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Friday, February 26, 2021

Adirondacks 46er

Today, after nearly a year, I crossed off the final two peaks (gray & skylight) to finish the Adirondacks 46 4,000 ft. peaks! I hiked 8 days straight across 81.2 miles and over 24,000 ft. in elevation gain to get it done in time before heading back from vacation, and my muscles are screaming for it. This hike had everything you could want for a final peak. It was a bluebird day with no wind (the first in 8-days). I saw people only on the way out, mostly backcountry skiers. I had to break trail in deep snow for about 5-miles; I certainly had to work for it. Dozens of spruce traps, including some 6-foot holes. To top it off, a large full moon rose above the mountains on the way out viewed from lake placid. What a day, and what a journey! I learned so much, and I’ll be sure to post about the entire journey soon. 


Sawteeth Mountain

 Yesterday, I completed Sawteeth mountain. I stopped by Rainbow Falls, and then discovered a giant hop hornbeam tree. Anytime you see this slow growing understory tree approach 1-foot in diameter, you know you’re in virgin forest.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Colvin, Blake, & Indian Head

 After five consecutive days hiking mountains totaling 49.4 miles and 14,518 ft in elevation, I took my time getting up this morning. I was sore to say the least. I woke up in the parking lot of a trailhead in Keene. After making tea and eating breakfast, I drove to Huberts trailhead. There were only a few cars in the lot by the time I made my way up the trail. I first hit Indian Head lookout, then Colvin and Blake. Blake was really tough with a near vertical incline and fresh snow. I climbed the last stretch on my hands and knees. I saw a pair of deer. It’s the first time I’ve seen deer here- they are smaller in stature but heftier. They almost look like a subspecies. Along the trail, I noticed some very large hemlocks and scattered old growth sugar maple and yellow birch. I really huffed it on this hike for a good workout.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Mount Colden

 Today was a doozy. 14 mile hike to Mt. Colden and back through high winds, whiteout conditions and low temps. At times there were 65mph wind gusts. I passed some small old growth maple-beech forest on the way up. A highlight of the day was snowshoeing across Avalanche Lake at high elevation, fully protected from the elements as high winds rushed through the mountains like a wind tunnel.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Big Slide Morning Hike

 On trail by 4:00 am, walking under pitch black sky and bright, scintillating stars toward Big Slide mountain - my 40th (out of 46) Adirondacks 4,000 foot mountains. Out of all the mountains I’ve claimed, this might be my favorite single peak hike. There were views all along the way, and giant sugar maple, ash, American beech and eastern hemlock virgin forest below on Phelps trail. I made it to Big Slide just in time for the sun to rise. What a day! I completed the hike in just under 4-hours. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Hunter Mountain Virgin Forest - Catskills

Today, I hiked Hunter mountain for my second and final Catskills 4k footer. I broke trail all the way up, passing bear claw marks on a beech tree and clues of the “mountain’s” creation such as crossbedding in the 350 million year old sandstone geology. The Catskills as a range were not created by a mountain building event, but rather they are the product of millennia of erosion of the once level Allegheny plateau. My favorite part of the trail was finding virgin forest toward the top, as well as large sugar maple-ash forest below. 6% in counting of the Catskills are virgin forest, with nearly all of it reserved above 2,500 feet. Trees are contorted, gnarled and stunted from harsh winds, time ice and short growing season. In all my travels, I’ve never seen such large red spruce, yellow birch, and sugar maple in one place. I estimate the red spruce to be over 250 years old, and the other species over 400 years. The fire tower was closed for winter, but I climbed to the top without accessing the inside. The glissading (aka mountain sledding) on the way down was second to none! The imprint of hikers on trail contrasted with the height of deep surrounding snow effectively created a bobsledding course down the mountain. It always takes a couple strenuous hikes to drain the toxins and forget about work, and this was that hike for me. To top the day off, I finally got “The Catskill Forest: A History” by Michael Kudish! Off to the Adirondacks to finish the Northeast 115 4,000 foot mountains!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Catskills - Slide Mountain

 This morning, I woke up in the trunk of my CR-V at the Slide mountain trailhead. Single digit temps and 6-inches of fresh snowfall was no match for my memory foam mattress, sleeping bag, and Sergo heat candle - I may never rent a hotel room again! I’m here in the Catskills to chip away at the Northeast 115 4,000 footers. This morning, I threw on my snowshoes and broke trail up Slide Mountain where I passed some old growth hemlock, black cherry and spruce-fir. To my surprise, the Catskills have many acres of virgin forest. Tomorrow, I’ll go north to hit Hunter mountain before finishing up the Adirondacks 46 and Northeast 115 this weekend. Those who know me know I love the northeast and its mountains. No mountain range is complete without sleepy, quirky mountain towns. Passing through these towns and helmets are like going through time. On this trip, I’ve added a new one to my list - Woodstock - which the famous festival was named after. Far out, dudes!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Martha’s Vineyard Snow Day

It feels like ages since I’ve peeled my eyes away from my computer, so it was nice to have a rare snow storm to distract me. The quietness and beauty of snow storms has always captivated me. I enjoyed a neighborhood hike down to Lambert’s Cove beach where I only saw a few people.