Trails-less Traveled 2

Along the West Branch Sacandaga River, outside of Arietta, New York, about 2.5 miles in.

Hike Date: October 23, 2020

Destination: North Branch Mountain
ADK Location: Silver Lake Wilderness
Roundtrip Mileage: 10 +/-
Elevation: 2738 ft.
Elevation gain: 888 ft.

As in my previous Trails-less Traveled post, this trailhead is one that I have passed frequently. After my visit to Chub Mountain, I decided to investigate other mountains nearby. As I examined my map I noted Sherman Mt., and North Branch Mountain. While there is a trail that leads in their general direction, neither of these mountains have trails to their summits. A perfect place to fine tune some bushwhacking skills. For those who don’t know, a bushwhack is a means of travel that uses map, compass, GPS, and natural landmarks to navigate to a destination where either there are no trails, or you desire to approach from a different direction.

My original plan was to head directly out to North Branch Mountain, which would require about 1.5 mile bushwhack from the end of the trail at the wetland to reach the summit.

I arrived at the trailhead a little later than expected, around 8:45am. I intended to make up the time delay, and move a bit faster while on trail. The first mile or so of the trail has numerous junctions and offshoots that are not indicated on the map, which shows only one junction. With my compass and map, and using my compass and landmarks, I was able to resolve directional issues rather quickly. Yet, I realized that I would probably only get North Branch Mountain on this day, and would have to leave Sherman for another time, as I had an afternoon appointment at my office before Friday evening Shabbat service. So, North Branch it was.

Two vital tools for any trek, trail or no.

I made steady progress to the terminus of the trail indicated on the map, just on the edge of a wetland area; this wetland area would be my baseline landmark for navigating out and back. When you reach the end of the trail, you can see the beginning of North Branch Mountain off in the distance. With the water level low I was able to keep to one side, and then turn into the woods and begin the bushwhack. With the bearing set on my compass, and seeing the faint tracks of another hiker from the day before, I was heading in the right direction. In about .4 of a mile I began my ascent up the steep side of the mountain.

Beginning the ascent up North Branch Mountain.

Fallen leaves, on top of wet rocks and mud, can be almost as bad as ice. It had been a rainy week, so the ground was wet. Steady progress up. The summit is wooded, as expected. This trek, however, was not about the views from a summit, but the bushwhack itself. Plotting a course, taking a bearing, identifying landmarks from the map in the field, and safely completing the bushwhack portion of the trek.

An interesting section of North Branch Mountain.

As I descended from the summit I decided to bend toward the draw and follow the drainage down. I knew that this would deliver me about 100 yards from where I began my ascent. Knowing that at the base I would turn right, now following a reverse azimuth, I would begin to listen for the sound of the river that would deliver me back to the wetland where I began my bushwhack.

This is the end of the trail on the map. It is the edge of a wetland, which is just ahead.
This is the view about 100 yards from the beginning of the wetland, you can see a shoulder of North Branch Mountain in the distance.

Dialing in map and compass skills, and identifying geographic features and sounds, noting positions, etc., is key to returning safely from a bushwhack. At one point on my way back, having forgotten that the drainage took me further east than I anticipated, I stopped, had a drink and said, “I think I’m lost.” No. Checking my compass, I was right on track. In fact, I was about 50 ft. from the break in the trees that would allow me to walk along the side of the wetland, the exact spot I passed through earlier. Trusting your tools, once you know how to use them, is vital.

A view along the semi-maintained trail.

The way out was relatively uneventful, but enjoyable nonetheless. This was the longest intended bushwhack I had done, about 3 miles total. I took my time heading out, stopping to admire the river, the beaver huts and dams, and have a snack or two.

Overall, an excellent, short hike in an area not heavily trafficked. I plan to visit again to snowshoe, and explore a little further into the wild.

