18 March 2013

Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness - 9 Mar 2013

(This is from the weekend before last.  I've got a few more runs to write up, hopefully soon.)

I had a chance to go hiking on Saturday with Ken, but the snow wouldn't have been ideal for the gear that we have, so we opted to pursue our individual sports.  He went for a bike ride on Sunday, and I went for a run on Saturday.  I had initially decided to go for a run on the east side of Lake George, out of Dacy Clearing, but after doing some research I found out that the route I was intending on taking is part of an established snowmobile route.  Having already shared the trail twice with snowmobiles, I wasn't interested.  I wanted something with a little more wilderness.  I thought about going over to the Northville-Placid trail, but ended up choosing the Pharaoh Wilderness instead.  It turns out that was an excellent idea.

(Actually, I thought about going to numerous different trails, all over the state and across the border.  More on that later.)


I got a late start, having wanted to give my wife a chance to sleep in in the morning.  Once I was in my car, I had expected to get to the trailhead by 1:00, but ended up getting turned around near Brant Lake and didn't get to the trailhead until 2:00.  No matter, I thought, a little is better than nothing.  The trailhead was packed, and people were parked along the edge of the road leading to the parking area.  I chose a decent spot, doing my best not to block the driveway of the lucky soul who lives right near the trailhead.

In truth, it's an old woods road, and there's no gate across it.  The snow was packed hard, and made for an excellent running surface.  I quickly put on my running shoes, made my way over to the snow (the approach road was pure mud), and put on my snowshoes.

For this run, I chose to ditch the Sketcher 505s I had used on my last two snowshoe runs, and opted for my standard running shoes, my Merrell Trail Gloves.  Despite the fact that they have absolutely no waterproofing whatsoever (except perhaps the rubber on the bottom), my feet were fine.  My toes were a little bit cold at first, but I never felt like I was in danger of getting frostbite.  Despite the snow on the ground, the air temperature was in the high 40s, low 50s.  I had my usual cold weather running socks on (a pair of Darn Tough hikers [at least I think they're hikers]).

The biggest difference I noticed, however, was in the way my feet felt afterwards.  With the 505s and the snowshoes, I literally felt like I was running on concrete, and my feet were sore all over.  With the Trail Gloves, the only thing that was sore afterwards was my left achilles tendon.  Since that's a normal ache point for people transitioning to minimalist footwear, I'll take it.

I managed to travel at about 2.7mph, average, between running, hobbling, and walking fast.  I had hoped to get in to Pharaoh Lake itself, and possibly even circumnavigate it, but given my late start and my slow speed, I only made it in to Pharaoh Lake Brook.  After realizing that I wasn't going to make it in to the lake in time to make it home for some other commitments, I turned around, half-heartedly.  Fortunately for me, I decided to check out a designated camping area that's right near the bridge across the brook.  It turned out to be an excellent decision.

Pharaoh Lake Brook drains the lake itself, and right before it flows under the bridge that the trail uses, it flows right past a beaver den.  Presumably due to these beavers influence and engineering, the area is therefore a marshy one.  Standing on the edge of this marshy area, not far from the campsite, looking across the marsh, I laid eyes on Pharaoh Mountain.  The view was breathtaking.  Not something you would expect to find along an old logging road, standing beside an area that, during the spring and summer, must be swarming with insects of all kind.  Yet there it was: sheer beauty.

Pharaoh Mountain

I plan on coming back soon, and starting to work on running around Pharaoh Lake and up Pharaoh Mountain.  There's a huge network of trails back there, and it's a perfect training ground for an exploratory run I'd like to do later in the year.