Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Almost immediately, the day was looking better. After our visit to the historically awesome aforementioned outhouse, we made our way through the trail reroute. The woods we entered were tall and thick and bore little evidence of human interaction. It was pretty cool to be on a trail that was noticeably fresh. Often times (especially on well-trod high peaks trails), you can tell that millions of human feet have gone before you. here, it seemed like we were following blazes laid out by a swarm of fairies.

Saw many of the usual toads and efts, and while taking a break to pump water and chill on a mid-mountain brook, were visited by a hummingbird. Collected a few nice pieces of quartz along the trail, one of which I gave my dad.

Have I told you guys about the herk I brought? I have been known to carry a bit of rock with me on many outdoor missions. Famously, I was toting around a nice herk for most of a summer which I would take out at the top of a mountain or during a live music performance to "charge". My dear friend and associate Gush required a herk of his own. Well, I couldn't give it to him without it being sufficiently charged...akin to giving someone a present without the accompanying batteries.

Just before we left for our hike we stopped at the rock shop in Long Lake (which is beyond awesome) and picked a huge mamma hunk of herkimer Diamond. I decided to carry it to Piseco and mail at out after sufficient charging. Well, we hurried through that post office visit so that two and a half pound mega herk traveled with us all the way to Long lake, gaining siginificant charge and almost 90 miles on foot. Much love Michael.

We made it to lake Durant in record time, the exitement growing with each step as we passed Stephen's Pond and made our way to the entrance of the camp grounds. From a distance we saw the payphone and were overjoyed......it was gone however hahaha. I guess the time of pay phones is over. We went to the admission booth and the ranger let me call my folks and also gave us some cliff bars...score!!!!

We sat down on a picnic table and awaited my parents. next to us was a water spigot. What luxury! I would drink 2 sips and then refill. No pumping!!!!! My folks got there with some bangin' Screamin Eagle subs, fruit and candy. We gorged, re-upped on backpacker meals and had some much-needed human interaction.

We are now more than halfway through our journey and the days ahead are looking bright. Though it hurts every day, I think we are through the worst of it. We got back on the trail after a warm send off from my folks and headed towards Tirell Pond. We were concerned about finding a vacant lean-to after reading in the guide that this was a popular spot for sea-plane fly in camping. Our worst fears seemed to be confirmed as a large family was milling about at the intersection to the camp site. Miracle of miracle's they were just passing through.

Another superlative lean-to with a nice sandy beach. Soaked up the solitude and enjoyed our lunch leftovers. Felt rich and happy as we got towards bed time. Full bellies and good times. lots of entertaining graffiti and chipmunks at the lean-to.

Day 6: 15 miles. total: 67 miles


Lovely wake up at another scenic lake-side lean-to. Cedar River was quite nice. The end of the hike got a bit monotonous, ending with over a mile of road walking. Jeanette reached the end of her rope a bit on  this day as I had the day before. I ended up volunteering to carry the tent for that last stretch of road if to only give her the illusion of it being slightly easier. We saw a co-worker from the museum drive by us on the stretch looking for a place to put in his kayak. Kind of random.

I can't say that I was a big fan of Wakely Dam. It was dirty and run down with garbage everywhere. There were a number of Winnebagos and pick-ups running generators throughout the day. I know people enjoy the Adirondacks and camping in a variety of ways but this was not for me. I guess I would feel differently if we had done as the guide book suggested and had friends meet us here with meat on the grill on beer in the cooler.

We set up our tent for the first time on the hike as far away from "civilization" as we could. We did very little aside from making dinner and reading quite a bit. We decided to wake up early to get to Durant (and our food pick-up) at a decent hour.

As a recommendation to future hikers, bypass the campsites around the water and keep heading up the road for less than a mile. On your left, completely isolated from the rest of the car-camp enthusiasts is a handcap equiped campsite with a STUNNING outhouse that must have been recently built. After a visit there, Jeanette and I got the spring back in our step.

As a 2018 postscript, I just wanted to sat I have a completely different perspective on Wakely Dam thanks to dear friends Sathi and Emily. They put in kayaks there all summer, paddle to a campsite and take in the splendor of Cedar River Flow one weekend at a time. Both J and I have separately gone out and had some incredible times.  

