Upper Pond: A Ghost Town, a Scenic Pond, and Stepping on a Hornets’ Nest

A Failed Attempt at the Santonini Range…

What up Road Trip Warriors!? I wanted to share with you some hidden gems in the Adirondacks and the terrible way I found out about them! My boy, Sleez, and I were planning on hiking the Santonini Range to tag three more High Peaks. Unfortunately, we were given the wrong trailhead by an individual without conducting our own research. Due to this….we had the opportunity to see some abandoned homes in Tahawus (I’ll share some history on this ghost town), ended up 5 miles in the woods where beavers ruined the trail, and spent some time at a beautiful secluded pond. Let’s begin!

Summary of Upper Pond

  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Length: 7-8 miles round trip (for Upper Pond)
  • Hiking Time: It took about an hour and forty-five minutes to reach Upper Pond from the trailhead. I’m only going to include how long it took to reach Upper Pond. There isn’t much point in hiking further than that since beavers ruined the trail at Lower Pond making it impossible to pass. 
  • Photo Opportunities: There are plenty of areas to get some cool historic photos around Tahawus as well as in the Adirondack forest. Before the parking lot at the end of the road, there is a large stone furnace that you can visit. As you drive towards the large lot at the end of the road, you’ll notice an abandoned home and many abandoned chimneys where the homes were moved. Signs around the area explain the history of the area and how it was a major source of iron. Also, Upper Pond is a beautiful pond to photograph if you find yourself hiking along the trail to Duck Hole.

Tahawus (Brief History)

Tahawus was a town that dates back to the 1820s when iron ore was mined here. In 1826, Archibald McIntyre and David Henderson created the Adirondack Iron and Steel Company. They built a village to house the workers, but in 1856 the company was shut down due reasons such as transportation issues and iron ore impurities. The workers moved out leaving the village deserted.

A hunting and fishing club moved in two decades later, repopulating the ghost town. They renamed the area Tahawus and the National Lead Company started a titanium mining operation here. There was many years of success, but the workers were eventually transferred to Newcomb and the village became a ghost town once again in 1962. 

I feel that this last piece of history is often overlooked, but this ghost town has an important place in American history. The most well-preserved building in the village, McNaughton Cottage, was where Theodore Roosevelt was staying in 1901 when he learned that President McKinley had been shot. He had made his famous midnight ride from Tahawus to Buffalo to take over for McKinley. (This historical information was pulled from Adirondack.net, and more can be found there). 

Abandoned Chimney

Directions to Trailhead

The trailhead can be found at the end of Upper Works Road in Tahawus. The best way to get there in my opinion is to take exit 29 off I-87 towards Newcomb. If you were heading North, take a left once you get off the exit. Follow Blue Ridge Road for about 18 miles. Eventually you will reach a wooden sign that says “Tahawus” and there will also be a hiking sign as well. You will want to take a right here. It is rather self-explanatory. Then, just follow this road until its end. It should be around 6 miles. The trailhead register in the large lot is in the picture below.

Upper Pond Trailhead Register

Take notice of Upper Works Parking towards the bottom right of the map. Our plan was to hike up to Duck Hole and wrap around it making our way down towards the Santonini Range in the bottom left of the map.

Upper Pond Trail on ADK Map

Making Headway Towards Duck Pond

We signed in at the register around 8:50 AM and started making our way into the woods. The trail was well-marked, and the signs pointed us in the direction that we wanted to go. The first sign came out in a clearing and was not the most legible. We were able to make out “Duck Pond,” and took a left. 

First Sign to Duck Hole

The trail is very well marked and you’ll encounter a couple other wooden signs like the one pictured above. Use these signs to keep you on track towards Duck Pond. Shortly after the sign pictured directly below, you’ll cross a wooden bridge over running water.

Upper Pond Trail sign (three signs)

Upper Pond

It took about 3.5 to 4 miles to reach Upper Pond. It was a surprise destination because I didn’t plan on hiking to this pond nor did I know it existed! Upper Pond was one of the prettiest ponds I’ve seen in the Adirondacks, perhaps because of its isolation. On a Saturday, there was no one else there but Sleez and I. It was peaceful, secluded and a great place to eat some food and skip some rocks. Although I typically prefer hiking mountains, I think I’d want to get back out to Upper Pond to camp out for a weekend with some friends. 

Upper Pond Small Wave

Skipping Rock on Upper Pond

Attacked By Hornets

We left Upper Pond to continue making our way towards Duck Pond. This turned out to be a terrible decision. About an hour after we left Upper Pond, we were momentarily confused at where the trail went. It took us a few minutes to notice one of the trail markers had been partially ripped off of the tree it was nailed to.

While looking, I heard Sleez swear behind me yelling that something had bitten him .I picked on him for being a wimp…until I got stung on the calf! We happened to be in the midst of a hornets’ nest and they weren’t fond of us whatsoever. Sleez got hammered by another hornet and we darted through the forest. Every time we tried to stop, they were still following us. I had forgotten how aggressive those bugs could be. Finally, after running at least a quarter of a mile, they seemed to have disappeared. We were relieved that we had escaped their wrath…..for the time being.

Trail Ruined at Lower Pond

As we made our way through the wilderness towards Duck Pond, we found ourselves confused again. We noticed the trail had numerous branches and tree limbs laid across it. This typically means to find another route, but there wasn’t one. Any individual with a brain would have turned around, but not us. We decided to go over the small barricade because we refused to go play tag with hornets again. 

