Mount Colden (11)

10/14/2018

It was a month and a half into the semester and I really needed some solitude in the mountains to replenish my spirits, so I settled on heading out on Sunday to climb Colden Mountain. I woke up at 4am on a cold, dark morning and made it to the trailhead at the ADK Loj right at 7am. The lot was already about half full, and I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t have the trails to myself, but that was to be expected. While I waited in a short line to sign in at the register I took a picture of this amazing sign instructing hikers to poop responsibly and took a super glamorous selfie of my drowsy face.

I headed down the path at 7:30am with a smile on my face, so happy to be spending a day in the woods. After 20 minutes, I arrived at the first junction in the trail. Whenever possible, I like to hike a loop instead of an out-and-back, so I chose to climb up from Lake Colden (the steeper path) and head down via Lake Arnold. With that in mind, I turned left at this junction to head toward Marcy Dam and Avalanche Lake.

About 30 minutes later I arrived at Marcy Dam, 2.2 miles from the trailhead. I took some photos of the rising sun’s rays on the surrounding mountains and took my obligatory 5 minute break at a rock on the other side of the dam at the “Marcy Dam Outpost” sign. I try to take a 5 minute break once every hour to stretch, drink water, and give my back a break from my pack.

At 8:30am, an hour after leaving the trailhead, I reached the next junction and continued to the right to head towards Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden. 30 minutes later I was at the next junction. I continued to the right, and took note that I would be returning on the path to the left toward Lake Arnold.

I was excited about the next portion of the trail, which is surrounded by large mossy boulders alongside the Avalanche Pass Slide.

I was having a heckin’ hard time with my camera today! Every time I brought it up to my eye, everything would fog up! With that in mind, I apologize for the “misty” images on this trip report ūüėÖ I made it to Avalanche Lake at 9:40am, a little over 2 hours after leaving the trailhead. Avalanche Lake is one of my favorite spots in the high peaks. This 9-acre lake sits at over 2800′ in elevation right between the vertical cliffs of Mount Colden and Avalanche Mountain.

I started my way around the lake and stopped for second breakfast on a nice rock overlooking the lake. While sitting there, I passively noticed a boat on the other side of the lake…after several minutes, it occurred to me….How did that boat get there?! I assume it was helicoptered in, but I can’t help to imagine a person hauling it over their shoulders on the 5.2 mile trail in!

AFter a few minutes respite, I continued on the trail around the lake. Boy, I had forgotten how intense this trail is! Between the huge boulders to climb over and around, the ladders, and the hitch-up matilda’s along the way, it takes me a solid half-hour to traverse the lake.

At 10:20am I happily found myself at the other end of the lake. I snapped a few lousy pictures before continuing ahead toward Lake Colden.

The trail here because quite muddy, which pretty much set the stage for the trail conditions for the rest of the day. While I was trekking toward Lake Colden, I had an AMAZING moment where I was walking across some puncheon over a muddy bog while a Ranger was coming the opposite way on his patrol. OF COURSE I stepped on the end of a puncheon board and OF COURSE it wasn’t secured at the other end, so there I am flailing my arms while the board flies up in a comically dramatic teeter-totter fashion….AND OF COURSE I did the exact same thing at the OTHER END of the board…At the ONE MOMENT IN THAT LAST 4 MILES that someone else is on the trail.
My gracefulness is really astounding sometimes!

There were a few portions of the trail along Lake Colden that were completely submerged in the lake itself from all of the recent rain and snowmelt, so some bushwhacking was involved to make it across. Before long I had made it to the next junction at 11:00am. I turned left to leave the lake and head up to Colden.

The initial trail up was quite pleasant. It was never particularly steep or too muddy. I foolishly thought “Hey! Maybe it’s not as steep as everyone said it would be! This is nothing!”….Yeah, you all know where this is going. OF COURSE it was way more difficult, I just hadn’t gotten to that point yet. But in that brief moment of bliss, I happily traipsed along and let a large group of French Canadians pass me by.

After about a mile the conditions changed…a bit…(read: The trail amped up to a 10 to cruelly haze the unworthy). Thankfully some AMAZING trail crews had built ladders and steps to traverse the truly difficult sections.

At about this time, I kept catching up to the back end of the large group that I had let pass me. I was getting quite frustrated to have to keep stopping every time they stopped, so just as the trail started to get icy I opted to pass them all and hustle a bit to make sure they didn’t catch up again. (They were quite nice, it was just a large group and I didn’t want to hear voices behind me while I was hiking!) At this time, a couple were coming down the slick slides verrrry carefully and they informed me that there was a lot of ice up ahead. With that in mind, I trudged on.

