Because of the weather report we rescheduled this ride from Saturday to Sunday and were rewarded with a fine, if a little brisk day for a bike ride and walk in a park. Being the first ride of the season for most of us, we had a couple of equipment issues. We had a chance to checkout our layers of clothing, tires, wheels, pumps and locks. The five-mile ride to Buckhorn Island State Park was uneventful. There was a six-mile round trip walk gave us a chance to spot many birds including a Downey woodpecker, an osprey in and around it’s nest and waterfowl. We logged two WWWNY spots with the visit to Buckhorn Park and the ride back on the Grand Island Bike Path. It was a very nice early Spring outing with bikers, kayakers hikers and many people out with their dogs. We had a terrific group of eight people, all contributing to the conversation. Submitted by: Richard Schraven
This yearly organized trip was a joint effort between our ADK chapter and the University of Buffalo. John Gilewicz planned the trip for UB students and reserved the Peggy O’Brien cabin on the ADK property surrounding Johns Brook Lodge. Peggy O is only accessible by hiking 3 ½ miles to the west from the Garden parking lot/trailhead in Keene Valley. Peggy O is a great place to setup base camp for reaching the remote high Peaks. The trip had a maximum of 12 spots available as the cabin is big enough to hold 12 people comfortably. Bob Van hise and Joe Rebisz were already signed up. a couple of spots opened up so I decided to join them. Another AdK member, Vicki Wulf, also decided to join us at the last minute.
John left very early to reserve gear for the students at the Adirondack Lodge. Bob picked up Vicki and another hiker, Setler and took off Friday morning by 7:15 while Joe picked me up at my house in Williamsville. Bob travelled the thruway to Amsterdam heading up 60 to the Northway. Joe and I took 365 out of Vernon to 8 and 9 eventually getting to the Northway. We all met in Keene Valley at The Noonmark Restaurant. The four students were traveling much later due to school or work. John planned on meeting them at the Garden to give them all the reserved gear and food for the weekend trip. A special Jambalaya meal was planned for Saturday night upon our return from Haystack.
After a slightly expensive lunch, we headed over to the Garden trailhead where we prepared to hike in to Peggy O. With packs on our backs, winter hiking boots and microspikes, we headed along the trail to our cabin. It was 3 miles along a snow covered trail up a gentle incline to a lean to near Johns Brook. Then down a hill to a trail intersection with a sign in box for traveling to the wolf Jaws. We headed the opposite direction toward Johns Brook Lodge and the ADK property. We crossed the creek which is the runoff from Big Slide and continued along the trail until we reached a very high bridge. Bob explained this high bridge was the result of the original bridge being washed away from the flooding due to Hurricane Irene. We climbed up the stairs and crossed Johns Brook. Reaching the other side we are welcomed by a sign letting us know we are on ADK property. A couple hundred yards further is our cabin. Upon approaching the cabin, the trees give way to small clearing with a generously sized cabin angled on the lot. There is a covered front porch with a Privy sitting area and pegs attached to the wall for hanging gear. Walking through the entry door there is a foyer area with a bench, used to remove shoes or outer clothes. Two cabinets are there for storage. The inner screen door leads to the cabin interior. The camp is rustic and has amenities that make your stay very comfortable. The camp is heated and lighted with propane. There is a full kitchen with a 4 burner stove, a large sink and prep area, dining area with bench seats and a large table. Pots, pans and silverware allow for a lighter pack to hike in. several cabinets are used to secure your food from pesky critters. There is a sleeping area separated from the living area by a partial wall. There are 12 bunks for sleeping, 3 double bunks and 2 triple bunks. Each one is supplied with a simple mattress and they are named for different mountains. The two triples being the tallest bunks are aptly named Algonquin and Marcy. Two drying racks, one over the dining table and one in the sleeping area, hang from the ceiling attached by a rope looped through a pulley. Removing the hook tied into the rope from the eyelet screwed into the woodwork, lowers and raises the rack. Hang your wet items and raise them into the loft area. Use the extra space and rising heat to dry everything for the next day’s adventure.
A little Caveat, We found out during our trip that all propane, privy waste and food [stored at other cabins] are airlifted by helicopter each year.
The five of us “adults” setup camp, unpacked our sleeping bags, claimed bunks and prepared to boil water for cooking and cleaning. Joe and Setlur went down to Johns Brook to fill up buckets with water. After chopping a hole in the 12” thick ice with Joe’s ice axe, they retrieved several buckets of water. We boiled water for drinking and prepared dinner for ourselves.
I passed out early only to wake up to the rest of group arriving around 10:30 Friday night. Alex, Chris, Cassie and Laura rounded out or group. Our schedule, planned out the night before, had us waking at 5am with everyone ready to hike at 7am. Bob and Joe estimated summiting Haystack, around 1 pm and returning to the cabin by 6pm.
