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#195398 - 05/18/16 03:50 PM Pharaoh Lakes - Adirondack Mountains
scratchtp Offline

Registered: 09/11/12
Posts: 64
Loc: New York
I went this past weekend with a few friends to do a 3 night loop in the Pharaoh Lake region of the Adirondacks. We started driving out of NYC on Friday morning, and it rained most of the drive. When we got to the trailhead it was still a pretty steady drizzle, but not too cold, so still enjoyable to hike in and I didn’t need to put on my rain jacket.

It was my first time in the Adirondacks, so I wasn't completely sure what to expect, but it was much swampier/marshy. We hiked in the rain for a few miles towards Pharaoh Lake along an old logging or carriage road, working our way around large ponds that had formed from the rain. Then we crossed a large boardwalk across a beautiful section of swamp.

The hills around us were shrouded in fog, and a steady drizzle created some very nice patterns in the water around us as we walked across. We kept on going oblivious of some unusual activity around us. Pretty soon however spotted the first one.

As we kept on walking, we realized there were thousands of them along the trail. I looked up later and found out they are red spotted newts, and that only the juveniles can be found on land, while the adults are fully aquatic and duller olive color. We stopped one small section of mud and leaf litter to examine a particularly vibrant specimen and realized we could count more than 20 small newts just within a 5-foot radius.

Pretty soon we reached Pharaoh lake, and enjoyed some nice views of the lake as we hiked along to find our first campsite. No one was camped at any of the lean-tos we passed but we waved to a group that was camped across the lake. The rain finally cleared up for the evening and as we had dinner we watched a beautiful sunset by the lake.

The next day we took a somewhat lazy morning, enjoying the nice weather and lack of rain (although we wished it would come back later). We started hiking to head past several small ponds in the area before the real fun began. Black flies. I had read about them but hoped we would be a little bit early in the season; alas we were not. Soon we were driven to a quick pace to stay ahead of the flies, that would crawl in your nose and ears soon after you stopped. Eventually we stopped for lunch and actually set up the tent so we could have a reprieve without being bitten. After lunch we passed the first other hikers we saw, a pair of older women, possibly mother and daughter, who were working their way across a morass of mud and fallen trees. We didn’t stop too long to chat, since the flies hadn’t let up, and continued hiking. Just before arriving at Lilypad pond, our destination for the night, I kept on hearing a lot of noise of water rushing (much louder than the stream we had been following) and decided to investigate. Just a short bushwhack away was a beautiful waterfall, with multiple levels cascading down from pool to pool. We spent a short time there, but yet again were driven on by the black flies that always seemed to find us again.

After we made camp at the lean to at lilypad, some more rain finally arrived to drive away the rest of the flies and we ate dinner. It seems we were in good company at the lean-to, as a T. Roosevelt had visited the lean-to in 1937 and carved his name into the wood. Since he died in 1919, I assume it must have been his ghost.

The next day was cold and windy, but on the other hand, without flies. Our plan for the day was to hike past a few more ponds, and then hike up Pharaoh mountain, which overlooked the region, ending back at the shore of Pharaoh lake for the night. We ran into one more hiker on his way down Pharaoh Mountain, who had decided to turn back after slipping several times on the wet rocks and leaves. He didn’t seem to have anything with him, not even a bottle of water. We decided to continue on, and halfway up encountered the areas he had problems with. Much of it was inclined, smooth expanses of rock with runoff creating treacherous conditions. We made it up eventually, but it took longer than expected, and the weather was looking like more rain, so we didn’t spend much time at the peak.

After heading back down we eventually arrived back at Pharaoh Lake and made camp on a small peninsula piece of land sticking out a small distance into the lake. It was a cold night, and after enjoying dinner and a nice campfire we went to bed.

The next day was also cold and windy, and since we were trying to get back to the city early, we spent a short morning eating breakfast and packing up, setting a pretty good pace to head back to the trailhead. We spent a brief time at the end of the lake where we talked briefly with another hiker who had been out for one night, so that he could hike up Pharaoh Mountain and explore the lake, he told us a good turnoff on the way back to get one last view of the mountain which we did.

