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.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The wonderful world of blahg-core

Well here it goes....this blog's main focus will be to document and share my adventures hiking and backpacking throughout New York State and beyond. I thought I'd start by sharing some snowboarding pics from Jackson Hole and Gore taken this january. heading to the High Peaks this weekend so stay tuned for a full report on Monday(ish). Enjoy!