Climbing Mt Marcy – Reaching the Peak

Climbing Mt Marcy – Reaching the Peak

It was now about 10:30 AM and I had been on the trail for about 2 hours and had reached the bridge above the Phelps Mountain junction. As I headed up the next section of the trail, it was not long before I would meet the snow and slush-covered portion of the trail that others had warned me about.


As the snow on the hillsides above was melting rapidly in the warm air, the resultant water was rushing down the hillside and often right down the trail.  This created a mixture of snow, slush and water which was not only slippery but also very tough to walk through. Although there were signs of Spring, the mess under foot left little time to enjoy those signs.

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It is definitely not a good sign when the trail marker is attached to a downed tree but, at this point, the trail was still pretty easy to see so the marker wasn’t essential.

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With each step forward and higher up the hillside, the snow got deeper and generally wetter. My feet also got wetter each time that I had to step in a puddle deeper than my boot tops and, boy, was that ice cold water ever refreshing! In the winter, when I was last on this trail, my snowshoes would hold me above the substantial snow pack but, now, as I walked along, sometimes my feet would stay on top of the snow, other times both feet would sink in and still yet, other times, one would sink and one wouldn’t – a slow and difficult style of walking to say the least.

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At this point in time, I was still about three miles from the peak and already my speed had slowed to a snail’s pace and I was getting rather tired of the tough walking conditions. Unfortunately, the worse conditions were yet to come but, thankfully, there was no  wading through streams required, just a bit of balancing on logs across rushing water.!

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This sign didn’t make me a feel a lot better.  I thought that I had made a great deal better progress than just 2.0 miles from the Marcy Dam. A felt like stopping but trudged on through the snow and slush! I just kept thinking that, when I got to the top, the trip back to the tent would be so much easier being as it was mostly downhill from the peak.


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Eventually, I reached an opening in the woods and could spend a bit of time getting my breath and enjoying the fruits of my labor. So far, I had had met one fellow coming down from the peak and a young couple who had passed me in the woods were now ahead of me and were on their way to the peak. Not many humans on the trail today. No surprise!


Although it was nice to be able to look out and see the many peaks that were now at my elevation or lower, looking out in the other direction wasn’t so nice, since the peak of Marcy was still quite a bit higher and I knew, from past experience, that I still had quite a bit of a challenge ahead of me and the clock was clicking faster all the time.


Since the slow/slush/water combination in the trail was now knee deep or deeper in most places, it was time to put the camera in the knapsack and use the last of my energy and both of my hiking pools to keep trudging on.  Shortly after, another hiker came up from behind and, after some brief discussion about the wonderful hiking conditions, passed by and trudged on ahead of me. In the distance, I could see that Whiteface Mountain had a good amount of snow at its peak and, closer in, Cascades Mountain was likewise wearing a crown of white.  I had heard that those climbing Cascades the day before had found it to be a wet, muddy challenge.  Somehow, at this point in my climb I had very little empathy for them. At least my trail wasn’t muddy, I guess!


When I climbed up to this point on snowshoes on an earlier trip, the wind was howling, visibility was near zero, and this sign post was just barely visible poking its top out above a snow drift.  On that occasion, the windchill was likely close to -50F and I turned back downhill, unable to see a trail ahead and not wanting to accidentally tumble off some cliff edge.  This time around, the temperature was well above freezing, only a gentle breeze was  blowing and I was determined to drag my tired body to the top.


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It was definitely a tough climb for me and I had taken over 8 hours to make the peak. Certainly more than I had originally planned for and I knew that I was really tired at this point in the journey. As I looked back down the trail, I knew that I wouldn’t have much time to enjoy the view before slip-sliding back down into the slush below and trying to get as close as I could to the LOJ and trailhead before darkness set in.


A few shots of the view from the peak at 5PM on a Tuesday evening – May 28, 2013.


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At 1544ft (1679 m), Mt Marcy is the highest point in New York State and standing there on that peak was a great feeling. I guess my next challenge should be Algonquin which at 5114 ft (1559 m) is the second highest in the Adirondacks.

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I was all alone up on the peak except for a trio of Juncos who were searching for tidbits of food among the rocks and snow banks. Most of the snow that had fallen two days earlier had melted off the peak and some of the melt waters were still waiting for me to find them on my trip back to the parking lot :-).



Heading down again.


