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Friday, June 29, 2018

Woodcock Preserve(Clifton Park)

Staring down the barrel of an extreme heat wave over the next several days, I took advantage of a brief window after work today to visit the 72 acre Woodcock Preserve, owned and managed by Saratoga Plan. This would be my second time here, with my other visit coming in winter a few years ago.  When I arrived in the mid afternoon, the temperature was in the mid 80s with the humidity creeping up.  The trailhead parking area is 740 Tanner Road(the west side of the road), which is just north of Route 146.
Attached is Saratoga PLAN's webpage for the preserve:
The main white marked trail heads past an informational kiosk west from the parking area.
 Within a few moments, the trail arrives at a large meadow, with bountiful wilflowers.
 Black Eyed Susans.
Plentiful wildflowers alongside the trail.
After passing through the field, the trail enters a beautiful hardwood forest, with a large wetland just a few yards away off the trail.
 I followed the white trail through the woods, before hooking up with a pair of smaller loop trails marked in yellow and red. The woods were alive and vibrant with the sounds of bird songs in the air.
 The trail work at the preserve is top notch, and I was lucky enough to meet one of the trail maintainers today.  She was a very friendly lady and I thanked her for the hard work she and others have put in.
 Puncheon crossing a wet area of the trail.
The red trail loops past old railroad tracks(The Boston and Maine Railroad) in the far northwest corner of the preserve.  Although it was hard to tell, it appeared that there were box cars in some kind of a rail yard across a small wetland.
 Local Boy Scout Troops have volunteered their time and efforts in building several wooden benches along these trails, allowing one to truly stop and soak in the surrounding nature.
 Unfortunately the blue marked trail, which heads south through a large wetland is closed to hikers in the spring and summer months due to nesting birds.
 Once back on the main white trail, I began heading back, when I spotted a small herd path off to the side.  A few yards away at the edge of the woodland, the path ends at a wetland.  I took a few moments to check it out before continuing on my way. 
 A short 1.4 mile RT walk on level trails.  The heat and humidity were tempered a bit by the forest canopy, and made for a perfect respite from a tough week at work.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Wyman Mountain & The Igloo(Adirondacks-Dix Wilderness)

3304 foot Wyman Mountain has been on my hiking buddy Jim and my radar for a very long time now, so we finally decided that this would be our time to do it.  Once our buddy Spencer heard we were doing Wyman, he asked if he could come along as well.  The more the merrier on what was forecast to be a beautiful early summer day.  Our starting point today was to be from the West Mill Brook Access Road, off Route 9 in North Hudson.  The Access Road is a very rough road, but driveable in high clearance vehicles.  Luckily Jim's vehicle is high enough and it cut out 1.1 miles each way by getting us all the way to the parking area on the west side of the Northway.  Again, I cannot recommend driving this without first scouting it out.  The road literally crosses a small brook on the way in, and in bad weather conditions, this would be a very difficult drive.  With all that said, we got started at about 1000 feet elevation on the old continuation of the road.
West Mill Brook is your companion for the first par to the hike, sitting down a steep bank on the right.  We stopped off to check out a small, but pretty 10 foot waterfall.
We continued on the road for nearly 1.5 miles before leaving the road and beginning our bushwhack.  Here, Jim and Spencer ascend through an open hardwood forest.
Instead of heading directly for the summit, we opted to first hit the Igloo, a large, dome shaped rock outcrop, that sits just east of Wyman's summit.  This route ended up being extremely steep, even vertical in spots.  Luckily the rock was very "grippy".
Steep drop off the false summit.
These vertical rock walls acted much like a fortress, which we had to skirt to find a way up. 
This was a very exhausting ascent, with many heart in our throats moments.  Luckily we found small clefts in the rock to make our way up.
Once atop the rock fortress, we enjoying our first of many spectacular views for the day.
Wyman's 3304 foot summit towering nearly 700 feet above us, as we neared the Igloo.
From the 2653 summit of The Igloo, Jim checks out the surrounding peaks.
From the Igloo, looking east, where the views are 360 degrees.
After enjoying the Igloo's marvelous views, Spencer lead us down through a steep crack.
After a quick descent, we began our steep ascent up Wyman.  Not surprisingly we hit open rock, which acted as a ramp up towards the summit.
Our rock ramp up Wyman.
We hit moderately thick spruce near the summit cone, but were rewarded with jaw dropping views of 3/5 of the Dix Range.  Here is Carson(center) with Grace(right) and part of Macomb(left).
Camels Hump and Niagara Mountain to the south, with the valley of Niagara Brook below.
Macomb and Carson rising impressively to the southwest.
Carson(South Dix) from the open rock ridge below the summit.
Grace Peak(East Dix) due west off the rocky ridge.
Macomb(right) with its long easterly ridge, which forms a horseshoe type cirque.  Appropriately, Spencer dubbed this Horseshoe Peak.
Unfortunately Wyman's true summit is fully wooded and sits in a small clearing amidst a thick spruce area. 
Our descent off the summit through thick spruce.  Luckily this was all the spruce we really endured all day.
Mountain art on some of the open rock.
An incredible, up close view of Grace Peak.
To the northwest, we enjoyed the marvelous ridge of Spotted Mountain.  We had hiked this peak last year and it was a sheer pleasure. 
Spencer exploring the open rock ridge below Wyman's summit.
One more view of Spotted Mountain, with Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge in the distance beyond.
As we sauntered along, enjoying the incredible views, I turned back to enjoy one more look at Macomb's massif rising beyond the shoulder of Wyman.
A zoom view of the slopes on Grace.
After finally leaving the rock ridge, we turned east heading towards another rock ramp, but this time to descend.  Watch your step Spencer!
Jim, seen here carefully planning out his route down.
The pitch on these slopes was VERY steep, and didn't look like we could descend.
Luckily, the rock was amazingly "grippy", allowing for us to descend what looked to be an impossible route.
Jim and Spencer heading down ahead of me, proving it's sometimes a situation of mind over matter.
Looking back up at where we had descended, it still seemed impossible.  Baffling! If I hadn't done it myself, I wouldn't have believed it.
There are several small, open rock bumps off of Wyman, each with spectacular views.  Here's a look back at Wyman and some of the nearly vertical rock that we had just descended.
From our open rock perch, northeast of Wyman's summit, we enjoyed this view all way north to Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge.
A fantastic shot of The Igloo.
East views all the way to Vermont.
Jim and Spencer soaking in a breeze and great views.  Wyman can be seen rising beyond.
One more rocky bump ahead.  The sheer amount of open rock to explore was downright incredible.  It was almost overwhelming by the end of the day.
A long, steep descent brought us eventually back to West Mill Brook, where we picked up our old road out.
The clean mountain water made a great place for us to wash up and get some of the bugs and grime off of us.
We followed our initial route in, back out to the car, completing a long and exhausting day. This was a very tough bushwhack and I was feeling it by the end of the day.  9.5 miles RT and over 2800 feet elevation gain.