Day 5: 10 and change. Total: 52 miles

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Amazing sunrise, so good to be dry and happy. Spruce Lake will always be remembered as an incredibly beautiful and therapuetic location. The lean-to was really cool. It was weathered and warped with the lots of graffiti about epic trout with dates going back to the 60's. The view that it framed would be at home on an Adirondack post card or advertisement.

Early on it was apparent that I was hurting and tired. The miles seemed to go a bit slower. Sat down for a while on my pack and had the 'why am I doing this?' feeling for the first time on the hike.

There were a good amount of red efts on the trail. West Canada Lake's Wilderness is not overrated by the guide book. It's beautiful and still and the weather gave us it's best (thankfully on such a difficult day). Lots of green and blue to keep one foot going in front of the other.

Saw a number of backpacking pairs on this section, no singles, groups or day hikers. Met a dog or two which is always a good time. At the end of my energy and joy reserves we reached the Beaver Pond lean-to. Saved again!!!!!

From my journal: "Lean-to at Beaver Pond intersection is perfect. Too tired to write more now, maybe later?"

This place is incredible. The view was nearly as good as from Spruce Lake but the lean-to is the real hero here. Big and new and perfectly kept up. Maintained with a great deal of love and respect. It could proably sleep an entire troop of boy scouts. The fire pit was substantial and a number of large quartz boulders were used. This place looked like a great weekend excursion with lots of little trails around the lake and pond.

After laying down for a bit and eating not one but two backpacker meals for dinner I had a new lease on life and took an evening walk around the lake shore and took some pictures of this beautiful setting. Tried to get some shots of the loon that was living in the bay but it was a bit far off and came out blurry.

I highly recomend the Mountain House Beef Stroganoff. We had it for the first time that night and it rocked my world. After eating Backpacker's Pantry meals for 3 nights straight, the rich creamyness of the gravy and the big chunks of beef almost made me weep with joy. I do still recomend the Backpacker's Pantry meals (especially Katmandu Curry) as they are chock full of nutrition and fiber, but you can get pretty sick of endless variations of brown rice and beans after a while and just want some (freeze dried) home cookin'.

As Tom discusses in Nptrail.org, the section from Spruce Lake to Beaver Pond is in pretty bad shape with large section inundated with mud and water from beaver activity. Despite the muddy boots, the trail was still fairly easy to follow.

Day 4: 10 and change. Total: 42

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


We woke up to a still dripping woods from yesterdays rain. Had some oatmeal and hit the trail. Bud was starting out just behind us (having camped about .2 miles back at the second suspension bridge. It went from dripping to thunder as we made our way towards Piseco, our food drop and the outside world.

Red efts dominated the trail this morning, it being too wet for even the toads or the frogs... well, there still were a few. It rained hard until we hit town with thundering roaring every few minutes. We seemed to be staying pretty dry and in good spirits likely motivated by the thought of town in the near future. As we left the woods and hit the pavement, patches of blue sky began to push through the gray mass.

It was such a novelty to be in a store. Though we had only been in the woods for 2 nights at this point we both felt alien wandering the aisles. We shared some mac n cheese and some chili at 8am hahaha), also buying sandwiches and some pastry for our lunch. We felt unbelievably rich!! Headed down the road and towards the post office just as it was opening up. A package for us! We mailed ourselves food here and at Long Lake, also doing a pick-up in BLue Mountain Lake with a little help from the parents. Could we possibly get any richer? We had bought some ocean spray little cylinders of juice powder in single servings and these turned out to be one of the best treats on the trail.

Once back in the woods the trail was flat and devoid of rocks for the first couple of miles. With full bellies, full packs, bright sun and easy going Jeanette and I were grinning from ear to ear. A blessing, and we made killer time. Got hilly and stayed that way on our approach to the Jessup River. Quite beautiful with a highlight being the actual river crossing. Lots of great places to camp or chill but we had or sights set on Spruce Lake lean-to #2 for the night and were not gonna stop till we had our satisfaction! I would definitely return to this area for day hiking or overnights in the future.