Unfortunately, after about a half-mile, we found out why the trail was barricaded. It came to our attention that the trail was gone. Beavers had opened up Lower Pond causing vast amounts of water to pour over the trail. There was no way around it and we realized that we would have to go back the way we came. We were disappointed that we couldn’t hike any High Peaks, but still planned on making the most of the hike by spending more time at Upper Pond.

Turning Around

The worst part about turning around wasn’t the fact we weren’t going to add more High Peaks to our hiking resumes. It was that we knew we would be facing those sting-happy hornets again. We knew (roughly) where we were attacked and hoped we would be able to avoid them. 

As we made our way back towards Upper Pond, we reached that same dreaded area where we were stung before. We figured that if we kept moving, we wouldn’t get attacked again. Well, it turns out, we were wrong.

Attacked by Hornets (Again)

It didn’t take long before I heard Sleezer yell again. It took me too long to realize that he was frantically spraying his bug spray around us. I was hammered in my achilles tendon by another hornet stinger. I had stepped right on their nest this time and they poured out around us. After getting hit in my tendon, I darted off through the woods making my way back towards Upper Pond as quick as I could. I slid down dirt slopes and leapt over boulders until they were finally gone again. I waited for Sleez to catch up and we wobbled in pain to Upper Pond to recover.

Licking Our Wounds at Upper Pond

Not all was lost. Although the day turned out far from what we expected, I was able to get some beautiful photographs at Upper Pond. I really enjoyed it here, probably because it was such an unexpected surprise. I plan on coming back out here at some point, maybe to camp or maybe just to take more photos and eat in good company. I highly recommend it for those looking to get some outdoor exercise without the strenuosity of a mountain. 

Upper Pond - Rocks and Branch in Water

Sun Hitting Upper Pond

Heading Back to Car

The hike to Upper Pond is an out and back trail, making it easy to get back to the trailhead. You’ll just hike out the same way that you hiked in. The trail is well-marked so you really shouldn’t have any issues as long as you pay attention.

Dog-Friendly

This hike through the Adirondack wilderness is dog friendly. It’s all relatively flat and I believe your dog would do just fine as long as he/she is kept hydrated and fed.

Fam-Friendly

This hike is easy to moderate because of its length. There is very little elevation gain or loss, making it more of a hike through the woods across streams and around ponds. Upper Pond had a site for camping nearby and it seemed more isolated than other campsites I have seen in the past in the Adirondack wilderness. It seems like a great spot to camp with the fam in my opinion. 

Clothes Worn

  • Timberland Boots
  • Nike Compression Leggings
  • Athletic shorts
  • Athletic T-shirt
  • Light athletic long-sleeve top
  • Winter hat
  • Hiking socks

Gear Brought

  • 3L of water
  • Almonds and peanut butter sandwiches
  • Wind/Rain pants
  • Underarmour
  • Rain jacket
  • Balaclava 
  • Winter gloves
  • Extra hiking socks
  • Extra shirt and shorts
  • Knife
  • Paracord and two carabiners
  • Emergency tents and blanket
  • Water-proof matches
  • LifeStraw (water filtration, costs about $20)
  • Trekking poles
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Garmin inReach (satellite device that has a GPS, can send texts, send SOS, and has many other helpful features)

RTW Note

Thanks for taking the time to read this post about my less-than-ideal hike in Tahawus. I promise we made the most of it and we got some great stories to tell! There is nothing quite like getting attacked by hornets deep in the woods!

I also hope you enjoyed reading about the history of Tahawus and the history of the area. I found it all very intriguing and seeing the area in person makes you wonder what it must have been like. It is difficult to imagine such a remote area being a bustling mining operation. I also never knew that Teddy Roosevelt first learned of McKinley being shot while staying in Tahawus!

I also wanted to emphasize that although our hike did not go to plan, Upper Pond has a camping area nearby and the pond itself is so pretty. If you’re looking for a campsite away from the crowds, you may want to consider this spot. Anyways, if you enjoyed this post, hit the like and follow buttons! I appreciate any and all support! If you’d like to reach out, feel free to leave a comment! In the meantime, keep on adventuring!

-Ant

 

 

 

Pillsbury Mountain: Southern Adirondacks

Pillsbury Mountain: Fire-tower Hike

What up Road Trip Warriors!? I wanted to share some info about a great fire-tower hike located in the Southern Adirondacks! It is one of the highest mountains in the area that is not an Adirondack High Peak. So if you want to escape the crowds of the High Peaks Region, I suggest coming here!

Summary of Pillsbury Mountain

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 3.2 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 3,597′ above sea level
  • Hiking Time: It took about one hour and twenty minutes to reach the summit from the trailhead. We took occasional water breaks too. 
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500′ (Approximately)
  • Photo Opportunities: The summit is wooded with an abandoned cabin and worn-down fire-tower. Both of these provide great photo opportunities. The best views can be seen from the fire-tower. The top is locked off, but you can climb the stairs to be rewarded with some commanding views of the Southern Adirondacks. Be careful climbing the stairs as most of the wire railing in this tower is now gone. 

Trailhead

The trail is located near Speculator, NY and can be found after driving on some rough dirt roads for six to seven miles. The signage for the trailhead in the parking lot is pretty self-explanatory. I have read that some may need to park at Sled Harbor Clearing and walk an additional 1.5 miles to the trailhead. You can see below the sign you will see in the dirt parking lot that will get you headed towards Pillsbury Mountain.

Trailhead sign

Trail to the Summit

The trail is a gradual climb and easy to follow. There are some sections that are steeper than others, but none that required any bouldering or scrambling. The trail climbs 1,500′ through the woods of the Southern Adirondacks with really no views along the way. After hiking 1.6 miles through the woods, you’ll reach a clearing where the steel fire-tower stands tall and a dilapidated wooden cabin rests.

