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Friday, June 22, 2018

Archer Vly(Saratoga County-Southenrn Adirondacks)

With a limited amount of time this afternoon, I decided to pay a visit to Archer Vly in a quiet corner of Saratoga County, almost directly on the Adirondack blue line.  There is a new DEC access road and parking area off of Lake Desolation Road, just north of Lake Desolation itself.   The parking lot is sizable with room for about a dozen cars, and I was lucky enough to have the place to myself today.  The vly is technically not on state land, but is part of a conservation easement, so please(as always), be respectful if visiting.
The vly basically runs northeast to southwest with a marked trail following along the south shore, with soft pine needles underfoot.
The marked trail quickly runs out, but I continued on a decent herd path east/ northeast, with the water being my constant companion to my left.
Arriving at a clearing and fire pit.
A nice campsite on the water.
A look back to the west across the vly.
Wildflowers growing along the shore.
The far eastern end of the vly is much shallower and chock full of weeds.
Once all the way clear of the water, the foot path turns north and basically disappears.  I crossed over a tiny inlet and made my way through wide open woods, eventually picking up a rough herd path.
The northeastern end of the vly was easily the toughest to negotiate, with only rudimentary foot paths that came and went.  With the water visible to the left however, it is almost impossible to get lost.
From high ground, I spotted this nice look back at the eastern end of the vly.
A firepit at a designated campsite on the north shore.
After passing the designated campsite I began spotting yellow DEC trail markers again, which lead me back out to a snowmobile trail and eventually back to the parking area.
Hiked about 1.8 miles with only a little bit of ups and downs along the way. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Mile Around Woods(North Bennington, Vermont)

After our warmest June day in over 50 years yesterday, today was a sunny and comfortable day with little to no humidity.  Anxious to get out and enjoy the weather, I ventured out this afternoon to an area called The Mile around Woods, in the village of North Bennington, Vermont.   The village is located just over the New York state line, less than 10 minutes from Route 7.  The trailhead for The Mile Around Woods is located on the south side of West Street, just west of the village center of North Bennington.  There is parking available for several cars along the shoulder of the road, and a sign marks the trailhead.
From West Street follow the fence lined old carriage trail south, which was laid out back in the mid 19th century.
The carriage road is a peaceful, tree lined walk past open meadows with distant views.  Almost seems like a great place to take a date for a walk.  Not to self: Bring the wife next time!
Where the road enters the woods, a gate permits entry into the woods, where a large trail map greets you.
The Mile Around Woods Loop is actually just a continuation of the carriage road through a handsome old growth hardwood forest.
Perfect mid June conditions, with some bugs, but not a lot.
Sever storms passed through the Bennington area last night, leaving tree damage in its wake.
I left the woods and entered another large field with a bench to soak in the view.
Crossing the fields, I passed by many lovely wildflowers and lush green meadows.
I hiked further south and back into the woods on the Short Aldrich Trail for a distance.  Eventually I realized that this trail leads down into the village, so I retraced my steps back out into the fields.  There is a confusing network of trails that meander through the fields, with little to no markings.  I did my best to stay on the obvious paths, which brought me to a high meadow.
From this high, open meadow, many of the surrounding hills and peaks became visible.
To north West Mountain can be seen rising above the countryside.
Continuing north, the view NW began to open up towards the Washington County, NY hills.
Near the top of the high meadow, the view south towards Mount Anthony is outstanding.
Farmland to the north with the mass of West Mountain rising beyond.
NW views across the open fields.
Nearby farm buildings and farmland are visible and surround this gorgeous area.
Beautiful view towards the farmed lands on the rolling hills near the New York state line.
Arriving back at the carriage road, I strolled along this country lane.  Doesn't get much sweeter than this.
Heading back towards the car, with growing shadows in the late afternoon sun.
Just before arriving back at the car, I was lucky enough to pass by several beautiful all white horses, grazing along the park road.
 Hiked a very lovely 3 miles, with a couple hundred feet of elevation change at a fantastic place to take a walk and soak in your surroundings.
On my drive back home I made a quick pit stop at the Burt Henry Covered Bridge, which was originally built all the way back in 1840.  It was rebuilt in 1989.
After a couple of minutes checking out the bridge, I took a short walk down along the peaceful Walloomsac River.  What a gorgeous little area.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Black Mountain(Central Adirondacks)

