Our first Adirondack outing after an extended, wet and cool spring thaw turned out to be an "above the clouds" work outing ("above the clouds" is what we call our little ad-hoc hiking group for myself and my work colleagues). We had a number of new joiners on this hike, so it was again time to pull out one of the short-but-good hikes, and, well, I felt like Catamount would fit that today. Speaking of 'today', it was excellent, weather-wise: completely clear and pleasantly warm (but not truly hot). Along for the hiking today were myself (obviously), Abhi, Mouhcine, Amir, Theresa, Chris and daughter Katie. We had hoped to get Sai out here as well (superstar video dancer of the recent winter above-the-clouds outing on Ampersand
), but it was not to be.
My biggest fear today was the bug situation. Spring of 2019 had been so long and wet and cold that I figured that bug season might be abnormally elevated and sustained, rather than starting to ramp down (as it usually does mid-June). I brought along two big spray cans of bug juice just in case, and although there were some bugs about at the parking lot, it wasn't the horrific swarm that I had feared.
After quickly walking across the easy flats to the base of the mountain, we enjoyed the new switchbacking re-reroute to the brook crossing, then endured the tedious stretch of eroded and steep trail to a small but prominent ledge where a tiny tantalizing view of the horizon can be seen between branches. Beyond that, a bit of minor scrambling (with evidence of much-increased hiker traffic and erosion) gave way to nice sections of solid bedrock hiking and after that, the first lookout.
Then came The Chimney, which everyone (experienced and new alike) climbed with ease, and the slabby scrambling beyond that. Everyone was quite impressed with the sporty nature of the hiking and the many excellent views during the scrambling sections. We stopped for a brief food break on the south summit, glad for the gentle breeze that both cooled us and blew away the bugs (which were still not that bad, but still - it's nice to have the breeze blow them away).
Then it was on to the uppy-downy bedrock bits between sub-summit and main summit, and then the final steep slab climb up to the top. In all, it took us about two hours to reach the summit from the trailhead. Decent enough and in-line with most of my trips up here.
We walked a short way down to the southwest from the summit to the nice open lookout area and had our second/real lunch break, and fooled around a bit with some selfie-taking.
After a not-that-long break, we headed back down, enjoying the pull of gravity and making it back down to the south summit in about 25 minutes. More steep downscrambling (with *great* technique by Amir) got us all the way down to the first lookout. After that, all that was left to overcome was the steep bouldery stretch of eroded trail before the final easy stroll down to and across the flats to the trailhead.
We decided to celebrate post-hike at the local BBQ place, called "Tail o' the Pup", situated on the main highway between nearby Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. It was really nice sitting outside and the food was pretty good, and the only complaint was with the service time, which was almost an hour between sit-down and serving. But overall, really good marks.
A big thanks to everyone who came out to hike today, and hopefully this spurs some continued hiking and perhaps we can do something a bit more intermediate next time. Forza "Above The Clouds"!!!