State marker indicated a wilderness area at the trailhead parking area on Rt. 10 just over the bridge out of Arietta NY. You can enter here, and take the trail on the right to the river, but see below.
An easier trail to take is at the end of the trailhead parking area toward the bridge. My trekking pole is next to the break in the weeds that begins the footpath.
This is first break in the trail that I was not expecting. Here, you bear left.

Next time, Sherman Mountain.

That’s Not Yours!

The Song of the Mountains – Verse 41

Are they here yet? 

When I was ten, or thereabouts, roller skates were the must have item of the year. Apparently they had made a comeback from some earlier era. I seem to recall my mother ordering them for my birthday; and in the pre-Amazon Prime era, orders would take two or three weeks to arrive from a store catalogue. What a wait! I wanted them so bad. Several of my friends had them already, but a few of us were in a jealous holding pattern. But then, finally, they arrived. As you might expect, after a week or two, perhaps less, after crashing too many times to count, they were put in a closet and I forgot about them. All these years later, I remember the wait more than I do the enjoyment of the skates themselves. Ironic.


The tenth commandment is the right and logical conclusion to the Decalogue, specifically to the second table regarding interpersonal relationships. If we guard the tenth commandment, we will not murder, commit adultery, steal, or bear false witness against our neighbor as a benefit to ourselves. 

Like the last several commandments, which guard the sanctity of the object of the command, the tenth commandment guards the sanctity of motives. What is motive? Although there are several definitions for motive, depending on its use as a noun or adjective, for our purpose here, motive is the hidden or undisclosed reason for doing something.

The hidden.     

The tenth commandment, then, deals solely with the internal. It is instructing us to guard the sanctity of our motives, which ultimately lead to our actions. Among the ten commandments, it is the only one dealing exclusively with the internal thought life of man. This is an interesting concept, and one that seems contradictory to how the Apostolic and Hebrew Scriptures are taught. Often, Christian Bible teachers will suggest that the Torah, more specifically the ten commandments, are concerned with external action and appearance over that of the internal nature or condition of humanity; while the Apostolic Scriptures, it is argued, are concerned with the internal nature and condition of humanity.

It is an internal safeguard.  

The tenth commandment, among others, demonstrates that the Lord, at the giving of the Torah through Moses, was concerned with the internal condition of His people. Consider these additional examples:

  1. Leviticus 19:17-18, “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove you neighbor, for certain, and bear no sin because of him. Do not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”
  2. Exodus 25:1-2, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, that they take up a contribution for Me. From everyone whose heart moves him you shall take up My contribution.”

Martin Luther wrote that the tenth commandment was not for those who are placed behind bars, but for those who believe that they have conformed to the Law. 

So how should we understand this commandment in messianic faith today?

            The commandment reads:

לֹא תַחְמֹד, בֵּית רֵעֶךָ; לֹא-תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ, וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ וְשׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ, וְכֹל, אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָ

            “Do not covet the house of your neighbor; do not covet your neighbors wife, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything belonging to your neighbor.” (Personal translation.) 

The first clause commands us not covet our neighbors’ house. The Lord is not referring to his physical dwelling place; but rather, his wife, servants, and possessions, as it concludes, וְכֹל, אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָ, “or all that belongs to your neighbor.” 

Yeshua/Jesus, and the apostles speak as to the serious nature of negative coveting. James speaks of being enticed, then leading to action based on desire that is sinful (James 1:13-15). Paul writes, “For this you know, that no one who whores, nor unclean one, nor greedy of gain, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Messiah and God.” (Eph. 5:5; cf. I Cor. 6:9-10; Col. 3:5). An interesting historical note is that no other ancient near eastern culture had a command against coveting.

If we express this simply, the tenth commandment specifies three things in life that are often coveted: money, sex, and the means to accumulate wealth and power – servants and animals. When the human heart covets, in order to gain what is coveted, it will more than likely be necessary to violate one or more of the other commandments to acquire what is desired; which is perhaps why we find a command guarding the human heart at the close of the Decalogue. 

