Before you plan a remote winter hike up Buck, Sleeping Beauty or Pilots Knob, my advice is to acclimate yourself by exploring the waterfalls of Shelving Rock. Located on the east side of Lake George, the Wild Forest is teeming with visitors in the summer and, by boat, is easy to get to. Just befriend a local with a party barge and set sail for Log Bay. In the winter, it’s a whole different story.
It takes a car with strong traction control and quick response to navigate seven-miles of dirt roads into the dense solitude of Washington County. You’ll pass the proverbial wooden Adirondack trailhead signs for surrounding mountains but resist the temptation to park and climb. Continue onward until you cross a narrow bridge, then park at the designated Lot 1. Don your backpack, Nikon and compass and don’t forget those snowshoes or micro spikes.
Shelving Rock Mountain Trail stretches like tentacles in every direction but if waterfalls are what you’re after, like me, stick to the banks of the bubbling brook. There’s an old carriage road that parallels it but for a more intense adventure, break your own trail. Be aware of the physical risks to traversing pristine, unscathed terrain. Finding your footing is never easy so remain cautious even with a friend.
George and I wouldn’t have done so if we didn’t find the footprints of a fellow hiker. This fellow hiker was wise. He or she skirted the banks knowing where to find footing among fallen trees and icy boulders covered by snow. How we managed not to slip into shallow holes where crystal clear water flowed, I will never know. I felt like a deer foraging not for food but great shots.