The temperature was falling and the wind was beginning to pick up a bit as I was leaving the open rocks at the peak. I was certainly happy to be back into the shelter of the forest that surrounded the trail. The snow in this part of the trail was still deep, the slush was still a frustrating and slippery covering for hidden rocks and the water coming into the boots was still ice cold, but my focus now was on getting as far away from the peak a I could get before the sun disappeared and darkness made seeing the trail by head lamp a bit hit-and-miss and made every step on slippery rocks a bit of a challenge. It was time to put the camera in the pack and move a quickly as I could.  Four hours later, darkness caught up with me near the Phelps Mtn Junction but at least I was away from the snow and the slush before dark.

The next day, as I was driving home, I once again encountered an Amish buggy moving at its determined pace from point A to point B. The day before, I, too, had made it from Point A to Point B in a determined effort that left me exhausted but happy and satisfied.



Heading for the Adirondack Mountains

Heading for the Adirondack Mountains – May 27th, 2013

My goal for this trip was to reach the peak of Mount Marcy in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Mountains. I had tried to do that twice before on snowshoes in the middle of winter and had been unsuccessful both times. This time my plan was different. By going on the Monday of the US Memorial Day weekend, I figured that everything would be open, there would be space in the campground and the snow would be gone and the bugs would be moderate at worst.


Once again, I found myself heading over the bridge at Ogdensburg and into the Amish country which is directly south from there. I should have heeded the warning of the US Customs gent who put on a big smile when I told him that I was planning on tenting in the Adirondacks for a couple of days and planned to climb Mt. Marcy. When he then told me that the Adirondacks had had two feet of snow fall over the weekend, I thought that he might be joking with me! Turns out his knowledge of the weather was fresher than what I had heard.

RON_3203-Amish-and-modern RON_3204-Amish-and-modernMost times that I drive that way I see an Amish buggy heading in the opposite direction and occasionally I have to slow in order to safely pass one of their buggies going in the same direction as I am traveling. To watch them make their progress along the highway is an interesting occupation when I have the time. They may not be traveling at anywhere near the speed of the modern car but there progress is steady and they do eventually get to their destination.

I, too, got to my destination after passing through Saranac and then getting a closer look at snow on the peaks as I turned off of the highway and headed along the road to Adirondack LOJ.



I have stayed in the LOJ on occasion and stayed in the campground on occasion. This time around I expected reasonable temperatures and dry weather so opted to stay in the campground.   As mentioned above, the US Customs agent was correct about the weather.  T3wo days earlier it had snowed all day and there were certainly a number of disgruntled hikers and campers who had battled the elements trying to reach their favorite peak. Some spoke of the mud on the Cascades Mountain route, others discussed how they turned back trying to reach the peak of Cobden due to the deep newly fallen snow. With respect to Mount Marcy, the story was the same, plenty of snow and slush on the trail but, according to the ranger and the trail maintenance crew, I should be able to make it to the top if I didn’t mind getting really wet!

So with that bit of reassurance, I set up my tent and spent the evening exploring the area around the LOJ.

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New England Trip 2012 – posting update

I have begun to upload images from the recent trip that my wife and I took through parts of New York State, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The postings are being entered retroactively by date so if you met us during the trip and are looking for the photos from that meeting or location look for them posted by the date of the event or meeting.

Find my New England posts uploaded so far here: New England Trip 2012

New England Trip 2012 – Day 3 – Schuylerville NY

New England Trip 2012 – Day 3 – Schuylerville NY

Days one and two of our trip had featured clear blue skies and lots of sunshine.  As this shot from a corner in Schuylerville NY clearly shows, the weather definitely changed for Day Three of our trip. The village of Schuylerville (population about 2,000) is located on the west side of the Hudson River and was an important location during the Revolutionary Wars and the Battles of Saratoga of the 1770’s.  We had spent the night in Glens Falls and were now on our way to visit the nearby Saratoga National Historic Site when, despite the weather conditions, I saw the unique and colorful bicycle racks at the side of the road and just had to stop to photograph them! Continue reading

New England Trip 2012 – Day 2 – Lake George

New England Trip 2012 – Day 2 – Lake George

By the time that we got to Lake George, we were tried and a bit hungry.  We really hadn’t traveled very far but we had stopped at plenty of locations to look around and take photos. Continue reading

New England Trip 2012 – Day 2 – Tupper Lake, NY

New England Trip 2012 – Day 2 – Tupper Lake, NY

After photographing the flock of Wild Turkeys at Higley Flow State Park, we headed further south to Tupper Lake where we stopped at a couple of locations including a parking lot by the ball diamond where I noticed this sign that seems to imply that the ball park is only open during the hours when children and adults alike are unlikely to be around to use it. I’m certain that that isn’t the intended meaning but it did make me smile a bit to try and figure it out.

