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! 😂

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! 😭 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