Joe and I wanted to employ some of the ideas we learned during our mountaineering school. Before setting out on the hike we gathered the group and explained how we would hike together using a rolling lead. Each person takes a set amount of steps then steps aside so the others may pass. This gives the leader a chance to catch their breath, take a drink or eat something. Manage their body temp by layering and adjusting any gear issues. All of this is done without everyone standing around each time someone needs to stop. We talked about safely crossing steams and dangerous areas, one at a time, waiting for everyone to cross before continuing. We made sure we carried safety gear in the event of an unplanned event. A sleeping bag, stove, fuel and pot, first aid kit, was some of the gear divided up between everyone. Everyone brings their own food, water, extra clothing for layering and gear for the summit.
Because of the deep snow we started out with snowshoes. We were on the trail by 7:09am Saturday morning. The day began cloudy and snowy in the lower 20’s. We hiked along the trails toward Haystack as the snow kept falling. The snow became deeper as we gained elevation. Pine trees surrounded us. Every pine bow we passed strained under the weight of several inches of freshly fallen snow. The wind picked up and we knew it was going to a rough summit with snow and wind. Our trail led us pass Johns Brook Lodge. A short way down the trail from JBL towards the Garden is an outpost manned by volunteers on the weekend who watch over ADK property and can help in the event of an accident or health issue. Hiking for a while, We rested at a leanto and at slant rock. After five miles we reached the base of little Haystack. Bob had us change into microspikes or crampons and summit gear. We proceeded up little Haystack which is a “Big Rock” between us and the Haystack summit. After some slightly technical climbing up a couple hundred feet, across wind-blown, snow covered and bare rock, we reached the top of little Haystack. the wind was driving the snow sideways as it fell from the clouds just over our head. In front us was Haystack but all I saw was white. visibility was less than a football field. The Snow and wind were relentless as we headed down the other side of little Haystack. More careful hiking was needed to descend to the valley floor. We crossed an area with densly packed snow covered young pine trees. this blocked the wind but allowed snow to accumulate making crampons and microspiked boots to posthole. We headed up Haystack with no visual on the summit. Using the stacked rocks marking the trail, we climbed until we reached a small raised rock area. This was our summit. The nine of us stood on our personally sized summit for several minutes while the wind drove the snow sideways at probably 30 to 40 mph. It was around 1:15pm. Very surreal sights and sounds surrounded us. We were in a different world. Mt Marcy is just over a mile a way. It could have been 200 miles away. There was no way of knowing with our current weather. After a couple of phone calls and text messages on the summit, we left the mountain, climbed back over little Haystack and returned to our gear change area so we could put our snowshoes back on. It was a little quicker heading back to camp as descending is quicker than ascending. we reached JBL. What a sight! Several hundred yards and we were at Peggy O.
We prepared the “Jambalaya feast” graciously provided by John and delivered to base camp by our younger hikers. It was worth the wait. It seemed like everyone filled up with not too much left over. We cleaned up, prepared ourselves for bed and fell asleep without too much trouble.
It was planned to get up at 8 and leave the cabin by 10 so we could hike out to the Garden by noon where we would rendezvous with John.
Well Joe and I got up early. others followed and we all ate, cleaned up and packed up by about 9am. We locked up the cabin and started down the trail to the Garden when Joe stopped us. He left his car keys in the bunk area. Wow!!! That was a great catch because it’s a 7 mile roundtrip if he had found his keys were missing once we got back to the car. We joked it would have been a 7 mile trip alone for him. Not too sure if anyone would have gone back with him.
Anyway, about a half mile from the Garden there is a trail intersection. We stopped to rest and Joe spoke some words of wisdom to the group to remember this moment and the people we hiked with. That was nice. We arrived at the trailhead quickly. It was a very fast pace set by all. Bob was amazed and impressed at our speed.
We took some time at the trailhead for pictures then off to the Noonmark for brunch. Joe and I headed out first for Buffalo. It was around 12pm. We got back to Buffalo around 6pm.
