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  1. Craig

    Cobble Hill

  2. Craig

    Kane Mountain

    Kane mountain is one of the Adirondack mountains that has a fire tower on it. It is also part of the ADK fire tower challenge. It is an out of the way mountain and was quite a drive to get to, it would take me just under 3 hours from the house. We had left the house a little after 6 am, knowing we had quite a drive to get to it. For the most part, it was a straight shot down the interstate to exit 26, from there it was several secondary roads. We did pass through some very nice parts of New York state, places I had never been through before. We arrived at the road that leads to the trailhead, Green Lake Road. It is located off of County Route 10 in Canada Lake. I did not see any signage out on County Route 10 that mentions the mountain trail, which is not typical for a New York State trail, usually, it is well marked. As we drove down the Green Lake Road, if I hadn't known any better we were in the wrong area as the road leading to the trailhead is a very narrow road along the pond. There was signage further down that pointed us to take a left to the trailhead. The parking area at the trailhead is decently sized. We arrived at the parking area for the trailhead around 9:30 and were soon signed in and on our way up. The trail is divided into two routes. There is the north trail which leads further east northeast towards Pine Lake and the east trail. We could have done the loop and made it a nice 2-mile hike, but we opted for the shorter hike and went up and back on the east trail. This section of the trail is an old tote road that the trail follows. Easy enough to follow and the grade is gradual the entire way. It was mostly through open hardwoods, with a small patch of softwoods. This made for a noisy hike with all the leaves underfoot. We would meet two sets of downbound hikers as we made our way up. Arriving at the summit just after 10:00, we had the summit to ourselves for over an hour. Enjoying the views and did some exploring, had an early lunch, and took a few pictures. On our trip back down we ran into 3 small groups of upbound hikers. We arrived back at the truck around 12:30 after a beautiful walkabout.
  3. Snowy mountain is part of the Adirondack fire tower challenge. We had previously attempted this hike just over three years ago but turned back just shy of the summit (or so I thought) due to time constraints. For a lesser peak, this is certainly a rugged hike. The first two miles are a very pleasant hike, that ends quickly as I gained over 1500' in elevation in the last mile and a half. Snowy mountain trailhead is off Route 30 just southwest of the hamlet of Indian Lake. The state has done well with the trailhead parking and has made for a nice wide area that can hold a fair amount of cars. That said, I suspect this is a busy trail in the summer months. I had left the house at 4:30 am to make the 2-hour drive south. I had given thought to traveling down the night before and spending the night to allow me the option to sleep in but opted to just do the drive, arriving at the parking lot almost exactly two hours later. I quickly packed up and was soon on my way under headlamp. There was already one couple ahead of me that I would eventually meet up with on their way down. The first 2 miles of the trail is a nice hike in, passing through a mixture of hardwoods and pine, and crossing over several streams with some small ups and downs. The first time we had hiked this the trail became quite wet about a mile in, and this would hold true today as well, in fact, the last mile of vertical climbing is quite steep and follows a drainage line up, making for a wet hike. My previous attempt was in the winter so it was quite icy at that time. The last mile and a half of the trail are steep and this is where I made up the elevation. Going up slowed me down quite a bit (going down would not be much faster in the steep section). Once I got to the top of the drainage I had thought I reached the top of the hike, not yet. On our previous attempt, we had turned around before this section. The trail eased a bit from the drainage before I came to a headwall, once I got above this I found myself on a partially open ledge. Not the summit yet, but a nice area to catch my breath. There would be no views today with the low hanging clouds, but I can't help but think the views of Indian Lake and surrounding mountains would be beautiful. After a quick break, I made my final push and continued on up to the fire tower. While there would be no views I still wanted to climb the tower. I was hoping the clouds would have opened up a bit to offer some views, but that wouldn't happen until I was almost back at the car later in the day. Started: 6:30 AM Trip Time: 8:41:00 Dist. Traveled: 7.21 mi Average Speed: 0.83 mph Max. Speed: 3.74 mph Max. Elevation: 4026 ft
  4. Craig

