Coney Mountain – Astrophotography Mission!

06/11/18

As I walked out of band rehearsal at 9pm, I looked up and saw a burgeoning star-kissed sky, and realized that with new moon being only days away, tonight’s sky would be stunning. So I packed my camera gear and took off for Coney Mtn. I arrived at the trailhead at 11pm, shut off the car, and was immediately hit with the overwhelming pressure of darkness and quietude of the surrounding forest. It was a bit eerie, until I stepped out of the car and looked up. Through gaps in the trees I saw a veritable sea of myriad stars shining down on me. To be honest, I was a bit nervous to be climbing alone in the middle of the night, but having climbed this mountain once beforeΒ I had a bit more confidence than if I were to climb something new in the dark. So I strapped my utility knife to my leg, donned my headlamp, and set off up the trail.

I cannot express how incredibly quiet it was. In the dark and quiet, even the tiniest sounds seem to be from massive creatures lurking in the shadows. However, after just a few minutes, I was feeling comfortable and right at home in the woods. Since I tend to be a quiet walker, I decided to whistle some tunes to give warning to any animals in the vicinity so I didn’t startle them. For whatever reason, the only melodies in my mind were Civil War ditties, like this, this, and this…..Yeah, I’m not sure what’s wrong with me either, but at least the animals got some historical music to listen to! Anyway, after a mere 20 minutes I had climbed the 1.1 mile trail (I must have really hustled….There were some spooky sounds out there!) and found myself on the summit, blown away by the splendor of the milky way arcing over the distant mountains.

I dropped my pack and skedaddled further up the summit to get the full view of the luminous, shimmering night sky, and was greatly rewarded.

I had downloaded a cool app called Star Walk 2 which uses your location and phone orientation to show you what stars and constellations you’re looking at…I think I need to work on the calibration though because no matter where I pointed my phone, I was apparently looking at Jupiter.

After taking some shots (Canon Rebel T5 with a Rokinon f/2.8 14mm wide angle lens), I lay back to marvel at the sheer number of stars. Unfortunately, some cirrus clouds had swept in to obscure the view, so after about 45 minutes I decided to take my leave.

I was feeling pretty sure of myself on the hike down, until about 5 minutes in when I heard a huge CRASH across the trail in front of me and to the forest on my right. After the pounding in my ears from my adrenaline-pumped heart subsided, I realized it was a deer I must have frightened bounding off into the woods….So I resumed my whistling so as not to startle any other animals. So noble I am, thinking of the animals, because of course I wasn’t at all spooked by the incident! (heavy dose of sarcasm there, folks) After that it was easy going, and before I knew it my headlamp was illuminating the taillights of my car in the parking lot. As I walked out and gazed skyward, I saw that the clouds had dissipated during my trek down.

I cannot wait to get out and do this again! What an incredible experience. Happy trails!

All images are property of adktrailtalesandtails and may not be used without express permission.

Coney Mountain

5/29/18

After finishing Goodman Mountain, I hopped in my car and continued another mile down the road to the Coney Mountain trailhead. I decided to give my legs a break and stretch a bit, with the added benefit of letting the sun sink a bit in the sky. At 3:30pm I strapped my pack back to my shoulders and headed off.

I really enjoyed this trail, it felt the most like an Adirondack trail. It wasn’t perfectly groomed and wasn’t as easy as the other two peaks of the day. That said, it was still a very simple hike, I just felt more at home in these woods.

Just a few minutes after leaving the trailhead, I came across a sweet little stream slightly off trail and crouched down (in mud, apparently) to capture it. Immediately afterward, I encountered literally the only muddy spot along the trail and managed to completely submerge my right foot in it while trying to be a good mountaineer and go through the mud instead of around it….don’t trust rocks, folks. I’m such an athlete!

I couldn’t believe, yet again, how many toads were on the trail! All different sizes too. Some were the size of my pinky fingernail, while others were easily the size of my fist, like this guy:

Exactly 30 minutes after leaving the trailhead, the path opened up and I knew I was mere moments from the summit.

Sure enough, just a minute later and I was on the summit! I snapped a few pics then sought shelter under a convenient tree to sit down in the shade and enjoy a snack with the incredible views.

