This picture gallery captures a short but quite enjoyable little jaunt up Ampersand Mountain in the western Adirondacks - an easy but scenic summit that one ends up doing many times if you like Adirondack hiking. Perhaps that's why they called it Ampersand - because it's a perfect little peak to do again (& again & again & ....)
My friend Pu put together the logistics for this hike, and we were just tagger-alongers. There were nine of us in total - Pu, Denis, myself, Jenn, Sophie, Nancy, Dan, Rene and Roch.
It was Sunday, June 22 - the first full day of summer - and the weather was perfect: warm but not hot, slightly breezy and not humid. And, surprisingly, very few bugs.
The first... let's say half... of the Ampersand Mountain's 2.55 mile (4.1km) trail is - literally - a walk in the park. It is nearly flat, wide enough to hike two abreast, mostly boulder-free, and well engineered with planks and bridges where necessary. And, it passes through very pleasant semi-open forest.
With such an easy trail, the first half of the distance to the summit was covered quickly. The trail then started up at a relatively moderate grade, still with a good tread and excellent trailwork, for another half-mile or so.
Dan the woodman
The trail then entered its most strenuous phase - about 500 feet of quite steep climbing. The trailwork (mostly arranged rock steps and staircases) continued for a while up this, but as we went higher, the presence and quality of this sort of thing faded away, until finally we were picking your way up a steep slope of roots, craggy bedrock and mud. Owing to the fairly high traffic this trail gets, there's a fair bit of erosion along the trail here, and in places it was quite wide.
We were all sweating pretty decently by the time we completed the steep bits and arrived at Ampersand's summit ridge. The ridge is punctuated by outcroppings of solid bedrock. Atop the highest of these outcroppings is the bare summit of Ampersand, to which we were soon headed.
A few more minutes walking mostly on the flat between the big crags and boulders brought us to the sudden cessation of the trees and the beginning of the small but glorious summit clearing on Ampersand. For such a low peak, Ampersand has a remarkably clear summit area (this open area is not completely natural, but rather mostly due to clearing by early climbers and to the effects of an old fire tower installation on the summit - an installation that is now long gone).
Denis on his way to the top
Despite its not completely-natural origin, Ampersand's summit is still beautiful. There are 360-degree views in all directions, and the relative lack of other nearby peaks makes the summit feel higher than its relatively modest 3300-foot elevation would suggest.
We continued on past the actual summit to a large area of unoccupied open bedrock, and set up shop for long and leisurely lunch. It had only taken one hour and forty-five minutes to get here, and we had plenty of time and no appointments to keep.