A Visit to Salem

Last weekend, my friend Lyndsay and I drove to Massachusetts for a wedding! Two of our good friends from college were getting married! The wedding venue was only 20 minutes from Salem, a place we’d both been wanting to visit. We met my sister and her husband at Gulu Gulu cafe for lunch and drinks. I got the nitro cold brew coffee–it was so good. It looks just like a stout!

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We only had about an hour to check out the Witch City. As you probably know, Salem is famous for the Salem Witch Trials back in 1692. Everyone remembers reading The Crucible in school, right? The building below is the last standing structure from the Witch Trials era. It was home to the judge of the trials.

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After wandering around the streets of Salem a little bit more, Lyndsay and I went back to our hotel in Peabody. We took a Lyft car to the wedding in Danvers, which was amazing. I’m so annoyed that the Albany area doesn’t have Uber or Lyft services yet. It would be super convenient for times like these. Anyway, the wedding venue was incredible!

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It was such a gorgeous evening. Congrats to my friends Melissa and Nico!

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The next morning, Lyndsay and I decided to take advantage of the nice day and head back into Salem to explore some more. We hit some witch shops, saw a witch trials reenactment, got a tour of the Witch Dungeon, and then stopped at the Burying Point, the oldest cemetery in Salem. Inside are the graves of a Mayflower pilgrim and witchcraft trial judge John Hathorne.

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It was very eerie in there. I can’t believe how old these gravestones are. After wandering around the cemetery, we walked to the Salem Beer Works for lunch, heading home afterward.

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Hiking Basin and Saddleback and Camping at Rollins Pond

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day Weekend! Mine was fantastic!

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The past few weeks have been pretty great. I started my Dietetic Internship, did a few other hikes, and this past weekend got together with my closest hiking friends for a weekend in the Adirondacks.

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Brendan, Jenna, her friend Colleen and I booked a camp site at Rollins Pond in Saranac Lake for two nights. We had the best camp site! It was big, secluded, and right on the pond, complete with its own beach. How had I never camped here before?? We arrived Saturday afternoon, set up camp, and cooked dinner. We went to bed pretty early because we had a big hike on the agenda for the next day, Basin and Saddleback Mountains!

One of the things I’d suggest about doing this hike is waiting until you have perfect weather. We got up at 4:30am, cooked breakfast and drove the 1 hr 15 minutes to Keene Valley to park at the Garden Trailhead. The Garden parking lot is small and famous for being full at early hours, but we were lucky and snagged the last spot! If it had been full, we would have had to take a shuttle from another lot a few miles away, which would have sucked if we missed the last shuttle after hiking all day.

We started hiking at 7am. The trail is nice and easy for the first 6.8 miles. It was a lovely walk in the woods. We passed the John’s Brook Lodge, where I stayed a few years ago when hiking Haystack. I hadn’t been on this trail since.

 

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We arrived at Slant Rock and took a connector trail to the Great Range Trail  on to head up to Basin first. We chose to do a counter-clockwise loop so we could climb the famous cliffs of Saddleback rather than descend them. But I’ll get to that later. First, we had to hike up to Basin! After 9 miles of hiking, we got to the summit. There were a few sketchy spots but nothing too bad.

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Lots of rock scrambling on this hike!

Basin makes 41/46. Getting so close!

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Next up: Saddleback. I had been fearing this part of the 46ers journey for the past few years. Saddleback is known for its tricky ascent up some steep cliffs. It was about a mile in between the two so I had time to prepare and convince myself that I had this!

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Colleen contemplating her route up

The photo below sums it up…Jenna pulling herself up the side of the rock.

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There were only two big sections that I had trouble with. Thankfully, a nice guy was there to help push my foot up behind me. If it wasn’t for him I probably would have had a little freak out.

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This picture of Jenna should be on the next Adirondack magazine, no?

The whole climb of the cliffs lasted about 15 minutes, but felt longer. We were so happy to be at the top. We shared the summit with a group who was finishing their 46. How awesome! That’s going to be me soon. 🙂

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42 peaks done! This was such an epic hike (and probably one of my favorites so far!) It was just what I needed after some previously soul-crushing hikes.

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Looking back at Basin from Saddleback

 

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A great view of Gothics!

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Some day I’d like to hike the Great Range in its entirety. We stopped for a breather and a few snacks on the summit before heading down the other side of the Saddleback, down the Ore Bed Trail.

