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Old 03-06-2019, 11:30 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2015
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Saranac 6 - before late May?

My ten year-old daughter has a school project that can best be defined as: "do something and tell us about it". She has decided that she wants to complete the "Saranac 6" with her dear old dad. The project & presentation need to be delivered in late-May and we've not yet hiked any of the mountains.

Are we crazy to think of attempting these six during mud season? Would we do better if we strapped on our snowshoes and tackled some of them now? Any advice beyond the usual (be prepared, bring snacks to keep the kid happy, etc.)?
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Old 03-07-2019, 08:20 AM   #2
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It depends- mostly on what the weather does for the next 1.5-2 months.

Most of the 6 usually dry out sooner/faster than the High Peaks (due to their relatively lower elevation). It's not uncommon that some of these peaks are included by the DEC in their recommendations for alternative options other than the High Peaks during their mud season advisories. For example, I climbed St. Regis in mid-April a few years ago, and there was no snow at all and relatively little mud to speak of.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that all 6 are definitely going to be a walk in the park come May. The snow pack this year is pretty deep, and if we don't get much of a spring early on, snow could last on some (or all) of the 6 into early May. Of those peaks, Ampersand and Scarface are probably the ones likely to have snow deep enough to necessitate snowshoes the longest, as those trails ascend north-facing slopes that don't get much sunlight. McKenzie may also have snow later in the season- despite having a trail that ascends south-facing slopes that get more sunlight, it is the tallest of the 6.

IMO, it would not be the worst idea ever to work on getting at least a couple of the 6 out of the way while it's still winter. But extreme caution also should be exercised while hiking in the backcountry with a 10 year old in winter conditions. Some of the peaks even of the 6 can get icy in spots. And generally speaking, help can be a long time in coming in the event of an injury. Winter conditions will persist on all of the 6 until likely mid-April at the earliest, but conversely, the weather usually moderates significantly as March progresses and April approaches, with fewer winter storms and more sunny days likely.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
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Old 03-07-2019, 08:41 AM   #3
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Good advice from DS, as usual. Before I add my two cents, I want to say that the fact that your daughter wants to do a hiking project with dad is absolutely wonderful no matter what you end up completing! Heart warming to read!

We were just talking this morning about how difficult it is to predict "spring" conditions in any given year. You will definitely avoid most of the bugs, which usually start in this area in late May. For whatever reason, no matter what the weather does, the start date for the bugs does not change too much.

But the surface conditions can vary widely. I remember at least a couple years where it got hot (like 70) in mid march, and all the snow was burned away to dry trails by the end of march. Other years we've hiked in snow right up to the end of may bugs. No predicting it.

DS is right also about being careful. If you do go in "winter" conditions, look to the shortest hikes, like Baker. Also, see if you can recruit some additional company. It's a lot better to have 4 adults if someone gets in trouble than just one adult and one kid.
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Old 03-07-2019, 10:31 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by TCD View Post
DS is right also about being careful. If you do go in "winter" conditions, look to the shortest hikes, like Baker. Also, see if you can recruit some additional company. It's a lot better to have 4 adults if someone gets in trouble than just one adult and one kid.
Yep, I came back to this thread with the intention of editing my post to say exactly this- if you do actually do any hikes with your daughter in Winter conditions, finding another adult (or multiple adults) to join you would be a good idea.

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Old 03-07-2019, 03:52 PM   #5
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Do you and your daughter have the same days off? If so line up your hikes with fair weather as best you can.

Start soon with snowshoes and take your time as you journey through to May.

Get experience under your belt by picking off the three easiest - Baker, Haystack and St. Regis.

That way you'll be way more prepared and better conditioned for Scarface, Ampersand and McKenzie, the latter a bit tougher and longer than a few 4K peaks.

Have fun!
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Old 03-07-2019, 05:38 PM   #6
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Just FYI - As of Feb 22nd, Scarface had fairly deep snow as you got up higher, and several tricky icy spots (though everyone who went through them had snowshoes and/or micro type ice grips and they worked OK).

With that being said, we had 8 people (ranging from Age 11 to seniors) who made it to the top (or just about, as it has a view that isn't the official top, a couple may have stopped there) that day.

Not exactly current info, but at least some idea.
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:14 AM   #7
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JFiske, the one thing you didn't share was your experience and fitness levels. If you are both experienced and have the proper equipment, these hikes can be a pleasure. But, as DSettahr points out, the transition from winter to spring can create very challenging and unpredictable conditions. You must be prepared for cold, wet, sloppy, and icy conditions. This all being said I think your daughter's enthusiasm for hiking is commendable. If you feel you need a little more experience before tackling the Saranac 6 consider other hiking challenges. The Moriah Challenge offers less challenging hikes that will offer spring-like conditions earlier in the season.

The Fulton Chain Trifecta and the Chester Challenge are also a great hiking challenges.

Whatever you choose, have a wonderful and safe hike with your daughter. The memories you will make will last a lifetime.
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Old 03-08-2019, 01:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jfiske View Post
"do something and tell us about it".
Lots of good advice in earlier posts.

How much time does the presentation have to take? 5-10 minutes?

You could suggest to your daughter a hike up just one of the 6 would provide enough content to fill a short presentation. Very often a big project starts out with the 'you have to start somewhere' part then you learn and adjust in order to 'do something.'

Just a thought.

