Adirondack Forum

Adirondack Forum (
-   Hiking in the Adirondacks (
-   -   Information requested on Wizard's Wash-Bowl (

Thunderball 06-16-2010 11:29 PM

Information requested on Wizard's Wash-Bowl

In my copy of McMartin's "Discover the Adirondack High Peaks" (3rd printing, 1993) she refers briefly to a small pool or pond I've yet to read of elsewhere.
Concerning the trail from Indian Head to Fish Hawk Cliffs it reads "..from the intersection near Indian Head, head south, directly downhill, for a steep 160 foot drop to a col. Traverse in deep woods in the col, not far from a pool known as the Wizard's Wash-Bowl, and climb slightly to the top of Fish Hawk Cliffs.." (Page 181-2. This oddball name is not listed in the index.)
Why I haven't read their regs in 15 or 20 years, I assume bushwhacking is still verboten on AMR property. Has anyone eyeballed this presumably little body of water? I didn't spied it in my last hike thru. Its not on the 7.5 X 15 minute quad nor visible at Wikimapia.
Admittedly, I am a sucker for romantically named landforms. If Colvin had tagged Lake Tear-of-the-Clouds as Marv's Marsh or Disgusting Discharge-of-the-Orc, I would not have deviated from the hike up Skylight.

dundee 06-09-2013 07:51 PM

Did you ever find this place? The area between Indian Head & Fish Hawk is pretty thick and is on AMR land--no bushwhacking.

Barbara could be vague in her descriptions. Often they were written by other people and something gets lost in translation, but I'm sure she knew that there is no bushwhacking allowed on AMR land and kept it vague for that reason.

Thunderball 06-10-2013 04:10 AM

Nope... I never found the place. Not that I was gonna wander off the trail in that grid square. In the col between Indian Head and FH Cliffs, a jaunt off to one side must end in a matter of feet with a near vertical drop to the lake. The terrain of the other side appears wet and dense. Maybe the author's source got their notes scrambled...

dundee 06-10-2013 06:16 AM

Yeah, I wouldn't think it would be on the lake side! My guess is that this "pool" is about 6 inches deep with seasonal water and filled with grass the rest of the year.

tgoodwin 06-10-2013 07:32 AM

I heard about the Wizard's Washbowl a few years ago and actually did go looking for it, but an hour of thrashing around on both sides of the trail found nothing. Bill Ingersoll, do you you know anything more?

Bill I. 06-10-2013 10:54 AM

No, I can't shed any light. I assumed that the reference was to a mossy little pool in the woods that somebody thought was "enchanting." I do recall seeing little vernal pools like that when I passed through a couple years ago, but I didn't investigate any further. Nearly everything on the AMR property worth seeing has a trail to it anyway.

It is true that the High Peaks book was written by multiple people. I have found that with those older editions of the Discover series, the easiest way to see who contributed which trail descriptions is to check the photo credits. In this case, the person who submitted photos of Indian Head and Fish Hawk probably wrote about the trail between them as well. (I don't have the book with me, so I can't say who that is.)

It might be worthwhile to check "Up the Lake Road" to see if there are any references to Wizards Washbowl there.

Bill I. 06-10-2013 06:46 PM

I did a bit more digging and found this digitized text of Appalachia from the 1880s. Scrolling down to about p 228 there is a description of a hike to Mt. Colvin. The page isn't very navigation friendly, so I copied the relevant section here (note that the typos are probably a result of the text being scanned and not read correctly):








Boston: 9 Pabk Stbbbt



This mountain, named for the engineer who has done and
is doing more than any other man to explore and accurately
map the Adirondack country, is the northeasterly termination
of the Boreas Range. It rises to the height of 4,142 feet, and
is conspicuous from Hopkins, Oiant, and Noonmark as forming
the left wall of the Ausable Notch. At its base, and so close
that the mountain cannot be climbed on that side, lie the
Ausable Ponds, the most remarkable in the Adirondacks for
their combination of beauty and grandeur. They are 1,960
feet above sea-level, each 2 miles long and connected by a
winding stream and footpath of 1 mile. The whole basin of
the ponds with the greater part of the surrounding mountains
is the property of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. This
company a year ago built a most excellent road S^ miles long
through the hard-wood forest from the highway at Beede's to
the lower pond. A stage makes two trips a day from the
village to the pond, 6J miles.

About \ mile east of the pond, at the highest point of the
road, we leave the stage and enter on the left a small bight of
the old road, cut off by the new. We find the footpath a few
rods in, generally marked by white and yellow cautionary
placards of the company. The path ascends by a moderate
slope around the left side of Indian Face and Colvin. Diverg-
ing paths are marked by sign-boards. A few minutes after
leaving the road, the trail crosses a brook by a bridge of logs
just in front of a back shelter built against an overhanging
rock. In 80 minutes we reach the path to the Wizard's Wash-
5 minutes to the left. In 30 minutes more we leave on
the left the path to High Falls, 6 minutes away. The trail to
Fairy Ladder Falls and Nippletop diverges also to the left 5
minutes farther on. Ascending 35 minutes beyond this fork,
we skirt a high white cliff on our right, then climb up a steep
rock about 10 feet high, directly in the path; just beyond,
under the rocks at our right and within 2 feet of the trail, is
a small but very good spring, the last, so far as I know, near
the path. In 20 minutes from this spring, after passing
through a short hollow, we reach the summit, which consists
of a mass of rock so steep that two rude ladders have been
built to facilitate the ascent.

