Hiking-Climbing Gore Mountain
Two years ago I gave up downhill skiing when I fell off the chair lift at Gore Mountain, reasoning that if I wanted to continue hiking it would be better not to be breaking my legs, but when the Tramp and Trail Club announced an ascent of Gore’s summit I couldn’t resist a chance to return without skis. This climb is not for the novice hiker or the faint of heart. Gore tops out at only 3583 feet, making it ineligible to belong to the famous 46 Adirondack peaks of greater than 4000 feet in elevation. In spite of this, a vertical ascent of 2560 feet and a ten-mile hike to reach the top makes this more difficult than climbing many of the 46.
The trail to the summit existed long before the ski slopes were established and was reopened in 2007 after being abandoned for many years. Because Gore is known more for downhill skiing than for hiking, the trail is only lightly used but it is a real gem, passing through a mature forest of magnificent red oaks, towering hemlocks, beeches and paper birch. Shortly after leaving the parking lot we began a steady, gradual climb with a few steep pitches.
The most beautiful but also the most difficult part of the trail started with a climb up the precipitous bank of Roaring Brook. Here we had to scramble over rocks and cautiously negotiate the sloping edge of the bank. The trail twists and turns and it is important to keep a close eye on the blue trail markers. This would be especially treacherous on a rainy day. Far below the brook cascades over many waterfalls into deep pools and if time had permitted we would have been tempted to take a dip in those cool, clear depths.
Although it was difficult to see them in the dense forest we heard the songs of many birds, an assortment of thrushes, ovenbirds, white-throated sparrows and a winter wren. The name of this latter bird refers not to the season when it sings but to its song, which like upstate New York winters seems to go on forever. The white blossoms of bunchberry, a dwarf dogwood, adorned the trailside.
At about two miles, the trail reaches North Pond Reservoir where roaring brook is impounded, providing water for snowmaking equipment. It now leaves Roaring Brook but then follows another, smaller stream. Along the way we crossed many ski trails, broad highways cut through the forest, and eventually emerged on a gravel access road that threatened never to reach the summit and its fire tower. Black flies now made their appearance and tormented us in spite of a cooling breeze as we ate our lunches at picnic tables and enjoyed a panoramic view of the High Peaks.
Descending a mountain requires less cardiovascular effort than climbing but is tough on aging knees, so we were happy to recline on a carpet of wild thyme and feast on ice cold watermelon, a fitting end to a rewarding climb.