Archive for March, 2009

Bissel’s Mound – Washington County, MN

“Are you in?” Sam inquired after a long silent stare at his comrades.

“In on what?” Matt and Jon asked with a puzzled look on their faces.

“Yes or no?” Sam stated with a simple insistence.

“You still haven’t told us…”

“The details are unimportant. There is only one certainty – – we will need to get cheeseburgers.”

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Continue Reading March 31, 2009 at 12:55 pm 5 comments

Wright Peak – Essex County, NY

At 4587 feet, Wright Peak is the 16th highest of the Adirondack High Peaks. I had last visited Wright in 1991, so when my youngest brother Bob and his friends Peter and Matt suggested a winter ascent, I was more than ready to get up there again.

The total climb is about 7 round-trip miles and 2400 feet from the Adirondack Loj trailhead. When my friend Phil and I turned off NY73 onto the Loj road, we knew it was going to be a good day. The sun was just reaching the tops of the peaks and there was not a cloud in the sky. That’s Algonquin covered in white, with Wright just below it and to the left.

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The first mile or two of the heavily trodden trunk trail toward both Marcy Dam and Algonquin alternated between glare ice and bare ground, making snowshoes impossible. Phil and I had traction gear, but the others had to bare-boot it as best they could. The lesson was learned, and micro-spikes are now on their to-buy lists. Eventually, the snow depth increased, but with temps in the teens to low 20s, it was still very firm and snowshoes weren’t necessary. One described it as being almost a “paved trail”, and it was very easy walking, aside from the steepness.

Just before the junction with the side trail to Wright, there was a 20-foot-high rock covered with smooth flow ice, and at that point, everyone changed footgear. I went with full-boot crampons, and the others all added snowshoes with crampons underfoot. We bushwhacked around the obstacle and continued on to the Wright trail junction.

Up to this point, the climbing had been steep and relentless, and then the Wright side trail climbs 600 feet in less than a half mile. About halfway up, we reached treeline, and there was nothing but open rock the rest of the way. The footgear came off, and we began the steep climb up the summit rocks. As we followed the rock cairns marking the way, Algonquin seemed so close we could reach out and touch it, and we could see climbers ascending and descending its snow-covered slopes.

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Soon we reached the summit, and were treated to a 360-degree view. Temps were around 30F with only a light wind, much more pleasant than we expected, and we took a leisurely lunch break while enjoying the views.  Click here if you’d like the full-size (370kb) labelled version of this 270-degree panorama.

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I consumed the requisite cheeseburger, much to the entertainment of the others present.  I think there may soon be some additional cheeseburgerers joining the effort.  That’s Mount Marcy above the burger, and Mount Colden in the foreground.

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Just below the summit, there’s a plaque honoring the airmen killed when their B-47 crashed into Wright’s summit in 1962. We found the plaque and some remnants of the aircraft that are still scattered all over the north side of the mountain.

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Soon we started feeling chilled and reluctantly headed down. The descent, as always, went much more quickly, though we still had to be careful on the steep trail. We met numerous parties on their way in as we headed out, and it seemed a little late in the day for many of them to be getting started. Ah, youth – they were probably moving faster than we were. We got back to the parking area around 7 hours after we started, and that seemed plenty fast enough. Any time I can be home for dinner after climbing an Adirondack High Peak is a pretty good day.

March 21, 2009 at 7:14 pm 2 comments

Good Luck Mountain – Hamilton County, New York

The string of beautiful spring-like weather continues, so today, we headed for Good Luck Mountain, in southern Hamilton County. This short climb has some wonderful open cliffs on top that provide great views for the effort. Once again, it was sunny and in the low 50s, and a very nice day to be out.

We left NY10 and started walking along a marked snowmobile trail until we reached this trail junction with a register. We were in the Ferris Lake Wild Forest management unit of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

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We continued to follow the snowmobile trail, which was well-packed and easy to walk on with snowshoes, despite the 2-3 feet of snow still in the woods. Near the point where we were to leave the trail, we reached Good Luck Lake. We’ve paddled here at least once every summer, and it’s also good swimming, but we’d never visited in winter before.

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Now we left the snowmobile trail and began a steady, and sometimes steep, climb below the icy cliff face.

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As we stood below the cliffs, we could see the lake below.

