Adirondack Hikes: Baker Mountain and the shoulder season

The last of the ice and snow clings to the edges of the road, covered in a filthy coat of sand. We are packing up the skis and snowshoes and putting away the winter boots. We are optimistic that spring is here to stay. My children chirp on and on about spring because the calendar says it’s so. With that comes a few disagreements and dessert dangling (similar to the proverbial carrot) that winter coats, hats and gloves do still need to be worn if the temperature drops. I explain the shoulder season. Grumbling commences with accusations of mothers that make up seasonal names to insure children wear coats. They will eventually learn that the passing of the spring equinox doesn’t mean that the change of season is an immediate one.
We now have to search for snow. It is hiding deep off the trails where the sun and heat won’t find it for months. Our search leads us up Baker Mt. The summit of Baker is only .9 mile from the base. It’s just the beginning of the main trail that looks like a frozen river. A passerby tells us that the trail is clear further up. We take the smart route and follow our dog. We gingerly make our way around the ice searching for safe footing.

The path is a gentle incline. There are a few rock scrambles but to us the most challenging feature is choosing mud over ice. Nearing the summit the path cuts sharply between two boulders. We climb through the chimney as my son bemoans his lack of gloves. I am able to conjure up a pair and give another reason why it is okay to wear gloves and hat. He grudging admits that it’s best to be prepared during the elbow season. (Elbow. Shoulder. Let’s not quibble.) We cut back around to the right and climb over the rocks, avoiding the slippery rock stairway. The first vista we find overlooks the town. We identify Lake Flower and the shops surrounding it. The next overlook is behind us, a beautiful view of Scarface and the McIntyre Range.
To access Mount Baker, from Main Street in Saranac Lake, turn right onto Dugway. Take the first left, Forest Hill Ave, and continue straight to Moody Pond. The trail marker is on the left. This hike will take about two hours, most of it resting on top enjoying the heat of the sun.

(as published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise)


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