This was the day I had been looking forward to for the better part of the last 4 years. 8/13/17 would be the day I completed every mountain on the Adirondack 46ers list. All I had to do was travel 17.5 miles up and down mighty Mt Haystack in the middle of the Adirondack High Peaks. Yeah not that easy, never is. I had spent the weekend up to that point with Sarah up in Brasher Falls, NY but the hike had been on my mind for weeks leading up to that point. Sunday morning we woke up just before 6 am and wasted no time getting on the road. The plan was to meet Andrew at Marcy Field around 8 am and hop on the shuttle to The Garden in Keene. Once we arrived at Marcy Field the shuttle driver informed us that there was still 5 spots left at The Garden. We decided to take a chance at getting one of those spots since taking the pressure off making the final shuttle was worth the gamble to me. Sure enough we made it to The Garden with just 2 spots remaining. I paid the $10 to park at The Garden (not before the douche at the gate told me I was driving too fast, I was going 15 mph in a 15 mph zone so he can piss off) and unloaded the packs.
We wasted little time at the trailhead and decided to make a break for Johns Brook Lodge where we figured we would take our first real break. Immediately Andrew and I started reminiscing about some of our previous hikes to pass the time. The walk to JBL seemed a little longer that I remembered but regardless we seemed like we were keeping a pretty good pace. The walk ended up being a blur as the thought of finishing the 46 was firmly entrenched inside my mind and not much else was going on inside my head at the time. After about an hour and fifteen minutes we made it to JBL and took a seat.
We sat and hydrated before someone staying at the Lodge recognized Andrew and myself. Turns out we had met him on our previous hike of Allen Mountain so it was a brief but funny reunion nonetheless. After that encounter we got back on our feet and headed off in the direction of Slant Rock which we knew was going to be about 3.8 miles away from where we currently sat. We didn’t really eat anything at JBL instead opting to get this next section of the hike done as quickly as possible. The walk to Slant Rock started off relatively easy meandering in and out of a stream bed before ultimately crossing Johns Brook. From there we went on about another mile and a half of very straightforward easy hiking.
We sat at a trail junction contemplating between eating a quick snack now or waiting until we reached Slant Rock. Me being kind of stubborn decided I could make it without food although nobody put up much of a fight about it so we just took off again. I knew from my recollection of our hike to Saddleback and Basin that the trail was about to get a little bit steeper, and slightly muddier. As we anticipated it did get steeper, but this really did not slow us down too much. It really wasn’t too muddy for the most part and just as I noticed this my foot went into what was 2 foot deep muddy hole resulting in my entire leg being coated in a bunch of wet gunk.
After being laughed at for my hilarious misfortune we kept on going until we reached a small stream crossing. I used this as a chance to clean off my boot and leg which really just resulted in my sock getting soaked so I gained no benefit from it. Just after the stream we came to big old Slant Rock. I sat down and got a bite to eat before Sarah kind of walked around the corner where the trails split. Andrew followed her before I heard him say something along the lines of “oh now shes climbing the rock”….sigh. Not knowing quite what possessed Sarah to climb the rock Andrew and I just kind of watched her go. It turned into quite the ordeal as once Sarah got to the top she had one hell of a time trying to find her way down.
The comedic moment was a nice distraction but Andrew and I had a much larger rock to climb so on we went. From this point I could really start to feel how close we were getting, but this did not make the rest of the way any easier. The climb began to get much steeper and even so we knew from all the reports we had read that it would only get more intense the closer we got. We pushed on until we reached another trail junction from which point we only had a mile to go until we reached the summit.
We stopped and snacked one final time before we gathered ourselves for what would be the last push to the summit. I started to get very anxious as the thought of the accomplishment began to take over my mind. I had to get that though out of my mind very quickly as the trail in front of us started to get rocky and steep. It was clear to me at this point that the final part of Haystack was going to take a lot out of us as each breath was very labored, and I was not in the kind of shape I was in the spring.
Before too long we approached another sign marking .5 miles until we reached the summit. This was it “The Devils Half Mile”. I’ve read about it many times, and while I didn’t expect to scale a shear cliff I also knew it was about to get really tough. From here all we could see was bare rock in front of us as we were nearing the top of Little Haystack. This had some tricky sections as the rock was very steep in most parts, but fortunately the rock was very coarse making the footing very good going up.
Once we reached the top of Little Haystack we had the real deal sitting right there in front of us. We made our way down the back of Little Haystack which had a shear drop just off the yellow trail markers making the though of tripping and falling slightly horrifying. Despite this we all made it down to the col between Little Haystack and Haystack just fine.
At this point it was all uphill until we reached the top. We all kind of went our own way up just generally following the yellow markings. It was hard to get excited as I was breathing so heavily and my legs were on fire. Sarah got a little ahead of us, I was in the middle with Andrew tailing behind just a little bit. About 500 feet from the summit I turned around to look behind me, and there was Andrew with both fists in the air. I waited for him as we both wanted to make sure we crossed the finish line at the same time. We couldn’t help but be pumped those last few hundred feet as this day was over 3 years in the making. This was it. We made it to #46.
I knew we had a long walk out but I though it would go smoothly. One piece of advice I would give anyone making their way out from Haystack is to look at a map marking specific trails. There are many junctions between Haystack and our intended destination of Slant Rock and we ended up going back a different way…by accident. I was kind of confused as to where we went wrong but I knew we were going the right way regardless. We made our way to Slant Rock, adding about a mile of unnecessary travel to our day before making the trip out. We stopped one more time at JBL to collect our thoughts before getting our tired legs back to The Garden. Only this time out Andrew and I were Adirondack 46ers!
Recommendation To Hikers: This is a hike that is not the most suitable for someone who isn’t in shape or is new to the Adirondacks. The views from the top offer you some of the best in the Adirondacks. As I mentioned it would be wise to study the trail map a bit as there are several junctions and many trails in this area so plan your route accordingly.
Haystack: Views – 10 Difficulty – 9