Sunday, October 01, 2017

Ampersand and Baker Mts. - Saranac 6 - numbers 5 and 6

Friday, September 29th, 2017. A day that will go down in Saranac 6er history. The day that the OMG (Over the Mountain Gang) finished the Saranac 6. Okay, it is only a tiny footnote, but hey, we finished. Two mountains in the same day. Not bad for a trio of over 6 decade old guys.

We started with Ampersand. We had all done it before the challenge started so this was a repeat trip, in my case I had last done it in 2006. Rick and Dave were not sure when they had done it. I only know now because I looked it up after getting back. I love that digital cameras record such things for you.

The lower trail was in pretty good shape. I was surprised because based on rumors I had been led to believe that it was pretty bad. We encountered an interesting tree early on that had apparently begun life on top of an old stump that later rotted away leaving it standing on stilt-like roots. It almost looks like it is walking.

As we neared the top there were long stretches where trail crews had done a prodigious amount of stonework creating stairs. Nearer the top we came to this section which I remembered because of the leaning passage between two large rocks.

 And then we came to this (below). That rock the tree is on is taller than Dave, the tallest member of OMG. I don't know what a trail crew could do to fix this. A ladder perhaps. The roots were stable and firm enough to pull yourself up by but that won't last forever.

Tucked in among the roots was this fungus that I thought was pretty cool. If you look at the photo above you can see it in the inverted V of roots directly below the trunk. Below is a close up.

Finally the summit. Ampersand's summit is wide open 360° thanks to Verplanck Colvin who cut all the trees back in the 1800s to erect a survey tower when he was conducting the 1st systematic survey of the Adirondacks. Later there was a fire tower there. All that remains of that are the places it was bolted to the mountain. It has a view of Ampersand Pond and the Seward Range on one side and the St. Regis canoe area on the other.

A puzzling feature of the rock at the summit are these parallel grooves that go right across the unusual V notch between where the tower stood and the real summit which is a modest round knob sticking up above the rest. The panorama at the top of the post was shot from the summit knob.

The Gang posing while a willing volunteer did the honors of recording our presence for posterity.

Five down, one to go. We had a discussion back at the car whether to go for the last mountain. Dave's knees were a bit sore but he was willing. Rick was fine (he's part mountain goat) and I was a bit tired but I took an energy shot and some ibuprofen and we went for it.

Baker is the smallest of the Saranac 6 and only .8 miles up but it is a very nice mountain. I will have to climb it again. It is wooded over but there are places that you can look out over the village and beyond. Quite a few who live in Saranac Lake climb up it in the evening because it is right on the edge of the village.

Rick let his wife know that we had made it (above) and then we had another volunteer, a local young woman with two dogs, recorded our climb for us with my camera. We reached the top at 3:35 pm according to my camera data.

One of the interesting features on Baker is this tree near the summit that was apparently knocked over and pinned down when it was small but has continued to grow, albeit horizontally. I admire the persistence of trees.

One of the places that you can look out over the village and the Saranac Lakes. I wonder what it would be like to watch the July 4th fireworks from there.

I spotted this group of fungi on a tree while descending. Unfortunately, someone had shaved off a bunch of the lower ones. I wish they hadn't. I'd have liked to photograph them unperturbed.

Time to plan a new adventure.

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