Little Sawyer and Ledge mountains are true gems in the Hamilton County Region, and quite honestly I might be addicted to their summits. I have been to these two peaks on several occasions but looking back, the fall season was not one of them. With half a day to expend, I headed toward Indian Lake.
The two summits reside off of Route 28 between Blue Mountain Lake and Indian Lake, and they are directly across the road from one another. Little Sawyer sits hidden in the deep landscape roughly three quarters of a mile away and Ledge, or Ledger as it is seen on some maps, is closer to a mile away. Neither is demanding as a stand-alone peak.
I wouldn't call myself a lone hiker by any means, but there are times when finding a hiking partner is less than favorable. I guess it wasn't meant to be so on this day, so I flew solo. I packed up my GORP (Gathering Of Random Products), tossed my hiking pack together and hit the road. It was still dark when my tires hit the tarmac but it wouldn't be long until the sun would come up over the horizon. I reached the starting point for Little Sawyer Mountain at full sun-up. I wanted to start a bit closer to the summit this time, so rather than parking at the Sawyer trailhead I drove a bit further down the road and nudged my car onto the shoulder behind the white line.
Little Sawyer Mountain
Upon entering the welcoming forest of mixed hardwoods, I started a rapid attack toward the summit. The lower contours of the mountain are quite featureless, making a straight line of travel a bit more difficult. I found myself conferring with my GPS more often than normal. Eventually I knew I was on the slopes of the mountain, although it still wasn't overly steep. The thick coverage of fallen leaves made finding my footing a bit tricky in certain areas where small portable rocks lay about, but that was the only real challenge of the hike. I soon found myself pushing through the few spruce trees near the summit before I popped out atop the long rock spine.
Snapping a few pictures of the balanced boulder and the views was the extent of my hanging around; I wanted to go back down to the marsh. The marsh rests a bit to the northwest, between the summit of Little Sawyer and Sawyer mountains. I was there once with a group and I wanted to see it from the other side. And who knows? A moose could wander out.
The descent down would be more of a plummet, if I remember correctly. The grade was steep and rocky, with small ledges to contend with. A ravine, if I could find it, would get me down off of them. My luck must have changed because I found that ravine like I had my mind on autopilot. It wasn't far and it put me on the edge of a grassland area; maybe not what is considered a true grassland, but a dry pond overtaken by tall grasses and shrubs.
Now half-immersed in the beauty of the area, I gave up on the moose strolling by and started the walk back to the car. I say walk because there really wasn't any elevation change along the way that would be even remotely considered relevant. By the time I reached the end of the grassy area I was only about 10 minutes from the highway, which was heard well before it was seen.
Next I was off to Ledge Mountain but first I'd need to move the car a bit. I didn't need to move it since the mountain was directly across the road, but I wanted to start from the Rock River trailhead.
Entering the woods right at the trailhead was a bit of a change for me. Usually it's about a quarter mile up the trail before I head off into the forest. The forst floor was flat as a pancake but I had the advantage of being able to use the ridge to my left to keep me on target. Usually I find myself up on the ridge, but no matter how you do it you always end up in the same col, so why climb a ridge that you don't need to? Soon I was on the snowmobile trail that passes through the area, but this trail really gives no aid to the project as it crosscuts the ridge. I used it for about 300 feet before I went back into the woods.
Descending slightly, I crossed a small seep using a natural puncheon from a dead spruce. I was now on my way up. The slopes were steep as I started to crest a small knob on the upper ridge. Unfortunately, I would need to drop off of it, steeply into another col. The climb out is where it gets fun. The ridge was just above me and I could start to see the views arising around every corner. The first ledge offered me nice views out toward White Birch Ridge and the Mill Mountains. The higher I climbed the better the views became. Soon the Pisgah mountains came into view and then the Little High Peaks and the Moose River Plains. There are so many viewing areas along the top of the ledge that it seems I find a new one each time I visit.
I visited the true summit, which is a large boulder in the middle of the trees, but I didn't hang around long — I had a date with bologna sandwich and we were to meet at the top view. Daylight was burning but my hustle gave the opportunity to bask at the view for well over 30 minutes, nearly enough time to nod of. The descent was a fast one with no time wasted. Up and over the ridge, back along the flats, over the soft duff layer and back to the car, the day was nearly all used up. If I only had a few more hours I could probably visit one more peak but as the saying goes, the mountains will always be there. It's so true and so fortunate for someone like me, whose passion is visiting them all. And with winter on its way, why not try cross-country skiing in Hamilton County?