For a while, Jenn's niece Sophie -- twelve and growing rapidly -- had been hearing the stories of Adirondack outings. She started recently expressing an interest in doing a mountain hike of her own, and... after some scheduling (kids are busy these days!), we settled on the Canadian May long weekend.
Catamount was the peak of choice for Sophie's first outing: short, pretty, and with a lot of keep-you-interested terrain. Also relatively not busy - something that is always good on a holiday weekend.
It was a beautiful holiday Monday (well, Canadian holiday monday) in the Adirondacks - perfectly clear and temperate. We pulled into the Catamount mountain parking lot to discover seven cars - interestingly all from Quebec (I guess Montrealers take Victoria day more seriously than Ontarians?).
We were soon ready, sprayed with bug juice and sunscreen. Onward to Sophie's first hike.
It was a pleasant and easy walk across the flats to the base of Catamount. I was in the middle of discussing how the trail was about to start up the mountain's slopes when it suddenly veered off to the right. Oho! A trail reroute! I don't keep up to date on Adirondack trail changes, so this was unexpected to me. I guess the straight-up routing of the old trail had finally gotten the attention of the anti-eroded-trail brigade. We wondered how extensive or longer this re-route would be.
Hmm... Trail Re-Route!
The new section of trail turned right and crossed a bridge over a low area, then continued on a slightly rising course until it reached the banks of the small brook that drains this southern aspect of Catamount. Here it turned and followed the bank upwards for a short bit, then swung back left and began a horizontal traverse back to the west, crossing over the original trail (heavily covered in downed trunks and other debris in order to discourage use) and continuing until it hit the edge of a tract of private land. It then swung back north then east, gaining the crest of a forested ridgeline. It then ran back east to merge with the existing trail path where it too came to this ridgecrest. Essentially the trail crew had created two big lazy switchbacks over this lower bit of the climb. Seemed like an extra 500 or 600 yards or so of distance - perhaps 5 minutes extra hiking time over the old trail (which went straight up the slope). Certainly the new section of trail is soft and loamy, much nicer to walk on than the wide, eroded trench of the old section.
Steeper after the brook
There were no further trail re-routes beyond this point, and soon we crossed the little creek and began a steep stretch (quite eroded and bouldery) to a big protruding bulge of bedrock. We noticed from here that many trees had not yet even begun to bud, such was the lateness of spring this year (we also noticed that the bug situation was quite mild today - something for which we were grateful).
Above the big rock bulge, the trail entered more coniferous forest and became a bit slabby, ledgey, and occasionally scrambly. Sophie was enjoying the variety.
The first semi-open lookout came soon afterwards, with it's impressive view of the cliffs of the South summit looming above. We then began hyping up "the Chimney" to Sophie, which we reached a few minutes later.
Sophie scrambled up the chimney easily and enjoyably. It was clear that she was not having any problems with any airy or scrambly bits on the way up Catamount.
From atop the Chimney, we stopped and took in the very clear views on this beautiful and slightly cool day. Absolutely perfect hiking weather.
We continued our climb up to the south summit, enjoying the many little scrambles and slabs that must be surmounted. It was quite breezy on the mostly open south summit, which soon chased us off, back into the forest between it and the final slopes to the main summit.
Up and down over the little granite ridges between the south summit and the main summit, then a bit of trail climbing in the forest to a series of steep slabs and ledges (that are mostly cairned, since the footing is mostly solid bedrock) that led to the top. We made it up quickly, arriving just over an hour and half after starting out. We hiked beyond the summit and down a bit to a nice open area for lunchtime, which it now was.
After some enjoyable lazing around on the warm bedrock, we packed up and started back down. Our down time was only slightly faster than our up time, making for a total round trip time of just over three and a half hours. This is one of the nice attributes of Catamount: short enough that it only requires a medium pace in order to finish in half a day (less than half a day, really).
So.... I think this was a particularly nice intro hike. And I hope, Sophie, that you thoroughly enjoyed it and that you found it an tantalizing taste of what it would be like to go on a longer, more challenging hike! You know what they say... first impressions are important! You did great!
Interactive trackmap with photo points - desc - click map to view
Catamount Mountain - Hike Data (New Routing)
* : +/- 75 feet