Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, one of eighteen wilderness areas in the Adirondack Park of New York State, may not be the biggest wilderness area in the Adirondacks, may not have the tallest peaks, and may not be the most well-known, but nonetheless it is gorgeous. Additionally, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area receives little use compared to other, more popular wilderness areas. It also has a high concentration of rocky summits, due to the wilderness area’s history of wildfires, which incinerated the vegetation and even the soil on many mountains.
When I first hiked in the wilderness area in 2007 I fell in love with it quickly. I saw few others, enjoyed stunning views, and, besides, I have always loved underdogs. Measuring “only” 46,000 acres and not possessing any High Peaks, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area is often overlooked, brushed aside as a locale for mere day hikers. However, this wilderness area prides itself on its underrated wild side. And it is wild, as long as you know where to look.
Reviewing a map of the wilderness area when I got home from my first trip, I noticed that nearly every single mountain, body of water, shelter, and waterway was named — an oddity for a wilderness area. I counted 51 named summits, 44 named bodies of water, 14 named lean-tos, and 11 named streams. Some names, like Bear Pond and Gull Pond, paid homage to woodland residents while other names, like Smith and Leland Hill and Putnam Pond, eulogized humans. Other names such as Bumbo Pond, Grizzle Ocean, Devils Washdish, and Spuytenduivel Brook – who knew? But, I knew what I wanted to do: reach all 120 named features.
After four years of exploring Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area I reached this unique goal, becoming the first person to see all of this wilderness area. I can assure you I saw the best of its wild side. What follows is a ten-image photo journal of my journey.
— Erik Schlimmer