Sep 20, 2019

Overlanding the Adirondacks

A Moose... in Moose River Plains.
Just got back from a three-day overland adventure through the Adirondacks! What a blast! Although one of the best parts of wheeling is the fact that you need not be in shape; I’ve been home for two days and my legs are still sore. I planned out a killer trip through some of the most beautiful country I know and managed to pull it all off without a hitch! Well, maybe there was a small hitch on the last day, but I’ll get to that.

Perhaps we’d better start from the beginning.

I’ve been dying to get the Jeep up to the Adirondacks for some exploratory adventure wheeling for quite a while now. Having spent a large part of my youth in these mountains, I really wanted to plan an adventure that would take us (My copilot Adria & I) through some of the best parts of it. So, I sat down and put together a list of the things I knew I’d enjoy and that I wanted her to experience: Inlet, 7th Lake, Moose River Plains, Long Lake, a couple High Peaks, Lake Placid and the Olympic Village, Buttermilk Falls, Whiteface Mountain, etc. Next, I broke out the topographical maps and trail guides and noted all of the potential camping areas we could use. After calculating distances and time needed to enjoy each area, the last step was to create route that would take us to all of these areas without having to backtrack. It ended up looking like this:

Friday 9/13
Philly to Inlet, NY (6:00hr)
Pick up fire wood & hoagies - find a campsite in Moose River Plains
Sleep in the Roof Top Tent (RTT)

Saturday 9/14
Inlet to Buttermilk Falls (0:45hr) Hang out, aerial photos & general photos of the falls
Buttermilk Falls to Keen Valley (1:15hr) Hike Cascade Mt. & Porter Mt. (total hike < 6 mi)
Keen Valley to Lake Placid (0:25hr)
Camp at Wilmington Notch Campground ($23/night) Showers on site
Sleep in RTT

Sunday 9/15
Explore Lake Placid
Gondola ride to top of Whiteface Mountain?
Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway takes you to the summit of Whiteface Mountain?
Lake Placid Olympic Village?
High Falls Gorge waterfall walk?
Camp at Wilmington Notch Campground ($23/night) Showers on site
Sleep in RTT

Monday 9/16
Lake Placid to Philly (7:00hr)

Things didn’t go exactly to plan but having an actual plan proved to be a really big help. Often, we’ll take a trip and have a great time, but play it all by ear. Having the itinerary kept us aware of all of our options and the time it’d take to go to each place. We deviated quite a bit.

Friday… Friday the 13th that is… which happened to coincide with a full moon… we drove north  from Philly, PA up to Inlet, NY about 40 minutes inside of the Adirondack Park. Arriving around 6:00pm, we grabbed firewood and picked up a couple of hoagies from Kalil’s Grocery Store. From there we dropped into Moose River Plains. This is a great area, mostly marshland with a winding sand road, along the side of which are numerous primitive campsites. No permits are necessary to camp here. About a mile into the plains our trip got very real: We saw a young moose standing in the road! I’d never seen a moose in the wild. As he made his way into the woods, I quickly and quietly made my way to the back of the jeep to dig out my 200mm lens. Cautiously, I followed him into the brush and managed to get a few shots of him before he marched off. I had a tough time focusing on him, through the thick brush, but managed to get a couple poorly framed shots of him. What an experience!

We spent Friday night at a campsite, around a warm fire, drinking Saranac and enjoying our hoagies. It was a cool, windy night. Rain was forecast to fall around 4:00am, so we took our raincoats to bed with us. We woke a few times in the night only to be lulled back to sleep by the rain and rumbling thunder. IN the morning the rain had stopped, and we fixed ourselves some coffee and instant oatmeal.

Continuing through Moose River Plains, we stopped several times to take photos of the gorgeous scenery. We admired everything from beaver dams, lakes, streams, old bridges, and the very beginning of autumn’s foliage transformation. Still early in the season, bright explosions of orange and red lit up the otherwise green surroundings. Although it was a very overcast day with drizzling rain, it was still quite amazing and we both felt very lucky to be there. The drizzling rain had thrown a curve ball into our plans. We’d planned to hike up Cascade mountain in the afternoon, but decided we’d better hold off for better weather. The view from the top of Cascade is incredible and we didn’t want to miss out all that it had to offer, so instead we just took our time photographing to our hearts’ content.

Leaving Moose River Plains we continued north towards the High Peaks Region. We stopped at the Adirondack Hotel on Long Lake for lunch and then spent some more time on the shore photographing the sea planes which were grounded due to the weather. It was getting late, and we decided we’d better get up to Lake Placid and check in to the Wilmington Notch Campground. A hot shower was sounding really good at this point! To our surprise, when we got to the Campground, it was closed for the season! A quick search on the phones turned us onto a KOA Campground. Now, I’ve never stayed at a KOA before. I’ve always just pictured them as glorified trailer parks for those who “camp” in RVs. But, I have to say, I was quite pleased with the site we stayed at. It was far from the RVs and absolutely stunning. We set up the tent, got comfy around the fire and drank delicious beer until we were ready to hit the sack.
A seaplane floats on the shore of Long Lake.

Saturday morning was gorgeous. It was bright, sunny, cool and breezy. After showering, we were eager to hit the trails so we drove over to Keene Valley and got to it. The hike up Cascade Mountain was easy compared to hikes we’d done earlier this summer. Although it’s one of the 46 High Peaks, it’s considered one of the easiest and has one of the best views. Just 2.4 miles to the summit. Nearly at the top, we decided to pop over to Porter Mountain (Another High Peak) and see what there was to see from that mountain while we were there. The weather had turned from sunny to rainy and the wind on the mountain was very strong. We were glad we’d brought our rain coats because we really needed them! The summit of Cascade Mountain was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. It’s completely exposed with alpine vegetation and views that can’t be beat! We had a great time up there photographing it all and just enjoying the moment.

Adria enjoys the summit of Porter Mountain.  Elevation: 4,058 Ft.
Dilly-dallying on our way down the mountain, we ended up getting out of the woods after dark. Boy, were we exhausted! So much so, that we stopped at the Cascade Inn just a few minutes down the road and spent the night. We just had zero strength after all that hiking. For $70 we spent the night in a warm bed and I sawed logs all night long. I have no shame!

In the morning