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Monday, August 21, 2017

Elizabethtown #4 and Spotted Mountain(Adirondacks)

The Dix Mountain Wilderness is an absolute bushwhacking paradise with numerous bare rock summits and more rock ledges than I count.  When Jim an I were on Nippletop(not the High Peak) last week, we spotted some gorgeous open rock north towards Spotted and Wyman Mountains and knew we had to go explore.  We looked over maps and trip reports and decided on a hike to Elizabethtown 4 and Spotted Mountain from Route 73.  We met at the small pull off just west of the Route 9 and 73 split off exit 30 and headed into the woods, following a very good unmarked foot path.  The path travels southwest for a little over 2 miles high up on a bluff, closely paralleling the South Fork of the Boquet River.  Just past a campsite, the South Fork splits and that's where we left the foot path, crossing the creek and beginning the bushwhack.
 The elevation at the creek was about 1200 feet and we began climbing almost immediately.  Most of the hike up Elizabethtown #4 was through open hardwoods and was pretty easy going.
 It didn't take long, but soon we hit some open rock slabs and we were treated to the first of what promised to be many views.
  Giant Mountain(L) and Rocky Peak Ridge(R) could be seen rising above the tree tops to the north.
 Approaching open rock near E#4 at about 2400 feet elevation.
 A very large, open rocky clearing provided our first really good views of the day.  The views north and east were basically unimpeded.
 Just below E#4's summit, we "spotted" our first view of Spotted Mountain, hovering nearly 1000 feet above us a half mile away.
 The area around and just below E#4 is a open rock playground, with nearly 360 degree views.  Once again, the views north towards Giant and RPR were spectacular.  We also spotted a large rock monolith between us and those two peaks.  We would be back to visit later.
 A fantastic view southwest towards Spotted Mountain(left foreground) and Dix Mountain, with the Beckhorn slide beyond.

 The view west-southwest of Dix Mountain is spectacular.  A very unique and rewarding look at the 4867 foot peak.

 We wandered around exploring all of the the open rock on E#4.
 Approaching the summit of E#4 with Spotted's summit getting closer.
 The monolith in front of Giant and RPR once again.

 Moss and water beneath the summit rock on E#4. 

 Spotted Mountain from E#4's summit rock, which sits just shy of 2700 feet.
 E#4 is officially just an unnamed bump along the ridge to Spotted, so we didn't drop more than 20 feet before beginning our ascent up Spotted.  The climb varied between thicker woods and open rock.
 Open rock high up on Spotted Mountain provides a vast view northeast over Elizabethtown #4 towards Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge.
 From a rock on the northwest shoulder of Spotted we were able to catch a glimpse towards Noonmark and Round Mountains(L) and Upper and Lower Wolfjaws(R) distance.

 Less than a quarter mile below the summit.
 Round Mountain with Giant and RPR beyond.
 Emerging at the 3445 foot summit of Spotted Mountain, which more closely resembled the moon than a mountain summit.  The Dix Range to the west can be seen rising beyond.
Jim had fun wandering the summit, enjoying the marvelous views.
The view due south towards Wyman Mountain.
The most spectacular view of the day was up the ridgeline towards East Dix(Grace) with Hough to the right.
Southeast views towards the peaks in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest.
The summit area on Spotted.
A last view back northwest towards Noonmark, Round, Giant and RPR(L-R).
 On the descent we missed the ridge a bit to the left, so the going was a bit thicker and a bit more steep, but it also allowed us to see different things, including this red moss.
 Once back on E#4 we were hoping to enjoy some of the Eclipse views but all that it did was add a red tinge to everything.  I guess it wasn't all it was "cracked" up to be.
 The descent allowed us a very nice view due east towards a group of peaks known as the 3 Gems.  These are also now on our radar.
 The descent off Elizabethtown #4 was pretty easy as far as bushwhacks go, passing by more open rock.
 We got back down to the South Fork Boquet River and followed the path out for a beautiful 9 mile RT hike, with 2400+ foot elevation gain.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Albany County Rail Trail

We are puppy sitting for the next 6 weeks so we have our hands full with two very energetic pups, but luckily we have a very large yard with plenty of room for them to roam.  Thursday afternoon, Kalli and I both had the day off so we decided to take them out for a group outing on the Albany County Rail Trail.  We parked at the lot on South Pearl Street in Glenmont and set out under perfect warm summer conditions.
 It is a very quiet and pleasant walk, with many other walkers and bikers out enjoying the trail.  As we neared the Normans Kill and 9W bridge, the rock walls begin to rise steeply on the right.
 The sounds of rushing water over a set of falls can be heard downhill, but with the leaves on the trees it is very hard to see.  Between the 9W bridge and the I-90 bridge, there are some very good views of the Normans Kill.
 Just upstream beyond the I-90 overpass. 
Wildflowers in bloom along a tranquil stretch of the Normans Kill.
 We crossed over the pedestrian bridge with yet another view both upstream and downstream of the mellow Normans Kill.
 August means its blueberry season!
 We walked about a mile and a half west before turning back and retracing our steps back to the car.  We all loved getting out for a bit on a mild day.  Roughly 3 miles RT.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Other Nippletop(Adirondacks)

