2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – September 2011

Deepest Daks

Journey through America's most accessible wilderness in search of untouched places, and you might just find peace of mind to match the lakes and hills.

by: Casey Lyons

Lewey Lake in the fall (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Lewey Lake in the fall (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Red Eft Newt (Adam Dixon)
Red Eft Newt (Adam Dixon)
Pillsbury Lake Lean-To (Tim Seaver)
Pillsbury Lake Lean-To (Tim Seaver)

On our final morning, we're standing at the edge of Little Squaw Brook. The map shows the trail continuing, but neck-high grass disagrees.
“Good a place as any,” I say to Adam. We start off-trail, uphill and east, toward Snowy’s long southern ridge, which we’ll follow to the summit. The leaves crunch under our feet in the wide-open forest dotted with suitcase-size boulders and crossed by thin drainage brooks still gurgling with fresh rainfall.
White pines thread in with the hardwoods the higher we climb, closing off the cross-valley view to Buck Mountain until we reach a 30-foot-tall cliff band near the top. Just short enough to hide between topo lines.
It’d be easy for Adam and me to turn back here, give in to doubt, re-ford the chest-deep Cedar River like we did yesterday afternoon, take the NPT back to the Colvin Brook Trail, and blame it on something besides ourselves.
But that’s not what we’re going to do.
After a few minutes of grunting and scraping fingernails, Adam joins me on a ridge so crowded by white pines that light barely penetrates. In their race for open air, these 40-foot-tall, Nalgene-skinny trees let the bottom branches die to feed the crown. The tight, two-foot space between trunks is now barbed with hundreds of skewers. They poke our arms and legs and whip our faces.
Mossy logs flatten to mush when we step on them. Cliff bands on both sides keep us on the ridge. We take turns breaking branches. We don’t talk much. Hours pass. Frustration gives in to doubt. Doubt collapses into exhaustion.
The sun is on its way down by the time we stand below the last 200-foot broken rock face on the backside of Snowy. I take the inventory: both water bottles missing, right leg of shorts ripped off, bleeding from both forearms, scratched and swollen left eye. I look like a kid fresh from a hiding spot in the prickers, or a man returned from clearing them away. Then I realize: I am both. I can hold fast to my teenaged taste for risk, but inform it with the things I’ve learned; I can convert my ideas into adventures better than ever before. Growing up doesn’t mean getting soft. There’s nowhere to go from here but forward.
Testing each step, Adam leads up the steep, tree-filled seam between sheer rocks. We shift boulders and uproot tiny saplings. We never look back or down. Adam smells something familiar. “Campfire,” he says. “We’re close.”
And then, leading to the cliff we’ve just scaled, we see a faint trail that delivers us to the base of an 80-foot fire tower. We scale it in seconds; it’s like being born into the sky. The southern Daks stretch out before us. To the east, Indian Lake shines like a sword below rolling hills splotched with yellows, oranges, and forest-greens. To the north, the High Peaks chip the horizon.
Far away on those slopes, the ant paths deliver dayhikers—teenagers and seniors alike—to popular summits with finer views than the one here. But we’re the ones who gained perspective.

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Mountain Man
Jun 21, 2012

It’s very true that much of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park wilderness sees very few footprints. Most hikers don’t head very far from the roads or clog the well-known trails in the High Peaks. There are plenty of hikes that can lead you to a solitary peak or grant you your own private lean-to on a pond for a couple days.

John Naresky
Tamarack Guide Service

Nov 03, 2011

The link posted above following Trip Data isn't valid.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

What Should I Do About A Table And Chairs?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Trailhead Register
Who's Working this weekend...?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions