Dial, Nippletop, Colvin, Blake (and Colvin and Fish Hawk Cliffs)

Probably should have written a trip report four years ago when I did this. It was the first hike after a decent hiatus, and decided to see if I could make a grueling day. It was pretty much like this guy said, so I’ll outsource the details to him. I had enough water however, and saw virtually no one on this day, and added the stop to Indian Head, which was as cool as advertised. Can’t wait to go back there. Unlike the fellow from the linked post, I managed to find myself on Blake a second time. One of the joys of finishing some list (and I regret putting myself up to the list, I think, maybe) is that you then can do the hikes you really want to do, and my hike of Pinnacle Ridge then down into the valley and up to the back of Haystack and back out to Elk Lake was one of the most memorable for me. That one required going up and over Blake from the other side of Pinnacle Ridge.

This one did get me to the halfway point of the 46, and after it, it was the first time I actually thought I would finish. I had wanted to do it by 40, but I was a month late (injury and travel are toughies!).

My initial estimate for the hike was 18.6 miles and 6,000 feet of elevation, but given the linked trip report, if he’s right, then I would have to put the vertical on this day close to the 6,500′ range and the mileage a bit over 20 given the out and back to Indian Head.  Either way, it’s certainly doable in a day, and it pretty much has all of the aspects of ADK High Peaks hiking that you can conjure, all in one. I think I’d reemphasize how strenuous I remember the beginning part of this hike to be on the way up to the shoulder of Nippletop.

Bear Mountain

We tend to have to drive a lot to New York City / Long Island from Rochester to see my family. It’s not fun, and especially tantalizing always coming through the Poconos or Catskills or Harriman on the way down. In order to break up the monotony and make the trip more worthwhile, I’ve committed to making a stop somewhere halfway and hiking for a few hours. Incredibly, in my entire life despite living very close by, I’d never hiked the famous Bear Mountain. It is located on the West side of the Hudson River, just south of West Point, and close to a couple of amazing breweries (Industrial Arts nearby on the same side, and Hudson Valley over in Beacon on the other side). On this day, it was pouring raining the entire car ride, so by the time I pulled into the park, it was pretty empty. The park reminds me a bit of Letchworth, with just tons of old 1930s stone work obviously done by the CCC crews. The park seems like a great place to hang, and there is a nice little lake down there too, overlooking a cable suspension bridge over the Hudson, and sitting beneath Bear. On this day, I decided to hike a little down the lake, and then wanted a challenge, so picked a steep section and bushwhacked straight up the face to the summit. Once again, an auto road goes to the top (more on this in another post). Incredibly, and I am still stunned by this, not only was the road closed, but I did not see a single hiker the entire time I was hiking, resting and enjoying the top, and most of the way down. The views of the river were great, and the big, flat summit had tons and tons of nooks and great viewing areas. The tower was closed on this day, I would have loved to see if I could see the Tappan Zee and Manhattan, because the angle of the mountain and bend of river doesn’t permit that view from the trail or summit. Took the traditional AT on the way down, and I can’t describe it to you – they literally made stone staircases the entire way. If you want a pleasant walk up an incredible mountain near a major metro area, that is certainly something you would want to consider. From the way I went it was a pretty steep climb up, and I think from the other trails it is pretty steep too. Still doable for kids, but they’ll be huffing. All in all, highly recommended, especially if the time you have is tight.

Prospect Mountain

If you stay in one of the kitchy 1960s style “resorts” on the west side of Lake George down in the village, you are walking distance from a lot of neat little shops and restaurants. It’s kitchy, but nothing like Gatlinburg, it has an old-timey vibe to it, and also a Long Island vibe too. In any case, Prospect Mountain looms right behind the town, and you can walk there from your resort if you are so inclined. We were in a rush after a great day on the boat (took a full-day tour of the entire lake on the Mohican, which included a couple cannon blasts and fantastic views of all of sites and homes). I needed exercise, and wanted to see the peak, yet my gang wanted dinner. So I ran from the hotel and up to the top – you can get up there in less than an hour doing this, it took less than 45 mins for me. I got to trailhead along the Northway at 4:42 and was on the summit marker at 5:23. Was signed out of the trail register by 6pm after hanging on top for a bit. This is actually a decently strenuous little hike, not at all like the lovely grades we saw on Brown or down in Tennessee this year. So, while it says “kid friendly” I’d expect some unhappy mucking up this one if you are not prepared.

Brown Mountain in the Tongue Range

Probably among the best views you are going to get of the Lake George Narrows from the west side of the lake. The hike was really pretty, gentle grade, though my companions were a little scared of the rattlesnake warnings. This would be a wonderful through hike of the entire range. After Brown, we ventured over to the Deer Jump, but did not get too near the (hard to find) cliffs that are very prominent when you look up at it from the water.

Note to get that view of the narrows and the islands, you need to bushwack a little bit north of the actual summit of Brown and the lookout that you may be inclined to settle for. It is well worth doing it (only a few hundred yards anyway).

Leconte via Boulevard, and Some More

Family was down in Gatlinburg area for a vacation. Couldn’t find a hiker shuttle that was not booked solid, so my dear wife woke up early and drove the 35 windy miles up to Newfound Gap so I could get an early start (7am) on what would be a glorious hiking day. Given what I have imagined about the hiking and views in Smokies, the amazingly perfect trail conditions, the great weather, the fact that the park gets 11 million visitors a year,  I was half-expecting a miserable, crowded day over worn out trails and overhyped lookouts … boy was  wrong. I only encountered a total of 5 hikers between the time I started in Newfound Gap all the way to nearby the Grotto waterfalls well over a dozen miles from where I started. And it’s not like this was not THE place to be hiking. The quality of the trail conditions, combined with the light gradations (given the enormous Eastern elevations) and the many, many, many excellent vistas, and the idea that Leconte is one of the must go-to destinations for Smokies hihers really would have made this think unhikeable up in the ADKs. It would have been a madhouse.

In any case, no reason for trip reports. I should have been patient and found more places to walk, the weather and conditions were so nice. As it were, with all of the side trips in here (Jump Off, Myrtle, Brushy and a walk all the way out of Gatlinburg), was able to cover apx 22 miles in 8 hours on a fairly iffy right calf (I know, wimp I am). Did not encounter much wildlife on this day aside from some quiet and flitty juncos here and there.

Windham High Peak

Breakfast at Long Island’s awesome Bagel Cafe, a quick visit to Suarez Family brewery for a wheat pils and some great views of the Catskills from the many orchards and farm fields near the brewery, and then into the Maplewood area and the Black Dome Range trailhead. The trail was recovering from a bit of weather, but still fairly fast footing. The best views are about 2/3 of the way into the hike, just before you begin the somewhat steeper part of the ascent of Windham.