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Long on adventure, short on views

May 30, 2018
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer (jlevine@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

Most people hike mountains to get the views they offer, but once in a while getting off trail for a little adventure can be its own reward. And that was the case with a bushwhack up a small mountain near North Creek.

Height of Land Mountain, near Gore Mountain, offered what proved to be a pretty easy bushwhack, but the journey was definitely the reward as the summit was heavily treed and offered nothing more than glimpses out of the woods.

Starting out on the state Department of Environmental Conservation's trail to Second Pond off of Chatiemac Road, Height of Land Mountain looms to the hiker's left. This trail is designated as a cross-country ski trail and would be good in winter. Even without the snow cover, the hike in was easy and basically flat.

Article Photos

Justin and Paul Levine take in the view from the top of Height of Land Mountain.
News photo — Justin A. Levine

Shortly after leaving the trailhead, the path crossed the outlet of Chatiemac Lake, which is off limits to the public as all the land around it is part of a private club. There was a small beaver dam right at the trailhead which held the stream enough to create a scenic pond. There was a little herd path to hiker's left which leads out to a large boulder and unobstructed views of the pond and a beaver house.

Continuing on up the trail, my hiking partner - Paul Levine, my dad - and I talked and enjoyed the sounds of songbirds. We hiked about a mile in on the nearly 3-mile trail, and after going up a small hill, decided we would leave the trail and head into the woods.

I set a bearing on my compass of pretty much straight southwest, and we entered the woods. As far as bushwhacking goes, this was a walk in the park. Open hardwoods with occasional blowdown made for an easy hike, even as we basically just walked uphill. Since the mountain stands alone and is surrounded by low-lying areas, going uphill proved to be a safe bet to get us to the top.

After a pretty easy three-tenths of a mile, the softwoods started to come in, and we were soon pushing our way through prickly branches and having to pick the lines of least resistance. Luckily, this band of hemlocks and spruce didn't last too long, and once we reached the ridge line, the woods opened up again.

Walking along the ridge, we came across pile after pile of moose droppings. Moose poop looks a lot like deer poop, but is simply larger. I noticed piles after every couple of steps, but with us pushing through trees and walking on a winter's worth of accumulated dry leaves, it was pretty obvious that any moose in the area would have heard us long before we would see them.

Looking at my GPS, there was a little symbol for the summit of the mountain, and even though the promise of views was pretty low, dad and I figured that reaching the actual summit was worthwhile since we were already there.

We followed the GPS and found a little rock outcrop covered in spruce and balsam and climbed to what seemed to us to be the high point. I found one little lookout facing roughly north-northwest, and some distant mountains glowed bluish in the late-morning sun.

The summit was treed in enough that we had to take turns catching the view and we also had to move branches out of our faces to snap a summit selfie.

We backtracked a little and had a snack in the more open woods of the summit ridge before heading back down the slope of the mountain, roughly paralleling our path up. The walk out gave us a few views of nearby Gore Mountain, although the hardwoods blocked any real openings. Since Height of Land Mountain is on the opposite side of Gore from the ski area, it looked just like any other mountain in the Adirondacks.

After an equally pleasant and easy 'whack back to the trail, we hung a right on the path and began the trek back to the car. Coming back upon the little beaver pond, I noticed a loon only 20 feet from the dam. I grabbed my camera and dad and I went out to the big boulder and watched as the loon leisurely dived and came back up, not really paying too much mind to the two gawkers standing on shore.

 
 

 

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