Leaf Peepers Galore

This year with no Ready Set Glow race to direct, Sheila decided for her birthday it would be wonderful to head up to the Adirondaks for a long weekend of Adventure and fun.

A long, boring….. no really nothing exciting recap of our trip to the ADK this weekend.

We would leave on Friday right from work, set up camp, and be ready to climb some mountains early on Saturday. Sheilas father decided to join us for the trip and we booked a place at Wilmington Notch Campground – Smack in the High Peaks zone of the Adk.

Our camp site set up was less than ideal due to the location of our fire pit and the location of the fire pit in the next campsite – Tents would end up way to close to the sparks for my liking.

We arrived in the dark, Pissy Pete showed up to set up camp – Then Sheilas dad arrived with some wings and pizza from Buffalo and things  improved. We got the campfire going, hung out and called it a night with the temps dipping in to the 30’s.

Sunday morning we got up in some spectacularly cold temps but clear sky that would only last until about noon. We got going, heading for the Noonmark trail head but accidentally pulled into the High Peaks wilderness lot for Rooster Comb, Hedgehog, Snow, and Lower Wolfjaw – The lot was already filling in and rather than risk missing a spot in the next one we decided to hike Rooster Comb.

2 weeks ago we climbed Ampersand and my body was simply not up to the task, so I brought along my poles and mentally got ready to be in pain for most of the day.

The climb was actually pretty easy to the Comb and there was a small ledge overlook trail to the Valley off to the east that we hit up first.

The views – Let’s say were incredible. We had the Valley branch to ourselves, and only 2 solo women sitting on the summit at Rooster Comb and they left once we arrived.

First the overlook: A small branch trail that took us down, and then to a completely exposed ledge with a stunning view of the valley.

Then off to the summit and this what we came for – A brief climb up that finally became “Adirondaky” with some ladders and some scrambling.

From here we headed back down to the trail split and we had choices – 1.1 mile to Snow Mountain, 1.1 to Hedgehog, then a few more to Lower Wolfjaw.

We were not planning on any of these mountains so we decided to go for Hedgehog and if we felt OK, knock another of the 46 off of Sheilas list.

Up we went to Hedge – Straight up, classic ADK style. Wet slab, roots, rocks, no easy path, just up.

 

Sadly, with no planning we got to Hedgehog and there are no views – It’s just sort of “on the way” to Lower Wolfjaw. The weather was starting to look like rain and we had not planned on a high peak which would mean descending the valley of WolfJaw and climbing 1.5 miles back up a few thousand feet of classic ADK climb….. and then coming back the way we came.

Without plotting this out we decided to skip it, head back down and hit up the Noonmark Diner for lunch.

False

The leaf Peepers were all here from all over – Keene Valley was packed. We decided to head towards Lake Placid and saw the new Big Slide Brewing Company.

We pulled in, had 1 drink and realized this place was catering to the NYC crowd a bit more than the climbin crowd (the beer was great though). So we decided to try to hit up the Lake Placid Brewery – No luck.

Lake Placid was busier than I have ever seen it. Packed. The side walks, the streets, the side streets. It took forever just to leave town. We picked up some beer at stewarts and decided to head back to camp to drink and have food there.

We built a really warm fire as the rain started but we managed to have a pretty good night. We discussed and planned to climb to Giants Washbowl, Roaring Brooks Falls and The Marcy Dam the next morning.

Up early – Rain, mist, fog so thick you couldn’t see anything. But today was not about views as much as it was about being out in the woods – Our views came the day before. I felt bad for the Leaf Peepers who couldn’t see anything the rest of the weekend. Wait, no, I did not.

We hit up Roaring Brook and Giant – Took one of the last parking spots available -And up we went into the fog. Climbing, slipping, waiting for it to level out a bit. (It  never did) But the fog made some really unique views.

You could never really see more than a bit in front, and at the Wash Bowl visibility was maybe 20 feet. So cool to see it in this setting.

The traditional ADK climbing was evident here and my body was starting to say “nope, no more of this” But we made it up, made it down and decided because we had such an early start we could try to get to the Lake Placid Brewery as it opened.

But first, drive through the fog.

We got there in time – Actually was a line waiting to get in at 11am. An older group of folks decided to leave before ordering anything because there was no beer like Miller Light on tap.

LOL – One of the best breweries in the NorthEast and dudes left for a miller light – –

See ya later Leaf Peepers.

Had some lunch, some beer and decided to hit up a nice easy hike to Marcy Dam. The hike is an out and back from near the Loj. We were tired and decided it would be nice to head up along the river and to the dam. We knew the fog would mean no view of Marcy or her fellow High Peaks but 8 miles in the woods wouldn’t suck.

At this point we had been in a combination of fog/mist/rain that had not stopped since the night before, and would not stop until after we packed up and left on Monday.

We all had the right gear, so nothing really bothered us and this hike was about color, and the area did not disappoint with leafs everywhere ( and no Leaf Peepers to be found because we were in the woods not in a car). The dam as expected was filled with fog. We chatted with a few folks coming off of the range and headed back to the campsite to see if we could get the fire roaring to warm up in this damp, cold weather

Back at camp – we moved the pop up tent to near the fire, got it raging and hunkered down for a night of story telling and philosophical talk – Picasso even got in on the mix –

Monday morning we packed up camp and hiked out to the Ausable River waterfall which we could hear from our campsite. What a site to behold. No less than 1/4 mile from where we had been sleeping was a roaring waterfall as the Ausable cut a chasm through the rock. Incredible.

Then it was off to Raquette River Brewing which has become, by far, our favorite place to get beers. We waited for them to open (seems like a theme here) filled a growler and made the boring trek back home.

A side note though…. The High Peaks and ADK in General may have become to popular. This article talk about the need for more Rangers 

But the fact is the parking lots were overflowing, the trails were getting tramped, there were large groups of people everywhere you looked. If you did not start early your afternoons would mean fighting traffic, hoping for a parking spot and being followed, passed, or passing other hikers all day.

There were days even just a few years ago that a full day in the ADK would mean seeing absolutely no one and enjoying the small towns and quaint shops.

I am sure the rush is great for local economies and the people who live in these towns, I just think that now might be the time to start paying attention to what is going on.

  1. Overuse of the region is leading to environmental issues – Maybe a permit would help https://dailygazette.com/article/2018/06/29/group-proposes-high-peaks-permit-system– https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/adirondack-wild-high-peaks-permit-system
  2. Humans are bad – there was shit and TP literally right on the trail (who just shits out in the open like that?)
  3. The parking situation is bad
  4. More and more unprepared people are coming out and needing Rangers to rescue them.

I don’t have the answers here but I know something needs to be done.

Regardless, we had a wonderful refreshing weekend and we are already planning our next adventure!

 

 

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