Pillsbury Mountain Summit

This mountain has a wooded summit, but I wouldn’t let that prevent you from hiking this  one. If you have the guts to climb the fire-tower that is missing its wire railing, the views once you get above the tree-line are pretty phenomenal. Just be careful while climbing the stairs. Keep in mind that the cabin at the top of the fire-tower is currently closed and you will not be able to get inside.

Pillsbury - fire-tower Sony a6000

Pillsbury - Scenes from fire-tower

The wooden cabin is clearly starting to fall apart, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some great pictures of it! It’s a part of Southern Adirondack history and there is just something aesthetic about wooden cabins tucked in the woods.

Pillsbury - wooden cabin

A Couple Other Pictures..

There is a summit marker at the top of Pillsbury Mountain. Here is a photo of it so you know what to look for!

Pillsbury Summit Marker

Below you can also see a different perspective of the surrounding forest and some mountains looming in the distance with a shot I took through the wire railing on the fire-tower!

Pillsbury - pic through wire railing

Getting Back to the Trailhead

This trail is an out-and-back so you’ll only have to hike out the same trail that you hiked in on!

Dog-Friendly

This hike is dog-friendly. I saw a few dogs hiking along the trail. Bring extra water for your pup and one of those collapsable dog bowls. There wasn’t any scrambling or bouldering involved with this hike so your dog shouldn’t have any issues!

Fam-Friendly

This hike is easy/moderate because of its length and dependent upon your fitness level, but most individuals should be able to do it. This hike can still get you enjoying the outdoors and getting a workout in all the while avoiding the crowds of the High Peaks Region.

Clothes Worn

  • Timberland Boots
  • Nike Compression Leggings
  • Athletic shorts
  • Athletic T-shirt
  • Bandana (great for keeping the sweat out of your eyes)
  • Hiking socks

Gear Brought

  • 3L of water
  • Almonds and peanut butter sandwiches
  • Extra hiking socks
  • Extra shirt and shorts
  • Knife
  • Paracord and two carabiners
  • Water-proof matches
  • LifeStraw (water filtration, costs about $20)
  • Trekking poles
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Garmin inReach (satellite device that has a GPS, can send texts, send SOS, and has many other helpful features)

RTW Note

Thanks for taking the time to check out this hike in the Southern Adirondacks! I hope it was helpful/informative for those looking to escape the crowds of the High Peaks and explore a different area in the Adirondacks. I recommend it for new and experienced hikers alike! Hit the like and follow buttons if you found this post helpful or enjoyed it in any way. Leave a comment if you want to reach out. As always, I look forward to sharing more!

-Ant

Snowshoeing and Breaking Trail to Indian Head!

First, Sorry For the Lack of Posts

What up Road Trip Warriors!? I didn’t forget about you! Unfortunately, I have been studying for the CPA exams and working which has kept me very busy. Thank you for your patience!

Snowshoeing Through 3-4 Feet of Snow to Our Favorite Lookout

Yesterday, we (my brother, best friend, and I) traveled back to the Adirondacks to snowshoe for the first time. Our plan was to visit Indian Head to see how she looked in winter conditions. We anticipated snowshoeing to be tiring, but we did not anticipate the depth of the snow, and having to break trail after snowshoeing three miles down Lake Road! Overall, it was an awesome day. I highly recommend visiting here in the winter as long as you have the proper attire and gear. I have a post that lays out the details for this hike in a prior blog post, Indian Head & Mount Colvin: Some of the Best Sights in the Adirondacks. I will still give a short summary of the trail and some signage that you will come across along the way.

Summary of Indian Head Hike

  • Difficulty (with snow): Not necessarily difficult…there was one steep section towards the end of the hike where the ladder was buried and the snow was loose. This made it very slippery causing about a 20 minute delay.
  • Length: 10 miles round trip
  • Hiking Time (with snow): It took us about 3 hours to reach Indian Head. It took us roughly the same amount of time to get back to the car. Having to break trail took some time.
  • Photo Opportunities: Plenty if you can get creative with snow and spruce trees. Obviously Indian Head is the most photogenic part of the hike, but you can get creative throughout the woods.

Parking & Starting the Hike

You’ll start the hike after parking in the hiker lot off Ausable Road. Walk up the road to the Ausable Club for a half of a mile. Then take a left turn between the two tennis courts. Walk down the road until you reach the road hut where you’ll sign in. Then walk down Lake Road for three miles. They ask that you wear snowshoes while on Lake Road and the lower parts of the trails. Please be courteous and do so. It helps maintain the road and the trails, keeping it safe for other Road Trip Warriors.

Hopping on The Trail

We took the trail that was the second sign that says “Indian Head.” It is about three miles down the road. Once we got on this trail, there was about two feet of fresh snow on top of the trail itself. That being said, we took breaks like this as needed!

Sitting against tree 3.1.19.JPG

The trail is well-marked, but if you are breaking trail, having a Garmin or a map and compass would be more than beneficial. We checked our Garmin once to make sure we were heading the right way.

The Actual Snow Depth

So I keep mentioning the depth of the snow. I want to put it in perspective with a photo. This is why it is extremely important to use snowshoes and avoid the bases of trees so you don’t get caught it a spruce trap.

Snow depth at Indian Head sign 3.1.19

That trekking pole is about three feet deep. It could have probably gone further down into the snow. Please be prepared for the terrain you hike in.