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Turning upward again, the cliffs, and our destination, towered above us. We would skirt the cliffs to the left, and climb steeply around them to the summit. This section was made more “interesting” by the numerous post-holes left by some idiot(s) who had decided that snowshoes were not necessary. We took some satisfaction in knowing that their ascent and descent must have been a bit miserable.

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The view from the cliffs is mostly to the west. Spectacle Lake is the most prominent feature in the distance.

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After a pleasant lunch break atop the cliffs, we headed for the true summit, a few hundred yards from the open cliffs. It was time to cheeseburger another summit.

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After downing the burger, we turned around and started back down the steep section to the valley, and back to the car along the snowmobile trail. An ice cream stop in Johnstown made the day complete.

March 17, 2009 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

Mount Raimer and Berlin Mountain, New York

Today was a twice-rescheduled Schenectady ADK hike on another section of the Taconic Crest Trail, in pursuit of the winter patch offered by the Taconic Hiking Club. The section we did today was about 7 miles long, with 1859′ of cumulative elevation gain, and over 2500′ of cumulative elevation loss. We started atop the ridge at Petersburg Pass, and headed south to descend via the Southeast Hollow Access Trail, where we had pre-positioned a car. Along the way, we would cross 2 major summits and numerous other “bumps” along the ridge. There was still close to a foot of snow on the northern slopes, while other areas had no snow at all. It was a beautiful sunny day in the 50s.

Our first stop was Mount Raimer (2572′), former site of the Taconic Trails Ski Area, long since closed. Details about that area and many others are available at the New England Lost Ski Areas Project web site. Remnants of the old ski lift and trails are still visible, and there’s a nice view toward the northern Taconics. It was time for the first cheeseburger of the day.

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Descending one of the old ski trails, we headed for Berlin Pass.

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Just before reaching the pass, there’s a nice view of Berlin Mountain across the pass. That would be our lunch stop.

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The summit of Berlin Mountain once had a fire tower, and is now a wide open meadow with near-360-degree views. At 2799′, it’s the highest point on the trail and also in Rensselaer County, NY. To the east is the massive ridge of Mount Greylock (3491′), the highest point in the state of Massachusetts. This was the second cheeseburgered summit of the day, with Mount Greylock in the background.

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Leaving Berlin Mountain, the trail crosses to the Massachusetts side of the ridge, and remains there until the descent into Southeast Hollow, back on the New York side. The trail passes through a dense pine forest and crosses several more “bumps” before reaching that descent.

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The descent drops almost 900′ in under 2 miles, following a stream down the Hollow to the valley below. It had been a long day, and we were all happy to see the car.

March 16, 2009 at 6:34 pm 3 comments

Tower Mountain and Berry Hill, Massachusetts

Today, I led another Schenectady ADK hike to a section of the Taconic Crest Trail. Several of us are pursuing a patch from the Taconic Hiking Club for completion of all trail sections in calendar winter.  Today’s section was about 5.5 miles from Tower Mountain Road north to Potter Mountain Road, off NY/MA43 near Hancock, MA.  This hike was entirely in Massachusetts, though other sections of the trail meander back and forth across the state line as they follow the ridge top.

The snow on the ridge was 8-12″ deep, and soft, mushy, and wet. It was like breaking trail in mashed potatoes, and provided a fairly strenuous outing. On the positive side, temps were near 50F with a light wind and lots of sun, so it was a beautiful spring-like day to be out.   Early in the hike, we summited Tower Mountain, where I consumed the day’s first cheeseburger.  My hiking mates were quite entertained by this compulsion, having never heard of it before.

Soon thereafter, we found a nice dry picnic table overlooking Berry Pond in the Pittsfield State Forest, and stopped there for lunch before continuing north.  Just north of the lunch spot, we reached Berry Hill, where I consumed the day’s second cheeseburger.  Unfortunately, I had packed my camera with dead batteries, so no pics for this outing, not for the cheeseburger stops or for the wonderful views.  Stupid.

There is a lot of up and down on this ridge, and the ups were especially tough given the snow conditions and the unbroken trail. It took us about 5 hours to cover the 5.5 miles, and we’d all had enough when we reached the pre-positioned car on Potter Mountain Road.

March 7, 2009 at 8:51 pm 4 comments


The Mission

To encourage, enable, and document the consumption of a Cheeseburger on every summit on earth.
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