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Old 08-21-2019, 11:37 AM   #21
Justin
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... Hopefully Justin will weigh in with some ideas, as he knows the area well.
I’m late to this thread but I see some good comments & advice have already been made. I will add that the Rock Pond mine ruins and the waterfall along Rock Pond Brook are a must see, but be sure to be careful near the quarry pond near the mine ruins, people have died there.

If you stop at Oxshoe try swimming across the pond to jump off the cliff directly across from the lean-to. Super fun! Good swimming at Rock, Crane, Goose, & Pharaoh also. There’s great swimming at Gooseneck as well, and is well worth the bushwhack up & over from the mine ruins at Rock Pond. Some good fishing at most of the lakes & ponds too.

It’s definitely a very enjoyable area to explore for sure, especially if you like to bushwhack, and there’s plenty to keep you busy on a 4 day trip regardless of how many miles you plan to hike overall. Many of the trailless hills & peaks have nice views in addition to Pharaoh & Treadway Mountains. Potter Mtn & Thunderbolt Mtn are a couple of my favorites.

If I can help with anything else please let me know.
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Old 08-21-2019, 02:08 PM   #22
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Iím late to this thread but I see some good comments & advice have already been made. I will add that the Rock Pond mine ruins and the waterfall along Rock Pond Brook are a must see, but be sure to be careful near the quarry pond near the mine ruins, people have died there.

If you stop at Oxshoe try swimming across the pond to jump off the cliff directly across from the lean-to. Super fun! Good swimming at Rock, Crane, Goose, & Pharaoh also. Thereís great swimming at Gooseneck as well, and is well worth the bushwhack up & over from the mine ruins at Rock Pond. Some good fishing at most of the lakes & ponds too..
Thanks Justin. Just curious -- What's dangerous about the quarry pond?

I'll bug you on FB if I have any additional specific questions.
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Old 08-21-2019, 02:11 PM   #23
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Thanks Justin. Just curious -- What's dangerous about the quarry pond?
Steep cliffs on the walls of the quarry & shallow rocks below.
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Old 08-21-2019, 02:43 PM   #24
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Steep cliffs on the walls of the quarry & shallow rocks below.
Ah, so diving mishaps. Yeah, I'm not much of a cliff diver.
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Old 08-21-2019, 07:19 PM   #25
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Ah, so diving mishaps. Yeah, I'm not much of a cliff diver.
Not sure if it was swimming related or an accidental fall but I’m pretty sure I remember hearing or reading that it was a drowning, sadly.
You can see some of the mine ruins & quarry pond in this video starting at the 1:30 mark... https://youtu.be/OLVjHP7raHs
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:10 PM   #26
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Not sure if it was swimming related or an accidental fall but Iím pretty sure I remember hearing or reading that it was a drowning, sadly.
You can see some of the mine ruins & quarry pond in this video starting at the 1:30 mark... https://youtu.be/OLVjHP7raHs
Oh yeah, holy hell. I'm staying away from that. I felt a little funny in my beans just watching you stand that close to the edge.
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Old Yesterday, 07:57 AM   #27
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The "mine" was actually a drainage tunnel dug to keep the quarry up the hill dry. I'm not sure if they never finished the tunnel, or if there was a cave-in that blocked it up, but if you do climb up to the quarry it becomes pretty obvious that the tunnel is not draining the quarry very well.

There's a bunch of old foundations at Rock Pond dating to the days of the quarry. I believe they were digging graphite out of the rocks there. The area in general is a neat one to spend a few minutes poking around in.

Here's a few articles about the fatality at Rock Pond:

https://poststar.com/news/local/offi...cc4c03286.html

https://www.timesunion.com/local/art...cks-599946.php

BTW, not directly related to the above but still worth mentioning because no one has done so yet: You should also be aware that the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness is pretty popular. Pharaoh Lake and Crane Pond tend to get the brunt of the use (I've counted 50 people camped at Crane Pond in a single night, and 85 people camped at Pharaoh Lake in a single night). The back stretch (Rock and Clear Ponds and Grizzle Ocean) tends to stay a lot more quiet, but there's also a lot fewer tent sites at these ponds so it doesn't take much use for them to fill up.

As beautiful as the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness is, I wouldn't be too particularly enthusiastic about undertaking a trip there on any holiday weekend (or even any late-Summer weekend) if solitude were a priority. It's a good place to explore mid-week or in the off season.
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Old Yesterday, 09:35 AM   #28
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As beautiful as the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness is, I wouldn't be too particularly enthusiastic about undertaking a trip there on any holiday weekend (or even any late-Summer weekend) if solitude were a priority. It's a good place to explore mid-week or in the off season.
That was kind of our plan...mid october, monday through thursday, or a tuesday through friday, depending on which would give us the best weather.

How can 85 people camp on one lake? It seems impossible.
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Old Yesterday, 10:11 AM   #29
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And that number (85) was just overnighters- if you counted day hikers, it put the number of people on the lake at a single time at well over 100. Pharaoh gets a lot of the down state traffic especially- including a lot of people from the metro NYC area that are looking for backcountry destinations outside of the High Peaks. The Pharaoh Lake Wilderness is the first Wilderness Area you hit in the ADKs coming north on 87- and it's got the added advantage of being right off the highway.

