Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gothic Cathedrals, Pyramids, and Teeth

July 10, 2011 -- St. Huberts, NY -- Fantastic day for hiking! Today it was all about one of my most favorite mountains - Gothics. Add in a trip over Pyramid and Sawteeth, and it really doesn't get much better than this! It's a rugged loop, but worth the effort.
Beaver Meadow Falls

I had to work on Saturday, and as it turned out, Sunday was the better weather day anyway. The air was crisp as we sauntered up the Lake Road.  My hiking partner, looking tan and trim from his Switzerland adventure, led the way up the road. Something tells me I'll be lucky if I can even keep him in sight! We turned off the road and made way for Beaver Meadow Falls. The bridge at the base was wiped out by the spring runoff. I tried to picture the falls the day the bridge got knocked out. Must have been an impressive site! Today the falls gently cascaded down the rocks. We climbed up the ladder and began our ascent up the mountain.

On the trail I heard the welcoming call of the white throated sparrow – “Po-or Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody". However, it was not always so welcoming. For a number of years I had no idea what bird this was, and all I heard was the mocking cry of “You don’t know my name, you don’t know my name!”  Honestly, I’m not paranoid, but I'm sure it was taunting me. Finally on a hike (funny, it was actually a hike to Gothics), a person in our group identified the bird. It took a few years, but on a hike to Pitchoff, I finally spotted one. Now I look forward to its warm hello.

A cool green carpet up high
The trails were much drier than the previous week, making for better footing and allowing more opportunities for viewing my surroundings. I was on the hunt for new wildflowers, but only saw blue bead lilies and bunchberries on the climb. Rounding the shoulder of Armstrong, the impressive slides on Gothics came into view. Reaching the junction with the Range Trail, I spied a lush green meadow to our right. Maybe an alpine bog? The brilliant color contrasted starkly with the dead, gray tree branches.

Views from Gothics

Shortly after, we topped out on Gothics. No matter how many times I’ve hiked this peak, I will never tire of the views. They are all encompassing. I believe the ADK guidebook notes that 30 high peaks are discernible from the top. One can also see Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains of Vermont. Only a few wildflowers still in bloom, but the mountain sandwort was sprinkled liberally around the summit. I’ve seen Labrador tea here before, but it appears it was past its prime today.

Mountain sandwort
On the way to Pyramid

After a nice rest (I could have stayed there for hours soaking in the sun), we headed over to Pyramid, which has spectacular views of the slides on Gothics and Basin. We spotted 2 climbers on the slides on Gothics. I love scrambling up rocks and I've done a few slides and the Trap Dike, but I'm not sure I could do this (let's rephrase this - NO WAY!). I want to try rock climbing, but just for a weekend and on a very, very short rock wall.

2 very tiny climbers on the slides

View from Pyramid
On Pyramid, we chatted with some friendly young hikers. It's always a pleasure to see younger people enjoying the mountains, especially since they are our next stewards of the wilderness.

Next up was Sawteeth. The trail down to the Pyramid/Sawteeth col has seen some much needed maintenance, but it still needs help (more on that shortly). The summit of Sawteeth was empty when we arrived. It's a cool view looking back over to Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, and Haystack, with Marcy peeking out (or is that peaking out, haha) in the distance. I didn't want to leave this mountain either. But another couple arrived, and not wanting to be summit hogs, we packed up and let them enjoy the views in our place.

Improved section of trail
A note about trails: There are many wonderful volunteers and trail crews (both paid and unpaid) dedicated to improving the trails in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and other areas around the state. But if you hike, you know there is always lots more to do. On the way down Pyramid, I took photos of two very different looking sections of the trail. One section was in need of help, the other had been improved, with steps added to ease travel and prevent erosion. There are so many ways to help out: You can volunteer through one of the many trail projects run out of ADK's Heart Lake Program Center, ADK chapters also perform trail maintenance, or you can adopt a trail. Other organizations such as the Catskill Club and the Adirondack Forty-Sixers also do trails work. Check out ADK's Web site for more information regarding its trails programs at ADK is also in the middle of its annual trails appeal right now. Even $5 can make a difference. Go to to help out. Thank you!

Next hike: Back to the Dixes, but this time in the sunshine!

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