    Rocky Peak Ridge

    Rocky Peak is the 20th highest mountain in New York State, with an elevation of 4,420 ft. The length of the climb depends on which trail you take. From New Russia it is approximately 13.4 miles round trip, We went in from the Route 73 trailhead via the washbowl and it was 6.5 miles round trip, with 3527’ of elevation gain, plus the 700’ on the return to the trail junction with Giant Mountain for a total of 4227. This was a huge leg day for me, plus I had company. My friend Justin and I signed in at the trail register at 6 am under headlamp. The trail takes on a completely new perspective in this regard. The first part of this trail, up to the washbowl is sparsely marked and can be difficult to follow under headlamp, just need to pay attention to rock scraps and dirt. The switchbacks help with the 650 plus feet in elevation gain in just over half a mile. While climbing this peak, there are many spectacular views all along the way, the first being the ledge just before the washbowl. This view prominently presents the Great Range along with the northeastern side of the Dix Range. From the washbowl up it is a steady climb with several steep sections. The trail offers a variety of obstacles to navigate, boulder fields, switchbacks, ledges, slabs, blowdown, and mud. We arrived at the junction with the Rocky Peak ridge trail at 11 am. After a quick break, We were on our way to Rocky Peak. The trail drops around 700’ in .3 miles to the col. I probably spent more energy avoiding a fall than I did climbing up out of the col on our return. The drop in elevation can be discouraging, but the trail from the col up to the summit of Rocky Peak is a pleasant climb gaining around 600’ in just over a half-mile. We arrived at Rocky Peak at 1:30 pm. The summit was not what I had expected. Based on photos from other hikers. I was led to believe the summit was rocky and had a large cairn on it. While there were cairns and it was somewhat open and rocky, it just was not what I had expected. It was a pleasant surprise. The summit has a long, bare ridge, a result of a forest fire in the region in 1913. We laid down and relaxed in the sun on the summit enjoying the views; and even came close to falling asleep. After about a half-hour, we started our trek back. The climb back up to the trail junction was easier than the climb down. I took a quick break at the junction, while Justin tagged Giant (I previously had climbed Giant before). We made our way back down to the car arriving at 7 pm. We would have several people pass us today as we made our way up the mountain, we did not mind, we were hiking our own hike. It is nice to meet new people, especially those who enjoy and respect the great outdoors. One of those who passed us was a 78-year-old man; I believe he also mentioned this was his 104th time climbing this mountain, and he was number eight or nine on the Adirondack 46er Grid list. Respect. 7.2 miles round trip 4227’ elevation gain Start time 6 am End time at 7 pm
  5. Craig

    Phelps Mountain

    Phelps Mountain is named after Orson Schofield Phelps, also known as "Old Mountain Phelps," who created the first trail over Mount Marcy. According to “The History of the Adirondacks” by Alfred L. Donaldson, he was an early Adirondack guide from Keene Valley. He was not considered a great guide. In fact, he was not considered even a good guide. He became a local legend due to publicity by people such as writers Charles Dudley Warner and E. R. Wallace, and photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard. Phelps named many of the Adirondack High Peaks. I had hiked Phelps Mountain previously on two occasions, both were in the winter, and each time there were no views. I have wanted to go back on a nice day so I could enjoy the wonderful views the mountain has to offer. Today was that day, my first Adirondack High Peak since my surgery. I arrived at the Adirondack Loj just before 6 am. I had to get there so early in an effort to get a parking spot. The previous weekend proved fruitless as by that same time the lot was full and I was turned away. It is very difficult finding places to hike in the High Peaks during peak hiking season. I signed in and was on my way to Marcy Dam, it was 5:50 am. It was a brisk morning at 30 degrees. I had to don my hat and gloves for a bit to keep warm. The trail to Marcy Dam has not changed much in the last 15 years with the exception of the reroute just before the dam, and the dam itself the trail was rerouted downstream after the dam was destroyed by Hurricane Irene. The area has not looked the same since. The views this morning from Marcy Dam were wonderful under clear blue skies. There were many people starting to show up already. After a quick break and snack, I was soon on my way up the Van Hoevenburg Express. A misnomer for a name as I do not find it quick at all navigating the rocks of varying sizes. In the winter with all the rocks under snow cove, yeah it is quick then. In any event, it does not take long to reach the junction that takes you to Phelps Mountain. From here, the trail is a steady climb up. This is the first time for me climbing Phelps without the snowpack, so I was surprised at the amount of rock and scrambling that the trail has to offer. Today was definitely a leg day. There were two or three steep scrambles to go up before the trail eases up. As I continued, there were several spur trails off the main trail to lookouts. I eventually arrived at the last ledge that comprises of the summit shelf at 9:40 am. While I was not the first on the summit, I did enjoy it by myself for about a half-hour having a snack before more hikers showed up. I eventually started my way back down. Going down took me longer than going up, as I wanted to avoid falling. I passed several upbound hikers on my way down. It was a busy peak today. Returning to Marcy Dam I was surprised to find a Jeep near the outpost. I had never seen a vehicle there before. There were not very many people at the dam at this time. I would however pass several hikers making their way to the interior as I was on my way back to the Loj, eventually arriving at the parking lot at 1:50 pm. The elevation gain from the Adirondack Loj is 1,982 feet. This hike is dedicated to the nurses that cared for me at Johns Hopkins. Started: 5:50 AM Trip Time: 8:06:45 Dist. Traveled: 8.23 mi Average Speed: 1.01 mph Max. Speed: 4.37 mph Max. Elevation: 4148 ft
  6. Craig

