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Old 08-24-2016, 10:26 PM   #1
SaraHikes
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Upper Works on Labor Day weekend

Greetings I'm a (rather) longtime lurker but first time posting. I am hoping to park at upper works to hike mount skylight the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. I know this is a super popular hiking weekend, so I'm just wondering if anyone has any input on how quickly the upper works lot would fill up on a Saturday. I'm coming from Buffalo and would arrive around 1-2pm. Plan is to backpack in to the flowed lands and camp overnight, then summit on Sunday. Is it plausible that there would be available parking in the lot? This is a 7-day trip for me, so I can rearrange my plans to do this on one of the weekdays following the holiday (Tuesday-Thursday). Second, is it generally safe to ditch the pack at the leanto? There are a lot of things I'd prefer to not carry up the mountain (bear canister, tent, mess kit, sleeping bag, etc). I'd like to put the essentials (map, compass,
Trekking poles, water filter, bottle, bug spray, snacks) in my light day pack for that part of the hike. I guess I'm just wary and hope this is safe to do. I'll be solo and have no one else to rely on. I am an intermediate backpacker and have hiked solo/done overnights before, but do not consider myself expert level. Any input and experience/advice is greatly appreciated

PS: Will any forum members be in this area for the holiday weekend?
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Old 08-24-2016, 11:15 PM   #2
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Will the Upper Works Parking Area be full on Saturday, September 3rd at 1-2 PM? Only the Magic Eight Ball knows for sure.


Most people leave their overnight gear in camp and slack-pack to the summits. I wouldn't worry about it but I also wouldn't leave any tempting valuables in plain view.

It's highly unlikely you'll be pestered by bugs during the day in early September. I know I've stopped carrying bug repellent but I'm a day-hiker. Perhaps they still emerge at nightfall but I doubt it.

Bears have been very active this summer, notably in the Flowed Lands, Lake Colden, Marcy Dam Corridor. Eat in one place, sleep in another, and put your bear canister in yet another spot. That should make your camp uninteresting and make bears move on to your neighbor's campsite.

Here's a map showing campsites around Flowed lands and Lake Colden. The greatest concentration is near the Colden Dam.
http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/44.1175/-73.9867
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Old 08-25-2016, 08:18 AM   #3
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If the lot is full it is permissible to park along upper works road. Also, if your nervous about leaving your pack in a lean to, just stash it in the woods out of site. I have never had an issue with leaving gear in a lean to during the day.

Don't plan on lean to space being available labor day weekend.
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Old 08-25-2016, 08:37 AM   #4
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You're getting a pretty late start- by 1 pm on Saturday, the lot will be pretty full, so you can expect to have to park down the road. I can pretty much guarantee that all of the lean-tos will also be full by the time you get into the backcountry (lean-tos begin to fill up on Thursday afternoons, and all available space is usually taken by Friday afternoon/evening).

If you're looking to avoid crowds, you will see a lot fewer people if you shifted your trip to the weekdays following the holiday weekend. (You should still bring a tent even then, as lean-to space is never 100% guaranteed.)
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Old 08-25-2016, 11:18 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input guys. Based on responses I think I will likely push this hike to Tuesday to avoid the crowds. Which gives me a few days to kill. Which creates another question: What are some good mountains in the area to hike that I can make an overnight out of that won't be flooded with holiday hikers? Doesn't necessarily have to be a 46er, just something with a decent challenge and a nice view. A leanto is an attractive option but not a necessity. My main issue is that my tent is the heaviest item I carry, and it takes my pack from bearable to uncomfortable. I'm a petite woman and find the tent to be the straw that breaks the camels back, so to speak. It's a northface stormbreak 1-man, great tent but probably better suited to car camping. Will hopefully be upgrading to something lighter come tax return season So in summation, looking for recommendations for a hiking trail that is lesser traveled, option for overnight camping, lean to would be nice, leads to a good view. I have the Nat Geo Trails Illustrated map of the high peaks region.
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Old 08-25-2016, 12:05 PM   #6
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The other hikes that are available sort of depends on where you are staying. Your proposed backpack trip goes out of Upper Works, but there really isn't anyplace to stay right there; closest are a couple very small places in Newcomb; many people default to Schroon Lake for a place to stay to access Upper Works.

If you are staying right in that area, the "easiest" high peak would probably be Marshall. Other hikes might include Goodnow or Adams (both have fire towers).

If you are staying on the north side of the peaks (Keene, Lake Placid, etc.) then there are many other possibilities.
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Old 08-25-2016, 03:31 PM   #7
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Not restricted to any single area, per se. I don't mind driving a bit. I'd like to be within an hour of Upper Works so I can get there early Tuesday morning. I do enjoy the Lake Placid area and have a tradition of camping at Copperas pond every year. Keene, Saranac Lake, I'm open to any area. Just somewhere a little off the beaten path would be nice. Mainly trying to avoid the Loj and Garden (and now also Upper Works)/any super popular trailhead until Tuesday. I'm not totally antisocial, but do enjoy a bit of solitude and serenity when hiking/camping. Not the best weekend for it, but I have to take advantage of bank holidays
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Old 09-01-2016, 02:05 PM   #8
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Hello from Rochester, give a wave when you pass by.

We did Upperworks -> Flowed Lands last Columbus day and lot was packed. Lean to's full. Tent spaces scarce. This is what started my hammock camping interest, but to late for you for this weekend. But people just parked farther down the side of the road. Most did not seem to mind the extra walk =<)

A few thoughts:
The largest parking is at end of road leading to Upper Works, but there are two trail heads earlier on. One leads to Flowed Lands via the Opalescent River. Looks longer than Calamity Brook Trail but could be the road less traveled. I have not done these but considered one - Hanging Spear Falls sounds like a place I would like to visit.

Trailhead on west side of road leads to Santanoni & Panther Peak. I do not think these trails are 'official' so may be less well marked, and less well traveled.

Elk Lake seems less popular than the Loj and has longer trips to a lot of popular peaks.

Re stashing gear - of course have gear stashed one place and scented items stashed another. Our last visitor came for the sunscreen we kept out with our bug spray.
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