Camera Obscura: The Renaissance Camera
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Debar Mountain and Black Peak
Nov
23
2013

I have been in search of climbing all the fire tower peaks in the Adirondack Park; not only those that still have towers, but those that also once had.

With this little venture, it placed Debar Mountain was on my list. Corenne and I have been flirting with Debar Mountain for quite some time and something always got in the way from us actually climbing the peak. This week was our week to go and nothing was going to stand in our way, short of a natural disaster.

Upon arrival at the Meacham Lake Campground we drive through and found the dirt road leading to the trailhead. The long and narrow road, a bit rough, brought us to the trailhead and a decent sized parking area.

We layered up on this cold day, painted in as much red gear as I could gather up and headed up the trail. We made really fast time along initial 1.2 miles that follows an old woods road/snowmobile trail to the actual foot trail for Debar Mountain. Once we started up the foot trail we were surprised at just how wet it was. Beneath a thin layer of ice, sometimes sat four inches of water, but there is good news is, all the mud that had collected was frozen enough not to hinder our assault.

The trail quickly led us to the Debar Lean-to that sits around 3/4 of a mile from the summit; this is where the climbing really began. Eventually we came to the base of a new slide, at which time the trail looks to have been slightly re-routed to avoid the pile of trees at the base. The climb up along the slide was fairly steep, but not quite as steep as the section following. This section was covered in a thick layer of ice over steep rock lips. The ice was hard to the point where we had to walk carefully, even with our Microspikes on; in order to stay vertical.

We summited soon after to a wonderful view, a bit surprising to both of us. The rocky knob opened up most of the entire area to us, but the frigid wind quickly moved us from our perch. Off to Black Peak we went. Oh, did I forget to mention we planned to touch the top of Black Peak on the way out?

Looking at the thick forest near the summit we opted to descend the trail for a ways and traverse over to the peak from lower ground. Unfortunately for us, that meant we had to descend the steep, icy glades along the trail. After a couple near falls, we hit the woods and bushwhacked ourselves down past the ice to a safer location. We found an attractive open hardwood area that looked to be a feasible approach to the base of Black Peak; we hit a cliff a few hundred feet off the trail. We zigzagged and leaped off a couple small shelves and found ourselves in a nice shallow valley.

As we climbed out of the valley and over another small rise we saw a couple dozen trees with rubbing or chew marks on them, similar to porcupine but not quite. We only assumed maybe a moose. The markings went 8-10 feet up the stem of the tree but did not remove all the bark like a porcupine would.

In about 10-minutes our question would be answered, it was moose. We didn't happen to see the moose but the continuous piles of dropping left no question. One pile had dropping half the size of Corenne's fist, this moose was either very big or had some gastric-intestinal issues. Either way part of us wanted to see him and the other was a bit nervous about the possible run in.

We summit Black Peak with expectations of a nice view, but the wooded summit offered little, but at 2700' in elevation it was a decent sized little mountain and fun nonetheless. Our descent back to the trail brought me slightly off course to the right, which required us to do a bit of traversing on a side-slope. Eventually be regained the trail just a bit further out than the lean-to. After a brief break on a flat erratic and cup of hot soup we hauled tail back down the trail, not dancing around the water, but pushing through it, and back at the car we were.

Interested in visiting some of the fire-tower peaks of the Adirondacks? Stop by a local bookstore pick up a local guidebook. Want a guide to bring you there? Saranac Lake can deliver. Saranac Lake also has many great places to dine, shop and rest your tired head.   

Author:Spencer Morrissey
Camera Obscura: The Renaissance Camera
Less than two weeks to Sparkle Village Craft Fair!

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