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A snowshoe up Coney and Arab mountains

So many challenges, so little time. That’s life in the Adirondacks.

I’ve climbed more than 30 of the Adirondacks’ 46 High Peaks and done the Saranac Lake 6er challenge several times over. For me, the allure of tackling those challenges isn’t for a patch — I have yet to claim my 6er patch — it’s simply a chance to see as much of these mountains as possible. It’s true, even with dozens of peaks under my belt, I still get excited when I dig my boots into a trail that’s new to me.

A story with a view

Several years ago I did a story for the local newspaper on a new trail up Goodman Mountain in Tupper Lake. The 1.6-mile path slowly eases its way up the mountain, so gently that the first quarter mile is wheelchair accessible. The trail then narrows and continues on for another half mile before turning left and ascending Goodman along easy grades.

Goodman’s hardwood forests were lovely to walk through, but what really caught my attention was the man behind the mountain’s name. Andrew Goodman was a Civil Rights activist whose family owned a house in the area. He and two other activists, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, were murdered in Mississippi by members of the Ku Klux Klan on June 21, 1964. The three men were among about 900 young people who had traveled to Meridian to work on the Congress of Racial Equality’s Freedom Summer, a project to register African Americans to vote. 

The three men's bodies were discovered on August 4, 1964, buried near a dam. Of the 21 men the FBI accused of being associated with the murders only seven were convicted, and none served more than six years in prison. 

I got to meet Andrew's brother David at the trail opening and he told the sad, amazing story on that bright summer day. I remember David explaining that, at the time, about 60 percent of the state's population was black and therefore couldn't vote. Simply put, Andrew felt things should be fair for everyone and he set out to change that. David started the Andrew Goodman Foundation in 1966 to continue Andrew’s legacy of advocating for human rights.

I’ve hiked Goodman several times, and with each ascent I imagine the namesake family picnicking on the summit rocks, enjoying the expansive view. Evidence of those outings is still there; poke around the summit and you'll find "Billy Goodman 1938" painted on the rock. Billy was Andrew's uncle. I bet the Goodmans could come here and feel completely removed from the troubled world that lies just beyond the horizon. 

While recently contemplating a snowshoe adventure, I realized Goodman was the only mountain in the Tupper Triad I'd hiked. It was time to fix that. I grabbed Belle, my loyal dog, and hit the road.

To the tower!

Our first stop was the 1-mile trail up Mount Arab. The temperature was in the 20s, perfect for February hiking in the Adirondacks. The path eased its way to Arab’s ridge. I followed that to the summit. It was the definition of casual, with no real steep spots to speak of.

Just before the top of the mountain the path split. There wasn’t a big difference between the two routes except one led to a wooden bench with a nice view. The trails converged shortly after the fork and in no time the top of Arab’s fire tower emerged above the trees. Belle and I climbed the tower, braving strong gusts as we clambered into the cab. I swung the large windows open one by one and enjoyed the view of lakes and mountains before we headed back down.

The easiest knob ever

After Arab it was time for my final Triad, Coney Mountain. This little rocky knob sits right next to the road and would be obtainable in about 10 minutes if it weren’t for the easy, well-designed trail. Instead of negotiating boulders and cliffs, the route skirted left and ascended the mountain like a spiral.

Coney’s summit was always to our right, slowly getting lower with each step. The path finally swung toward it in a final push to the summit, a moderate ascent through an open area where Belle and I first saw ruffed grouse tracks, then heard the beast heavily beating its wings in a thick stand of trees.

The top of Coney is a large, rounded expanse of rock that provides views in every direction after an easy 1.1-mile hike from the parking area. We enjoyed it for awhile, then I gave Coney’s neighbor Goodman a nod as we headed back down, into the trees and on to the next challenge.

After completing the Tupper Lake Triad, head into town for some food and a craft beer!

This week in ADK news:

Sick day

Fort Fever and more

Pick your pike

Downtown gems

Snowboard the Face

Splendors of snowshoeing

Ice fishing derby round-up