Sure enough, they were not lying. And I am SO SMART that I, being the stubborn mule that I am, opted not to put on the microspikes that were conveniently strapped to the back of my pack for easy access.

I clawed my way up tooth and nail very carefully along Colden’s smooth rock slides until I reached another ladder, and I just KNEW that this one would bring me to the top.

I turned around at the top and let out a hearty laugh in awe at the views. Those views make everything worth it, every time.

I had really thought I was close to or at the summit, but, and I’m sure this comes as no surprise, I most definitely was not. So onward I went, but now I had some stunning views every step of the way.

I loved seeing the path that I had taken up there from the “almost summit” or whatever it was that I was on. And even better, I had a fantastic view of my favorite trio of peaks along the MacIntyre range.

I climbed up one final stretch to see a stunning view of a chilly Mt Marcy, with some supplied that may have been dropped in for some impending trail work.

I was a little bit confused, as I continued along the snowy trail and was unsure of exactly where the summit was. I came upon a sign designating where to leave a rock carried up from the trailhead, and wandered down a path to a rock in a small clearing. At 1pm, while I was standing on that rock, a couple of fellas came down and “tagged” the rock, at which point I shouted (or yelled and frightened them probably) “WAIT. Is this the SUMMIT?!?” and it was! How anticlimactic! So I snapped a picture of some circle on the rock (I’m so technical) and wandered back out of the clearing to find a nice spot to have lunch.

I enjoyed my lunch of a sandwich, babybel cheese, and some gherkin pickles (oddly delicious after a day of hiking) while looking out towards Algonquin. And can’t forget the victory chocolate!

Now, let’s talk again at how intelligent I am. AFTER I had passed over all of the steep icy sections of trail, while I was sitting at the summit, I thought, hey, it’d be such a great idea to put my spikes on now! So I did….and encountered no more ice along the trail. Ha! At least I tried. As I headed down the path toward Lake Arnold, the trail passed over a bare rocky outcropping, so I sat for a break and to take in the breathtaking sight of Mt Marcy right next door.

At about 2pm I left again for Lake Arnold. The trail down from Colden was quite tough. It was all mud and rockhopping. Almost immediately, my right knee began to ache, so I stopped frequently to stretch and roll out my IT band with my trekking pole. Who knew trekking poles were so versatile?

By the time I made it to the junction with Lake Arnold 45 minutes later, the twinges in my knee had ceased to subside and an old injury in my SI joint was starting to cause lightning-like spasms in my lower back. It’s so fun having a body that acts like it’s been bowled over by a steamroller with the slightest provocation! So I chose not to visit Lake Arnold but went left to keep slowly making my way down the mountain.

Along the way down, I met a couple coming up who seemed perturbed. They thought they were on the wrong trail coming down from Colden because it looked so different from the path they were on that morning. After looking at the map, I suggested that there was no other path down from the previous junction, and that the trail looked so different because all of the snowmelt was turning it into a veritable river. Still unconvinced, we all continued our way down. I passed them up, and about 30 minutes later I came to another junction which verified the path we were on was the correct one. It’s incredible how much water just a little bit of snow can create!

I didn’t take many photos after that. The pains in my knee and back were intense and it took all of my mental acuity to focus on getting down the mountain. Finally, at 4pm, I made it to the junction and lied down on this wooden bridge to stretch my legs and back.

After I probably freaked out a few passing hikers by lying there on that bridge, I continued my way back toward Marcy Dam.

And that’s the last picture I took of the day. The pain was relentless and I lulled myself into a trance-like state to focus through the pain. I continually reminded myself to take one step at a time, and that the worst was behind me. After continuing on like this for 3 more miles, I dragged my aching body out to my car just before 6pm and let out a frustrated huff as I sat down to drive home.

I’m so disappointed that these so-called “overuse” injuries are still plaguing me, considering I’ve been resting with minimal straining activity for 15 months. Back to the drawing boards, hopefully I’ll be back soon.

19 down, 27 left!