Indian Head

After getting stuck on a steep part of the hike for about 20 minutes, we made it to Indian Head about three hours after we started the hike. We were able to have this gem to ourselves to hang out and take photos. The rocks were icy in some spots, so we figured it was in our best interest to stay away from the ledges of the cliffs. It was a bluebird day and everything was still minus the slight breeze. Here are some of the photos we shot while up there.

Here I am at my favorite place in the Adirondacks. I live for landscapes like this.

alex-edit-of-me-at-indian-head-3.1.19.jpg

Here is a shot I took of my brother Alex. He likes to think he’s quite the outdoorsmen….funny thing is that he needed A LOT of help getting up the last little bit of the trail…

Anthony Edit of Alex at Indian Head 3.1.19

Last, but certainly not least, here is Sleez getting his shots in of Indian Head.

Sleez taking pics at Indian Head 3.1.19

Heading Back to the Car

After eating here and letting our hands go numb while taking photos, we decided to make our way back to the car. We were craving Noonmark Diner’s food (a must stop after any hike in Keene Valley). To get back to your car, just hike out the way you hiked in. Leave no trace and enjoy the adventure.

Dog-Friendly

This hike is not dog-friendly! Dogs are not welcome on the grounds of the AMR so please be aware of this.

Family-Friendly

This hike is family-friendly in any season, but winter. Trudging through three feet of snow would be horrible for any child or out-of-shape individual. Winter hiking always ups the difficulty due to the cold, the snow, and the ice.

Clothes Worn

  • Timberland Boots
  • Nike Compression Leggings
  • Long-johns
  • Athletic shorts
  • Adidas joggers 
  • Snow Pants
  • Underarmour
  • Athletic T-shirt
  • Athletic long sleeve top
  • LL Bean Jacket (rated for -20º F)
  • Beanie
  • Gloves

Gear Brought

  • 3L of water
  • Trail mix and peanut butter sandwiches
  • Extra layers (More UnderArmour)
  • Extra hiking socks
  • Knife
  • Paracord and two carabiners
  • Water-proof matches
  • LifeStraw (water filtration, costs about $20)
  • Adhesive body warmer
  • Hand Warmers
  • Balaclava
  • Trekking poles
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Snowshoes
  • Garmin inReach (satellite device that has a GPS, can send texts, send SOS, and has many other helpful features)

RTW Note

Thank you again for your patience. Writing these blogs and sharing these photos is one of my passions and your support is much appreciated. If you liked the photos and information in this post, hit the like button, comment, and hit the follow button too! I will  continue to update this blog and I look forward to sharing more with you all.

Me standing and smiling at Indian Head 3.1.19

-Ant 

Baxter Mountain: A Short Trek in Keene, NY

Baxter Mountain

What is going on my Road Trip Warriors!? Last weekend on 1/12/19, my brother, one of my close pals, and I decided to hike Baxter Mountain. We chose Baxter because my friend had to work in the afternoon and I knew it was a relatively short hike. I had passed by the Baxter Mountain trailhead numerous times so finding it would be easy. For those of you that don’t know, it is right off Route 9N in Keene, NY. It is located near the Baxter Mountain Tavern. Anyways, I am excited to share information about this hike and the photos we captured with you all!

Short Summary of Baxter Mountain

  • Difficulty: Easy. I strongly believe that most individuals would find this hike laid back. It is a good way to get some fresh air and some exercise.
  • Length: 3 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 2,440′. Don’t think that Baxter lacks views because of its smaller stature. The summit is actually rewarding with a great vantage point of the Adirondacks. It is an ideal spot for a scenic lunch with some pals.
  • Hiking Time (with snow): It took us roughly 45 minutes to hit the summit. That includes the time we stopped to take photos along the trail. We spent about 15 minutes at the summit. It took us about another 45 minutes to get down. We started the hike at 8:15 AM and got back to the car at 10:00 AM.
  • Photo Opportunities: Unless there are snow-covered trees, your best spots to capture photos are the first lookout and then the summit. They are not 360º views, but Baxter offers a nice spot to view the larger mountains of the Adirondacks.

Parking and Beginning the Hike

The trailhead for Baxter Mountain is right off of Route 9N in Keene, NY. It is on the opposite side of the road as the Baxter Mountain Tavern and there is a trailhead sign that is hard to miss.

img_7683

As you can see in the photo, you will be following the blue foot trail markers along this hike. They are placed on the trees as you would see during any other hike and the trail itself is well marked.

The Hike Itself

The hike is relatively short, only being 1.5 miles to reach the summit. According to All Trails, you will only gain about 740 feet of elevation as you saunter through the woods. The trees were blanketed in snow making them VERY picture-worthy.

baxter mountain: snowy trees edit

baxter mountain: sunlight through trees edit

baxter mountain: sleezer and alex edit

I always love how the mood of a photo in the snowy forest can seem gloomy like the top one, but once the sun pokes through the woods, that perspective changes drastically. Anyways, those two dudes in the photo above would be Adam Sleezer in the foreground (one of my best pals) and my brother, Alex, behind him….although you can’t see his lovely face.

One Sign You Come Across

There is one sign that you will come across on your way to the summit of Baxter Mountain and it will look a little something like this…

baxter mountain sign on trail_not_edited

Baxter Mountain Summit

While this summit is not as high as some of the other peaks in the Adirondacks, it still offers a great view of other mountains in the area. We only chilled out here for 15 minutes because it was sort of 0º out….but on a warmer day this would be an awesome place to spend time with family/friends.

baxter mountain summit: views of other mountains_no_edit

img_7752

Getting Back to Your Vehicle

This hike is an out-and-back so just trek back the way you came. It should only take you 45 minutes at the most to get back to Route 9N.

