The Crooked Canes Journal


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Wading Our Way on Vanderwhacker Mountain ~ Jun 6, 2019

Journal entry by Wanderer



Perhaps the title gave you a hint as to how this hike went – or you thought we were actually on a fishing trip.  I considered it just another adventure with some character-building built in. Although the weather at CTL was overcast I was confident that we would have great weather and sunny skies when we reached the trailhead.  As our caravan proceeded north, breaks in the gray clouds appeared and bits of blue randomly appeared raising everyone’s spirits. 

Vanderwhacker is considered a remote mountain and a challenge just to get to the trailhead.  To start, it is a long drive from Queensbury only to arrive at the trail sign just past the Boreas River which is still 2.5 miles from the actual trailhead.  The access road is shared by the Moose Pond Hunting Club and is in pretty good condition compared to what it used to be.  In the past I think driving a half-track would have been the preferred mode of travel but now just a high clearance vehicle will do.  The parking area has room for only about 4 cars so we decided to leave one of the 6 vehicles at one of the pull-offs along the access road just in case someone else was climbing Vanderwhacker – there wasn’t anyone there and we managed.

The temperature was in the low 60’s when we arrived at the trailhead, blue skies and no bugs “yet.”  Nonetheless, some people chose to bundle up and wear head-nets hoping that if they disguise themselves the black flies wouldn’t mistake them for a free meal.  It was a later start than planned but everyone was in good spirits and there was lots of daylight ahead.  The trail is totally a woods walk with the first mile or so fairly flat, gaining only 500’ of the 1700’ total.  It is in “fair” condition and no evidence of any recent trail work.  The heavy rain from the night before caused the normally gentle flowing brook, adjacent to the trail, to become a raging little stream and parts of the trail were wet and there were a number of creeks to cross before arriving at the abandoned ranger’s cabin.  The temperature was getting warmer and with the full sun those little pesky insects called black flies were out in numbers and HUNGRY.  Most people had already removed a layer or two of clothing and added more bug netting to their attire – ready to do battle.

The trail from the old ranger’s cabin to the tower is moderately steep over its entire ~1.5 miles distance and as we were to find out in horrible condition.  It was as if NYS had intentionally abandoned it and moved the trail to a stream bed – more like the routes taken on some of our trailless peaks than on what once was a marked trail.  The trail markers were nearly non-existent, steps were completely useless and no drainage at all – other than what Mother Nature provided.  Our axe man, Steve Mackey, traded his axe for a shovel and worked hard on trenching the worst areas.  His effort paid off but wasn’t appreciated until our way down when his work finally took hold and diverted tons of water from the trail – a big thank you to Steve!  I was leading from behind as instructed to do by Scott (the expert in leading from behind) and didn’t find out until later that Kurt and Jayne decided to go off trail to explore – actually they couldn’t believe the stream was the trail and took a path of least resistance.  They made it back to the official “trail” and joined the group later.

With lots of extra effort everyone made it to the top for lunch at 1.  The black flies were still hungry but we persevered and survived – enjoying the view north from the overlook at the High Peaks in the distance or climbing the tower for a panoramic view of more of our beautiful Adirondacks.  Skies were blue with lots of “poofy” clouds to add some contrast to the expansive views – the hike was worth it I would say and think that most would agree.

Despite the late arrival at the tower we had a leisurely lunch – in no hurry to leave.  Eventually, people started to put their packs on indicating it was time to depart. Steve had already started down to work on more trenching, Lori returned from her third trip to the top of the tower and I checked the area for any forgotten items.  The hike back to our cars was slow, exposed rock slabs were slippery and there lots of roots to contend with - muddy areas had to be hiked through or avoided.  Jayne had earlier gotten her boots quite muddy and decided to make it her goal to splash through as many mud puddles as she could on her way down – knowing that Scott wouldn’t mind riding back in his car – as long as she sat on its roof!  She told me she had a wonderful time today - that the best part was all the views from the tower but she had also set a new personal record of killing 7 black flies in one clap of the hands – sounds like a challenge to me!

Everyone made it down in one piece with a few slips and bruises to add to the memories of the latest Canes adventure.  Although a late day some of us stopped at the North Creek Stewart’s for dessert and reminisced about the day on Vanderwhacker.  Eric summed up the day best – it was “just one of those days”.  Till the next time, Peter

6/7/19 - Eric Potter added 3 photos.

6/8/19 - Wanderer . added 19 photos.

6/11/19 - Scott Anderson added 1 photo. 6/11/19 - Scott Anderson added 1 photo.

24 photos



Our route and part of road to trailhead. 5.73 miles according to GAIA. - added by Eric



Lori looking northeast in fire tower - added by Eric



Peak Finder view to NNE from tower - added by Eric



Creek alongside the trail near the beginning of our route – a tributary to the Boreas River – this should have been a clue to what we were in for since it is normally just a trickle - added by Wanderer



Still on the flat part of the trail but wet - added by Wanderer



Abandoned beaver pond - added by Wanderer



Rich demonstrating how to cross a stream and keep your boots dry – he’ll need that skill later - added by Wanderer



Abandoned ranger’s cabin …. - added by Wanderer



…. comes furnished – Kurt really liked it - perhaps a weekend getaway with Diane? - added by Wanderer



Our trail just above the ranger’s cabin – just the beginning of water, water everywhere with mud in-between! - added by Wanderer



Even the stairs had their own cascades – I think you get the picture - added by Wanderer



Lady slipper all by herself - added by Wanderer



Paul, Cathryn and Linda having lunch at the tower - added by Wanderer



Kendra, Sandy and Scott – no group pic today because most were wearing bug head-nets - added by Wanderer



Jayne – the smartest Cane – she decided to have lunch on the fire tower where the slight wind kept those black flies away. Here she is in her newest commercial for Lay’s Stax Cheddar Crisps! - added by Wanderer



View NNE from the overlook – you don’t need to climb the tower for this view of the High Peaks – Iroquois & Algonquin on the L to Dix Mountain on the R - added by Wanderer



Most recognizable High Peaks – Iroquois, Algonquin (L), Colden (C), Marcy (R) – 17+miles - added by Wanderer



View WSW and W with views of Blue Mountain (L-15+ miles) and the Essex Chain Lakes in foreground to Fish Brook Mountain (R) with Goodnow Flow in foreground - added by Wanderer



Lori, Wendy and Claudia with the High Peaks in the background - added by Wanderer



View NE – to the R of Sawteeth Mtn. (the jagged ridge in the C) is the Ausable Lakes Valley and at the very end we “may” be looking at Hopkins Mtn on the horizon which we visited last week – 26 miles away. - added by Wanderer



Trailside wetland - added by Wanderer



Guardian of the wetland – you lookin at me? - added by Wanderer



Photo added by Scott



Photo added by Scott




Participants:  Jack & Lenore, Mina, Wendy, Claudia, Steve, Scott, Jayne, Cathyrn (newcomer), Paul (newcomer), Kurt, Sandy, Kendra, Lori, Eric, Rich, Linda & Peter

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