Headed north today to hike 2745 foot Black Mountain(no, not THAT Black Mountain).  This one is located in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness on the north side of the East Branch Sacandaga River.  I parked along Route 8 and headed down towards the river, hoping the recent dry weather meant low water. Elevation at the start was just a touch over 1400 feet.
 The water was not much more than boot high as I made easy work of the river crossing.
Once across the river, I headed northeast towards the start of a low ridge of Black.  The woods were fairly open with only a few patches of hemlocks interspersed.
A steady climb got me up to a small knob and a small view NW up to the summit.
The last 500 feet of ascent is very steep, and the summit cone is ringed with ledges as well as exposed rock.
 Low plant growth, a few trees and large patches of bare rock made for fun scrambling.
 The open rock offered up outstanding views to the south.  This is the SE view over the lower East Branch valley.
 The SW view with a small vly at the foot of the peak.
Westerly views towards the Blue Hills.
 A short distance beyond the open area is the wooded true summit. 
 Heading back from the summit,  I took a few more minutes to wander around enjoying the incredible south facing views.
 I decided to descend via a more direct route south, which proved to be steep and adventurous. 
An uneventful bushwhack out to the car took me about an hour, as I cursed the annoying deer flies.  Round Trip distance was about 4.5 miles and 1400 feet of ascent.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Hubbell Hill(Catskills)

An overcast morning was giving way to clearing skies for the afternoon, as I paid a visit to god's country in rural Delaware County to hike 3000 foot Hubbell Hill, another Catskill Hundred Highest peak.  No marked or maintained trails can be found on this mountain, meaning it would be yet another bushwhack hike.  In my quest to hike all of the hundred highest Catskill peaks, today would be my 90th(90/102).
Thompson Hollow Road marked today's starting point for this 4 mile journey. These Delaware County back roads rival just about anywhere else for sheer beauty.  As I left the car, I entered open fields that were nearly chest high with weeds in spots. The rolling hills and farmland along Thompson Hollow Road made for a gorgeous scene to start my hike.
Abundant wildflowers made for an enjoyable stroll through the thick meadow.
The breathtaking Archibald Cemetery is not even 100 yards away from the road and is certainly worth a visit.
I'm not too good with my flora and fauna, but I do know that these wildflowers really caught my eye on my way through.
Just down the hill from the cemetery, I picked up a woods road heading east.  In my research for this peak, I had read that the brook crossing over the Platte Kill could be tricky in high water, but low water levels today meant an easy hop, skip, and a jump across.
A nearby farm can be seen peeking out from above the tree tops, as I slowly gain elevation through the hay fields.  The woods road was very faint in these fields, but luckily I managed to stick with it.
Stone walls can be found nestled throughout the woods on many of these Catskill Hundred Highest peaks. It only adds to the charm of these beautiful mountains.
Although no "million dollar" views were to be found, there were many pleasant views towards the nearby surrounding peaks. 
Mid June finds the fern glades wearing their vibrant greens.
From the edge of this meadow, I could see the Pisgah/ Little Pisgah ridge to the west.
From the top of the last meadow, I finally entered the woods, where an obvious woods road helped me with my ascent.
The woods road was very good, mostly clear of debris and heading UP, so I stuck to it.  Eventually, at about 2500 feet elevation, the woods road petered out.
Lean on me.  This tree is leaning on this rock...or the rock leaning on the tree?
Once above 2500 feet, it was a bushwhack straight up towards the summit.  At about 2850 feet I came to a large, flat, plateau area.  Thought this was kind of neat.  From there, however, there was one last steep push towards the top.
The DEP land extends all the way up to the last contour line of the mountain, meaning that the true summit is private.  I went as far as the property line, considering it a summit attained.  From there, I decided to change things up, heading north to small parcel of state land that connects to the DEP land.
I wandered around the state land for a bit, trying to find a surprise view or something of note, but didn't find much, so bushwhacked back down through the open woods, back onto DEP land.
You really never know what you may find in the woods(especially off trail).  I stumbled upon these shototing targets on my descent.  I guess these woods see more than just hikers.
Crossing back over the pretty Platte Kill.
Crossing the open fields back to my waiting car on Thompson Hollow Road, with a last look back at Hubbell Hill's ridge to the east.
Hiked about 4 miles RT, with 1300 feet elevation gain.  I now have 90/102 for my Catskill Hundred Highest!