    Cobble Hill

    Took my first hike up Cobble Hill in Lake Placid today. I went in via the school, taking the sidewalk from Mirror Lake Drive up to the point of the “temporary” trail entrance from the school property. I could have also taken the Mount Whitney Road access as well as it was just footsteps away from Mirror Lake Drive on the right. In any event, I opted for the alternative Cobble access from the school for no other reason than it is where I was dropped off. I did not want to worry about trying to find a place to park, so I had my wife drop me off at the school entrance. The trail is easy to follow, even with all the blocked routes and new routes. It is an uneventful hike as it meanders up to the base of the rocky outcrop. From here, it is steeper and someone has placed a rope between trees to help you up. I would recommend not using it because it has been outside in the weather, and if it fails when being used, someone could take a good fall. I took my time going up the scramble, once at the top there are some nice views of Lake Placid, with the high school being most prominent. From the top of the scramble it is a short walk to the junction of the trail coming up from Echo Pond (reported to be less steep), then shortly after the summit of Cobble Hill. The summit offers some nice views of some of the high peaks, and the golf course in the foreground.
  7. I had wanted to hike Pitchoff Mountain for quite some time. I must admit I did not think clearly when I picked this weekend to hike it. Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest times in the High Peaks area, and I really did not want to add to that problem, but I did. While I was driving to the trailhead parking area I made a decision, if I could not find a place to park, I would just return home. I really did not have a plan B today. I was somewhat surprised to find open parking spaces. I arrived at the parking area just after 6 am. The main parking area for Cascade and Pitchoff mountains was full, so I did have to park in one of the other parking areas just west of the main area. Even those were filling up fast. It added less than a 10th of a mile walking distance, no big deal. I signed in on the west end trailhead and was soon on my way, it was 6:15. A nice crisp morning with clear blue skies, perfect. The trail starts out rough for us short-legged humans. The steps up from the road have a significant rise to them, but we made it. The first part of the trail is rough looking and unnecessarily wide. This is a clear sign of overuse, and people just not staying on the trail. This would be prevalent in a few other areas as well, making it hard to follow the actual trail. The trail immediately starts to climb up until the ridge that it follows. There are some neat lookouts along the way offering views of Cascade Mountain, and Cascade Lake below. It was awhile before I got up in elevation enough, and away from the road before I could no longer hear the traffic passing by below. There are sections of this trail that I liked. I knew there was a steep section, was not exactly sure when or where to expect it, but knew it was before the Balanced Rock side trail. I think it was just past the third lookout before I came to the first scramble. This was fun! It was not a typical monotonous trail; this trail had some cool features to it. Once I got above the first scramble the trail skirts around to the left a bit before it brings you to the next scramble. I call it a scramble, in fact, I counted four total, perhaps they are not technically scrambling per se, but they make you work to get up them. I continued around to the left with several ups and downs, eventually making my way to what turned out to be the last scramble before the junction on the ridge. Each scramble was short-lived but definitely got the blood pumping. Soon I was on the ridge and made my way to the Balanced Rocks, lookout. Here I would take a little break, enjoy the views. I spent about 20 minutes relaxing in the sun, spying hikers on top of Cascade Mountain. I eventually packed up and started towards my destination, Pitchoff Mountain. I ran into the first hikers heading towards Balanced Rocks. I did not see them again so they apparently only hiked for those views. The trail over to Pitchoff is nothing like the trail below the ridge. There are some ups and downs, but nothing as long-lasting as the scrambles. There are still a few more views along the ridge walk to Pitchoff, but literally no views from the actual summit. Just beyond the summit on the right was a lookout that offered some views as well. I had arrived at the summit at 10:26. I only stayed for a few minutes before heading down. I passed several couples that were upbound and had a nice conversation with a hiker at the bottom of one of the scrambles. Always nice to meet those who truly enjoy and respect the outdoors. I logged just under 3.5 miles roundtrip and 1350’ of elevation gain.