 I have read multiple trip reports on the many gorgeous mountains spread across the vast 45,208 acre Dix Mountain Wilderness Area and after seeing all of the open rock scattered about on many of the peaks from Google Maps, I knew I had to go.  Outside of the High Peaks in the Dix Range, none of these other mountains have trails or herd paths, so it would require bushwhacking to get there.  After talking it over with my buddy Jim, we opted to try for 3018 foot Nippletop Mountain.  Not THE Nippletop, but a much more secluded, less visited Nippletop.  There is access to many of the peaks in this area via several tunnels under the Northway.  Finding our access point today was a bit of a challenge, but well worth the effort.  We parked on the shoulder of Route 9, exactly 3.4 miles north of its junction with Blue Ridge Road.  The small dirt road marked Walker Road, "Private", is actually a right of way to access the Northway tunnel.  We followed this west for about half a mile before we came to a crossing of the Schroon River.  The area to cross is fairly shallow, but you will get your feet wet, so be prepared. 
 Once across the river, there are myriad of jeep trails that meander around.  We just stayed mostly straight following the sounds of traffic on the Northway.  Soon enough, we came to the tunnel crossing.  A little eerie but it gets you where you need to go.
 Very soon after crossing the Northway, we saw our first DEC state signs.  This is always a welcome relief, and we continued on a well defined woods road/ path to peaceful Walker Brook, flowing down through a beautiful hemlock forest.
 The woods road crosses over stone chocked Walker Brook and continues west with the stream within earshot.
 We followed the woods road for a little while, before thick blowdown eventually made us lose it altogether.  We shrugged it off and began the bushwhack from there, climbing steeply though an open forest.  The terrain on the lower slopes of the mountain wasn't terrible at all, just steep.
We passed several open rock slabs on the climb, eventually finding this one with a nice view of the north summit bump.
 From another open rock slab, we managed to find this nice view down to Exit 30 of the Northway.
 As the elevation increased the woods got a bit more scrappy, but still nothing terrible to contend with.  Here is yet another rock slab with views to the east.
We continued our ascent until suddenly we emerged at the beginning of the north(lower) summit.  The views from the open rock were absolutely stunning.  We decided to take a break there and soak in the outstanding views.  How were we to know that this was just the warm up?
 From the north summit, we got a nice look at the south, true summit.
 There are actually a series of open rock areas on the north summit, each with a better view than the previous.  Here is the view towards the Dix Range in the High Peaks as well as Camel and Camels  Hump.
 Dropping down off the cliffs of the north summit, where we were quite surprised to spot some early leaves changing color already.
A look up at our destination on the south summit from the col between the two.
The area between the two summit bumps was the thickest we had been in all day, with a lot of blowdown.  Nothing terrible though.  Here we are emerging through a field of blueberries at the summit.
The 360 degree open rock summit is a truly remarkable experience.  While only 3018 feet high, the feeling is that you are much, much higher.  There is much to explore up here, so we wandered around, enjoying every minute.  The west view here is towards Big Marsh Pond and Marsh Pond Mountain on its right.  To the left is Hoffman Mountain and Blue Ridge.
 The north view towards neighboring Niagara Mountain.
 The south view allows a glimpse down towards Schroon Lake and the Northway.
 A zoom view of Marsh Pond Mountain.
 I particularly liked this shot with Schroon Lake(L), Hoffman Mountain(center) and Big Marsh Pond(R).
 North views towards the High Peaks of the Dix Range with Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge in the distance.
Love seeing the open rock on the Dix Range and Wyman Mountain.  In the foreground is Camels Hump and Camel.
A view up at the summit from below.
 An incredible view of the North summit from the south summit.  Look at all of that open rock!
 We dropped down off the main summit cone trying to miss the steep, rock cliffs and ended up a bit further east near the cirque.  This way, while a bit rougher with blowdown was an interesting change from our ascent.
 Steep drop off near the cirque.
 Rock slabs on the cirque with the south summit ridge beyond.
 Emerging into a clearing on a rock slab, with a fantastic north view towards 2338 foot Old Far Mountain and the Northway winding below.
Early fall colors in the middle of August!  We were both astonished.
The descent was steady and steep but fairly uneventful.  Hiked about 8 miles RT with about 2150 feet elevation gain.