The Crooked Canes Journal


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Pharaoh Lake ski that became a hike ~ Mar 12, 2015

Journal entry by Fran Herve



The Pharaoh Lake ski was a rescheduled outing - I had originally planned on skiing to Pharaoh Lake on February 12th but a heavy snowfall during the days preceding the trip made it probable that we would have had to break trail so I had changed the destination to skiing on groomed trails. A month later, with longer days and warming temperatures I did not know what to expect so we came prepared with skis, snowshoes and micro spikes. When we (Ray, Claire, Donna and Peter W., Katie and I) arrived at the trail head we all ran to check the conditions. With the mild temperatures of the previous day and the night freezing, the snow was packed hard, the trail was bumpy and even icy in some places. We all agreed that skiing would be a challenge and probably dangerous so we decided to walk in our micro spikes. We met Joe the banjo player who was securing his camping gear on his sled and heading to a lean-to at the far end of Pharaoh Lake where he was going to meet friends for a weekend of camping and music. A forest ranger was starting his patrol on skis, passed us and quickly disappeared. Walking eight miles round trip on micro spikes instead of skiing did make it a little longer but we enjoyed the sights of the woods. We noticed that the forest had suffered from wind damage recently. It looked like the ranger had done some trail work by cutting and removing some of the smaller trees that had fallen across the trail. Soon we arrived at the pretty Mill brook area crossed by a helpful boardwalk and enjoyed the bright sun. After reaching the trail register we started the gentle uphill and it was not long before we warmed up and needed to shed a layer. Spending time in the forest in the winter is always such a treat!.....We took the time to study animals tracks: many were deer and others showed five toes with sharp nails. Peter told us that they were otter slides coming down from uphill and heading towards the frozen swamp. Some of us also learned from Ray that what we thought were pine needles and tiny hemlock branches fallen during a windy day or night where instead the remaining of porcupines's dinner that took place way up in the trees - I looked and looked for the porcupines but none were to be seen. When we arrived at the south end of the lake we decided to go have lunch on the sunny side of the lake - which was also the less traveled trail. It would have been helpful to be wearing snowshoes but however the distance to the lean-to was only 1/2 mile. We were surprised to find a new lean-to ( I read later that the old lean-to had burned down) and continued to the edge of the lake to an inviting large rocky area in full sun. Banjo Joe had caught up with us again and offered to play a few tunes for us. That certainly was the first time that the Canes had lunch with live music! As Joe skied away to the furthest lean-to at the other end of the frozen lake I wished we had had our skis. After this most enjoyable break it was time to head back. The sky was a bright blue and the sun was shining brightly. The return was more difficult as the snow had softened and we were sinking deeper. We noticed how much snow had melted and some exposed rocks in the long narrow slope leading towards the bridge. When we arrived back at our cars we were satisfied after a day of good exercise in the sun with nice company. Thank you Ray, Claire, Donna, Peter and Katie for joining me on this most enjoyable trip.

3/13/15 - Fran Herve added 4 photos.

3/14/15 - RayB Bouchard added 17 photos.

21 photos



At the Pharaoh trail head - no skis! - added by Fran



Katie leading the way. - added by Fran



Lunch with Banjo Joe - added by Fran



Adirondack art- - added by Fran



Peter, Katie, Donna, Fran and Claire ready to cross over Mill Brook. - added by RayB



Joe, with his banjo strapped to his back, pulling his toboggan with all the gear he would need for the weekend. This included skis, ice skates, and snow shoes. He was ready for anything & everything. I didn't see a keg of green beer, but I'll bet his buddies packed that in. - added by RayB



Donna and Fran crossing the bridge over Pharaoh Lake Brook. - added by RayB



Claire is taking her turn. - added by RayB



We've reached the foot of Pharaoh Lake and decided that for the first time in several years, we would have lunch on the sunny side of Pharaoh Lake, at Lean-to #6. Fran is ready to lead the way on an unbroken trail. Hey, we may be dumb but we're not stupid. After all it's part of her job description as trip leader. Thou shalt break trail through 2' of snow, if necessary. - added by RayB



Well we made it. 0.5 miles of breaking trail wasn't all that bad, says the guy who came in last. So here are Claire and Fran having a well deserved lunch break near the shore by Lean-to #6. Note all that warm sunshine. - added by RayB



Katie and Donna enjoying their lunch break. Smiles come easily on a beautiful day like this. - added by RayB



Peter has already enjoyed his lunch and is waiting for the rest of. - added by RayB



Photo added by RayB



Unusual snowshoe tracks. They seemed almost round. - added by RayB



Katie, Fran, Donna & Peter W. and Claire gather in front of Lean-to #6 before we all head for home. Note the Pine Tree engraving on the left vertical post. The right one was decorated similarly. Not apparent in the photo is the fact that the logs seemed to have been rubbed with an oil. Someone really put their heart into constructing this one. - added by RayB



A pretty scene where Pharaoh Lake empties into Pharaoh Lake Brook. - added by RayB



Bits and pieces of Hemlock branches littered the trail in several places. A sure indication that porcupines had been dining up above. - added by RayB



Poop from a passing Spruce Grouse. - added by RayB



It really made our day when we saw the bright, green leaves of the Trailing Arbutus along the edge of the trail. Soon they will be covered with blossoms that add their delightful fragrance to the air. - added by RayB



Here we are crossing Mill Stream for the 2nd time as we head back to our cars. 7 miles have passed under our feet so only a little over a mile left. - added by RayB



Almost everything you see in this photo of Mill Brook is water in one form or another and therein lies the source of its beauty. Personally, I see a lobster claw. What do you see? - added by RayB



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