Azure Mountain (2518 ft)
Difficulty: Straight Up and Steep
Date of Summit: 6/9/2008
Trailhead to Summit: 1 mile
Trip Time: 2 hrs
Ascent: 700 ft
Temperature: 85 & Humid
This was our second trip to Mt. Azure, but a first for Tom and Michelle Lanz, friends of ours who were visiting from Minneapolis. Since Mt. Azure is so conveniently close to Potsdam, we saw this as the perfect hike to give them a glimpse of the Adirondacks. The first time Emily and I hiked this trail was in the middle of winter, while the mountain was hibernating under two feet of snow. As I described in my February post, there was little to no visibility from the summit, the entire firetower was entombed in a frosty shell of ice, and while the trail was relatively hard to follow, we found that the switchbacks helped us climb the short yet steep mountain with ease. Returning to the mountain exactly four months later has proven that the changing of the seasons completely alters that experience. The trail we thought we followed in the winter does not exist at all (it turns out that we were bushwhacking our own switchbacks up the mountain). In reality, Azure's official trail is STRAIGHT UP (one would expect nothing less from the Adirondacks).
But the real surprise came with our very first encounter with the legendary BLACK FLIES. I had heard the stories from locals, but ignorantly assumed that the warnings were full of hot air rather than the painful truth. The black flies are worse than mosquitoes, for you are unaware of when this insect bites, as they only leave a trickle of blood in their wake. A few hours after the incident the severity of the situation becomes apparent, through swelling, reddening, and itching.
Aside from the swarms of black flies, the hike was fabulous (when moving, the flies have a hard time keeping up with you). The hike up the trail was strenuous but short - we found ourselves atop the mountain about 45 minutes after we signed in at the trailhead. The views from the mountaintop were stunning and unique, for you could get a glimpse of the eastern high peaks off in the distance. The wind atop Azure was quite strong (which really helped keep the black flies under control) while we spent time on the summit and up in the firetower. This will always be a wonderful "out-of-town-visitors" peak, as it's proximity to Potsdam and it's beautiful vistas really help to make the hike a gem in the somewhat sparse northern Adirondacks. We'll definitely be back again!