Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mt. Colden (ADK 10/46), August 8, 2016

Mt. Colden (4,715') via #61, #68 and #73 Trails, August 8, 2016.

Distance: 11.9 miles (RT)

Elevation gain: 2,985'

Trailhead:  The Van Hoevenberg trailhead (#61) is located at the ADK/HPIC parking lot (at the end of Adirondack Loj Rd, Lake Placid). There is a fee for parking. 

Mt. Colden is best known for its Trap Dike, a large crevice in the side of the mountain - a challenging route to the top (not the route described in this report).  The peak was first summitted in 1850, via the Trap Dike.

Hiked with Jill, Ken and Ed.  The Van Hoevenberg trail is a "main artery" with many trails leaving from various points.

We planned do one of three peaks -  all with routes located off the Van Hoevenberg trail so we headed down that path, stopping at each trail junction til we decided which peak to do. Mt. Colden got the pick  -  a great choice.

We started out around 8:30 and made it to the dam in no time.

To Marcy Dam

Dam was destroyed by Hurricane Irene.

What's left of the dam (photo taken from the new bridge).

The Marcy Dam area is such a pretty place though the dam's destruction all but eliminated the pond, leaving a dryish crater-like dip. 

We went right.

The route described in this report reaches the Mt. Colden summit via Lake Arnold.  Mt. Colden can also be reached via Avalanche Lake.  

The first part of the trail follows Marcy Brook, a very pleasant walk in the woods. 

Past the dam the trail is sweet and gradual.

Crossing Marcy Brook.

We continued to Lake Arnold (not Avalanche Lake).

The path steepens a bit.  There is a short but rough area of haphazard rocks.

Area of large annoying rocks.

The trail is muddy with lots of bog bridges in varying states of newness and oldness. The old ones are simply partially hewn logs laid with the trail, fastened by spikes to shorter logs lying perpendular.  The really old bog bridges have worn down to splinters with hateful tree knots just waiting to catch your toes. 

Nasty knots on this bog bridge trying to rough up Ed.

Lake Arnold is a small body of water - one of the highest elevation lakes in the Adirondacks. Very beautiful. 

Lake Arnold
After the lake, the trail gets steeper and the serious ascent begins.
Trail #73, AKA L. Morgan Porter trail.

The trail doesn't have scrambles, just the odd chunk of rock here and there, and many slabs - all grippy even when wet. 

We hit a height of land and I figured we were close to the true summit. We weren't. Eventually we reached the false summit, a lovely baldy with mad views.  

False summit.

The trail skirts left of the false summit; blazes are on the rock slabs. If you look up and to your left you will see the summit cone of Mt. Colden. Look hard and you can see a ladder in the distance - stretching up the bump.  

Top of Colden. You'll drop down from the false summit first.

Ladders are fun if they're sturdy.  The series of ladders you encounter on the last push to the summit are new - sturdy, well made. 

From here to the summit is quick and exciting.  Up the ladders we went and eventually onto a narrow path with views of the McIntyre Range (looks so close), and many other mountains in the distance.  Way down below we could see Avalanche Lake and the boardwalks.  

Waaaaay down there is Avalanche Lake.

Foot path near the summit.

The summit is off the trail, on the left.  There is a path to a big rock.  On that rock is a hole within a triangle (former home of a summit marker, I imagine).  

On the summit rock.

We had lunch on the summit rock then headed back down stopping briefly at the false summit (can't beat the view).  We got back to the Loj in time for shower and dinner.  

The views on our way back.

This hike is long by New England standards, but the mellow flats and varied terrain keep you interested and make for a great way to spend the day.  

NE 111 (79/115)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Baker Mountain (Saranac Six 1/6), August 6, 2016

Baker Mountain (2,452') via Mt. Baker Trail, August 6, 2016.

Distance: 1.8 miles (RT) 

Elevation gain: 884'

Trailhead: Trail starts at the curve of the Moody Pond on Forest Hill Ave, Saranac Lake, NY. On Main Street, turn right onto Pine Street, and left onto Forest Hill Avenue. There is a small parking area adjacent to the pond. Trail is across the street from the pond.

Hiked with Jill, Ken and Ed.  We designed our trips to the Adirondacks to include a "zero" day or two, to allow time for our limbs to recover from hiking the high peaks. Today was that day and we decided it would be fun to start the Saranac Six list, a list our friend Sarah had completed. It looked like fun. The 6er website, http://www.saranaclake.com/activities/outdoor/saranac-lake-6, has information about the peaks, whose hikes range from 1.8 miles (Baker) to 10.6 miles (McKenzie).

The trailhead is well marked and well traveled.  We started out on a wide, fairly flat path, that gently steepens until it breaks into a series of slabs all the way to the top.  

A bit eroded.

The views of the pond and lake are lovely and it's no surprise this area is a favorite of the locals.

The summit has three USGS markers. 

A little waterlogged....

We took a few pictures, checked out the views and went to play mini golf.

One down, five to go......