  8. I had a mid-week day off, on purpose, to avoid the crowds. While I wait for the High Peaks to become less crowded, I want to work on my endurance and strength so when I can hike the high peaks, I will be somewhat ready. My wife and I decided on Bear Den Mountain today. It was actually our plan-b as we originally were planning to hike Cobble Hill Lookout. However, when we arrived at the trailhead for Cobble Hill, signage stated the trail is closed, due to COVID. Not sure the story on that, but will look into it. We arrived at the trailhead for Bear Den Mountain around 7:30 am. It was a bit of a challenge finding the actual trailhead and sign in, but with the help of a construction worker, we were able to locate it. It is on the north side of the parking lot but is elusive as the signage is poor. We eventually found the register and we soon signed in and were on our way. The trail starts out easily enough. It is worth noting the trail is a shared trail with mountain bikes for a little way, about 6/10ths of a mile (just passed the second marked intersection). You will know when because the signs will point you towards Bear Den Mountain, and you soon leave the shared trail and begin to climb. The trail is easy enough to follow and is well marked. It looks like there has been a fair amount of foot traffic on the trail as it shows the stresses of heavy use. I suspect that there is a large influx on the lesser trails as people try to avoid the crowded more popular trails. Bear Den is one of those overlooked trails and is quite beautiful and rewarding. We follow along a stream on our right for about 4/10the of a mile as we meander up, eventually veering away from it as the trail begins to switchback upward. The last half-mile or so of the trail moderately steepens and is slippery until you top out on the col below Bear Den Mountain. From the col it is about a tenth of a mile before you come to the rocky outcropping of the summit of Bear Den, don’t be fooled thinking the first view is the summit. Keep following the trail, as you will come out again on a second outcropping. The trail eventually fizzles out from here. The views are quite spectacular and there is plenty of space to layout on the rocks and enjoy the views. We enjoyed the peak for about a half-hour before we made our way back down. I logged 4.5 miles round trip Ascent 1300 Feet
  9. I had climbed Hurricane several times before today, each time previously was in the winter or late fall. The forecast today was to be a bluebird day, with highs in the upper 70's. It was 56 degrees when I left my house at 4am. It was quite cool with a steady breeze at 5:15 when I signed the trailhead registry. I had other things planned today so I needed to get an early start. There is something very relaxing about being in the woods as all the critters begin to wake from their slumber. We often go to the forest for peace and quiet, yet if you get there very early when everything is still asleep, it is very quiet, yet as the new days starts it gets very noisy with the chirping of birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. I did not have to wear my headlamp very long before I was able to move along at a good pace without it. I soon found myself at the first set of boardwalks. There is something neat about boardwalks, other than helping keep your feet dry. There are several sections on this trail with them; some take you right over running water, and through bogs. Just after the last bog I entered back into the woods to a nice surprise, something caught my eye. Up on the trail ahead of me was a porcupine waddling along, possibly looking for food. I immediately felt relief that I did not bring any of my dogs on this hike. A small disaster averted. I slowed my pace, started talking to him as he continued up the trail, eventually stepped off allowing me to pass. The trail continues along at a gradual incline passing through a mixture of hard and softwoods. Eventually coming into several areas of wild raspberry brambles. I would meander through these on my way back down. The air was still cool, and it really brought out the sweet smell of balsam as I passed through several air pockets with its sweet smell. If only this scent could be bottled. I soon found myself on the ledges where the trail pops out onto a craggy outcropping. This view provides glimpses of the destination, the fire tower. It also provides a wonderful view of the lesser peaks in the foreground, and the high peaks in the distance, most prominently the Giant of the valley. I also took a small break here and enjoyed the views and sun on my face. I eventually continued on my way and was soon at the junction with the trail that leads up from the O’toole road trailhead for the Crows, Soda range, and Weston mountains. There is another trailhead at the end of Hurricane road, but I have never used it. From here, it is a quick jaunt to the rocky scramble leading up to the fire tower. Once out on the rocks above the trees the wind was steady. It felt cool given the temperatures were probably in the sixties, but also refreshing. This is the first time I was able to go into this fire tower. All the previous hikes up Hurricane Mountain the tower had been under renovation. Therefore, this was a real treat, even though I have been in several other fire towers, it is just neat trying new ones. I arrived at the tower at 8:17. After several pictures from the tower and around it, I had a quick snack, and soon started my way back down. I really took my time, enjoying the views, the fresh raspberries, and the cordial greetings from up bound hikers. I was surprised at the amount of hikers seen on a weekday. The majority wore or had masks on them as we passed each other. I eventually arrived back at the register and car around 10:45. This was the longest hike since my surgeries. I traveled around 6 miles round trip, 1977' of elevation gain, carrying my full pack. I felt my energy level to be that of what it was last fall.
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