Balanced Rocks at Pitchoff Mountain

Happy New Year! Yesterday my friend Margaret and I hiked our first hike of 2017, Balanced Rocks at Pitchoff Mountain in the Adirondacks. Located right across from the most popular high peak, Cascade Mountain, Pitchoff is an easy hike with rewarding views. We left Exit 9 at about 7:40 and headed up to Keene. We started hiking around 10am.

 

Jordan and I are dogsitting Zahra, so I brought her along for the hike.

The trail starts to climb right away, but flattens out for some time, then climbs pretty steeply until hitting the Pitchoff Ridge. We brought enough gear for a high peak (always good to be prepared) and over-dressed since we thought it was colder out than it was. Thankfully we could remove layers!  We only went as far as the Balanced Rocks, but we had the option to continue on along the ridge to the summit of Pitchoff.

A great view of Cascade and Cascade Falls

Algonquin in the middle, with Colden to its left, Marcy on the far left

Another view of Marcy, Colden and Algonquin

It was an unusually warm day yesterday, so it was nice to sit for a while and enjoy our snacks with a view.

 

We could see the hikers on top of Cascade. It was probably a bit colder up there.

 

The trail was interesting. The wind had completely blown off the snow on some sections, while some were almost knee deep. Since it changed back and forth between ice, frozen ground, slush and powdery snow, we left our Kahtoolas on while our snowshoes stayed attached to our packs.

 

 

The hike to the Balanced Rocks was only about 1.5 miles. Since we took our time and wanted to get home at a decent hour, we decided to head back, arriving back at the car at about 1:30.

Balanced Rocks at Pitchoff Mountain
Distance ~4mi RT
Time 3 hrs, 30 min (including stops)
Ascent 740′
Gear 
Kahtoola microspikes, EMS Gore Tex Gaiters, Vasque Snowblime hiking boots, Smartwool socks w/liners, CAMP crampons (used only for 1 small icy section), Tubbs Mountaineer Snowshoes (not used), 1 L Hydroflask, 1 L Nalgene, Osprey Sirrus daypack, LL Bean sweater fleece down jacket, LL Bean Merino baselayer tights, EMS hiking pants, EMS Excel Thermo Hoodie, Marmot Snowqueen Jacket (removed after 5 min of hiking), Target gloves, Kelty trekking poles

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Christmas Eve Hike to Black Mountain

On Saturday my friend and I did a quick hike to Black Mountain near Lake George. The day started off nice, then it began to snow on our hike down from the mountain.

It felt like we were in a snow globe. The trail had a layer of snow on top of thick ice, making our Kahtoolas necessary, but an annoyance on the descent.  The snow kept forming balls of ice under our spikes.  It was my second time on Black and my second Winter Fire Tower! It was also a nice change to spend Christmas Eve hiking! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday.

Black Mountain Fire Tower
Distance 5.6 mi RT
Time 2 hrs, 40 min, including stops
Elevation 2,665′
Ascent 1,169′

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Adirondack Hiker’s Gift Guide – For Him

 1. GoPro Hero5 Session – We have this GoPro and we love it to record our hiking and mountain biking adventures!
2. Osprey Kamber 32 Backpack – This pack is made specifically for winter hiking or skiing. It has place to carry your snowshoes (or skis), a waterproof main compartment, an insulated harness sleeve for your hydration pack and also loops for your ice tools. If I actually decide to become a Winter 46er, I would definitely want this pack!
3. Stanley Stainless Steel Shot Glass Set – this set would be perfect to bring on that backpacking trip with friends.
4. Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest LED Hammock – Now this is just cool. Made for two with battery-powered LED lights, this hammock would be awesome for camping!
5. Original Buff – Every outdoor enthusiast needs a Buff. They can be used as a sun guard, scarf, hat, or neck gaiter. They also come in tons of awesome prints!
6. Princeton Tec Backcountry LED Light Kit – This kit comes with a flashlight, lantern and headlamp, all of which are great to have in your pack or when camping.
7. Yeti Rambler Colster – This Koozie is made of heavy-duty stainless steel and works with bottles and cans–another great thing to have when camping!
8. Garmin Montana 610 Handheld GPS – I don’t own a handheld GPS but if I did, I would want this one. Even though we shouldn’t depend on electronics in the backcountry, they are useful to have and this one has all the bells and whistles.
9. EMS Spindrift Gaiters – Gaiters are an awesome piece of gear for winter hiking. They also come in handy during the shoulder season when you are knee deep in mud on the trail (literally).
10. Kahtoola Microspikes – An absolute essential for winter hiking–never leave home without ’em.
11. EMS Roundtrip Full Zip Sweater – I have the women’s version of this fleece and it’s one of my favorite pieces of clothing! It’s warm and cozy and can be worn under a shell during a hike or looks great wearing around town.
12. MSR Miniworks EX Water Filter – I have this exact filter that I bring with me on backpacking trips and long day hikes. I love it and highly recommend it!

