Azure Mountain (2518 ft)
Wooden steps leading up to Azure's firetower
Difficulty: Steep, slushy, and snowcovered
Date of Summit: 3/8/09
Trailhead to Summit: 1 mile
Trip Time: 2.5 hrs
Ascent: 700 ft
Temperature: High 30's
I know I've said it before, but I never get tired of Mt. Azure. It's a quick hike to the top (1 mile) and the views of the surrounding area rival what one would find in the heart of the Adirondacks. I've found that this hike must be the un-official "Peak of Potsdam", as nearly half of the trail register is composed of people hailing from Potsdam - this is in no doubt thanks to the large college student population (SUNY-Potsdam and Clarkson University) that call Potsdam home.
It must be something about the accompaniment of the Bennett bloodline which draws me back to Azure, time after time. My first two ascents were with my wife, Emily, who was an amazing (and patient!) hiking partner. This time I was accompanied by her father, Byron Bennett (who is now a grandfather to my new baby girl, Eleanor Irene Beck), who I've had the pleasure of hiking (and canoeing) with on previous excursions. I've done this peak before in both the winter and summer months, but this winter/spring ascent was a new experience altogether. The snow was wet and slushy, due to the balmy high-30's temperature for an early March day.
Because of the snow pack being so temperamental (we found that, even though we were wearing crampons, two steps actually equaled about half a step forward in this wet 'n' white mess), our ascent took roughly an hour and a half - about 50% longer than normal (while our descent took roughly 50% less, due to our ability to slide down the trail by using our poles to stabilize while our boots did the "skiing"). Many of you are probably rolling your eyes at this, stating that I must be quite the amateur for not utilizing snowshoes instead of crampons, but I assure you - it unfortunately would not have solved many problems, due to the rapidly-melting and slippery snow.
Once we made it to the top, it was all worth it, for we had a wonderful, 360-degree view of the surrounding area. Byron was able to take a few good black and white pictures, thanks to the early-afternoon sun light that was casting its rays on the nearby hillsides. After taking a short climb to the top of the fire tower and using the round-table map to pick out distant peaks and ponds, we started back down the mountain. As all Adirondack hikes tend to fare, this was a wonderful experience that provided great exercise, beautiful views, and new memories.