This quick trip report captures the great time had by our team (as in, the team of people with which I work), in the Adirondack Mountains, one fine Tuesday in June.
We had been floating the idea of a team-building hike for almost a year now, but the usual demands of work schedules kept pushing it off. Finally, however, a combination of good timing and the accumulating effect of repeated 'let's do this someday' coincided. Brent, our manager, gave the go ahead for a day-outing team-building day in the Adirondacks. What a great guy!
In all, a very sizeable chunk of my group -- nine people -- along with four significant others / wives, indicated an interest in going. With such a large group, including several people who'd never hiked in the Adirondacks before, it was important to pick a hike to a peak that had grade-A scenery and that did not involve too much time, distance, or elevation gain. A number of excellent peaks that satisfy these criteria immediately came to mind: Noonmark, Ampersand, Jay, Hurricane, Round, and Cascade, just to name a few.
Cascade Trailhead Parking
Our hike was planned in a "lazy-date" manner: we didn't fix a specific day; instead, we picked a week during which we wanted to hike, and then, as the date drew near, we'd pick the day with the best weather forecast. And, as it turned out in our particular case, the chosen week was that of June 7-11, and the best forecast day of the week ended up being Tuesday the 8th.
We chose to get the troops together at 6am sharp - a time that elicited a few grumbles, but no major protests. Even though we'd be doing a short hike, it was prudent to allow a large buffer of time with a large group of primarily new hikers.
The thirteen of us drove down in two vehicles crammed pretty much to the gills with people and stuff. Along the way, I debated about which peak we should climb. I was leaning towards Noonmark, with its good trail tread, excellent during-the-climb lookouts, and fantastic summit. However, Cascade mountain offered many of the same attributes, but with less elevation gain, with a trailhead that involved a shorter drive, and with the distinction of being one of the "Adirondack 46" -- an important consideration for the budding 46ers in our group (or, I should say 46er... right, mr. Hatko?).
In any case, after a short discussion with the team, we decided to do Cascade.
We arrived at the highway-side trailhead to Cascade on Route 73 shortly after 9:30am, and before 10:00am, we were on the trail, heading up towards Cascade. The weather consisted of a mostly-cloudy layer well above the tops of the summits - not the sunnier forecast we'd been given, but still more than sufficient for great views. The temperatures were pleasantly cool. So cool, in fact, that the previous night had seen frost. This was a fantastic turn of events, since it meant that we had virtually no biting insects with which to contend.
The only real downside to choosing Cascade as a destination for a good and short hike is the condition of its trail. Given Cascade's top-notch summit and short approach, it's completely understandable that many, many hikers choose to climb this peak. Unfortunately, this leads to a very eroded trail bed, stripped of most of its soil. What is left is a huge jumble of boulders, small in the upper and lower reaches of the trail, and fairly large in the mid-section. Very tedious to hike on.
Despite our large group size, and much to my surprise, we made pretty decent progress. By the time the 1-hour mark went by, we were already more than half-way up to the summit. Everyone seemed to be happy about being out in nature, climbing a peak, and chatting with friends and colleagues. The rumor of a fitness race between several team members didn't materialize, possibly due to the moderating influence of the presence of spouses.
He even battles the forest
It wasn't long before we reached the first good lookout along the way to the summit, which gave us a grand panorama to the west. Visibility was good; the cloud deck was high and nicely textured with dark puffs, light sections, and an occasional patch of blue. We stopped for a break and a bout of picture taking. Several of the new hikers in the group were suitably impressed with how up we were from the highway where we started.
The lookout was also a signal that the summit was drawing near!