Climbing Mt. Marcy — Marcy Dam to bridge above Phelps Mtn Junction

Climbing Mt. Marcy — Marcy Dam to bridge above Phelps Mtn Junction

I had left the parking lot trailhead of the Van Hoevenberg Trail at 8:30 AM and ran into no difficulties getting to Marcy Dam, 2.3 miles from the trailhead in the first hour. Now, at 9:30 AM, I was off to tackle the next section of the Van Hoevenberg trail. There is no specific section marker and anyone can divide the trail up in any fashion that they like, but, when I am out on a trail, I like to think in terms of sections so that I can better track my location, condition and travel times. When I was younger, the question would have been whether I would run the trail or walk the trail; now the question is whether I will walk the trail slowly or walk the trail quickly and will I have time and energy sufficient to get to the end and back :-).

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At Marcy Dam, you could see some snow on the peaks but there was no sign of the heavy snow that had fallen in this mountainous region only two days earlier. The trails above the dam were definitely wetter than the trails immediately below the dams but the snow had all melted in the two days and was now rushing down the mountains with a mighty roar in the rivers and streams coming from higher up in the valleys and mountains.

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It wasn’t too much further uphill when I began to see remnants of snow in the bushes to the side of the trail and there were definitely rivulets running between the boulders in the trail itself.  When I reached the high water crossing bridge, it wasn’t hard to make a decision about whether or not to go further up the river before crossing. Crossing at the high water bridge easily won out over any other possible options.

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With all of the running water sounds coming from all directions, the woods were actually quite noisy.  I was happy, though, that the noises that I was hearing were not the noises of mosquitoes or black flies buzzing around my ears.  With the cold weather and snow of the previous two days, the adult bug population had been knocked down quite a bit and I was having a relatively bug-free morning walk along the trails.

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Once I got to the low water crossing point , I took a look and decided that I might have been able to cross there if I didn’t mind getting my feet soaked in ice cold water. Glad I decided on the bridge crossing!

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Not far above this crossing point, snow began to become much more plentiful in the woods and by the time that I got to the Phelps Mtn junction, thee was no denying that I was going to have a much tougher trek for the second half of the climb than I had has so far.

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It was almost 10 hours before I would get back to the Phelps Junction location and by then most of the snow seen in the image above had melted and added to the water running down the trails.

Past the Phelps Junction, conditions underfoot began to deteriorate fairly rapidly and past the next bridge the trail was for the most part snow-covered, slush-covered, water-covered or, at times, all three. Thankfully, some of the trail maintenance crew had been through the day before and had chopped away most of the branches and serious blow-down obstacles.

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At the bridge above the Phelps Mtn Junction, I briefly spoke to three individuals contemplating whether to go on or go back. I passed them at that point and never saw them again. My assumption is that they decided to head back down when they encountered even more snow only a short distance higher up the trail.

Despite the sometimes slippery conditions, I was making reasonably good time and had covered the first approximately 3.5 miles in two hours. Things would not get easier after crossing this bridge!

Ager’s Falls – Lyonsdale, NY

The next stop on my search for falls along the western edge of the foothills of the Adirondacks Mountains was Ager’s Falls. (Location)


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Boonville, NY

Lots of interesting little towns and villages along the western edge of the Adirondacks. Most have buildings that have been around since the 1800’s and many have notable or unique architectural characteristics. Boonville was one such town. The town is located at the watershed high point for the Black River system and was the high point for the Black River Canal that connected Boonville to the Erie Canal in Rome, NY and helped to bring economic success to the area. That success is reflected in the size and quality of some of the homes and architecture in the historic area of the town


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Utica, NY

I stayed overnight in Utica, NY after a busy day of photographing further west in the Syracuse area. My plan was to head home along the western edge of the Adirondacks stopping to photograph the many falls along the Moose and Black Rivers.

Before leaving Utica, I took a quick ride over to the area of the train station and photographed a few buildings in the area, a few trains sitting on the tracks and on display by the train station, and a few trains beside the Children’s Museum.


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Season’s Greetings

Season’s Greetings

Starting up a website. www.megapixeltravel.com, with my son, Graeme, was one of the major milestones for the year. Graeme had been prodding me to think about a blog format for my photo postings for quite some time so this was the year that it happened. I like to add text to the photos that I post. Although that works fine on Flickr for single photos, a blog format provides me with a better sense of continuity of thought and sequence of events when uploading a series of photos. In 2011, I intend to continue uploading to Flickr but will likely leave the story-telling here with my blog uploads.

