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A Quick Winter Camp in the Adirondacks for a Sunrise Summit!

A Quick Winter Camp in the Adirondacks for a Sunrise Summit!

Well, it finally happened….I was laid up with the dreaded winter cold! I am honestly surprised it took so long given the sickly sounds making the rounds where I work.

Last weekend, I was finally feeling well enough again to get the itch for an adventure!

03.07.15: Loaded up and ready for another adventure! Last-minute overnight in a lean to at ADK's Heart Lake Wilderness Campground.
03.07.15: Loaded up and ready for another adventure! Last-minute overnight in a lean to at ADK’s Heart Lake Wilderness Campground.

OBJECTIVE #1:

I wanted to winter camp, but I wanted a CAMPFIRE! I love the high Peaks Wilderness so much, but after being sick, I wanted the ultimate in creature comforts on a winter outing…a roaring fire to take the chill off, and to cook something REALLY delicious!

By the time we settled on where to go and what to do, it was already pretty late on Saturday, so we bailed on our plan to explore the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness and opted for a place we know and love – the Wilderness Campground on ADK’s Heart Lake Property.

What…we stayed in a lean to…and had to shovel the snow out of the lean to and the fire pit….other than another late-night hike in, what’s the difference?? 🙂 

 

3.7.15: Shoveling the snow out of the lean to by headlamp. Last-minute overnight in a lean to at ADK's Hear Lake Wilderness Campground.
3.7.15: Shoveling the snow out of the lean to by headlamp. Last-minute overnight in a lean to at ADK’s Hear Lake Wilderness Campground.

OBJECTIVE #2:

Be on a mountain summit at sunrise!!!

More specifically, have our breakfast and coffee on a summit at sunrise. Have you ever heard of anything more awesome than that? So we decided we would get up early and climb Mt. Jo before sunrise.

So we loaded up the Rav and headed north to see if this time…we could pull it off.  (OK….last time we tried, I did NOT want to crawl out of my cozy sleeping bag at dark-thirty to hike!!! There, I said it!!!! And I am NOT…SORRY…!!!)

We arrived at the ADK Loj for check in around 6:30pm and got our campsite assignment. We did not make a reservation earlier in the day because almost every lean to on the campground was available…but BOY did that change quickly! They were nearly sold out of tent AND lean to sites! But we scored lean to #5 and headed over.

We hauled our gear from the Rav to the lean to, shoveled out the fire ring, got ourselves a roaring campfire, and made dinner. Be sure to check out my post on the insanely delicious campfire roasted steak and root veggie dinner we had that night!

Dinner, cocktails, and fire were done by around 10:00pm and to meet objective #2, we had a 4:00am wake up call. AND it was daylight savings time weekend so we lost an hour of sleep. So we headed to bed.

So our wakeup was pretty funny because we both slept poorly and had no time for decent sleep really, even if we could have pulled it off.

4:05am:

Chris: hun…alarm…

Me: One snooze…

4:20am:

Chris: hun…alarm…are we going to do this….

Me: [sits up furiously…] it’s already daylight….we missed it…I am going back to sleep…

I looked out of the lean to and could clearly see the fire pit, the picnic table, the trees, and Heart Lake. I was convinced the sun was up even though it was only 4:20am!!!

However, the other magnificent thing happening that weekend was a nearly full moon…and THAT is why I could see so well!

4:30am:

Chris: [crawls out into the cold and has a look around….]

Hun…that’s not daylight, it’s the moon!

Me:  [sits up furiously…] OK I’m up…

And so we suited up, put on our snow shoes, and headed out into the pre-dawn.

There was a light coating of fresh snow, and we followed the tracks of a snow shoe hare pretty much all the way up the mountain! Well, we later identified them as snow shoe hare tracks….I have a thing about wanting to see a pine marten super bad and I was convinced that’s what we were following!

3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! We followed tracks of a snow shoe hare all the way up!
3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! We followed tracks of a snow shoe hare all the way up!
3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! We followed tracks of a snow shoe hare all the way up!
3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! We followed tracks of a snow shoe hare all the way up!

