Winter was in the air on Sunday, but only in higher elevations. We hiked the Gothics – Pyramid – Sawteeth traverse and came back to a glowing Indian Head at Lower Ausable Lake. In this photo you can see Indian Head on the left and Mount Colvin on the right. We were in the clouds most of the morning and this sunshine really made our day.
Posts Tagged ‘High Peaks’
It was a perfect fall day here in Madison last Monday, the kind of luminous afternoon where it seems nothing can possibly go wrong. I was at the park with my loyal dog Henderson, whose raison d’etre is to chase and catch flying discs (Frisbees, for those of you as old as me). There we were, surrounded by blazing fall colors and muted green grass, warmed by an Indian summer sun and refreshed by a delightful breeze. All was bucolic even as I, in a moment of excess enthusiasm, overthrew the disc, launching it into what seemed like the jet stream. It soared skyward, caught the prevailing westerlies and proceeded well down field like a fat, migrating goose until it shot past a fence and over a thick stand of trees and brush, depositing itself somewhere therein. “No worries,” I cheerily shouted to Henderson, who had brought himself up short at the fence and was peering beyond with concerned attention. “I’ll get it.”
I hopped the fence and jogged over to the thicket. The disc was lodged deep inside so I forged on in. It was quite dense and I had to bull my way through it. No matter – everything around me was erupting in fall beauty and my spirits were unassailable.
My scratching, scraping and shoving efforts immediately brought to mind memories of Adirondack bushwhacking, which did nothing but brighten my mood. I could almost imagine myself plundering along in some great Adirondack fastness, maybe a favorite place like the dense woods between Blue Mountain Lake and the Sargent Ponds. Oh revel! » Continue Reading.
The Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Report below is issued intermittently by DEC and is not a comprehensive list of all emergencies in the back-country, these are only a few of those recently reported by DEC.
The events reported below are reminders that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry and always carry a flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.
The Adirondack Almanack reports the most current outdoor conditions on Thursday evenings. On Friday mornings, John Warren’s reports the latest outdoor conditions on WSLP (93.3) and on the stations of North Country Public Radio. To subscribe to the weekly conditions podcast.
» Continue Reading.
Last time Amy and I were at Lost Brook Tract we were talking about how to promote the Adirondack Region to people who know little or nothing about it. The default approach for decades has been to promote it as something like Vermont, the Berkshires or the Poconos: cozy resorts, Adirondack chairs, pretty scenery, shopping, tourist sites and an overriding rustic chic. That’s all well and good, but in a time when more and more people crave mountains and wild places, when camping and hiking are the leading recreational pursuits, I have wondered why we don’t try to promote the Adirondacks in a different way. » Continue Reading.
Shortly after moving to the Adirondacks in 1996, I climbed Giant Mountain. Not only was it my first High Peak, it was the first time I’d climbed anything higher than the hill in the back yard where I grew up.
While incredibly rewarding, the hike was harder than I had imagined even though I was a fit, thirty-year-old marathon runner. It was humbling. Nevertheless, like many others before me, I was hooked on the Adirondack Mountains, and I wanted more.
That same year Grace Leach Hudowalski celebrated her ninetieth birthday, an occasion covered in the local papers. I’d never heard of Grace or the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, but I was smitten by the photo of her beaming with her birthday cake, proudly sporting her Forty-Sixer patch. » Continue Reading.
On Friday I hiked Grace Peak (formerly East Dix) from Route 73 in Keene Valley. Look for the stone bridge that crosses the Boquet River, there is small parking area right after the bridge. The herd path starts along the South side of the river and continues along the North and South Fork. The path is unmarked but very easy to follow. This part of the Dix Mountain wilderness is beautiful open forest with mostly flat terrain. To reach the summit you can take the slide or continue along the herd path to the col between Grace and Carson (South Dix).
Known as Macintyre West, the tract includes 3,081-foot Mount Andrew and sixteen-acre Lake Andrew as well as Santanoni Brook, which flows into Henderson Lake, and Sucker Brook, which flows into Newcomb Lake.
“It’s an important part of the upper Hudson watershed,” said John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council. “We think it’d be a fine addition to the High Peaks Wilderness.”
He expects the tract will be used by hikers, hunters, and anglers.
Suicide, depression and the effects of both are challenging and frightening subjects to discuss. I know. I was in my early 20s when I stumbled upon a friend during her attempted suicide. What transpired was tragic and emotional, but she eventually received the help she needed. Not everyone is so lucky.
Eighty-one years ago—on September 3, 1933—three Plattsburgh youths in their late teens, accompanied by a schoolteacher, climbed Wallface Mountain in the Adirondacks. Their purpose was not to ascend the infamous steep cliffs there, but instead to retrieve a length of rope valued at $40 (about $720 today) and deliver it to the Lake Placid Club. For such a mundane outing, the press coverage was extraordinary, extending to newspapers in many faraway locations. And therein lies a harrowing tale.
Five days earlier, those same boys had embarked on another trip to Wallface, reaching the base of the cliffs at Indian Pass early in the morning. The trio—Tyler Gray, 19, Robert Glenn, 17, and William LaDue, 16—were all Boy Scouts, so they were better prepared than the average youths taking to the woods. Accompanying them was William’s younger brother, 14-year-old Robert LaDue. » Continue Reading.
Last week we spent a few precious days at Lost Brook Tract. It was a cool, overcast stretch of weather that reminded me of the Adirondacks of my youth, when impending fall could at any time push and urge its way into lazy August days, into the fading summer.
During nearly all of the time we were on our land the cloud ceiling remained low and Keene Valley enjoyed gray days and rain. But at our lean- to at 3,300 feet we were immersed in the clouds themselves, the daylight hours gloaming, exalting the primeval feel of the forest.
We are accommodated to – though ever awed by – our cathedral of ancient forest giants: red spruces that lift from thick-barked trunks to as much as a hundred feet in the air. At Lost Brook Tract stands of old-growth trees tower and brood as in few other boreal forest communities in the park. To sit among them is for me to feel both old and ageless, all at once. These groves are for patience and contemplation. » Continue Reading.
On June 21, a large group of hikers gathered on the summit to celebrate—with champagne and cake—the renaming of the 4,012-foot mountain from East Dix to Grace Peak in honor of the late Grace Hudowalski, the longtime historian of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.
I headed up Big Slide this weekend to watch the Perseid meteor shower. The full moon washed out most of the night sky making viewing of the Perseids difficult. I saw a few meteors but was more surprised by the show the moon put on as it set over the high peaks. As the moon dipped behind Algonquin it left a faint red glow on the southern horizon. With the moon set the sky became sufficiently dark to allow for the capture of the stars above. The experience was rather surreal and made for a photograph that looks like a sunset or sunrise, but is actually the result of the moonset.
I’m usually not keen on hiking in the rain, but some days are perfect for it. Last Sunday was a hot and humid day in the High Peaks. Noonmark mountain is a short and steep trek to nice views of Giant, Keene Valley and the Great Range. You can access the trail via the St. Huberts parking area off Route 73. Once we reached the top the rain was heading right for us. It’s incredible watching a storm move over the mountains.
Sometimes you just get lucky. Waking up at 2 am to hike Algonquin Peak to watch the sunrise is always a bit of gamble. I’ve done it on several occasions and more than once I arrived on the summit only to find the entire view obscured in clouds. Weather forecasts are only reliable to a certain extent in the mountains. On this particular day the view was clear, except for distance clouds on the eastern horizon. This had the effect of filtering much of the sunlight, allowing one to observe the sun in great detail. I was glad I had brought a short telephoto lens with me this morning as the composition with the hills in the foreground was much more compelling than a wide angle view.
On a warm September day in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed what is now recognized as one of the most significant legislative acts in American environmental history. This was the national Wilderness Act. Before then, federal lands, even those protected as national parks or national forests were expected to serve a variety of functions. The national forests, for example, permitted logging, mining, and grazing. The national parks were often centered on opulent hotels and other all-too-civilized amenities. The idea of setting aside part of the public domain as wilderness, even though this word was and is difficult to define, was radical then, and it remains controversial today. It was a monumental step, and its roots lie in the Adirondacks.
How European-Americans have thought about this amorphous thing we call wilderness has been a complicated, often torturous story. (How Native Americans navigated these shoals is another story altogether, but their views have seldom if ever been consulted as this country has gone about the process of setting land-use policy.) If we go back far enough, we find a pervasive hostility to what many of us now treasure. In 1620, for example, the Pilgrim William Bradford contemplated the forests of eastern Massachusetts, which seemed to stand between his band of cold and hungry settlers and any sort of security, and declared despairingly that nothing lay before them other than “a hideous and desolate wilderness.” Wilderness, in other words, was the enemy. If these people expected to survive, let alone prosper, the wilderness had to be eliminated as soon as possible. » Continue Reading.
The Olympian skier Betty Woolsey climbed in the Adirondacks and Gunks with such pioneers of rock as Jim Goodwin, John Case, and Fritz Wiessner. Circa 1950, she put up the first Adirondack route led by a woman—the Woolsey Route on Rooster Comb Mountain.
The guidebook Adirondack Rock says it’s not exactly clear where Woolsey’s route went, but it most likely followed a corner near a climb established by Wiessner known as Old Route. It is rated 5.8 on the Yosemite Decimal System scale, a tough climb for its time and considerably harder than Old Route.
Trudy Healy was another woman who took to climbing decades ago. She wrote the region’s first climbing guidebook, Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks, which was published by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1967. According to Adirondack Rock, Healy participated in at least two first ascents in the Adirondacks: Four Plus (rated 5.5) on the Brothers near Keene Valley, in 1965, and a variation (another 5.5) of the Wiessner-Austin Route on Big Slide Mountain in 1970. In both instances, she was following the leader.
It would be a few more decades before an all-female party made a first ascent in the Adirondacks, a route now considered a classic climb.
Most people who know me are familiar with my fascination with Panther Gorge. Its isolated location draws me annually like a moth to a flame. The site is home to some of the most intriguing and rugged Adirondack terrain—technical cliffs, beaver ponds, tranquil streams, shadowy talus fields and a beautiful slide that sparked my initial curiosity.
If you have climbed Mt. Haystack then you may be familiar with Grand Central slide, at least from a distance. This predominantly southeastern aspect slide delineates the east face slab from the steeper cliffs farther north in the gorge. Its release point begins in a sea of dense evergreens near the crest of Marcy’s southeast ridge. It ends 700 vertical feet below at the top of a cliff split by a right-leaning crevasse with a waterfall. Like nearly all venues in the gorge, the view from its curving track surpasses words. » Continue Reading.
As a general rule it is best to avoid taking landscape shots in the middle of the day. The harsh light and lack of contrast across the landscape doesn’t usually make for interesting shots. That said, you need to know when to break the rules as well. This shot of Avalanche Lake was taken mid-day, but the ominous clouds in the distance added a lot of mood to the scene.