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.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info; looking forward to hiking tomorrow.