Moose Inspection

Looking up the slopes of Moose Mountain from low on the side of Burnt Mtn.

Looking up the slopes of Moose Mountain from low on the side of Burnt Mtn.

I’ve been up on and around this mountain a handful of times in the past two decades. Always it seems I am just out of sight of something significant. With a day off and nobody to play with, I decided to take one more look.

Map compliments of Topo! software - not terribly useful for the Adks, as its contour interval is 50'

Map compliments of Topo! software – not terribly useful for the Adks, as its contour interval is 50′

Access to the mountain is, unfortunately, tricky. I drove up Brannon Road, a lane that people presume is somebody’s driveway because it is so narrow. The road winds uphill to a ridge, where it reaches State land. I had to chop and dig a space for my car to get mostly out of the road, but was still able to grab my pack and head into the woods before 830 a.m.

The start is rough: I chose to ride the property boundary, and the going is very steep along it, dropping for several hundred yards to a small brook crossing. A moderately steep climb up a small ridge, followed by another steep drop to a larger stream follows, before reaching the real start of the slopes of Burnt Mountain.

Here, a series of rising ridges blocks the way. I climbed over one, then had to walk along the ridge for awhile to find a safe way down into the ravine separating it from the long, steep flank beyond. Once in the ravine, I passed a small cliff, perhaps 50′ tall, with a meager amount of ice draped here and there along it. Certainly no destination, even if it were roadside.

I wove my way up the slope above, which was very steep, 30 to 40 degree slopes on average, with a few 50 degree ones I had to circumvent. The lack of snow allowed me to wear my ice boots with Kahtula Spikes, but even they were not sufficient for the occasional thick crust of slick ice threatening to send me back to the bottom of the ravine. Nothing however, worth calling a climb.

Fifty feet of nothing to write home about

Fifty feet of nothing to write home about

My last excursion in this vicinity had come too early or too late for ice, and was on a rainy, cloud-smeared day with reduced visibility. I had the entire blue sky open to me this time, and plenty of beautiful views to make use of it. I could see the Sisters off to my right slightly, and looking back, saw a sort of valley to the south, weaving toward Glens Falls. Burnt Mountain blocked any view of Moose, but as I rose higher, I could clearly see Baldhead to my left. I’d thought that mountain was set farther west, but looking at a map, see that is not so.

And forty feet of near-useless ice

And forty feet of near-useless ice

Finally – a long, steep uphill slog later – I reached the summit ridge of Burnt Mountain. Walking along through open woods and slabs, I paralleled Moose until I could clearly see its flanks. Coming to a fresh, significant beaver pond, I surveyed the area awhile, then headed into the ravine the divides the Hill from the Mountain. This was another steep affair, with a lot of weaving back and forth to keep an emergency tree within grabbing distance, as once in awhile the slide would’ve been unsafe without one.

A lone boulder, large enough to play on, barely; too far to be worth the trouble

A lone boulder, large enough to play on, barely; too far to be worth the trouble

Reaching the gap, I crisscrossed the woods in the bottom, trying to choose which would offer me the best sighting of potential cliffs. For awhile, that seemed to be the Moose Mtn. side, so I walked there, until it became obvious that there were no worthwhile cliffs down low over there. A dark, conifer-clad ridge lay to my left now; I’d walked along its crest earlier today, but seeing that it might hold some steep ice, I meandered over along the base as I continued walking downhill. Steep spots glinted of some icy patches, but nothing substantial; other than perhaps 150′ of rolling, ledgy, and occasionally glazed slab, nothing to bring me back.

A close-up reveals...nothing more.

A close-up reveals…nothing more.

I finally descended to the shore of Welch Vly, which I’d looked down on years ago (ca. 2007) and thought I’d seen cliffs behind the shreds of wet cloud that obscured most of the view then. This time I had clear skies and sunshine – and saw nada of note.

A ridge does run down the flank of Moose, hitting the ravine very near its height-of-land (about a half mile up from the Vly); this hints at potential, with barely-significant sized outcrops peeking above the close-side rim, but again, nothing I would frequent, given the already long approach required. I’d also elected not to walk farther along, which might have revealed things I’ve seen from vantage points along the roads to my home, so I suppose there are still possibilities, but suffice to say, if they’re not magnificent, they’re not sufficient either.

Lovely, isolated Welch Vly. Baldhead Mtn's flank on the right.

Lovely, isolated Welch Vly. Baldhead Mtn’s flank on the right.

I walked along the Vly for awhile, but eventually skewed away leftward, rising up gradually along the flank I’d descended farther back. I’d seen nothing along Moose’s south/southeastern flank that warranted a return trip, and knew the outflow of the Vly would lead me far from the car, into the Stony Creek valley.

Soon I was back on the ridge crest, though this time much lower than earlier. Still, the descent of that steep hillside was treacherous. Safety considerations drove me rightward despite knowing my car was in the opposite inclination. Eventually, I made it down, passed through a swampy region, made my way across a much-wider section of that large stream, then gained a log road and thence back to Brannon Road.

In all the trip took me four hours. On my ride back into Warrensburg, I did stop to view Moose Mountain from an old abandoned youth camp, noting that indeed, what I think is a significant ice flow lies wrapped around on the east-northeast side, and very high up. Maybe some other time, thanks anyway.

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