Monday, October 10, 2011

Snowy Peak- The Adirondacks Part 1

The Adirondack Mountains are not only located in northeast New York, they pretty much are northeast New York, and have been a New York icon in wilderness and mountains for the past couple centuries. And thus I could not very well travel through the state without a stop, a couple epic hikes, and maybe even a nighttime rescue if the situation calls for it. This foray began in the southwest as I came up through the middle of the Adirondack park and stopped for a few quick hikes as I ran across them.

The gorgeous lakes, trees and mountains are so numerous in this area, it is next to impossible not to find the perfectly, beautiful, serene area that you are looking for.

Most of the trails in this area at this time of year are, unfortunately, made up of mostly mud, rocks, and tree roots and thus can be quite a bit more slow going and mentally draining than most trails, particularly if you happen to be hiking in normal trail running shoes and are trying not to get your feet wet and muddy. However, the added challenge of jumping from stone to stone the entire way adds a unique difficulty dynamic to the hike. The other noticeable difference in these mountains was the seemingly complete lack of switchbacks. When ascending in the Rockies, all of the trails were mostly made up of switchbacks that kept a constant but challenging ascent. Here in the Adirondacks everything seemed to a straight shot, often straight up whatever boulders and rocks made up the particular stream you were following, which very often was the actual trail! Which means getting to the summit of any of the peaks often required some simple bouldering skills (intuitive for most people) and if you missed the easy route (which I often do in my haste) could involve a degree of easy rock climbing. All of which makes for a great fun and challenging time that is compounded by the amazing views rewarded at the top.

The amazing view from Snowy Peak in the southern area of the Adirondacks.

Once at the peak, make certain not to think you've seen everything and go back down. Hiking through a short trail leads to this view from the backside. Off this ledge it is straight down all the way to the bottom so don't get too close if you have any rational fear of heights.

Snapping this shot from the ledge with the straight dropoff was a little disorienting, but well worth it. 

And right smack in the middle of the peak, is an old firetower to climb up and get a complete 360 degree view of everything around so that you don't miss a scene.

Afterwards, the way back down the mountain, though seemingly daunting from the way up, is actually not as bad as it seems. It simply requires a high degree of caution and a slow steady pace, particularly when everything is wet. At this point I must stress that no matter how quick of a hiker you are, it is very important to bring a flashlight. I, myself, barely got back before dark as my time estimates of the hike and when it should be dark did not factor in the slower terrain and the surrounding mountains and northern latitude creating a much quicker twilight than expected. Combine this with no cell phone service at all anywhere in the area and you could end up with a recipe for disaster. Which is exactly what happened to an older couple that I passed on the way back down the mountain. After waiting in my car for 30 minutes or so after finishing the hike trying to decide what to do since I could not call and alert anyone and I did not know who to contact in the next closest town, which would likely be completely shut down by this time, I had no choice but to grab a flashlight and go back looking for them to make absolutely certain they would be getting back safely. Luckily, I ran into them after a scant 30 minutes or so. And thankfully, they were prepared enough to have brought a flashlight, though by the amount of light it put out, it was still an amazing feat that they had not gone off the trail. I provided my support and encouragement and led them back in, which turned out to be quite easy with the pocket flashlight my dad had provided me that was so bright it turned the woods into daylight. After that little scare and lengthy adventure, this was one of those nights where it felt really really good to finally lay down to sleep.

1 comment:

  1. As one of the hikers you assisted that night, I can attest to the fact that you have described the deceptiveness of this mountain hike very well! Seeing your flashlight coming toward us that night was a welcome sight! Thank you so much for not only having concern for us, but for taking action. Finding the trail with our small light was very difficult. I was grateful to get out of there much quicker with your help. I wish there had been a better way to thank you for your kindness. (We were staying at a primitive spot with no shower, electric, etc.) If you're ever Cooperstown way again, let me know! (315-360-3751) Best of luck in all your adventures!