Trails-less Traveled 4

View from a lookout on State Brook Mountain, looking toward Good Luck Mountain.

Destination: State Brook Mountain
ADK Location: Ferris Lake Wild Forest
Roundtrip Mileage: 7 miles
Elevation: 2550 ft.  
Elevation gain: 850 ft.

On my bushwhack down from Good Luck Cliffs on November 12, 2020, I took note of the mountain due north of my path. Since I had not hiked the Dexter Lake Trail, snowmobile trail S81, from the trail register leading to Good Luck Cliffs, I had never noticed this beautiful looking mountain. From the north shoulder of Good Luck Cliffs, State Brook Mountain looks huge, and imposing; for good reason, it is. While referred to as a “low peak,” it has its challenges, many dangers, along with its beauty.

Heading down the Dexter and Dry Lake Trail, snowmobile trail S81.

From the trail register, at the junction of the trails for Good Luck Cliffs and Dexter and Dry Lake trails, I turned west down the Dexter Trail, S81, to the bridge .3 of a mile down trail. This is the same bridge where I had ended my Good Luck Cliff bushwhack. The bridge would be the known landmark that I would use to plan the bushwhack up State Brook Mountain. From that location I would take a north westerly track, following my bearing, to the summit of the mountain.

Now on the bushwhack, heading down to State Brook, and beginning to get a view of State Brook Mountain.
Crossing State Brook.

I had measured the bushwhack to the summit as .8 of a mile, as a straight shot; then I would descend heading due west for one mile to rejoin the trail. The mileage up, of course, did not account for avoidance of obstacles, and detours to see rock faces, etc. From both the map, and my visual observations while on the north shoulder of Good Luck Cliffs, I knew the ascent would have some steep sections, but what was obscured from view was the very prominent rock faces, ledges and outcroppings. The contour lines on the map indicated some very steeps sections, so I planned my trek to pass between them as much as possible.

A rock section at the base of the rock face above, behind the trees.

While not a popular hiking destination, State Brook Mountain is seeing more traffic from rock climbers. Several times I departed my planned path to take a look at some of the rock faces, and sections that would require rock climbing skills to ascend. While I did find a chimney that a hiker could climb up, on this day I was solo, so I opted to not take the risk. That being said, I can see why rock climbers like this little mountain.

One of several small waterfalls; not the best example, I uploaded the wrong picture.

State Brook Mountain has some wonderful features to take in while hiking. Not only the impressive rock formations, but also a brook coming down a steep section creating several beautiful small waterfalls.

From a small lookout just off the summit of State Brook Mountain you can see the backside of Good Luck Cliffs, center of picture.

After doing some exploring, I headed up to the summit. It is a surprisingly steep mountain with nearly 850ft. of elevation gain, from State Brook to the summit of State Brook Mountain. The summit is wooded, with a boulder nearby, but otherwise just woods. I spent a few minutes looking around, and then decided to head to my next destination, Dry Lake. I reset my compass with my next bearing, and began to descend. Unfortunately, a slight navigational error – as I walked, not on the compass – put me on the cliffs that form the summit, with drops of 30′ or more feet in some spots. Rather than take the time to figure out how to get to the spot I originally intended, I hiked back to the summit, and back the way I came. This proved to be quicker. Once I began my descent, I got back on course to Dry Lake. This added a few tenths of a mile, but not at all concerning. About a mile later I was back on the Dexter Lake Trail, S81, about .5 from the bridge where I began my bushwhack, and about .5 from Dry Lake, exactly where I had planned to rejoin the trail.

Dry Lake is a very nice spot. I sat by the frozen water, and had a drink and a snack for about 20 minutes before deciding to head back to the trailhead. There were a lot of things to think and pray about on this journey. It seems that day by day many of us are facing greater challenges. At times, it can seem that we are set adrift, rudderless, windless with no way to find safe harbor. Yet, during times like these that we walk by faith, and not by sight. Remembering that we are resting, even in the challenge, in the One who delivered our soul.

It is a hike like this one, on and off trail, wooded and open, that remind me that at times the way is obvious; while at other times, I have to trust in the power that I cannot see to lead the way – in orienteering terms, magnetic north. The Lord has given us the map, His Word, and He has placed in us the compass, the Holy Spirit, and with these two, no matter what lay before us, in Him we will reach the destination.

Be well, and happy hiking!

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.