Trip Report: Hadley Mountain Firetower

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Chip the Ox out on a walk with his friend, and Hadley local, Fremont.

This is not a firetower.  This is an OX.  His name is Chip and I met him on his walk through town.  Why am I showing you a picture of Chip the ox when I’m supposed to be sharing our latest adventure to Hadley Mountain?

To draw you in and never let you go. ❤

#shameless.

So yes, I met a two ton ox in the Town of Hadley on our way home after a hike.  I can’t promise this will be your experience, too, but I can promise you won’t regret this hike!

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Views of Great Sacandaga Lake

Hadley Mountain Firetower

Trailhead: head north through Hadley on Stony Creek Road; turn left on Hadley Hill Road; turn right on Tower Road; the trailhead will be on the left.

Distance: 3.4 miles

Elevation: 2,675′

I love this hike.  It’s one of those “hey we have a few hours to kill before we have friends over for dinner” kinds of hikes.  Short and sweet, and for those of us in the Capital Region of New York, practically in our backyard.  It’s a sparsely forested mountain, where you find yourself walking up slabs of rock, sometimes through running water.

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Stacie and Max navigating spring thaw streams

But it’s not easy.  Hadley gives you very little warm up before you start to climb, it’s not a steep climb but it does go up for about a mile before you get a break.  And when you hit that straight patch, breathe easy because you only have a few short hops up before you see the tower.

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Mark on a rock slab caused by one of many forest fires

Oh and that summit; big, bald and beautiful.  The tower is open year ’round, however the cabin at the top is usually only open during the summer.  Expect wind and bring an extra layer for the top so you’re able to find a nice rock and hang out for a bit.  This is one you’re going to want to spend some time on.  I always do!

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Max and Mark enjoying the view; Stacie below, trying to not get blown off the tower
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Hadley Tower, Max is there somewhere

And on your hike back down to your car, remember there is a chance you might, too, see//pet//ride a giant cow.

BONUS! Hadley General Store

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Second best stop to make in Hadley (if you don’t run into Chip) is the Hadley General Store at the corner of Stony Creek Road and Rockwell Street.  Grab a hot sandwich at the lunch counter and a brownie as big as your face.  Chat with the locals who are friendly and welcoming and love that you are 1) in their itty-bitty town, and 2) are staying long enough to say hello!

And then make it home in enough time to have dinner with friends.

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Cheers!
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Don’t forget about those feet!

So, so many important things to remember to do//pack//know when heading out for an adventure, your safety and enjoyment are on the line and keeping track of it all can be overwhelming.

You need food and water, an emergency kit and map, you need to know where you’re going and how to get there.  You need to consider weather and timing.  If your head isn’t already spinning, here’s one more item to consider: your footwear!

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From as far back as I can remember, I’ve been throwing on old sneakers before heading out to climb something, explore something, or just be active outside.  But here’s the problem with old sneakers:  They.  Are. Old!

Do you paint without a paintbrush?

Do you canoe without a paddle?

Do you jump out of a plane without a parachute??

For the love of Pete, no!  Nor should you disregard the importance of what you wear on your feet, you know, those things that literally carry you from point A to B to C.

Let’s be clear: I don’t want you to buy the top of the line trekker boots for your stroll through the neighborhood park.  That would be ridiculously overboard! But I do want you to make sure you’re not neglecting those precious feet.

Like Mark and I did.  Many times.

Lesson One: as a baby hiker Mark wore sneakers on our smaller hikes.  They weren’t necessarily old or worn, but as we progressed into higher and more challenging mountains with rocks and boulders and things to watch out for above and below it became clear FAST that low-top shoes were no longer appropriate.  One wobbly rock and one sprained ankle was all it took for him to realize (painfully!) that he needed something sturdy and with ankle support.

Enter the Timberlands.

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Timbs to the left.  This boot is discontinued, the link above takes you to a similar pair.

Moderately priced; sturdy, comfortable and waterproof.  These shoes have carried Mark many miles and through many muddy bogs.  (They may or may not have formed an emotional bond.)  But eventually the tread wore thin and he had to retire them to yard work duty.  His new pair is a different brand, he wanted to try something lighter, so he’s in the process of breaking them in.