Mount Colden: Elevation – 4714′ Elevation Gain – 2535′

Round Trip Distance: ~14 miles

Total Duration: 10.5 hours

Gear and Tips

Hiking solo is one of the greatest joys I’ve experienced¬†in my adult life. You learn a lot about yourself when it’s just you and your own two feet conquering a mountain. There are feelings of wonder, peace, and pride at having accomplished something so great on your own. That said, hiking solo isn’t something that I take lightly. I strive to be Prepared, Informed, Strong, and Smart for every single trek, no matter how small. I research the trail location, plan my route, plan for backup routes, check the weather, and check the trail conditions all the day of the expedition. Here’s how it all starts:

Pre-Hiking Prep:

  • Clean and waterproof boots (once per year). I use Camp Dry Water Repellent Spray found here.
  • I wear a baseball cap during buggy months which I coat in Permethrin (once a year) to protect against flies, mosquitos, and ticks. Find it here.¬†
  • Check trail conditions and weather, inform a friend of mountain name, trailhead location, intended route, estimated time of arrival and estimated time of departure.

What to Wear:

  • Here’s my typical outfit, from bottom to top, for warmer months (spring to fall):
    • Gel Toe Protectors¬†to go on my toes to prevent blisters and calluses. These are THE BEST THING ever. Buy them.
    • Sock Liners to help prevent blisters (I also apply blister bandages to problem areas before I leave)
    • Wool Socks (and I keep a spare pair in my pack)
    • Shorts or Running Pants, or Water Resistant pants, depending on the weather.
    • Synthetic Fiber T-shirt or tank
    • Lightweight running jacket¬†-> I love this, it keeps me cool when it’s warm out, and warm when it’s cool out.
    • Waterproof Windbreaker¬†-> This is absolutely essential. I keep it in my pack at all times. You never know when it might rain, and the summit is usually much cooler than ground ¬†level, not to mention much windier. I’ve gotten chilled even on hot days from the wind hitting my sweaty back, and this has been a lifesaver.
    • Baseball cap for when bugs are out
    • TIP: Avoid wearing ANY cotton while hiking, during any time of the year. Opt for wools and synthetics to help wick moisture away from your skin to keep you dry and prevent blisters.
  • This changes a bit in winter:
    • Socks stay the same
    • I wear Thermal¬†longjohns underneath my Spyder ski pants to keep me warm and dry
    • Thermal longsleeve shirt
    • Lightweight jacket/hoodie
    • Spyder ski jacket
    • Fleece Cowl¬†-> I love this thing, it keeps everything warm, from neck to ears to chin to mouth/nose, and head.
    • Glove Liners¬†-> These are awesome to wear just on their own or under mittens and have fingertips that allow you to use touch screens
    • Mittens¬†-> I clip these to my coat sleeves to remove them easily without losing them

In my Pack:

  • Here’s a list of things I typically keep in my pack during the warmer months:
  • My Pack¬†¬†carries up to 50L, and while I do like it, I’m considering getting a slightly larger one to accomodate all of my gear. Though I LOVE hiking alone, one of the drawbacks is that I have to carry all of my emergency gear myself, instead of spreading it out across multiple packs. This pack also has a rain fly that you can remove and cover it with to protect the contents.
    • A 3L Camelback¬†¬†+ 1 bottle of water -> Mostly for longer trips/hotter weather. This way, when the camelbak runs dry, I still have 1 bottle left while I search for more water.
    • The day of the hike, I pack my food, and always pack more than I think I’ll need.
    • An extra pair of wool socks and liners
    • Carmex chapstick, hand sanitizer, and tissues
    • Deet Wipes¬†that I use to cover all of my clothes, bare skin, and even my pack. I like the wipes because I’m not inhaling the aerosolized vapors, and I put the used wipes in the mesh pockets of my pack to help keep bugs away. Reapply every couple of hours.
    • Bear Spray¬†for obvious reasons
      • Learn about bear safety HERE
    • Gaitors¬†to keep my legs dry in rain or muddy conditions, or when walking through a stream
    • A Headlamp + extra batteries for those early morning starts or in case of emergency
    • Trailbook and Map for the regions I explore
    • Hiking Poles¬†-> These are decent and retract down to a small size, however be careful that they’re tightened properly before putting weight on them.
    • Water Purifiers -> I carry both Iodine drops and a Life Straw with me
    • I carry This first aid kit + an Ace Bandage + a knee and an ankle brace
    • Stormproof Matches
    • Emergency Kit -> including :
      • Whistle flashlight * 1
      • Multifunction calipers * 1
      • Mosquito Head Net * 1
      • Hand see-saw * 1
      • Flint bracelet * 1
      • Risers * 1 (10M)
      • Fast hang buckle * 2
      • Outdoor emergency blanket * 1
      • Earplug * 1
      • Hooks * 2
      • Fishing line * 1 (33M)
      • Bait * 2
      • Swivels * 2
      • Floats * 6
      • Compass Thermometer * 1
    • I also carry an additional emergency blanket, several large, medium, and small carbiner clips, a Swiss Army multitool, a Tactical Knife, Sunscreen, extra blister bandages, Ibuprofen, Tick-repellent bug spray, a large ziplock bag (which can be used in a variety of circumstances, including keeping my camera dry) in which I keep a roll of TP, a plastic grocery bag, a brick of super high energy emergency food (lasts for like 6 days), an external battery supply charger for my phone, and a waterproof container.
    • From late fall through early spring, I keep a pair of HIGH QUALITY Crampons carbined to the back of my pack, because you literally never know when there might be ice (see Whiteface Mountain, where a lousy pair of crampons broke halfway up the mountain)