The last portion of our hike, the approach to Spruce Lake was beautiful and challenging. We were both past the point of exhaustion and got into one of those silly ranting kind of moods that happens with long distance hiking. Spruces and a hill down marked our approach to the lake. The first lean-to was not directly on the lake and had some serious mud out front. Passing it up was one of the harder things I did on this hike. I was so tired and wanted to just keel over but knew it was the right thing to do to just get to the next one.

Our excitement grew and the distance to the next lean-to (about 0.5 miles) seemed to grow as well. The welcoming yellow on brown lean-to sign sparked a wave of elation as we pawed through the semi-overgrown trail down to the lake edge and our home for the night.

Impossibly beautiful!!!!! It was sunny with a descent wind coming of the lake. Usually not something to make you smile but I was super glad for the wind. At least half of my clothes were wet from the previous rain, a fairly foolish decision to wash clothes and hope they would dry on a rainy day.

Within 2 hours our clothes were well on the way to drying, a swim/ bath in a pristine lake was had, wood was gathered for our first fire of the trip and I had figured out why my water filter was pumping so slow. I hadn't cleaned it once on the trip and we had been pumping water in some low, sketchy areas (the first leg of NPT being in the southern, low Adirondacks). With the sediment cleaned off the first bottle pumped blessedly quick. I don't think I have ever been more happy or content in my life as we settled in for the night. From my journal: 'Inventoried gear, cleaned my filter, ready to rage the trail another day!'

This is the day when we began to establish our routine for the trip. Wake between 5 and 6 AM, hike till 2 or 3pm and chill hard till we pass out (usually about 8 pm hahaha).

Day 3: 14 miles. Total: 32 miles.

P.S. That night, with a crackling fire, and a pink sunset framed by the undulating and ancient trout assassin lean-to, the loons began to sing.

Loon calls on Spruce Lake
They sang a song sorrowful, beautiful and intense.
The fish jumped, the bats swooped in and the half-moon shone.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Woke up at Mud Lake to overcast skies with some sun. Went back to sleep after wandering around for a little bit at 6. Woke up for real again at 9:30. Got moving slow, soaked up the true joy of coffee. I use a filter that screws on top of a Nalgene bottle. You put the coffee into this fine metal screen, pour in the hot water and then shake for 5 minutes. It's thick, it's strong it does the job. Sold in the cooking section of EMS.

The trail from Mud Lake to the Sacandaga River was seriously perfect for moving. Downhill with few rocks and a wide trail. At the river I pumped water a bit nervously not knowing what amount of human or agricultural activity was going on upstream. At the suspension bridge, there was a fantasy movie being being shot with cheap camcorders by some creepy middle-aged men wearing leather gauntlets. When I came upon I saw a few children with capes and swords. I kind of assumed it was some local nerds out role-playing before I saw the camera. There was an orc (one of the few adult actors), with horns and decent make-up. There were also many children 8-16 in renaissance fair type gear. The younger they were, the less elaborately dressed.

The hike from the river to our eventual second lean-to was not super eventful, some pretty woods with some nice big old growth, a lovely second suspension bridge with a good tent spot just past it.

We arrived at the Hamilton Stream Lean-to and decided to have a snack (Tuna on cracker) and pump some water. As I wandered back to the stream to pump, a light drizzle began to fall. After pumping for over an hour, the rain had not stopped. Bud, who was right behind us for most of the day decided to tent at the suspension bridge site. He had a military style water filter which pumped 2 liters in about 5 minutes. It was taking me almost 30 minutes to fill one Nalgene.

We decided, still exhausted from the start of our adventures to stay the night at the lean-to we were already chilling at. We read, played cards and for the first time in our camping careers, simply relaxed at a campsite for the day (finished hiking around 2 or so). It turned out to be a really nice time, watching the rain fall from our cozy shelter.

day 2: 4.8 miles. 2 day total: 18 miles.

A hummingbird, Jeanette's totem for the hike, visited me while I was pumping water. I t was shiny green, a bit iradescent and tasted an orange flower.
Many toads! a land of toads

found a piece of stoneware, left it at Hamilton Stream Lean-to.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Jeanette and I worked the week before we started the Northville-Placid Trail in Plattsburg (Chazy actually). We drove down to my folks camp in Eagle Bay that Friday. We had Walter with us, he would be staying with my parents while we were in the woods. The plan was to drive to the end of the trail, the Averyville rd trailhead in Lake Placid where we would meet up with Tom the shuttle man who would drive us to the start of our journey In Upper Benson, NY.

