Cobble Lookout: views, views… and views!

Following on our theme of easier and shorter hikes around Lake Placid, we elected to spend an hour on Cobble Lookout trail, two weekends ago.

Constructed in the fall of 2014, this new trail has become very popular because it is only one mile with little climbing to a spectacular view of the Ausable Valley and the surrounding mountains.  In the contest for “best view for the least effort”, this hike is at or near the top.

Although snow had not totally melted, snowshoeing was not needed and we didn’t use our spikes either. From the trailhead, an old road leads up gradually to an old quarry.  Past the quarry, the trail is flat for a few yards before turning up and left and climbing in stages.  Then, the trail is mostly flat or gently rolling to the ledge at 1.1 mi. from the trailhead.

IMG_1939IMG_1940Santa’ Workshop is directly below the ledge with Wilmington further below.  The great bulk of Whiteface and Esther are to the right with Giant Mt. and other high peaks straight ahead.
 

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A Spring Splash!

IMG_1092If you happened to be at Whiteface Mountain on Sunday, you’d have met a lot of people with “interesting” costumes. Spiderman was there. And Superman, Real Grouchy, Batman, a white tiger and some more… This was because of the International Pond Skimming Contest.

The idea is very simple: Think you can make it across a sea of slush? Many have tried and almost as many have failed but crossing the pond isn’t the only way to win. Contestants are judged on distance, splash and costume! Yes, there is also a jury handing notes, as in an international skating competition.

In a field  of more than 90 contestants, only a handful made it to the other side. Most fell short, some making the plunge and the others doing face plants in chilly water. One even tried it on a bike. Enough said!

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The coolest! Beer in hand, he went through!

The coolest! Beer in hand, he went through!

The funniest!

The funniest!

From John Brown Farm

The good thing about our townhouse is that it’s a short walk away from the John Brown Farm State Historic Site, where you can see the home and grave of abolitionist John Brown.

Walking there from our home is a delight, especially like yesterday evening, with the sunset over a cloud-less sky. You are surrounded by the McKenzie mountains on the West, the High Peaks on the South, the Sentinel Range on the East… and Whiteface on the North. Incredible, isn’t it?

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Marcy, Colden and Algonquin at sunset

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Whiteface at sunset

Off the Curve

We usually take the Thruway to Lake Placid, whether from the North or South. Driving South from Plattsburgh, we take exit 34 towards our beloved Olympic village. This morning was no different. Except for the weather, cloudless blue sky and beautiful morning sun.

While driving on Route 86, there is this large curve just before Ausable Forks, with an incredible view of the Ausable River and Whiteface Mountain. Every time we reach this place, we anticipate the view. Unfortunately, more often than not, the sky is too cloudy, the sun is in front of us, totally blinding us from the mountain. Lots, and lots of disappointments! Today was the exception. The perfect spot, and everything else in place: morning sun, blue sky, a deep blue and icy river and a big snowy mountain in the background. Enjoy.

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If you don’t know the difference…

… between hiking and bushwhacking, like me, I can tell you: now I know.

I spent the major part of the morning finding may way to Kilburn Mountain, part of the Sentinel range. There are no marked trail to get there.

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Bushwhacking is defined as the practice of hiking off the trail using navigation to guide your way. Understanding of navigation is essential to a fun and safe time exploring between contour lines. Needless to say, there are a few dangers including getting lost, thick undergrowth, injured body parts, eye injuries, and extended time for rescue and location if something were to happen.

This type of Adirondack hiking has become a much more interesting and admired past-time. The Adirondack 100 highest has become a popular venture as well, where a large majority of the peaks are truly trail less. That being said, I didn’t let the pressures of trying something new and exciting, glaze over common sense. I checked all existing maps, prepared a game plan, and emergency plan, and told my wife where I was going and presumably for how long.

Going to Kilburn is bushwhacking from start to finish. There is no trail to lead you, only a brook here to follow close by, another one flowing south to cross before attacking the last slope. Very steep. My route led me below the ridge, and out of the normal thick travel. To my delight, the ridge has an open spruce canopy. The scattered blow down mixed in was a bit of a hassle, but not terrible. As I neared the top, I noticed a herd path going to the summit. And then the views: Whiteface and the other Sentinel peaks.

On my way back, I followed the wrong brook, eventually realized that I was out of my way (if only 30 minutes too late). I had to get back to my earlier tracks before heading West to the right spot. When I got back to the car, I was relieved: I had concluded my first bushwhacking experience and had not faced major problems. I am ready for the next.

A weekend Biking under the Sun (and the Rain!)

This past weekend was the Wilmington Whiteface Bike Fest, the premier celebration of Adirondack cycling. The annual weekend of two-wheeled related events draws hundreds of amateur and professional racers eager to test their skills in the Wilmington/Whiteface 100k race.

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Even though we didn’t participate in the event, on our own bike tours, we had the opportunity to meet with many of the racers. On Saturday, we went biking around Whiteface for about 45 miles. On Sunday, we went from Lake Placid to Keene and then along the Ausable river to Upper Jay and back to Wilmington for another 45 miles. Except, that time, it was under the pouring rain.

The thing is, in the region, biking is by no means easy. You are generally doing one thing at a time, for a relatively long time: climbing, descending, or riding the flats. You just have to be prepared for the mental challenges that come with the ride… Never dull!