Defining “covet.”

Covet is from the Hebrew root חמד, meaning: to delight, greatly beloved, covet, lust, or a precious thing. We see that it can be used in both a positive and negative sense. In the positive sense, Paul tells us to “covet” the better gifts (I Cor. 12:31). Additionally, Proverbs tells us to covet our spouse (Prov. 18:22). Further, Peter tells us to “covet” Scripture (I Pet. 2:2). Moreover, Paul also tells us that it is acceptable to “covet” a leadership position (I Tim. 3:1). It is interesting that Paul mentions the tenth commandment specifically with regard to his conversion experience, as covetousness was the sin that took occasion in him, and did a work in him (Ro. 7:7-12), as he writes, “And the command which was to result in life, this I found to result in death.

What is the cure for coveting?

Rabbi Dr. Joseph Hertz explains, “This Commandment goes to the root of all evil actions – the unholy instincts and impulses of predatory desire, which are the spring of nearly every sin against a neighbor. The man who does not covet his neighbor’s goods will not bear false witness against him; he will not rob nor murder, nor will he commit adultery. It commands self-control; for every man has it in his power to determine whether his desires are to master him, or he is to master his desires. Without such self-control, there can be no worthy human life; it alone is the measure of true manhood or womanhood. ‘Who is strong?’ ask the rabbis. ‘He who controls his passions,’ is their reply.”

We would certainly find this definition compatible and consistent with messianic teaching. Consider the fruit of the Spirit in the teaching of Paul, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustworthiness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is not instruction” (Gal. 5:22-23). Or Paul’s words to Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of self-control” (II Tim. 1:7). Furthermore, Paul’s comments regarding the last days, “For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of silver, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, thankless, wrongdoers, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, haters of good, betrayers, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3:2-4). We might say that we have surely arrived at this today, yet Paul’s description is consistent with all ages. 

Be satisfied.  

Hebrews teaches us that the key is to be satisfied; we read, “Let your way of life be without the love of silver, and be satisfied with what you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I shall never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

Being satisfied, or content, is not our natural condition; but in faith, it is the antidote to covetousness. To covet is to demonstrate a lack of faith in the Lord. If we needed more, He would provide. If He needed us to do, He would enable. If we were ready, He would set in place. If we were adequately prepared for a different stage in life, it would happen. Yet, in all matters and circumstances, we are to praise Him, even if that circumstance is an apparent lack.  

It’s a theological problem. 

The issue before us is, actually, theological. Coveting is a theological problem, as it is the result of a lack of, or weakness in faith. The Westminster Shorter Catechism explains succinctly, “The Tenth Commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor and all that is his.”

It’s a common problem.  

All of us have coveted at some point, over some thing: a neighbor’s new car; a co-workers raise; the recognition of academic achievement of another, roller skates, etc.  So when we come to the recognition of our sin of covetousness, the same remedy is available to us, as with every other sin – Messiah Yeshua. Remember, when we are in Yeshua, the Father sees us as if we have obeyed perfectly, never having sinned; seeing only the righteousness of His Son. We will fall short, again, and again. We will momentarily lose focus on the Lord, His provision, purpose and plan; but the Holy Spirit will gently correct. 

Let this be an encouragement. 

Paul wrote, “Not that I speak concerning need, for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am” (Phil. 4:11). Yet, as he wrote elsewhere, he was not teaching from a position of having arrived at the goal of perfection (Phil. 3:12); but from the place of the Lord’s work in progress – just as we are. This commandment, then, is a guard for the heart. 

Shalom. Be well.

Trails-less Traveled – 1

Chub Lake, Arietta, NY.

The trails-less traveled series will focus on trail-less, unmaintained, or lesser traveled trails, mountains, and destinations in the Adirondack Park.

Hike Date: October 9, 2020.

Tomany Mountain.

Trailhead parking on Rt. 10. Enter the trail across the road, about 10ft. from the guardrail, it is not marked, see below.
Entry point for the trail, it will be obvious as you get closer.

