A Raquette Lake Shoreline Adventure
Bluff Point Hill can be found on the northeast shore of Raquette Lake, right on the edge of the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest. It's one of those named peaks that might get overlooked or maybe even ignored by the passing crowd of paddlers and boaters. For me that makes it all that more desirable a peak to visit, my hiking companions and I would surely have a deserted summit to ourselves.
The usual suspects of Jim, Corenne, Abby and I stood ashore of the Raquette River near the conclusion of the North Point Road wondering what we would find as we strolled along the shore of the river toward Raquette Lake. Conditions in the woods are still very sporadic in early spring and we hadn't a clue what we would be up against. We did plan ahead and managed to get a much earlier start than usual for a short hike like this, hoping that the thaw and freeze effect we had been getting recently would solidify the snow enough to carry us along. We know herd paths line the shore here, but under snow and heavy deer foot traffic they were not to be found, or even really needed. Whitetail deer are very heavy in this area, and by no means am I referring to their girth, but their population (maybe girth too, but I honestly didn't notice). We spotted one on a small island land looking at us like we were an odd circus attraction; I'm not saying she was too far off either. Another we saw running across the channel; we cheered her on, and to our surprise she made it - a mere 10 feet or so from open water no less.
Spring Hiking at its finest
Our snowshoes stumbled us along as we found the post-holed terrain that the deer had so graciously created for us. The divots, while not too big, were in abundance and in their unchanged frozen state they frequently caused me to stagger as though I had made a morning call upon the parent's liquor cabinet. Besides that, it wasn't long before we realized this would be a cake-walk as long as the snow stayed as hard as it was. Soon we came to what appeared to be a cedar bog on the shore of the lake. There was a small brook running through it, stems of local meadowsweet and several stumps poking through the snow cover. At this point it was quite tempting to just walk the frozen edge of the river down to the western slopes of the mountain, but as I have mentioned many times in the past, that is not my cup of tea.
Shore of Raquette Lake
We stayed fairly close to shore as much as we could until we reached a small bit of private property that we had to skirt. This pushed us away from the lake a bit but quickly brought us back once we were past the half-dozen or so camps. The path remained open as we passed through a lovely boreal forest and on occasion we would have a chance to gaze upon some giants. There we several white pines in this one particular area that would have taken all three of us to hug. Not far or long after our tree groping ceremony, we decided we should snap a few pictures out over the lake toward West Mountain and start our climb up the shoulder of Bluff Point Hill.
The boreal forest soon departed and was replaced by open hardwoods and slapping beech whips mixed in just for fun. As the terrain steepened we began to slow a bit and eventually the snow became deeper and much less consolidated on the abrupt grades. We crawled on our hands and knees to get over a pair of larger fallen red spruces in our path, but that was truly all we had to contend with. Now we could start to see something beside the snow in front of us, that we had seen enough of from months of trail breaking prior to today. Raquette Lake was in nearly full view through the leafless maples and yellow birches, and beyond that was Pilgrim Mountain.
Summit of Bluff Point Hill
Finally atop this little guy, we were surprised. We had not been expecting much of a view, but we did have a decent little window over the smaller trees and off toward the High Peaks. It was very hard telling what we were looking at, but with the white-capped summit it was surely well over 3500 feet in elevation. After a bit of summit exploring in hopes of finding additional views, we gave up and started a descent route down the northern ridge. The forest remained open and a few smaller bluffs along the way down gave us hope for additional views, but none were awarded to us. The ridge was gentle and slowly we made progress down and slightly left in order to match up with our tracks on the way in. The mountain said "hello" in a friendly sort of way, but for now we must say "goodbye," until next time.