This time we've got a Southern Adirondack hike: a point-to-point in the Siamese Ponds wilderness area, including a summitting of Peaked Mountain, a 3000-ish footer just west of Thirteenth Pond. Not being someone who has visited the Southern Adirondacks all that much, this area was completely new to me.
Note also that this trip was put together by fellow hiker Julie Moran. We were simply tagger-alongers on this one.
Indian Lake Stewarts
October 3rd (a Saturday) had dawned bright and cool, and promised to remain so for the rest of the day. Fall colors did not yet seem to be in full swing. Either that, or this was simply turning out to be a less-colorful year.
Julie had designated an 8:40 a.m. meet-up time at the Stewarts gas station in the town of Indian Lake, NY. We arrived about half an hour too early, having timed things extra conservatively. Julie pulled in at 8:36 a.m. Punctual.
Julie's other hike invites had all been unable to make today's trip, so it was just the four of us: Julie, Mike, myself, and Jenn. From the Indian Lake Stewarts, we drove in convoy a short way to the east, where we turned off onto regional road 78, which wound up through hilly terrain to the Thirteenth Lake trailhead - one of the main entry points into the Siamese Ponds wilderness area. Having two vehicles afforded us the luxury of a point-to-point: one car at the Thirteenth Pond trailhead, and the other at a [pseudo]-trailhead near the Garnet Hill Lodge. The plan was to hike a long, U-shaped loop down the east side of Thirteenth Pond, around its southern end, and back up the west side. En-route, we'd do side trips to various points of interest, culminating with an ascent of Peaked Mountain, a 2919-foot bump that has nice views.
Tennis Court Start
Our start point was a gravel lot next to the tennis courts on the grounds of the Garnet Hill lodge. Julie had scouted this area previously and had discovered that this was a suitable parking spot. Although there is a more official trailhead parking spot a short way to the west, this start point provided more convenient access to the day's first point of interest - the old Hooper garnet mine.
By 9:20 a.m., we were off. Although the signage is ad-hoc (ie not NYSDEC standard trail signage), it was relatively easy to negotiate the couple of turnoffs to get to the old garnet mine, which we reached in just ten minutes. Upon arriving, one is immediately greeted by a striking red spire of rock rising up over a small open clearing. The clearing is what remains of the center of the old open pit mine, and the spire of rock is part of the pit's rim.
We spent the next twenty or so minutes exploring the area. We scrambled up large blocks of loose talus to the pit's old rim, noting the many little half-formed garnets scattered everywhere in the bedrock. Once on the rim, we were able to scramble back along and up to the tip of the dramatic spire we had seen upon arriving. From this vantage point there was an expansive view west, to the landscape surrounding Thirteenth Pond. Peaked Mountain itself was not visible from this spot - it was blocked by some intervening peaks.
With our exploration of the abandoned garnet mine complete, we retraced our steps back to a connector trail (signed "WM Blake Pond") that would bring us to the main north-south route on this side of Thirteenth Lake. Along the way were a couple of side junctions, including one to a lookout on curiously-named "Balm of Gilead" mountain. We contemplated checking it out, but felt our somewhat late start time precluded that. Marching onward at a good clip on easy, flat trail, we soon merged with the main footpath leading down towards the Puffer Pond and Sacandaga Trails. A profusion of cross-country ski markers and the relatively light evidence of foot traffic on these trails implied that this area was more popular in the winter than the summer. Our [admittedly anectodal] evidence so far today seemed to support that idea: we'd seen no other people on the trail so far.
Balm of Gilead side trail
Signing in and splitting off
Our progress southward was rapid. The trail was virtually flat, free of mud, and had little to no blowdown. Within an hour we had made it all the way down to the junction with the eastern end of the Puffer Pond Trail. This we took, descending gradually from the 2000-foot level down to about 1650 feet - the low point of the valley that drained into Thirteenth Pond (by the way, all of these trails thus far were cut well away from the lake itself, and we had as yet had no views of it).