The Inner Sanctum hike is considered the Intermediate difficulty trail at Ausable Chasm. It was a lot of walking, but it was mostly down hill as you were heading into the Chasm and down a lot of stairs. There are a number of beautiful views from the Inner Sanctum walk and it was definitely a good choice. The other trail choices are the "Rim Walk" which is the easiest level trail, "The Dry Chasm" trail which is considered "more difficult" and the "Cave and Falls" hike which is the "most difficult". On the inner sanctum walk we eventually reached the spot for the float tour. We decided to take a raft as a group. Ausable or Au Sable is a combination of French words meaning "of sand" as we were told by our boat tour guide, Andrew. Dave and I were chosen by the tour guide to sit in the front of the raft and paddle. Water does come into the raft, so if you go on the raft make sure you take off your shoes and your feet and pants or shorts are likely to get wet. Dave found that out the hard way as he chose to keep his shoes on. There are no rapids to speak of really, but there is one or two spots where you encounter very low level rapids. This summer in Upstate New York has been very dry though so the water level will be higher than it was for us during most other visitors visits. We were told they may have to shut the guided raft tours down for a bit if they don't start to get more rainfall soon. While the tour needs more rainfall, we were extremely pleased to have a beautiful and sunshiny/warm day. The temperature and humidity levels were ideal for walking. There is so much tree cover that you do not really have to worry about sun burn, even without sun screen and the bugs were not a problem, but I do not know if that is always the case.
The float tour was informative and a nice break from the walking. When we finished the float tour, as the good boy I am, I remembered to give our tour guide Andrew a tip. Andrew told us little stories and facts and primarily did the steering of the raft, instructing Dave and I when we needed to paddle. The Chasm was effected a lot by last years record rainfalls associated with Hurricane Irene, or her remnants I should say, as they battered the North East. A lot of people who face dangerous level 3 or 4 hurricane's may chuckle when New Yorkers go on about the damages from a level 1 Hurricane and tropical storm system, but it was really the water and flooding associated with the storm after what had already been a rainy summer that was so devastating to many in the North Eastern states of New York, Connecticut and into portions of New England. Bridges that go over 130 foot drops to the Chasm floor were only 10 feet above water level last year during the Tropical Storm system.
After the float tour we waited for the bus ride back to the main gate. As we waited, groups that came behind us, cut in front of us to take the bus. It was a bit unfortunate that people are not considerate enough to wait their turn. So we decided to wait for the next bus. As we waited, we made the choice to not take the bus back and hike the green trail back to the Ausable Chasm museum and gift shop. So the fact that others cut infront of us to take the bus back was a blessing in disguise. The green trail is "The Rim Walk" or easiest trail you can hike at the Chasm. It was a nice little hike that we all enjoyed making, but I think it was a bit more difficult than the Inner Sanctum for us because we were a bit tired. The views are no where near as nice during the Rim Walk, so I would definitely MOST recommend that the novice hiker take the Inner Sanctum trail. None the less, we did get to walk trough some beautiful forrest sections and see down into the Chasm from the Rim Walk and we were all happy we decided to walk back and not take the bus.
When we got back to the gift shop I bought three postcards for $1.00. Driving home we decided to stop at a McDonalds. Dave drove with me and Michele drove with Barb and her daughter. Shortly after leaving McDonalds we were back heading south on Interstate 87 when a New York State Trooper pulled out behind us after David and I had passed him in my car. I was going about 70 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone so I was really hoping he wasn't coming for us. Turns out... he wasn't coming for us (Dave and I) and he pulled ahead of us and pulled over Barb who we were following. I was really disapointed with the fact that the officer chose to pull Barb over as she cannot have been going more than maybe 73 mph or so tops and was moving along well with traffic. There could have been some other reason he pulled her over, but I couldn't think of anything other than the speed we were going. There were several people going the same speed as we were ahead of us though, and I do not know why he would choose to pull her over and not me. At any rate. I stopped on the side of the road 2 or so miles up, so as not to give the officer two chances to give a ticket if that's what he would have done. I wanted to wait for Barb so she knew we hadn't just bailed on her. An different State Trooper pulled up behind Dave and I as we waited, but when he came to the window he asked me if we were okay and I told him we were just waiting for our friend who had been pulled over a couple of miles back. He seemed to be sympathetic and left without giving us any trouble. When Barb caught up to us she pulled over in front of us and we started heading back to Clifton Park. Ultimately Barb called us later and decided she wanted to go to a Dunkin Donuts in Lake George. Dave and I couldn't find them though when we got stuck at a light on the exit we took off the express way. Michele called back and told us that we could head back without them instead of all of us playing a game trying to find one another. So ultimately I did not yet get to find out why Barb got pulled over or if the officer gave her a ticket or not. Let's hope that she did not get any tickets.
The total trip was easy to do in one day. We had to drive about 4 and a half hours total and we spent about 4 and a half hours at the park doing the walking trails and guided raft tour. Here are some pictures from our trip. Sorry I'm not a better photographer, as the pictures do not entirely do the park justice. It was quite a wonderful sight and I hope that some of our readers are able to experience it too someday, if they have not already.
The Elephant's Head Rock Formation
Distant shot of the Rainbow Falls. Sorry no Rainbow.
Walking down into the Chasm
Jacob's Well. I wonder if you have to climb Jacob's Ladder to get out of Jacob's Well?
Rapids! Portions of the Park have level 5 rapids, but none of the portions open to rafting or tubing.
Sandstone. The stuff Ausable Chasm was named after.
YAY! Let's go Rafting!
Into the water.
Bridge the water was 10 feet below during Hurrican Irene. Barb was nice enough to take pictures for me while I paddled. That's my paddle in the way. We had to keep them in the raft when told to. >.<
Oh noes! Did someone turn out the lights down here?
Back on dry land. Barb had to put the cameras away when we hit the rapids area. This is one of the many scenic overlooks. The park has a number of these wooden structures you can walk out on and take a picture of the chasm from.
Oh noes! A boat seems to have lost its rider. >.>
Darkness. (Also weirdly my favorite picture)
Place to rest. Next time we'll pack a lunch. >.<
Already went over the river, so now it's through the woods.
So that's how they get the rafts back.
Return to Rainbow Falls.
Bye Ausable Chasm! Hope to come back next year and do the Dry Chasm walk and Nightime Lantern Tour.