The top is cleared. To the south lies Elk Lake and Clear
Pond, with the shapely Blue Mountain beyond. Close at hand
on the east, separated from us by Elk Pass, are the shaggy sides
of Nippletop, 4,684 feet high, which by its nearness hides the
whole of Dix. Noonmark, Bald (a misnomer), Giant, Hop-
kins, Hurricane, and Baxter appear in this order, through the
valley of the Ausable.

But it is the view to the north which makes the charm and
grandeur of this outlook. Directly below us, so close that its
nearer shores are hidden by the trees and cliffs of our observa-
tory, lies the lower Ausable Pond, its deep, dark waters having
a gloomy and forbidding look from this height. To the left
of it, a mile away, lies the upper Ausable Pond, the farther
end of which shows a yellowish green by reason of its cover-
ing of lily pads and flowers. Directly over these ponds,
sweeping up from the forest-covered basin, rise the highest
and wildest peaks of the Adirondacks. On the right are the
triple peaks of Wolf jaws, over 4,000 feet high. Next the heavy
crest and detached peaks of the Gothics, with their nearer
face almost entirely clear of vegetation, so smooth and steep
is the light-gray rock. Between us and the Gothics is Saw-
teeth, covered with woods ; but as its spine is directly toward
us, we lose its distinctive outline.

Lifting our eyes again to the Gothics, we see at its left the
ridge of Saddleback, somewhat foreshortened. Next comes
Basin with three rough summits, the highest of 4,902 feet.
The dark, bare, serrated crest of Haystack, 5,006 feet high,
comes next on the left, having on its right shoulder a sharp
notch prolonged into a deep and long ravine. Just beyond
Haystack rises the cone of Marcy, 5,402 feet high, to which
many would like to restore the Indian name " Tahawus,"
" cleaver of the clouds." To the left of Haystack and just
beyond it lies the bare dome of Skylight, 4,977 feet. Of the
more distant mountains seen from Golvin, Whiteface shows
its clean peak just at the right of Wolfjaws.

My companion on the Giant was with me on this mountain.
Our ascent required 2 hours from the road where we left the
stage ; our descent, after deducting the time spent in detours,
occupied 1 hour 10 minutes.
So I guess it might help to understand where the trail to Colvin was in the 1880s, whether they were going up Gill Brook like we do today.

dundee 06-10-2013 07:40 PM

I know the overhanging rock and the brook near it. Perhaps the brook drains the Washbowl? Pretty thick hike to find out. Illegal, too.

Tony, care to check it out for us???

TCD 06-11-2013 09:10 AM

From these references:

"...around the left side of Indian Face and Colvin."

"In 80 minutes..."

I'm getting the impression that the "old trail" made a fairrly big circle around the north side of Indian Head, eventually joining Gill Brook. I'm getting that the location being described for the washbowl is just east of Gill Brook, at about the same latitude as the Indian Head lookout. I can't see a pond in that area on any satellite pics, but if it's it's small enough it would be over arched by trees and not detectable. Interesting mystery!

Bill I. 06-11-2013 10:21 AM

The part about the "80 minutes" could be a typo. As I mentioned, this was probably derived from a scanner trying to read an old library book. There are enough instances in the text that I quoted ("excellent road S^ miles long", "village to the pond, 6J miles") to cast a reasonable doubt about the 80. It might have been a 30 with a smudge in front of it.

tgoodwin 06-14-2013 07:39 AM

The "80 minutes" may be an error in scanning, but it certainly seems that the author is describing what is now known as the "Gill Brook Cut-off" and that the Wizard's Washbowl is nowhere near the summit of Indian Head. It could possibly be on the east side of Gill Brook, possibly near the designated campsite just past the AMR boundary. There is a small brook that flows into Gill Brook from the east, so maybe that's worth checking out. It's not private, so go for it.

AvalanchePass 03-20-2017 02:26 PM


Originally Posted by Bill I. (Post 202391)
The part about the "80 minutes" could be a typo. As I mentioned, this was probably derived from a scanner trying to read an old library book. There are enough instances in the text that I quoted ("excellent road S^ miles long", "village to the pond, 6J miles") to cast a reasonable doubt about the 80. It might have been a 30 with a smudge in front of it.

Good guess. :)

Here's another version that does indeed read 30 minutes instead of 80.

Trail Boss 03-20-2017 05:09 PM

Intriguing puzzle!

Based on my interpretation of the text, I believe the stream and overhanging rock are located here, where the AMR's property line, the stream, and the Gill Brook Trail intersect.

The text indicates a 30 minute walk past this point brings you to a side-trail on the *left* that leads, another 5 minutes, to Wizard's Washbowl. If I understand this correctly, it means the washbowl is located east of the trail and in Gill Brook (given that 5 minutes walking-time is a short distance).

Another half-hour's walk brings you to side trails for "High Falls" and "Fairy Ladder Falls" and the trail to Nippletop. So Wizard's Washbowl is located in Gill Brook, on State land, about halfway between the AMR property line and the existing trail junction (Nippletop/Colvin). In other words, a bit south of the third designated campsite along the Gill Brook Trail.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 09:05 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions Inc.