The Crooked Canes Journal

Viewing 64 of 77 - 2015


Rock and Clear Ponds Loop Hike ~ Oct 30, 2015

Journal entry by Ray Bouchard

The drive to the trail head started off with clouds and drizzle, but by the time we reached the hikers parking lot at Putnam Pond Campground it had begun to clear and turn into a cool but sunny day. 41F was the temperature at the start and the finish of our hike, and it didn't rise all that much in between. It didn't take long for Kurt and me to notice one big change since our pre-hike 16 days earlier. All that rain, up to and including Thursday, had not only raised the level of water in the streams and ponds, but it had flushed away the leaves from some of the trails giving the appearance that someone had recently raked them. Stream beds that had been merely slightly damp channels in the ground were now filled almost to the brim with flowing water. The contrast gave us a healthy appreciation for all the bridges along the 7+ mile journey. We didn't eat lunch until almost 1:30, a bit late by Canes standards, because I wanted to treat everyone to a favorite spot of mine on the northern shore of Rock Pond. My plan was to bask in the warm sunshine on a slab of rock that sloped gently south like a giant tongue lapping up the cold water. What a great spot for a swim on a warm summer day. It sounded pretty good in theory and true, there was plenty of sunshine, but the combination of a constant breeze along with cool temps encouraged us to move around the corner to a more sheltered spot. We were 6 hungry hikers by the time we actually sat down to eat, but the good news is we only had to go about 2.5 miles to reach to our cars. It also gave us an opportunity to look across the bay and see our next destination, the 1901 Rock Pond Iron Mine hidden within the forest a few feet from shore. According to website, the Ticonderoga Graphite Co. built a ten stamp mill to crush the ore. From 1903 to 1905 the Columbia Graphite Co. took over the mine and actively worked it. Another company worked the mine in 1906; beyond that there isn't much recorded. Apparently the presence of graphite gave a new, albeit short, lease on life after the iron ore petered out. An article in the May 2007 issue of Adk Sports and Fitness newspaper written by Bill Ingersoll states that "three thousand pounds a day of ore was hauled from the mine up an incline and down to a mill built above the shore of the pond before it was shipped out to Ticonderoga". At any rate 3 of us had a lot of fun trying to avoid falling into the orange ooze as we explored the old horizontal mine shaft that had been cut into the rock cliff, as well as the ~150' diameter open pit iron & graphite mine that was dug a few hundred yards up the hill. Barbara McMartin, in her 1981 ADK Guide to the Eastern Adirondacks, claims that the water in the open pit was turquoise in color and gave off a strong odor. 35 years later there was no evidence of any odor, which is a good thing, and the water just appeared dark, probably because of accumulation of tannins from all the leaves that had fallen into the pit for the pasts 100+ years. The final stretch back to the parking lot went by fairly quickly, even with a short side trip to an overlook on the shore of Heart Pond. Kurt's suggestion of hiking the loop in a clockwise direction this time turned out to be a good one. Yes, there was a final nasty uphill climb regardless of which way we had gone, but today the final stretch of trail wasn't as gnarly due to roots and rocks, plus we were walking under a beautiful canopy of yellow leaves brilliantly backlit by the late afternoon sun. I would like to thank Peter and Linda, Jim and Jan, as well as Kurt for joining me on my little adventure. 11/3/15 - RayB Bouchard added 7 photos. 11/4/15 - Kurt Wisell added 9 photos. 11/11/15 - Wanderer . added 19 photos.

54 photos

Crossing the first of many fast moving streams.

Jan checking the water depth with her poles.

One of the many, much appreciated, newer bridges.

Jim and Jan, a couple of hugger buggers.

The colors were a little more muted this week so the red wintergreen berries really stood out.

Some of the Beech leaves still had a little color left in them.

This was the only spot where a bridge would have helped. Fortunately we had each other.

This has to be one of the prettiest campsites that I have seen in the Adirondacks, and it's only a few feet from the swimming spot mentioned in the trip report. Peter had to wait for his lunch though while we scouted out a sunnier, less breezy place a few hundred feet away.