I also stopped one last time over the boardwalk we had first crossed to take in a little bit more of the trail before we left. At some point I definitely want to return to the Adirondacks, hopefully to the High Peaks region, but Pharaoh lake and the surrounding ponds were a beautiful area to hike in without the pressure or peak bagging.

#195399 - 05/18/16 04:09 PM Re: Pharaoh Lakes - Adirondack Mountains [Re: scratchtp]
bluefish Offline

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 678
Nice. My backyard, basically. I haul my float tube in to brook trout fish. Head nets weigh little, save lots of blood! A must for sanity this time of year. Look into the Tongue Mt. Range and The Lake George Wilderness areas, for better viewpoints and a little less swamp. I went to a similar area in Vermont last week.

#195400 - 05/18/16 04:36 PM Re: Pharaoh Lakes - Adirondack Mountains [Re: bluefish]
scratchtp Offline

Registered: 09/11/12
Posts: 64
Loc: New York
It was my first time there, I guess I hadn't really understood how bad black flies can get. A couple other hikers had some head nets; we were pretty jealous. I'll definitely bring one for next time! The swamp was very pretty in its own way, at least on the days when it was too rainy or cold for the flies.

#195402 - 05/18/16 08:28 PM Re: Pharaoh Lakes - Adirondack Mountains [Re: scratchtp]
JustWalking Offline

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 176
Loc: PNW
Ah, brings back memories. I grew up in Lake George, and my pop used to take us hiking and camping at Pharaoh Lake. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

#195417 - 05/20/16 11:51 AM Re: Pharaoh Lakes - Adirondack Mountains [Re: scratchtp]
4evrplan Offline

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 717
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Very nice, thanks for the report. I really appreciate the reports with pictures interspersed, like this one. Makes me want to visit NY (someday). I actually lived there a short time as a kid, but I don't remember ever camping there.

#195798 - 06/14/16 03:24 PM Re: Pharaoh Lakes - Adirondack Mountains [Re: 4evrplan]
Zuuk Offline

Registered: 09/22/15
Posts: 70
Loc: NB, Canada
Black flies. I live in New Brunswick, Canada, and we have lots of black flies. You have to learn to always breathe through your nose, because the only thing worse than a black fly biting you, is a black fly getting stuck in the back of your throat. Hard to cough them out because you inhale 5 more trying to cough. Gotta wash it down with a drink of water and not think about it.

When the black flies finally dissipate, the mosquitoes take over, buzzing in your ears all night, and finding every bare patch of skin you have exposed.

Once they are gone, the no-see-ums come out to play. They are no larger than the head of a straight pin, with jaws like a great white.

Then comes a week of perfect no flies weather before winter arrives.

Well, it's not quite that bad here, but never forget your insect repellent. I forgot mine once last year on a day trail geocaching hike. It was hot in the morning, and started to cool off at around noon. At 2 o'clock I arrived at a spot near a marsh, and got chased out by the mosquitoes that came to play. Both of my hands were full of bites, as well as my neck and ears. They were with me the whole way through the woods, and didn't leave me until I got out into the open sun where it was still too hot for them. I wasn't staying around until the evening when they'd be back. I'll never forget my insect repellent again!

The repellent I use is made by Off, called Botanicals. Main ingredient is eucalyptus extracts. Goes on non-sticky, like a sunscreen lotion, and doesn't stink like deet products do. So far it's the most effective I've found against black flies. At the gift shop where I work, they are selling some items that also uses eucalyptus and mint extracts, which goes on like an underarm deodorant stick. The same company makes soap with the same extracts and claims that using the soap reduces the need for insect repellent. I'm almost curious enough to try it.

#196006 - 07/02/16 12:15 PM Re: Pharaoh Lakes - Adirondack Mountains [Re: Zuuk]
bluefish Offline

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 678
My wife and I were just eaten alive by no-sse-ums on the coast of Massachusetts. She even had a nasty allergic reaction. Thanks for the info, our DEET products did not work in the least.


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