Way up north, in Upstate New York, winter hit us like a big metal padlock in a sock. By November we had those picturesque snow-covered views you safely enjoy from your couch. In front of a bay window. With fuzzy socks and whisky spiked hot chocolate.
But how long do you sit in front of that window? An hour? Half a day? The. Entire. Winter?!
If you’re like me, and Lord help you if you are, a half day (or two Hallmark movies) is all you need to soak in the sereneness off a dense snowfall before you decide you need to be in it.
If you’re like any of us in this part of the U.S., you learn quickly to find ways to enjoy this time of year. You reorganize your linen closet. Or you take up a new hobby. Some actually brave the outside and snowshoe or cross-country ski.
After attempting all of the above, I decided it was time to brave the higher elevations in lower temps. To strap on my hiking boots and climb those beautiful snow-covered mountains. And the adventures that followed have not disappointed.
This 2018-19 winter hiking season began in those early November snowfalls. A quick jaunt to warm up those winter hiking legs. After all, this season requires more weight: snowshoes, micro-spikes, thicker clothing, more clothing….more snacks. More getting used to.
We chose Vanderwhacker Mountain Firetower in Minerva, New York.
Trailhead: 2.6 miles on Moose Pond Road, off Rt. 28N, North of North Creek
Distance: 5.5 miles, round trip (11.4 miles from the beginning of Moose Pond Road during winter months when the road is icy and impassable)
Elevation Gain: 1,700′
This is a beautiful, moderate hike that takes you through dense pine forest. A slow steady incline to start, your climbing turns a bit aggressive a mile from the summit. Take a quick breather at the old Ranger station (take a peek inside while you’re there, you’re curious, we all are), and then get back on the trail.
Vanderwhacker’s tower is just a little guy, and not visible until you’re practically on its first step. It’ll be a nice surprise after your climb! Just don’t call it a day from that first step, because the view from the top is fantastic.
Take another quick break before the quick jaunt down. Even in the snow we were able to cruise down, as if in our trail runners. The awe of the thick snow-covered trees had worn off so there were much fewer picture breaks and must-stop-and-take-it-all-in moments.
We knew what was waiting for us at the bottom, and we were excited to get there!
Cafe Sarah, North Creek
Location: 260 Main Street, North Creek.
Knowing a friend would be waiting for us at this little cafe, and being true adults (read: tired and in constant need of coffee), my hiking partners and I raced over to Cafe Sarah for a post-hike treat and latte before the 3pm closing time. Although they have a variety of sandwiches and treats, we only needed a quick snack.
The best part, neither the drinks nor the sweets were overloaded with sugar. It was a refreshing change to taste all the other flavors in my sweet treat. The blueberries tasted like blueberries! And so on…
Recommendation: Sugar Shack Latte–a maple and vanilla latte topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of pure, local Adirondack maple syrup.
Enjoy your adventure, friends!