On Thursday morning, January 30, 2020, I took a quick trip up to the High Peaks region of New York to climb Cascade and Porter Mts. I usually avoid Cascade as it is perhaps the most popular high peak, given its ease of access and short distance. During the spring, summer, and fall this trail is extremely busy, and because of that, not very enjoyable.
However, it is a fantastic hike. When I arrived at 8:00am the temperature was 3F. For any Adirondack winter hike, correct gear is a must – wool and microfiber clothing, in layers is vital. No cotton.
The trail was well broken out, as expected, which made for a faster pace. I used micro-spikes from start to finish. Snowshoes would have been overkill. The scenery was beautiful. Windswept and frozen trees against the clear blue sky. There are several places as you gain elevation for spectacular views to inspire and motivate to reach the top.
Porter Mt. is .7 from the Cascade trail. There is a quick loss and gain of elevation on the way out and back, but nothing of consequence. Porter is often an overlooked peak, but it does provide breathtaking views of the surrounding high peaks.
From the Porter summit to Cascade is a very quick 20 to 25 minutes. Cascade provides amazing 360 views of the high peaks, over to Lake Placid, and down to the trail head on Rt. 73. It is a bald summit, and in summer is a great spot to sit and take in the majesty of the Lord’s creation.
For a late January day the summit was very comfortable, even though it was probably in the single digits. No wind to speak of on the summit helped, and I was down to my marino wool base layer.
I spent about 30 minutes on top and had the summit to myself the entire time, as I did on Porter. On the way down I ran into the first people I saw all morning, and had a very pleasant conversation with them, sharing hiking notes and stories. I was a bit concerned with the other groups that I ran into closer to the trail head – no gear, improper footwear, and from what I could see, no water. I am not usually critical of people on the trail, but heading up to a high peak, on a cold winter day without proper gear puts other people at risk, namely the rangers and first responders who would be sent to fetch you. Always bring proper gear – and know how to use it.
Pictured above is my winter pack. I wasn’t sure if the trail to Porter would be broken out, so I strapped my snowshoes (MSR Lightening Ascents 30″) to my pack – I generally do anyway, as it is a good habit to foster. Also, my Black Diamond ice ax. I didn’t think I would need it, but its good to have the tools of winter. Inside you will find: extra socks, shirt, gloves and hat; crampons; goggles; outer shell jacket in the sleeping bag compartment; food; map; headlamp; compass; TP; bivy bag; first-aid kit; and assorted other items. I carried 60 liters of water as well in the side pockets insulated by wool socks stored upside down (consumed about half of it). My pack is an Osprey Kestrel 48L, and I absolutely love this pack.
Totals: 6 miles, 2,300’ of elevation gain, move time: 2.5 hrs. Time on trail: 3.5 hrs.
Hope you enjoyed this quick report. Blessings.