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

I completed my quest to climb all 46 Adirondack high peaks with an ascent of Whiteface and Esther.

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”

Total eclipse

Total solar eclipse viewed from South Carolina.
Total solar eclipse viewed from South Carolina. See the gallery for hi-res photos.

We traveled to northwestern South Carolina to visit family and view the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – and were totally impressed!  We launched a boat onto Lake Keowee so we could view the partial eclipse and, if needed, relocate to avoid any late-arriving clouds that might obscure our view of the total eclipse.  Darkness arrived suddenly as the moon crept into place, lasting a bit longer than two minutes.  At this point we experienced a 360-degree sunset.

Although I made no specific plans to do serious photography, I found my Nikon D500 with 300mm telephoto was  capable of capturing decent shots of the eclipse, hand-held.  Looking forward to the 2024 eclipse in New Hampshire!

eclipse

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).

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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.

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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”