Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hiking - Crane Mountain

At 3254', Crane is one of the highest mountains in the southern Adirondacks. The trailhead is at 2100', and the trail climbs those 1154' in only 1.4 miles, so it's a steep and steady climb. I had signed up to lead this trip for Schenectady ADK on what turned out to be a warm and steamy day. Three others signed up to go along, all of whom were friends and strong hikers.

Near the summit is this ladder, installed on one of the steepest pitches, improving access to those who were intimidated by the rock face. I climbed the rocks to the left of the ladder.

The summit itself offers the usual mountain views, but on this day, the air was so hazy that we moved on to a more spectacular view a little farther along. We ate lunch with this view of Crane Mountain Pond several hundred feet below us.

After lunch, the plan was to descend to the pond, a possible swim for anyone who was interested, and then climb the northwestern ridge shown beyond the pond in that picture. There's no trail on that ridge, but simply zig-zagging from one patch of open rock to the next makes for a pretty easy trip to its highest point, which provides a nice view back toward Crane over the pond.

We descended to the pond, picked some blueberries, and then some swam while others continued picking berries. This view of Crane from pond-level shows the large bare spot near the summit where we had lunch earlier.

When we reached the top of the ridge, the view over the pond back toward Crane was somewhat obscured by trees, and this shot was the best we could do. Again, the bare spot is where we had lunch earlier.

But the real highlight of this ridge was the undisturbed blueberries. We spent about an hour just picking them by the handful, filling whatever empty lunch containers were available. This ridge will now forever be known to us all as Blueberry Ridge.

After about an hour of this, we started hearing thunder in the distance, and decided it would be wise to get down off the high ground. We headed down the ridge to the pond, and from there, back to the trailhead. It was a steep descent with thunder and rain threatening, but we got down to the easier part of the trail before any serious rain arrived, and the sun was out again when we reached the car.

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