Woke up at 5Am to leave by 7. Mom made lots of strong coffee and tasty breakfeast. We saw two deer and a coyote cross the road near Tupper and a bear on the side of 28 the night before. Tom was there waiting at the trailhead right at 9am, reclining on the bed-edge of an old but well-maintained gray pick-up. The drive down was lovely.

Met Derrick at the trailhead wearing his grandfather's safari hat. We set up our bags and ate some Screamin' Eagle pizza for good luck and nice times. The first stretch of trail had some really nice campsites (an easy day hike in for a nice weekend in the woods), especially the one right before the bridge over West Stormy or Goldmine Creek.

Silver Lake was quite lovely. After hiking about 7 miles we rested there and had another fine Derrick gourmet cheese nosh. Jeanette slipped into a nap on her pad (an endearing little habit she's formed) while Derrick and I discussed safety for the rest of our trip and watched some dragonflies and frogs. We met Bud there. He started the trail a few hours before us and had found his lean-to for the night. He was hiking solo and looked to be doing some fishing and solitude pursuit as well as hiking. Derrick followed us as far as to the next water source where he filled his bottle. We parted ways.

Just before approaching Canary Pond, a beaver meadow/ wetland (visible on the map) presented us with our first challenge of will on our journey. From my journal: 'the beaver meadow was an up-to-the-knee mudfest, quite debilitating to the soul'. After Jeanette's trying struggle in the bog of despair we made it to the shore of Canary pond where we planned on washing up and making sure none of the 'worms' we encountered in the marsh got too comfortable on our feet.

We stumbled through a tent site with 3 tarp and hammock set-ups. As we approached the shore, 3 dudes and 5(?) dogs we are wrenched out of an afternoon sun-baked nap next to the lapping waters. Three of the dogs were size-able and irate Bull Mastiffs. The Owner eventually settled them down and we shared a conversation with these guys. They had been doing this hike each summer for several years and were doing it North to south, the opposite of the standard approach. Got some great advice and encouragement which got us back on our feet for the last stretch.

A blur to the next Lean-to (Mud Lake, our first) as we were very tired. Beautiful place, lean-to in great condition. Slept many hours.

Day 1: 13.2 miles

we saw frogs, toads, dragonflies, a hawk (which followed us), and assorted small birds including a grouse.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Greatest Hits

      I wanted to share some favorite pics and memories of hiking from the past few years as my excitement builds for our upcoming thru-hike of the Northville Placid trail. Around this time last year Jeanette and I were falling deeply in love......with hiking and backpacking. We shook hands and decided we would hike the trail  the next summer. I'm not sure if either of us really believed we would follow through with what, at the time, was still a bit out of our league. Jeanette bought the trail guide,we went on with our hiking, camping and falling in love.

     So here we are, mere days away from our wander through the adirondack wilderness. If it weren't for some of the incredible times we've had exploring that I'd like to share with you, this dream would not have ripened so sweetly. Be safe out there and keep love and appreciation for all of these wonders as your center. Kieran Murphy rule in full effect.

The Tetons from Grand Targhee. Can't wait to go west again
One of Jeanette's amazing shots from the summit of Gothics. Possibly one of my favorite hikes...ever.

Rattlesnakes on Alander Mountain. This Mountain also includes a summit cabin and fields of blubes (blueberries DUH).
Giant Mountain has a nubble and a washbowl...and a bad-ass waterfall

A beautiful night spent camping on the AT. A chance meeting with some thru-hikers= much needed inspiration just when we needed it the most.
Bear Mountain Bridge as seen from Anthony's Nose. Some amazing hikes around Peekskill

My First look at Algonquin and the Mac range. Some say this idol still wanders Phelps Brook Valley...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eagle Cliff