It's great you are getting out with her and I'm sure you'll have a success.

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Old 03-26-2019, 02:38 PM   #9
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Mud Conditions Around Lake George

Hi! I'm going to hijack this thread to ask about spring conditions in the Lake George area... if I was to plan a hiking trip to the Lake George area in mid-April, what trails do you thinking would be in the best shape in terms on minimal mud?

We have snow-shoes and micro-spikes, so snow/ice isn't the problem we're particularly worried about!

Much thanks,

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Old 03-26-2019, 06:36 PM   #10
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The Lake George area is usually mostly snow free by mid-April, and even relatively dry in most areas. It's further south and also significantly lower in elevation than most of the rest of the Adirondacks. It's often been my "go to" spot in early spring when I've been hankering for snow-free hiking and the rest of the Adirondacks is still covered in a solid blanket of snow.

The Tongue Mountain range is spectacular, and both rocky and generally south facing so mud shouldn't be a big issue. If you're looking for a backpacking trip, however, be aware that the water runs can be... epic. It's not uncommon that the closest source of water to the lean-tos at Fifth Peak and Five Mile Mountain is Lake George itself... several miles away and 1500 feet below. Be aware also that this is not an easy hike- I'd personally rank a full traverse of the Tongue Mountain Range right up with there along with some of even the harder High Peaks itineraries.

Alternatively, you've got a bunch of options on the east side of Lake George- a number of ponds with lean-tos (Black Mountain Ponds, Lapland Pond, Millman Pond, Greenland Pond, and Fishbrook Pond), and several peaks worth climbing for views (Black Mountain, Sleeping Beauty, and Buck Mountain). A day hike or even a backpacking trip combining any of these options would be worth undertaking, and while mud is a bit more likely here than on the Tongue Mountain Range, it still shouldn't be nearly as bad as what you can often expect to see in other areas of the Adirondacks
during mud season.

I've generally found the snow model map on Weatherstreet to be fairly accurate, so you can take a look a few days prior to your trip to see what to expect. Right now it's showing anywhere from 0 to 4 inches across most of the Lake George area, with perhaps a few spots where the snow is up to 8 inches deep:

With the warm weather (and rain) forecast for the next few days, I imagine much of what is left will melt significantly.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Last edited by DSettahr; 03-26-2019 at 07:00 PM..
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Old 04-08-2019, 10:49 PM   #11
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A quick update here to say "thanks!" for the good feedback and pointers. I'm happy to report that our first trek of the six was a success. This past weekend we made the push to summit St. Regis Mountain. We started in the parking lot around 9:15am and reached the fire tower around 1:00pm. We had a hot lunch at the top and enjoyed the opportunity to rest our legs. Started down the mountain around 2:00 and were in the truck and on the road by 4:30pm.

The only other folks we encountered were a trio of college students coming down the hill early in the morning. Otherwise we had the trail to ourselves for the day. There was still quite a bit of snow and ice on the trail, so we were happy to have our crampons, gaiters, and trekking poles. The sun was shining and the temperatures were pleasant. Overall, a very nice day to be in the woods. Though I must take the DEC to task re: the reported length of the trail. My GPS told me it was 4.15 miles one-way (8.3 miles round trip); whereas the trailhead signage asserted 3.3 miles one-way.

Some photos from our excursion here:

The weather next weekend looks equally nice, so we are debating what our next attempt should be. We are hoping to save Baker for last (it being the easiest). Scarface offers a 'meh' view from the top, so maybe best to keep excitement levels high by leaving that one for later in the order. The reported trail length for a combined Haystack/McKenzie combo is 10.5 mi round trip, which might be too much given the inflation factor our GPS reported on St. Regis. So maybe Ampersand is our next one? Hmm...choices.
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Old 04-13-2019, 09:13 PM   #12
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My daughter and I visited Ampersand today. In one word: WOW! The lower/flatter portions of the trail were as one would expect for this season, muddy but not bad at all. Once the trail turned steeper, there was a TON of ice. Microspikes were required in order to safely move up or down the mountain.

We had quite a few groups pass us on the flat (as hiking with a 10-year-old tends to be slow-going with lots of breaks). But once the trail turned steep, we popped on our microspikes and found ourselves being the overtakers on our way up. The number of folks we encountered who were unprepared for the day was astonishing. Wearing sneakers and a light-fleece is not enough for this climb, especially during this season.

While the summit was windy as can be, the views were incredible. To the NW we were able to see St. Regis Mountain (where we were last weekend). And to the S/SE we were able to identify Seward and Sawtooth.

#saranac6 2/6 complete!
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:48 PM   #13
Join Date: Apr 2015
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Closing the loop for anyone who is still reading this thread... WE MADE IT!!

St. Regis - 4/7/19
Ampersand - 4/13/19
Scarface - 4/17/19
McKenzie & Haystack - 4/28/19
Baker - 5/15/19

She put together a video for the show-n-tell portion of her prezo ...
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:06 PM   #14
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Love the video. Great memories.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:11 AM   #15
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Congratulations to you and your daughter!
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:42 AM   #16
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If only I could get my teen sons to enjoy hiking...
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:02 AM   #17
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So great! Congrats to both of you!
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Old 05-23-2019, 11:21 AM   #18
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You and your daughter have created a wonderful memory for years to come. Congrats on being such a wonderful Dad!

That's all for now. Take care and until next well.

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