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Rescue on Tongue Mt Range

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  • Rescue on Tongue Mt Range

    Town of Bolton
    Wilderness Rescue: On February 23 at 7:53 pm, Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from two hikers on the Northwest Bay Trail. The hikers started their hike that morning and one of them, a 36-year-old male from Selden, was suffering from exhaustion and dehydration. Coordinates obtained through 911 placed the hikers about four miles from the Clay Meadows Trail. Forest Ranger Evan Donegan responded, along with the Bolton Landing Fire Department and their airboat. At 8:31 pm, the responders were on Lake George and heading to the hikers’ last known location. They were located at 9:23 pm, returned to shore, and hiked back out to the trailhead.


    This one is very interesting to me. Would love to hear more of the story. Absent that I will instead wildly speculate. Given the morning start time for the hike and time of the rescue call I would guess they were attempting the loop of the Lower Tongue from Clay Meadow rather than just an out/back to Montcalm Point along Northwest Bay. That loop ain't no joke. By time you've completed the three mountains and three other bumps on the spine of the Tongue you've hiked about 8 miles with 3000' of ele gain. Then you have a 5 mile walk along Northwest Bay with 800 more feet of ups/downs to knock out to return to the trailhead. It is a punishing hike over rugged terrain and exponentially more difficult in winter. Thing is, there's no practical way to get to all three mountains other than in one day hike or by camping along the way. It's not like you can tackle them individually. The Tongue sticks out onto Lake George. Once you're on it there's no bailout other than walking back to where you started and no way to get to one mountain without going over the others.

    The reason I bring all of this up... the three mountains on the Lower Tongue are part of the Lake George 12ster challenge. I wonder if these guys were attempting this hike for the challenge? Without exaggeration, this particular hike is the most demanding of all of the hikes required for any hiking challenge in the Adirondacks outside of the ADK46. Did these guys just have a bad day or were they under-prepared or inexperienced hikers biting off way more than they could chew in pursuit of a patch? I'm all for personal responsibility but was the lure of a challenge partially to blame here?

    end of wild speculation... discuss.




  • #2
    How's the snow there? Are the trails broken in? Were they snowshoeing and not in condition? I know it says 'hikers' but I'm wondering. And I wonder what, if anything, they carried for food/water/etc.?

    Comment


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      No clue on snow/trails other than snow maps showing 12-18" depth in the area. When I did the Lower Tongue in winter the trail was packed out to Fifth Peak then I broke trail the next 10 miles to complete the loop. Not sure if that is typical or traffic has increased as result of the hiking challenge but it's possible it was trailbreaking much of the way.

      Details on them? No idea. Not even really blaming them or trying to shame them for the rescue call but just curious if folks who would have never had it in their head to do that hike did it because it was on a challenge list.

  • #3
    They were obviously doing a gimmick hike.

    Comment


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      I like that the phrase I coined is working its way into the hiker lexicon.

    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      Did you coin it... or popularize it?

    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      I wanna say... both? Not that it really matters but I hadn't ever heard it used before.

  • #4
    If the trail was not broken out by someone that knows better they may have had trouble route finding. I remember doing it in the summer and after French Point it was not always apparent which way you should go. I was happy for the rutted trail to follow.
    Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
    ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

    Comment


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Agree completely. My observations from my trip report last March... "The hike became an exercise in route finding though using a map was all but useless. This was stand around and figure out where the serpentine trail would turn next and searching for trail markers (blue ones by the by; which I hate the most as they are hardest to see) or terrain features that looked like where a trail might be. There were dozens of quickie ten-second type stops to figure out where the hell to go. It became very tiring mentally."

    • Bunchberry
      Bunchberry commented
      Editing a comment
      I remember the trees being large oaks and such and being spread out with little undergrowth. Its a lot harder to follow a trail there then tunneling up a spruce forest on the way up Mount Colden

  • #5
    Oh by the way I loved this hike so much I am planning on a redo this summer. Plan to hike in my bathing suit and bringing water shoes so I can really enjoy the swim!
    Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
    ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

    Comment


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Where do you plan on swimming? Montcalm Point? One of the spots along NW Bay? There's also a few spits of land a few hundred yards west of the trail that stick into NW Bay that I've seen boaters at that look pretty cool.