      Jeanette, Randy, Diddy and I all came up fourth of July weekend to my folks cabin in Eagle Bay. We had a great first night by the campfire, followed by a lovely hike to Queer Lake Lean-too. Jeanette and I did this (3.8 mi I believe?) hike in the fall and immediately made a mental note to return. Great lean-too, right on the water, great views of a priiiistine lake and a magical peninsula location.
      The four of us had an awesome swim on a hot day then had a delicious Mediterranean style lunch with hummus, pita, veggies and bean salad. This was followed by a great cook out with my folks and another night by the campfire, singing songs, drinking beers and sharing rounds of Bulleit (One of my favorite fire-side beverages).
       The next day, I woke up when nature called (we tented out behind the cabin) around 6:15, looked up the hillside and noticed a nearly full-grown bear ambling down. He was likely interested in the chip and s'mores crumbs littered around the fire pit, remnants of our evening's revery. I woke up Jeanette to take a look (her first bear!) and after getting a bit too close to Randy and Diddy's tent, she asked me if that was ok. I decided it wasn't. "Dude".....no response......"DUDE".........not even a look in our direction. "DUDE!!!!!" I yelled while Jeanette clapped her hands. Said bear finally decided that his/her mellow was sufficiently harshed that it decided to amble (at its leisure) next door to the O'Connor's.

     My folks cabin is at the base of a little hill with big personality. It's called Eagle Cliff. Local lore has it that a mating pair of Bald Eagle's nested there in the 70's. When I was a kid, we would climb it at least a handful of times each summer. Many sandwiches were had on its lovely overlook. This rocky ledge has commanding views of the Fulton Chain of Lakes, Inlet and the surrounding Mountains.

    The best part of the view for our family was that of the Eagle Bay beach. We could see the docks and even the canoe/ kayak racks where my sister, mother and I spent so many sunny summer days. When I began Kayaking on the lake 2 summers ago, the distinctive white pines on its summit became a useful beacon for guiding me to shore.

       I came to realize that I knew few places as well as I knew the trail and summit of this humbly stunning little rise of land. While this realization gave me great sense of contentedness it led me down a path towards a second realization.... With all of my hundreds of hiking pictures in the high peaks, catskills, and countless other regions, ranges and rivers, I hadn't yet taken any from my home base. The center of my families universe, the warm spot in our hearts where we keep our joy.
Earlier in the summer I took an evening stroll up to the summit and had a little photo shoot. In this process, I got to know my center a bit better and tend it for future joy-core.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mohonk Preserve and the Catskill escarpment trail bro hike June-july 2010

    After 2 great weekends in the high peaks we scaled it back a smidgen and did some exploring in different regions to the south. Family played prominently in these hikes both for the good and for the slightly annoying.

     Memorial day weekend Jeanette and I decided to head to the 'Gunks (her first time, my second) to explore Bonticou Crag and Table Rock. This is truly a beautiful area and we can't wait to take a trip down again and do some trail riding on their huge network. Lets quickly get through the bad and move on to the good. It was extremely crowded (busy holiday weekend) with big families taking their once yearly outing to the woods. Jeanette and I literally ran away from one such family when a tweener loudly squealed to her mother "Do you think Justin Bieber is going to be on Gleeeeeee?" Oh the horror!
       Bonticou Crag was a wicked fun scramble with some great views of the Catskills looming out of the haze to the north. Table Rock was fun to revisit with lots of great memories of my first rock climbing trip there with Crystal, Mike and Ryan a few years back when we crossed paths with a Black bear.


   Saw some vultures busting moves over table rock while eating lunch and also saw a fox bounding down the trail. Jeanette had seen one earlier while we were wandering separately and wasn't 100% certain it wasn't a dog. The second view confirmed it. Really neat to see on the trail. Beuatiful wildflowers everywhere in the fields on this lovely spring day.

        We stopped in town at Rock and Snow in order to pick up the NY/NJ Trail Conference map packet for the 'Gunks area. I highly recommend this companies' maps. Great detail and easy to read with cool history info in the margins. You can also rent climbing gear from Rock and Snow for reasonable prices (as I did the first time I went climbing there).

               The first weekend of June, was lucky enough to get to do a hike in the Catskills with my brother Brain (and of course with my lovely trail companion Jeanette too!) We decided to do the Escarpment Trail out of the North and South Lake area with Inspiration Point as our destination. You can do this hike without having to pay the day use fees by parking just outside the gates at the Shute road trailhead.

