It seemed like a long time since our last hike but I finally made it back to New York after a few long weeks of work. The plan for the day was to get into the Dix range and try and climb Dix & Hough. In my mind I thought it may be a stretch considering the forecast called for 90+ degree temperatures but we were still going into the day with the game plan of doing two mountains. We got up bright and early once again scarfing down a quick homemade breakfast before hitting the road right around 530 a.m. It was a little bit before 8 a.m. when we arrived at the St. Huberts parking area. Fortunately it wasn’t all that hot yet so we tried to take advantage and get going as fast as we could. We headed up the road for only .3 miles before making a left for the trailhead typically used to hike Noonmark. We signed in noticing only a few other people checked in for the day, mostly ones who were heading to Round Mountain or Noonmark so we anticipated a lonely day.
We started off down a gravel road which weaved its way through various cabins likely owned by individuals more financially significant than myself and to the turnoff for the trail towards Dix. Almost immediately we started to ascend at a steady clip. We continued on like this for a good quarter of a mile before coming across a couple signs marking the trail. After this point we would go for almost a mile and a half before seeing any more signs. The whole way up until now had been pretty steep, at the clip the elevation was increasing I figured without looking at the map we would need to hit a flat section sooner or later otherwise we’d be over 7000 feet by the end of the day. We took a quick breather at a trail junction marking the ascent for Round Mountain.
We caught our breath and hydrated for a few minutes before heading off for Dix. I couldn’t help but feel the temperature slowly rising so chugging water regularly was a necessity. Fortunately the trail gives you a break after the first couple miles and flattens out for quite a long distance. We tried to use the flat terrain to our advantage and cover as much ground as we could in the shortest time possible. We went non stop until we reached our next major trail junction at which point we stopped again to hydrate and catch our breath.
Knowing we only had 4.5 miles to reach Dix Mountain and given the time of day we were still pretty confident we would come away with 2 mountains. With this in mind we wanted to keep the pace quick while the trail was flat. We pushed on without stopping for another 45 minutes through relatively easy terrain. The ground was mostly dirt with some boulders along side the trail. We seemed to be following a small brook for the majority of this approximately 2 mile stretch until we reached a lean-to containing gear from some people likely staying the night. Once again we took a break as the heat of the day was now becoming quite the factor.
After our break we hopped over a decent sized brook that was directly passed the lean-to. The goal was to keep following the trail until we made it to an enormous slide essentially marking the start of the last ascent towards Dix. We kept going on the relatively flat easy stretch of trail for what was about 45 minutes. There were no real obstacles other than the heat standing in our way and then we made it to this…
Alas the big-ass slide we were looking for. My initial impression was that we were going to follow this slide for quite some way. That was not the case at all, when you approach this section the trail is a few hundred feet up on the right of the slide. Seeing that the sun was out in full force I had no problem with getting back in the shade as even Andrews SPF 100 was going to be challenged. Immediately the trail got steep, and steeper….and steeper until I literally started to laugh at how badly this mountain was kicking our ass.
This steep section of trail kept on going for what seemed like forever, in reality it was a little bit over a mile. Finally after spending about 50 minutes slowly making our way towards the summit we got to a trail junction telling us we were only .4 miles away from the summit. The heat was getting tough and I can think of few times where I had struggled so much climbing a mountain, and it was not for being out of shape.
We took a rest at the junction (Andrew almost took a nap) and then slowly made our way to the summit of Dix Mountain. Even though we were so close our pace did not hasten much. We did not stop however until we found the summit marker on a large rock making this high peak number 32 for me and 31 for Andrew. The views from Dix were phenomenal despite being very hazy at the time.
We spent a good 20-30 minutes on the summit and talked to someone coming from Elk Lake, he had already done the rest of the range on the day but had also started about 3 hours sooner than us and was camping out. We drank a ton of water and downed a few clif bars before making our way off of the beautiful summit. Andrew and I knew that we were going to be in for a very slow descent initially due to the very steep section of trail. Once we were going down we moved at a snails pace especially given all of the loose rocks and gravel that were making this a bit treacherous. It took just under an hour to get back to the base of the enormous slide. We decided to take a rest and give our knees a break, I decided to throw a huge rock and watch it shatter (which was sadly entertaining). After our break we went pretty much non-stop until we made it back to the lean-to that we had rested at before.
Once again we rested as the heat was still a factor considering it was only about 3:00 p.m. I ate the last of my food in preparation for the last part of our day which was fortunately going to be a pretty flat straight forward trip out of the woods. We took off towards the massive trail junction we arrived at earlier in the day, and in about a half hour we managed to get there. We knew we were heading at a decent clip so we just kept on going until we reached another junction. From here I started to count the mileage we had left in my head by counting steps (yes I do these things don’t ask why). I am pleased to say I was very accurate with my counting as just as I figured we would be done we made it back to the gravel road. Andrew signed us out and we made the walk down Ausable Road to the car. We were done a bit earlier than we had grown accustomed to so we went for a nice dinner at the ADK Café before heading back.
Recommendation to Hikers: Dix was a tough one for sure, I think it was certainly compounded by the heat we were experiencing that day. Aspiring 46ers will probably want to hike Dix along with Hough, or if you are very ambitious try out the whole Dix Range (Dix, Hough, South Dix, Grace, Macomb). The average hiker would really love the views from the top as I rank it as one of the best in the Adirondacks, however the un-relenting final section may be a bit of a drawback if you are not in shape.
Dix: Difficulty – 10 Views – 10