Location: Rt. 10, Hamilton County, NY.
ADK Location: Ferris Lake Wild Forest
Roundtrip milage: 3.9 +/-
Elevation: 2589ft.
Elevation gain: 1150ft.

I have driven by this trailhead parking area dozens of times, but never knew what trail originated there. Map out. Tomany Mt. The trail up Tomany Mt. has not been maintained officially since the late 1980’s, most likely ending with the decommissioning of the fire tower that once stood on top of this mountain. The tower was disassembled in 1987. The trail follows, roughly, a line of old telephone poles, with some very old DEC foot trail markers. While not maintained officially, some kind hiker(s) has marked the trail with orange, or orange and black, surveyors tape. At points you can lose these markers, or they have fallen off, specifically about .3 from the summit. The trail has some blowdown, but not too bad. As you follow the trail, which takes you slightly around the summit, you will end up by the foundation for the old observers cabin. See pics below.

Overall, it is an enjoyable hike. Nothing too strenuous, but as always, be prepared for entering the ADK backcountry.


Observers cabin foundation, with steps.
A well-pump head laying on the ground.
The footings for the fire tower.
The disregarded remains of the fire tower.

While this is a short trail, being technically trail-less, it will require some bushwhacking skills, along with a map and compass to be safe. Do not overlook this gem of the southern Adirondacks. While there are limited views, apart from winter, it is a beautiful and historic place to visit.

An example of the surveyors tape, and telephone pole found along the trail.
About .5 in where the Tomany Mt. trail crosses the snowmobile trail.
Steps to the observers cabin.
One of the footers for the tower, located about 100ft. from the observers cabin foundation.
Another view of the fire tower footings.
The remains of the fire tower.
Old footpath marker.
Old footpath marker on one of the telephone poles.
Well-pump from the observers cabin.
A nicer section of the trail. The trail is easy to follow for most of the trek in.
Taking in the scenery, and reflecting on Tomany Mt. from the stairs of the observers cabin.

Chub Lake Mountain

Location: Arietta, Rt. 10, Hamilton County, NY.
ADK Location: Silver Lake Wilderness
Roundtrip milage: 2.1 +/-
Elevation: 2109ft.
Elevation gain: 500ft +/-.

Another trailhead parking area that I’ve wondered about for some time. Again to the map. Unlike Tomany Mt., Chub Lake Mt. has no trail, but three different trails leading to it. From where you park, it will seem obvious that you enter the woods directly off the parking area. At this entry point, there is a trail on the left that will take you to Chub Lake, about .2 of a mile. If, from your vehicle, you walk towards the woods just to the left of the guardrail, a trail begins there that will take you to a marked campsite, the other trail ends up in the campsite as well. Through the campsite you will head toward the lake, and then across a marshy area to the base of Chub Lake Mt. From this point it is a bushwhack to the summit. It is not a difficult climb, but, like any bushwhack, it will take a bit longer than expected as you navigate your way up and down. Please take a bearing to be safe, and have your map with you.


The features on Chub Lake Mt. are the rock walls used by rock climbers, and some nice rock outcroppings that you come across on the way up. There is no view from the summit, but a couple of nice lookouts as you walk around before heading down. It is a beautiful, and quiet area.

A view from the marshy area at the base of Chub Lake Mt.
A nice view from just above the cliffs of Chub Lake Mt, looking to Trout Lake Mt. if I recall correctly.
A view of Chub Lake Mt. from the roadside of Rt. 10 in Arietta, NY.

Overall, it is an enjoyable hike. Nothing too strenuous, but as always, be prepared for entering the ADK backcountry.

While neither of these trails will lure summit seekers looking for great views, if you enjoy hiking, bushwhacking, and historical locations, these two mountains are awesome. Route 10 is often overlooked, but it has some of the best hiking, camping, and kayaking points in the ADK.

Enjoy, and safe hiking!