Saranac trip

We make sure to get to the mountains a few times a year. We go every Christmas and we go every fall and at least once in the summer. We have not been there in almost a year, and last time we went because of my legs and surgeries we were not able to climb.

We decided this would be a good weekend to test things out. Sheila booked us a site in Fish Creek campground near Saranac right on the water. We checked a few options and decided we would climb Scarface (one the of the Saranac 6) and then if my body had held up we would climb Baker (another).

I picked up Sheila from work, and we literally raced the sun as we wanted to get to camp and get set up before the sunset – We pulled in to the campsite at 6:50 and by 7:05 we had the tent set up – camp organized – and fire started. To say we are getting good at this would be an understatement.

It was chilly that night, dipping to the low 40’s and it was calm as could be. No wind, no clouds, just the owls and the loons calling out to one another. After a nice warm campfire and a few drinks we climbed into the tent with no plans on rushing the following morning.

Saturday morning we woke up early and with no real rush headed off to Scarface Mountain to climb. We were the only car in the trail head, an as we were setting up a trail runner showed up – and took off up the mountain.

Scarface was a perfect reintroduction to the mountains for me. After a few years of not really doing much of anything mountian related, and my longest effort of the year so far being 4ish flat miles at Durand here it would be great to get out, test gear, test my legs, and breath fresh mountain air again.

For the entire climb we saw no one other than the trail runner who had made his way back to the car pretty early on. The first few miles are easy but beautiful single track. Early on you cross some train tracks, and a bridge, that really needs to be reworked for such a popular mountain. It did not feel like it was going to hold us in some spots.

We were both really enjoying the stillness and the weather was perfect as Picasso trotted along next to us. He seems to love these trips as much as us, even as he is getting older.

About 1 mile from the summit the trail piked up into more classic ADK style climbing. Rocks, big steps, scrambling over open rock face/slab.  We got through everything just fine and enjoyed a spur trail to our first great views of the day.

The summit of Scarface is a little ways past any views. It is tight single track leading to a wooded summit with a literal hand written summit marker. It made us both laugh a little, and the hike over felt like we were actually going downhill. This is also the only place we encountered any bugs all weekend. It was nice to be bug free, but that last lone stalwart at the black fly community was still there to defend it’s turf.

About 1/2 way back down my legs finally decided to remind me that I was working on two totally rebuilt Achilles and an operated on knee and that this was my first trip in the mountains since everything was all done and “healed”. We had a few 30 minute miles here that really should have been about 15 minutes, so we dragged a bit on the way down as I had to pick my way and be cautious with foot placement and impact of the step downs.

Once we got to the truck we picked up directions to head over to Baker Mountain with the idea that we would climb only if I felt up to it when we arrived at the trail head.

By the time we got there, I was not feeling like total shit, and the mountain is only .9 miles to the summit. A “family friendly introduction climb” so we decided to climb.

Thankfully at the last second I grabbed my poles from the truck and we signed in and started to climb.

At the trail head, which is street parking near a neighborhood across from a beautiful classic ADK pond, I was wondering how it  might be easier to just had back to camp and have a few beers while cooling off in the water. We decided to push on though, because the only way these things get easier is if we do them.

Climbing over 100 feet per 1/10th of a mile, the climb is short – but certainly never easy and right away I regretted it – Every step towards the summit though was a step closer and it was not even one mile.

It may be the longest mile of my life though. It honestly took forever. We eventually reached the summit, some open views – An actual summit marker, and I decided to just head back down and get off the mountain. I  had some fun cuss words as we were chased by both a 5 year old and an old lady complaining about her knees. And by chased, I mean… I was moving so slow, we never got away from them.

It was a slow go with Sheila and Picasso pretty much standing around while I inched my way down the mountain.

The trail offered some good views, a classic ADK feel, some fun caterpillars, and a pond at the base for the dog to cool off in while we changed and reorganized the truck before heading back to camp.


Once back to the campsite, the sun was sitting right over the water – We dragged our chairs in. Grabbed some cold beers and sat in the water cooling off, talking, and just taking it all in. It felt great to cool off my feet and legs in the cold ADK waters.

After a stretch cooling off, we decided to head to Raquette River brewing for some food trucks, beer, and music. Then it was back to camp to watch the sunset, enjoy some cold drinks by a warm fire and then call it a night at camp.

We planned to sleep in on Sunday, but the loons  had other plans. I awoke at 5am to sit with the dog by the water and listen. He soon got bored and it was just me, sitting by the water just  before sunset when a Great Blue Heron wandered by. We have these at home, most are named Hank. I sat perfectly still as it walked no more than 4 feet in front of me and passed on by while looking for it’s breakfast.  Perfectly calm, it had no idea I was there.


Eventually the sun rose, I began to pack up camp, which woke Sheila and Picasso – and we headed home leaving the campsite a bit cleaner than when we arrived.


Next up: Fall camping in Alleghany and a winter backpacking trip on the FLT.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s