This winter has been no joke. Conditions are variable, there is no guarantee that any trail is broken out. Even with Joe’s experience we almost had to turn around two hikes in a row. It makes this trio all the sweeter.
After an even one hundred summits in 2016, number 101 was short and sweet. With the rest of the US was gripped in the big freeze swooping down from the Arctic, we knew that the calm winds and sunny skies would make a great day hiking.
All that melted snow had to go somewhere, and the trail was obviously the path of least resistance. There was so much water pouring down the trail that it was at points truly a stream, with little waterfall cascades and everything.
Lake Road still had a dusting of snow, and turning up the Weld Trail I realized that I probably could have brought snowshoes. There was easily 4″-8″ of snow all the way up to the junction with Sawteeth, and there was 8″-12″ up to the summit.
I’ve bailed out of Basin (and Saddleback) twice after excruciatingly long days. As I soaked in the morning views I remembered what I was missing. The 4,827-foot summit (9th highest in the Adirondacks) has an open, rocky summit with nearly 360° views dominated by the close-up of Mount Haystack.
We swung over Whiteface’s summit and headed down for lunch at the cafe with the Mumaughs. I can’t believe we didn’t do this our first time here, it was absolutely brilliant to sit and have a hot lunch and cold soda in the middle of the hike. This will be the plan for this pair from now on!
Lacking my usual distance-and-elevation calculator, I mapped out what looked to be a not impossible 24-mile loop, starting and ending at the JBL and covering Lower & Upper WolfJaw, Armstrong, Colvin & Blake. There just happened to be the Ausable Valley in between them.
I made a speedy ascent of the short-but-steep Cascade, enjoyed the amazing variety of mushrooms on Porter, and descended via the expansive Little Porter Mountain on one of my favorite traverses. I followed it up with a hike into the JBL and a quick up-and-down Big Slide.