The Crooked Canes Journal


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Owl Head Lookout Snowshoe/Spike ~ Mar 22, 2018

Journal entry by Wanderer



The calendar says spring but you could have fooled the fourteen who started this hike. Trail conditions are always difficult to predict unless you have the chance to scout it ahead of time but that just isn’t possible in every case so you have to decide at the trailhead. Everyone had brought their snowshoes but it still was a toss-up for some whether to wear them or risk just wearing Microspikes. When the majority elects to wear snowshoes you usually can figure that the trail gets packed enough so that anyone following with spikes will be able to stay on top of the surface. Unfortunately, the snow never firmed up enough and those that elected to wear spikes had a tough time of it. One person went back to put on snowshoes early on but another decided a short distance into the hike that conditions were not favorable and turned around.

The trail first takes you through a second growth forest where there was evidence of past logging then into a grove of hemlocks before reaching state land. As you continue there are more hemlock and pine groves but as you gain elevation hardwoods take over and you are able to see quite a distance into the forest. There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground but the trees were not laden with the thick layers of snow like they did on our last two recent hikes and while this may not have been a “winter wonderland” there were still plenty of pretty sights along the way. A nice bridge crosses Slide Brook about a mile into the hike offering views both upstream and down. The stream was clogged with snow and ice, its banks lined with snow covered ice shelves displaying icicles that looked like shark teeth but very little open water. As we continue on the trail we criss-cross a tributary of Slide Brook quite a few times with some open patches of water but mostly ice covered with the gurgling sounds of rushing water from just beneath the surface trying to break free. The trail climbs moderately throughout most of the route, passing hanging ice on rock walls adjacent to the trail as we get higher. Our group eventually splits, with the faster hikers continuing on while the spikers continue to labor in the soft snow. Eventually, another calls it quits to come back in the future with the last two of the spikers being coaxed by me to continue to the junction sign “just a little farther.” The sign is reached, a lunch spot is selected and a well deserved break taken before they start back. I continue the short but very steep pitch to the top, joining the first group already well into lunch and enjoying the panoramic view. The forecast called for mostly cloudy, overcast skies with strong winds but the sun burned off most of the clouds and scared off the winds resulting in a beautiful, summit day. To the east was the Champlain Valley and just beyond, the Vermont skyline of silhouetted mountains could be seen. Steve took out his Peak Finder app showing names of close to one hundred peaks that could be seen (some barely). The southern view was dominated by Bald Peak, Rocky Peak Ridge and the eastern slides of Giant Mtn. To our NW were Hurricane Mtn. and its fire tower with a glimpse of Whiteface Mtn. over its shoulder. You get the picture – a nice day to be on top.

A group picture wasn’t taken at the start of the hike so we managed to get those remaining to pose for a summit picture, sans Susie, who had already started down. The hike out was fun – there was no more “up” to contend with and the trail was well broken and comfortable snowshoeing. We did catch up to Linda and Bob who were glad they didn’t have to climb anymore in their spikes and all stayed together and visited. Jack was brave enough to pose for a “quick” picture beneath a hanging ice formation which was the only excitement on our hike out.

A good day to be on the trails!

3/24/18 - Susie . added 3 photos.

3/30/18 - Wanderer . added 3 photos.

17 photos



Rocky Peak Ridge with its summit to the right of center and the eastern slides of Giant Mtn. to the far right



Knob Lock Mtn. (L), glimpse of Whiteface (C horizon) and Hurricane Mtn. (R)



Hurricane Mtn. with its fire tower



Whiteface Mtn. - nearly 17 miles NW as the crow flies



Group on top (L to R) - Dan, Steve, Lenore, Jack, Scott, Lori, Tom and Gail



Lori at the top - added by Susie



Peter and Steve - added by Susie



Gail with Giant Mtn. in background - added by Susie



Enjoying lunch and a view! - added by Wanderer



View of Owl Head from below - added by Wanderer



Jack living dangerously - added by Wanderer



Bob in the lead - everybody is happy! - added by Wanderer



Snow covered ice shelves on Slide Brook - added by Wanderer



Shark teeth icicles - added by Wanderer



Snow and ice clogged Slide Brook from the foot bridge - added by Wanderer



Gail and Margie on the trail - added by Wanderer



Bob and Linda P - so very close, but will save the top for another day - added by Wanderer




Attendees:

Lenore & Jack, Bob, Linda P., Susie, Margie, Katie, Steve, Tom, Gail, Peter, Lori, Scott, Dan

NOTE – although not directly related to this hike I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Steve for becoming the most recent Winter Ultra 6er on March 19th – completing all six mountains of the Saranac 6er during the winter months in less than 24 hours (I think he did it in 15 hours). That is quite the feat, especially when he did it solo and driving and his two breaks at McDonalds count in the time. The total hiking distance is a little over 33 miles with almost 8,500’ elevation gain. Also, for a cool down exercise I think he skied into Boreas Pond the next day. He’s a good person to have along on a hike for sure. BTW – for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Saranac 6er Hiking Challenge visit: http://www.saranaclake.com/activities/outdoor/saranac-lake-6

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