Lesson Two: I wore a pair of boots that was uncomfortable from the very first mile.  Constantly rubbing on the back of my heel was the red flag I ignored and when we set out on our first really challenging hike (Giant and Rocky Peak), I started feeling pain in my feet and it slowly crept up my legs.  By the time we reached the car six miles later I could barely walk, the pain had spread up through my hips and I was miserable.  Thank the LORD for Chapel Pond in Keene; Mark and I crossed the street to the pond where I waddled my way into the ice-cold water for some much needed relief.

Enter the Danners.  The true loves of my life.  (Sorry Mark)

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Danner Mountain 600 boots in action.

Pricey, guys.  But given the amount of hiking I knew we were going to do, I considered it an investment.  Years and hundreds of miles later, I’m still going strong.  I mean, 30 miles is still wicked painful, but that’s to be expected, knowhatImean?

So what should YOU do?

Consider your activities as an investment in your health.  And happy feet are the literal vehicle to good health.

Walking Shoes

For those quick walks through the neighborhood park, or your community’s bike path consider a lightweight, supportive shoe.  Everyone’s foot is different, so find your perfect fit.  My feet love:

  • ASICS
  • Nike Zoom series: Mark and I both have run a number of half and full marathons in these.

Trail Shoes

Not every hike is going to be a climb, but if you are on a nature trail, you are most certainly going to find roots and rocks and other obstacles.  A thicker, harder soled trail shoe is going to give you the foot support you will need to maneuver safely and comfortably.  Friends and the inter webs recommend:

Hiking Shoes

Look for enough ankle support for those technically difficult adventures (news flash: the High Peaks are going to be technically difficult!), these boots will have the hard soles, but come in lightweight materials:

So now it’s time to make that investment in your feet and in your health!  And if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, download this handy checklist to help you plan for your next outdoor adventure 🙂

Adventure Checklist

Trip Report: Prospect Mountain…and beyond!

If you live in/near the Capital Region of New York, you’re probably familiar with Prospect Mountain.  This popular Southern Adirondack mountain sits on the west side of Lake George; overlooking the lake and its village, Prospect’s summit allows for barbecues and picnics, and its history includes Prospect Mountain House where visitors would ride an incline railway car in the early 1900s for a night of dinner and dancing. (Some of the railcar remains can still be seen at the summit!)

There is also a road leading to the top.

Did you hear that?  It was the sound of ears perking all around you!

The Veterans Memorial Highway takes visitors to the top of Prospect Mountain from Memorial Day through mid-October for a small fee where visitors of all abilities are able to enjoy a beautiful Adirondack view.

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One early spring morning, after a full night of celebrating his colleague’s retirement, Mark and I set out to explore this regional hotspot.  But as the road was still closed for the season, and we had pizza calories in our future, we planned to hike the one-and-a-half mile trail to the top.

His first trip up, my second.  As we set out, I ran through my memories of this hike:

  • Blah.
  • Harder than I expected.

Accurate.  For once, my memory served me correctly.  Not that it made any difference, we were hiking it no matter what.  No matter one of us had whiskey-belly.  No matter it was raining and windy.  No matter the trail was mostly likely a sloppy mess.

#MakingMemories.  Yay.

Prospect Mountain

Trailhead: 108 Cooper Street in the Village of Lake George

Distance: 2.8 miles, round trip

Elevation: 2,030′

Elevation Gain: 1,535′

From the Cooper Street trailhead, you cross a metal footbridge that spans I-87.  This unnerving experience is completely unavoidable and my best tip is to look straight ahead.  Don’t.  Look.  Down.

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Look ahead: solid bridge.  Look down: puke.

After signing in at the trail register, climb.  Just go up and keep going up.  Sometimes there is steeper up, and sometimes you go up in a rush of water.  But you are just going to go up.  In my opinion, there is nothing significant to report here as you will mainly see 1) rocks, 2) water, and 3) pines.

Nature is enough, people.  But some trails are prettier than others.  On this trail, a road crossing occasionally breaks up the pine and climb, and my favorite light and airy birches take over the landscape toward the top.

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You might be tempted to hike the road, but keep in mind it is 5+ miles to the top!

And then, the moment arrives.  You can see the finish line!

But you will be mistaken, because just when you think you’re at the top, there are just a few  more ups to go.  But then you’ll finally reach the summit and all the whining about water and rocks and up will be so worth it, you guys.

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Lake George and the Village of Lake George

I’ve hiked more interesting trails.  And I’ve seen better views.  But the summit has a vibe. It’s what an outdoor space should be as it welcomes you to sit and stay and relax, oh and cook up a few hot dogs and maybe sing a few camp songs while you’re there.