Cost of this trip was $50.00 each for two nights renting of the cabin, gas tolls and food for the weekend. This is a great way to explore the back country. Any ADK member can reserve the cabin or several others owned by ADK. So who wants to go next time? Submitted byBruce Lockwood. Photo by Chris Osterhoudt
Saturday, Feb 9 was a beautiful winter’s day in Ellicottville, NY. A group of seven, took the lift to the top of Holiday Valley Ski Resort and cross country skied the seasonal roads (Mutton Hollow Rd). The first half hour was a mile or so of gentle downhill. The trail began with hard packed surface from snowmobilers and the second part was less traveled with a few inches of fluffy snow. It was amazing to cross country ski with gravity for so long. We back tracked and managed the gentle incline easily. Then we skied the very level McCarty Hill Road out and back for another hour. The entire trip was about 2.5 hours. It was sunny in the mid twenties the entire day. Everyday I pray for more days just like it. Submitted by JoAnn Ratajczk
Actually, because the snowfall was greater in the Northtowns, we changed our plan and went to Bond Lake Park in Niagara County. We cobbled together a group representing ADK, Buffalo Nordic, Bell Ski Club and some unaffiliated people. The conditions could not have been better with a foot of newly fallen powder, blue sky and sunshine. There is a nice network of trails on the south side of Upper Mountain Road with a variety of terrain from flats to winding routes over rolling hills. Besides us, there were many other adventurers making for great tracks through the fluffy snow. I’m sure skiers found good conditions all around Western New York on this weekend, but we were happy with our choice. Submitted by: Richard Schraven
Hiking Through the Hurricane
The Westside Overland Trail travels north and south for 24 miles in western Chautauqua County connecting several state forests. Rolling through hemlocks, hardwoods, and open fields, it crosses several small creeks like Prendergast, Wing, and the Brokenstraw. The hills are gentle with the elevation changes rarely exceeding more than 100 feet. Though heavy winter snow is typical, it is usually a gentle hike. Usually.
The plan for the MLK weekend was to meet Marion and Garrett on Friday evening near the northern end where wed spot her car then have my wife, Susan, drop us off at the southern end to camp for the night. Wed hike Saturday and Sunday covering 20 of the 24 miles of trail, camping mid-way in a sheltered valley along Prendergast Creek. We were hoping for a good snow cover but the 20 inches that were there in January had melted and we only had an inch or two making it at least appear to be winter. The forecast was encouraging with colder temps and the possibility of lake effect snow for Sunday. We heard but did not heed the high wind warning.
Friday night we set up camp in the Brokenstraw Forest just a few yards into the woods under some towering hemlocks. It soon became windy, then howling windy. We figured these old trees had survived many storms and there was not a lot of deadfall around, so we weren’t too worried. It was a wild night with really strong winds tearing through the trees and buffetting the tents. Saturday dawned a little warmer with the wind, strong at first, dying throughout the day. We looked foolish carrying snowshoes with the temp in the upper 30s but I never underestimate lake effect snow along the Chautauqua Ridge. We camped along Prendergast Creek in another nice old growth hemlock glade with steep hillsides all around. By Saturday night it could only be called breezy and with nightfall we had a moonlit sky. The temperature was just above freezing. We listened to the sounds of the gurgling creek as I drifted off. We never heard it again.
At 3:13 AM I awoke to a screaming wind. I unzipped the tent and shined my headlamp straight up to see the tops of the old hemlocks swaying and twisting violently. The temp had dropped from 35 to 27 and it began to spit icy snow. The tent started getting hit with little twigs but they were small and caused no damage. I was starting to get concerned but what could we do? Our campsite was as protected as anything within miles. I laid there listening and figured that with hundreds of standing trees around us, our odds of getting hit by a falling one were pretty slim. At one point I shifted to my side with one ear pointing up and the other pressed hard into the stuff sack of spare clothes I use for a pillow and that pressed hard to the ground. As I listened to the wind tearing through the trees with the upper ear, I could hear with my lower ear a much quieter wailing sound in both a lower and higher pitch but at the same tempo as the wind. It sounded as if the earth itself was moaning. I can only figure that it must have been the sound of the wind reflected through my sleeping pad but at the time, it was unsettling. It was obvious to us now that the quiet of the previous evening was the passing of the eye of the storm.
I got up in the dark at 6 and started to boil water for breakfast. Around 6:30 I banged on the other two tents yelling over the wind that we’d best get an early start. Garret said no problem, he’d been awake since 3 with his hair standing on end. About 5 minutes later we heard the first tree come crashing down. It was close but in the darkness and howling wind we could not tell where. It didn’t take long to break camp. We heard another tree come down as we were crossing the creek on the way out.
It felt better once it was light and we were on the move but the wind continued to scream. We had to climb around several newly downed trees blocking the trail. The temp had dropped from 27 to 25 and before long it started to snow. After a few miles the trail crosses an open field and I commented to Garrett that it was good to be out of the woods and not have to worry about falling trees. His reply was, “yeah, but now we might get hit by a cow!” Within an hour the temp dropped again to 23 then 21. The trail climbed over an open hillside along a fence line. Buffetted by the crosswinds on the packs we kept getting blown sideways which made it difficult to follow a straight line. The snow was really getting heavy and everything was white again. The temp had dropped another degree to 20.
