SWIMMING THROUGH TREES: Taking a look at Marsh Ponds — Sentinel Range
I have been on a bushwhacking frenzy lately, and it’s nice to be able to share my experiences with you. I so often end up only having a few hours to play on a given day, so it’s very hard to find a partner to go with, so thank you for listening.
I started this mini-adventure at the Copperas Pond trailhead and wasted no time ascending the steep trail. Now, rather than making the right and going toward Copperas Pond, I stayed straight and hiked toward Winch Pond. Now with muck and mire to my knees, I didn’t halter and continued on a fast pace to reach Winch Pond quickly so I could start my bushwhack route before the sun dipped it head behind the trees.
I set a course to hike around Winch Pond along the north side and catch the valley between Notch Mountain and an unnamed knob behind Winch Pond.
The hike around the pond was very easy as I could walk close to shore and at times right at the water’s edge. As I approached the valley, I came upon a small beaver pond area that was unexpected, but not difficult to navigate by any means. However the small pond did sort of push me uphill a bit further than planned. Since this happened, I just went for it and finished off going over the shoulder of it.
As many of the peaks in the Sentinel Range, this small one was pretty dense in areas. Even staying below the actual summit, the trees were tightly woven together. After pushing my way downhill, yes downhill, I could finally see the glistening of the water through the trees.
I was finally at Marsh Pond or what I called Upper Marsh Pond. The shore was a bit thick as well, with only a slight view through the trees; I pushed out as much as I could in a few areas but to not much avail. I hiked the semi-open forest along the shore and eventually came to a decent opening at the south end of the pond.
From the south end, I followed what I could make out as drainage to what I hoped would be an attractive Lower Marsh Pond. The lower portion of the pond was mostly grassy shoreline, but an interesting spot none the less. Now I needed to see what I could find in the woods as an open route back to the trail. To the west I could see a shallow col between two small knobs that looked like a nice route, so I went for it. There really isn’t much to say about this section, it was decent open forest and a few faint animal paths to follow that didn’t really go in the direction I wanted, but I got sucked in anyhow.
Eventually I was at the loop trail east of Copperas Pond where I hung a left and visited Copperas Pond for a few minutes and to splash off the dense sweater of fir needles I grew. From Copperas, I followed the trail back to the trailhead; despite my interest in doing a direct bushwhack down to the road.
The Sentinel Range is one of the most rugged and wild forests in the Adirondack Park and should not be taken lightly. So, if you are interested in visiting the area be sure to do your research and homework and please be sure to carry all the gear you need for the “what might happen” scenario. Map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them are imperative.
(Spencer Morrissey is a licensed outdoor guide and author of a few Adirondack adventure books.)