July 15, 2012

Backpacking at Bushnell Falls with Bears

My New Years Eve statement was that no matter where travel baseball takes us this summer and how much time it consumes....I am going to set aside a four day weekend to backpack.  Long before the snow was gone I made sure to take eleven days off from work at the beginning of July.  The first weekend of this vacation I was in Long Island for a baseball tournament and during a break from the games my daughter and I and my father drove out to Smith Point Beach.
On that day we were at sea level and in exactly a week's time we would be over 4,000 feet above the sea in the Eastern High Peaks of the Adirondacks attempting to knock of a few more peaks to someday reach our goal of completing all 46 of them.  My ten year old nephew was set to go with us this time.  He shopped with me for supplies the day before the trip.  He had his own money and spent it wisely...on a knife and a magnesium flint.  I texted my sister to alert her that I had allowed her son to buy a knife and a fire starter.  Brave...she said.  I just wanted him to buy whatever he wanted because I thought it would keep him from chickening out on me.  Turns out he did shed a few tears for his mom when we got to the lean to...but sleepiness kicked in and those were the only tears of the trip. From Him..I should say...yeah so backing up....we left on Friday the 6th at 4:15am.  Not being sure which end of the July 4th weekend would be the busiest at the trail head, I wanted to be sure to get a parking spot at the garden.  We arrived at 6:00am to find plenty of spots.  It didn't take long to get our gear loaded onto our backs.  We were on the trail by 6:20am.  The 3.5 miles to the John's Brook Lodge went quickly.  It is a nice rolling hill hike.  We rested near the brook for about 15 minutes right in front of the Lodge.  My nephew, Kyle had a snack and watched a bunch of butterflies.  He was eager to get to where we were camping.  I was excited to finally see JBL for myself.  Sometime it would be nice to stay there.  I could see a fire going inside and thought that would be nice in the early fall.  With only another 1.5 miles to go to the lean to at Bushnell Falls, we arrived at the site of our base camp by 11:00am.  Bushnell Falls Lean to #2 was right on the trail...as opposed to the occupied Lean to #1.  That's OK.  We kinda like interacting with the other hikers that will go trekking by us in the evening completing a day hike in which they still have a grueling 5 miles more to go. 
fast asleep
what i look like after seeing a bear
  We unpacked the sleeping pads and bags and got out the bear resistant canisters containing our food and prepared a lunch of Ramen noodles.  Too late to climb anything, we decide to let Kyle play in John's Brook.  It is a picturesque place to sit and listen to the rushing water.  Kyle skipped stones and studied the stones too.  The next stone more unique than the last.  He was in his element...the outdoors, unlike many of today's kids.  Over the next few days he amused himself in that creek by rock hopping, finding and feeding worms to fish and throwing stones into the many different sized pools.  On the first night of our trip we all followed the trail to the actual waterfall that the area is named for...Bushnell Falls.  The trail to it was very steep and sandy so on the way back we just climbed the rocks to the very far right of the falls and made our way back up the creek.  Soon it was time to cook our dinner and get it cleaned up before 6pm.  The ranger we saw on the way in told us that we would have no trouble with bears as long as we followed the rules.  No cooking after 7pm and proper use of the appropriate bear canister.  Now, my version of having no problem with bears is that if I followed the rules I would not SEE any bears.  The ranger told us of the bears at Marcy Dam bullying campers until they give up their food, which a family did the night before.  This causes the bears to become nuisances.  Oh..and that family was eating after 8pm.  Kyle was asleep before 7pm.  I was afraid he would wake up in the night but he didn't.  I went to sleep rather easily at about 8:30.  Saturday morning was overcast.  We were on the trail by 7:30am.  Soon after we started out it began to mist.  Then it lightly rained.  We headed up the Range Trail to Haystack.  It rained harder.  Soon we were all soaked.  With only .5 mile left before the summit of Haystack we had to make the decision not to summit the bare open rock mountain.  This was fairly easy to decide since it was much windier and colder above the treeline.  We thought it might clear up by the time we made the 1.3 mile hike over to the approach to Basin.  Nope, an hour later it was only raining harder.  Everyone we met that morning had a different weather report and lightning was not out of the question so we decided with only .7 to go to the summit of Basin that we best just head back to the safety of our lean to.  We took the Shorey Shortcut despite reports on the adkforum that it is steep and daunting.  A lady we had met earlier said she didn't remember it being "terrible" but admitted she could have just blocked it out.  Turns out that it is no steeper or more treacherous than any other trail in the high peaks.

