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Friday, June 3, 2022

Jones Hill and Beyond - Day 185

  I was pretty excited about the main goal of the day, to cross Jones Hill. The experience that has been lacking from this Adirondack adventure is views of the mountains from the trail. I mean- lakes, loons, moose, rocks, etc are all very cool, but there have to be some views!

Jones Hill is going to be a favorite place on the NCT. It's quite low at only 1900 feet, but as the saying goes, "location, location, location." Remember, the NCT was not allowed to go through High Peaks, or even the portions of the Adirondack Park that have higher peaks. But this is pretty nice anyway. You can stand on bare rock and have unobstructed vistas.

After you climb the west side of Jones Hill, this is the view to the south. I think what you are seeing in the distance is hills on the other side of Schroon Lake. Adirondack Mountains

I am able to identify this. I had to zoom pretty far to get it- thus the haze, but this is North Pond, to the southwest, which I hiked past earlier in the day. North Pond

After you reach the summit of Jones Hill, the open views are now to the north. The most outstanding peak is Hoffman Mountain, at 3694 feet. HOffman Mountain

There were longer views to the southwest and northeast. This is northeast, maybe looking up the Schroon River Valley. Adirondacks

Now let's talk about my choice to hike over Jones Hill. This piece of trail technically is not open, but I was determined to do it, and was field checking the route for the maps. The trail up the west side, what I followed to this point, is well defined. It is not yet blazed because of the NYDEC rules that say the trail can't be blazed until it is completed road to road. But it's getting quite a bit of use.

And, why isn't it completed? Several reasons. First, let's get me partway down the east side of the hill. This was marked several years ago with flagging tape and red spray paint on small trees. If you can't see those markers, you are in good company. but they are there. This was a real test. Don't call me a complete fool, though. It was just last August that I followed these markers UP the east side of the hill. I had some GPS waypoints, and knew where I needed to end up. faded flagging tape

Once I reached Platt Brook, then I pretty much remebered the route. It was also flagged, but much more completed and easier to follow.

I began to recognize places we worked. Finally I came to our amazing rock water bar. It's doing its thing like a champion! Although it wasn't raining, so I can't verify that. rock water bar

Just over one more mile, and I was down at the road.

But, let's talk about why this trail isn't completed. For one amazingly stupid thing, there was a big law suit a couple of years ago against a snowmobile club that cut trees and built trail without permission. So, until this is resolved, a rule was made that no trees can be cut in order to build trail. This has been interpreted by the legal eagles to include no cutting of even the tinyiest saplings. The unintended consequence of this is that foot trail building and some maintenance is totally on hold until that ban is lifted. The other thing is that a minimum security prison crew was going to come put gravel in all that rock turnpike we built last summer. But that facility closed, so no crew and no gravel.

When I reached the road, I thought that was going to be the end of my adventures for the day. In fact, I was pretty tired. Finding my way down the east side of the hill was a bigger challenge than I expected and it took a long time. I decided to reward myself with a cold drink at a gas station.

While I was there, I met two interesting people. The first is a new friend, Shaunequa, who wants to do more backpacking.

I didn't even get the name of the other lady, but we talked quite a while, and here's how that went. She was close to my age, and is an avid hiker (who grew up in the Swiss Alps) who knows the local trails. She asked what I was doing and where I was going yet today. I showed her the map, but she was not happy with my choice of trails.

"Why don't you just take Route 74 across to the Blue Hill trailhead."

Because I am trying to stay as close as possible to the eventual route of the North Country Trail.

"I don't think this is right." (looking at my map)

"It's a copy of the National Geographic Adirondack maps, so it should be pretty accurate."

"Well, Crane Pond is a lovely place." (near where I needed to turn north on Blue Hill Trail)

We did about 3 interations of this same conversation with tiny nuances. My takeaway was that a person who is pretty familiar with the area was not very confident that I would find the Blue Hill Trail. My plan was to take it north before camping for the night.

I hiked on, mostly on dirt road walk, but as you can probably guess, the situation deteriorated. It was getting later in the day than I wanted. I had decided to just turn on Blue Hill Trail and camp at the first good spot. By now, I'd gone far enough past the register and official trailhead to know that the Alder Pond Meadow Trail was actually all dirt road. However, there were some serious washouts, to the point where I would not even drive over them, and I'm considered reckless by some people.

At six in the evening, I came to this. Crane Pond was still ahead of me, and I had not found the junction with the Blue Hill Trail. My GPS app said it was also still ahead of me. flooded road

I just wasn't up to this wade. I turned off the trail and looked for a place to camp. I simply could not find one. So, I sighed, put on my sandals and slogged through the water. On the far side, I found a place where there seemed to be a sort of trail opening, and there was a trail marker right at the exact point where my maps with GPS said the trail should be. I climbed up it, and came to a nearly sheer bluff that went down to a wet hemlock swamp. There was no additional trail marker. I hunted for more markers, and walked all the way back to the flooded area looking. Nothing.

I'd had it. I wasn't going any farther tonight, and I wasn't bushwhacking through a hemlock swamp (See, I have a little common sense). You can see how the land falls off in front of my tent. I set up camp and pondered my options.

After a while, as I was reading in my tent, I heard the voices of young people yelling and a lot of splashing and banging. After being startled at first, I realized I must be almost to Crane Pond, and people were paddling out there. Soon, there was a lot more crashing and banging as watercraft were being loaded on a vehicle. Then it got quiet.

Just after dark, two trucks went by on the road below me, back toward the trailhead. I assume these were the paddlers, returning home. Trucks could definitely get through on the road. So, now I knew that Crane Pond was nearby.

You can see how the land falls off beyond my tent. tent in the woods

What is Joan going to do? Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion to this thrilling adenture.

Miles today: 14.2. Total miles so far: 2358.3.

See How Deep?


Sue Teeters said...

Gosh, you sure are brave!!!

Ann said...

Wow, those are some amazing views.

The Oceanside Animals said...

Lulu: "Leave it to the legal eagles to mess things up with minutiae!"