Posted on 27 Mar 2022 by Steve Markham
Friday was a good night for a little leg-stretching. I decided to go up Crane Mountain, which has been on my list for over a year. I always a enjoy a solo trip, though the weather wasn’t ideal for a view with such good potential.
It’s still cold out, so I stopped by EMS in Saratoga on the way up to get some microspikes. These have also been on my list for more than a year. I don’t do a lot of winter hiking, but when I do I’m always jealous of people who have them. The cheap-o ones online were $20-$30. I paid quite a bit more than that at EMS, but hopefully you get what you pay for. I was 100% satisfied with their performance in terms of fitting snug, easy to get on and off, and gripping ice very well so I could hike with confidence. Only concern is how long the rubbery part lasts.
Anyway, I got to the trailhead around 6 or so. I’d need to hike up quick to find a campsite before dark. It was raining on and off, but I’m pretty waterproof when I don’t have kids with me.
Crane Mountain is a very big ellipsoid hill. The NW half has a pond with campsites, and the SE half has an extra bit of elevation and the summit. So elevation-wise, about 2/3rds of the way up I had to decide whether to turn right, see the view, and then backtrack, or turn left and head straight to the spot where the DEC map showed campsites. It was already getting dark, so I headed to the pond. Turns out it’s hard to find campsites in the dark, so I just set up my hammock in the woods.
I tried a no-cook dinner, chicken salad and ritz. I had couscous to cook in case I need the warmth. I heard about the idea of no-cook backpacking on an ultra-light channel (no-cook means no stove to carry). I’m torn. When it’s cold out, warm food is very nice before bed. But, when it’s cold out, setting up the stove with no gloves on is, well, cold.
I woke up at 6:45, lingered in my cozy bed for a while longer, then had oatmeal and cocoa for breakfast (cooked; the no-cook experiment was just for dinner). I figured I had plenty of time to hike to the summit and down to the car, but maybe not enough time to explore all the way around the pond to find the campsites. Next time. It snowed off and on, but wasn’t really that cold, surprisingly.
I hiked over the summit and down a different trail than I had come up on. It was MUCH steeper, but kind of fun.
I met three other hikers on their way up, not far from the trailhead, but otherwise had the whole mountain to myself. It was lovely.