Wednesday, August 5, 2009


This past weekend we headed down to our favourite getaway of the Lake Placid area with Brennan and Heather for a little camping, hiking, climbing, running and fun!

We got away in good time on Saturday morning, but due to the long holiday weekend, were blessed with a long wait at the border. We normally go into the U.S. through Ogdensburg, but needed to pick up a few things in Watertown, so decided to cross at the busy Hill Island border crossing instead. Big mistake as the lineup was back almost as far as highway #401.

After finally getting through customs, and picking up some supplies, it was quick sailing right through to Lake Placid. Our plan was to stay at Heart Lake Campground in the High Peaks Region, but we could only get reservations for Sunday and Monday night, so had to make due with a busy, tourist type campground in Wilmington called the North Pole Campground. It was fine and had many enjoyable features that we took advantage. Sara went for a run up the Whiteface Mountain Trail while the rest of us got in some swimming, ping pong and foosball, after setting up our tents. The next couple of days would involve more rustic, outdoor living, so I must admit that we did enjoy this.

Whiteface Mountain Run (Sunday AM): Running 2:37:00

I got an early start on Sunday morning at the rather ungawdly hour of 5:30am to get a good run in before everyone else was up and ready to start the day. I ran from the North Pole Campsite through private trails trying to find the Whiteface Mt Trail. I ended up getting a little turned around and wasted about 30mins trying to find the proper route. This was strange as I've run this before (?)...must have been the early start and pre-coffee. I eventually found the trail and started running going up. The one thing about the High Peaks Region is that trail running is tough and there don't tend to be many switchbacks. Once you start climbing, it can get very steep. I got up to about 4000ft, before running short on time and deciding to turn around. I did end up getting about 3000ft of climbing in the first 93mins. I came back down to the reservoir trail to Whiteface Auto Road for the final mile to get back quicker. I got some great views in on the run, but knew that the weather looked like it was changing and going to be a wet day. Running wise, I felt quite good though.

Avalanche Pass Hike (Sunday PM): Hiking 4:40

After a quick breakfast, we packed up our gear and headed to Adirondack Loj at Heart Lake. The weather still looked promising at the beginning, but the forcast was calling for rain with a chance of thunderstorms later in the day. We had decided to hike into Avalanche Pass and were glad that we had chosen this route as we didn't want to be up high if the weather turned bad.

Avalanche Pass is a beautiful, but challenging hike that goes into Avalanche Lake. As the name suggests, many avalanches have occurred in this area, with the most recent significant one happening in 1999. The result of this being a massive exposed rockface that is spectacular beyond words. The final mile into Avalanche Lake is the most rugged, with having to scramble over rocks, roots and trees. The view once you arrive is well worth the long hike in with rock climbing straight out of the water on both sides of the lake.

The weather started to turn bad with heavy rain, however we were well sheltered most of the way and the rain did offer a nice cooling affect during our brisk hike. We were continually amazed at how well Brennan and Heather managed the hike and were pushing the pace. They were very eager to get to our destination. We found a rock ledge at the end of the lake and hunkered down for a quick lunch while trying to stay somewhat dry. At this point the rain was coming down in buckets.

After lunch we began our hike back to Heart Lake with trail and weather conditions deteriorating along the way. We were covered in mud, soaked to the skin, but had a wonderful time. The entire route that we did was at least 10miles round trip.

Arriving back at camp, we were fortunate to have reserved a leanto for Sunday night. Leanto's are basically a 3 wall, open air shelter that would provide protection from the weather. Luckily, it looked like it was clearing and the rain was over. It was still nice to be able to hang our wet gear around the leanto and try to dry out for the next day.

After getting cleaned up and into dry clothes, we decided to go into Lake Placid for dinner, as we had all worked up a pretty good appetite. Mike's Pizza is our favourite hangout and certainly didn't disappoint as we polished off enough pizza for twice as many people. It was also nice to do a little shopping in our favourite shops around Lake Placid including Critters, Eastern Mountain Sports, The Fallen Arch, the Bookstore and the Skateboard Shop.

I was pleased with the amount of time on my feet today as I had a combined time of 7:17 for running and hiking.

Mount Marcy Run (Monday AM): Running 4:33:00

With the Haliburton 100miler fast approaching in September, I was looking to take advantage of our vacation to get a good long run in. I had another early start to the day and set out to run up Mount Marcy. Mount Marcy is the highest peak in NY at 5,344 ft. The trail conditions were very muddy and wet, so I had to be careful on the wet rock, especially on the way down. There were a few very deep sections of mud and water to run through that were halfway up to my knees. I took my time up and got to the summit in about 2:10. I spent about 5 minutes at the top to enjoy the view, have some Clif bloks and a gel before starting back down. The view was awesome as it was a pretty clear day, however it was windy and cold so I was ready to get running again.

The run back down should have been quicker, but had to be very careful on the wet rocks. My La Sportiva Crosslites have always been great in mud, but I was quite surprised how well they worked on the rock too. I came back down through South Meadow after reaching Marcy Dam and toured around there to get in some faster paced running. My total amount of uphill running during this run ended up being over 3,300ft including the South Meadow add-on. Even though this was the third time I've run up Mt. Marcy, it is always a run that I thoroughly enjoy.

Catamount Mountain Hike/Climb (Monday PM) Hiking/Climbing 3:47

After getting back to Heart Lake and grabbing another quick breakfast, we headed out to climb Catamount Mountain. Catamount is at 3,165 ft and features about 1,600 ft of climbing. The great thing about this mountain is that it isn't one of the better known or well travelled mountains, so there weren't many people on the mountain. The bad thing is that the trail wasn't as well marked. This didn't prove to b a problem though as we found our way quite easily. The trail finding was the easy part, the climb?...not so easy. This was a great hike/climb that featured a wonderful combination of nice trail, challenging climbs, crazy scrambles and a rocky summit. We got to the south summit having just gotten up some tough sections and thought we were at the top, only to realize that we still had about another 30mins of climbing to go. It was definitely worth it though. We had a great view at the summit on a clear day. Once again, Brennan and Heather just rocked on this climb. Some tired swamp dawgs by the time we got down after two big days, but we had so much fun.

I had another solid day on my feet again today with a combined time of 8:20 for running and hiking on Monday.

Monday night consisted of our final evening at Heart Lake with a huge dinner of campfire favourites including pizza wraps, sweet potatoes, chips and s'mores, all cooked over the open flame. Our appetites were pretty big after the past few days of activity and I'm sure we could have eaten dirt and been content.

The drive home on Tuesday morning was a little sad with the thought of leaving the mountains, but we had some great memories to take back with us.

For more photos from our trip, please click here.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like Great time had by all - Amazing pictures, thanks for sharing. Brennan and Heather sure are troopers. Well done all, those are some long days.