I pretty much draw the line for hiking solo at WINTER. It’s too dangerous¬†with too many unknowns, and I mostly only partake in small ventures during these months. Plus I just really, really hate winter. However, during those small ventures, in addition to everything listed above (expect for the bug and bear sprays and sunscreen), I carry snow shoes, a face cover, ski goggles, packs of hand warmers, a beanie, and a thermos full of hot chocolate or tea.

  • Extra Stuff (Camera Supplies)
    • My camera is a Canon Rebel
    • A Lowepro shoulder bag that I carry my camera in outside of my pack
    • A sturdy, reliable tripod that collapses to fit in my pack (barely)
    • A wide angle lens
    • Lens filters, cleaning Q-tips, cleaning cloth, spare battery, spare memory cards

I think that’s about it, though I’m certain I’ve forgotten some things. Now you know why I complain about my pack being so heavy! If you’re still reading this, I hope this helps you plan your own adventures! Any questions, feel free to ask. Happy Trails!

Lyon Mountain

4/23/17

It had been 5 months (gasp) since I’d last climbed a mountain, and I’d been itching to hike for quite some time. I wanted to start the season with a relatively easy mountain to get back into shape and knowing that there would most certainly be some vestiges of winter remaining towards the peak. It was a beautiful 60 degree day, and it¬†was also Juno’s 2nd birthday, so I wanted to give her a really fun day. So, after a miserable winter of constant asthma, flu, and pneumonia (I really hate winter, guys), I excitedly set off with Juno to climb Lyon Mountain! We got a late start and arrived at the trailhead at 11:30am.

The trail was muddy, as expected, and not 2 minutes in we encountered our first pair of people, who remarked how cute Juno was as¬†she raced by at 40mph. Surprisingly, despite the full parking lot, we didn’t encounter any other people until we were almost at the summit. 5 minutes after leaving the trailhead we signed in at the register, crossed a cute little bridge, and were on our way.

The trail immediately started out in a gradual climb. There are actually two trails up this mountain, the new one with gradual switchbacks all the way up to the summit, and the old trail which is literally just straight up the mountain. Knowing I was out of shape, I opted for the longer, more gradual route. I’m embarrassed to say that, as gentle as the climb was, I had to stop SO OFTEN to catch my breath and relieve some of the weight of my pack from my shoulders. I could already feel my lungs resisting me, but after about 20 minutes the trail leveled out onto a sort of ridge that we followed for quite some time over to Lyon.

This trail was really nice. There still weren’t any leaves on the trees, so we could see out behind us to the scenery beyond the trees (though the camera couldn’t quite capture it). Being early spring, there were also a number of gushing streams in which Juno had a field day splashing around.¬†Despite the trails muddiness, there were no bugs out yet!! I was sure to tromp right through even the muddiest patches so as to prevent further erosion of the trail.

After about an hour, I was feeling pretty hungry so we stopped for a little trail mix break. At this point, Juno realized I had packed an extra-special summit snack for her–a hard-boiled egg. She lost all interest in her kibble at that point, haranguing me about that dang egg until we left again.

It was about this time that the climbing started to pick up again. We continued for another hour or so, and began to notice more and more snow lying in patches on the ground; it was only a matter of time before the trail would be covered as well, and I patted myself on the back for packing crampons this time (see the disaster that was ampersand mountain).

