For your viewing pleasure I present to you a fun video of my recent winter hike to the Blue Mountain fire tower . Thanks to my friends at Fulton Chain Craft Brewery for a place to park my tired self and some great beer after an awesome day in the park.
Living in New York State we get winter, or something that resembles it depending on the year. I’ve learned to embrace it because it can be long and cold. Over the past few years I’ve been out and about our local parks and trails hiking with my snowshoes. I find winter hiking to be some of the most beautiful and peaceful time to be outdoors. Recently I had the opportunity to change things up a little. So I hopped in my car and headed for the Adirondacks.
A few hours later I arrived at the trailhead of the 3759 foot summit of Blue Mountain. This 2 mile trail (One Way) climbs 1670 feet in elevation with moderate to steep grades, ending at the fire tower. At the trailhead I met my friend Nancy an experienced hiker who would go with me since this would be my first winter hike with considerable elevation.
We decided that we didn’t need snowshoes and that micro spikes would be sufficient since the trail was very well packed. This is a very popular hike in any season. It was sunny and in the low 30’s when we began and quickly I had to stop to remove my jacket putting in my backpack. The trail climbed steeply as we bumped into our first hikers coming down from the summit around the one mile mark. We stopped and chatted for a little before continuing. We would see three more before reaching the summit.
The closer we got to the summit the snow got deeper, the temperatures colder and you could feel the wind picking up through the trees. Just before coming out of the tree line I stopped and layered back up before exposing myself to the open summit. Stepping out into the open the Blue Mountain fire tower stood proudly at an additional 35 feet encrusted in snow and ice.
Climbing the tower to the observers tower the wind was whipping pretty good and my fingers were so cold even through my gloves while trying to take some photos. The stairs were covered in at least 6 inches of snow and ice and the cabin had at least a foot of snow inside. The handrails were also encased in ice.
Even though there was a vast temperature difference between the base and summit the warm sun was doing its best to remove Mother Nature’s grasp. Chunks of ice had begun to fall off the tower like crystals falling from a chandelier crashing to the ground into pieces. The trees at the summit were encrusted in snow and ice giving them a powdered sugar look, it was breathtaking.
We spent about an hour at the summit taking in the sheer beauty, chatting with a few hikers who had come up the trail shortly behind us. I was completely hooked on winter hiking.
Once down and back to my car, putting my gear away it was time to head south to Old Forge where I would spend the night. But not before a stop at Fulton Chain Craft Brewing for a couple of well earned beverages.
I absolutely loved this experience and I hope to do some more winter hiking in the Adirondacks in the future.
Back in the fall the Northern Forest Canoe Trail reached out to me asking if I would be willing to do a presentation to a local outdoor club on their behalf. I’m not your typical motivational speaker but I jumped at the chance to talk about something I feel passionate about. This past week I traveled to Utica, NY to give my presentation. I’m truly grateful that the NFCT felt confident enough in me to even ask.
As winter pressed on I had been keeping an watchful eye on the volume of snow in the north country “Adirondacks”. As my presentation date grew closer I decided I would spend the night in Utica with my sights set on some snowshoeing. The next morning I would do my 4 mile run before checking out of the hotel and continue my trek northward.
I arrived in Old Forge at the Bisby Road trailhead under cover of overcast skies with temperatures around 28 degrees. In my opinion this was almost near perfect. Strapping on my snowshoes, throwing a few last minute items in my backpack I was soon off on my adventure.
The first mile of trail had been broken by XC skiers but that soon would change. The next 4 miles I would have to break trail myself and around the half way point my legs were beginning to feel it. I took a few rest breaks standing in awe of the beauty and the silence. I was the only one out here on these particular trails, I saw not one other human being until I returned to my car.
Once back to the trail junction and my final mile before returning to civilization I stopped for a bit to strip down some of my clothing. I worked up a pretty good sweat over those 4 miles, it was time for a snack and some water.
This 6 mile journey took me 4 hours in which I took a few breaks, some photos and a few video clips. The day could not have been more perfect as the clouds gave way to a blueberry Adirondack sky.
