Friday, May 23, 2008

Snowy Mountain, The High Peak That Isn't

Snowy Mountain is higher than two "official" Adirondack High Peaks, yet doesn't get much attention from peak baggers. Generally if it's not required for the 46er patch it's not worth hiking till you knock off the official 46.

The ADK 46 is a sickness of sorts. Luckily my only affliction is avoiding list during my free time. As such I'll eventually hike all 46 (in winter no less) but perhaps 5, 10, 15 years. When you actively seek the patch your life becomes enslaved to checking off peaks as rapidly as possible. I've hiked with people who admitted to a certain peak being a favorite but refused to hike it again because it was checked off the list. On the other hand, I've hiked the same peak in consecutive weekends before with no regrets. Nothing wrong with either route, but the list route just isn't for me.

That said, Snowy is definitely harder than a handful of official 4000 footers, and it's officially only 110 feet shy of being a true 4000 footer.

I've never hiked Snowy but it's been on my "list" for some time. So I lied, I do have list. I should have said, I don't like being committed to schedules.

The first thing I noticed on the drive up in early afternoon was no traffic on the roads or cars at the trail heads. As we drove down Route 30 towards Indian Lake and the Snowy Mountain pullout and trail head the roads remained quiet. At the pull out it was empty aside from a few cars, two of which were leaving as we pulled in. We didn't see the first group on the trail to halfway in, and only saw 5 people all day.

On the trail we were immediately greeted by wildflowers filling the forest floor, and black flies filling the air. The flies weren't biting but they were swarming. At one point, just before the flies disappeared at about 3250ft I had to cover my mouth to keep the flies out while trying to move fast enough to keep them from bugging me to death. Well I'd like to say as a conservationist I wasn't using DEET or any other bug spray because the flys need to eat as well, but truth is like that first sunburn of the year, I just need a little reminder of how bad the bugs can be. However, I usually avoid the DEET till i can't take it anymore. That stuff really isn't good for anyone and the less I use the better.

Aim was breaking in the new boots she got the weekend before for the first time on trail, and with a few attempts at getting some wildflower macros with the test K20D and 35mm Macro Limited we ended up taking a slow 3.5 hours to hike the 4 miles to the summit.


At about 3500 feet the trail got steep and deep with about 3 feet of snow still on the ground, along with some water soaked slabs, and a few drippy rock scrambles. Everything that makes a mountain fun to climb in the spring. Well, everything but the rotten snow that didn't hold me too often.


The summit has a nice east facing overlook right off the trail which you can see about 180 degrees or more, and there are some additional overlooks around the mountain. Snowy Mountain offers excellent rock climbing, a slide climb, and a recent first ascent of a moderate ice climb. Snowy has no reason to be envious of it's neighbors to the north. This almost High Peak has everything you typically find in the high peaks, plus it has a fully restored fire tower.

We spent about 30 minutes in the cab, snacking and taking photos. The wind was pounding the tower and I'd guess the air temperature was in the high 40s. Unfortunately the sky had clouded up by this point so the views were a bit distracted by the gray skies.

The trip down was a blast for me. Everyone knows my penchant for taking the fast route down a mountain, and give me a few hundred feet of snow on a steep mountain side and I'll be down as fast as gravity allows. Aim on the other hand is slower than Christmas. So no matter how fast Caney, with his built in 4 paw drive, or me with my magical ability to prove the theory of gravity get down the mountain, we have to wait.,,and wait...and wait.

6h45m and 4400 feet later we were back at the car.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

A Day In Photos At The 2008 Albany Tulip Festival

This is always the flagship of Albany events throughout the year. Of course the last two years have had exceptional weather making the event even more sucessful.

Some photos of the day...

The Tulip Queen

The Queens Court

Aim as the organ grinders assstant (a position typically held by a monkey)

Spin Doctors in concert:

Some overhead shots of the crowd during the concert:

Happy Mother's Day Mom...Studying hard...Send more money for booze (I mean books)!!

Still Studying!!! I think I've got this college thing down now!!!

Concert crowd with Corning Tower in background

And a little unnecessary politics (although I agree with the cause to a degree)

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, May 5, 2008

Climbing Kilburn Slide (And A Battle With A Rabid Tree)

It's been about 6 years since I first visited Kilburn Slide. We did it to sort of kill a day before some technical rock climbing the next day. It was rainy the day we climbed it, and the views were non existent.

