|The tower atop St. Regis|
Difficulty: Gradual, and fairly steep for the last mile
Date of Summit: 12/15/2010
Trailhead to Summit: 3.4 miles
Trip Time: 4.5 hrs
Ascent: 1266 ft
Temperature: between 5 and 10 degrees F
Last time Martin Heintzelman and I attempted a winter summit of St. Regis Mountain, we had to turn back due to the inability to find the trail and get beyond an area of blowdown. The experience was extremely discouraging, and caused us to keep our distance from that peak for quite some time. Well, on December 15th, 2010 (exactly three years after the first attempt - to the DAY), we decided it was time to give it another try.
|The white stuff|
|Elevation Profile of St. Regis Hike|
|GPS track of St. Regis Hike|
The hike was beautiful. Snow rested on every branch, rock, and needle throughout our trip, dampening the sound all around us to create an experience that felt as if the entire world had been put on "pause" while we hiked up this trail. We passed massive boulders, walked through impressive stands of hemlocks, admired assorted icicle clumps, and relished in the fact that we were the only ones on the trail that day. At about 2.5 miles into the hike, things began to get quite a bit steeper. For nearly the last mile, we steadily climbed up the east face of St. Regis Mountain. With the snow acting as a blanket of padding, it did not feel like the typical, joint-aching "adirondack rock staircase", which caused the ascent to go by much quicker (and less painful). Before we knew it, we were at the top of St. Regis Mountain. Although we didn't have a great view, it felt better to be atop that peak than many of our past victories.
|The frostbitten fire tower of St. Regis Mountain|
|Looking down on the frozen St. Regis Pond from the summit|
The trip back to the car was uneventful and relatively easy. Almost 4.5 hrs later, we once again stepped onto the snowplowed road and headed for the car. It was a wonderful return to such a great backcountry experience, and actually making it to the top made it all the more sweet. We celebrated our victory at the Riverside Bar in St. Regis Falls, a favorite place of mine to enjoy a can of beer (yep, I said can, so be sure to bring your own koozie) after hiking in the area. With St. Regis Mountain finally checked off the list, there's now only one peak that Martin and I have to return to and settle the score with, as a result of the trail conditions being too icy on our last attempt. Debar Mountain, you're next...
|Martin and the great, white, void|