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This trail was phenomenal. There was an enormous slide to the left of the trail, which was actually wooden stairs following the slide all the way down to the base. It was insane!

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Looking up the massive slide

On the way back out to the car we stopped at the Johns Brook Lodge briefly to refill our water bottles. I had brought my MSR pump, but didn’t need it. The last 5 miles of the hike were pretty, but uneventful.

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Basin and Saddleback Mountains
Counter-clockwise loop from the Garden trail head
Distance: ~17 mi RT
Time: 11 hours, including stops
Gear used: Osprey Sirrus day pack, Salomon hiking shoes, EMS hiking pants, tasc long sleeve merino/bamboo blend shirt (unpictured), Smartwool hiking socks, 2 L Camelbak bladder, 1 L Nalgene

We got back to the car and promptly drove to Tail o the Pup BBQ joint in Raybrook, in between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, for some BBQ and beverages to celebrate hiking Saddleback and Basin.

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We got back to our camp site at about 9pm. I was exhausted. I crawled into my sleeping bag and passed out. It was probably the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a tent in a long time. The next morning, I enjoyed some coffee by the pond. It was so relaxing.

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It was a great way to end the summer. I have to say, I’ve had a pretty epic one.

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Hiking the Devil’s Garden, Arches National Park

Finally, we arrived in Moab! Not only is Moab close to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, it is the mountain biking capital of the US! First on our to-do list while in Moab: hike the Devil’s Garden Trail in Arches National Park.

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Balanced Rock

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The Start of Devil’s Garden

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The Devil’s Garden is the longest hiking trail in the park at about 7 miles RT. With side trails to many different arches and cool rock formations, it was high on my list !

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Tunnel Arch

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Pine Tree Arch

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Landscape Arch

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At one point the trail got a little hairy. It went up and over these big slickrock ledges, with cairns marking the path.

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Partition Arch

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Partition Arch

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Underneath Navajo Arch

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How do these arches form, you ask? According to NPS.gov, “drops of rainwater soak into the porous Entrada sandstone easily and then slowly dissolve the calcite bonding the sand together – in other words, rotting the rock from the inside out. Water puddles just above the denser Carmel layer where it erodes a cavity, like food trapped between your teeth. In winter, water trapped between the two layers expands when it freezes and pries the rock apart.” Geology is cool!

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My parents had turned back about a mile into the hike due to heat. Jordan and I had wanted to do the whole thing, but it was quickly getting hotter. Jordan’s legs were also still sore from the half marathon, so after we saw Navajo Arch we turned back.

Protip: Get to Arches early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid traffic, crowds, and heat. Bringing a lot of water on your hike is also ESSENTIAL! It is recommended to drink 1 gal of water per day when in the park.

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My dad brought hand held two-way radios with him on the trip, which Jordan and I used to communicate with my parents when on the trail since we separated often. There is little to no cell phone service in the parks so this was a great way to talk to each other.

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Devil’s Garden Trail

4.5 miles RT to Navajo Arch (trail continues on via a primitve loop)
~ 2 hrs

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On the drive out, we stopped at the Delicate Arch viewing area. It was so far away! My dad was determined to hike up to the actual arch. It is Utah’s most famous arch after all. Hiking to the Delicate Arch was on the agenda for the next day, our last full day of the trip.

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Delicate Arch from afar

From the car we saw a little jack rabbit. Too cute!

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After going back to the hotel and getting some food, we drove back into the park for the sunset.

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The colors are just spectacular here! I was not ready for the trip to be over.

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Looking down into the Moab Fault

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Bryce Canyon Half Marathon

After picking up our race packets for the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon, we checked into our lodge (Ruby’s Inn!), we drove into the park to watch the sunset in the canyon. On our way in we saw some Prong Horn Antelope grazing by the road.

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We walked to Sunset Point. Fitting!

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The Famous Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon

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Bryce Canyon was part of a previous family trip in 2004-but we didn’t ever go down into the Canyon. That was on my to-do list for the this trip!

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The next morning, it was time to run the half marathon! It was Jordan’s very first half marathon, so he was nervous/excited about running. I had signed up for this race a few months back when I saw there was going to be a half marathon in Bryce the same time we were going to be there on vacation. I had to run it! Jordan signed up a few days before determined to run his first half marathon while on our epic trip. The race began at 6:00AM to avoid the high temps (it gets up into the 90s-100s in Utah in the summer) and began right at our lodge. How convenient.

