A Hiking Guide to the Keene Valley Region

Horaito De Beer - a Guide's Guide

A Hiking Guide to the Keene Valley Region

Excerpts from the journal of Horatio de Beer (our favorite fictional guide character).

March 13. Outside my window it snows. Not very much, but the once barren, brown earth becomes saturated with white swaths. From my porch on Beede Pond, I cannot even perceive Porter Mountain. But there is no reason to stay inside. As I cook myself breakfast, I feel a short jaunt is certainly in order.

Horaito De Beer - a Guide's Guide

The boots are all laced up, the lunch is in the pack, and I’m on the trail to Baxter. Up Beede Pond to the old Beede Farm. There are remnants of past snowstorms underneath the gradual building of fresh powder. The lack of footprints confirms Baxter’,s solitude. My pace soon brings me the two miles up to the summit ridge.

I can barely make out Keene Valley; alas, Marcy is also obliterated by the snow. I always bring friends here due to Baxter’s easy approach and lovely. views. As I head down the snow’s velocity has slackened.

Since the big storm hasn’t struck yet, I’d better climb up ole Hopkins. I should be back down before the real snow falls. Hopkins is named after. Erastus Hopkins from Troy, NY, a good friend of Old Mountain Phelps.

As I trudge on upwards, the snow gains a little depth; enough to notice the recent passing of a snowshoe hare. About two miles up, I f ind a nice lookout. Keene Valley is barely visible in the swirling snow. From here the trail steepens sharply and slowly I gain the top of Spread Eagle. I do not remain long due to its treecovered summit. only a half mile and I reach the summit granite of Hopkins; I have been here previously in the blissful silence and calm, but the storm’s ferocitv prevents me from remaining the usual half hour. I begin the downward trek to shelter, warmth, and food.

March 23. The remainder of the firewood has been split and the refrigerator is stocked full of venison.. It is time to enjoy the snow and hike outside. while this clear weather spell remains. Off I go, alone, up to the Garden in Keene Valley. From here I take the Brothers trail which leads me up to more spectacular views of my valley. The snow is deep but the warmth of the sun keeps my spirit high. Passing through birch glades and up a few snow-covered slides, I soon plod to the top of the first Brother. Continuing on, my snowshoes carry me over the second to the third Brother. Oh, what a fabulous view of the Big Slide of 1830 for which the mountain is named. The day is young and I decide to continue instead of ending my journey early. I travel on up through the red spruce and balsam fir. The last quarter mile to the summit is too steep for snowshoes, but with my ice axe I am soon on top, and with quite a spectacular view beneath my feet.

I am too tired to travel down to John’s Brook Lodge, so I retrace my steps after an honest lunch of cheese, apples, and peanut butter. Going down I am further awed at the views of Noonmark and the Great Range.

I am back in plenty of time for the usual dinnertime and the fond memories of a blissful day adventure.

June 7. Due to the fact that the snow is gone, it is a good day to take some friends on their first mountain voyage. After a late breakfast and a crack of noon start, we. are at Chapel Pond. It does not take long to walk up the moderate but sustained trail to the Giant Washbowl. Here, we find a diminishing glacial tarn (lake) which is gradually filling up with sediment. Like Lake Tear of the Cloud on Marcy’s South Face, these ponds are few and far between.

Since these city folks are joggers and their appetite for a view has been honed, off we go to the one third mile to the top of Nubble. The bare rocks on this hill offer enjoyable scrambling admist a scenic valley view.

Unfortunately, our motivation to explore wanes and we avoid the walk to Giant’s summit. I know Peter and Alicia would appreciate our Giant of the Valley, but a cool dip in Chapel Pond and a frosty beer are more to their liking.

June 29. While shopping at the Valley Grocery in town, I met a jovial lad from Great Britain. Once he heard I persued mountain climbing, he spoke of his interest in Noonmark. the archaic postcard on the door of the store convinced him that this was the place to go. He seems a good companion and off we went.

He drove us to the southern lot near the AuSable Club and with our packs, up we went. He didn’t have any technical climbing experience, but with promise of a steak dinner, I carried a rope. Henry was impressed with the overlooks we stopped at but was apprehensive of the summit rock. Being easygoing, I said naught when he suggested leaving the technical stuff alone and remaining on the trail.

He enjoyed the 360 degree views and especially the French Canadienne women also on the summit. It so happens he left with them, leaving me with a twenty dollar bill for my “guide services.”

July 6. As the crowds invade over the holiday weekend, it is a bonny idea to travel a small, unknown peak. Snow Mountain is a favorite for my cousin and his children. While John’s Brook Valley is overwhelmed, we reach the Deer Brook trailhead and enjoy our quiet stroll up to this little gem. From the start, this 1.5 mile hike is a joy for the kids. Even more so when I tell them about the blueberry bushes on top. Then it was tough to keep up with them. What an enjoyable afternoon!

July 23. All alone again, my chores done, it is a good day to view Marcy. So off I go, up John’s Brook Pond to the trail leading to Rooster Comb. Within an hour I have reached the summit “Comb” and the views abound. No one else is with me, the top is all mine. I boulder on the rock outcrops and I sit and stare at all the beautiful mountains. What would I do without these. short jaunts to soothe my soul?

Note: Adirondack Alpine Journal highly recommends to the individual the Trail Guide of the High Peaks, published by the Adirondack Mountain Club. All the hikes described by Horatio are expounded upon in detail in this book. In the next issue, we will look into more day hikes in the Pharoah Lakes region.

Enjoy your hike!