Thursday, July 14

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness



    After last year's successful hike in Virginia with Tim we decided that we would get together again for another backpacking adventure. This year we headed to Adirondack park and the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. The criteria for this year's hike was for an easy day hikes, with no early morning departures and ending at a pond or lake for fishing. A loop in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area ticked all the boxes. Three 6 mile days and with a 2 mile finish, only one peak to climb, Pharaoh Mountain 2558', (1457' of actual climbing) and lots of ponds to fish.

     So on July 6, Tim, Sean & I left Williamstown and headed north to the Pharaoh Wilderness Area and started our hike around 2 pm under threatening skies. I realized shortly after we crossed the pond in the picture above, that  I hadn't taken the camera, so Timothy volunteered to go back and get it. The video that follows, materialized after we returned home, and loaded the pictures onto the computer.

video


Rain coats were put on and we ducked into Little Rock Pond Shelter as the skies opened up with lots of noise and bright flashes for about half an hour. When the rain stopped we headed off on the Lilly Pond trail. This trail did not seem to have had a lot of use. It was quite overgrown and with the recent rain, our shorts were drenched from walking through all the underbrush. Around 6 pm we arrived at Crab Pond where Sean found us a nice campsite for the evening. Tim and I  set up our hammocks and Sean his tent. 
 Tim got the best site hanging right on the edge of the pond. There was about a 5 foot drop to the water with lots of lilly pads, so the fishing poles did not get a lot of work. We had dinner around 8, watched the sunset, and settled in to listen to the loons for a while and then the frogs singing all night.

July 7 we were up and on the trail by 9:30 am for our hardest day, climbing Pharaoh Mountain. For me it was very slow going, between the heat and the bugs. In the Blue Hills outside of Boston I normally average around 2 miles an hour. On this trip I was barely doing one and all my planning had been for the 2 mph that I thought I would be able to do.


After about 4 1/2 hours we stopped for lunch on a ledge overhanging the side of the mountain.
The bugs were not too bad and the views were great. After lunch and a short hike we were on the top. The trail markers and the signs made trail following especially easy. All the trails and junctions were well marked through out the Wilderness except for on the top of Pharaoh Mountain. We had to scramble around a bit before we found the highest point and then spent a while trying to find the trail down.
 The trail guide says that the trail down is lightly used and after a short distance it be came quite apparent why.
We came to a point where the boys had stopped and the trail seemed to have stopped as well. Sheer rock going up on my right and a shear drop going down on my left and Sean & Tim in front of me trying to decide what to do. There was an 8 foot drop to the trail. The packs came off and Timothy climbed down. We passed the packs down, tossed the hiking sticks and Sean & I gingerly climbed down. It was not easy. More drops followed but none as steep. I am not sure what I would have done if we were going up the trail rather than down. I was actually quite pleased in the direction that I decided to run the loop after going down this trail. 3 hours later we were at the bottom. and made the decision to go to Watch Clock Rock Shelter. This appears to be the new name for Pharaoh Lake #5 as listed on the National Geographic Map. Pharaoh #6 no longer exists.
Sean got the best tent site this time right on the end of the point with good views all around and the fire nearby. Not having any trees on the end, (which some of my friends are concerned about), we had to move back a bit, but still managed to find trees alongside the pond. There were 2 families and a single girl with her dog nearby, so I was happy to be off in the woods a bit.The guys did some evening fishing, we had dinner around the campfire, with a few spirits to help settle the evening, and then off to bed after a nice sunset, with loons on the pond and  frogs croaking all night.

video 

  July 8 we awoke to red skies  and a beautiful  beginning of another day of hiking . I have always taken the sailors rhyme of "Red skies at night, Sailors delight, Red Skies in the morning, Sailors take warning" Red skies in the morning usually means inclement weather within 24 hours, but we also had a red sky the previous evening so there was a little confusion on the weather prediction.

We had breakfast, fished a while longer, many fish were caught, (I was told this later on in the morning while we were stopped for lunch),while I was packing up my hammock and pack. We were on the trail around 10 headed for our last camp site on Grizzle Ocean.  The bugs were the worst.  You could not stop for more than a few minutes before the mosquitoes and deer flies were all over you. Long pants and long sleeve shirts were the order of the day. We walked around the lake and had a good view of our last evenings campsite.
Thursday's campsite on the rocky point across the pond
At the end of the lake the Adirondack Trail crew was rerouting the trail and building a bridge over a stream. It was interesting watching one of the crew cut a notch in a log with an adz.  We went out onto Wintergreen Point for lunch, a swim and some more fishing. It was the first time I've encountered black flies which were really terrible and to top it off my big toe was chomped on by something while I was swimming. Quick in the water Quick back under cover. Tim caught the only fish here, and then back on the trail again.
We arrived at Grizzle Ocean Shelter around 5 pm. Tim & I set up down by the pond and Sean put his tent up on the hill. We all took an afternoon nap and then set up for the evenings special dinner of fried salmon cakes with couscous , rice and hominy.

video

We all enjoyed the last campfire and  retired for the evening before the rains came down. The next day Sean & Tim practiced casting for a while before we packed up and hiked the 2 miles back to the car. You can see all the pictures from the hike if you click on the "Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Hike" filed under "stuff to look at" in the right hand column of the blog.

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