The Jaws: Upper and Lower

LWJ UWJ Trail HighlightAnother weekend meant another chance to climb, albeit not the best weather I could of asked for. When summit reports were saying temperatures were dropping to the 20s and 30s  I thought they were exaggerating. Calling for winter hats and gloves, in August?! But with 45 degrees at one summit and under the 40  on the other I’m glad I brought my vest, hat and gloves. It was chilly! It’s odd to be in shorts and a tank top and then all of sudden huddling under your winter cap. Yep that’s the adirondack weather for ya.

I headed up to Lower Wolfjaw first, skipping the Lake Road and ascending via W.A. White Trail. The summit view was, well non-existent, not that it is known for being one of the best. But I knew that was going to be the case, so it gave me a chance to really appreciate the beauty of the trail – because you sure aren’t going to see anything at the top.

WA White Trail to Lower Wolfjaw

WA White Trail to Lower Wolfjaw

The ascent was pretty straight forward, some wet spots and one particular mile that was quite nice – enough of a climb to make you sweat but easy enough that you could book it pretty fast and still enjoy the deep forest that was all around you. And a couple of spots of pretty steep elevation gain – once early on and then once at the very end that you are basically climbing up a vertical rise in a rock-face, muddy, gully. Oh joy!

The only thing I did not appreciate was the bear scat and tracks. Yep. I was that that solo hiker that was singing on the trail to make sure to make enough noise to not startle a bear. I apologize to any wildlife that had the mis-fortune of hearing me sing. Don’t get me wrong I like wildlife. But bears, I prefer to see them at a distance. The Ranger said there was 7 sightings on Saturday and expected more.

WA White Trail to Lower Wolfjaw

WA White Trail to Lower Wolfjaw

After seeing only one other hiking party on the way up – which was nice if for no other reason that they would run into “the bear” first – I enjoyed the summit in the clouds all by my lonesome. One reason to hike in the less than ideal weather days is the solitude of the trail – nothing but the wind and you. Yep nothing better.

I then continued on the other side of Lower Wolfjaw to join the the Wedge Brook Trail and the steep, slippery, muddy decent to the column between LWJ and UWJ. Not my favorite part of the hike but I was then on to the 1 mile ascent to Upper Wolfjaw in no time.

And the scrambles begin. They start out small and fun.

And the scrambles begin. They start out small and fun.

It starts out pretty moderate incline but there were a few scrambles that make me proud of how far I’ve come, in both my ability and gusto. I ran into a group of young women who were trying for the summit but they just couldn’t get past one. It had no side trees or roots for help, was wet and slippery and felt more like rock climbing vs. scrambling. Not saying I’m fast on them or wasn’t winded but nothing that made me think too hard and don’t automatically go for the trees for help. Yes that felt pretty awesome.

Upper Wolfjaw summit had much better views and far better than my camera can do it justice. Point and shoot cameras were not built for overcast/cloudy days. It was windy and cold but again enjoyed the summit in solitude.

Upper Wolfjaw Summit

Upper Wolfjaw Summit

I took the Wedge Trail down this time for a nice loop. Once I got about a mile past the col between UWJ and LWJ it was a pretty easy, soft descent but just felt like it went on and on.  It was the fastest trip down but how I’m growing to dislike the walk on Lake Road more and more. So close but still more time and mileage to go. I also think part of it is as soon as I hit Lake Road life starts pulling you back and my mind wanders to the to do list, email, etc. I’m just never ready for it and wish I could mentally stay on the climb longer.

Once at the parking lot I then built up some hiking karma and helped a nice couple who locked their keys and cell phone in the car. And after, what I’m sure was a confusing call to a friend for him to look up BMWs satellite unlock service, I was on my way.

I can’t help but feel the change of the season coming you can feel it in the the way the air smells different. We’ve had some unseasonable cold weather and hoping that the summer will hold out a bit longer.

Lower Wolfjaw and Upper Wolfjaw: completed 08/17/2014, total distance 11.5 miles, hike time: 10 hrs

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