Sleeping Beauty Solo Hike

Last month when the weather was warmer I decided to get outside and hike Sleeping Beauty in the Lake George area. This was my first Adirondack hike back in 2008 (before I had a blog!) and I had been meaning to go back and hike it again. Since the weather was warm and it was a pretty short hike, I felt confident that I could hike solo! I parked at the Hogstown trailhead and walked the 1.7 miles to Dacy Clearing.

This road / trail is open to snowmobiles so there were a few snowmobilers driving up and down this road. It was pretty annoying. The snow was getting mushy and would have been a pain to walk in with microspikes so I wore snowshoes for the entire hike. There was probably a foot of snow off the trail.

I continued up the trail that leads to Bump’s Pond, eventually coming to a trail leading to Erebus Mountain on the left. I continued straight, hiking around the pond.

Eventually I came a trail junction. The trail went straight to Fishbrook Pond, but I took a right to go to Sleeping Beauty.   It was about 1.0 from there to the summit. The trail never got too steep!

I had the entire summit to myself!

I ate a couple bites of my lunch and then headed back down. For some reason I wasn’t thrilled to be up there by myself. Hiking with friends is so much more fun! Instead of going back the way I came, I took a different trail back down Dacy Clearing. It was 1.1 miles down and a little bit steeper than the route I took up. It came out right on the snowmobile trail I had hiked in on.

The sun was shining! It was such  a nice day. I didn’t see anyone else until I started descending, which was surprising. I think I saw maybe two people wearing snowshoes. Everyone else was post-holing their way up, ruining the packed snow on the trail. It’s so frustrating.

Sleeping Beauty Loop
Distance 7.6 mi
Elevation 2,160′
Ascent 1,287′
Time 3 hrs, 34 minutes (including stops)

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Winter Snowshoe to Camp Santanoni

A couple of weeks ago a few friends and I snowshoed to the Great Adirondack Camp Santanoni in Newcomb. For a few weekends every winter, they open the camp up for visitors and serve hot chocolate in one of the huts by the lake. The special thing about this Camp is that it’s only accessible in the winter by snowshoe or cross country ski! It is a five mile journey to the camp from the parking area, making it a long hike, but totally worth it! The views on the walk in were amazing!

You can see Santanoni from the trail. When we got there we checked out the inside. It was huge! So many rooms.

The walls were covered in birch bark.

 

The arrows were pointing in the direction of the hot beverages. This one had a can of coffee on it! We sat and enjoyed our beverages for a little bit before hitting the trail back out.

It was a very warm day, the snow was slowly melting all around us.

Camp Santanoni
10.5 mi RT
4.5 hours including stops

The next Winter Weekend at Camp Santanoni is scheduled to be March 18-19!

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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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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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Fall in the ADK and Hiking Cliff Mountain

This past weekend was prime for leaf peeping in the Adirondacks! Sunday morning I drove up to Keene Valley to hike one of my favorites, Indian Head! Last summer Christine and I hiked it and I couldn’t wait to come back.  Just look at this view.

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Monday was my first day off since Labor Day! Brendan and I drove up to the Upper Works trailhead in Newcomb to go back for Cliff, a peak we orphaned back in May when we hiked Redfield. It was going to be a long day.

It was in the mid 30s when we got to the trailhead. Brrr! We got there around 7 and were on the trail by 7:15. The parking lot was crowded, but we were wondering where they all were since we didn’t see many people on the trail. The 4.5 mile hike in to the Flowed Lands was uneventful. We passed the time chatting. When we got there, we signed in and headed to the Uphill Lean-to. We got to the Lake Colden bridge at 9:40am.
Looks like winter here
Looks like winter here
Then it was up, up, up to the Uphill Lean-to. We got there at around 11:45 and stopped for a brief snack before taking the herdpack on the right to Cliff/Redfield, marked with a cairn. I forgot the herdpath splits and Cliff’s goes to the right, and Redfield’s continues along the Opalescent. At 11:15 we were climbing Cliff.
We got some nice views while climbing. There was ice on the neighboring peaks!  Winter is coming!
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The bog was a sloppy mess, but the “cliffy” sections of cliff weren’t as bad as I was expecting. There were lots of hand holds and tree roots to hold onto. There was only one small section where I needed a boost.
We arrived at the summit at 12:30, which was 8.8 miles from Upper Works. We made pretty good time!
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Descending was a lot easier. It included a lot of butt sliding. I had to take my pack off and throw it down first before going down some sections.
After descending the final cliff, our friend took off to hike Redfield, while Brendan and I made our way back to the Uphill Lean-to for lunch. We got back there at 1:40. We shared some lentil soup and cookies. Perfect for a chilly fall day! We also had a visitor, a little Pine Marten! So cute!
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We started heading back at around 2. Again, the hike out was uneventful. We got back to the bridge over Lake Colden at 3:00, stopping for a snack for about 5 minutes. It turned out to be a gorgeous fall day.
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Our speedy friend caught back up with us with a few miles left so we all hiked out together.
We arrived back at the car at 5:45. It was a long, but enjoyable day in the mountains. I’ve got three high peaks left. It’s a bittersweet feeling.
 
Cliff Mountain
17.5 mi RT from Upper Works
10.5 hours, including stops
Elevation 3,944′
Ascent 2,691′
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Gear Used: EMS Gore-Tex gaiters, EMS hiking pants, ExOfficio long sleeve, Reebok puffy vest, LL Bean fleece gloves, Osprey Sirrus day pack, Kelty trekking poles, Keene Durand hiking boots, Smartwool socks, 3L Platypus hydration bladder
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