Part 3, Lake Colby a 272 acre lake located in the village of Saranac Lake, NY is a beautiful place to paddle, camp and swim. There are three primitive campsites along the shores of Lake Colby as well the village beach. New York State operates a boat launch and fishing access; there is a ten horsepower limit for motorboats.
Hope you enjoyed this short film series!
The canoe in this series is a 14′ Adirondack Canoe Company “Boreas” pack canoe that weighs in at 24#’s. She’s light, comfortable and paddles exceptionally well.
Part 1 in a 3 part series, Little Colby Pond in Saranac Lake, NY is very small but one of my favorite ponds to paddle in the area. I don’t know why but there is just something magical about it. Maybe it’s the thought of long New York Central freight trains echoing off the mountains that once crossed the fill splitting Little Colby Pond and it’s big brother Lake Colby. Or conjuring in my mind an Adirondack moose coming for a drink in the early morning hours under the cover of a ghostly fog.
No matter the intrigue it is definitely a peaceful place to paddle where one can take a few moments to reflect on life or better yet a floating nap.
Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for part 2, enjoy the short film!
The gleaming warmth of the sun piercing our office window has me ever so excited that spring has sprung. More importantly some great canoe camping adventures are now in the planning stages. If that wasn’t exciting enough, I’m having two brand new carbon/kevlar canoes built for me by the Adirondack Canoe Company of Minerva, NY. Both canoes are of their “Boreas” design which are 14 feet in length. However one will be a pack canoe (24 pounds) that can be paddled with a kayak paddle and the other a traditional solo canoe (27 pounds). I couldn’t decide which one I wanted so I’m getting both. To be honest I’m a huge fan of the pack canoe and I love the feeling of a double blade kayak paddle. With that said there is just something timeless about a solo canoe that draws me in as well.
Currently our dinning room table is littered with maps of the Adirondack Park and the Connecticut River Valley which straddles the borders of Vermont and New Hampshire.
My first almost completely planned trip which will take place in September has me in Lake George, NY for two days where I’ll be photographing the Lake George Triathlon Festival. After that my adventure brings me further north to the St. Regis Canoe Area for several days of pond hopping and exploring. Another component to this canoe/camp trip is that my friend Gary Sharp will be joining me. Gary is highly entertaining, a wealth of knowledge and just fun to be around. Oh and he likes beer!
Once I return to civilization I’ll take in the spectacle that is the Adirondack Canoe Classic ( 90 Miler) for three days as a volunteer with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Originally I had thought that I might want to paddle this event in 2019. After much self reflection I feel its better to be an observer in order to get a feel for it first.
The map below is currently a mock of my trip. I might add to it or even do it in reverse but it is still in the planning stages.
I encourage you to visit the Adirondack Canoe Company’s website at the link above or follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Their boats are stunning!
If you like what you see here please share and follow my blog. “AdirondackJoe” can also be found on Facebook and Instagram as well.
July 15th 2015 Michael and I summited Whiteface Mountain in New York’s Adirondack Park. To date it is our only high peak, however we hope to change that this year conquering another.
Our day started out rainy but like they say wait 10 minutes and it will change. We were treated with a glorious day for hiking and once reaching the summit we decided to change things up a bit. Choosing the road more traveled Michael and I hiked down the auto road instead, continuing to drink in those stunning views.
August 30th 2018: I got started north late in the afternoon arriving Old Forge, NY around 6:30PM. With still at least two more hours of driving I decided to call it a night. I find the older I get if I don’t have to drive at night I won’t. So instead I pulled up my chair to the bar at Fulton Chain Craft Brewing, ordered a beer and food and chatted with the locals about the upcoming “Adirondack Canoe Classic” affectionately known as the 90 Miler. This event starts in Old Forge and finishes three days later in Saranac Lake. A bucket list experience for me!
August 31st 2018: 0600, A beautiful sun kissed morning with the boat launch at Long Pond still 90 miles distant. Full tank of gas, coffee and I’m ready to hit the road. I would meet my friends Jan and Hugh who had already been camping there since Thursday. They had gone in the day prior to make sure we could secure a campsite being it a holiday weekend.
