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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ampersand Mountain/ Middle Saranac Lake(Adirondacks High Peaks Region)

With clouds hanging tough over much of the region this morning, I decided to head north towards the High Peaks where skies were clear.  The drive along Route 73 was very scenic as the leaves are beginning to change.  Here is a nice shot of the early morning clouds burning off over the high peaks.
The parking lot for the trail is located on the north side of Route 3, 8.2 miles west of where Route 3/ 86 split in Saranac Lake.  There is ample parking available and the lot was nearly full when I arrived today.  The air temperature was only 45 degrees as I hit the trail.
To get to the Ampersand Mountain trailhead you must cross to the south side of busy Route 3, where a large sign indicates the start of the trail.
A short distance into the hike, a footbridge crosses Dutton Brook.
 Dutton Brook flowing strong after yesterday's heavy rains.
 A long section of puncheon further along the trail.
 You will soon arrive at a second brook crossing over McKenna Brook.
 The first 1.2 miles of the trail are wide and level, with barely any elevation gain.  From there, the trail begins to climb.
A steep section of trail over wet rocks. 
Looking back down at a steep, wet section of trail.
 All of the recent rain turned the trail into one big run off.  The ascent and especially the descent were made much more difficult due to these conditions.
 After nearly 2 miles of hiking, a view begins to open up behind you through the trees.
 Nearing the summit area, the trail levels out a bit, going through a large, wet and muddy section.
 The trail literally passes beneath a house size glacial erratic.  A large arrow points the way.
After a rock squeeze and one more climb, the trail arrives at the huge, rocky summit area.  From here, the climb continues along the yellow chalk lines to the summit.
After a short climb on the open rocks, you will emerge to amazing views in nearly all directions.  There is a lot of pooling water on the open rocks.
 The summit!!!  Elevation 3352 feet.
Southern views towards many of the high peaks, which are ablaze in fall color.
 An incredible view to the north and west over Middle Saranac Lake.
A view northeast towards Lower Saranac Lake.
Standing water near the summit.
 Rock hopping on the summit rocks.
A closer look at Middle Saranac Lake. 
 There were several other parties out enjoying the views, but there was a biting wind making everyone bundle up.  A gentle reminder that winter is coming quick.
The western view.
 Long reaching views towards Saranac Lake village and beyond.
After lingering on the summit area for a while, soaking in the 360 degree views, I retraced my steps off the mountain for 5.4 mile RT hike.  
Once I arrived back at the car, I opted to take the trail north from the parking lot, which leads .6 of a mile to Middle Saranac Lake's shores.  This trail is level and easy to follow, eventually leading to a wet crossing over Dutton Brook's swampy waters.
 Arriving at beautiful Middle Saranac Lake.  There is an outhouse and informal camping areas in the woods along the shore.
 Fall colors are pooping on Middle Saranac Lake's sandy beaches.
 Middle Saranac Lake's cold waters.
Still water reflections where Dutton Brook widens and becomes a small pond, just before emptying into the lake.
Completed the 1.2 mile RT walk to the lake for a total of 6.6 miles for the day.  A great start to the month of October.

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