Dog-Friendly

This hike is dog-friendly, but not in this kind of cold weather. I am sure your dog would love hanging out on the summit with you once the temperature increases! Remember it is three miles round trip. You know what your dog will need to stay hydrated and energized.

Fam-Friendly

This hike is very easy and most individuals should be able to do it. I do not think children would struggle. It is a great way to get out in the morning and then get a nice meal at Noonmark Diner down the road.

Clothes Worn

  • Timberland Boots
  • Nike Compression Leggings
  • Long-johns
  • Athletic shorts
  • Adidas joggers 
  • Athletic T-shirt
  • Athletic long sleeve top
  • LL Bean Jacket (rated for -20º F)
  • Balaclava
  • Beanie
  • Gloves

Gear Brought

  • 3L of water
  • Almonds and peanut butter sandwiches
  • Wind/Rain pants
  • Extra layers (UnderArmour)
  • Extra hiking socks
  • Knife
  • Paracord and two carabiners
  • Water-proof matches
  • LifeStraw (water filtration, costs about $20)
  • Adhesive body warmer
  • Hand Warmers
  • Trekking poles
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Garmin inReach (satellite device that has a GPS, can send texts, send SOS, and has many other helpful features)

RTW Note

Thank you to those that took the time to look at these pictures and read the info. I hope that you find a piece of this information helpful. I have recently gotten a new camera so the pictures will have an increase in their quality. My iPhone 7 can only do so much! Anyways, I hope all my fellow Road Trip Warriors are staying safe, practicing Leave No Trace principles, and ripping some wild adventures. Don’t forget to hit the like button, comment, and follow if you found this post the slightest bit interesting! I look forward to sharing more as always!

-Ant

 

 

Noonmark Mountain: Not a High Peak, But Just As Rewarding

Hiking Noonmark Mountain

What up Road Trip Warriors!? I hope everyone had an amazing summer filled with great adventures, tasty food, and good people! This past Wednesday (8/29/18), my brother, Alex, and I hiked up Noonmark Mountain. Noonmark Mountain is located in Keene Valley and the parking lot for the trail is where I have been parking for many other hikes. It is the Ausable Road parking lot located right off of Route 73. I had not planned to hike this mountain, but my brother was persistent in his ways (as all younger siblings are), and I caved. I am glad I was such a pushover because this mountain has so much to offer. It is a great workout, it is steep, and you’ll have to climb up rockslides and scrambles. Noonmark really is the full package at only 7.2ish miles round trip.

Beginning Of the Trek

You’ll hop out of the car and make your way up the dirt road for less than half of a mile. There will be a sign that says “Noonmark” on it and you will take a left and notice the post where the sign-in sheet is for the hike. After signing in, you will continue up the road for some ways and past some private properties. Ensure that you are not being too loud as you pass by.

Initially, you will be hiking up a moderate trail that is mainly dirt with rocks. Although there may not be many obstacles, do not forget to take breaks if they are needed. My brother and I took many breaks in the beginning of our hike due to the high humidity. Hydration is essential and one’s health and well-being should always be the top priority when hiking. If you are with a hiking partner or in a group do not be afraid to ask the occasional “does anybody need a water break?” because chances are that they do.

Further Along the Trail

Soon enough you will hit a sign where the trail diverges. To your left is a trail that leads to Round Mountain (1.7 miles from this point). To your right will be the trail to Noonmark Mountain (1.5 miles away). We continued to the right towards the summit of Noonmark Mountain. I am sure that I will be on Round Mountain at some point before the end of 2018 and I will be sure to write about it.

The trail does get steeper, but it levels out here and there. In the woods, you will be able to walk along this large stone wall which I thought was worth the photo.

Walking Past Stone Wall
Hiking along a stone wall on Noonmark Mountain Trail

Not long after walking past the stone wall, you will reach your first break of tree line where you will be able to see the Ausable Club far below you. Giant Mountain is also quite prominent towering over the valley below.

Giant Mountain from Noonmark 1st opening
Giant Mountain in the distance

This is a great spot to stop and chill out on the rockslide to eat some snacks and rehydrate before moving further on along the trail. The trail will start to have more rockslides and boulders after this point. Be careful if the rockslides are wet as they can be very slippery.

Small rock scrambles on Noonmark
More frequent rockslides and boulders as you gain elevation

The Noonmark Mountain trail is great because it offers multiple rewards as you keep ascending. There are several spots where you will be able to step out onto some bald rock to admire the views this mountain trail has to offer. We stepped out onto some of these bald rock faces and were able to look up and see the summit was within our grasp.

View of Noonmark with clouds
Summit of Noonmark Mountain within reach

The trail becomes steeper with more rockslides and there are a few spots where extra precaution should be taken. This one spot in particular is one where you should take your time and watch your feet. You will have the option on the left of climbing over the tree roots. Then, on your right, you will have the option to climb up the rockslide. We decided to take the latter and go up the rockslide as it was relatively dry. Although these are fun to climb up, take care with each step. You are close to the summit at this point and there is no need to risk injury so take your time.

Rock Slide:Tree Routes growing over trail
These trees never cease to amaze me with their will to live

The Summit of Noonmark Mountain!

The summit of Noonmark Mountain is nothing short of amazing because it has so much to offer. The rewards of this mountain include (but are not limited to) 360º views where you can see the Great Range, Giant Mountain, Keene Valley, and the Ausable Club far below. It stands at 3,556′ and can be completed in a few hours depending on how long you spend taking breaks and pictures. The summit of Noonmark Mountain is mainly bald rock with plenty of space to walk around. It also has plant life and numerous dragonflies and grasshoppers buzzing around at this time of year. My brother and I captured multitudes of photos while spending a half hour up on the summit.

