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HoCobPan -- 2/1/20

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  • HoCobPan -- 2/1/20

    I've always said if you wait for a perfect weather forecast in winter to go hiking you'll never end up leaving your house. So despite the less than stellar forecast I hit the trails on Saturday. I ended up hiking about nine miles with ~2200 feet of cumulative elevation gain to semi-enjoy a whopping fifteen minutes of summit time spread over three stops. Why the short visits? Simply put, there wasn't any reason to sit around on top of a mountain getting cold on this particular day. The forecast called for 80-90% cloud cover. It ended up being somewhere in the neighborhood of 250% and summit views were scant. Otherwise my day was decent. Great conditions everywhere. Trails were ramps - enough snow cover to hide all of the ice and packed out. I barely had to break stride my entire time out. Pretty surroundings for everything but the summit views. Had my fair share of solitude on HoCobPan... that's Mount Van Hoevenberg from Meadows Lane, Cobble Hill in Lake Placid, and Panther Mountain on Route 3 out by Tupper Lake. I doubt this combo will become the newest rage but string them together in a day and you get a respectable mid-size winter outing.

    I had Mount Van Hoevenberg pretty much all to myself. The first half of the hike to the beaver pond is flat. You can typically see the summit ridge from the pond but I had no such view to start my day. The climb then begins at the far side of that area. I was hoping some of the clouds would clear as I ascended but starting around 350 vertical feet below the summit of the 2940' mountain I was in the soup. I knew right then no views were going to be had above me. That was a major disappointment as VanHo's panoramic view is quite spectacular. I topped out, took some pictures of the gray wall before me, walked the summit ridge to the junction of the new trail from the Olympic Center, and returned the way I came. I descended quickly and upon arriving back at the beaver pond the summit ridge was visible though it was hard to conceive that the summit view had improved enough to see anything.

    Ran into some folks near the trailhead on my way out including a young couple who usually hike in the Whites. They stopped me to inquire about snowshoe regs. Just moments before meeting me they were scolded by somebody near the trailhead for barebooting. These two were incredulous that some random stranger would attempt to enforce a regulation unknown to them and berate them in the process. Anyway, they had researched Mt VanHo and said they found nothing informing them to wear snowshoes so they barebooted like they typically do in the Whites. FWIW, conditions were such that a few barebooters weren't going to ruin the trail, and judging from the tracks I followed up the mountain nobody else recently had been in snowshoes either. That doesn't make it right but it does tell you most people are either ignorant of or are intentionally breaking the snowshoe rule. The only reason I bring this up is to ask if we can all find a better way to politely inform visitors about snowshoe use other than yelling at them? It's not a good look for the Adirondack hiking community. Or backcountry skiing community, or whoever the hell else was sternly lecturing these people.

    Beaver Pond on the way in...


    Glimpse of the summit ridge and wall of gray which was the view...


    Thinnest trail marker I've ever seen...


    Beaver Pond on the way out. Summit ridge now visible...


    Was pleased to find just two cars at the small parking area for Cobble Hill. There were some cross-country skiers down low and just one pair of hikers on the hill. I had aborted tiny Cobble Hill a few weeks back after taking the short trail and encountering what I deemed to be unsafe icy conditions on the very steep ascent of the long section of open rock just below the summit. This time I took the long trail around past Echo Lake and up the northeastern side of the hill. No obstacles to speak of on this approach. And no views to speak of on the summit. The High Peaks off in the distance were all socked in. Another quickie stay and I was headed back downhill. On my descent I ran into two women in rented snowshoes who I chatted with for a while. The employee at EMS who rented them the shoes had told them to take the short trail but a man out walking his dog near the trailhead talked them out of it, presumably for the reasons/conditions I encountered recently. Once back at my car I ran into another half dozen folks in the parking lot who were about to set out on snowshoes for the first time. I encouraged them to take the long trail which has an easier grade and no spots to injure oneself on steep ice. That steep part on the short trail up Cobble Hill isn't the place to learn how to walk in snowshoes in my opinion. Who knows if they heeded my advice.

    Echo Lake...


    View south toward the High Peaks which I swear are far off in the distance...


    Had Panther all to myself. The only other two guys on the mountain exited the woods and left as I was donning my snowshoes. Panther is a short hike. I charged up the hill covering the 500 feet of ele gain in twenty minutes. A pace of 1500' ele gain per hour is not typical for me in winter. I'm usually closer to 70% of that while lugging around all that extra pack weight and clothes/gear on my body but Panther is an easy trail up and down, and given this was my last stop of the day it was full speed ahead. On the summit I got my first view of a far off mountain on the day. Yippee! There wasn't much to see but at least I got to see something on the day. Side note... had to go through Saranac Lake to get to Panther. The town was hopping. Big traffic jams getting through town in each direction as their Winter Carnival was in full swing. Hundreds of people out enjoying the festivities was nice to see. And their Ice Castle always impresses.

    View southwest. Buck (left), Mt Morris (center), and Panther Pond (lower left)...


    Overall, a nice enough day out hiking though I wasn't treated to very many views. Couldn't have asked for a quieter day on a weekend though.

    Link to photo album... https://photos.app.goo.gl/RMDba2SoDtUprAkL6
    Last edited by Makwa; 02-03-2020, 07:33 PM.

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