Rooster Comb

View of Giant Mountain from the Rooster Comb in the Adirondacks.After completing my Adirondack 46ers on Whiteface Mountain (Thursday) and my New York 4000-footers on Hunter Mountain (Friday), I was still drawn to the mountains. On Saturday, my father and I co-led a group of Camp Dudley alumni to the top of Rooster Comb, a small peak in the Keene Valley region of the Adirondacks, which has a fantastic view of Giant Mountain and even Mount Marcy.  [photos.] What a treat!

An osprey perching on a pole in the Champlain valley of Vermont.On Sunday, I left the Adirondacks and crossed Vermont on my way home to New Hampshire. It was such a beautiful day that I had to pause and photograph the ubiquitous Osprey in the Champlain Valley, and take a hike on the Long Trail to catch some views toward New Hampshire from the Middlebury Snow Bowl. [photos.] We are lucky to live in such beautiful states.

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Hunter Mountain

View from the outlook near the summit of Hunter Mountain.I took a quick trip up Hunter Mountain, in the Catskills of southern New York, to top off my list of 4000-footer peaks in New York.  (There are two such peaks outside the Adirondacks, both in the Catskills; I climbed Slide Mountain in 1976.)

A nest of three juvenile garter snakes on the summit of Hunter Mountain.It was a pleasant day on the Becker Hollow trail, which provides a steady but stiff inclined route up the side of the valley.  As it nears the head of the valley the trail becomes steep, finally topping out at the flat, tree-covered summit at 4,046′.  I explored a side trail to a nice westerly overlook on some sunny rocks, only to discover I was not the only one enjoying those sunny rocks: a nest of small garter snakes writhed in one small niche, while another larger snake patrolled nearby.  See the gallery for a video.

Distance: 5.0mi round-trip.  Elevation gain: 2,219′.  Time: 1h9m climb,

Completing the Adirondack 46

David on the summit of Whiteface.
David summits Whiteface Mountain, for the second time, to make it “count” for his 46.

It took 45 years, but I finally completed what I started.

When I was a young boy my family would make frequent trips to the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York state, camping and hiking in this beautiful “forever wild” region of high peaks, beautiful brooks, ample wildlife, and pristine lakes.  Inspired by my father’s love for these mountains, and his encouragement, I started racking up the miles and the mountains.  I discovered the concept of a 46er – a person who climbs all 46 of the peaks thought to be over 4000′ elevation, at least according to the 19th-century surveyors.  I was hooked, and set out to achieve this goal myself.  Today I finished – read on, and check out the photos.

Continue reading Completing the Adirondack 46

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).

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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

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.