The Crooked Canes Journal


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A++ Ampersand! ~ Sep 21, 2015

Journal entry by Kurt Wisell



In the Bonus Hike trip description for this outing, written without my having been to Ampersand, I painted a relatively dismal picture based on many descriptions, comments and reviews including one using the word "despair." Neither "dismal" or "despair" have any place in a description of this hike, a must-do, so worthwhile that 4 hours of travel time is an insignificant consideration.

At 7.30 am, knowing it would be a long day, Peter, Gail and I left Lake George full of anticipation but not without a wee bit of trepidation. In just under 2 hours we arrived at the trail head on Middle Saranac Lake with a brilliant sunny sky, temperature in the low 50's or so and very light wind. Off we went, wondering if we would find something we really wanted or something we REALLY wanted to forget.

After about 1.8 miles of walking on easy, smooth, soft, really nice trail in extraordinarliy beautiful woods, the trail became a very reasonable climb for another 0.3 miles. Were there rocks? You betcha there were rocks! But our hats are off to the folks who transformed a jumble of rocks into nearly endless stairs making ascent very, very easy. It is as though the folks who brought us Machu Pichu had moved to Harrietstown. The stairs did cause us to wonder about what lay ahead. Perhaps the "dispair" found in one description of the hike? The next 0.2 miles is significantly rougher, steeper, more work and required more attention. No big deal and nothing scary. At the top of that short rough section, the trail became alternately easy to moderate for another 0.35 miles to a large summit area with plenty of room to roam and explore the 360 degree view.

With the warm but not hot sun, clouds enough to make the view more special, no wind and some other awed hikers to share the experience, we lingered for an hour. Ready to leave, we became delayed upon discovery of two special rocks made notable by some energetic lads in a video on the CNY web site. "Fat Guys In The Woods" gymnastics followed and there is little doubt photos will appear soon on this page along with special captions and maybe a little photo editing.

Arriving back at the trail head with energy to spare (though admittedly not a lot of it) we walked another half mile section of trail to the shore of Middle Saranac Lake and a camping area where we were treated to a lovely view of the lake and an expansive beach. Diane, get your tent & sleeping bag ready!

Though not for everyone, this hike of just under 6 miles round trip with just under 2,100 feet of vertical is a lot easier than one might imagine and after doing you'll probably agree that it is well worth the short 4 hour drive time.

9/25/15 - Wanderer . added 13 photos.

24 photos



This is what happens when you decide to live on a stump and after a while things change.



The most colorful tree on the whole mountain with a section of the (almost) never ending stone stairs that make this hike so nice.



This is a picture of Peter. Really it is, but in order to get the great sky in the picture, he couldn't be quite as prominent as he usually is.



An interesting passage through the rocks.



Immediately upon reaching the summit, Gail stakes her claim on the Infinity pool.



Peter and Kurt join Gail beside the Infinity pool with its view to the north west.



A panoramic shot looking from north west to northeast. A larger version is at www.crookedcanes.org/Pan/Pan.html Copy the link, past it in your browser and enjoy.



Another panorama, this time showing the view from the east to the west. This one can be seen in a larger view from the link posted above.



Middle Saranac Lake viewed from the end of a half mile trail (very flat easy walk) which starts at the Ampersand trail head parking area.



An autumn view of Devil Arum, aka Jack-In-The-Pulpit



What Canes outing would be complete without fungi? Can't leave Ray's interests out! Another hiker, who appologized for not having his mushroom app in his phone yet, said he was not sure, but thought this was one of the many coral fungi.



Canine Rock - use your imagination - added by Wanderer



Just a casual stroll - added by Wanderer



One of the many stairways .... - added by Wanderer



.... and they were extensive! - added by Wanderer



Memorial plaque on the summit - Walter Chaning Rice, a.k.a. Hermit of Ampersand - manned the fire tower from 1915-1923 - added by Wanderer



NW - Middle Saranac Lake - added by Wanderer



NW - Lower Saranac Lake - added by Wanderer



S - Ampersand Lake and the Seward Range - added by Wanderer



Mountain Ash in bloom - added by Wanderer



Gail, Kurt and Whiteface Mt. - added by Wanderer



Boys will be boys - Kurt trying to push these rocks farther apart - added by Wanderer



Not to be outdone - Pete separates them even more. Unfortunately, Kurt was unable to take my picture showing how its done using only one hand and one foot - you'll have to take my word for it. - added by Wanderer



Overhanging rock on the trail - added by Wanderer



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