A map of the area for those that would like to come here to camp, go for a swim, or simply explore.

A view of the NE corner of Rock Pond as seen from our lunch spot. The mine shaft is near the shore, but hidden by the trees.

Nearly the same view between 1901 & 1906. Thankfully enough time has passed that the landscape has healed.

One of the remaining foundations that supported the huge structure.

A model of a typical Ten Stamp Mill, of the type that was used to crush the ore. Once crushed, the ore was sent to a Buddle where it was washed and separated from the waste material.

Linda, standing next to the old steam boiler. Steam was used to dry the ore after crushing and sorting. From here it was shipped to Ticonderoga for final processing. I suspect that getting it out of here in the early 1900's was an arduous, backbreaking task for both man and beast.

The entrance (Addit) to the iron mine as seen on 10/14.

The same entrance, on 10/30. Fortunately the water level in the tunnel hadn't changed.

(10/14) Guess who was doing his best not to slip off the logs into the orange ooze? It took a bit of concentration.

Yup, it was good old Kurt. He managed to stay high and dry, but not quite as clean as when he entered.

Even a big Bullfrog can exist in this environment. He seemed impervious to the iron based sludge that coated its body.

Formation 1 of 2 in the mine. - added by RayB

Formation 2 of 2. - added by RayB

Graffiti marks the very end of the tunnel. - added by RayB

As I made my way out of the tunnel, pondering why some feel it's necessary to deface everything, I suddenly looked up and saw someone entering. Perhaps it was the ghost of a long departed miner, returning after all these years to scrub the wall clean. Why not a ghost; after all the next day was Halloween? - added by RayB

(10/14) A view of the open pit mine that housed the graphite ore. The water was no longer the color of turquoise, nor was there a detectable odor, other than my own BO after hiking 5.5 miles to get here. - added by RayB

But when we visited the pit on the 30th, there appeared to be someone on the far side, near the edge of the pit. If you look closely you'll notice that the someone is our very own Paparazzi, Kurt. Fortunately he didn't slip in.- added by RayB

One final look back at a pretty site within the Putnam Pond Campground before heading up the road to our cars. - added by RayB

And you think it's easy being a Paparazzi? Waiting for over a week for Canes to show up on the other side of the pit? For one picture? It was worth the wait! - added by Kurt

What's a hike without a couple of fungi & 'shrooms? - added by Kurt

A wall of shelf fungi. - added by Kurt

In only seconds after Jan, Jim and Ray entered the mine, the Guardians Of Darkness materialized........ - added by Kurt

....soon the first two victims emerged with a warm greeting for the Troll they thought they knew so well. Note Mister Smug on the right.....getting ready to pounce....... - added by Kurt

Another victim! Two Trolls have a three Trog dinner! - added by Kurt

Dinner over, the Trolls relax, watch a little TV and contemplate 364 days of obscurity until their next appearance. - added by Kurt

How do you spell "relief from Trolls?" Yellow leaves in the autumn sun! - added by Kurt

And last but not least, one more discovery just before getting in the car for the ride home. What at first was "Ray, get your camera, there's fungi you've never seen before" turned out to be Wooly Alder Aphids. Google them and read more. Quite interesting. - added by Kurt

Trailside stream, filled from recent rains - added by Wanderer

More mushrooms of course - added by Wanderer

An inlet to Putnam Pond - added by Wanderer

Now that's a bridge! - added by Wanderer

Sweeping beaver dam - added by Wanderer

Grasslands at the edge of Clear Pond - added by Wanderer

Clear Pond - added by Wanderer

Shore of Little Rock Pond - added by Wanderer

Trailside pool - added by Wanderer

Rock Pond - added by Wanderer

Linda following Ray on one of the steep sections - added by Wanderer

Lunch at Rock Pond - added by Wanderer

Trail had some narrow spots too - added by Wanderer

Part of the old mine complex - added by Wanderer

View of the steam boiler - added by Wanderer

Choices - added by Wanderer

Jan and Jim on the way out - added by Wanderer

Last of the color - added by Wanderer

Our leader - thanks Ray for a great hike! - added by Wanderer

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