Hiking Ampersand Mountain

Today I hiked to the top of Ampersand Mountain in the Adirondacks. The mountain is “only” 3,352 feet high. In the San Bernardinos, I park my car at elevations of over 5,000 feet, so this does not sound like much. But in New York, these mountains are formidable.

The hike took 4.5 hours, about half up and half down. The problem with hikes in the Adirondacks is that they go straight up. The trails don’t run in switchbacks like they do out west. So the steps are steep and long, and sometimes climbing over slippery boulders and hanging on to tree branches to pull myself up was inevitable.

The weather was bad all day. It drizzled on the way up, and it full-on rained on the way down. The trail, which followed a creek for the most part, was already muddy and slippery before the rain. Now it was outright treacherous. Visions of slipping and breaking an ankle or leg kept me anxious and nervous, and I was ever careful placing my boots. Regardless, I slipped a few times without adverse consequences other than muddy hands and clothes. It was a mudfest when I got to the bottom.

Here is a picture of me at the top, which a fellow hiker took with my cell phone (I forgot my main camera in the car). He didn’t hold steady so it’s blurry – but better than nothing.  I am still fairly dry here – the rain has not yet started:

The background behind me, looking south, is the main area of the High Peaks in the Adirondacks. Due to the weather, the view was not so exciting. Also, due to the weather, I didn’t take a lot of photographs. This is the only one, taken toward the northwest.

It is interesting to see how the entire peak is bare rock. I was surprised and delighted. Otherwise I would not have had a great view. However, reading up on it, I found out that the peak used to be wooded. During a nineteenth century survey, Verplank Colvin had the trees removed to facilitate the survey from this critical vantage point. Erosion set in, and now all that remains is the bare rock.

”]”]As always, I took GPS readings and the above chart shows how New York trail makers don’t believe in switchbacks. Straight up, straight up.

Overall a great dayhike in the Adirondacks. The distance from the trailhead to the peak is 2.3 miles. About 1.5 miles of that is reasonably flat and wooded terrain, not stressful in any way. The last half mile or so is absolutely treacherous, going both up and down. I would have enjoyed it more in good weather, but with  that many more Adirondack peaks beckoning, I think I will probably not find the time to return.

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