June 1, 2012

sleeping at the summit

tent on the rocky open summit of Hadley Mtn
my dad on the tower at sunset
I have climbed Hadley Mountain more times that I have kept track...in all of the seasons and with many different combinations of people.  It is close to home, is a great open summit as well as a relatively easy climb but early in the season it is enough of a challenge that it helps get you back in climbing shape.  On most of the hikes up Hadley my father is alongside of me and we have often talked about camping on the mountain for a night.  Just to say we did.  The weather looked too good to be true and so on a whim my father and I grabbed our equipment and a couple of freeze dried meals and headed up to Fire Tower Road.  At 5:10pm we signed into the trail head with hopes of making it to the top by 7:00pm with our "full packs".  Sunset was scheduled for 8:21pm.  Normally I wouldn't think it was such a great idea to climb this mountain with an additional 20+ pound pack on my back....but photographing and experiencing a sunset and sunrise in person on this mountain was motivating.  The beginnings of black fly season and their swarms kept me pushing ahead.  Strangely we made it to the summit in the same amount of time it usually takes us with just a day pack, which reassures me that my plan for a 4 night 26 mile July backpack is not too adventurous for this pair of hikers who have not maintained the level of fitness that is optimal for the rugged trails of the most remote high peaks.   At 6:30pm we had plenty of time to set up camp.  My father suggested setting up the tent below the summit near the observers cabin.  I on the other hand made the case for sleeping on the mountain should mean at the summit.  So a nice flat soft mossy area at the base of the tower was chosen for the site.  Dinner was quickly prepared in the new GSI Dualist cookware I got for Christmas.  We had coffee and chocolate chip cookies as the sun began to set while a comfortable breeze blew just enough to keep the bugs away. 
It was perfectly quiet; serene.  The sunset's beauty cannot be accurately captured by the camera...or at least by this operator of the camera.  No photograph can relay or evoke the same spiritual feeling that is produced by actually being in the moment.  It is the feeling that would be priceless if we could somehow bottle it and save it for later...when we can't break away from the real world and it's demands.   After a night of little sleeping and mostly listening the wind flap the parachute-like tent rain fly....seeing the sunrise over the misty fog between the rolling mountains to the east completed the awesomeness!  We packed up and started down the mountain at 6:30am...a 12 hour adventure.  


March 1, 2012

Rock Pond near Indian Lake, NY

 Actually hiking on some snow for the first time this year.  I bare booted it...but most of the group wore snowshoes.  They would have been handy for the bushwack part of the trip we did.  I post holed for about half a mile but the destination was well worth the effort.  Total mileage was just under four. 
 Part of the Rock River as it flows into Rock Pond.
 Crossing Rock Pond with a look back at Blue Mountain. 

Spectacle Pond

Love this 3 mile round trip hike in Schroon Lake.  Did it twice in the month of February.  Once with the coworkers and once with my husband.  I am making a hiker out of him!  Totally planning to camp here as soon as it is warm enough.  I am thinking mid May. 

New Years Day on Tongue Mountain

My 3rd annual New Year's Day Hike with some awesome coworkers and their significant others.  We like to find a lean to, build a fire and eat heartily!!  This year's buffet included shrimp, hot beef stew, deviled eggs, cheese and pepperoni and beverages.  These people are not afraid to carry some heavy food and drink.  A couple of bottles of wine, some physician's assistant's recommended Yagermeister and several cans of beer made the trip.  Too long partying at the lean to contributed to our hike down the mountain in the dark and rain.  It was icy and slippery; my first time using my microspikes which are well worth the investment.  My father bought himself a pair the next day.  Nonetheless, it was a perfect start to 2012.