Link to other 6er trip reports: AmpersandBakerHaystackMcKenzieSt.RegisScarface.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Whiteface Mountain (ADK 9/46), August 5, 2016

Whiteface Mountain (4,867') via Trails #83 (old ski lift trail) and #82, August 5, 2016.

Mileage:  8.5 miles (RT)

Elevation gain:  

Trailhead: This trail is accessed just beyond the entrance to the Atmospheric Science Research Center (which is located at 110 Marble Mountain Lane/Rd, Wilmington, NY).  From Wilmington center head west on Route 431 (Whiteface Memorial Highway). Turn left onto Marble Mountain Road and just past the entrance to the Science Center there is a sharp curve, parking area is there - on the right. There is a small "Hiker" sign just on the right at the curve but no sign marking the trailhead.

*My camera malfunctioned on this trip so some of the photos here are from the Mt. Esther hike (see previous report) and from Ed's camera - thanks Ed.

Hiked with Jill, Ken and Ed. We scrapped our original plan which was to do the McIntyre Range and opted for hiking Mt. Whiteface.  Since this mountain is so popular, we figured we'd beat the crowds by hiking it on a Friday.  The temps soared toward 90° and 8.5 miles in the heat was a struggle at times.  In the end, we were glad we saved the 11+ miles of the McIntyre range for another - cooler - day. 

The "old ski lift" trail is also the way we went to bag Mt. Esther (see Mt. Esther report).  It's steep but the shortest way to get onto trail #82 (also known as the Wilmington trail). 

So, here we were again parked near the entrance of the Atmospheric Science Research Center.  The trail drops down to an old road (go left), passes an old generator and heads straight - becoming a narrower footpath up the mountain.

Parking area.  The bench shown here is to the left of the trail entrance.

Gravely road - look for an old generator.

The pitch is steep and rolly rocks can trip you up. We pushed our bodies upward for the dreaded .8 miles.

Ski lift foundations remain.

The top of the old lift corridor is indicated by a cairn and a viewpoint (both left of the trail). We headed right to continue on the trail, up the slabs and toward Marble and Lookout Mountains (trail just skirts their summit areas). 

It's nice in this area, with alternating slabs and smooth flats.  In no time we were at the big cairn that marks the unmaintained trail to Mt. Esther. Today we were very glad we'd already hiked Esther (see previous report). It was hot and our sites were on Whiteface.  Ed, however, still needed to do Mt. Esther.

Cairn that marks the Mt. Esther path - go straight for Whiteface.

Beyond the cairn the trail is unremarkable, at least for a while.  There are muddy spots with logs on them, flat sweet spots, and one particular area where the trail hugs the side of the mountain by way of haphazard large rocks that must be navigated.  We saw easterly views through the trees - Mt. Mansfield in VT and Lake Champlain - and we also got glimpses of Mt. Whiteface's summit.

Summit of Whiteface peeking through the trees.

Ed was ahead of us, scouting.  He stopped and let out a "whoa, wait til you see this!"

A large stone wall (I mean LARGE) was in our path.  Fortunately, it wasn't part of the path but the foundation for the auto road. The trail goes left along the massive stone structure.

The wall is actually built to support the auto road.

The trail is more interesting at this point. Two couples from Pennsylvania who'd driven up the auto road were at the top of the wall peering down, quite surprised to spy the elusive "northeastern peak baggers in their natural habitat."  The trail meets the road through a series of large boulders, quite easy to negotiate. Once up on the road the couples asked us questions and seemed impressed (or maybe sorry for our insanity, not sure).

We popped out by the side of the road and then headed straight, up the small rock knob.

We popped out onto the road - go straight up the rocks from here.

At once we were on a ridge, heading toward the summit building.  The views are incredible as we walked up rock slabs and through narrow scrubby paths.  We could see the top of the ski area, the summit rock, the winding auto road, and a castle near the top (we found out later that the castle houses the restaurant).

View up the ridge.

Loving that ridge walk!

Excited, we made quick work of getting to the summit, scrambling up the last rock to the summit sign. Here we met many fresh and sweet smelling people (those who drove up) and some rushed up to us to ask about hiking up the mountain.

There is also a USGS marker on a rock near the sign.

The summit was hopping! There was a wedding, a 46er finish, kids, and grandparents - everyone enjoying the weather and views. We had lunch in the round building (which houses the elevator to the restaurant, restrooms and parking lot).

There was a wedding on the other side of this building.

The "castle" is actually the restaurant and parking area.

View from the top.
After lunch we watched the wedding ceremony then headed back down.  Ed picked up his pace and breaking from the group, rushed down the trail in an effort to tag Mt. Esther and meet us at the car.

It took no time for us to get back to the big cairn but it seemed a surprisingly long walk from that point down to the old ski lift section.  The heat finally got to us and we were lagging.

After a careful descent on the gravelly, tricky ski lift trail we were back on solid ground and making our way up to the car. Ed arrived about 20 minutes later, having bagged Esther in record time.

The Mt. Whiteface hike was more formidable than expected, but that's the way the Adirondacks have been for us.  We had beautiful views and great (although hot) weather.

NE 111 (78/115)