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Ascent of Gore Mountain on 2015-03-16

Climber: Matthew Ledwith

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Monday, March 16, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Gore Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3563 ft / 1086 m

Ascent Trip Report

I am unhappy with the map resources available online for this hike. The problem being that the Gore Mountain google search is dominated by the ski mountain resort search results and they provide poor quality maps and information related to hiking. The other resources online were not specific enough for me to confidently plan this hike, therefore I waited for a mild late winter day to attempt it. I have found the best all-around source of info for this hike is on adksports.com.

I left the lower parking lot at the Johnsbury Town Park at 2:02pm. This is located 0.5 miles north of the entrance to Gore Ski Mountain on Rt 28. I would later learn that the ski slopes located in this park are the slopes of “Little Gore”. I parked my car in the lower parking lot near the town beach. This is the first left after you pull into the park off Rt 28, the second left being the road uphill to the town transfer station, and straight ahead beginning the town park facilities and the Little Gore ski slopes. The only sign I was able to locate in the park was a sign on a post indicating the direction of two trails. The named trail on the sign was the “Ski Bowl Loop 2.3K” with a red blaze that indicated a multi-use trail. The post below the sign had a DEC blue blaze indicating a foot trail. This sign pointed south. I knew that the Schaefer Trail was a blue blazed trail, so I assumed this was the trail I’d use. The sign pointed south.

I followed the parking lot south onto a path where the snow was disturbed and I made out snowshoe tracks. I had read that the trail begins near the town beach so I followed these tracks. (After re-reading the trail report on adksports I realized that the trailhead is not south of the sign, it’s actually right behind it. You climb up the embankment towards the transfer station entrance, cross the road, and go over a fence to arrive at the trail registry. In fact, looking at the picture I took of this sign at the beginning of the day, I’m kicking myself because there in the background is the trail – so beaten that the snow melted, that’s why I missed it!)

At the end of the swimming area, the track doubled back up a hill toward the entrance to the transfer station but was marked by an unofficial looking yellow diamond. There were no tracks going further south along Rt 28. I felt pressed for time, so I decided that the yellow blazed trail was probably my best bet to find the blue blazed trail. At the top of the ridge I found the junction with the red blazed Ski Bowl Loop which I followed a very short distance (1/4 mile) south until I came to an overlook above the North creek. (Consulting a DEC map I found printed online, I assumed I was too far north of the trail and decided to bushwhack south down a ridgeline to the creek shore and a snowshoe broken clearing. Suffice to say, after so much wasted effort I ended coming back up the ridge because the trail led me back to the beach.) The trail then seemed to double back towards the back end of the transfer station property. In the woods at the far end of this property, I encountered a rapid series of interconnected trails. These are all park trails and not official DEC trails. It was in this mess of trail spaghetti that I found the blue blazed Schaefer trail. It was now 2:41p and I had wasted forty minutes finding a point on the trail that should have taken me 5-10 minutes to get to. I turned left taking the trail south and finally began my hike.

I passed an extended rock outcropping on my left a couple minutes later and began winding my way west around the backside of Little Gore. As I wrapped around the mountain, the land on the left side of the trail began to fall away quickly. At 3:00p, my first view through the trees to the south at what must have been Hadley Mountain at least twenty miles to the south. As I continued west, and a little north, a large gorge opened up between Little Gore and northeast flank of Burnt Ridge Mountain. The trail was initially placed high on the moderately steep and rocky walls of the gorge. As the trail descended, I noticed a wide stream cutting through it. This is Roaring Brook. The trail descends down the steep sloping gorge broken up into large rock walls and ledges on the up slope. The trail descended at the foot of these features to the shore of the brook and then abruptly turned back up the slope. This is where I got lost a second time. Not noticing the abrupt change in direction (there was no double blaze, as is typical) I followed the snowshoe tracks out onto the solidly frozen brook. Due to the steep slope, there were impressive ice formations on both sides of the gorge near the shore line. I followed the tracks to the other shore where they blended with animal tracks. I spent roughly 20 minutes climbing up to the opposite ridgeline, walking downstream a couple hundred feet and back down to the frozen stream. I decided to go back to the location of the last trail marker and discovered the correct path.

Continuing up the gorge was a harder effort. The gorge walls sloped towards the brook and the trail ran up and down the slope. The harder winter snow pack was deteriorating due to the mild weather and to get good traction required stomping and edging the snowshoe into the incline by leaning upslope. I was aware of a ski trail running above the stream but refused to climb to it because I didn’t want to lose the trail and to maintain a sense of hiking purity. I continued heading west up the gorge until the trail turned over the brook and I passed under its bridge.

At 3:39p, I passed under another underpass and emerged out the top of the gorge following a pipeline west along the north side of the North Creek Reservoir. At 4:15p, I came across the first DEC trail junction signage of the hike which indicated that I had already done 2.2 miles from the trailhead (I did more) and that the blue blazed Roaring Brook & Schaefer Trail continued north 1.8 miles to Ive’s Dam and 3.6 miles to the summit of Gore Mountain. The red blazed Rabbit Pond/Raymond Brook/Ski Bowl Connector trail headed northeast.