For this trip, Mark and I forgot the hot dogs, and it’s my sister who knows all the camp songs, not me.  But we saw the value in coming back, and planned a future trip up.  Maybe a day not so rainy, and with the kids.

BONUS!

If you hiked Prospect Mountain, you’re already in Lake George so take advantage of the Village!  In the off-season you’ll have less options, but regardless of the time of year, the lake is always there.  And so is Caffe Vero.

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Caffe Vero

These people know their coffee.  My tip is to know their coffee, too.

Cheers!

Fuel your adventure

How do you fuel up for an adventure?

Do you throw a few bags of chips and some juice boxes in a cooler and hope for the best?  Maybe you rely on an entire pack of Oreos to get you where you need to go?

Or do you carefully plot your next fifteen moves and corresponding snacks?

We fall somewhere in between.  Mark mentioned in this post about the ADK 46er Challenge how much he enjoyed getting to know the mountains these last few years.  As a result of all of that exploring, we most definitely got to know how best to put fuel in our bodies.

It’s been an interesting journey of trying new things, seeing what worked and what bloated. (An awkwardly real post about pooping in the woods is inevitable, I’m afraid.) And even though we are still very open to trying out new types of fuel, we try to stay within a range of the foods we know give us the boost we need.

Snacks

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Favorite snacks.  

Popular adventure outfitter, REI, gives great advice on the best foods for going out and staying out, for days long back-packing excursions.  You and I, we need to get from mile one to mile 3, or 7 or 15.

Goldfish are a staple for us.  The salty treat is a welcomed change to all of the sweet energy bars and drinks.

However, I can eat Lara Bars all the live-long day.  It might be the natural ingredients, they range from only five to seven ingredients, and most of the sweetness comes from dates.

Mark’s energy bar of choice is Clif.

But I would say the best snacks we put in our packs are fruits.  Apples are our go-to for that last push to the car.  We put so much energy into a climb that sometimes on the way down we’ll hit a rough patch that we physically and mentally have no energy for.  Apples are life savers, I hear they also keep the dentist away.  So, yay apples!

For longer hikes, we’ll add clementines.  Peeled, separated, and ready to pop in our mouths, they are a good boost of energy mid-climb.  Citrus is also a great mood booster for when you hate the climb, you hate whoever suggested the climb and you vow to never climb again.

Saving the best for last, a celebratory snack is a must.  You made it to the top?  Break out that brownie, pack of Oreos or, in the case of our first major hike, leftover pancakes from breakfast!  If you’re Mark and me, you save a celebratory snack for reaching the car, too.

Water

It (hopefully!) goes without saying, you will need to hydrate no matter the level of activity you plan for your day.  The general rule for hiking is to plan on consuming one liter every two hours.  Of course the time of year, temperature and your own body are going to make this estimate differ wildly, but until you know how you are going to react, bring more, not less.

Lesson learned: Mark and I took his 9-year-old daughter on a quick three mile hike on a cool fall day.  She was so excited to use her new backpack and water bladder she drank two liters of water before we reached the top.  Needless to say, she learned two very important lessons that day; 1) her little body does not need two liters of water per mile of hiking, and 2) how to pee in the woods.

On longer hikes we add a bottle of Gatorade.  I’m not a fan of sugary drinks in my everyday life but….#electrolytes.

Hearty snacks

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Mmmmm, burrito.

If a 7+ mile adventure is in your future, you’ll want to think about a snack that’s more hearty and packed with beneficial ingredients that will be sure to give you the energy you need and also satisfy the belly.

Our hands-down favorite summit meal is a burrito.  Made with refried black beans, rice, cheese and hot sauce, it’s easy and tasty and best of all it’s contained in a handy tortilla wrapper!

We also pack PB&J (or PB and honey for me) sandwiches that we halve and snack on along the way.  Particularly challenging sections of a trail call for “bites of encouragement.”

For winter hikes, we’ll fill our baby thermoses up with stew and treat ourselves to a warm meal with a view.  Our stew of choice: this slow cooker sweet potato stew.

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Sweet potato stew on a chilly Lake George hike.

Obviously, you might have different fuel needs than we do.  I would put us in the high-metabolism/must-eat-every-mile category.  We’ve hiked with others who zipped through 30 miles with just a handful of trail mix and a smile.

Long story short: know your body.  Trust your body.  Ask me for fuel advice because…