Again, I’m not affiliated with any of the above companies, but I have purchased many similar items and highly recommend them.

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Owls Head Mountain Fire Tower

It is finally winter conditions in the Adirondacks! Saturday my friend Skyler and I drove up north to hike a fire tower. Our first choice was Vanderwhacker Mountain, but the road to the trailhead hadn’t been plowed and his car didn’t have enough clearance to get down the road so we abandoned that idea. After sitting on the side of Route 28 for 5 minutes checking over our maps, we decided on Owl’s Head Mountain in Long Lake.

We arrived at the trailhead at about 11:00am (late for us!) and then proceeded down the trail with just microspikes. It was below freezing, so we were both bundled up pretty good and managed to stay warm during the hike. At about 1.5 miles in, the previously broken out trail disappeared, so I put on my snowshoes and began climbing, following the sparse red trail markers. Some of them were fixed to actual wood poles (something I’ve never seen on a hiking trail in the Adirondacks?) so it was easy to spot them. I broke trail for the next 1.5 miles, arriving at the false summit, a winter wonderland.

Even though there were no tracks, the opening in the snow made it a bit easier to find the trail

We climbed to about 2600′ and it started getting pretty steep. The trail markers were nowhere to be found. We stopped for about 5 minutes to assess (we were extremely close to the summit) and try to figure out where the trail went. We found an opening that we thought was the trail and climbed up a bit, spotting a red marker in the distance! We continued on, finally reaching the tower. Thankfully it wasn’t windy at all, so we both climbed up. The top was still open.

I imagine the views are spectacular on a clear day! I’ll have to return to this one. We made it down in about an hour and a half, and we were back at the car before 3pm. There was nobody else on the trail all day.

Owls Head Mountain Fire Tower (12/18 ADK completed)
Distance 6.5 mi RT
Total time 4 hours, including stops
Elevation 2,812′
Ascent 1,300′
Gear used Sugoi Subzero Tights, Nike long sleeve base layer, EMS Excel Thermo Hoodie, Marmot Snowqueen Jacket, Kahtoola Microspikes, Vasque Snowblime Hiking Boots, Tubbs Mountaineer Snowshoes, Osprey Sirrus Day Pack, Hydroflask insulated water bottle, Scott mittens, Smartwool hiking socks, Kelty trekking poles

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Adirondack Hiker’s Gift Guide 2016

Have an avid hiker on your holiday gift list this year? Check this out! I love reading gift guides, so I finally decided to make my own!

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hiking-gift-guide

  1. Big Agnes 15 Degree Down Sleeping Bag – this sleeping bag looks perfect for cold weather camping and should definitely keep you warm and cozy in your tent.
  2. LAMO Footwear Suede Sheepskin Fleece Lining Slippers  – there’s nothing like slipping your feet into warm fuzzy slippers for the drive home after a winter hike.
  3. Pistil Clara Visor Beanie – I have a beanie very similar to this one and I love it
  4. Adventure Medical Emergency Bivvy – keeping one of these bivvys in your hiking pack is a must for anyone hiking in the high peaks. I got one as a gift a few years back!
  5. Mountain Landscape Necklace – Etsy is a great place to find unique jewelry for that hiking lady in your life.  *coughcough*
  6. Adirondack Peaks Plaque Burl – With a customizable summit marker, this would make a great gift for someone finishing the 46!
  7. Sea to Summit DryLite Antibacterial Towel – these towels are amazing for camping. They pack down small and are super absorbent and dry quickly!
  8. Stanley Adventure Stainless Steel Food Jar – these are great for keeping food hot! Enjoying a hot meal on a cold summit definitely warms the soul.
  9. Moutain Hardware Snowpass Scarf – fleece infinity scarf. Enough said!
  10. REI Revel Cloud Vest – an extra layer of insulation in the high peaks is always a good idea.
  11. Jetboil MinMo Cooking System – a stove is a  must for winter hiking and  year-round backpacking. I have a jetboil and it is amazing–it boils water in a flash.
  12. Smartwool PhD Outdoor Mountaineer Socks – every hiker loves getting a good pair of wool socks, just sayin’.
  13.  Marmot Fuzzy Wuzzy Glove – keeping hands warm is key during a cold hike–these gloves look like they’d do the job.

Note: I’m not affiliated with any of the above companies, but I have purchased many similar items and highly recommend them.

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