Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain

12/28/2019

It’s been several months since our last hike, and a day in the woods was desperately needed for my own sanity. We’d reviewed the weather for this day over the past few days, and it appeared to be the only sunny day in the forseeable future! So we’d decided to head to Old Forge to try to catch the sunset on Bald Mountain. Now we don’t have the best track record for successful sunset hikes…Our first ever hike together was up Indian Head in March 2018, with the goal of seeing the sunset….Sparing any details, let’s just say we missed the sunset…by 6 hours! ๏˜…

We made it to the trailhead at 2:30pm and were OVERWHELMED by how sunny and bright it was! (There should be a special font for sarcasm…). Heck, the weather guys couldn’t have been more wrong, it was just a regular overcast grey day. We weren’t about to let that dampen our spirits though, especially Juno, as she neared flight speeds while careening down the trail.

We were surprised by the number of cars in the parking lot for a hike on a winter day, not realizing just how popular this trail is. Nevertheless, we signed in at the register, took our starting photo, and headed off.

Look at Juno’s face! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Soon after we began, a pair of people with two sweet bouncy dogs followed behind us, so we decided to stop and wait for them to be sure the dogs were friendly with Juno and to let them meet. Unfortunately they were not wearing appropriate footwear and decided smartly to turn back when we came to our first steep section, down which a large group of kids were struggling, also lacking appropriate footwear. We decided to put on our microspikes right at the beginning of the trail, noticing how icy conditions were immediately; I have no clue how people wearing smooth leather street boots made it so far up that mountain, and I’m surprised we didn’t find anyone with a broken ankle along the way!

We navigated even the trickiest sections of “steep” eroded trail with the help of our microspikes, and in no time at all we arrived at the first lookout.

Juno has the interesting habit of rolling and flopping around in the snow, and I was seriously worried she would roll herself right off the edge of the mountain, so we wasted no time here and continued on our way.

After this point, the minimal climbing was already just about over, and the trail began to follow along the spine of the mountain ridge. We found it a very exciting and interesting landscape, though it was a bit daunting at times to walk on the balance beam ridge covered in ice. We didn’t opt to use it, but there is a herd path through the woods skirting the ridge for those too harrowed to skate across it.

A few short minutes of rock-hopping later and we had our first glimpse of the firetower! Juno often likes to run ahead, but this time she chose to scamper right up the firetower steps to get a better view before we even got there.

The first time Juno went up a firetower, I had to practically carry her back down; this time, she led the way! How far she’s come. It was clear by now that there would be NO SUNSET due to the overcast skies, but we chose to hang out for a while and enjoy the brisk air on our skin for a while longer. Figures, we finally make it up in time for the sun to set, on a day when there is no sunset!

And of course we took some obligatory summit selfies, but we FORGOT TO PACK VICTORY CHOCOLATE! ๐Ÿ˜ญ A mistake that wont happen again!

Since there was no sunset, there was no sense in waiting around for darkness to fall, so we headed down while it was still light. We made it down in no time at all, and were again incredibly grateful for our microspikes. We saw so many people on the trail with sneakers and street shoes struggling where we were able to walk right on by. Juno of course has the gracefulness of a mountaingoat in most conditions, but even she is cautious on the ice!

We made it all the way back to the trailhead and hopped into the car to head home. I was ecstatic that I made it a whole hike without any debilitating knee pain, and so so refreshed after a few hours in the woods.

Juno in her natural habitat, on her couch with her pillows and blanket

Enjoy those winter hikes, and WEAR SOME DAMN HIKING BOOTS AND MICROSPIKES!

Bald Mountain: Elevation – 2350′ Elevation Gain – 500′

Round Trip Distance: 1.9 miles

Total Duration: <2 hours including time at summit

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)

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