      We were really blown away by the views on this hike. It's no wonder this area was one of the centers from which the Hudson River School of artists drew inspiration. There was old graffiti carved into the stone at many of the overlooks, dating to the early 19th century. This is a cool area to hike as it is part of a large network with many opportunities to lengthen or shorten the duration of the hike based on the needs of the group.

  We elected to push on further and closed our loop with a stop at the former site of the Kaaterskill Hotel and then down along the lake for a total of around 7 or 8 miles. We were tired but not floored since there is only a 500 ft change in elevation over the course of the hike.

       Super fun hike and was amped to use my recently acquired Catskills map packet (once again, from the NY/ NJ trail conference) and scout out some future hikes. We thought it would actually be worth the use fees to spend a weekend here with friends. Some could just chill and grill, others could do longer hikes, shorter hikes and/ or rent a kayak and paddle around the lake. Might see if Randy and Diddy are interested after festival season winds down.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dix via Round Pond 5/22/10-5/23/10

             Jeanette, Mike, Crystal and I got to the trailhead (shortly before Giant trailhead on the left on rte 73) mid-morning saturday. The group put on their boots, made final pack and snack adjustments, and began heading down the trail. Up and over a small ridge, we were immediately immersed in the Dix Mountain Wilderness and so paused to soak it up overlooking Round Pond.

      Along the lake it became apparent that spring was in full swing with birds, wildflowers and all other kinds of green growth engaging all of our senses. we saw painted trillium everywhere on this hike, in greater numbers than I've ever seen before. We attempted to find wild dill (Mike and I smelled it everywhere) but struck out once I again. I will find and eat this plant! We did gather some fiddleheads but were not sure if it was too late in the season or what the brown fuzzy stuff on them was all about.

      The next phase involved a fairly grueling (with full pack) ascent through a notch to the shore of the Bouquet River. The hike was level from here to the lean-to, which we reached after passing the intersection with the trails to Round and Noonmark Mountains. The hike in was quite lovely and as we got closer, views of Dix Mountain began to emerge behind the river to the south.
      We decided to push on to dix after setting up camp and eating lunch (empty lean-too!). The trail began to climb gradually along several Bouquet River tributaries. After maybe 1.5 miles we reached the base of the slide and began to appreciate how truly massive this mountain is. Immediately after this moment of awe and wonder the trail began to get serious. Ascending along the edge of the slide, the trail had a severely steep pitch with some mud, skeletal exposed tree roots and fist-sized loose gravel. We climbed up on all fours for the most part until reaching the col where it leveled out. Now on top of this 4300 ft and rising ridge, the winds starts buffeting us with reminders of how small and mortal we are. After making a left at the intersection, we entered the alpine zone and soon the trees were only chest high and stunning views of the Dix range to our south and the great range and beyond to our north were unavoidably stellar.

Summit: (JC-13, CS-15, MF-3, CM-3)some of my favorite views of the high peaks on a perfect spring day. I'm now pretty exited to hike down in Elk lake and do the rest of the Dix range. Exposed and rocky summit with 360 degree view.

        Inched our way down the steep inclines and made it back to the base of the slide before dark which was our goal and made our way using headlamps for the last half mile. The clear night and bright moon helped keep us on trail but this trail could use some of the newer type DEC trail blazes/ nails which seem to blaze out in the night when your headlamp hits em. Only real critique for my first experience in this particular section of the high peaks. We had a great clean lean-too, clean fire pit and a good supply of wood ready to go. Cooked dinner and poked some coals while enjoying some wild turkey. Slept hard and comfortably, greatly enjoying the recent addition of a ground pad to the sleep rig. Can't believe we ever didn't have them!