View into Keene Valley from Noonmark Summit
Keene Valley and Ausable Club
View of Great Range from Noonmark Summit
The Great Range
Studying the Great Range
Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” – David McCullough Jr.

If it is windy on the summit like it was when I went, there are plenty of spots that provide great wind cover. Noonmark Mountain is not a High Peak in the Adirondacks, but it had just as much to offer, if not more.

Descent

The Noonmark Mountain trail is an out and back trail so you will just go down the same way you climbed up. Again, be careful on the rockslides and steep sections. One false move and you could injure yourself. It is always better to take your time when descending. There is not much info on the descent I need to provide with the fact that it is an out and back trail. My only recommendation is hitting up Noonmark Diner after getting back to your vehicle. It is only a five minute drive from the lot and the food is great after any hike!

Gear

  • 2L of water
  • A bunch of food (trail mix, peanut butter sandwich, etc.)
  • Canon camera
  • First-aid kit
  • Matches
  • Knife
  • Extra clothes
  • LifeStraw water filter
  • Bug spray
  • Map
  • Extra garbage bag for any litter that I come across

I always bring more than I probably need to for these hikes, but I would rather be over-prepared than not have something I might need to use.

RTW Note

I highly recommend this trail to both amateur and experienced hikers. It is a fun trail that was short, but still had its own unique challenges. I hope this was helpful to anyone that is interested in hiking, the outdoors and backpacking. I also hope you enjoyed the photos although they do not do the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains any justice. Stay safe and keep on adventuring!

-Ant

Indian Head & Mount Colvin: Some of the Best Sights in the Adirondacks

An 18 Mile Journey Through the Adirondacks

What is going on my Road Trip Warriors!? I am extremely excited to be able to tell you about another trip I went on with my brother, Alex, and my best pal, Adam. The reason for such excitement is that the hike we undertook was THE most scenic hike I have been on thus far. Our trip entailed a beautiful waterfall, Indian Head, Fish Hawk Cliffs, and to top it off, Mount Colvin! It was a long, but rewarding day and it allowed me to understand the true beauty the Adirondacks have to offer.

Beginning Our Trek at the Ausable Club

We hit the Ausable Road lot around 8:30AM (8/20/18) and put on our boots, got our bags together, and headed a half mile up towards the Ausable Club. On the way up we were able to admire the beautiful golf course the club offers with the mountains towering beyond it. Once we hit Lake Road, we turned left in-between the two tennis courts and continued between some smaller houses for a bit. Soon, we reached where the sign-in sheet was at the beginning of the dirt road. There are many different trails in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) so be sure to jot down your information here. At the bottom of this post, I will include a list of all the trails/mountains that can be hiked that I came across. After signing in, we walked past the wooden AMR sign and down the dirt road. This dirt road extends for about 3.5 miles and after walking just about 2.5 miles, we reached the sign for Indian Head and Mount Colvin.

Trail to Indian Head

We followed the trail which was adjacent to Gill Brook. Eventually, on our left we were able to observe a beautiful waterfall. We stopped to take pictures and continued to make our way. As we continued to walk through the woods, we came across a sign. The trail split and to our right was Indian Head where as to our left was Nippletop Mountain and Mount Colvin. We had heard nothing but amazing things about Indian Head so we decided to hit that location first. The trail was not difficult whatsoever. The occasional easy rock scramble and a gradual ascent. We reached Indian Head at roughly 10:30 AM and had the place to ourselves. When I first laid eyes on this iconic destination in the heart of the Adirondacks…it was almost surreal. Tucked away in the valley below was Lower Ausable Lake. Beautiful dark green trees cover the mountains on both sides of the lake. The lake was void of any human activity giving it a complete stillness, and there was a very light breeze. We decided to enjoy the serenity of it all before we took dozens upon dozens of pictures and videos.  If I have any recommendation to anyone whom enjoys the outdoors, it would be to visit Indian Head in the Adirondacks as it’s beauty is unparalleled.

Indian Head First Photo
Indian Head Overlooking Lower Ausable Lake
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Admiring the View

Onward to Fish Hawk Cliffs

After eating and hanging out at Indian Head for about a half an hour we decided that we would hit Fish Hawk Cliffs. Seeing that it was along the trail we were following and only a short distance from where we were, it only made sense. We followed a steep, but short descent to the cliffs where it allowed us a new vantage point of Lower Ausable Lake. From here we could see an individual paddle-boarding among the glass-like water. Yes, I was extremely jealous because I have always wanted to do such an activity in a secluded location. As far as taking photos at this location, we did not take any. The reason being is that it was just another view of what we saw at Indian Head and we wanted to advance towards Mount Colvin.

Mount Colvin, Here We Come

We left Fish Hawk Cliffs and followed the trail that pointed us towards Colvin (wooden sign that says “Colvin”). The trail was muddy, the surrounding plants were bright green, and different colored fungus were littered among the plants. Not before long, we reached a split in the trail. To the left the sign stated that Nippletop Mountain was 1.9 miles away. To our right the sign stated that Mount Colvin was 1.1 miles away along with Blake Peak being 2.4 miles away from our position. Always being overeager, we planned on hitting both High Peaks and headed towards our right.

