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 before 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 🙂

Happy hiking!

Coney Mountain: 2280′ Elevation Gain: 548′

Round Trip Distance: 2.2 miles

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

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