Boxing Day 2010 has arrived with sunny skies and -10C temperatures a far different situation than Boxing Day 2009. Icicles on the Thule.

Rather than seeking out one “best” photos, here are some of the highlights of my year and some of the memories that keep me attached to my camera. Clicking on the thumbnail images in this annual review will take you to a larger version on my Flickr photostream or to the specific blog entry associated with that photo.

New Year's Eve Fireworks - Mont Tremblant, Quebec Photographing fireworks on the ski slopes of Mt. Tremblant in Quebec to end the old year (2009) and start the new year (2010).

With hands out they waited Kanata Badminton Club meeting on Jack Pine Trail Flickr Wakefield outing - March 16, 2010 - Unabridged Yup! Definitely tastes like Introducing complete strangers to the enjoyment of feeding the Chickadees or meeting friends out on Ottawa’s Greenbelt trails and enjoying the company of like-minded souls on outings with Ottawa’s Flickr groups

The creation of a masterpiece - Winterlude ice sculptures - Feb 2010 Crocuses in shock! +27C/81F today! Where there are dreams there is hope. Watching artists at work carving large blocks of ice into masterpieces at Ottawa’s Winterlude and then seeing another Spring arrive and being able to use my camera to help out in a small way at the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans.

A project of Mairin Peck in Oregon Stonehaven Drive Fire - Kanata, Ontario Helping students achieve their goals and being glad that not all fires take lives.

Last campground site - Obatanga Provincial Park -  Breeding Bird Survey Road to Dubreuilville, Ontario 5AM Awaking many, many mornings at 4:30AM to conduct Breeding Bird Surveys for Environment Canada.

Full Moon - VMC 50th - Vincent Massey Collegiate, Winnipeg (Fort Garry), Manitoba Participating in some of the craziness of my school’s 50th anniversary reunion under the watchful eye of a full moon.

 The group The hosts of the show - Jennifer Podemski and Don Kelly - APTN Aboriginal Day Live! 2010 - Ottawa, Ontario Kinnie Starr - APTN Aboriginal Day Live! - Ottawa, Ontario Inez - APTN Aboriginal Day Live! Grandfather William Commanda, Algonquin Elder, Keeper of the Sacred Wampum Belts readies for greetings and opening ceremonies - APTN Aboriginal Day Live! - Ottawa, Ontario David Usher - Canada Day 2010 - Kanata, Ontario Photographing local events and concerts. I don’t normally take photos of people, so this was a new challenge for me. “Sloan” and “Monkey Junk” at Ottawa’s Westfest; “The Initial Reaction” and “Insensitivity Training” and “The Duck Wife” at Ottawa’s Fringe Festival; “Jennifer Podemski”, “Don Kelly”, “Kinnie Starr”, “Inez”, “Lucie Idlout”, “Digging Roots” and Algonquin elder, Grandfather William Commanda, at the APTN (Aboriginal People’s Television Network) broadcast; “David Usher” and “Elliot Brood” on Canada Day: and “Blue Rodeo” later in the year.

Grand Hall - Museum of Civilization Finally taking my camera to the Museum of Civilization, a much overdue totem pole experience.

Osgoode Medieval Festival 2010 -  Am I missing something?   :-) Taking Aim - Battle of the Thousand Islands 250th Anniversary Commemoration - Fort de la Presentation - Ogdensburg, NY Land Battle  - Battle of the Thousand Islands 250th Anniversary Commemoration - Fort de la Presentation - Ogdensburg, NY From the staircase - Boldt Castle, Heart Island, NY Pump House - Boldt Castle, Heart Island, NY Taking a step back in time at medieval festivals and re-enactments and restored “castles”.

Black and Yellow Argiope Spider Christina and the butterflies Cascade Mountain in the Adirondacks Running out of light! Experiencing the excitement of finding a bug, flower, bird or animal that I haven’t seen or photographed before or successfully testing my recuperated Achilles with a nice mountain climb with my wife, or just enjoying the thrill of another beautiful sunset.

Lion cub out for a morning stroll - Serengeti, Tanzania Lion in the Serengeti Lilac-breasted Roller Licking the lips. Mmm. Good. Of course, spending two weeks in Africa looking at lions, elephants, giraffes and exotic birds with Graeme does have its benefits and plenty of high points.