Turn the page to 2008 and once again it was a day killer. Aim needed some new boots and the Mountaineer in Keene Valley happened to have the Raichles she was interested in. Her 10 year old Raichles started to crumble and boots became priority #1. So I figured something easy and fun Saturday after losing part of the day to boot fitting.

Of course after having weeks of sunny weather it was supposed to rain all weekend and the forecast just got worse the closer it got. Hahahahahaha, guess what? The weather forecast was WRONG.

So by the time we set up camp it was around noon. We headed towards Whiteface from Jay to the Monument Falls parking area and the whole time it continued to clear to the point the skies were mostly blue. Not believing for a moment this would last I was getting nervous that we wouldn't get up the slide in time to beat the rain.

What a surprise after the doomsday report convinced me that my second time up I'd have the same views as the first. Not even close. The slide has great views of Whiteface from the base. While the slide curves out of site of Whiteface, as you steeply climb you get great views of Lake Placid and many other mountains the further up you go, and it never rained.

Some people reading this might be asking, "what the heck is a slide".

Well in the Adirondacks slides are a fairly common anomaly of natural forces. Adirondack soil is about as poor as exist on earth. It's why the indigenous Indians who lived near what is now the Blue Line (the boundary of the Forest Preserve) only came to this region in the warm weather to hunt. The soil did not farm well, and winters were brutal.

The thin, weak layers of soil, typically over sheer mountain slopes are prone to being washed away in sustained torrential rain storms. These storms come frequently enough during hurricane season, or during Noreasters.

After several days of rain, the soil becomes so saturated that it and everything attached to it just slides down the mountain, leaving what Barbara McMartin termed, "natures gift to hikers." It takes a few years for the slides to get really clean but once they do they are excellent for climbing. Many are gradual slopes in the 30-60 degree range, whiles others have vertical 4th or 5th class headwalls.

The slides can be skied in winter (by experienced backcountry skiers), and in summer most can be climbed by any hiker capable of reaching the base. The more technical slides typically require just basic rock climbing skills and are usually low 5th class.

The beauty of slides, provided the exposure doesn't frighten you, is that they offer views for the entire climb. The downside is they rarely end at a summit, and generally require either a steep descent down the slide, or a bushwhack to the top of the mountain, and a return via a trail.

The climb up Kilburn was great. Way more interesting than last time but like every hike or climb this one wasn't without incident.

Pretty early into the hike to the slide Aim was attacked by a tree. I've never seen anything so viscous in the forest. Not even the porcupine that attacked Caney could match this rabid tree. Large branches, with sharp pointy tips, and whip like reflexes. She battled it but the tree fought dirty. I mean really dirty, I cannot even speak of some of the things it did. Finally the fight turned into a girl fight complete with all the fixins. Hair pulling, scratching, and eye gouging. Man was there eye gouging. Problem is trees don't have eyes so you can guess what happened. Yep, Aim was defeated and the tree stood victoriously over her lifeless teary eyed body, almost saying, "hey girly, you were barking up the wrong tree."

In his mom's honor Caney pee'd right on that tree, with his best stream of concentrated super Wonder Dog pee, and Aim was able to flee.

Well, our two days in the Daks turned to a single day and a sleepless night for Aim. When she woke me up Sunday morning the eye wasn't looking so good. We packed up and had a spirited drive down 73 back to the Northway and home.

Off to the urgent care center where it was confirmed Aim is blind, not from the fight with the tree, just blind! Which explains why she is married to me. After a few test it was also confirmed she had 1 or 2 corneal abrasions. Nothing serious, but serious enough for her to get a day off from work. Hmm, if I got a day off for every abrasion I got I'd got a lot more abrasions.

The good news is Caney is now in second place for consecutive days without need of medical assistance for illness or injury. Me, I'm going on 17 full months, Caney 2 full weeks, and Aim's streak of 5 years is long gone. Today she is at 1 day!!! Let's just say Caney is cherishing every moment , and confident that if he can hold on for just a few more months I will do something stupid!!!

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blogged with Flock