Sunday, December  9, 2018
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Finally managed to marshall together a group to go do some ADK hiking, after a multi-month period where I had been only managing to go solo. Perhaps an approaching week-long Utah trip helped. In any case, nothing hard for today - just a simple hike up good old Ampersand - a perennial favorite for us Ottawans due to its relative proximity to Canada.

The weather this winter (of 2018) has been, in a word, generally murky. Cloudy. Not sunny. And today was no exception. Beggers can't be choosers, though, so we went anyway. Apart from the 100% cloud cover, it was actually pretty nice. Mild and calm.

I've done a lot of climbs of Ampersand and you may be getting tired of the same old pictures of the same old climb. To inject a tiny bit of spice into this report, I took all of them with my tilt-shift lens, and with the lens on maximum tilt. This causes a particular effect (often referred to as the 'toy-like' effect, since it often appears as if the shot is of a miniature diorama). This of course doesn't apply to pictures from my co-hikers' cameras.
Noonish Start
Snowshoes right away
And we're off
About 10 inches of new snow covered the ground at the trailhead and a nice snowshoe track had already been beaten down. We decided to be good with the winter trail etiquette and donned snowshoes right away. We then began the long 2km (1.2 mi) trudge across gentle flat forest terrain to the base of Ampersand.
courtesy JInnes
The Co-ordinated One
Starting the climb
The little cliffs
Although Ampersand is not particularly high (3300+ feet) nor has a huge amount of elevation gain by Adirondack standards (about 1650 feet of elevation gain), the steep stuff does all happen in basically one single, long stretch. Today this stretch was in very good winter form, with a nice deep blanket of fresh snow, nicely packed out and with the right consistency for maximum snowshoe traction. Along with comfortable heel lifters, this made the climb up to the summit ridge quite satisfying. No crampons or microspikes required, and only barely a hint of ice in a couple of spots, and easily avoided.
courtesy JInnes
Good snowshoeing conditions
Frosty Tunnel
Views Emerge
We arrived on the summit ridgeline (still in the trees) and stopped for a final break. Even though there was only a slight breeze about, that and the cooler temps of higher elevations made it necessary for us to stop and re-layer up. We then hiked the final few hundred yards of relatively flat trail to the steep little pitch leading up to Ampersand's open summit. There was enough snow that we were able to snowshoe up right to the summit without having to clank around on bare rock.

We were just barely under the bottom of the cloud deck, so we still had reasonably decent views of the terrain immediately around the mountain, including Middle Saranac Lake. Beyond that distance, visibility ended.
Boulder Cave Section
Treeline
Adirondack Snowscape
courtesy JInnes
courtesy BConnell
Little Hikers in a big wilderness
Ampersand Summit
Le Sommet Foto
We didn't stay long on top, perhaps a few minutes, then retreated back into the forested part of the ridgeline for a short lunch break. Then back down the steep bits (again good snow conditions made this relatively easy), then back across the flats to the trailhead, for a total round trip time of less than four hours.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Time to return
Perfect Track
Additional Technique
That's a wrap
Apart from the no sun / limited visibility bit, this had been pretty much perfect winter conditions.

Thanks, all, for coming along today.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Ampersand Mtn - click map to view

Ampersand Mountain - Hike Data
Start Time:
12:04PM
Start Elevation:
1612ft (491m) *
End Time:
3:50PM
Max Elevation:
3352ft (1022m) *
Duration:
3h46m
Min Elevation:
1549ft (472m) *
Distance:
8.26 km (5.13 mi)
End Elevation:
1563ft (476m) *
Average Speed:
2.2 km/hr (1.4 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet
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