Posted on 07 Nov 2021 by Steve Markham
Janet told me this was a good weekend for her to have all the kids, since many of them are still in isolation anyway. I’ve been meaning to check out Chimney Mountain, a steep 3-mile round trip, so I drove up to 13th Lake and hiked over the long way.
I parked in Old Farm Clearing, East of 13th Lake. Friday night I hiked down to Puffer Pond, then spent Saturday walking to Chimney Mountain Trailhead, then up to the summit, coming back the long way, and camping Saturday night at Elizabeth Point. The red trail is the North Country Scenic Trail, a 4,800 mile National Trail from North Dakota to Vermont via Ohio. I don’t know whether I’ll ever hike the whole thing, but both sections I’ve found myself on were lovely.
Anyway, let’s rewind to Friday afternoon and look at more pictures.
It didn’t take long after arriving to realize that early November is hunting season. I spoke with a few men with rifles to ask how stupid of me it would be to going walking through the woods this weekend. They assured me I would be fine.
It’s hard to describe in words or to capture in a photograph how lovely the walk was. There were some very muddy parts, but mostly it was a hilly walk through the woods along a very cool river (maybe North Creek). Enough up and down that I was sweating even in just a t-shirt despite pretty cool weather (low-50s?). Lots of white water and river noise.
As it started getting dark, I started thinking about where I would camp for the night. There was a short side spur to Puffer Pond, which is often an indication of a campsite. Sure enough, I found a cute but run-down lean-to. The visitor log indicated it was adopted in May of this year by the ADK Mountain Club, and will be getting renovated next year, probably. The spot was lovely, with good water nearby, and a beautiful view of the pond.
It was cold overnight. In the course of adjusting my underquilt to be less drafty, I accidentally moved it ~8” towards the head end, meaning my head was protected, but not my feet. By 3am that was very noticable, but I was too sleepy and cold to figure it out at the time. Saturday night when I set up the hammock I realized what had hapened and fixed it.
There were two women and a dog having lunch among the rock formations when I got there. Another 15 other people came and went or passed me on the trail.
As I climbed back around the formation to head out, I noticed some icicles. “I wonder if I can find a spot where the sun shines through them?”
After climbing around the rocks for a half hour, I headed over to the summit. It looked very tree-covered, but it had looked so rocky from earlier on the trail that I chanced it. It turns out there is just a thicket between the rocks and the summit, and indeed the top also has great views.
I decided Siamese Ponds would be too far to walk. So, I headed for the car, and decided I’d stop if I got tired, otherwise I’d just make it a one-nighter. About a mile from the parking lot, I saw a sign for “Elizabeth Point Campsite” a quarter of a mile off trail, down by the lake. I figured it would likely have a hunter staying at it, but I could at least eat dinner there, and if it was empty, camp overnight.
In the pano above you can see the trail up to the picnic table with my aluminum windscreen around my stove. The tent is about equally far away from the table, down on the other side of the hill. It was a pretty big campsite, with two stone fire rings.
I slept warm all night, but since I went to bed just after dark, around 6:30pm daylight time, I woke up at 3am standard time. I figured if I got up and hiked out, I’d be home in time to make pancakes for the kiddies, which I did. On the way out I got a great view of the stars, and wondered how long until Dewey went for her walk.
It probably goes without saying, but my eyes were seeing 100x more starts than the camera picks up. I got home about 6am, showered, and went to bed. Janet was pleasantly confused. The kiddies got up around 7 and we made pancakes, with chocolate whipped cream on top!