Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower – 5.13.17

This past weekend, I was up in Lake Placid for a conference (my first conference in the nutrition profession!) and was reunited with my old loves.

Iconic view of the high peaks from the Plains of Abraham

Mirror Lake

Heart Lake

Since I didn’t get to do any hiking while I was up for the conference, Skyler and I drove up to hike Hurricane on Saturday. There was rain in the forecast for the afternoon, so we met at Exit 20 at 7am, arriving at the Route 9N trailhead at about 8:30.

It is Mud Season in the high peaks, so DEC issues warnings to stay off of the trails above 2500 feet in elevation. One of the trails listed under recommended alternative hikes is Hurricane Mountain, one of my favorites. Hurricane is also a great warm-up hike for the season, with nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain in the 3.2 miles to the summit.

The trails were dry (mostly) and in great shape.

The last time I hiked Hurricane, the fire tower was closed. They have recently restored it so this time I climbed to the top.

Hurricane has some of the best views, in my opinion!

Whiteface from afar.

We also beat the rain! I was a little concerned that we’d be socked in, but thankfully the weather held off.

Hurricane Mountain, via Route 9N
Distance: 6.4 mi RT
Ascent: ~2,000′
Total time: 3 hrs, 30 minutes (not including break on the summit)

Gear used: old navy running tights, tasc performance long sleeve merino base layer, Northface rain shell, Osprey Sirrus daypack, Kelty trekking poles, Keen Durand hiking boots, Smartwool hiking socks, 2L h20

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Hiking Indian Head in the Catskills

A few weeks ago it was super cold out. My hiking friend Skyler and I decided to go hiking (go figure!) It was before the huge snow storm so we were excited to not have to use snowshoes. However, there were a few inches of snow on the ground up in the mountains, so we just wore our microspikes. The trailhead to Indian Head and Twin Mountains is about 1.5 hours south of Albany. We were planning on hiking both since it was around a 7 mile hike total. With the windchill it was -13 degrees. With the appropriate clothing and gear, we were warm!

We got to the junction after about 90 minutes of hiking. We went left to Indian Head since it was only a half mile to the summit. It was cold so we were undecided if we were going to hike Twin. Neither of us particularly care about hiking all of the Catskill 35 peaks so it was an easy decision to leave Twin for another  (warmer) day.

Right before the summit there was a very icy section. We stopped for about 15 minutes to put on our crampons. So glad we had them with us. Skyler also had his ice ax which made it a little bit easier to carve steps into the ice. We got to the wooded summit and immediately turned around and headed back down. There were very few views on this hike. It was actually kind of disappointing because I had read this hike had some of the best views in the Catskills! But maybe the views are over on Twin. I’m not as familiar with the Catskills as I am with the Adirondacks and I have to admit that the ADK are my first love.

This trail was not difficult, but the ice made for some sketchy spots. I believe this trail is part of the Devil’s Path. We left our crampons on for the hike down, which went a lot faster than going up.

Indian Head Mountain 
Distance 5.3 mi RT from Prediger Road trailhead
Ascent 1,503′
Time 4 hrs, 15 min including stops

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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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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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