Well, as we continued to climb, there certainly were winter conditions, but there wasn’t really ice, just about a foot of snow packed onto the trail. It wasn’t SO bad, until my foot would go straight though the snow unexpectedly. Even poor Juno was having this problem, though she didn’t seem to care too much at first. We carefully trod along for about half an hour, until I heard voices. I pulled Juno off to the side, where my foot again crashed through several feet of snow so I was up to my thigh in snow, while the group carefully tried to pass us. None of the four people passing us were dressed appropriately (wearing shorts, regular sneakers, no packs, etc.) and they looked MISERABLE. I can’t imagine having done this hike with exposed legs and crappy shoes. They pointed out that I was about 2/3 of the way done, and that when I got to the intersection with the old trail up ahead, I should go left to take the old trail up the rest of the way; it was steeper but went straight to the summit. This…was bad, BAD advice, but I didn’t know that at the time, so I followed it. A few minutes after leaving the group behind and crashing through ever-deeper snow, we came to the intersection, and turned left to go UP. I can’t express how awful this was. There were literal FEET of snow, probably deeper than I am tall, sometimes over running water from the snowmelt. There was now way around it, and I could see tracks in the snow where people had decided to slide back down on their rears, which was a bad omen for our return trip. Juno and I SLOWLY made our way up, wondering if we would ever reach the summit, when I turned around for my first glimpse of scenery.

Imagine that the slide in the picture continues up past me, very very steeply, and that was what we were climbing. I was worried that my foot would crash through so deeply that I would get stuck, but I only ever went in up to my hip. As we climbed, several other groups passed us going both up and down. One of the pairs coming down was another group of thoroughly unprepared people wearing cargo shorts, and one of the unfortunate men had bloody scrapes all down his legs from punching through the sharp snow so many times. FINALLY the slope leveled off a bit, and we continued up. The going was a bit easier at this point, since the trail was in shadow and the snow wasn’t as melty, we were able to stay on top of the snow a lot better. Unfortunately, it was also starting to get slippery, and my crampons were still safely carbined to the back of my pack. With no easy way to get them on my feet, I just made my way up very slowly and carefully. Just as I was feeling like we would NEVER reach the summit, I looked up and saw this:

Somewhere along the way, Juno had discovered a sopping cotton glove, and when I looked up I saw her thrashing it around, water spraying outward like a sprinkler. She proudly carried it up to the summit, where were found a nice rock in the sun to enjoy our late lunches. I enjoyed my sammich and she downed almost all of the food I had brought for her, then delightfully ate her egg, and shared my apple with me.

I didn’t even realize until later that night at home that I NEVER EVEN ATE MY VICTORY CHOCOLATE! I was so focused on that stupid egg for the puppy. Anyway, after we had our lunch and relaxed our legs for a few minutes, I got my tripod out and trekked over to the outer rock ledges to take some photos. The views were really incredible from this mountain. Lyon is pretty much a standalone peak at the most northeastern point of the Adirondack park. From the summit, we could see Chazy Lake, with Vermont’s Green Mountains in the distance to the East, to the south we could see the magnificent high peaks of the Adirondacks, and, from the firetower, we could see straight through to Montreal to the North.

Chazy Lake
 photo IMG_3153_ed 2_zpsdsofs4cs.jpg
High Peaks
 photo IMG_3144_ed 2_zpsjg8nwtal.jpg
Wind Farm!

Now, let me preface this by saying that I HATE climbing firetowers. I know they’re safe and all, but high winds freak me out, not to mention climbing a rickety metal structure on top of a mountain. However, I really wanted those views, so I left Juno to hang out at the bottom (expecting she’d stay around there) and started to climb up, with the intention to go only to the second or third landing. Well, a few steps up, I look behind me and there’s my sweet, faithful little hound right behind me. I continued my way up, took some photos, and decided to go back down. I beckoned to Juno to follow me, she said “No can do, Mom,” and refused to come back down. Of course. I went a few steps down, urging her to come with me, when I looked up and saw some of her fluff peaking through the steps heading towards the very top of the firetower. So instead of going down, she went higher up. Of course she did. I made my way up there, and the winds were ridiculous. I took the opportunity to take in the views, then led her back down by the collar, her brave little legs shaking. I still cannot believe she followed me up there.

Before we went up the firetower, there were a few pairs of hikers enjoying the views, but when we came down everyone was gone. It was already 2:40pm, and I didn’t want to be the last person on the mountain (for safety reasons) so we packed up our stuff (well…I did. Juno needs to get a backpack.) and headed back the way we came.