        Food musings: Solid breakfast of oatmeal (with craisins, awwwww yeaah!), turkey bacon and home fries. The home fries came together like this: I threw a whole clove of garlic, wrapped in tin foil with a little bit of olive oil into the coals before bed. Crystal cut up a bunch of fingerling (easy to transport) potatoes and garlic the night before which we didn't get around to eating after awesome Zatarain's , broccoli and Kielbasa. I had brought a small frying pan for the first time camping after an unfortunate boiled breakfast sausage incident. Cooked it all up with some olive oil in this funky, handle-less three section frying pan which was procured in Boonville. After fussing too much over it a while and sat back and chilled, getting the feel of the pan and cooked up some rockin' potatoes! Good call on Mike bringing an italian spice blend grinder.

In summary:

Frying pan: win!fingerlings: win!coal-roasted garlic:win!spice grinder: win!jeanette's Chocolate choice (Hanaford brand belgian massive 7 ouncer: win!olive oil in small plastic containers: win!

Headed out of camp way early than we thought (met someone with a watch and our estimates were 2 hours off!) we reached the intersection with Noonmark and a decision was reached: if we climbed Noonmark, we'd have to eat lunch at the Noonmark Dinner. Jeanette stayed at the creekside intersection, to enjoy basking in the sun on her ground pad, reading Pygmy and lurking on french-canadians. The noonmark ascent (1100 ft in a mile roughly) was fun and demanding with some really nice up close and personal looks at the southern faces of the great range. Bounded down and met up with Jeanette (and our packs) and gathered our strength for the trip out. While we did two yellow-bellied sapsuckers performed some serious stunts, flying right between us, trees and the creek, appearing to do figure 8's. From here on out, not too bad or too long and we were soon out in the parking lot, tired and joyful from our 15 mile weekend.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Phelps and Tabletop via Marcy Dam 5/15/10-5/1610


Hiked in from South meadow Parking/ camping area starting around 10:30. 2.4 miles in to Marcy dam. Rolling, mellow route in, dry conditions. Set up camp at 3rd tent site on the left. Attempted to use the Island camp site we used after algonquin hike but creek was too high (I fell in trying to cross back hehehe). Good little piece of high ground, would use again.

Ate lunch, set up camp and packed daypack. Headed up the blue-blazed, VH trail. 0.7 miles to Phelps Brook campsite and than another 0.3 to the intersection with the Phelps trail. 1 more steeper mile to Indian Falls, cloudy but stellar views of Algonquin and the rest of the McKintyre range. jeanette was pretty blown away by this perfectly framed view as I was my first time there.

Trail to tabletop was marked with a sign and cairn just before indian falls. Tight,Well cut (but not blazed trail) which got gradually steeper till the flat and muddy summit. Great views from the approach after climbing out of the slowly dripping pine forest and into the alpine.

Summit: (J 11, C 14) wooded at geogrpahic summit, with a view just past. Marcy dominate, my closest glimpse yet. Skylight, haystack and Basin all seemed so tremendous and stoic. Epic and unique monster view.

Tired but jolly ascent, a tough but beautiful experience, sang many songs and laughed alot. No idol sitings though we investigated familiar looking niches coming and going. odd thumpings heard from the camp site. Grouse? I don't think so but maybe. Jeanette thought it was drums. Pretty regular duration though intermitent.

Woke up slowly and made breakfast. Hiked back up VH trail and got water where they are putting the bridge in at Phelps Brook. Great, sunny weather and the first mile up to the Phelps intersection flew.

The next mile, to the summit of Phelps felt quite long and grueling despite the beautiful forest and sun. It took us almost 2 hours (our usual high peak mile is about an hour). Had a lovely photo shoot all the way up trail ended up snapping about 150 pics for the day.

Though the climb was tough-ass, the views we began encountering once we hit the alpine zone were well worth the strain. The Macs, Colden, Tabletop and Marcy all looked close enough to touch and framed with lovely blue sky and strategically placed cloud banks.

Summit: (J 12, C 14) Cliff edge summit with stunning views of all the aforementioned mountains with the great range just beyond. We met a woman in her 50's or 60's with a very well behaved german shepperd and were thoroughly inspired by both.

The descent went suprisingly fast, got one last bottle of cold mountain water for the drive home. Though tired and sore, the breakdown and pack out were quite pleasant with us chatting about what treats we would get at the Keene Stewarts.

14.4 mile total weekend, two new high peaks for Jeanette and my triumphant (despite the tumble into the creek) return to Phelps.