Trails-less Traveled 3

Sunset from Good Luck Cliffs, Arietta NY.

Hike Date: November 12, 2020

Destinations: Sherman Mt, and Good Luck Cliffs
ADK Location: Ferris Lake Wild Forest
Roundtrip Mileage: 8 +/-
Elevation: Sherman (2,641ft), Good Luck (2,151ft.) 
Elevation gain: 1,100 ft. combined.

This was my third trip back to the Chub Lake area. In my previous hikes here I had visited Chub Lake Mt. and North Branch Mt. My plan on this day was to do a bushwhack to Sherman Mt., which sits between Chub Lake Mt. and North Branch Mt, and then, if time allowed, to drive over to do a quick climb up to Good Luck Cliffs, my third visit there this year, and then do a short bushwhack down the north side of the mountain to the Dexter Lake trail.

Some of the amazing rock walls at the base of Chub Lake Mt.

I parked once again at the trailhead for Chub Lake on Rt. 10 in Arietta NY. My plan was to follow the herd path over to the base of Chub Lake Mt. used by hikers and rock climbers, and drop down into the drainage once the herd path turned up the mountain. The drainage was an easy landmark to use with my bearing to Sherman Mt. From the drainage I would drop down a short hill, and then cross a tributary for Chub Lake, see below, another natural feature to help guide the way.

Standing on a beaver dam as I cross the flow between Chub Lake Mt. and Sherman Mt.

As I was nearing my exit from the drainage along the base of Chub Lake Mt., Sherman Mt. came into view. As I checked my bearing, and looked off in the distance, I located a stand of hemlock trees in the area that I had planned to climb to, before turning north to reach the summit.

Looking toward the summit of Sherman Mt., Arietta NY.

Crossing the tributary between Chub Lake Mt. and Sherman Mt. was quick, and without wet feet! I took note of my exit and entry into the woods, and began to climb Sherman Mt. For the first two or three tenths the climb is gentle, and then the grade increases rapidly. The rock features of this mountain come into view quickly, and provide some nice climbing, or an obstacle to get around, if you do not feel like climbing at the moment.

Heading up Sherman Mt.

I arrived at the southern side, the lower side, of the summit exactly where I had planned. I then turned due north and made steady progress to the high point of the mountain. I explored around, descended on the north side to explore some rock formations, and then began to make my way back to my south side exit. While there is no lookout on the summit, there are plenty of breaks in the trees as you wander about to look at the surrounding wilderness.

Good Luck Lake across Rt. 10. I would be walking on its shoreline about an hour later.
Good Luck Mt. from Sherman Mt.
Chub Lake Mt. through the trees.

The hike down and back to the trailhead was uneventful. I stopped and had a quick snack as I crossed the tributary once again, see below, up a short hill to the Chub Lake Mt. drainage, and then reconnected with the herd path back to my vehicle.

Another nice spot.

Now to Good Luck Cliffs.

Heading up the trail to Good Luck Cliffs

I have hiked the area around Good Luck Cliffs and Lake many times. Because it is so close to my house I will often drive over to trail run, just for something different to do. I had planned earlier in the day to climb up Good Luck Cliffs, descend down the north side, and then hike out to Dry Lake and Dexter Lake. It had been overcast and chilly all day so when I hit the summit I sat down for another snack and decided that I would descend and head home, saving the lakes for another adventure up a neighboring mountain I have yet to climb. As always, the view from the cliffs is excellent. An extra blessing is that I can see our home mountain off in the distance. Snack over. Now to the bushwhack.

The beginning of the bushwhack down Good Luck Cliffs. The trail is before me, just hidden in the trees and only visible on the compass.

Earlier in the day I had taken the bearing to descend from a spot on the trail, just before the summit, that I knew well. This spot would provide a direct route down the mountain, and connect me to the Dexter Lake trail approximately .4 of a mile away. When I hit the trail, by the snowmobile bridge, I would turn right and hike .3 to the trail register before heading the .6 to the vehicle parking.

It was a quick descent. It is here, however, that I will remind you, and me, to always trust your compass – provided that you have used it properly with a map! As I am beginning my descent I look over to a mountain across the way – State Brook Mountain – and I’m thinking to myself, “I don’t think I have to go over that.” Being that I was still at elevation, more or less, the landscape was playing with my eyes. I looked at my compass again, and said, “I know I took the correct bearing, trust the compass.” Of course, as I dropped down, I could now see – and be reminded of what I had observed on the map – I was descending into the valley between the two mountains, just above State Brook. I landed on the Dexter Lake trail exactly where I had planned, even in spite of my earlier momentary hesitation.

Stepping onto the Dexter Lake Trail, looking toward Dexter Lake.

While this was a much shorter bushwhack than Sherman Mt., it reinforced the importance of proper map and compass use, and application in the field. I walked back to civilization contemplating my trek that day. In my eight mile adventure I only saw one other person, and I was able to have some time of prayer and communion with the Lord. There is also something deeply satisfying about taking a map, finding a landmark or feature, noting that there is no trail, taking a bearing, and traveling there and back again safely with only a compass and map to lead the way. Hard to put into words, but deeply satisfying.

There is a need, on the level of the soul, for a person to go out into the wild places, and reconnect with something pure and natural. The trail, even when there appeared to be no trail, was right there before me. The compass told me where it was, even while I could not see it. It’s a lot like walking by faith, and not by sight.

Be well, Shalom, and happy hiking.

ADK Cascade and Porter Trip Report

Preparing to head down Cascade, and back to reality after a great morning of hiking.

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.

Frozen tree tops on the way up Cascade.

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.

View of Cascade from Porter.

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.

Part of the short climb up to the Cascade summit.

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.

View from Cascade from Porter of Algonquin, NYS second highest peak, which towers of Wright Peak to the right. The MacIntyre Range is a personal favorite.

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.

View of Mt. Marcy, NYS highest peak, from Porter. I believe Phelps Peak is on the left.

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.

Winter pack.

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.

Mt. Colden Trek ADK High Peak

The MacIntyre Range

14 miles | Beginning Temperature -8 | Average Temp -5 | 01/09/20

Starting out.

I finally found some time to take a day trip up to the high peaks. I knew it was going to be a cold day, but it was also supposed to be a gorgeous day. Proper winter gear, and common sense helps to keep one safe, well, safer.

Along the way.

The starting temp at 8:00am was -8F, and it never went above 0F until late in the day. It was 13F when I got back to the Jeep.

Snowshoes all day. Most of the trail was broken, except for the last 1/5 mile to the summit. Half of that was 5” to 8” of fresh powder. The last half was 2’ to 3’ of fresh powder and snowdrifts. After 6 miles the legs were feeling it.

Part of the trail.

Absolutely no wind on the summit, and I could hear people talking on the neighboring summits…yes, I wasn’t the only crazy person out there.

On the false summit of Colden with Mt. Marcy in the background.

After descending most of the mountain I realized that my ice ax had detached from my pack. Where could it be? Well, about 50 yards from the top. So a second climb it was, but the Lord spoke a lesson to me after the fact.

The exit seemed to take forever. Stopped at a lean to for a break, which I usually don’t do.

Chillin in a Lean to.

Prayed a lot, “O Lord, don’t let me freeze to death on this mountain.” Only joking. Even with as cold as it was all day, and as damp or sweaty as I was, I was never chilled or cold. My gear did it’s job. Wool and microfiber garments are a must, and in the ADK cotton kills in the winter, literally.

Great day. I’m feeling refreshed and recharged…even with the aches and pains.

Beautiful Mt. Marcy. Highest peak in New York State.