Saturday February 27, 11.2mi/18.0km
Hamilton Lake Stream Lean-to (102.0/1480ft) to Silver Lake Lean-to (113.2/2060ft) (NY)
We were awake at 4:30am as planned, then we said our goodbyes and hit the trail at 6am. Within a few minutes, we encountered the swingbridge over Hamilton Stream. It looked really cool being illuminated by both red and white headlamps.
I crossed the bridge first, and then tried to get photos of the other two guys coming across. There was some light snow that interfered with the picture, but it added a neat effect.
By 6:30am, the sun had risen and we switched off our headlamps. The trail was nicely broken out courtesy of Alysa and Michele, and we made fast time to the Whitehouse bridge.
We got to the trail register just after 7:30am, this is where we departed the snowshoe tracks. Michele and Alysa had hiked in from the nearby trailhead, and we continued south on the NPT.
A couple minutes later, we were crossing the Whitehouse swingbridge, over the West Branch Sacandaga River. It’s an old bridge, so we crossed one at a time.
It was good skiing all morning, and even with the big uphill climb, we made good time. There was a faint old ski track to follow, as a group had traveled into the Mud Lake leanto two weeks ago. Despite being sparsely marked, the trail was pretty easy to follow. We stopped into the Mud Lake leanto and had a quick break with our packs off. Since it was only 10:30am, we decided to push onward to Silver Lake Leanto in another 5.5 miles. I hiked past this very large, very old tree during the summer, and I was surprised how easily I found it again in winter.
It was now 11:30am, and the temperature was warming up, but the snow was still suitable for skiing. We were climbing a gradual uphill, so I was getting warm enough to drop a clothing layer. I’m glad I kept my rainshell on though, as the trail began to travel through some thick overgrown spruce, and it was like a coniferous carwash!
And then, the rain started. It was 36F/2C and the snowpack turned to mashed potatoes. We trudged on, becoming increasingly wet and sad. I could only take photos in the open forest, the thick spruce sections were a struggle to simply make forward progress.
Jim still looked happy in this photo, but this is just before he fell into the wet snow during a small descent.
Half an hour later, we were at the shores of Silver Lake. The fog and low-lying clouds gave it a somber feeling. There was no wind, and we skiied across the frozen lake, aiming for the leanto on the opposite side.
Looking to the east:
Jim is looking happy again, now that we are close to the leanto.
Looking ahead, to the south. Mark is ahead, making fast tracks to the leanto.
At this point, the rain had stopped, but we were still pretty wet. Happiness and dryness are only minutes away!
We exited the frozen lake, and skiied up a short hill to the shelter. After taking off our packs and changing into dry clothes, we relaxed with some hot drinks to warm up. The next order of business was drying out our clothes, which resulted in this yard sale:
After some discussion, we decided to take a zero day here at the Silver Lake Leanto tomorrow. We would continue drying out, and avoid the expected wet weather tomorrow. It was our longest day yet (11+ miles), and also our wettest day!