    • Bunchberry
      Bunchberry commented
      Editing a comment
      Last summer I went swimming at Montcalm Point. There is a rocky open area with a fire pit where you can get in. I did not want to cut my feet so I could only put my butt in a little "bath tub" section cut out in the rocks. I also did not want soggy bottom so I skinny dipped which I am not really comfortable with but I was so hot that I did not care. I will tell you that sitting in that water was one of the greatest feelings of my life!

  • #6
    I'll chime in as a member of the "the ups and downs along the Northwest Bay trail were far more substantial than I was expecting" crowd. That stretch of trail can be brutal after already having done the Fifth Peak to Montcalm Point section of the loop. I got my butt kicked on that stretch the first time after doing the loop as a day hike. Then a few years later I did the full Tongue Range traverse as a 3 day backpacking trip and got my butt kicked again on that stretch... enough time had passed that my memory of the Northwest Bay stretch had been dulled somewhat over time.

    I'd like to think after getting my butt kicked on that section of trail twice now that if and when I ever return to hike the Tongue Range a third time, I'll be better prepared mentally for lots of PUDs at the end of an already long day.
    Last edited by DSettahr; 02-26-2020, 11:58 PM.

    Comment


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Agree 100%. I've walked that section 3 times now (2x summer + 1 winter) and I have grown to loathe it even though it is quite scenic along Northwest Bay. The damn trail never seems to end. That 5 miles of trail was demoralizing to me every time I set foot on it. Nothing else is even close in my experience.

  • #7
    I wrote down notes about the hike. It took me from 7AM to 2PM to get from Clay Meadows to the point. Then from 2 PM to 4PM back to Clay Meadows. That time back to the car must be minus 20 to 30 minutes of swimming. I liked that section of the trail but then again I get really charged up about big Hemlocks. I remember jogging the flat sections. I also remember being intrigued by the stone work for the trail. I wondered who made it and why.

    Getting back to the rescue. I would bet snow shoes also had something to do with it. Either having snow shoes and braking trail. Wearing snow shoes work different muscles and that can wear you down. Or not having snow shoes and needing them.
    Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
    ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

    Comment


    • gebby
      gebby commented
      Editing a comment
      or perhaps not having snowshoes and postholing the whole day?

  • #8
    Originally posted by Bunchberry View Post
    I also remember being intrigued by the stone work for the trail. I wondered who made it and why.

    Getting back to the rescue. I would bet snow shoes also had something to do with it. Either having snow shoes and braking trail. Wearing snow shoes work different muscles and that can wear you down. Or not having snow shoes and needing them.

    I believe the trails were done by the CCC and were built for hikers and horses. There was a CCC camp just north of the Fifth Peak TH on the other side of the road.

    I'd put money on it that they didn't have shoes. Half of the people I meet in winter don't have them, no matter how deep the snow is.

    Comment


    • Bunchberry
      Bunchberry commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you so much for that information! I will try and do some googling on that!

    • gebby
      gebby commented
      Editing a comment
      If you do any research on that Bunchberry I'm pretty sure you'll find a marker on the road commemorating the CCC encampment that was there on 9.

    • Hear the Footsteps
      Hear the Footsteps commented
      Editing a comment
      Intended to be built for horses until they discovered the Timber Rattlers at which point that plan was abandoned. Ref. ADK Guide Eastern Region 2nd Edition.

  • #9
    This is my all time favorite non-High Peak hike! I do it at least once a year, sometimes more. The rattlesnakes are abundant in the warmer seasons, so I wouldn't recommend bringing a pet. The last two years I did the hike counter-clockwise to change it up a bit. It has a High Peak feel done that way... a long walk in with the climbing to follow. Also, if you prefer solitude, you'll rarely find anyone else taking that direction. You'll pass many folks, but generally you'll be alone.

    One other plus is if you go during black fly season, there's far more of them on the bay side than the lake side. Peeling off that 5 miles in the morning gets you through there before the bugs emerge.

    Comment


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Between the Upper and Lower halves of the range I've been on the Tongue a half dozen times now and have yet to see a rattlesnake though I hope to one day.

      Agree... great hike. Classic in my opinion. Amazing views. And it remains somewhat of a secret. That loop of the Lower Tongue is way too big for most tourists looking for a half-day adventure on Lake George and most others who enjoy that kind of mileage and ele gain spend most of their time in the High Peaks. It's quite a unique hike given it's location and difficulty. Can't think of too many others like it.
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