Catamount Mountain - Perseids Overnight
August 2018: A happy coincidence for us in the Northeastern part of North America: a new moon, a calm, clear forecast, and a meteor shower on a weekend night. Namely, the Perseid meteor shower, which generally peaks somewhere between the 11th and the 13th. These three items aligned in rare fashion, and to take advantage of it, I and two friends climbed an Adirondack peak to witness it properly: with a wide horizon and little light pollution.
I chose Catamount Mountain as our viewing peak, since we could reach it easily and quickly before nightfall, had a decently-open summit, and wasn't Ampersand (which I had done just six months before on my Orionids meteor shower overnight). Friends Pu and Nancy were along for this outing. Given the short nature of the hike up, we started off after a nice diner dinner in nearby Saranac Lake. A relaxed, late-day start.
I've been up Catamount many times, but it's always a fun little adventure, full of bits of scrambling and nice views.
We timed our departure perhaps a bit imperfectly, having to push a little harder than we wanted to make it to the summit to catch the sunset. But catch it we did - a fiery orb shining through a narrow sliver between the horizon and the cloud deck.
Yeah, about that cloud deck: it wasn't really supposed to be there. The forecast called for less-than-50% cloud cover, but this was definitely more than that. A bit discouraging, but we felt there was a good chance it would slide away as the night progressed.
Apart from the clouds, conditions were perfect up here on Catamount's half-open, half-treed summit: temperate, absolutely no wind, and... no bugs! In fact, it was so accommodating, we decided to forego tents and instead set up our pads and sleeping bags right on the bare bedrock. All the better to look up into the [hopefully] starry sky.
Soon comfy in our sleeping bags, we stared upwards as a few minor holes opened up in the cloud deck. We did manage to see a meteor or two. Eventually we grew tired of waiting for the stars to appear and one by one, we fell asleep.
I woke up at some point in the middle of the night to a completely starry sky. Yay! Pu and Nancy were asleep, and I decided not to wake them until I saw a few Perseid meteors. So I waited.... and then within a few minutes, fell asleep again. When I next opened my eyes (not sure how many hours later), the clear skies had given way to another period of full overcast. Damn! The skies stayed this way until the first glimmerings of dawn, and it was starting to look like our Perseid meteor shower watching session was going to net us very few actual meteor sightings!
I didn't have the heart to wake the others, so I let them continue their peaceful slumber. Not much point in waking them now, anyway. I took a few shots of the pre-dawn scenery.
Early morning summit views
We were all up by the time the sun rose, at around 6 a.m. Since we had foregone stoves and hot meals, and had not set up tents, there wasn't much to do before we were ready to head back down.
Catamount's Slabby Terrain
Departing the summit shortly before 7 a.m., we descended the slabs and steps of Catamount, making fairly quick work of it. By 8:20 a.m. we were back at the trailhead and soon we were driving along scenic backways to Lake Placid, where we had some fine breakfast sandwiches at the 46R cafe.
My track record for these Adirondack overnight meteor hikes isn't too good. I have to cast my mind all the way back to 2001 before I can think of an outing where I actually saw a decent amount of meteors - and certainly an amount that would be considered a "shower" (not just onesies and twosies). I'm not going to give up, though - I have faith that one day all of the factors will align and I'm going to witness a spectacular show. Still, it was a beautiful night out on a mountaintop with friends, and that's always worth it. Thanks for coming along, Nancy and Pu!
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Catamount Overnight - click map to view
Catamount Mountain Overnight - Hike Data Up
* : +/- 75 feet
Catamount Mountain Overnight - Hike Data Down
* : +/- 75 feet