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Ascent of Black Mountain on 2012-03-31

Climber: Doug Harple

Others in Party:Jason Musits
Date:Saturday, March 31, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Black Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:2640 ft / 804 m

Ascent Trip Report

We made it to the trailhead around 9:10. KF was already there, waiting for us. We geared up and headed up the trail at 9:30. The first portion of the trail is actually a woods road, and there’s a small private residence at the end of the road. We made our way to the trail junction with the Lapland Pond Trail and turned down that way, making it to the shore of Lapland Pond on the lean-to trail by 10:30. We had a quick break, taking in the scenery, shooting some pictures and fueling up. We walked back to the Lapland Pond Trail, pushed on at an easy pace and turned onto the Black Mountain Ponds Trail. At 11:00 we were taking another vista/fuel break at the shore of the second Black Mountain Pond.

20 minutes later we were at the junction of the Black Mountain Trail proper, and starting up to the summit. The trail on this side is a series of switchbacks, making for relatively easy climbing, but I still found myself taking breaks regularly to let my heart rate come down. Even with all the breaks, we were on the summit 1 hour later, taking in the... view.

So, there's a tower and a windmill dominating the summit of Black Mountain. I knew that they were there, but, they take up the majority of the summit. There's a sign promising that they'll be taken down at some point in the near future.

We enjoyed our lunch, and at 1:00 we headed out. The guys asked me to lead on. I knew that there was a second trail to the summit, and that it was roughly opposite the trail that we had come up. Since I had seen exactly zero markers and cairns on the summit, I guessed which of the herd paths was actually the trail. I guessed wrong. The consequence of my incorrect guess, however, was a much better view of Lake George and the surrounding country.

We backed up and took the other defined path off the summit, and came to a small clearing just below the summit proper, where we found the footings of an old firetower. There was also another excellent view at the end of a small grassy clearing.

To complete the bizarre summit experience, we found the remains of the fire against one of the footings, complete with half-burned newspaper and a soaked rag. (I’m not sure why I didn’t pick the trash up and carry it out, but it didn’t occur to me at the time. I think I was a bit skeeved out by the makeshift campsite. It felt a bit... hobo.) We also found a cenotaph indicating that a Mr. Warren J. Webster Jr. was buried somewhere on the mountain.

While we were enjoying the remains of the hobofire, KF located the trail proper, and we headed down to find that the trail was a frozen stream. It was on the northern half of the mountain, and it was enclosed by a dark coniferous forest. An hour or so of cautious shuffling later, we were past the worst of it, and by 2:45 we were back at the private residence. 15 minutes later we were at the cars.

All in all, I had a blast. The day was cold and grey, but it was a beautiful cold and grey, and the sun even came out for the last couple miles. My thermometer read between 32 and 36 the entire way up to the summit, but I didn’t hear many complaints about the cold once we were moving. The first 3 miles were relatively flat (only gaining about 200‘), and the switchbacks on the summit push made the going much easier. I would recommend doing that loop in that direction to anyone who asks.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1173 ft / 357 m
    Elevation Loss:1173 ft / 357 m
    Distance:6.6 mi / 10.6 km
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cold, Calm, Overcast
Cold, calm, overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1173 ft / 357 m
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    Route:Black Mt Tr / Lapland Pond Tr / Black Mt Pnd Tr /
    Trailhead:Pike Brook Rd Parking Lot  1467 ft / 447 m
    Time Up:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1173 ft / 357 m
    Distance:2.5 mi / 4 km
    Route:Black Mt Trail
    Trailhead:Pike Brook Rd Parking Lot  1467 ft / 447 m
    Time Down:2 Hours 

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