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Gore Mountain 5/19/11

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  • Gore Mountain 5/19/11

    Pictures here:

    Climbed Gore with my father and our two dogs (Dixe, a black lab, and Gracie, a golden retriever) as part of my continuing quest to finish the Fire Tower Challenge. The forecast for the day we'd selected to do our climb wasn't that great, but in the end the weather we actually encountered worked out to our advantage.

    We were a bit wary and expected to have difficulties following the trail due to the recent relocations, and the number of junctions with roads and ski trails described in the guidebook, but it turns out we needn't have worried. The trailhead was well marked with a sign right on Route 28, and the parking clearly designated at the ski bowl in North Creek. The trail was easy to find, and at the register box, which was located a short ways down the trail, there was a map that, while a bit faded, showed the route of the relocated trail. The new trail ascends the mountain by way of the North Creek Reservoir, rather than follow Burnt Ridge as the old trail did.

    The trail at first ascends through a small ravine that is, unfortunately, littered with garbage (but not a lot). It looks like it's been a dumping spot for some time. Since the transfer station is nearby, I imagine that this has become a dumping off spot for those who arrive with trash to find the transfer station unexpectedly closed.

    Soon, though, the trail climbed out the ravine, and traverse north across the slope. We could hear Roaring Brook well before we could see it- where the trail first meets the Roaring Brook drainage, it is well above the stream on the slopes of a steep ravine. As we climbed further up, however, the brook rose up to meet us, and soon we were hiking along side the brook. The stream was quite full of water (as it had poured all the previous day and the night before our hike), and the numerous waterfalls were flowing quite strongly. There was enough volume of water flowing down the ravine that it was pulling quite a bit of air with it, and the flow of cool air alongside the stream felt quite nice in contrast to the humidity (and the bugs!).

    For most of the distance to the North Creek Reservoir, the trail remained on the south side of the brook, rarely traversing far enough away to lose site of the brook. Along the way, we crossed over several ski trails (presumably the newer trails that link Gore Mountain with the North Creek Ski Bowl). The climb up to the reservoir took a bit longer than I'd expected.

    At the reservoir, the trail cut north away from the water, and we lost sight of it. Soon we were at a junction with a red trail. Although unmarked, we later figured out that the red trail drops down to Rabbit Pond and the Raymond Brook x-country ski trails. Apparently, there are new ski trails that connect this network with the interior trails in the Siamese Ponds wilderness.

    After climbing up and away from the water for a little bit, and traversing a few muddy spots, we soon found ourselves dropping back down to Roaring Brook. Here, it was much smaller than what we'd seen further downstream. The trail continued to follow the stream for some ways on an old road before coming to a small clearing. According to the map at the trailhead, this was the site of the former "Ives Dam," although the map gives no explanation as to who Ives was or why he wanted a dam here. The trail crosses Roaring Brook here. The brook was still quite deep, but we were able to cross on an old bridge just upstream of where the dam was.

    From the clearing, the trail turned south and began a steep ascent up the mountain. Soon, we crossed another ski trail, one which we gauged to be part of the trail system of Gore Mountain itself. Above the ski trail, the hiking trail became quite wide and open in contrast to the surrounding dense forest, and we surmised that it was used as a glade trail, either intentionally by ORDA, or perhaps otherwise.

    Eventually, the hiking trail lead us to the bulk of the ski trails on the upper slopes of Gore Mountain. Here, we encountered some confusion. The trail up to this point had been well marked, and markers at every conceivable junction or point of confusion had given us a clear indication of which way to go. Once we were on the ski trails, however, the markers were few and far between. We eventually settled on just following the access road to the summit, and this turned out to be a good choice, as the road was never exceptionally steep and was always easy to follow.

    As we climbed, we started to see snow. In some places it was still quite deep (more than 6 feet!), but for the most part it was in patches here and there. Dixie took advantage of the opportunity to cool off by rolling any any patch of snow we came upon. The sun had been trying to poke it's head through the clouds all morning, but nearing the summit we found ourselves in thick, impenetrable mist. It felt a bit eerie being in the ski area, no people, very little snow, and with the chair lifts sitting motionless and silent.

    The fire tower was pretty easy to find, despite it being located a little ways beyond the summit. We could see it from the ski trails, and it wasn't hard to find the path that lead through the woods to the tower. The tower itself, unfortunately, was closed to public access- even the stairs. I'm not sure I'd want to climb it even if it were open, as it was adorned like a Christmas tree with all sorts of arrays of antennas and dishes for communication.

    Having reached our destination, we spend some time exploring a little bit. We found the old summit station for the old gondola, which was removed some time ago. The station is falling into a fair amount of disrepair, and had signs warning people to keep out of it. We did also find a pretty large assortment of outhouses scattered around the summit- I'm not sure why they'd need so many up there!

    We walked back to the ski trails, and decided to check out Rumor, the steepest trail at Gore. We walked down it just far enough to get to the top of the steep part- below us, the trail dropped straight down, it seemed, into nothingness, obscured by the dense clouds around us.

    Lunchtime was held at the top of that pitch on Rumor, since there was a nice breeze that both cooled us off and kept the bugs at bay. As we ate, the clouds started to lift, and soon we were treated to amazing views to the north, east, and south. To the south, Crane Mountain dominated the view. We tried to pick out which mountains were likely to be the Tongue Mountain Range to the east, but never settled the matter for sure. To the north, we could see some peaks that we thought might be High Peaks, but they were still too obscured by the clouds to be sure.

    After lunch, we decided to descend back to the trail using the ski trail Cloud, a blue cruiser that follows the ridgeline. As we descended, the clouds to the north continued to open up, and soon we were able to pick out individual mountains... Blue Mountain to the northwest, the Seward and the Santanoni ranges, the MacIntyres, and the Great Range to the north, Colvin and Blake, Nippletop, and Dix to the northeast, with Hoffman Notch in the foreground. We could also make out closer peaks- Vanderwhacker Mountain to the north, and Moxham Mountain across the road from Gore.

    The sun stayed out with us for much of the descent, but unfortunately with warmer temperatures came more bugs, and we were loathe to stop moving at any point for very long. It felt nice to get back to the lower reaches of Roaring Brook, and enjoy the cool flow of air along the stream again. Just as we arrived back at the trailhead, it began to rain. As it turned out, we timed our hike perfectly- any earlier in the day, and we would've missed the views from the summit, any later, and we would've been caught out in the rain.

    Climbing Gore leaves only one Adirondack peak for me to climb as part of the Fire Tower Challenge (Spruce Mountain), and three Catskill peaks (Tremper, Red Hill, and Balsam Lake). Gore was a little bit tougher than I'd expected- I think maybe I underestimated it because most fire tower peaks aren't that challenging. This was a long enough hike, and with enough elevation gain, however, to certainly be comparable in difficulty to even some of the High Peaks!