In light of Nemo delivering us some much needed snow at the end of last week, a group of us got out for an all day snowshoeing adventure on Sunday. The weather was perfect for a day of winter activity – freshly fallen snow, not a cloud in the sky, and temperatures hovering around the mid 20s.
The day started at dawn with an early breakfast before loading our gear into the car. As we approached the bridged to cross Lake Champlain from VT and head into New York, the Adirondack Mountains rose in the backdrop behind the cold morning fog that had formed on the lake. We were heading to the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness in the eastern area of the Adirondack State Park.
We arrived at the trailhead just after 8am and were the only car there. It took one look at the trailhead covered in fresh, untouched snow to tell us that nobody had been down this trail since the snow started falling Friday morning. Jenny, Dave, and myself strapped on our snowshoes, hoisted our daypacks, adjusted our trekking poles and set out – we wouldn’t see another person until we stopped for BBQ on the way home.
There was about half a foot of fresh snow on this early part of the trail. It was light, dry, and easy to move through. There was a bit more snow, maybe an inch or two, in sections the further in we got.
The first 4 miles consisted of many short inclines followed by a short decent, passing a handfull of small ponds, marshes, and lakes along the way until you reach Crane Pond and hit the Pharaoh Mountain Trail.
Along this trail we would stop at the various ponds and drink some water, pound some food, and enjoy the morning sun that was now coming over the trees.
From Crane Pond is where we started to actually gain elevation up Pharaoh Mountain. It’s a modest 2.5 miles and 1,500 feet up from the pond but with the newly fallen snow it felt like more. Happy with our time on the mellow section of trail leading to Crane Pond, we were able to take it a little slower and conserve some energy on the way up Pharaoh Mountain.
Once at the top we fueled up and enjoyed the sights and sun for a bit before heading back down. Being able to glissade down the Pharaoh Mountain trail made it seem like a cakewalk compared to hiking up.
Arriving back at Crane Pond after reaching Pharaoh Mountain, we had already cover 9 miles of snowy trails, and were all a little gassed for the last 4 mile stretch back to the trailhead. What was a very mellow section of trail earlier that morning now took a little bit more effort.
After a successful 7.5 hours and 13 miles covered hiking around in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, we arrived back at the car and rewarded ourselves by heading to a nearby BBQ before the ride home!