A few other photos we shot on the dark hike up…

3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! Chris had too much weight and the climb in winter was much steeper than we remembered from summer. Looking a little miserable!
3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! Chris had too much weight and the climb in winter was much steeper than we remembered from summer. Looking a little miserable!
3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! Frozen waterfall along the trail....they seem more menacing than beautiful in the dark!
3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! Frozen waterfall along the trail….they seem more menacing than beautiful in the dark!
3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! The dark abyss around us. This was really an awesome time to be on the trail!
3.8.15: Pre dawn climb of Mt Jo! The dark abyss around us. This was really an awesome time to be on the trail!

We made it to the summit just as the dawn colors faded….or what there were of them given the not-so-little snow squall also going on. It was an absolutely beautiful experience, despite the clouds, and one I highly recommend trying!

3.8.15: Sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY
3.8.15: Sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY

Glad we got up there when we did, because the clouds really socked us in FAST! Shot from the same overlook as the last photo, not long after….

3.8.15: Sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY3.8.15: Sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY
3.8.15: Sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY3.8.15: Sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY

So anyhow…yeah that sunrise stuff was all nice but there was still the matter of…COFFEE!!!

3.8.15: Making coffee at sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY
3.8.15: Making coffee at sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY
3.8.15: Making coffee at sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY
3.8.15: Making coffee at sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY

It was cold up there, although we were able to find a sheltered enough spot for coffee. So we decided we would do breakfast back at camp and shared a frozen Snickers bar with our summit coffee.

3.8.15: 17.5 degrees at sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY3.8.15: Sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY
3.8.15: 17.5 degrees at sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY

We still had a bundle of firewood left that neither of us wanted to haul back to the Rav. So, with a couple of hours still until checkout, we burned it and had a wonderful, relaxing, toasty warm time packing up our camp.

3.8.15: Back at our lean to camp after a sunrise summit on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY
3.8.15: Back at our lean to camp after a sunrise summit on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY

I was reminded once again of the tremendous good that a few hours in the woods does me. Though we were in the Adirondacks for only about 16 hours, I remarked as we left that it felt like we were out for a week. It really amazes me every time!! Can’t wait to go back!

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Thanks for reading! Make it an EPIC day! 🙂

~Amy, Chris, & Dora

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE GEAR USED ON THIS ADVENTURE:

Ambient Weather WM-2 Handheld Weather Meter w/ Windspeed, Temperature, Wind Chill

A very cool addition to our gadget collection! Tells you the ambient temp, wind chill, and wind speed. Get it on Amazon!

3.8.15: 17.5 degrees at sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY3.8.15: Sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY

MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove

I. LOVE. THIS. STOVE!!! Good in temps down to about twenty degrees Fahrenheit, this genuis gadget boils a liter of water SUPER fast. I am all about my morning coffee, and in the ADK High Peaks region, you cannot have campfires. This stove had a steaming cup in my hands very quickly!

Easy to set up and light, and it comes with a plastic case for travel that can fit in your back pocket! ALWAYS in our packs, even on short hikes, for emergencies.

MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Canister Stove Gear Review

Where to Purchase the MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Canister Stove and Accessories Online:

CampSaver.com:

MSR Pocket Rocket Canister Stove

MSR Universal Canister Stand

Amazon.com:

MSR Pocket Rocket Canister Stove

MSR Universal Canister Stand

EMS.com:

MSR Pocket Rocket Canister Stove

MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove

If you plan to be out in temps below twenty degrees Fahrenheit, this is THE stove for you! A bit more fussy than the MSR Pocket Rocket but much more fuel efficient and reliable when temps plummet. Prime and light a few times, and you have it down, so don’t be scared!!!

We have the MSR Whisperlite Universal stove, to burn canister or liquid gas…this stove burns practically ANYTHING! Like the liquid gas only version, this stove requires a bit more fuss, but you are set for whatever adventure you seek in any climate.

3.8.15: Making coffee at sunrise on Mt Jo, Adirondacks, NY

Where to Purchase the MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove and Accessories Online:

CampSaver.comMSR Whisperlite Liquid Fuel Stove

EMS.com: MSR Whisperlite Liquid Fuel Stove

Amazon.com: MSR Whisperlite Liquid Fuel Stove

OMCGear.com: MSR Whisperlite Liquid Fuel Stove

Olicamp Hard Anodized XTS Pot (1-Litre) 

Making coffee and dinner after an amazing day of snow shoeing in the Dix Range, Adirondacks, NY 1.24.2015

I love this pot! Not sure if it makes any difference with a good stove, but it has heat transfer technology on the bottom that is supposed to get things hot..QUICK! I love the silicone top with vent…boils a liter of water in 2-3 minutes. Super packable, and my MSR fuel canister fits inside with room for a small lighter and dishtowel, too. I packed the stove and the canister stand inside the mesh carry bag that came with the Olicamp pot….a full kitchen that could fit in your purse!!!

