Photo by Spencer Morrissey
The trail to Sunrise Mountain.
 
Photo by Spencer Morrissey
Clear Pond from the summit of Sunrise Mountain.
 
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Rise and shine. The breakfast bell sounded at the Elk Lake Lodge, offering us up some gluten free French toast, bacon, fresh fruit and most importantly, coffee. The lodge had a bag lunch waiting for us as well because this was to be a full day of adventure.

After breakfast Corenne and I took a few minutes to pack up our belongings since we were headed back home after the hike. This gave us a bit of time to let our larger than expected breakfast to settle.

Soon we were off to hit the trail to Sunrise Mountain, which is one of the Adirondacks' 100 highest peaks. We started by following the East Shore Trail from near Elk Lake Lodge. This trail on the lodge's property was yet another delight under our feet.

It wasn't too long before we crossed the Dix Trail and started up the Sunrise Trail, a curiosity for many hikers walking through the area. We passed by a couple other small intersections along the way; one was Cadillac Drive and another the Clear Pond Trail.

The trail followed an old, abandoned woods road, which was a pleasure to walk on, so soft and colorful. We enjoyed every minute of it.

Once the trail tightened a bit into more of a foot path, the tread also became narrow, now lined with green moss on either side it created an excellent contrast.

The terrain began a gentle climb as it inched ever closer to the summit. We soon reached Little Sally Brook on our left as the waters flowed with a soothing sound filling our ears.

We continued deeper into seclusion as the sun beams penetrated the trees before us lighting our way through the dark boreal forest.

The trail steepened a bit more as some famous Adirondack mud began to appear in front of us and beneath us, coating our boots in upheaved earth. We rock hopped what we could and wallowed in the rest.

"It's only mud," we agreed to one another. "It's all part of the game."

Soon we found ourselves at the first viewing area. This steeply banked rock surface afforded us outstanding views of the Elk Lake region.

A bit slippery from the night's rain, we carefully made our way to the trail back in the trees. The delicate horns and songs of the local birds gave a soothing hike even more stokes of beauty. Chickadees, oven birds, white-throated sparrows and an occasion hermit thrush sang us a ballad.

The terrain steepened more, and at one point got very steep as we continued to climb toward the top of the false summit. Just prior to the false summit we stood atop the second viewing area -- almost a twin to the first but slightly higher.

As we were about to crest the false summit, Corenne noticed something dead in the trail. We looked down and it wasn't dead at all, it was a baby bunny, warming up in the morning sun. Not moving. We managed to snap a few pictures of the killer fur ball before it did decide to hop off under a tree root.

A short descent would bring us to a high col just below the summit of Sunrise. The climb was steady, and then steep in a few spots. Atop a nice rocky lip, we emerged onto the summit where some outstanding views greeted us.

Below, we had Elk Lake, the sun glistening off this spectacular sheet of water. To our left, was Clear Pond, a small glimmering gem; Boreas Mountain, another Adirondack 100-highest peak; and the Hoffman Mountain Wilderness, where you could mentally get lost for days. To our right we could look up the long spine of the Dix Range, whose structure makes up some of the highest mountains in the state. Behind us we had trees, lovely trees.

A 15-minute summit stop was all we could do; we were chilled to the bone. The wind was blasting us, our shirts were wet and the combination of the two was becoming very uncomfortable. Putting on our packs seemed like a block of ice against our skin.

It was a bit slippery on the steep slopes as we descended farther and farther down the mountain. We even managed to survive passing by the bunny for a second time, this time lurking in the deadfall that lined this part of the trail.

We passed over the first view and quickly found ourselves back onto moderate ground, except now there were fresh moose tracks. They weren't there on the way in, I swear it to be true, and they were heading in the same direction as us. We must have walked pretty close by it on the way up.

We never did see the moose, but we did follow the tracks until they detoured into the forest. Perhaps we startled it once again.

We opted for a bit of change in scenery, so we followed Cadillac Drive back to the Elk Lake Road where we proceeded back to the car, which wasn't all that far away.

Exploring the elusive peaks of the Elk Lake property -- open to those who are guests of the lodge -- is a wonderful way to spend a weekend. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, hiking, paddling, exploring and not a care in the world. What else can you ask for?