Ampersand Mountain
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 Ampersand Mountain, February, 2003

revisited in March, 2006

I've viewed Ampersand from below each fall while on my Saranac Lake trip and have always wondered how awesome the lakes would look from up there. I still want to do it in the fall but this snowshoe adventure was all I could hope for.
I went with Roger, Dan, and Brian... we started from the trailhead on route 3 and the first mile was mostly flat. The weather was perfect, 25-30 degrees, partly sunny and NO WIND! In contrast, the weeks leading up to this trip were the coldest in a long time. Just a week ago, it was minus 35 degrees in the village of Saranac Lake. Since Christmas it has been snowing and very cold all over the northeast. The trail was in great condition as if someone came up over the weekend and groomed it for us. Everything had a fine layer of ice crystals on it, there were some huge icicles hanging off some of the boulders along the way. The summit offered an awesome view of the Saranac Lake chain as well as the surrounding mountains. We could see Whiteface and Algonquin very clearly. Fine frozen clouds hovered below us and a circular rainbow surrounded the sun as it's rays were filtered by ice crystals in the atmosphere. Brian took over 60 pic's with his digital and I only wish I could post them all. Check out some of these.

Group photo    Self portrait of the gang

Feels like we're on the North Pole    An interesting cave near the summit

Cool ice formations    A few of the many icicles we encountered on the trail

Land Ho ! ..... hey it's chilly out here    I think I see land captain !

Summit     A view of the bare summit on the south side facing east

Adirondack wilderness waiting to be explored    The awesome view of the frozen crystal clouds from the summit

Revisited - March, 2006

Well, I got to visit this great "little" mountain again this year. As you know, the winter has been extremely mild this year, at least until we decided to hike a mountain. Winter had returned to the Saranac Lake area a day before we arrived to climb Ampersand. We had up to 8 inches of fresh powder on the mountain and it snowed most of the day. Not a problem except that the previously thawing mountain had refrozen and we had plenty of "hidden" ice to contend with. I also forgot just how steep this mountain is. We had a few hairy moments when we didn't know how we were going to ascend any further without falling. Twice we had to find short bushwhacks around some serious ice. Both times the alternate path was steeper of course. Needless to say, we both got some well needed exercise. There were no views from the top, for a moment we could see Ampersand Lake from the summit and on the way down we could see Middle Saranac through the tress and snow squalls. I wanted Jon to see "our" Lake from the summit but it was not to be. I guess we'll just have to come back.
We did experience a bonus on the way up. I think we were near Wells and we saw a Bald eagle standing on the side of the road. That's right, standing there. He was off the paved section and I assume he was sitting and feeding on some carrion or maybe he caught a fish from the Sacandaga River. He was only about 20 feet from the vehicle as we went by. Very Cool!


Watch your step!    On the way in, it's apparent we are the first visitors since the new snow.

The weather went from this > Nice  to this >  Where did everything go?    all day long.

I hope this thing doesn't fall    Boulders that probably came off of the summit dome many years ago.

Even without any views, this is an awesome place    Are we on Mars?

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