I was considering just sliding down the whole mountain on my butt, taking the steep old trail, but was really dreading going back the way I came and sinking into the snow. At some point during the descent, I reached what I though was a little junction, and took the more worn-looking path to the left. The trail here was difficult to follow at times, but thanks to the snow I could follow the footsteps of other hikers. However, though I continued to see red trailmarkers on the trees, I was confused because this was definitely not the way I had come up. After a few minutes of this, I met an older couple who confirmed that I was following the newer, gradual trail, not the steep older trail I had turned onto on the way up. Let me tell you…this trail was GREAT! Sure, maybe it was a little longer, but I didn’t crash through the snow once, partly because I learned how to avoid doing that (stay towards the middle of the path), but mostly because it wasn’t steep at all and I had my crampons on this time. Shortly after meeting that couple, I came to the junction where I had left the safe trail before, and continued straight to stay on it. OMG the going was SO much easier this time. In no time at all, the trail was mostly cleared of snow, so I took off my crampons at a little stream, cleaned them off, and continued on down. At this point, Juno was flat out exhausted. She had been following in my exact footsteps the whole way down to avoid falling into the snow. I would occasionally look behind me to see where she was, not hearing her running rampant, only to find that she was practically on my heels. She was an absolute angel during the whole trip, actually responding to my commands even where there were other people around! I guess that’s the difference between being 1 and 2 years old.

The rest of the hike was bliss. I was much more appreciative of the gradual slope and the beautiful birch forests on the return trip than on the way up. There¬†were no rock scrambles or difficult sections, and it was easy on my knees, which were hurting regardless. This hike would be beautiful to do in late spring-early summer, when it’s apparently abundant wildflowers are in bloom. Even the old trail would be nice to do, since you have constant views of the scenery behind you during the ascent, and even more so on the descent, though this path is much tougher due to it’s steepness and scrambly-ness. Lots of loose rocks and erosion. Juno and I made it back to our car at about 4:40pm, making our descent 1 hour faster than the ascent, which I contribute to not taking the old path down from the summit. That ate up so much time. So the two of us, covered in mud, headed home, where the birthday girl got to enjoy her ice cream and promptly passed out until morning, when both of us were loathe to get out of bed. That’s the sign of a good day’s hike!

Lyon Mountain: 3830′  Elevation Gain: ~2000′
Round trip distance: ~6.8 miles
Total Duration: ~5 hours
 All images are property of adktrailtalesandtails and may not be used unless with express permission

Owl’s Head Mountain

09/17/2016
This week, my parents were visiting from Ohio and we’d decided to take a weekend trip and stay in a cabin right on Long Lake. I definitely couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hike a new mountain, but I didn’t want to be away from my family all day long, so I decided to do a short one called Owl’s Head. I’d read online that it was a 3.2 mile hike, which I’d assumed was round trip…I was wrong, but happily so. When I arrived at the trailhead, there were plenty of cars already lined up, so I took my place in the back of the line and set out with my faithful hound, Juno, at about 12:15pm.

The trail started out with a bit of climbing, but leveled out soon after. I tried let Juno run around off leash for a little bit to burn off some excess energy, but there was an almost constant stream of people heading back down the mountain, and almost as many dogs as there were people, so I clipped her leash back on. Luckily for both of us, she was actually really good on her leash! (For once). After about a mile of completely flat walking through nice shaded woods, we reached a trail junction.

We had about another mile of pretty easygoing walking, and had to maneuver around a huge downed tree. Instead of doing the intelligent thing and going around the tree, June and I decided we could just duck under a part that was lifted off the ground. She of course slipped under really easily, but there was no way I’d be able to do the same while holding onto her leash. Luckily, there were a man and woman just on the other side who offered to take her while I climbed through, which Juno did not take well AT ALL. You’d think she’d been separated from me for a week by the way she was acting when I crawled to the other side less than a minute later.

After that, I set off ahead of the other pair at a pretty fast clip, and let Juno play in a few streams we passed along the way. Because I was holding onto Junes leash, I didn’t have my camera out and just didn’t take many pictures during the climb up, but honestly there wasn’t anything great to look at anyway. Just some regular run-of-the-mill woods. Anyway, I was starting to get real hungry, so we stopped on a nice big rock and had a snack. We shared some cheese crackers, and let the other pair pass us up so we wouldn’t feel pressured to go so fast. I didn’t mind, they were talking pretty loudly the whole time, and it was nice to be able to enjoy the sounds of the woods again. The trail got quite steep after this point, and the going was slow. It was a very scrambly trail and we had to watch our steps. I have to say, I was so proud of my little trailblazer pup; she hadn’t pulled me once, and kept right on pace with me. After what seemed like forever, we finally reached a high point, and were excited to see the remains of the old observer’s cabin foundation. (When I returned back to our cabin after the hike, I noticed a black and whit photo hanging on the wall showing a crew with their tents in the process of building the same observer’s cabin I saw earlier in the day!)

