Haystack Mountain

12/20/2015

Weather: Overcast, comfortably cold winter day

My hiking buddy and I got to the trailhead for Haystack at about 10:30am, and after fuddling with our equipment for 10 minutes, we set off on the trail. It was a beautiful day, with some snow cover, and we had come prepared with ski pants (to keep the butt dry during butt scooting, of course) and microspikes, so we were all set.

The trail starts out pretty mellow, a relatively flat walk through the woods. For whatever reason, I didn’t take many pictures along this trail, however those I did take were of the incredible ice formations and the gushing brook (not quite a river, but still impressive) that the trail begins to follow about 1.5 miles in.

We were absolutely mesmerized by the waterfalls, and the ice hanging off of various logs in the river. Unfortunately, the river sits in a little ravine, but I wanted to get nice and close to I climbed down the banks right to the edge. Worth it! I was pretty thankful for my microspikes at this point.

The trail really started to climb after this point, and we soon came across some weird building remains at about 2.2 miles. We had read that there was an old dam up ahead on this trail, so maybe the two were connected? At any rate, it’s a strange place for a house, but i wouldn’t have minded living there!

Now we knew that somewhere along the trail up Haystack, there would be a trail branching off to the right that heads towards McKenzie. We never saw it, and just hoped we were on the right one. Shortly after we passed the crumbling foundation, we came upon the dam. There was no bridge, and we watched one lady with her dog hop across some wobbly rocks at the bottom of the dam. We were at a loss of how to get across without falling in (being the graceful creatures that we are), when two gentlemen coming down the trail on short x-country skis just walked right along at the top of the dam where the cement wall of the dam keeps the water pretty shallow. We shook our heads at how oblivious we were to have not noticed that, and carefully crossed at the same spot. We emerged on the other side with totally dry feet! Thanks, Keen boots! From this point, the trail would climb steeply, then even out, then climb some more, etc. It was actually a really nice hike, and we never got too out of breath. At about 3 miles, the trail began the final steep climb,  going up a gully to the left of some cliffs to emerge on the first ledge at 3.2 miles. After a slight dip, the trail continued to the summit at 3.3 miles.

We were so warm when we got to the top at 1:30, we did what was probably the dumbest thing we have ever done on a hike: we took off our jackets to be standing on the top of the mountain wearing just sweat-soaked cotton T-shirts. We weren’t even wearing appropriate moisture-wicking clothing. Luckily, we had our senses to put our layers back on before we became hypothermic. We did have some nice views from the rocky ledge, though many of the high peaks that are further away were obscured by the low clouds. We hung out for a little bit, ate some lunch, and headed back the way we came.

We made it back to the stream, where we stopped again to admire the scenery. It was so peaceful and quiet here, I could have lain down to have a nap, easily. At any rate, we continued on after snapping some pics of the elusive bat-sicles! (see below).

The rest of the hike was uneventful, and we made it back to the car at about 3:30 after a beautiful, rewarding day in the woods.

Haystack Mountain: 2878′  Elevation Gain: 1706′

Round Trip Distance: 6.6 miles

Total Duration: ~5 hours

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

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St. Regis Mountain

12/06/2015

Weather: Beautiful, temp in the 30s

After two months of telling my hiking buddy Sam all about my trip up St. Regis, we decided today would be the perfect day for a summit trip. We left a little after 8am, and finally got to the trail around 10 (it took us half an hour longer to get there than usual…I think because I kept stopping the car to take pictures! Ha!). The trip down was very foggy, which looked cool and all, but we were nervous that the weather wouldn’t clear up. Either way, we wouldn’t let weather ruin our much-anticipated day of hiking.

Luckily, by the time we neared Barnum Pond (which I lovingly refer to in my head as the Gateway to the Adirondacks…It’s the first landmark that tells me I’m getting close!) the weather had cleared significantly to reveal a beautiful crisp day. Barnum Pond was especially gorgeous and crystal clear. I was all ready to say “Forget hiking, lets go kayaking!” but I wanted to finish what we set out to do, so on we went.

We got to the trailhead and started walking at 10:20am after signing in at the register. The trail starts off near a pretty little brook, and I was grateful to have a hiking buddy that didn’t mind me stopping every 2 minutes to snap pictures (and lying upsidedown in the dirt under some cool icicles to get just the right angle).

The trail was vibrantly green, and we really took our time, trying to take in the last vestiges of green we’ll see until…May. Winters are brutal up here!

We reached the first lookout around noon and had our spirits restored by the amazing sights. We stuck around just long enough to snap a few pictures, then I actually started running up the steep trail to the summit (I was just a little excited…).

We finally made it to the summit at 12:30pm, and stared open-mouthed for a while before snapping a few pictures (of course) and having some very cold lunch. It was UNBELIEVABLY windy!

However the views were incredible.So incredible that I had to choose from maybe 50 awesome photos to post on here. Life’s just full of tough decisions >.< .

The firetower was still out of commission, but we didn’t let that stop us from climbing up a few flights (don’t worry, it was structurally sound, they were just rebuilding the bottom steps…which weren’t there, so we had to get creative). We didn’t dare go up to the top though for fear of being blown right off the mountain. I think we only made it to the second platform.

We hung around the top for a while, chatted with a couple of older guys with a dog, snapped a few more photos, and began the trek back down. (After finding the summit plaque, of course!)

The way down was tricky, so I put my camera away for the worst of it and mostly slid down on my butt, a move I’ve dubbed the Butt Scoot. So graceful.

