Going back to the Wings War!

12187645_916878528348276_1991297377788907272_nTwo years ago, I enjoyed my first war (read here). Today, it was about discovering who had the tastiest chicken wings in the region! The public helps decide the winner of Wings War VIII, a friendly but fierce competition among area restaurants that raised funds for North Country Life Flight, the region’s air medical rescue team.

10 eateries participated, each bringing 500 of their best wings to WiseGuys, the organizer once again. Included were 2014 Grand Champion The Cottage, then Delta Blue, Generations, Dancing Bears, Wiseguys, Kanu, Price Chopper, Smoke Signals, and newcomers Top of The Park and Blue Line Brewery.

IMG_1312 The creativity from the chefs and quality of the wings get better every year. There were a lot of people lining up to taste those wings, from the hot ones (Wiseguys, Delta Blue), to the smoked ones (Smoke Signals) and the unusual ones (Top of the Park, Blue Line). We tasted them all, and, needless to say, this proved to be difficult. My favorite was Blue Line Brewery from Saranac Lake, while Lucie’s was Top of The Park.

At the end of the day, $5,385 were raised for North Country Life Flight. The 2015 Grand Champion, selected by a panel of judges, is Smoke Signals! And the 2015 Fan Favorite Award Winner is Top of the Park!!

Can’t wait for next year!IMG_1314


Sawteeth: a gem to discover

Last week gave us incredible weather with temperatures in the upper 60’s. So, I prepared my backpack, IMG_1269and on Wednesday, left home around 7:30 to be at the Ausable Club parking lot at 8AM.

Sawteeth, my destination, is located near Keene Valley and is the thirty-fifth highest peak in the Adirondacks at 4100 feet. It is often cited as the best photographer’s peak in the area. Sitting near to but off the Great Range the peak offers a great view of almost every peak in that range.

IMG_1271My route was to come from the West River trail and then up from Ausable Lake. A good moderate hike for the day, I was told, as the climbing is supposedly short and the walk in and out is easy but long (over 6 miles one way). I chose to take the Scenic Trail in and the New Trail out.

It was warm, and even under the shades of the tree, I was sweating long before starting the climbing part. Once at the lake, I crossed the bridge and went South on the Scenic Trail. The ascent of Sawteeth via Scenic Trail is difficult and strenuous. It is steep to very steep for at least 40 long minutes. Trail condition was not great as layers and layers of dead leaves were covering roots and rocks, making the climb slippery and exhausting.

Once on the top of the ridge, at a location called Outpost #4, I overlooked the Ausable Lake, Indian Head and the Colvin Range. Very nice views, especially under a cloudless sky!

IMG_1281From that point, Sawteeth was right “behind” me (going West), but I needed to go down and back up, to realize that this next summit was not Sawteeth, or rather, it was only the East side of the summit. To get onto the “real” summit, I had to go down the col and up again.

Reality is Sawteeth has two different views depending on which side of the summit you happen to be on. On the southeast or lake side of the peak, there are excellent views of the Ausable Lakes and Colvin Range that persist from early in the ascent all the way up. Once over the top, you face views of the Great Range less than a half mile to the north.  These are fantastic views that take in much of the Great Range with dramatic close-ups of the slides and the rock faces of Basin, Pyramid, and Gothics. I stayed there for a while, enjoying the views while having lunch.

IMG_1284From there, the descent was moderate via the Alfred E. Weld trail. The trail is excellent and not particularly steep. All in all, it was a long day under the sun, a 14-mile loop that took slightly more than 7 hours to complete. And I enjoyed every minute of those.