All great things have a start. That includes one's first hike in the Adirondacks,which can mark the start of many challenging and beautiful outings in it's mountainous wilderness. Beginnings need to be suitable, I've discovered, and today was such a day. Rene and Dan were along, and had never done a hike in the Adirondacks before.
I first did Nun-da-ga-o ridge back in 2002
. I'd found it to have many qualities which made it an excellent intro hike to the Adirondacks. Namely, it is easy and relatively short. There is little elevation gain. There are several areas along it's length that provide nice lookouts with views of the central high peaks. It has variety, including a semi-open ridge walk, some nice forest hiking, and a visit to a pleasant pond. It is a loop, which is usually preferable to a there-and-back trail. And finally, it is quiet, with few people bothering to trace it's length. There's something nice about being able to introduce someone to the beauty of the mountains with a bit of privacy and solitude.
Asmir was also tagging along today. It had been a while since his last outdoors-y outing, and he wanted something easy as a re-introduction.
We arrived to the trailhead off of Hurricane Mountain Road at a reasonable 8:30am, under cloudy but light skies (this trailhead is also used as a way to get to the summit of Hurricane Mountain). It was cool, and it looked to me like Dan and Rene (this being their first hike), didn't have quite enough warm stuff. So, I dug into my stash of extra fleece, gloves, and hats that I had brought along for just such an occasion. So... when you see pictures of Dan and/or Rene where they're wearing old slightly out of fashion outdoors gear, don't blame their fashion sense!
We signed the trail register, and headed off eastward. We aimed to do the loop in a counter-clockwise direction.
Doing the loop this way (counter-clockwise) allows us to warm up on a very gentle and easy flat trail. Because it is not eroded by endless numbers of feet, the gently undulating trail is in wonderful shape.
After a bout of easy walking, we arrive at the Gulf brook Lean-to, where we stop for a short break. We also wander around, admiring the brook (Asmir loves brooks) and various wildflowers.
We then continue, starting up the first section of real ascent. The trail switchbacks up a moderately steep slope to the edge of Lost Pond.
As we approached Lost Pond, we noticed much sign of beaver activity. Trees have been gnawed down everywhere!
We stopped at Lost Pond to take in the pleasant views. Although this is not the most rugged area of the high peaks, the low hills and wilderness ambiance of lake's setting are most pleasant. Asmir and I notice that the lower end of the Pond is fortified with a very extensive beaver dam, which we proceed to check out.
After poking around the lower end of Lost Pond, it's time to move on (plus it is a rather chilly and cloudy day, so Jenn is feeling kinda frozen). We hike north, around the shore of Lost Pond, and stop for another break at the Lean-to just beyond it's north end.
At this point, the Lost Pond trail "officially" ends. However, there is a very nice and easily-followable trail that continues on and up to Nun-da-ga-o ridge. We head off, climbing uphill now, as we make our way to the first of the many lookouts and views, at Weston Mountain.