We eventually made it back down to safer ground and I took some time (as usual) taking pictures of cool stuff, like permafrost coming up out of the ground! How cool is that?

After delaying the inevitable, we made it to the end of the trail, signed out at the register, and immediately began making plans for our next mountain hike.

St. Regis Mountain: 2874′  Elevation Gain: 1532′

Round Trip Distance: 6.2 miles

Total Duration: 4.75 hours

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

St. Regis Mountain

10/18/2015

Weather: Cool, cloudy, and snowy (again)

This was the day after my dad and I climbed Baker Mountain, and so we decided against climbing Algonquin (the 2nd highest peak in the Adirondacks) and settled for the much simpler St. Regis Mountain. We left our room at the Inn, had a nice breakfast at a local diner, and headed towards home, which was conveniently on the way to this mountain, and saw some beautiful views along the way. Oh! and as we were leaving Saranac Lake, my dad said “It’s a shame Radioshacks aren’t really around anymore, we could have stopped at one to get a memory card for your camera!” And wouldn’t you know it, we turned our heads, and there was a Radioshack right next to the supermarket we were walking out of after getting some snacks. Not only did it exist, but it was open on a Sunday morning, AND they had memory cards! Woohoo!!

The bottom of the mountain showed beautiful fall colors, and the trail meandered gently for about 2 miles and we enjoyed the brisk weather.

As the trail started to climb, snow began appearing on the ground and on the fall leaves. It made for some seriously beautiful scenery. My dad stopped to admire it and catch his breath, so I took the opportunity to take some photos!

After about 2 miles, we reached some really cool stone stairs that looked straight out of a fairytale. We took a break here, ate some trail mix, and continued on.

The trail began ascending very sharply, and I needed both hands to lift myself up sometimes so I put my camera away. The last .3 miles or so was not only steep, but also covered in thick ice and snow. Knowing my dad and I, we came woefully unprepared without microspikes or poles or anything, and we all but crawled along. Right at the iciest part of the path, however, we got a little glimpse of the scenery, and it kept us going! Luckily, we saw some tracks in the snow where previous people had gone well around the steepest slipperiest section, and we gratefully followed.

We made one last push and emerged onto an almost completely bare summit! It was incredible. There’s an old fire tower that was undergoing maintenance (so we weren’t allowed to go on it, not that we would have anyway, it was so cold and windy up there), and the views were almost 360 degrees. It took our breaths away. When we first came out at the top though, there was almost no visibility…and after 2 hours of listening to my dad say, “Hey! Looks like it’s clearing up!” I just had to laugh. We waited for 10 minutes or so, and the sun actually peaked out!

We reached the summit at 1pm, and took shelter behind an overhanging rock to eat some lunch. Once I had warmed up a bit, I braved the cold to take a few last pictures.

It truly felt like being on top of the world. We stayed up there for about half an hour, and very carefully headed back down the mountain. The trip down was uneventful, though it warmed up considerably  the further we went, and my fingers regained their feeling!

St. Regis Mountain: 2874′  Elevation Gain: 1532′

Round Trip Distance: 6.2 miles

Total Duration: 4 hours

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

Baker Mountain

My first climb up a Saranac 6er!

10/17/2015

Weather: Cold, cloudy, and snowy!

My dad had come for a visit all the way from Ohio and we had been looking forward to our trip to the Adirondacks together for months! We had originally sought to climb Algonquin, but we seriously doubted our abilities and decided to climb baker mountain on the first day of our overnight trip since it’s supposed to be an easy 1.8 mile round trip. As we arrived at the parking spot, I realized that I had forgotten to put the memory card back in my camera! UGHHH! So I resorted to using the camera on my dying phone, so there weren’t many photos during this trip. At any rate, we hit the trailhead and set off!

I took a moment to capture the dual seasons, summer on the right and winter on the left. There was also a mysterious delicious cinnamon smell right around here, and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from! yummm. The climbing started almost immediately, and I was huffing and puffing in the cold air. My dad got concerned, he had never seen my asthma in action, but I assured him I’d be fine, I just had to slow down a little.

Apparently, at 0.6 miles up there was a junction with a gently inclining trail that meets up with the steep trail at the summit of Baker, but we didn’t even see it. Anyway, after a while of climbing, we reached a little lookout where we could see the beautiful fall colors through the haze of winter clouds. It was actually really beautiful, there are certainly perks to hiking on cloudy days!

It took us almost an hour to finally reach the summit of Baker (embarrassingly), but we were rewarded with gorgeous views of Saranac Lake and the McKenzie wilderness area beyond it. We rested for maybe 20 minutes, snacked on some apples and trail mix bars, and headed back down the way we came.

The way down was certainly less exhausting than the climb up, but it was tedious and hard on the knees. My dad was having a hard time, so I gave him a bulky knee brace that I used to use when recovering from running injuries, and he was excited to use it for whatever mountain we decided to do the next day. We got back to the car, and drove around to the other side of Moody Pond to view the monstrous mountain we just heroically climbed…There it is. Little Baker Mountain. It may have been short, but it was not easy (surprise, we’re out of shape!). We headed back to Gauthiers Saranac Lake Inn, and planned to use their kayaks to head out on the lake (they thought we were nuts, it was snowing out after all), but ended up staying in watching shows. Oh well, maybe next time.

There it is. There’s the giant mountain that we climbed, that kicked our butts.

Mount Baker: 2454′     Elevation Gain: 859′

Round Trip Distance: 1.8 miles

Total Duration: ~ 2 hours

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