Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hiking - Bailey Pond and Hayes Mountain

Yesterday, a rainy day in the Capital District, I joined a Schenectady ADK hike to scout part of a route for the North Country National Scenic Trail as it passes through the Adirondacks. While a general trail corridor has been pretty much decided, the specifics within that corridor are still being researched by boots-on-the-ground efforts such as ours yesterday.

We started at the end of Loch Muller Road, west of Schroon Lake, and our destination was a small col on the south ridge of Hayes Mountain. The approach to this col from the west had been previously scouted and found to be a satisfactory route for the NCNST. We were looking for any traces of supposed old roads in this area that could be easily followed and used as the new location for the trail.

Reaching Bailey Pond, we found it covered by a thin sheet of ice, and Hayes Mountain's summit well up in the clouds. It was just that kind of day, with temps hovering in the mid-30s.

Attempting to avoid the thick spruce thickets surrounding the pond, we took a circuitous route to higher ground and open woods before continuing our route southwest. The two vleis we reached next were no longer flooded, and the edges were walkable. Ascending away from the valley, we soon reached the destination col, and stopped for lunch.

We tried a slightly different route on the return trip, avoiding the vleis by staying higher in the more open woods, and skipped Bailey Pond altogether by doing the same, heading more directly for the trailhead. This worked out well, and cut nearly .75 mile from our original route.

It wasn't a very pretty day, but we never got rained on despite the weather to the south. Though we didn't find any old roads, we got a better feel for the best way to route the new trail, and enjoyed a day outside with a great group of friends.

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