Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lesser 46ers deliver big

Gil brook near Indian Head 
We headed back country in the Adirondack High Peaks for the Labour Day weekend to enjoy the essential life of the outdoors for a few days.

It was a stellar weekend.

A lovely and very large camp site just for us.
The drive down on Saturday was fast, as I didn't need to stop in at US Immigration due to my still valid I-94. We left our car in a spot at the 73 at St. Huberts hiker parking that had just become available - sometimes, on one of the busies hiking weekends, it pays to arrive relatively late in the day. From there access to the back country runs through the private Adirondack Mountain Reserve - Ausable Club (A short history - driven by conservation). Mandatory trail head registration featured the Club's security person quizzing us on our overnight plans, whether we had bear barrels and so on. Satisfied that we were well equipped for 3 days he wished us a fine trip.

Inga on a cloudy Colvin summit.
After about an hour we left the private Lake Road, and within 30 minutes we located a designated camp site near Indian Head. Arriving much faster than expected, we decided to set up camp and then work up a proper appetite. As the trail became noticeably steeper that worked very well. By 6:30 pm we were set up by the brook to heat up dinner. An hour later dusk began to rapidly turn to dark.

The rain arrived on cue overnight. We lucked into a dry spell for breakfast and then headed out on the trail to Mt Colvin and Blake. These are two of the lesser 46ers. In fact, Blake is a historic artifact, since it is not quite 4,000' in height. (These two are 4,057' and 3,980' respectively.) However, the 46ers years ago decided to not alter the historic list just because newer surveys recalibrated heights a little better.

Hiking out on a super beautiful, sunny day.
Still life of boots drying and gear awaiting packing.
Summit-wise, neither offered us much: Colvin was engulfed in clouds and Blake is in the trees. Hiking-wise, we enjoyed the usual Adirondack wilderness challenges of steep, rocky and wet terrain that requires the hiker's constant attention and vigilance. One hallmarks of the remarkable technical hiking here is that the descent often takes as long as the ascent did; this 7-mile return took us about 7 hours through rain and clouds and mud. We met just 5 other people in 2 groups all day: When the weather forecast is for adverse weather, the back country-exploring population drops dramatically. This usually feels like a bonus; at least as long as the weather is "bad within reason".

By the time we settled back at camp to make dinner, the rain had subsided and we enjoyed a well deserved meal by our own private brook.

On Sunday, we had a leisurely morning followed by a quick hike out and a drive to Chapel Pond, the best High Peaks swimming hole. The it was off to The Cottage in Lake Placid for a late lunch, a bit of shopping and a beautiful drive home.
Best patio in Lake Placid! The Cottage at Mirror Lake. 

In recent years, wilderness has taken an ever greater place in my world. These days, it is the  perhaps mythical place where we can still roam freely that makes most sense to me. Living in a city, even one as splendid and close to the outdoors as Ottawa, has me feeling wistful for the essentialness, the self-reliance of the unpaved.

It's great to have the Adirondack wilderness close by and to have mountain excursions and wild places on my mind for the next adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Nice trip report! I also did Colvin and Blake in the rain.
    Nice stove - I have the same one;)
    I agree about Chapel Pond - though I also love Mirror Lake swimming and it's lack of motorized boats!
    The Cottage is a good spot - though Big Mountain Deli is my fave :)