This little mountain is such a gem! I can’t believe I’d never heard of it before. From the trail itself to the bald summit and the views, it really has the feel of a mountain nestled in the high peaks region.

Goodman Mountain to the right

I stayed up here for an hour enjoying the breeze and a break from the flies. I could have stayed all night, to be honest, but had to get back to Juno who would inevitably be unhappy with me for having an adventure without her. So a little after 5pm I took a few last shots and started making my way down.

On each mountain, I had encountered a few snakes, but they moved so fast I was never able to capture them on camera. Finally, on my way down from the summit, I was able to get a shot of this guy, and a woodpecker hammering away at a tree!

I made it back to the trailhead about 25 minutes after leaving the peak, ran through the cloud of flies guarding the entrance, and took my leaving photos.

As I got in my car, I noticed something….the fresh blue polish on my fingernails had been mauled by the DEET wipes! That’s….kind of concerning, considering I put that all over the rest of my skin, but I guess if you need nail polish remover in a pinch, DEET wipes will do the trick…? Yikes…

This was such a fun day! Even though they were three small, easy climbs, I felt a sense of accomplishment having completed them in one day. This is the first time in 10 MONTHS that my knees and legs felt strong enough to tackle some mountains, and they didn’t let me down. I can’t wait to see what the next few months hold πŸ™‚

Happy hiking!

Coney Mountain: 2280′ Elevation Gain: 548′

Round Trip Distance: 2.2 miles

Total Duration: Β 2 hours (including 1 hour at summit)

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

 

Goodman Mountain

5/29/18

The next stop on my journey was Goodman Mountain. I took my time getting to this trailhead after finishing Mount Arab, deciding to stop for a quick bite to eat in Tupper Lake on the way. I arrived at the trailhead off of Rt. 30 between Tupper Lake and Long Lake at 12:30pm, took my starting photos, and headed off.

When I stopped at the register to sign in, I read about the namesake of this mountain, Andrew Goodman. In 1964, when Goodman was 20 years old, he decided instead of vacationing in the Adirondacks for the summer with his family, he would join the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi, with a group who’s aim was to expand African-American voter registration in the south. However, not long after he arrived, he and two of his fellow contemporaries were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Historians consider their deaths to be the turning point in the movement leading to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This is an excellent reminder not only of how far we’ve come, but of how far we still have yet to go as a nation. And with that in mind, I set off.

The trail started off by crossing a nice wooden bridge over a small creek. For about a mile after that, the trail was PAVED! This trail follows what is left of old highway 10, a route that used to connect Tupper Lake to Long Lake, and is wheelchair accessible for several hundred feet before becoming too steep and eroded to be accommodating any further.

After following the road for about a mile, and considering how great it would be to bring a sled up this hill in the winter, I reached the junction where the trail branches off to climb the mountain.

This time, I did pass one family coming down, but those were the last people to accompany me on this peak. This climb was incredibly easy, easier even than Arab, and in no time at all I was nearing the summit at about 1:10pm, 30 minutes after starting at the trailhead.

It was getting pretty hot out and the sky lacked clouds to shield me from the oppressive sun, so I basically just scampered up to the summit, took a couple of pictures, then scurried back down to the shade.

With the heat and the bugs, I did not stay long; just long enough to enjoy the greatest summer hiking snack of all time: Dole sugar-free fruit in gel! No, I’m not getting paid to say that (though maybe I should be??), I just feel very strongly that everyone should carry one of these on hot summer hikes. So refreshing!

With that, I took my leave, bringing with me the swarm of flies that couldn’t seem to leave me alone. Heads up: these guys don’t care at all how much deet you have on. In fact, I think they may like it.

Before I knew it, I was back at the stream crossing, making my way out of the woods and taking my leaving photo at 2:30pm.

Goodman Mountain: 2178′Β  Elevation Gain: 581′

Round Trip Distance: 3.2 miles

Total Duration: 2 hours

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

 

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 wereΒ 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 πŸ™‚ 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′Β  Elevation gain: 764′

Round trip distance: 2 miles

Total duration: 1.5 hours (including 30 minutes at summit)

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