WALLFACE MOUNTAIN “DIVIDE” BUSHWHACK
ROUTE; A” circular” bushwhack and trail hike; starting and finishing at Scott Pond, travelling over the summit of Wallface Mountain from one watershed (St. Lawerance Seaway) to another (Hudson River) and up the Brook that drains from the Wallface Ponds, around the NE shore of Lower Wallface Pond and so to the end of the Wallface Pond Trail and back to Scott Ponds Splash Dam.
TIME: 6.25 hours
COMMENTS: Pretty much what you’d expect for a mostly off-trail hike in the Adirondacks; lots of steep ups and downs through dense taiga forests, unexpected cliffs, vest-pocket spruce-meadows (locally called vlys), swimming through the trees and few views. At the end of it I was pock-marked with bruises and scratched about the face and wrists- looking like some unsuccessful suicide. All for the chance to visit the top of some peak that few people give rat’s ass about (To paraphrase Boardman and Tasker, if anyone remembers them), but maybe for a chance to be fully alive for a time.
DETAILS (You got ‘em) Some sections were easier to travel then others. I found lots of tangles of old and large wind-thrown trees, moldering away and covered with mosses and embedded in thick new growth- which I call “HASH”- that represented impediments to my route up the large draw which I used as part of the route up to Wallface Mountains summit. At one point I found myself on an old logging road, narrow and at times lined with corduroy, which seemed to march straight up the draw to a small notch- but near to that notch this very faint and intermittent old road was wiped out by the hash, so I left the draw and just went for the summit up the flank of the mountain. That was some hard going. Lots of hash and low cliffs.
The summit ridge itself was surprisingly easy to travel and I passed over it twice, zig-zagging around in an effort to pass over the highest piece of real estate up there- which would probably be the top of one of the several large and moss-covered boulders . So I did a little “River Dance” on several of those and since nothing screamed out “This is it” (well- I did see a quart sized vitamin water bottle inverted and stuck on the
end of a long branch that was leaning up against one of those boulder :-D), I called it good enough. I walked west out along the ridge and then down a steep but pleasant slope, loosing around 350 vertical feet and hitting that small notch in around 15 minutes. It was a pleasant place so I took a very short break in a fallow fern field before continuing on.
Next I dropped into the drainage of the Wallface Ponds. I dropped some 4- 500 vertical feet and hit a very pretty area-a steep draw with a small feeder brook running down it's bottom. I followed this brook down water to the main brook. I turned to follow this main brook- the outlet of the Wallface Ponds- now following up water. First travelling mostly north and then mostly west as the brook turned up and into a steep sided gorge of wet mossy rock and thick forest. This brook soon became a series of waterfalls that start right from the lip of Lower Wallface Pond and drop 3 or 400 feet. I carefully chose my route up this gorge. As new terrain appeared before me I scanned for the best route up the gorge, crossing from one side to the other or even choosing to go up the brook itself-whichever way was best- until I climbed over the edge of the Pond. My focus was complete and my mind and physical self were never more fused. I felt completely alive.
By the time that I had climbed up and over that lip, I was ready for a change and I got it big time when I stepped out from under the forest fringing the pond to stand at the edge of a large pond (Lower Wallface Pond). Open to the unbounded sky, surrounded by endless hills and mountains covered in dense forest and flat as a table it seemed to me to be the biggest and flattest pond that I had ever seen. I felt like a castaway, alone and lost on the edge of a vast wilderness untrod by human feet and unexplored. The contrast between that which I had been experiencing and this new view was disorienting for several moments...then I got a grip. I saw where I had to go in order to pick up the end of the marked trail and began to make my way along the north east edge of the pond and then into a nice channel between Upper and Lower Wallface Ponds. The "bushwhack trail" that starts at the end of the marked trail crosses this channel and I was able to easily find it and follow it to the end of the marked trail. I am sure that this well defined path is used by hunters, fishermen, campers, and and even the ocassional boater to access this lovely and remote area, but I have used it in order to get around these lakes in order to bushwhack MacNaughton Mountain. I saw several well used campsites along this path and along the edge of the Pond.
Once on the marked trail, it was another 1.2 miles of some of the wettest, muddiest and fall prone hiking of the day to get back to my camp near the Splash Dam on Scott Pond. One slip in the mud at the start of this trail and I bruised my rib cage and got covered in mud!
Once back at camp I spent a pleasant evening roasting squirrels and drinking Balsam needle tea for my dinner. And, no, squirrel does not taste like chicken- not even remotely.Take that Bear Grylls. (only joking Broheim).