Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In Search Of Blue Mountain

The weather forecast wasn't good for my second sunrise hike of the year. Low fog, clouds, and potentially rain or snow.

My philosophy on weather is 1) there is no good weather, just weather 2) I'll find out when I get there.

The truth is, the best and most unique photos are taken when everyone else is at home watching TV, or keeps their camera safely ensconced in it's waterproof case.

The best sunrises are the ones that just barely happen, and the best days in the mountains
are the ones you actually spend in the mountains.

I've driven by Blue Mountain perhaps 100+ times over the years, and despite it's popularity never hiked it; I've even skied around the base, but never up it. I've never been a tick list kind of person, so if I like a summit, or a trail, I have no problems hiking it a few times a year. By definition it's called freedom, whereas a list is called work. With not being a tick list type of person and just winging it more often than not, I sometimes take a little while to get to all the places I have in mind.

Blue Mountain is by no means a wilderness summit, it is one of the few public Adirondack peaks with visible antennae, a road, and buildings. It is however, also not totally developed, and only allows for non motorized hiking access to the public.

Part of why I never really made the pilgrimage to Blue Mountain are those summit structures. I'm OK with a fire tower, they are part of Adirondack history, but I hate roads, modern communications antenna, and in general developed summits. If you know me, you know I consider a developed summit ruined, and it's the main reason I never hiked Whiteface (although I have skied to the top of it). It took me till 2006 to hike Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest summit, which is now one of my favorite Northeast peaks, in spite of the fact it has a ski resort, a road and communications equipment. Sorry Vermont, but if you tried any harder to ruin that beautiful mountain, you would have made it plainly obvious. Good thing you are a state filled with environmentalist, or just think what could have happened to Mansfield.

Headed to Blue Mountain, I got a late start and forgot my trekking poles, so I missed the sunrise by about 15minutes, but I'm fairly certain there was none. I never even saw the faintest of golden light anywhere.

The forest from 2200 feet when I started at 6:30am was completely fogged in, and it never got better. Even on the windy summit, it was so foggy I almost didn't see the fire tower at first.

Between the dampness, and the warmth I was struggling on this little 3700ft peak. Caney would come down the trail, yelp, and then sprint back up. Yeah, he's a regular Lassie, only Lassie would have removed my pack, carried it to the summit and come back down to drag me up with her mouth. All my dog does is tell me that it's getting late and I need to pick up the pace!

It was actually so warm, and being warm natured myself, I contemplated removing my shirt entirely as I was dripping with sweat. However, I felt if I somehow encountered another group and was hiking shirtless, with the side zips on my goretex completely opened in the middle of winter, they'd surely think I'd gone mad and have me committed.

I'd guess the temps were in the low 30's at the start of the hike around 6:30am.

The only relief was the at times strong winds on the summit, which believe it or not felt like stepping into air conditioning on a hot summer day. We spent about 45 minutes up there before Caney became very cold, and I was adding layers. What is odd is wind generally clears fog, but there was fog for most of the trip down.

The trip down was uneventful, I did my best to create false trails for the next group, as i hate hiking downhill in winter on hard packed snow. Anytime I saw a path through the forest I went cross country through the powder, and met back up with the trail at some point further down.

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  1. Wow, look at all that beautiful snow! I'm jealous *grin* That's a great job capturing the fire tower. I like how it barely solidifies out of the fog.


  2. WOW - How do I get a copy of this shot? Cathy Light -
    I just emailed you, btw.
    315.868.8436 _NOw off to Mt. Adams
    email me at
    or visit my own hiking blog - not as poretty as yours - www.bluelinebydesign.blogspot.com

  3. Beautiful, just beautiful. Sunrise Fire Tower is amazing and your dog has got the look... I own you!