Speedwise, honestly…really about the same performance as our MSR Titan Kettle, which has a pour spout the Olicamp lacks, but the Olicamp holds a quarter-liter more liquid and it has measurement marks inside, which is super handy. We bought the Titan and the Olicamp at the same time, because based on reviews and specs, we really could not decide which we liked better, and that is still the case!! Whichever you choose, you will get a great piece of back country cookware.

Where to Purchase the Olicamp Hard Anodized XTS Pot (1-Litre) Online:

CampSaver.comOlicamp Hard Anodized XTS Pot (1-Litre)

Amazon.com: Olicamp Hard Anodized XTS Pot (1-Litre)

The MSR Titan Kettle

So old school, it’s cool! Love the pour spout, which our Olicamp lacks, and this little pot is durable, super lightweight, and speedy!

MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Canister Stove Gear Review

Where to Purchase the MSR Titan Kettle Online:

CampSaver.comMSR Titan Kettle

Amazon.com:  MSR Titan Kettle

Mountain House Breakfast Skillet

A hardy, easy, and tasty breakfast! The ‘standard’ 2-person pouch fed three people…with leftovers…on the Crandall trip! We prepared this and put the contents on Chi-Chi’s Fajita style (~7-inch) flour tortillas and it was PERFECT! Just add 1.5 cups of boiling water to the pouch and let it sit for 15 minutes, stir, and scoop onto your tortillas!

Eating breakfast in the shelter and warming up before we break camp after an amazing weekend in the Dix Mountain Wilderness, Adirondacks, NY 1.25.2015
Eating breakfast in the shelter and warming up before we break camp after an amazing weekend in the Dix Mountain Wilderness, Adirondacks, NY 1.25.2015

Where to Purchase Mountain House Breakfast Skillet Meals Online:

CampSaver.comMountain House Breakfast Skillet

EMS.com: Mountain House Breakfast Skillet

Amazon.com: Mountain House Breakfast Skillet

Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System

Most of the time in the Adirondacks, crampons are overkill but traction is still very necessary. MICROspikes are the hands-down favorite traction aid of just about every winter back country enthusiast we know! Kahtoola MICROspikes blow away competitors in both performance and durability. Just pull them on over your shoes or boots and you’re on your way!

11/16/14: I SEE THE PARKING AREA!! The gorgeous hike out after our winter camping trip at the Crandall Lean To in John's Brook Valley.

Where to Purchase Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System Online

CampSaver.comKahtoola MICROspikes Traction System

EMS.com: Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System

Amazon.com: Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System

Therm-a-Rest Neo-Air Xtherm Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest Neo-Air Xtherm Sleeping Pad

Sorry for the factory photo, I guess we haven’t photographed the stuff UNDER the sleeping bags…and these get packed away quickly to avoid damage. Will get a photo next time we are out!!

Ohhhhh my goodness!!! And my warmness!!! This pad really surprised me. When it was delivered, I inflated it  and tried it out and it really felt like there was an active heating process happening because it is THAT good at reflecting your body heat back to you!!!

Not so obvious when you’re wearing layer upon layer of winter apparel, but it’s there, and we are all toasty warm.

A bit delicate, so a good ground sheet is needed. The pump sack also doubles as the stuff sack, and this pad (we got regular length) rolls up to about the size of a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle and weighs under 14 ounces.

I was quite comfortable, even on my side. It is worth every penny paid!

Where to Purchase The Therm-A-Rest Neo-Air Xtherm Sleeping Pad Online

CampSaver.comTherm-A-Rest Neo-Air Xtherm Sleeping Pad

Amazon.com: Therm-A-Rest Neo-Air Xtherm Sleeping Pad

OMCGear.com: Therm-A-Rest Neo-Air Xtherm Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad

HEAVY packs full of gear for a wild weekend in the Dix Mountain Wilderness, Adirondacks, NY 1.25.2015
It’s there! Best photo I could find. Therm-A-Rest Ridge Rest SOLite Sleeping Pad!

