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Cobbling Together an Adventure

Cobble3.5

Looking towards Whiteface Mountain and Wilmington Notch

The view is easily worth the effort expended on the short hike and scramble to reach the top of Cobble Hill, especially when considering the trail’s proximity to town.  The Adirondacks can be like that.  My wife and I set out for a small adventure last week as our vacation was winding down.  A big peak did not seem in the offing, but we found another small hike to a great view, this time near the tourist town of Lake Placid.

 

The beginning of the hike meanders through flat deciduous forest, but soon starts climbing.  There is even a signed warning that the way is steep.  We continued. At one point the route crosses rock steep enough that someone has placed a rope for a handline.  I was slightly surprised to see one guy pass us wearing only Crocs on his feet.  Said path continues across patches of open rock and ledges.  We had to use our hands in a few spots, but the grade tapers off before the summit.  Like our last hike at Flume Knob, Cobble Hill offers broad views in a few directions.  There are great views to the south and east, but I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t catch glimpses of Mirror Lake and Lake Placid.

An alternate route takes a longer, mellower route down, one that actually has switchbacks.  The way is peaceful and the grade is easier.  We passed through some gorgeous birch forest and skirted the edge of the lovely Echo Lake.  Other than that, the descent was uneventful, but this is a worthy hike if you have limited time.

I did no other significant hikes while I was back east, but it was great to be there, visiting family and enjoying an entirely different environment.  The Adirondacks are a long way from Oregon, but visiting them is always a pleasure.

Family Fun on Flume Knob

When earlier this year a cousin did a short post about Flume Knob in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, my curiosity was piqued.  It is far from a major peak, but it offers great views for a modest effort.  What’s not to like? So when my wife and I returned to the Empire State for a mini family reunion last week, Flume Knob was on my mind.

The Adirondacks are a huge area.  The mountains are not high, but they make up for that in ruggedness.  Any given trail will feature rocks and roots and varying degrees of steep factor. Some are fairly brutal.  (I’m looking at you, south side of Haystack!) Flume Knob is on the easier side of the difficulty continuum.

The namesake of the peak is a rocky narrows of the West Fork of the Ausable River.  I was impressed with that before we’d set foot on the trail.  The beginning of the trail, meandering through the Wilmington Wild Forest, barely climbed at all.  It was crossed by mountain biking loops at regular intervals, though we saw no bikes.  The quiet woods and easy grade made it easy to chat.  Then the trail got more serious, and we climbed over rock and log, and up steep root-seamed dirt, to multiple false summits.  Occasional ledges offered sunny views of the green blanketed valley and distant rocky peaks and let us catch our breath.

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Eventually we all made it to the rocky nub of a summit, in the shadow of mighty Whiteface Mountain, two time site of the Winter Olympic skiing.   Lunch, talk, bees, and photos were the order of the moment.  Smiles came easily, and I took what was perhaps the sweetest mother-daughter shot I’ve ever taken.

We lolled about on top for a while, enjoying the sun.   It was hard to leave the view, but we did, and walked down with care over the steep pitches. Back at the bottom, we looked at the namesake flume from the bridge on Route 86.  The river shoots through an impressive rocky slot, below which is a popular swimming hole.  If you can avoid the flying critters (a yellow jacket on top wanted my sandwich), the Adirondacks offer a wealth of outdoor pleasures.