All posts by dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

Clyming Lyme from bottom to top

I’ve lived in Lyme, NH for almost 20 years, very close to its lowest point along the Connecticut River.  I first climbed to the summit of Smarts Mountain, Lyme’s highest point, 35 years ago this fall. Now, when I row my shell up the river and past the mouth of Grant Brook, I can see Smarts in the distance, looking regal in its oversight of this wonderful town we call home.  I knew that Grant Brook’s source lay high on the slopes of Smarts Mountain, so it occurred to me: could I travel from Lyme’s lowest point to its highest point, completely off-road?  Yes! Read on, and check out the photos.

The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain in view at rear.
The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain, in view at rear.

Continue reading Clyming Lyme from bottom to top

Seward Range

I saw an unusually long sequence of sunny days ahead and leapt at the chance to snag the four peaks of the Seward Range, a rugged and remote section of the Adirondacks High Peaks. The result?  Blood, sweat, and tears (pick two).

2017-07-28-39085
Emmons, Donaldson, and Seward from Seymour.

The four peaks in this range – Emmons, Donaldson, Seward, and Seymour, from south to north – are each over 4000′ elevation, and thus members of the 46 Adirondack high peaks. (At least they’re an honest 4000′, unlike my recent peaks Couchsachraga, Nye, and Cliff.) When I studied the map last year, I was struck by the remoteness of these peaks – compared the central high peaks region, they are completely trailless, and to reach even the base of these mountains are many miles from the trailhead.  I imagined myself crashing through dense spruce forest with a compass and a hope that I’d not wander off into a trackless drainage. Not so. Continue reading Seward Range

Mount Allen

Mount Allen is another one of those remote, viewless summits that people really only climb because it’s on the 46er list of Adirondack peaks over 4,000′.  It’s an 18-mile round-trip day-hike climb from the trailhead, so I decided to break up the hiking (and the driving) over two days.  I drove over on Friday afternoon and headed into the woods around 4:30pm, planning to follow the marked trail to the point where the herd path begins, then a bit further to where the map shows it crosses a brook and where I hoped I might find a spot to camp.  I queried the outbound hikers for clues about where they may have seen campsites along the way, and got a few tips.  I reached my intended location only to find that a pair of other hikers had had the same idea and were camped in exactly that spot.

Continue reading Mount Allen

Cliff and Marshall

David at summit of Mount Marshall.

Back to the Adirondacks this weekend, to bag two more 46er peaks: Cliff and Marshall.  This trip was more than a peak-bagging trip – it was an opportunity to re-visit some of my favorite campsites and to enjoy the incredible waterfalls and cascades of the Opalescent River in some excellent conditions. Read on, and check out the photo gallery. Continue reading Cliff and Marshall

Return to Couchsachraga

My goal for 2017 is to complete my Adirondack 46 – that is, to climb the 46 peaks of the Adirondack Mountains that are (or were once thought to be) above 4000′.  I began this quest some forty-plus years ago, and decided to polish off the list.  In March I set off to conquer the remote and entirely uninteresting peak of Couchsachraga, in beautifully perfect winter conditions.  Much to my disappointment, I was forced to turn around just a bit short of my goal.  Breaking trail through several feet of fresh powder, and following the unmarked informal herd path, turned out to be too much for me that day. This weekend I returned to make another attempt, catching a window of beautiful summer weather. Check the photos, and read on.

David on the Couchsachraga summit.
Couchsachraga summit! finally.

Continue reading Return to Couchsachraga

Niagara Falls

The ACM Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services gave me an opportunity to spend a lovely week in Niagara Falls.  I had only visited there briefly, 32 years before, so it was wonderful to have time to explore the Falls from various angles and various times of day.  It’s a bit touristy, to be sure, but it’s tastefully done – and the falls are so stunningly spectacular that it is worth visiting again and again.

My photo gallery includes shots of each of the three waterfalls, from both the American and Canadian side, and in both early morning, late afternoon, and at night during the fireworks display.   And, even from the Maid of the Mist tourboat that snuggles right up into the misty spray of Horseshoe Falls.

David at Niagara's Horseshoe Falls, as viewed from the Canadian side.
David at Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls, as viewed from the Canadian side.

The conference also hosted a banquet dinner at Old Fort Niagara, about 30 minutes north of the falls on the shore of Lake Ontario. The weather was perfect, the sunset beautiful, and the historical re-enactments fascinating.  Snapped some fun photos and videos.  Worth a visit if you have a chance!

Demonstration of firing at Fort Niagara.
Demonstration of firing at Fort Niagara.

Still winter on Moosilauke

It may be 60 degrees in Hanover, with only the vestiges of snowbanks left to remind us of winter, but this morning on the summit of Moosilauke it was clearly still winter.

2017-04-09-36864After my disappointment on Couchsachraga three weeks ago, and no good opportunity to return there this winter, I felt a deep need to get into the mountains – and Moosilauke is always soothing to the soul.  Yesterday’s light snowstorm followed by today’s blue skies and strong April sunshine were the cue that today is the day. Read on, and see the photos.

Continue reading Still winter on Moosilauke