November 2, 2019, Adirondak Loj
I arrived at Heart Lake before dawn on a brisk day in early November. The target, a pair of classic high peak day hikes: Colden and Phelps! My original plan consisted of hiking the Santanoni’s. But torrential rain and high winds had plagued the Adirondacks in recent days, and I decided to target a couple of peaks easily accessible from the relatively dry and well-trafficked Van Hoevenberg trail.
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October 14, 2019, Adirondak Loj
Full moon over Heart Lake
I arrived before dawn to the Heart Lake Trailhead to bag Street and Nye. It was my first time back to this popular trailhead in two years! This marked my final day-hike of Columbus Day Weekend 2019, and I was feeling sore from my adventures on Lower Wolfjaw and Giant the prior two days.
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October 13, 2019, Chapel Pond
Starry Skies at Chapel Pond
I arrived at the parking for Giant via the Ridge trail around 6 am. The Autumn days were rapidly growing shorter. And on arrival, I was treated to a clear sky full of stars. How beautiful! This was my second day-hike of Columbus Day Weekend, and my second high peaks adventure post-knee surgery. Lower Wolfjaw had gone well the day before. And so I decided to graduate to Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge.
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October 12, 2019, Rooster Comb Trailhead
A failed first attempt
14 months had passed since my attempt to traverse the Great Range during a late June heatwave. After five summits, I ran out of steam in the col between the two Wofjaws. I was exhausted, low on water, and lugging a full menagerie of camping equipment. I decided to bail before Lower Wolfjaw.
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Approach from the West
Spend time exploring the Adirondacks and you realize the land within the “blue line” encompasses far more than mountains. This is particularly true of the western Adirondacks. Here waterways like the Raquette River (French for snowshoe) meander through countless lakes and marshlands. The whole swampy, flowing mess meanders towards the St Lawrence to the north. That’s the sort of landscape I found myself in as I drove north and westward via NY 30. I was headed towards the westernmost of the high peaks: the Sewards.
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August 29, 2018 — Upper Works
The Iron Works
The day began around dawn with some rough dirt roadways. Blue Ridge Road cuts nine miles from NY 28 to the “Upper Works trailhead” along Tahawus Road. Driving deeper into the forest, I considered just how isolated this corner of the Empire State truly is.
Isolated, and vast. Since the recent purchase of the Boreas Ponds Tract, the High Peaks Wilderness now boasts a contiguous land area larger than the City of Los Angeles. And surrounding the “wilderness” itself are miles of private and mixed-use forested lands devoid of connected, improved roads.
Continue reading “The MacIntyre Range: Iroquois, Algonquin, and Wright”
June 30, 2018
The Adirondack Great Range
The “Great Range” spans a number of beloved high peaks in the central Adirondacks. The official definition of the range varies. But it typically includes Skylight, Marcy, Haystack, Basin, Saddleback, Gothics, Armstrong, and Upper and Lower Wolfjaw.
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June 29, 2018, The Garden trailhead
I arrived at the Garden Trailhead around 5 am. A heatwave had reached the Adirondacks and this June Friday would prove super hot and humid. The small and sought-after Garden trailhead has gained a bit of infamy. But I was relieved to discover a few free spots when I arrived.
Continue reading “Big Slide (and Yard Mountain)”
October 7, 2017, Round Pond
Elk Lake and the Dix Range
In the Fall of 2017, I undertook my second backpacking adventure in the Adirondack high peaks. The plan was to case the Dix Range, five peaks within the former Dix Mountain Wilderness area. (The area has since been absorbed into the High Peaks Wilderness).
The Elk Lake trailhead provides the most convenient approach to the Dix Range. A private resort owns Elk Lake itself, providing trails exclusive to their overnight guests. That said, they operate under a conservation easement that allows the public to hike across the land on select major trails. Even these trails close during big game hunting season from roughly mid-October to the end of November. From Elk Lake, ambitious hikers can bag all five peaks in a single day.
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October 6, 2017, Mt Van Hoevenberg Trailhead
They say life is more about the journey than the destination, and that’s obviously true of the quest for 46 high peaks. But as I push on to climbing more of the Adirondacks’ tallest mountains, I really am struck at all the weird places it’s brought me and all the interesting things I’ve seen. My trip up Cascade and Porter certainly provides an example of that.
The “normal” trailhead for Cascade is right off route 73 just after the stunning drive towards Lake Placid along Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes. And from that trailhead, it’s roughly 1.6 miles directly up the slopes of Cascade to its bare rock summit. This unusually easy access to a high peak with a gorgeous view makes Cascade one of the most popular hikes in the region.
To summarize: short trail from the roadside. Gorgeous views. Crowded summit.
But my experience with Cascade and Porter would involve none of those things.
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