In my opinion, the climb on the trail was rather forgiving. It would ascend gradually for significant time with a sporadic flattening of the trail allowing our legs to..somewhat recover. This trail was very muddy and we had to watch our step so we did not sink into 4 inches of mud/water. As we made our way through the woods, we realized that the sign we saw stating Colvin was only 1.1 miles away had to be incorrect. It did not seem like there was an end in sight. We came across a few tricky rock scrambles that were quite steep. While climbing these, a group of three hikers whom had just completed Colvin crossed our path. They insisted that we did not have much further to go and we joked how the sign had to of had the mileage wrong. After one last rock scramble, we had reached the summit of Mount Colvin (4057′).

This peak is at the smaller end of the 46 High Peaks, but offers astounding views of the surrounding High Peaks. From here the Dix Range is visible, Lower Ausable River, and Indian Head. We had this spot to ourselves as well and soaked in every minute eating, telling jokes, and taking pictures.

Mount Colvin 1
View From The Summit of Mount Colvin
Mount Colvin 2 (Lower Ausable Lake)
Looking Down Upon Lower Ausable Lake and Indian Head
Mount Colvin 3
View of Surrounding High Peaks
Mount Colvin 4 (Geo-Tag)
Mount Colvin Geological Marker

A Slight Error in Judgement

After talking it over and being the ambitious bunch that we are, we figured that Blake Peak was in our grasp. We started heading on the trail towards the second mountain that was roughly a mile or so away according to the sign. We descended further through mud and towards a valley between Colvin and Blake. Eventually, we finally saw how far we would have to hike down into the valley to then climb Blake Peak. After checking the time, the unanimous decision was made to head back to the car. Being about 6.5 miles from the lot, it would take significant time to get back. We had not planned to be hiking into the late evening either. Sometimes decisions have to be made whether you like them or not. Blake Peak is not going anywhere and we will be sure to come back for it!

Gear

I am not going to provide a picture of what I brought for this trip. The reason being is that it is essentially the same as the picture posted in the previous blogs. Some of the important items that I brought included:

  • Canon Camera
  • Five Water Bottles (I forgot to fill up my large water 32 ounce plastic containers)
  • Wheat Thins, Larabars (fantastic and filling granola bars), almonds, and a peanut butter sandwich
  • Knife
  • First-Aid
  • Paracord
  • Bug-Spray

Other Trails/Mountains Accessed from the Ausable Lot

  • Noonmark Mountain (Non High Peak)
  • Round Mountain (Non High Peak)
  • Dial & Nippletop Mountains via Leach Trail (High Peaks)
  • Upper and Lower Wolfjaws (High Peaks)
  • Cathedral Rocks (Hiking Trail, can include Pyramid Falls)
  • Gothics & Armstrong (High Peaks)
  • Mount Colvin & Blake Peak (High Peaks)

End Note

That is about all I have to say for this adventure. I hope it was as enjoyable to read as it was for me to write about. Thank you for whomever took the time to read this. Remember to get outside and take on some wild adventures my Road Trip Warriors! Until next trip,

-Ant

 

 

 

Catamount Mountain: An Isolated Gem of the Adirondacks

Catamount Mountain

 What’s going on my Road Trip Warriors!? This past Wednesday (8/15/18), my brother Alex and I took a trip into the Wilmington area near Whiteface Mountain. We did not have a full day to hike so I found us a shorter climb in the Adirondacks. The mountain I found for us was Catamount Mountain. Only having a round trip distance of 3.5ish miles, I did not expect much. It has about 1560′ of elevation gain according to All Trails. I have to say that I underestimated this mountain and have fallen in love with it.

Info On the Hike

Catamount mountain sits isolated from surrounding peaks making it that much more prominent. The highest elevation of the mountain is 3173′ and the climb up it is moderate to steep (You do gain 1560′ feet of elevation within .8 miles). The first half mile of the trail is flat and throughout the woods. After that easy trek through the woods, the trail changes quite quickly. It is a fairly steep climb the rest of the hike up to the summit. You’ll find yourself climbing up a mix of dirt and rocks along with bare rock. About 1.4 miles into the climb, I reached what was one of my favorite parts of the hike. It was a rock chimney that we had to climb up and there are some great views at this point as well. 

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Catamount Mountain Rock Chimney

After passing through the chimney, it isn’t long until we hit the false summit. Being pressed for time, we did not stop here. If you do have the time, stop at the false summit and take in some of the views. You will be able to see Whiteface as well as many other surrounding peaks. After this, it is not much longer until the summit. The rest of the hike involves a lot of bare rock, but it is a lot of fun. 

The Peak

Due to its isolation, the views from the peak of Catamount Mountain are breathtaking. There are also a lot of areas on the summit to walk around and take photographs. There were beautiful yellow wildflowers and Whiteface towered over surrounding peaks in the distance. There are also quite a few water bodies visible such as Silver Lake and Union Falls Pond. We chilled out and ate food and made sure to take as many pictures as possible like we normally tend to do.

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View From Catamount Mountain Summit
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Another View From The Summit
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The Beautiful Yellow Wildflowers
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Whiteface Towering in The Distance

Gear/Items to Bring 

The only suggestions I have for items on this hike would be to bring enough water and food. It is not a long hike and the trail is pretty easy to follow. There were one or two spots along the trail where we had to stop and double-check that we were going in the right direction. Besides that, our trip went rather smoothly. I also suggest carrying a first-aid kit and bug spray. I took a few scrapes climbing some rock scrambles. I did not use my first-aid kit (I am a road trip warrior), but I always keep it on me in case. I also carried our Canon camera in my bag so we could take photos with that as well. These are just my suggestions, always bring what you’re most comfortable with.