Despite the weather we (at least I) were pretty comfortable and worried more about road conditions. My wife, Susan, was planning to pick me up at the northern end while Marion and Garrett had to drive back to Buffalo. We were concerned about the heavy snow making the roads worse, so we decided to call Sue and have her pick us up where a good road crossed the trail a couple of miles short of our goal. By the time we got back to Marion’s car, 2-4 inches had fallen.
Marion and Garrett reported no problem driving back while Sue and I did OK getting back to Jamestown. There were, however, a few detours around fallen trees blocking the highway. In all, it was a great adventure and I had a blast. It is worthwhile to unplug from the electronic pacifiers that so dominate our lives and listen to the natural world. This time I think Mother Nature was telling us she is getting angry with humankinds continued lack of respect.
Our Annual New Year’s Day Snowshoe actually had snow this year! Woo hoo! We covered roughly 5 miles, through some loud crunchy snow patches, fresh powdery sections, through woods, along Shale Creek and finished with a bit of a pot luck lunch in the casino. A great workout to kick off the new year.
Five of us set out in mid-January to go snowshoeing up north in Ontario. This is our story, and I’m sticking to it.
DAY 1. Our departure coincided with the big thaw – it was 50 degrees and raining when we arrived in the park. Algonquin is about a 5 hour drive north of Buffalo, beyond Toronto in the Muskoka Region. We checked in at the park gate and drove along Highway 60 to the Mew Lake Campground where most of the park’s yurts are situated. The hard-framed soft-sided cabin-like structure featured 2 comfortable bunk beds, table & chairs, electric & light, and a good heater. About 12 inches of snow remained on the ground, and temps fell to 20F overnight. Because all the trails were hard packed, the rest of our walks were on Microspikes or Yaktrax traction aids; the cold air stabilized the remaining snow. After getting settled in, we attempted our first night’s hike by headlamp, on snowshoes, behind the campground and past the old airfield to the Madawaska River. I’d guess it was a mile or so round trip; We had paddled to that bridge just 3 months ago on the canoe outing I led up there in October. The yurt was comfortable for hanging around after dinner, and we also built a little campfire outside. We had a dusting of snow overnight, and the predicted high was only about 25F.
DAY 2. After a good sleep and fine breakfast, we set out for a day of hiking. After a quick stop for supplies in the town of Whitney, we drove back down the highway to the park’s Logging Museum that features a 1-mile trail through the woods with exhibits representing the historic lifestyle of loggers at camp, in the forest, and on the lakes. Then it was on to a “secret” unmarked trail to the top of a ridge with a fine view of the creek below and the distant hills and spruce bog. Finally, we walked the Big Pines trail through the forest past the mounded remains of an old logging camp. Back to the yurt for dinner, another fire, and to play my new outdoors board game, “Camp”.
DAY 3. Another dusting of snow, and we were off in 8F temps and blue skies for another day of hiking. We drove outside the park to Algonquin Outfitters for a repair on some gear, then made the short walk to nearby Ragged Falls to see the raging waters of the Oxtongue River. Then back into the park and onto the long, winding 7.7km “Track and Tower” trail. The path goes through a variety of woods and a side loop trail took us up to a beautiful high ledge overlooking the park’s Cache Lake. It’s a long trail, but I heartily recommend doing the entire route! We finished just before dark and returned for another relaxing evening at camp. Yadda-yadda-yadda, and next thing we knew, it was morning and time to pack up.
DAY 4. On our way out, we stopped to hike the Highland Overlook trail. With c old air and a deep blue sky, it was a spectacular walk. Not quite ready to leave, we did the short loop hike from the same parking lot on the “Red Spruce” trail. We had many animal sightings during our time in Algonquin, including chickadees & nuthatches (fed from our hands), gray jays, ravens, and red squirrels. We were also lucky enough to see a Great Gray Owl perched roadside that flew off to a nearby tree. There was a deer mouse in the yurt, and a visiting pine marten came out from beneath the yurt to steal cheese and even ran around inside one of the cars! Although none of us saw a moose, Kate and Steve heard wolves howling from the far side of the campground. Overall, it was a very eventful and fun ADK outing! Submitted by Bob Van Hise
Our weekly romp in the woods of Chestnut Ridge Park does not usually get a Trip Report. It is enough that we all enjoy the mid-week stress relieving work-out in the woodsy setting. This evening there were 14 of us plus my dog Abby setting off for a promised change in the route. Though humid, no surprise there, the woods were cool and we all found it to be a lovely night for hiking. There was a lot of talking, introductions, finding similar connections going on. It is a delightful surprise when you throw strangers together and they find so many points they have in common. In this case there were those who have been climbing high peaks, others who have done the White Mountains, comparing notes. Everyone seemed to like the change in route and the chance to see parts of the park they have not seen before. If you want a brisk evening hike, do come join us any Wednesday. Submitted by Cheryl Peluso