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Severance Pay -- 5/7/17

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  • Severance Pay -- 5/7/17

    The payoff I got for hiking tiny Severance Hill in Schroon Lake on Sunday was crossing paths with an interesting older gentleman and his wife on their ascent/ my descent. I stopped to say hello, we chit-chatted for a bit, then he saw my SPOT device. He inquired about it then said he has never had a problem in the 40+ years he's been bushwhacking in the Adirondacks. Holy cow... he must have donated a lot of blood to the mountains. He said Severance was "the only mountain up here" he hadn't climbed. From the way he talked (like referring to Marcy as "The Big One') I assumed he was a 46er and most likely a finisher of the Hundred Highest though I did not ask. He told me of his travels all over the northeast and rest of the country and regaled me with some of his most harrowing tales... like running into Klansmen while whacking near the Chattahoochee ("most scared I've been in my life") and stumbling across a moonshiner's still in the mountains of West Virginia ("those guys don't like outsiders sniffing around"). An entertaining fellow with a lifetime's worth of stories. Glad I took the time to stop and say hello but wish we both had more time to talk. The conversation made the whole day trip worthwhile though.

    I've driven by the trailhead for Severance Hill a bunch of times over the years and had it on my to-do list for an abbreviated day or to tack onto some other short hike in the area. Sunday was rainy in the morning and was forecast to rain later in the day so I crossed my fingers for a weather window to hike Severance and then to nearby Big Pond. Both are in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. One of the main attractions for the Severance hike comes in the first 100 yards out of the parking area. You have to walk through two culverts, crossing under the Northway, to get to the trail located on the west side of the highway. The hill is a short climb - about 1.25 miles with 800 feet of elevation gain. Relatively quick and easy ascent through lovely open forest. At the top there are two viewpoints. One that overlooks Schroon Lake to the south, and another one about 100 yards away that has a nice view of Paradox Lake to the east, as well as Pharaoh Mountain at its wilderness area to the southeast. Definitely worth a visit if you have an hour or two to burn in the area.

    After Severance I moved the car a few miles southwest to the trailhead on Hoffman Road for Big Pond. It's a relatively flat trail with only some small ups and downs over 1.6 miles to reach the pond. The trail was pretty wet but worth the effort. About a half mile in you reach a huge area that has been impacted by beaver activity. The map only shows what appears to be an unnamed pond but as you near the area the trail crosses a bridge within feet of a beaver dam. Water was rushing over the top of the dam and I stopped to take some pictures of it and the beaver lodge a few hundred yards away. A very impressive site. The rest of the walk goes by quickly enough and you eventually reach the shores of Big Pond. Very scenic area. And serene on this day as I was the only person there. I enjoyed the view for a bit and went back the same way I came.

    Overall, a nice damp & chilly day out where rain was threatening the entire time I was on the trails. But.. only got sprinkled on for about three minutes. Happily, the weather window stayed open for me.


    Some pics from the day...

    Culvert #1 at back of Severance parking area. Oh... not a 700' ascent... definitely 800'...


    The trail was a little wet to start...


    View from first overlook atop Severance Hill... south toward Schroon Lake...


    view from 2nd overlook... Paradox Lake to the east...


    and Pharaoh Mountain (center) to the southeast...


    Beaver dam along trail to Big Pond...


    Beaver lodge...


    where the lodge sits in the middle of the flooded area...


    Big Pond





  • #2
    We quite often ascend Severance for a picnic lunch or whenever friends come to visit us in Schroon Lake! The Big Pond trail is favorite of ours as well and we have hiked it all the way through to the southern Hoffman Notch trailhead. That part of the trail is not well traveled and is pretty rough. If you go, leave a car at the HN trailhead 'cause it's a long walk on the blacktop to the Big Pond parking area! (We've done that too!) Looks like you went out to Big Pond around the back side (north) of the trail. Just back from that spur to the pond is the start of Morressy's bushwahck route to the summit of Hoffman Mt. which we did in the winter. Hoffman is less that a 100 ft of being a 46er.

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    • #3
      BTW, that remote stretch of the Big Pond trail is slated to become part of The North Country National Scenic Trail, generally known as the North Country Trail or simply the N.C.T.. It is a footpath stretching approximately 4,600 miles (7,400 km) from Crown Point in eastern New York to Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota. Existing and new sections of the NCT are generally limited to foot travel. How cool is that!

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      • #4
        In answer to MtDews, I looked up Hoffman Mountain, well, not literally. It is nearly 3700 feet high. It was painted by Thomas Cole as Schroon Mountain. Surprisingly, the name got changed. The mountain was an inspiration to Grace who had a camp on the eastern shore of Schroon Lake, called The Boulders.
        Last edited by CatskillKev; 05-09-2017, 06:56 AM.
        I might be kidding...

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        • #5
          I will get to Hoffman at some point hopefully. It's an awfully long bushwhack for me right now as I'm taking baby steps toward attempting a 7-mile round-trip off trail. Some day though. The various routes laid out in "The Other 54" describe it as much more of a tangle than the open forest I saw on Severance and on the way to Big Pond.

          Originally posted by MtDews View Post
          Looks like you went out to Big Pond around the back side (north) of the trail. Just back from that spur to the pond is the start of Morressy's bushwahck route to the summit of Hoffman Mt. which we did in the winter. Hoffman is less that a 100 ft of being a 46er.
          I think the spur trail sort of circles south from the main trail to the pond but ends on the northern tip of Big Pond. Right where the spur trail splits from the main trail (about 500-600 feet north of the pond) the trail markers switch color. Blue all the way in to that point then I saw one yellow marker off to what I think was the northwest. Is it around this point where the bushwhack north begins? Or do you follow the yellow markers a little ways? I guess it wouldn't matter much once you head north and find the ridge but just curious if there is a landmark to look for to start.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Makwa View Post
            I will get to Hoffman at some point hopefully. It's an awfully long bushwhack for me right now as I'm taking baby steps toward attempting a 7-mile round-trip off trail. Some day though. The various routes laid out in "The Other 54" describe it as much more of a tangle than the open forest I saw on Severance and on the way to Big Pond.
            It's not as bad as the map might suggest. Yes, it's a long bushwhack from the Big Pond area, but that long, narrow ridge makes for a pretty nice hand-rail. Plus there's a solid herd path for much of the way. I only remember a few very brief and easily-avoidable sections of thick woods, but memory has a way of smoothing those things over in your head...
            From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

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