Trailhead

The trailhead for this mountain was easy to find. If you are heading towards the mountain on Plank Road, you will eventually come across a parking area on your left where the trailhead is.

RTW Note 

I hope this post was helpful and enjoyable to anyone that took the time to read it. If anyone has any suggestions for mountains or other hikes, feel free to let me know! I will be bagging another few Adirondack High Peaks very soon. I enjoy these shorter trips in between my longer hikes. Anyways, keep on adventuring my Road Trip Warriors! I have much more to come soon!

-Ant

Adirondack Park: Hurricane Mountain

An Improvised Trip…

What’s going on Road Trip Warriors!? I have been trying to fill in this last month of summer with as many hikes as possible and it was noticed that many other people are as well! I took off with my friend, Adam, to the Adirondacks yesterday with the intention of doing Haystack Mountain, Saddleback Mountain, and Basin Mountain. It is a 16.5 mile loop that starts at the Garden parking lot near Noonmark Diner. We arrived there at 7:00 AM and it was absolutely full. Since I do not tend to get discouraged I decided we would go to the Ausable Road lot and hike the Dial/Nippletop Mountain loop…..that lot was also overflowing. Then I decided that maybe the Adirondack Loj would have open spots…you get the point. Luckily, the Adirondack Park offers many other beautiful mountains besides the High Peaks. I had read about Hurricane Mountain before and I knew that the peak sat at an altitude not much less than a High Peak (3678′). I decided that this was the best alternative.

The Climb

The trail is located on Route 9N a few miles East of the junction of Route 9N and Route 73.  It is past Baxter Mountain and the trail is on the left side of the road. There are signs on the side of the road that will point you in the right direction. The trail begins between two metal posts with a red sign stating that the trail is 2.5 miles and has an elevation gain of 2000′. This sign is inaccurate as the trail is 3.4 miles to the summit. Do not be discouraged as the hike is relatively easy. The trail initially begins with a couple switchbacks, nothing too steep. After this, the trail becomes flat for a ways and there are some bridges over a swampy terrain. Do not forget to look around, there is always something beautiful to see.

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View of the wilderness along the trail

The trail begins climbing again and just under 3 miles into the trek you’ll be granted with an amazing view of the surrounding mountains. You will also be able to view the fire tower sitting on the peak of Hurricane Mountain. It looks further away than it really is and at this point, you are just about there. From the trailhead it took us about an hour and twenty minutes to reach this point. We stopped and took numerous photos.

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Views of the surrounding Adirondack Mountains
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View of Hurricane Mountain

That tiny thing on the summit is the fire observation tower. After our brief ten minute break, we pushed on. After overcoming a few rock scrambles we were on the summit in less than twenty minutes. The summit of Hurricane Mountain was a genuine surprise. I would not say that I had low expectations, but I did not think that the sights would be as grand as a High Peak would offer. I was glad that I was wrong. It had 360º views and you have the option to climb the fire tower (no more than six people at a time). In the far distance, you’ll be able to see Lake Champlain in its glory. The lake is quite large stretching for 120 miles with borders of New York, Vermont, and Canada. It was a little breezy up there, the sun was out, and it was roughly 75ºF. I could not have asked for better weather. Again, we took countless pictures as we relished the far stretches of land this mountain allowed us to see. 

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Hurricane Mountain Fire Observation Tower with Lake Champlain in the distance
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Enjoying the Adirondacks

The Descent

I am not going to spend too much time going over the descent as it is pretty self-explanatory. We followed the same trail back down and in an hour and a half we were back at my car. The total mileage for the day ended up being around 6.8 miles. 

Gear

I have decided from here on out that it would be helpful to fellow Road Trip Warriors out there if I listed off the gear I bring for each of my excursions. I do not want anyone to ever be underprepared for the wilderness or duration of a hike. I also do not want people to have to suffer through carrying too much gear (although it is always better to be over-prepared than the alternative). Unfortunately for this hike I was carrying much more than was necessary as I initially planned for a much longer trek. The photo below shows items that I had packed in my hiking bag (a 35L Eddie Bauer bag). 

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In the photo:

  • The plastic bag is for my garbage
  • Wind/Rain resistant pants
  • 3L Poland Springs water, I also brought a filled 32 ounce bottle
  • Adhesive body warmer
  • Knife
  • 50 foot paracord rated to hold 550 pounds
  • Three carabiners (those metal clips on the paracord)
  • My two trekking poles 
  • Citronella bracelet to repel mosquitos 
  • ADK park map
  • LifeStraw (if I ever ran out of water, can be used to drink water found along trails)
  • Fire starter and waterproof matches
  • Whistle
  • First-Aid kit (small)
  • Notepad and pen
  • Bug sprays
  • Multi-tool

I also brought extra socks, shorts, shirts, UnderArmour, granola bars, almonds, peanut butter sandwiches, and cooked rice. I was slightly over-prepared for a 6.8 mile round trip hike on a moderately trafficked trail. I would suggest carrying a smaller day pack filled with a significant amount of water and snacks. I also would bring a basic first-aid kit (should always have one), bug spray, and trekking poles. The trekking poles are always helpful considering the weight it takes off the knees descending a mountain. I saw many individuals on my way down going up the mountain in sneakers and not carrying much on their backs. Although this hike is not too difficult, I strongly recommend always wearing either trail shoes or hiking boots for grip and to protect from sprained ankles. I strongly recommend this hike to anyone looking for a good workout with generous rewards only 3.4 miles away from the trailhead. Remember to pack-in-pack-out and happy hiking my warriors!

-Ant