Hi high

Back again from our camping trip. Did I mention we’d rescheduled it? Originally we were going to go a few days later, but then we needed to schedule a physical for Kenny before the school year and the only slot available was during the time we were going to be away, so I changed it to the last four days of this week. If not for that, our day for driving out there and setting up camp would have been… Sunday. You know, Sunday, the day they’re forecasting four to six inches of rain for Saranac Lake.

Instead we got pretty great weather. Thursday was grey, with some rain, but even that was better than I was expecting. The other days were beautiful, and temperatures were about perfect for hiking, though a tad chilly early this morning.

We set out early Wednesday, taking a little too long to get there due to a GPS usage error, but still in plenty of time to stop at the Mt Baker trailhead and climb that peak before going on to the campsite. Baker’s a small mountain, 2452 feet above sea level; the trail is 1.8 miles round trip and a 900 foot ascent. Good for a quick warmup. Somehow in my research I’d missed the fact there was a benchmark and a geocache at the top. Kenny noticed a reference mark first, then we found the station mark, and then I used my cell phone to find out about the geocache and the second reference mark. I found the former but not the latter.

Mt Baker station mark

Then we set up camp at Meadowbrook State Campground. I was hoping to like this better than the relatively nearby Wilmington Notch, and maybe I did — the sites felt more private, in among the trees. On the other hand it’s right along a main road, our loop was literally across a chain link fence (and a few trees) from the back of a lumber yard, and next door to that was a huge outdoor barbecue restaurant with live amplified music every night until 9. That maybe sounds worse than I thought it was; the lumber yard really wasn’t all that intrusive, and the music was mostly soft rock oldies, so could have been worse, and could have been louder, and from what I heard could have been performed worse. Still, not as nice a place as last year’s Lake Harris and well short of 2008’s Lake Durant.

But okay, and cheap. Like me.

Thursday one weather site said thunderstorms were most likely in the morning and another said afternoon, which made planning interesting. I decided to keep an eye on the weather and keep us fairly close to the car to start off. We hiked about 1.5 miles in on the Scarface Mountain trail to find a geocache there, and then hiked back. We went and found another geocache which was close to the road. By then we were well into the afternoon, we’d been drizzled on a bit once or twice but no worse, and the weather looked if anything better, so we proceeded to climb Silver Lake Mountain. That one’s almost a twin of Baker: Elevation 2374 feet, round trip 1.8 miles, ascent 900 feet. No benchmarks or caches though.

Kenny on Silver Lake Mountain

Those thunderstorms never materialized. We got briefly drizzled on once or twice, and drove through a downpour for a few minutes late in the day, but the roads were dry when we came out of that and our campsite showed no signs of having seen any serious rain.

Friday we set out early for our climb of Wright Peak, which is a different beast altogether: Elevation 4580 feet (#16 in the Adirondacks), 7.6 miles round trip, 2400 foot ascent. Two years ago Kenny wouldn’t have been able to do it (would I?) but this week he had no real trouble. It was a challenge, it tired us out, but we made it up in under four hours and down in three. The summit is bald (apparently, I just found out, all the bald summits in the Adirondacks are that way because the 19th century surveyor burned them, and then without trees the topsoil washed away; on some peaks there are now attempts being made to restore the vegetation) and the 360 degree view is incredible. A macabre touch is a plaque near the summit, dedicated to the memory of four crewmen killed in an Air Force bomber on the mountain in the 1960s, and there still are parts of the plane up there.

Rich on Wright Peak

The view: Incredible.

Wright Peak 360 degree panorama (click for huge original)

After coming back down we had an early dinner — pizza in Lake Placid — and headed back to camp. This morning we packed up and went home. Great trip!

(More photos at Flickr.)

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