After this point, the trail dipped down to a col before leading us back up a very steep but relatively short ascent to the summit! We were so excited when we got here, we plopped right down and took a photo. We enjoyed some more cheese crackers and fruit leather, and took in the view while mustering up the courage to climb up the fire tower. We made it here at about 1:45pm.

Once we were rested up a little, I made the executive decision to climb up the tower. The problem is, dogs generally don’t like to climb giant swaying metal structures with steps that don’t have backs to them. She had to poke her head in between every single step and look at the ground below her, her little legs shaking as she tentatively climbed up behind me. With a few words of encouragement, I got her to the top, but she refused to climb up through the hatch to get onto the actual platform of the firetower, so she stayed on the top step. BOY was it windy! And cold! I did not stay up there long, since my dog is not the only one with a totally rational fear of heights, but I go some cool pictures of the 360 degree view, and we skedaddled back down onto solid ground where some trees protected us from the wind. Lesson learned, don’t bring dogs up firetowers.

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That peak is where the Observer’s Cabin was located

Back on the ground, we wandered around a bit enjoying the scenery and Juno enjoyed giving me a heckin’ big concern every time she got close to the edge.

We rested for about half an hour, Juno lying on my lap, and decided to take our leave as the wind was picking up and clouds were rolling in. We were nervous about being on top of a mountain next to a veritable lightning rod during a storm, so we hustled back down the mountain. Going back down was SO much faster than going up! We went pretty slow going back down the steep sections, but we were really moving once the trail leveled out. After about an hour since leaving the summit, we reached the trail junction telling us we only had a mile left to go.

About 20 minutes later, we were back at the trailhead taking our leaving pictures by 3:30pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After this gratifying day, we returned to our cabin to go kayaking and sit by the fire with our family, watching the sun set across the lake. Not a bad way to end the day!

* Side note: I looked and looked, but found no evidence of owl heads on Owl’s Head mountain. In case you were wondering. *

Owl’s Head Mountain: 2,782 feet, Elevation gain: 1,532 feet

Round Trip Distance: ~6.5 miles

Total Duration: ~3.5 Hours (Including time resting at summit)

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Rooster Comb Mountain

11/21/2015

The weather was chilly as we set out to climb Rooster Comb, so on our way there we stopped at this awesome adventure gear store (The Mountaineer) and bought some convertible scarf things to keep our necks and ears warm. We got to the trailhead on route 73 in Keene Valley and signed in at the register, then started off following a wooden bridge around a little pond behind Keene Central School. The trail followed a little stream, so we of course stopped for pictures.

We really took our time with this hike. The temperature outside was so comfortable to be in (as long as we were bundled up) and the trail offered a lot of interesting sights on the way up.

At about 0.7 miles, we encountered a junction with Snow Mountain, which we considered going up as well, but decided to at least do Rooster Comb first since we probably weren’t as ambitious as we thought we were. The trail was very well maintained, and there weren’t any sections that were particularly difficult. We continued a steady climb until we reached another trail junction at about 2 miles; Straight led to Hedgehog and Lower Wolf Jaw mtns, and left was another junction with the Snow Mtn trail…It’s like the universe was trying to tell us something…

At 2.2 miles, we reached another junction with a little side trail leading to an overlook 0.1 miles away. I don’t recall taking the side trail, and think we just kept moving up to get to the true summit at 2.5 miles. The views were incredible from the top, which was a mostly-bare rock face that had cliff drop-offs on 3 of the 4 sides. It made for some impressive photos!

We relaxed up at the top for quite a while. We had the peak to ourselves, so naturally we goofed around taking all the pictures we wanted (and jumped off of some rocks, too).Lucky thing that we had stopped at that shop beforehand; we had our neck warmers pulled up over our faces to block out the biting wind.

The lighting behind the mountains in the distance was magnificent, but I just couldn’t seem to capture it. We enjoyed the scenery anyway, and the views of Keene Valley from high above with the high peaks surrounding.

After 30-40 minutes at the top, we started to get chilled from the wind, and took our leave. We took our time (as usual) and took a lot of pictures of the path on the way down as the sun was getting lower in the sky.

My hiking buddy for the day

We had decided against climbing Snow mountain due to the setting sun, but we regretted it later since it was only a little over a mile detour. Oh well, next time! We eventually made it back to the pond near the trailhead, and looked back on the mountain we had just climbed.

Rooster Comb Mountain: 2762′ Elevation Gain: 1500′

Round Trip Distance: 5 miles

Total Duration: 4 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.

Scarface Mountain

7/30/2016
Weather: PERFECT!

