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Another Notch in the belt from the Sentinel Range

May 31, 2019
By SPENCER MORRISSEY - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

This peak is not officially named, but has gained a label from the rock climbers who love the walls it possesses. It does shadow Wilmington Notch, so I figure what better name than Notch Mountain?

After a healthy 20-ounce coffee and a gas station burrito, which we may regret later, we arrived at the trailhead for Copperas Pond and felt pretty good about the snow being gone and walking on solid ground again. Sure, I know it's almost June, but we celebrate that fact all the way up to November when we can almost be guaranteed fresh snow on our boots once again.

Setting off with smaller packs than what we have been shouldering all winter, we felt light as a feather and ready for an adventure. We made quick time up the trail for the very short distance it took us to reach the rock climbing herd path.

Article Photos

Wilmington Notch and Whiteface Mountain can be seen from “Notch Mountain.”
Photo — Spencer Morrissey

The herd path was still very apparent even after the snow melt, and easy to follow. While steep and abrupt in sections, we soon found ourselves looking up at an intimidating steep rock slope, right near the rock wall.

The steep rocky slope was a pretty serious scramble, but had plenty of spots to grab ahold of something solid. We could have avoided it, but the adventure of it all felt great.

At the top, we were awarded our first view with blue sky and warming temperatures and maybe just a bit of vertigo.

After soaking in the views of Whiteface and deep into Wilmington Notch, we had to push on without the aid of a herd path. The forest was a bit scratchy from the start, but that was to be expected in the Sentinel Range Wilderness. With ample growth of the mean red spruce trees, we were very happy to have chosen to have on long sleeves. Even though we were sweating from the moderate heat wave of the mid-60s, we needed to protect our skin to avoid a very painful shower later that night. The neighbors always act weird when they hear us scream out in pain.

We were then on an obvious ridge with periodic openings and a hiatus from tree abuse. There were no real celebratory views to speak of as we quickly topped off at the top of the first distinctive bump along the ridge.

We descended a bit from this point and the woods opened up a little for us to reach the col with the next bump along the ridge. This just so happened to be the highest point and the summit of Notch Mountain.

The climb out of the col was much more challenging than I remembered it being in the past, but I did just turn 40 (five years ago), and you know what they say Do you? Because I can't remember.

The route we chose wasn't very steep. I wanted to stay on the ridge as much as I could to take advantage of any views that might pop up. None did, but I did find a dandy grove of spruce.

We eventually topped out on a summit with no views and a swarm of ravens over head. We decided to push on over toward the final, smaller bump along the ridge and then dropped down to Winch Pond.

The descent to the third bump wasn't too bad, and we decided to not climb anymore. So we kept going down.

The final descent to the pond was exceptionally steep and dreadfully unstable. We even found thin layers of frozen ground under the leaves which kept us unsure and on our toes. Come to find out, the trail from Winch Pond in spring was no picnic either - being wet and muddy and all - but we made it out in one piece and that's all that really counts.

Now for some dinner, someplace where they accept patrons with spruce needles in their underwear and two layers of funk.



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