This next section of the hike is relatively straight and level for about 1.8 miles as you head west and slightly south. According to other trip posts, this is an old wood road. The path takes you to the northern flank of Gore towards the old Barton Mine for a side attack of the mountain whose shoulder looms large just to the south of the path. I reached ‘Ive’s Dam’ at 4:52p which is deceptively named. There was neither water nor dam visible from the meadow the path leads to. The only dominate feature is rising slope of Gore to the south and a very prominent bump past the clearing to the west. This bump is a mountainous pile of talus from Gore’s previous history as a mine. Once you break the clearing, you take an immediate and sharp left without really entering the clearing. The blue blaze trail marker is on the other side of a four foot pile of dirt (or at least that’s what I imagined was under the snow).
Through a section of woods, over the brook, and began to start climbing up Gore.

I crossed the first ski trail at 5:03p. The trail is marked by a triple blue blaze on the other side. Between this ski trail crossing and the next I encountered a much steeper hike. After the second ski trail crossing I had to break trail to follow the blue blaze. I was up to my knees at time but luckily I had worn my gators. I guess the sight of groomed ski trails was enough temptation to get most previous hikers off the marked trail. Finally at 5:30p, after arriving at the third ski trail crossing the blue markers turned and proceeded up groomed ski slope to the summit area of Gore. It was at this point that I got my first views of the ADK High Peaks to the north including a very snow-capped Mount Marcy in the foreground. I climbed up the Cloud ski trail.

At 5:50p, I grabbed my first distant view of the radio tower. The increased steepness of the Cloud trail made the slightly longer and less direct Upper Steilhang my preferred final ascent route. Either way, all slopes lead to the top. At 6:00p, I reached the warming hut and ski patrol lodge. I removed my gear, ate a banana and a peanut butter sandwich, grabbed my water bottle and set off to look for the fire tower. I began hiking down the trail that split the warming hut and ski patrol building towards the radio tower, which is the only tower you can see from this point. A minute later, the fire tower came into to the right. It was down a short trail in a clearing. At 6:08p, I touched the fire tower (my ultimate goal) and ascended it for the best views of the day of the High Peaks and the rest of the lower ADKs. I descended the fire tower and inspected another building further down the trail I had taken to get to the fire tower trail. I found a ski trail map of the entire mountain and took a couple pictures.
I got back to my gear at 6:20p and geared up for the descent. The day light was failing and I knew I was not going to take the Schaefer Trail back to my car. It was too risky getting lost or hurt in the backwoods. I’d take my chances with the ski slopes where there was some rescue infrastructure in place if I needed it. I began descending via the Cloud Trail. I passed a grooming tractor that was anchored to the upslope by a large cable. Stupidly and without thought (probably due to fatigue), I walked over the cable. Thankfully nothing happened, but I could have easily been seriously injured if the tension had changed. I continued on. Many slopes were closed and the top of the mountain is a labyrinth of interconnected trails, so the map of the ski slopes I had taken a picture of near the summit was invaluable.

At 7:04p, with almost no light left in the day, I came to the Saddle Lodge via the Lower Cloud Traverse. The lights were on, the door was open, and music was playing, but there was nobody inside. I came in to warm up and use the facilities. I was filling my water bottle in the water fountain about fifteen minutes later when a guy came into the lodge. “There you are! I’ve been looking for you!” he said. I responded, “Well, I’ve been looking for you!”
Apparently he had been concerned when he saw snowshoe tracks crossing his anchoring cable and had followed my tracks to Saddle Lodge. He wasn’t mad he just thought I was crazy. He was right. He offered a ride down to Burnt Ridge and went outside to meet me while I packed up my gear. When I arrived outside the lodge, there were two resort staff members on snowmobiles talking to the guy.

They offered to take me even further down the mountain. I told them that I had parked at the Johnsbury Town Park (not realizing this was the base of little Gore nor that the two mountains were connected by ski trails) and that I would appreciate being dropped off at the base lodge for the resort. I loaded up my gear into the basket and hoped on. They gave me an exhilarating ten minute ride down the mountain through twisting trails at top speeds. When I finally arrived at a pavilion, I thought I was near the base lodge. When they asked where I had parked, they pointed me into the darkness and said, “Your car is about 100 yards over there.” Wow! These guys had just saved me from an evening of hiking in the dark and probably getting lost. They left me there at 7:41p, I found my car five minutes later and I drove home.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2590 ft / 789 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2590 ft / 789 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes, Hut Camp
    Weather:Cold, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2590 ft / 789 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8.1 km
    Route:Schaefer Trail (blue blaze)
    Start Trailhead:Town of Johnsbury Town Park  973 ft / 296 m
    Time:4 Hours 6 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2590 ft / 789 m
    Route:Ski Slopes/Snowmobile
    End Trailhead:Town of Johnsbury Town Park  973 ft / 296 m
    Time:1 Hours 21 Minutes



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