I got all chicken about the delicate X-therms and picked these up last minute. They are super bulky and weigh a pound, but of all of the research I did to choose our gear, I can tell you that these are a favorite among the hard core backpacking set! I saw several of the folks on Ultimate Survival Alaska using them this season and was even more pleased. They also have reflective properties to boost your warmth even more.

Where to Purchase The Therm-A-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad Online

CampSaver.com: Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad

EMS.com: Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad

Amazon.com: Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad

OMCGear.com: Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad

Marmot Trestles 0 Synthetic Sleeping Bag

11/16/14: The gang all cozy in the lean to! Winter camping trip at the Crandall Lean To in John's Brook Valley..
11/16/14: The gang all cozy in the lean to! Winter camping trip at the Crandall Lean To in John’s Brook Valley..

So many things I love about these bags!!!

I’ll start with the fact that they make left and right zipping bags – so you can zip two together on those extra cold nights in camp!! 🙂

Add the fact that they are synthetic and will insulate even if they get wet in rough conditions. I have found moisture from frost and snow on the outside of my bag in the morning but was none the wiser inside! Toasty warm!

Did not notice any cold spots, and we have camped comfortably so far in about 15 degrees. The second night we camped in them, temps rose from the mid teens into the mid-20’s and I was WAY too warm (I also went to bed in my base layer top and bottom, fleece midlayer top, Midweight technical hiking pant, my ultralight down parka, and my Arcteryx synthetic insulated pants though!!)

On our most recent winter camp out, I purposely removed my outer layers and slept in just my base layer, just to see how it would go. It was down into the mid teens overnight. Still toasty warm!

They are NOT ultra light – around 7 lbs. Reviews had lots of complaints about being too big for the included stuff sack but neither of us thought that was a huge problem. I can tell you that on every site I checked out, NO reviewers complained they were not warm enough!!! Not one!!

So…what DON’T we like about them???

So comfy and warm, it’s just too darn hard to get out of them…that’s what!!!

A great winter sleeping bag at a really great price!!!

Where to Purchase The Marmot Trestles 0 Synthetic Sleeping Bag Online

CampSaver.com: Marmot Trestles 0 Synthetic Sleeping Bag

Amazon.com: Marmot Trestles 0 Synthetic Sleeping Bag

OMCGear.com: Marmot Trestles 0 Synthetic Sleeping Bag

Backpackers Cache Bear Resistant Container

Bear cans make good seats at camp! No longer required for bears, but lacking any real protection from non-hibernating animals, we packed them in. 1.24.2015 Slide Brook Camps, Dix Mt. Wilderness, Adirondacks, NY
Bear cans make good seats at camp!  The Backpacker’s Cache is the all-black canister.

The bigger of our two containers, an 8.5 x 8.5 x 10-inch bear can holds a TON of food! With this and the smaller can, we were able to pack in food and toiletries for the three of us. Weighs about 3 lbs. Empty, that is. 🙂 We did weigh it full and I think it was around 10 lbs!

Where to Purchase The Backpackers Cache Bear Resistant Container Online

EMS.com: Backpackers Cache Bear Resistant Canister Container

Amazon.com: Backpackers Cache Bear Resistant Canister Container

Frontiersman Bear Resistant Food Container

Bear cans make good seats at camp! No longer required for bears, but lacking any real protection from non-hibernating animals, we packed them in. 1.24.2015 Slide Brook Camps, Dix Mt. Wilderness, Adirondacks, NY
Bear cans make good seats at camp! The Frontiersman is the one with the orange top.

Our smaller can would be ideal for one person!

Where to Purchase The Frontiersman Bear Resistant Food Container Canister Online

Amazon.com: Frontiersman Bear Resistant Food Container Canister

If you have any questions about any of our featured products, just holler! We’d be happy to help you out!

2 Responses to A Quick Winter Camp in the Adirondacks for a Sunrise Summit!

  1. Great post! I loved the pictures in the dark. This looks like a great trip. Living on LI its a bit farther than I want to go for a ‘quick’ trip but I think it would be a nice weekend trip. I will have to consider it for the future.
    Going to Hunter Mtn this weekend with my sons and their Boy Scout troop. Looking forward to an overnight in the woods.

    • Hunter sounds great! There are a lot of great places to camp and climb that are closer to you than the Adirondacks…but definitely keep the dacks on your to do list! Would love to see photos from your scouting weekend! I helped my little brother get his Star (? I think? ) by taking him up Cascade and Porter Mts. a few years ago.

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