’t have to put the same nasty socks on again.

I enjoyed my time at the summit for about an hour, talking with a bunch of awesome people and enjoying another snack (of course). I spoke with one group who had brought their friend up for his first ever mountain. Not even first high peak, but first MOUNTAIN. This guy was hilarious, he was just yelling nonstop about how he couldn’t believe how amazing it was, and making phone calls to presumably ever person he had ever met to tell them he was on top of a mountain. It was really funny to witness, and I had to turn away to stifle my laughter, noticing as I did that several other people were doing the same.

I took my turn at the summit to take a photo of my beat-up feet with the geo marker.

At 2:15, I began my descent and deposited my rock at the pile designated by a small sign on the way down.

The descent was stunning, walking above the treeline to see out to the mountains around me.

Along the way, I joined with another hiker making his descent (shoutout to Fred) and we had a fun time talking, until I fell flat on my ass on my way down a slippery, steep rock slab. Nothing was hurt, besides my dignity (and some scrapes on my hands) and we carried on our way.

Lake Placid towards the upper middle.

Below the treeline, the descent was quite steep and time consuming. I finally reached the junction to Wright Mountain about an hour after leaving the summit, and turned to head straight back up.

“Wright” is written on the rock.

It was only 0.4 miles to the summit, however it was exceptionally steep and I was very nervous about coming back down. Nevertheless, I put one foot in front of the other and was soon above the tree line, once again.

Towards the summit, there was a little sign pointing right towards the summit, and left towards the plaque for the plane wreck. In 1962, a B-47 bomber practicing low-altitude bombing runs over Watertown veered 30 miles off course in inclement weather and high windes, when the wingtip clipped the summit of Wright Mtn. The mountain shattered the plane, scattering the wreckage along the southwest side of the peak. Read more about the accident here.

I popped right up to the summit, where a couple was hanging out shouting Tarzan-like ululations, and we took photos for each other.

Algonquin.

I was on a bit of a tight timeline, wanting to be back at the trailhead at 6pm, so I stayed at the summit for all of 5 minutes before heading down to explore the plane wreck.

Just a few minutes of descent and I was at the plaque with the scraps of debris.

I scampered back up to the peak, and began my descent at 4pm.

Surprisingly, despite seeming so steep on the way up, the climb down really wasn’t that bad, nor did it last very long. After 20 minutes, I was back at the junction to Algonquin. The descent after that point was rather rocky and steep, and I really had to take my time. That stupid song from one of those puppet christmastime cartoons started playing in my head, and it drove me a little bit more insane, the one that goes “put one fooot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the dooooor”. UGH. Of all things to be in my damn head. Anyway, after an hour of that, I made it to a nice waterfall where another group was hanging out. I took the opportunity to rest my feet and have another snack.

After that point, the trail was significantly easier, finally with some flat dirt path instead of constant rockhopping. For once in my life, I was passing everyone on this trail! I was not the slowest person on the mountain! But really though, this NEVER happens. A few uneventful miles later and I was back at the trailhead, signing out at about 6:20pm, 12hrs 20mins after I began. I headed straight to my car, changed into clean clothes to try to pretend like I didn’t stink as much as I did, and headed home.

This was absolutely my favorite climb, to date. Every single summit had complete 360 degree views, it was a beautiful day, and I felt so accomplished at having taken the tougher route to climb these three. 16 down, 30 to go!

Iroquois Mountain: 4,840 feet

Algonquin Mountain: 5,114 feet

Wright Mountain: 4,580 feet

Boundary Peak: 4,829 feet

Round Trip Distance: 13.4 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 4300′ feet

Total Duration: ~10 Hours of hiking +2 Hours at summits

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

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 😦 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 for (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, 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.

Mt. Jo

06/18/2016

Juno and I had been looking forward to camping at the Adirondack Loj for a month since I’d booked our stay. I had reserved a canvas tent for us, in the hopes that it would keep Juno contained so she wouldn’t have to be leashed in there (spoiler alert: it did not.). The plan was to enjoy the lake and just hang out on our first evening there (Friday night) and then I had planned to hike Marcy in the morning on Saturday. Juno and I went swimming, and we had a nice time.

Well, it was about 40 degrees that night, and I had to hold onto Juno’s leash so she wouldn’t just duck under the canvas flaps, and she would get so cold that I had to scoop her up onto my tiny cot and wrap my sleeping blanket around her. Add to that the constant sounds of semi-large animals rummaging around outside the tent, and we did not sleep for a single second. When we got up in the morning, I was so thoroughly exhausted and didn’t think it would be the smartest idea to climb such a challenging mountain. Instead, I opted for Mt. Jo, a little mountain adjacent to Heart Lake, that would be an easy mile up-mile down hike. The trail started out right by the lake, behind the Loj, and I had beautiful views of the lake on the way up.

There were so many trail markers for all of the different trails that leave from the Loj, but I managed to find the right way. The trail up this mountain is actually a loop, with one path being much steeper and the other being more mellow. I opted go take the steep route up, and the gentle path down. The climb up was semi-steep, but I didn’t really have any problems. In fact, I felt so much better and energized than I had when I first woke up (well. Not “woke” up, since I never slept, but you know.). Eventually I reached a little junction that said the summit was very close, and I met a couple resting on a boulder there who were climbing their first ever mountain as their 20th wedding anniversary! They were so sweet, but I wanted to get to the summit, so I said I’d see them up there and carried on. I climbed over some large boulders, which was a little difficult, and emerged at the summit at 11:30am, after about 45 minutes of climbing.

The views were surprisingly gorgeous! I couldn’t find a summit marker (bummer) but the face was bald and offered gorgeous views of Mt Marcy and other high peaks, as well as heart lake.

I was up there for about 10 minutes before the couple from before made their appearance. We talked for a bit and they kindly took a photo of me, and I returned the favor. I snacked on some crackers and enjoyed the view, taking in the fresh air and feeling totally rejuvenated (good thing too, because I later had to drive my family 2+ hours home, and I didn’t want to be asleep for that). After about 30 minutes I took my leave, and descended on the nice gentle path back to Heart Lake.

Mt. Jo: 2876′  Elevation Gain: 639′

Round trip distance: 2.6 miles

Total Duration: 1.5 hours

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