Continue reading

New York State Fair 2012, Syracuse, NY

New York State Fair 2012, Syracuse, NY

After taking a look at Fort Ontario and the Marine Museum in Oswego, NY, I headed into Syracuse to meet up with my son at the New York State Fair. I had not been to a large fair in quite a number of years and was surprised to find that not a lot had changed.  Food stands were plentiful and there were plentiful games to play if you wanted or hoped for another stuffed animal or cartoon character. The following images might bring back a few memories for those who, like me, have been deprived of an annual dose of fairdom.

In order to survive at a large fair, you must be happy maneuvering through large crowds and trying to keep your appetite under control is always a challenge.

Before considering which of the many fattening treats we might sink our teeth into, we stopped with many others to smile and laugh as entertainer, Michael Hilby , worked his magic atop a unicycle.


Then, of course, we had to stop and check out a car or two that caught our eye. Any car with “Daytona 500” decals is bound to get a bit more attention than any of the other vehicles.

We eventually made our decision.  Pizza won the vote. I didn’t need the calories but pizza was likely the least fattening of all of the foods that were on offer.

Cotton candy and candied apples would have been a nice substitute for dessert but, again, I was able to show restraint but just barely! A bit of applause please :-).

Once we had succumbed to the food demons, we headed out into the rest of the Fairgrounds where we found an interesting assortment of rides and a fantastic selection of games of chance, skill, and humiliation.  Over the years, I have learned that no matter how hard I try I won’t be able to knock over the requisite number of little milk bottles nor find a way to break a balloon with a dart, so I am satisfied to just walk around clicking the shutter.

I was rather surprised to find that some of the games and exhibits were the same as they had been twenty or more years before, but I guess if something is successful, there is no real urgency to change the game plan.

Last chance! Everyone is a potential winner!

I was eventually coerced into trying my hand at one of the games.  I knew that it was a foregone conclusion that I would not likely be successful with the bowling ball but I tried anyway. NO success! It was starting to get dark and I didn’t have my tripod with me so  soon my shutter clicking potential would diminish and it would be time to head home.

T-shirts anyone?


One last flash shot for the night – a fire hydrant on the way back to the car.



Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site (Location)
The Vanderbilt grounds were only a couple of miles north of the Roosevelt Museum and we did not have time on this trip to tour both so we opted to head north for that couple of miles on Hwy #9 to the Vanderbilt Mansion just in time to sign on for the last scheduled tour.
Continue reading

Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY

Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY (Location)

May 6, 2012 – Traveling back from a trip to Pennsylvania, we took a bit of time to explore the lower section of Buttermilk Falls in upper New York State. Access to the falls is from Elmira Road (hwy #13) just south west of the beginning of the business section of Ithaca, NY. Continue reading

Bicentennial of the War of 1812

In my previous post, I indicated how there are seasonal changes to what people are thinking about based on the frequency of visits to certain of our blog entries. In similar fashion, the celebration of historical events can trigger increases in the number of hits (web hits, that is!).

A bullet finds its spot - Plains of Abraham Re-Enactment, Founders Day 2009, Ogdensburg, New York

This coming weekend, there is an important War of 1812 Bicentennial Symposium occurring in Guelph, Ontario (location). Whether it is the nearness of that conference or just an increased interest in re-enactment s due to it being the bicentennial year or whether it’s just re-enactment hobbiests getting their gear together and ready and polished for another wonderful summer of re-enactments is anyone’s guess. Whatever the reason, the impact is noticeable on our website, as an increased number of visitors arrive each day to take a look at the many images that we have in our past blogs about the reenactments that we have photographed at Ogdensburg, New York and some of the historic forts that we have visited and commented on such as Fort Niagara in New York State, Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fort York in Toronto and the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida.

Clicking on the images will get you to the related blog entry:

July 2011 – Land Battle Re-enactment – Ogdensburg, New York
July 2011 – Water Battle Re-enactment – Ogdensburg, New York
July 2010 – Thousand Islands 250th Anniversary Commemorative

Land Battle
July 2010 – Thousand Islands 250th Anniversary Commemorative

Water Battle
July 2009 – Re-enactment of the Plains of Abraham Battle of 1759


Fort Niagara in Youngstown, New York

Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Fort York in Toronto, Ontario

Castillo De San Marcos, St. Augustine, Florida