The number of eastern mountains running lifts has dwindled quickly in April. I might still get more days in Vermont but this weekend was the end of the ski season for New York. It’s a melancholy time every year but of course, we have to accept reality. I remind myself, there is more to life than just skiing. We still have lots of fun, adventurous things to do.
My favorite way to get outdoors during the summer months is flatwater paddling. I’ve long had the idea in the back of my mind that I could make the transition from skiing to paddling in a single trip. I didn’t invent the idea. This time of year, social media fills up with “I skied and golfed the same day” or “I skied and mountain biked” posts. But I haven’t done it before.
It has a certain logic. There’s the fact that my spring skiing days tend towards being half days in reality- the heavier, wetter spring snow, together with the irresistible urge to ski hard that spring inspires, often leaves my leg muscles toasted by noon. Switching to paddling in the afternoon, which mainly use upper body and core muscles, makes perfect sense- to me at least.
Additionally, there are lots of fun places to kayak near the Adirondacks and Vermont. I don’t think I’ve ever made the drive to Killington without having the thought as I drive through Whitehall “the South Bay of Lake Champlain is right up that road. I should have brought a kayak so I could pop in for a quick paddle on the way back.” Remembering the idea as I drive through Whitehall or Fort Anne gets me nowhere though; all I need is a little planning.
I decided this was going to be the year I finally did it. Gore was my destination so Lake Champlain was out and Lake George was in. I identified Roger’s Rock campground as our launch spot. It isn’t nearly as “on the way” to Gore as the South Bay is to Killington but it was close enough to work. I texted my son at college to see if he was interested. I knew he was going to do the pond skim at Gore on Saturday and had made plans to ride down with a friend.
Junior liked the idea and said he would ask his buddy if he was up for it. When I checked in on Friday to decide which boats I wanted on top of my car, my son responded that his pal had bailed on the pond skim to go hiking. His loss. With the plan established in my mind, I loaded two single touring boats next to the ski box on top of my Subaru.
I got up early and made the three-hour drive up to Gore, arriving around nine. I found my son immediately. He was still farting around the lodge figuring out the details of the pond skim so I headed up the gondola alone. I did a couple runs, explored around a bit to see what was still open, and then headed back down to check on Junior’s progress. He was all set so he came out to ski for awhile.
Conditions were gorgeous. The sun was out and temps were climbing quickly. The snow was soft and forgiving, spring skiing at its best. After a short time, my son decided to head back down in order to watch some pond skimming before his turn. We figured they would get to him around 11:30 so I decided to take another run and catch up to him later.
It was tough leaving the upper mountain but I made it back to the base area around 11:10. I immediately noticed that Junior wasn’t in the starting area. I slid down to where spectators lined edge of the water and couldn’t find him there either. I watched one or two people attempt the skim before going to look for my son around the lodge.
We hooked up quickly. He explained that a lot of the people with lower bib numbers had not showed up so he went early. He was happy to have made it across the water but had double ejected when he hit the berm at the other end. I was sorry to have missed it but glad he didn’t go for a swim. A couple skinned knees were better than two ski boots full of water so we figured all good and went back up the gondola.
Skiing in eighty degree weather is kind of weird but we were having a great time. My run of the day was Open Pit. I went back to it several times. Junior preferred Rumor. Hawkeye was skiing great also. There were soft bumps everywhere. As expected, my legs were burning by noon.
Sticking to the plan, we skied back to the lodge. The party was in full swing on the patio when we got there. I would normally have joined in and savored a beer or two in the sun. We were celebrating the change of seasons differently this year so we debooted, packed up our stuff and headed to the parking lot.
The drive down to Lake George took almost an hour so we got out on the water around two in the afternoon. I have camped at Rogers Rock in the past but I actually learned about the place from a rock climbing guidebook. It’s named after Robert Rogers who lent his name to Roger’s Rangers, a unit of unconventional soldiers from the French and Indian War.
Legend has it that he was pursued by enemies here during The Second Battle on Snowshoes and escaped death or capture by either A: sliding down the 400 foot rock face to the frozen lake below or B: sliding his backpack down the rock to simulate his having fallen, walking backwards in his snowshoe tracks and hiding in a tree as his pursuers went by. Neither story is considered confirmed fact and Rogers ended up on the British side in the Revolution but it’s still a good story. Roger’s Rock is now just a cool place to hike, climb or paddle.
Conditions were calm so we didn’t bother with skirts. The campground is south of the rock so we paddled north. The cold water was a beautiful green color and remarkably clear. It was Junior’s first time and he was impressed by the massive cliff when we got to it. We almost had the place to ourselves. There were a few anglers in a boat near the base of the cliff and two climbers high up on the rock face.
I pointed out to my son where they had landed by canoe to start their climb. We watched them for awhile while I explained belaying and protection and rappelling to Junior. The scene’s peaceful beauty was quite a contrast to the party going on back at Gore. We paddled a bit further north where the shoreline is more conventionally Lake George-ish, green trees and expensive homes. We were out on the water about two hours in total, enough time to get a nice workout.
Junior was headed back to college so we said our goodbyes in the parking lot after loading the boats back on my car. My drive took me south along Lake George on 9N, a route filled with beautiful views. It was really enjoyable without the summer traffic I’ve encountered on most of my trips to the area. All in all, I was pretty satisfied with the day, even though it means ski season is over. Hopefully I’ll get a day or two more at Killington. Maybe I’ll remember to bring a kayak with me if I do.
8 comments on “Adirondack Double: Gore Mountain and Rogers Rock”
Thanks for your time & talent producing these many pleasant memories, Brownski.
Saturday I enjoyed skiing at Killington in similar near-perfect conditions, and look forward to maybe another month over there.
Great write up, Brownski, reminds me of a Memorial Day weekend a few years back when my son and I loaded up the skis and kayaks and headed north to Vermont. Spent Saturday afternoon paddling and fishing for rainbows at Woodford State Park in the southern Greens, then headed north for Sunday laps on Superstar at Killington. Gotta love the shoulder season!
Great story, Brownski. My own ski season ended abruptly again… plan for the last trip would have been last week, had it not been 80 degrees 😭
Just a wonder end to the season… Excellent writing…
Very good Mr. Broski. Melancholy Season is off to a good start I would say. Well written.
From Headwaters on down, I like your style Brownski.
I know you’ve had your eye on this one for a while. Nice!
Thanks for the comments. Hopefully I can do a repeat at Killington before Superstar melts away.