Mt. Jo


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

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 😦 ) 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.

Haystack Mountain


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.

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, 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:

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.