Sunday, April 25, 2021

Short Hike & Camp on the NPT -Hamilton Lake Stream

 Just a short hike in to the lean-to. Started out with snapper from the forums. Was great to finally put a face to the name. We had a nice hike in up to the waterfall area. At that point snapper headed back to his truck. A tad worried he'd bitten off too much for the beginning of the season. I continued on and relaxed at camp. 

Had expected rain overnight which did not happen. Some misty rain in the morning for the hike out. Passed by a small group of trail runners at the stream detour around the large blowdown. Took a quick picture at Priest's Vly.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Old Trails in the Five Ponds Wilderness

A few friends were spending a couple days in the five ponds wilderness. I planned on meeting them for the last night of their trip and then we would all hike out together the next day. There were some old paths that I have wanted to explore over the years after first discovering them more than a decade ago. One of them, the Leary Trail is now rather popular again. This was the main route of the High Falls Loop prior to the dericho of '95. Andy and I hiked it last year on our way to high falls. The other, not so well known, is thr Dobson Trail. I first found this old path when meeting some friends who were hiking the CL50. I always wanted to come back to it and see if I could follow it, but other adventures always seemed to take priority. 

Thirty years ago the Dobson Trail was described as a barely discernible path. While I had been on it briefly years ago the foot tread was noticeable at leadt for the short part I walked. I read the path would disappear in places but could still be followed. This exploration would be compounded by the area having magnetite ore which makes the compass go screwy. I would use the compass and the sun to keep a constant bearing when needed. My plan was to take the dobson to the old plains trail (also now abandoned) to the truck trail and then down to Big Shallow to meet George, Bob and Matt. They would be spending the day looking for the wreckage of plane they heard about.

I set out on the CL-50 just before 10am. It was already in the low 60s. Was going to be a gorgeous day. Not long I found my turn-off to the Dobson Trail. Just as I remembered the tread was visible and discernible to the foot when obscured. The path headed uphill with a few old paint markings barely noticeable on some trees. At some places the path was quite obvious, and at times invisible. After about 20 minutes, there was a significant amount of downed trees. I spent quite a while trying to find the path. I would grid out the area in front of me, criss-crossing to no avail. I extended my grid and eventually found it again. Here someone had painted some roots and cut saplings. I followed these and the tread for another half mile. Every so often the path would disappear but finding it agin was not as difficult as before. Old axe blazes were also visible at times. Some real neat rock features up on the hill. I wondered whether these had significant magnetite. 

At a drainage I filled up my watre bottle and I noticed markers and some flagging. The markers seemed to head away from the direction I knew I needed to go. Perhaps they would bend around I thought. It was not long before I realized the flagging was following the drainage away from my target. Since I was exploring I fisgured I would follow it to see where it went. Looking at the map is was rather obvious, but what the heck. I would then take the truck trail all the way back to the the five ponds trail. It would be nice to be on some of the trail I hadn't seen in years. The flagged path dumped out just where I thought, so I put my compass away and headed down the superhighway of the high falls loop towards the CL-50.

I stopped for lunch at Sand Hill junction. The rocks in the shade were nice and cooling. It is still early in the spring and some patches of snow remained. After eating half my sandwich I continued on. reminding myself of the other times I had hiked this trail. Also paying close attention to the hills and drainages. I spotted the old turn off for the plains trail and noted how significant the beaver activity has been since my last time through here. A couple hikers passed by going the other direction. A few minutes later another couple of hikers. We chatted a bit. Jimmy and Lisa were nice to talk to, they were also from the Rochester area. It was nice to take a break as I had been covering a lot of ground so far and had only the lunch break. I expected the wet sections to be mush worse this time of year, but I was able to pass through them with no real difficulty. I did pick up a beaver chew to use as a poke/walking stick to test out some places to step. After finally reaching the five ponds trail I only had about 2.5 miles to Big Shallow and it was still only early afternoon. I slowed my pace as I was in no hurry. A few very deep patches of snow here. At Big Shallow, George, Bob and Matt were back from their adventure. They had returned not long before me. 

I set up my chair and relaxed a bit, finishing my sandwich before setting up the rest of my gear. I brough in some currywurst, bratwurst and a sixer of Genny to share. We gathered some wood, talked about our adventures and had a late dinner, just before it began to get dark. I do not think we made it to 9pm before were all laying down in the lean-to.

When it was finally light out, I got up and everyone else soon after. A quick fire and we had hot water for coffee. Evn though we did not try to break camp early, we did. The hike back out was realxing for me. We stopped at some campsites along the Oswegatchie and filled up our water bottles at the spring. We jumped on the Leary Trail for a shortcut back to the TH. This would actually be my first time hiking the Leary Trail in this direction. I noted a lot more remnant downed trees from the dericho through which a path was cut, literally. The trees had fallen perpendicular to the trail. the sheer number and size of the trees and cuts through them is a testament to the efforts over the last 30 years to re-clear this trail. I took the tail end of the group, mostly so i could look around at terrain and other notable features. A flat area had been flooded by beavers, this was so wide it appeared to be a lake. Which I suppose it now was. I made a mental not to explore this "lake" and also upstream of some of these drainages at some point in the future. Our trail would evetually hit the truck trail again, and not musch further North i would point out to the guys where I started down the Dobson Trail. The cars were not much further. Matt was moving slowly now due to some blisters, but it was still early enough to get back at a reasonable time. 

Both Saturday and Sunday had  premiere conditions for hiking. The weather, terrain and we were out before the bugs. Although a few mosquitos had started to emerge at camp. I always enjoy my trips to the five ponds. I hope I do not wait another ten years for these explorations and others in the area.