After almost 3 weeks of being able to do ABSOLUTELY nothing due to a badly sprained ankle, I was dying to get out and hike, so I finally decided it was healed enough to climb a little mountain. So Juno and I set off to climb Scarface Mountain, hitting the trailhead at precisely 10:07 am.

We began following this beautiful trail through a pine forest, and I got whiplash watching Juno dart from in front of me to behind be and back again, over and over and over. She probably walked at least twice as far as I did. 

About 10 minutes after leaving the trailhead, we came to a railroad crossing! I’ve never crossed a railroad while on a trail in the middle of nowhere, so this was strangely a novelty for me (us-see next photo).¬†

It was so hard to get her to stay still long enough to get a good picture, I ended up just having my camera at my face and waiting for her to run ahead, stop, turn, and wait for my slow butt to catch up to her.Occasionally she’d get sick of waiting and come retrieve me.

The trail looked exactly like this for maybe 2 miles. I bet it’d be nice to do in the winter, since the trees will mostly still be green. We’d been going for about half an hour and hadn’t encountered a single person yet, which was surprising given the totally full parking lot. But we weren’t complaining!

30-40 minutes into our trek, we came across the supplies the trail crew must have been using recently, and a nice bench. We didn’t rest our feet though, and opted to keep going. Almost immediately after passing the supplies, we found what the trail crew had been working on: new puncheon!

We crossed the little bridge over Ray Brook (which was really low ūüė¶ ) and got a nice little view of the mountain in the distance. I’d read that there is a prison nearby, and that you can often hear announcements over the loudspeakers, but no such luck for us.

Poor Juno. As we were crossing the bridge, I kept hearing a sporadic “THuNK”. When I turned around, I realized the planks making up the bridge and the steps up/down from it had really big gaps in between, and Junos back legs kept falling through. She looked up at me desperately when we reached the other side, and refused to go down the steps (which had even bigger gaps than the bridge). So I had to go back up (courageously passing a swarm of bees for the second time) and carry her furry little butt down the steps.

Several minutes after the bridge, we came upon a cool little railway crew camp setup, with an old rusted bike and some canisters. Juno tried to scare it away by barking at it, of course.¬†Eventually she was brave enough to strettttch to get her snout just close enough to inspect the canister. Notice how her back legs are so far away that they’re not even in frame.¬†

Much to Juno’s excitement, we soon came across a little stream that she got to play in (after asking my permission to go in…seriously).¬†She splashed around, chased a frog, and we were on our way.

The forest was full of the cute little toadstools, and they looked so beautiful with their vibrant red against the bright green moss. Of course, as I was snapping a few pictures, Juno came barreling through, crushing them >.> 

We’d been walking for maybe an hour and a half, and this spider web (and spider, right in the middle) nearly found itself square on my face. I was pretty proud for avoiding that nasty scenario, so of course immediately after, I was rock-hopping across a muddy bog and slammed my head right into a thick cut-off tree branch. There might have been a little blood, but at least no one was there to see it! The trail got a little steeper after that, and my asthma was bothering me (because of my heavy pack?) so I put my camera away.

After taking a lot of mini-breaks, we reached this lookout after an hour of slow but steady uphill hiking. The views were absolutely gorgeous; I love being able to see the shadows of clouds on the forest.

We reached the summit 20-30 minutes later, and met a nice girl with a dog that Juno was excited to run around with.The summit was particularly lackluster, with no views to speak of. But at least there was a marker!

We headed back to the overlook for one last view, had a bit of lunch, met some more people, and began our descent.

I have to say, I am SO HAPPY I invested in hiking poles. My ankle is not totally healed from when I sprained it almost 3 weeks ago, and if not for the poles I would have gone down sooo many times.Partway down the descent, we stopped for a water break. Juno was so exhausted she just plopped down and dropped her whole face in the water dish.

The rest of the trail was uneventful, though my feet were becoming increasingly painful, as my toes were shoved to the front of my boots and pine needles chafed against the sides of my toes and ankles. I’m embarrassed to say the trail took me so long, but considering my extra-heavy pack (in preparation for the 46!) and my weak/painful ankle, I’m just glad to have gotten this far! And now I know that the only thing keeping me from going further was the blisters on my toes…At any rate, we made it back to the tracks, and I actually heard the loudspeakers I’d read about! We heard the train come and go twice during our hike, but never actually got to see it. Maybe next time!

Scarface Mountain: 3054′ ¬†Elevation Gain: 1500′

Round Trip Distance: 7.2 miles

Total Duration: 4.5 hours

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