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It was chilly enough to even wear my light running jacket! It was perfect running weather. After about a mile, I stowed it away in my pack. I wore the Gregory Pace 5 Hydration Pack during the race because I like having water and a place to store gear.

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The race is point-to-point, beginning in Bryce Canyon right outside of the National Park through Tropic to Cannonville.

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It was such a cool experience to race in Utah!

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It was such a beautiful race! Because I didn’t particularly train for this race, I knew I’d be on the slower side. I took my time and enjoyed the scenery. I think the elevation got to me after a while, though. The race began at 7,640 feet of elevation! There weren’t many hills, though, just a descent that flattens out near the end.

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Jordan did awesome! He ran his first half in about 2:10, which is impressive considering he didn’t train. 😉 Unfortunately since I was still running, I didn’t get to see him finish-but he saw me.

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This race was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, and it gets better!

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Hiking the Seward Range

I’m interrupting my trip recap to bring you a new Adirondack Trip Report!

Catching up? Check out my last few posts:

So, anyway, last weekend I went backpacking in the Adirondacks to snag three more high peaks in the Seward Range, Donaldson, Emmons and Seward Mountains.

Jenna, Brendan, Margaret and I drove up to Saranac Lake (The Sewards are the furthest away out of the high peaks, with a 3hr drive from Albany!) to the trailhead at Corey’s Road. We hiked in with our gear to a tent site along the Caulkins Brook, off the horse trail. Jona had mentioned this site to me and it sounded like a good idea! After a short 1.4 mile hike, we found our site and set up camp. Unfortunately, it started to rain during the night…complete with a thunder storm. Thankfully, it wasn’t severe and we were all dry in our tents! But the wet made for a gloomy hike the next day.

Saturday morning we took a left out of our camp site at about 6:30am, and met the herd path to the Sewards at around 7:10. Instead of taking the Blueberry Trail and the steep route up Ward Brook, we opted for the gentler Caulkins Brook Herd Path.

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Take a left at the bucket

The herd path follows Caulkins Brook for some time. It’s a gradual incline and is quite pleasant! Before we knew it, we were approaching the summit of Donaldson Mountain! It was 9:50AM, a little over three hours after starting.

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Number 38, it’s gettin’ real!

Still socked in, we had no view.

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We decided it would be wise to head over to Emmons first. I didn’t do my homework on this hike and assumed the peaks were close together. Ha. So Wrong. It took us about an hour to get to Emmons (11:00am). I was having flashbacks of the dismal Couchsachraga from last summer in the Santanonis. The hike to Emmons wasn’t particularly fun. It was wet, muddy and dark. I hated Couch, but I liked the Santanonis better overall.

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Thankfully on the hike back, the skies cleared and allowed us some views.

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Looking over to Seward from Emmons

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Grey skies

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On the way back we decided to hit up Donaldson again because it was right there and we wanted to see if there was a good view–there was!

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But, we couldn’t linger. Time to make the trek over to Seward. I don’t remember much, just that I wanted the day to be over. It was 2:00 by the time we reached the summit.

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The best hiking gang–40 peaks done!!!!!

If I had one word to describe this range, it would be blah. But, I did it! The trek out was long. We stopped at Caulkins Brook to refill our water using Jenna’s gravity filter (Jenna is the Water Queen), and hiked the remaining few miles back to the camp site.

My original plan was to camp a second night and hike Seymour the next day, another peak in the Seward Range that is just a bit further out (see my amazing map skillz below). Jenna and Margaret estimated it would be about a 10 hour day. Since we both had to work Monday, and we were tired, Brendan and I were just not feeling it. We orphaned Seymour and packed up our gear and walked the 1.4 miles back to our car to make the three hour drive home. It was nice to sleep in my own bed after such a draining day! Jenna and Margaret stayed and hiked Seymour the next morning–such troopers!

The decision was tough. I debated it in my head over and over almost the entire day. Hiking Seymour would get me one peak closer to goal, but I’d be miserable. Physically I could have done it, but I was mentally done. I hike because I enjoy it and I love the Adirondack Mountains. Yes, I have a goal, but is it worth it to suffer just to bag a peak when I’m not having fun anymore? No. Seymour isn’t going anywhere!

Overall, we hiked about 14 miles on Saturday, including the hike out to the car.

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40 down, 6 to go. I can see the finish.

We got back to the site at about 7 and were at the car by sundown. It was a long day.

The Seward Range
Donaldson, Emmons, and Seward Mountains
~16 mi RT via Caulkins Brook herd path
12.5 hrs to and from tent site

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