Plus tent sites in the PLWA tend to be pretty consistently nice in a way that no other management unit in the ADKs really matches. Even a "bad" site by Pharaoh standards would be a pretty nice site by High Peaks standards. Some of the Pharaoh lean-tos especially are in simply gorgeous spots. I suspect that lean-to #5 on Pharaoh Lake is a serious contender for most popular lean-to in the Adirondacks- it will go weeks at a time without being unoccupied even for a single night. (I once watched a group swim across the lake to snag it because they were afraid that if they wasted time hiking around someone else might get to it first).

In some ways, I think that the number of lean-tos on the lake is also the area's undoing. People look at the map, see 6 lean-tos, and think "if we go there, we're practically guaranteed to get space in a lean-to." And then they show up and realize that in order to get a lean-to, they needed to hike in on Thursday because the lean-tos were all occupied by Friday morning.

It also doesn't help that Backpacker Magazine published an article on the area a few years ago that over-emphasized the scenic beauty while falsely leading readers to believe that the area doesn't get much use.

To be fair, Pharaoh Lake is a big lake (the largest in the Adirondacks that is entirely in a Wilderness Area). To hike around it is 5.5 miles. And there's 15 designated tent sites in addition to the 6 lean-tos- so 21 legal places to camp if you're not doing the 150 foot thing. With 85 people, that's only an average of just over 4 people per site.

Suffice to say, Pharaoh Lake can handle a lot of overnight visitors, if they spread out, and if they behave themselves. Unfortunately those are two pretty big "ifs" sometimes- a lot of the overnight use tends to cluster around the outlet (vicinity of lean-tos 1, 2, 5, and 6) as many backpackers aren't willing to hike added distance around the lake to find other open spots (the north shore also sees some moderate use as some hikers access the lake from Crane Pond). And Pharaoh can occasionally be a party spot, with groups looking for more of a social experience than a Wilderness one. (In 2012 the AFR assigned to that area had to deal with a group of 35 people camping at lean-to #5.)

Yeah, mid-week in Autumn (if you can make it work) is definitely a good way to see the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness if you value solitude.

One other tangentially related comment: There's not a whole lot of dead and down wood at Pharaoh Lake especially to use for campfires (and illegal tree cutting has been a big problem at some of the sites as well). Again, something to be mentally prepared for. If you do desire a fire at Pharaoh Lake especially, you'd be well advised to plan to keep it small, and wait until evening to start it.

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Old Yesterday, 12:39 PM   #30
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Based on my experience there (mid-week) this summer, don't expect peace and quiet when camping on Pharaoh Lake. I was camped at the designated site just past leanto #2 and had to put up with the noise from a loud group at leanto #5 (across the lake) the entire 3 days. Contrast that to the first two nights at Little Crab Pond, where I had peace, quiet and solitude. Pharaoh Lake is a really beautiful spot. I came to the conclusion that in the future, if I want to camp on the lake, I will do so early and late in the season.
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Old Yesterday, 01:00 PM   #31
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Based on my experience there (mid-week) this summer, don't expect peace and quiet when camping on Pharaoh Lake. I was camped at the designated site just past leanto #2 and had to put up with the noise from a loud group at leanto #5 (across the lake) the entire 3 days. Contrast that to the first two nights at Little Crab Pond, where I had peace, quiet and solitude. Pharaoh Lake is a really beautiful spot. I came to the conclusion that in the future, if I want to camp on the lake, I will do so early and late in the season.
At most we'll spend one night there. Or we'll skip it entirely, depending upon how the trip goes.
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Old Yesterday, 07:30 PM   #32
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Based on my experience there (mid-week) this summer, don't expect peace and quiet when camping on Pharaoh Lake. I was camped at the designated site just past leanto #2 and had to put up with the noise from a loud group at leanto #5 (across the lake) the entire 3 days. Contrast that to the first two nights at Little Crab Pond, where I had peace, quiet and solitude. Pharaoh Lake is a really beautiful spot. I came to the conclusion that in the future, if I want to camp on the lake, I will do so early and late in the season.
Try Whortleberry for a night or two next time. Some nice open views up on the Whortleberry hills also.
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Old Yesterday, 08:45 PM   #33
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Thanks Justin, that is my plan. I almost "evacuated" to their last time, but it was so nice on Pharaoh, I decided to stick it out.
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Old Yesterday, 09:54 PM   #34
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Yeah, Whortleberry is nice. There's actually two designated tent sites there but neither gets much use because there isn't a marked trail to the pond. The first site is on the north shore, all the way down at the West end of the pond. It's a nice site, with plenty of flat ground.

The second site is on the east shore. There's not as much flat ground here, but the site is a nice one for watching the sun set for sure.

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Old Today, 01:35 PM   #35
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Thanks, I hope to check it in the fall or next spring.
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Old Today, 02:17 PM   #36
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Whortleberry is one of my favorites. I've never seen anyone else there, even when Pharaoh Lake is packed. It's a slight bushwhack so maybe that keeps most people away.

I didn't know there are more than one campsite. I only found the one on the North end. Will look harder next time.

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Old Today, 03:37 PM   #37
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Looks great, thanks for sharing the pic.
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Old Today, 07:51 PM   #38
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I’ll raise you one Pauly D... Pharaoh Lake & Mountain from the open slopes east of Whortleberry...

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