Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A few days in Upstate New York 8/8 - 8/11/13

Opportunities abound this summer! Being pulled in so many different directions can get hectic, hence my lateness in writing. My friends Jeremy and Jenna were having their wedding, and in selfish fashion, I decided to get some hiking in while I was "in the area". The wedding was on Saturday, and people were camping out at Jeremy's mothers farm, so I left Portland on Thursday, to get in some mountain time.

A pleasant drive was had, via a mostly interstate route, until my GPS decided I should take the ferry across Lake Champlain. No thank you! I continued south, and it started to rain lightly, as I pulled into a redemption center in the town of Vergennes, VT. On the hunt for a commodity I could not find in Maine, I walked into the store, and was greeted by cases of Switchback Ale, my target! Satiated, I moved on, into one of the most intense thunderstorms I've ever driven in. I even had to pull over for about 5 minutes while the rain pounded, and the thunder roared around me. Crossing a neat bridge, at the southern end of Lake Champlain, I found myself in New York, Port Henry to be exact, and pulled over for some pictures of the storms.

I wound my way towards Keene Valley, and found many trailheads along the way, all very clearly marked. Checking out the town, in the dark of course, I made my way back to the Giant/Rocky Ridge trailhead, settled into my sleeping bag, and fell asleep. I'm not sure what time it was, but I was awoken by thunder, and rain on the roof of my car. There was quite a light show going on outside, and I lay there, watching for a while. I drifted back to sleep, and eventually got up about 5:45, the Noonmark Diner my destination. Breakfast was delicious, everything homemade, and I was fueled up for the day.

To make a long story short, I got rained out that day. I went back and forth to various trailheads, in the pouring rain, and each time I'd return to town, it would stop. Somewhat dejected, I made my way towards the southwest, and the farm. There I met up with the soon to be happy couple, and my friends Bob and John. We started drinking rather early in the afternoon, and there was much rejoicing, as people arrived throughout the afternoon and evening. The rain ended not long after I had arrived, and the skies cleared, a good omen to be sure.

Saturday dawned, and I was up not long after the sun. Those who had pitched their tents in the field were up soon after, driven out by the heat of the sun. A group of us went into Boonville in search of breakfast, and it was had at a little 50's themed diner called Freddie's. It wasn't bad at all, and it was cheap to boot! I had a hankering to get on a trail, and Bob joined me for a short jaunt on some trails maintained by the Black River Environmental Improvement Association.

Contented for the time being, Bob and I returned for the main event. The ceremony was short and sweet, being performed by a local judge, in the garden of the farm. I don't know of two people more deserving of the happiness they bring to each other. Congratulations Jenna and Jeremy!

The hard part over, the keg was tapped, and the celebration began in earnest. An amazing dinner spread was served, and some live tunes were played by various folks, notably by the other Jeremy in attendance. Darkness fell, a fire was kindled, and fine times were had. Sleep eventually overtook me, and I retired to my tiny tent.

Sunday morning came earlier than Saturday had, and all without an alarm! I quickly packed up my things, and after some farewells to those who were up and about, I took off back towards the Adirondacks... there were a couple of mountains I could hit on the way home!

Peaks: Porter Mountain, Cascade Mountain

Trails: Cascade Mountain Trail, Porter Mountain Trail

Mileage/time: 6.2 miles, ~2400 feet of gain, book time of 4:20, actual time of 3:07

With time not on my side, and a long drive home after the fact, I needed something quick. These peaks fit the bill, and since I'd been back and forth between here and Keene Valley on Friday, I knew right where to go. I took a slightly different route back to the area, which proved to be quicker, and more scenic. I definitely need to explore more of upstate New York, it's a pretty cool area. I arrived at the trailhead area, and it was packed! Squeezing into one of the last available spots, I got on my shoes, loaded up my small pack, and started up the trail. Pre-hydrating didn't work out so well, due to all the beer of the preceding days, but there you have it. Consequences.

I was told about the mud in the Adirondacks, and the trail didn't disappoint. There were some sections with a lot of it, but also some dry sections, with nice rock staircases. I passed several groups on my way, some going up, and some going down. The trail was easy to follow, marked here and there by red plastic discs on the trees. I soon reached a rock outcrop that sported awesome views over to the Algonquin area.

Not long after the outlook, I came to a junction. Taking a left would bring my to Cascade Mountain in 0.3 miles, and a right would bring me to Porter Mountain in 0.7 miles. Then, a thought struck me... and I turned right. My grandfather on my mother's side was named Porter, and I thought it would be fitting to have my first Adirondack summit be for him. It's been about 20 years since he passed, and I'd like to think he'd be proud of what I've accomplished. After a brief descent and ascent, I stood on Porter Mountain, ADK summit number one. This, and the next 45 summits will be climbed in honor of my grandfather.

The Great Range from Porter

Whiteface and Pitchoff from Porter

Cascade from Porter
On the summit, I met a guy named John, who helped my identify the various summits in the surrounding area. I ended up hiking with him back over to Cascade, chatting about hiking in general. He reminded me of, well, me, but the Adirondack version. A very knowledgeable individual about the area, like I am with the Whites, and he's been slowly working on his New Hampshire list, like I will be with the Adirondacks.

We soon found ourselves above treeline on Cascade, where an alpine steward greeted us, and we pushed on the short distance to the true summit. The views were 360 degrees and fantastic.

After a short break, I thanked John for his company and the information he provided, and made my way quickly back down to the trailhead. I still had a long drive ahead of me, and that spurred me to make my descent quick. I passed many groups on the way down, running at times, quickly rock hopping at others. I must have seen at least 100 people on the trail, and can't blame them in the least, the weather was perfect.

Arriving back at the car, I got my shoes off, and headed off to get some lunch before the return trip commenced. The Noonmark Diner seemed like a fitting enough place, so I stopped back in. They were in the weeds... bad! No one was at the counter, so I saddled up, and was quickly served a delicious burger, followed by a ridiculously good slice of pie. I even took home a couple raspberry turnovers!

The drive back was fairly uneventful, though I did end up further south than I wanted to be, and wound up coming across Route 4 through Rutland and past Killington. At least I know where to head when I go to climb that one! I didn't arrive back in Portland until about 10:30 that night, pretty much done with driving. I'm going to lay off on long drives like that for a while, though I will make some time to head back to the Adirondacks, even if it's only a couple of times a year, until I finish the ADK 46 list.

I'm already looking forward to my next trip!

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