Photographing lights at night is always a favourite pastime especially when winter approaches and I don’t have to stay up all night to do it!

Shades of Nudity - Sculpture Garden - City Park, New Orleans Alien Communication Device - Canada Day 2010 , Kanata, Ontario And, finally, to finish off this rather long post, there is the enjoyment that I get when wondering what people think when they search on words like “nude men” or “alien communication devices ” and arrive at my on-line offerings :-).

Fireworks - Canada Day 2010 in Kanata Not sure where I will be on New Year’s Eve but, hopefully, I will find more fireworks to photograph where ever I end up being.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Butterfly Site at Adirondack Park Interpretive Center – Monarch Butterfly

On the way back from a bit of hiking in the Lake Placid High Peaks Region, we stopped once again at the Adirondack Park Agency Interpretive Center at Paul Smith’s.  My interest, this time around, was the butterfly interpretive site, where I expected to find plenty of Monarch Butterflies at various stages of their development.  I wasn’t disappointed.  However, at the same time, I also learned that the Adirondack Park Interpretive Center would be closing due to a lack of state funding.  Rather saddened to hear the latter information since this location was almost always one of my stops on my way into the Adirondacks.

Male Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Caterpillar of the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

After we left the center, we headed northward and, out behind a shopping center parking lot near Massena, NY, I found some more butterflies and other creatures to photograph.

Pink-edged Sulfur Butterfly (Colias interior) – I think.

Hover Fly

Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) – State butterfly of Colorado

I am always looking for fields of thistles because, wherever there are thistles, I am almost guaranteed to find interesting subjects to photograph.

Porter Mountain, High Peaks Region, Adirondacks, New York State

The easiest way to access the summit of Porter Mountain is via the Cascade Mountain Trail. Approximately .3 miles from the summit of Cascade Mountain the trail to Porter Mountain branches off to the right drops down through a col between the two mountains and then climbs up to the summit of Porter Mountain. The section of the trail through the col is definitely less traveled than the main Cascade Mountain trail, is much more densely forested, is narrower and more shaded. The evidence of the rainfall of the day before was still present and some sections of this part of the trail were quite slippery.

Part way up the Porter Mountain trail, there are good open views back toward Cascade Mountain and the open rockface route to the summit is clearly visible.

Views from the summit and along the way provide good looks at the surrounding mountains and the Keene Valley.

Of course, stopping along the way to try to photograph a butterfly is always allowed as is stopping at the summit for a good look around before heading back down.

When you’re on top of a mountain it is sometimes hard to decide to come down.

Cascade Mountain trail, Adirondacks High Peaks Region

When I’m hiking on my own and staying in a tent, breakfast can be a rather meager and stark affair, but my wife was with me this trip so, breakfast was a bit more sumptuous. Nothing against the law about eating well before climbing in the Adirondacks, I guess, so I ate well this morning :-).


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Whiteface Mountain, Adirondacks, New York State

Although the weather had improved a little at Lake Placid (elevation approx. 1750 ft) (Location), we left there hoping that the cloud clover might break enough for us to get some nice views from the top of Whiteface Mountain, New York State’s fifth highest mountain. (Location) We expected, though, that the clouds would obscure our view but took the trip anyway.
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Lake Placid and Mirror Lake, New York

We had arrived the night before and were staying at the Mirror Lake Inn.  Weather continued to be rather unpredictable. The drizzle of the night before had subsided but low menacing clouds continued to hover over the valley. It was one of those types of days where sitting inside in front of a nice warm fireplace seemed to make sense. Although an interesting thought, that thought was not congruous with something that I might have wanted to do in the middle of an August day.

Even though the fireplace and the possibility of tea service had some appeal to my wife, we decided to take a chance on the weather and go for a walk around mirror lake. She got to carry the umbrella 🙂

Adirondack Community Church

The walk around Mirror Lake is a combination of sidewalks and roadways and provides many unhindered views of the lake itself, the community of Lake Placid and Mirror Lake on the opposite shores and, on a clear day, the surrounding hills.

The shore walk is quite pleasant and as we passed, we moved from open expanses into more wooded terrain before arriving back at the Inn to plan the rest of the day. The umbrella had been needed for a few moments during the walk but the weather was clearing a bit so we decided, as we walked past the entrance to Northwood School, to take a chance and take the drive to the summit of Whiteface Mountain.