I arrived right on time 0840 and began unloading my gear. The pond is a quarter mile from the parking area and on my first trip Jan came walking up the trail to greet me. Two trips total and my canoe loaded we were off. As I setup my tent and sleeping system Jan and Hugh made some coffee before our 12 mile adventure that would take us through Long Pond, Slang Pond, Turtle Pond and Hoel Pond.
The takeout for the canoe carry from Long Pond to Slang Pond is a really nice sandy area. A short 0.2 mile carry on a well maintained trail brings you to put-in on Slang Pond. This is a little mucky but easily done. I personally loved the channel connecting Slang and Turtle Pond. The take out on Turtle Pond again was a real nice sandy spot. In order to get into Hoel Pond you could either walk your boat through the culvert that connects the two or carry up and over the railroad tracks that split the two ponds. I opted to carry up and over!
The wind kicked up pretty good while on Hoel. Hoel is the only pond that day that isn’t complete wilderness and does have some homes along its shoreline. We would break for lunch at a small sandy spot in a cove on the northern end. Afterwards we would begin our way back to our campsite on Long Pond. As we passed between Turtle and Slang Ponds we bumped into Linda McFarland sitting on her kayak having her lunch. We chatted with Linda for a little before continuing.
Back at our campsite we began to prep our dinner. I was hoping for a stunning sunset this evening and views of the Milkyway as well. However the clouds started to roll in and we even got a few sprinkles of rain.
September 1st 2018: I woke several times during the night peering out my tent to see if the cloud cover had given way to millions of stars in the night sky, I would not be so lucky. However the loons were very active and their call never tires.
Not long after sunrise we were up brewing coffee. For me I keep coffee simple while camping as I use instant. Fire up the Jetboil and in 3 minutes coffee is poured. Hugh and Jan prefer the drip method while camping. My go to breakfast while out in the woods is oatmeal. One cup quick oats, one small box of raisins and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
While Jan and Hugh were starting to break camp I tested out Jan’s Placid Boat Works “Rapid-fire” kevlar canoe. This beauty is 15′ long and glides very nicely through the water. It is a little different than my 12′ Hornbeck kevlar/carbon canoe but both are great boats. It’s late morning now and we have our canoes packed and we begin our paddle out. But first we are headed to explore Pink Pond. Pink Pond is really and you enter it from Long Pond through a twisting channel with low water. Just before entering the channel to Pink Pond we bumped into a DEC Ranger who had just finished checking the campsite there. We had a small conversation and she was on here way.
Back at the take out on Long Pond I made two trips to my car. One with gear and the other with my canoe. Jan and Hugh would do the same. After everything was loaded onto and into our cars we said our goodbyes as I was headed for St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake to take a shower.
All showered I made my way to Lake Placid for a late lunch at a BBQ place called Smoke Signals. I have never been there before so I figured why not, it was excellent. After lunch I would hang around in Placid for a little before making my way east over route 73 to the Adirondack north way. Thinking in my head I need to hit another pond I came up with Cheney Pond just outside of Newcomb, NY.
Arriving at the trailhead it is a half mile drive down a very steep, narrow, rough rutted road to the pond. I’ll admit I was wondering if I’d get out. I eased my way tot he pond discovering a family camped right near the small hand launch. Cheney is relatively small but secluded. I would spend an hour just exploring the shoreline which according to my GPS is 1.5 miles. Back in my car and again very slowly I inched my way out and found this adventure had made me thirsty. As luck would have it Paradox Brewing was only 20 minutes away in Schroon Lake, NY, I was saved!
My destination for the evening would be Lake George, NY as I was to be photographing the Big George Triathlon early Sunday morning. This is a half Ironman distance 70.3 miles. The triathlon consists of 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles on the bike followed by a half marathon. I would find a great place to car camp along route 9N in Lake Vanare for the evening.
September 2nd 2018: I slept great as I have a killer sleeping system setup in my car. And I was lakeside in Lake George by 0630 to do my part in photographing the triathlon. This would be my fourth year doing so and every year I photograph the bikes. I love doing this especially when they come into transition which can provide some dramatic images. Afterwards it was time to hit the road and head home.
This was a super fun weekend and I look forward to doing it again next year.