Allen Mountain

I’ve consistently seen Allen Mountain ranked as one of the toughest climbs in the Adirondack High Peaks in all of the research I’ve done preparing for climbs over the years and it’s definitely developed a mythical place in 46er lore. I’ve seen numerous reasons why people disliked climbing Allen ranging from length of the climb, to tough trail conditions, confusing directions, or lack of payout at the summit. All of the negative comments regarding the hike kind of lead us put this climb off until the very end, but since Chris and I were sitting on peak #44, it became time for us to finally take a crack at Allen this summer.

We set off around 5 AM on a weekday in July, knowing we’d have a tough 18 mile day to get to the wooded summit of Allen. Nothing about the thought of climbing to Allen that early in the morning was particularly appealing, but we were getting so close to finishing the 46 that it made the task seem just a little bit more exciting than it normally would be. Going into this hike, we weren’t even sure if we would really be able to do this climb successfully because there was a forecast for storms for that day. I told Chris point blank that climbing Allen under a chance of storms would be uncomfortable and borderline dangerous because of the notoriously slippery final ascent of Allen, and the muddy conditions present on the flat sections of the climb, but luckily the storms had passed the night before and the forecast had improved. I knew in the back of my head that even if the skies were nice for the day, the ground was still going to be wet and treacherous, and let’s just say that Allen didn’t disappoint at all!

 

We managed to get to the trailhead by about a quarter to 8, which would give us plenty of time to get the hike completed in daylight, barring any catastrophic injuries or bear encounters. While driving in, Chris put the over/under of how many people we were going to see on the trail at 4.5, and while I took the under, I was adamant we would see at least one other party doing the hike on a nice summer day. The ADK 46 is getting pretty popular and even on the most remote hikes on the randomest days of the week, there always a good chance of running into other hikers doing the same thing you’re trying to do. It didn’t take us any more than a few seconds to see somebody else pull up to the trailhead trying to hike Allen too, so my theory about hiking in the High Peaks in 2017 was proven right immediately. We quickly signed in, and got going on what would be a long day’s work getting to the summit.

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After only walking for a few minutes from the trail register, we already reached the bridge to cross over the Hudson River. Once we reached the other side of the river, the trail quickly deteriorated into a muddy, bog-like condition on and off for a while. We spent the majority of our day trying not to get our boots stuck too badly in the mud, but it was unavoidable and deep in certain spots. The mud deterred our pace a little, but luckily there were some spots on the trail that managed to be a bit better than others. The trail around Lake Jimmy had some nice bog bridging, even though I must admit it would’ve been a little cooler (not to mention quicker) to be able to walk across the lake on bridging, and the trail around the Mount Adams trailhead had some interesting cabins to explore. We stopped to check out the cabins for a brief moment then continued on past Adams.

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This was pretty typical of this day

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The trail descending towards Lake Sally was extremely muddy and eroded to the point where there were clearly established cut-arounds in the woods next to the trail. I do understand the mystique of climbing Allen from Upper Works given all of the hardships needed to get to it, but I’m 100% in favor of the DEC developing another trail to get to Allen from the south because this trail is hardly sustainable anymore. We begrudgingly made our way through the slop and ended up on another one of the old logging roads in that section of wilderness. The nice gravel road that the trail follows along the Opalescent offers some nice respite from the muddy conditions, and it offers some interesting glimpses into the logging past of the woods. As you walk through there, you can make out faint logging roads and old paths that have long since been abandoned, which are some of the only exciting points of interest on the way to the herd path. After passing a steel gate and continuing on, we crossed the Opalescent River on a nice new hanging bridge instead of fording the river like you would’ve had to before. Even though our boots were already wet enough by this point, it was still nice to be able to cross on a bridge versus going over the river, so we do have to give a special shout-out to the trail crews for working diligently on such a remote trail as the East River Trail is.

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Follow this sign to the bridge over the Opalescent

 

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Bridge Crossing the Opalescent

 

 

The trail junction leading into the true herd path towards Allen were much easier to find than I had expected. The East River Trail does not seem to be travelled beyond the Allen turn off that frequently, to the extent that the established trail actually seamlessly leads off into the direction of Allen without even looking like much of a trail beyond that point. From this easy turn off it’s only maybe a tenth of a mile (probably less than that actually) until you reach a dirt road where this trail ends. You can basically see the gravel pit where you sign in to hike the herd path from this junction to the left, so all you really have to do is turn quickly towards the left and you’re at the start of the climb. We took a quick break at the herd path right around 10 AM or so and let the groups behind us actually go ahead. In my mind, it would be nice to see some fresh foot prints on the trail anyway in case it got hard to follow, but it really wasn’t a problem following the herd path for the most part, even though it certainly wasn’t the best defined or best maintained path in that part of the woods. The 13 point plan that I jotted on a piece of paper from a list I found on a forum was fairly helpful as we got on to the meandering herd path. I followed along every milestone I should see on the way, and it allowed me to pace the climb nicely and keep at ease as we moved through the thick woods west of the peak of Allen. Despite the rain, none of the brooks we had to cross along the way were in any way hard to rock hop, and even the mud levels on the herd path were no worse than the ones on the “maintained” trail to the base of the climb. In about an hour and a half’s time, maybe a little bit less, we reached the waterfall on Allen Brook where we stopped for a second to gear up for what would be a taxing final ascent to the top.

 

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so helpful…

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Turn left at the cairn towards the herd path for Allen

 

 

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Walking towards the clearing marking the beginning of the herd path

 

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As Chris dunked his hat in the waterfall like he typically does on a hot day like this, I took out the map for a second to get a general idea of where we were. It looked from the point where Allen Brook drains into Skylight Brook that there would be roughly one more mile to go to the summit, and almost all of it would be steep and unrelenting. This is where I knew we would have to start being careful because all trip reports I’ve seen indicated that the rock along Allen Brook is unusually slippery, and if you’re not careful you could find yourself going on an unwanted slip and slide ride on jagged rock. I kept this in mind as I made my way up the trail as it swerved on and off the rock faces and into the woods numerous times. I made sure to stay off of the reddish colored rock because that would be the spots where there would be little to no grip. It was hard to get around the running water and slippery rock, but taking it one step at a time made it doable. At one part the trail ended up on a drier, gravelly spot where you could get a good view on the slope you had just climbed. I took a seat on a smooth boulder and looked behind to see where Chris was at, because I didn’t hear him behind me at all. So I sat and waited looking down the trail for a good minute, but still there was no sign of Chris. Even though I’m admittedly less athletic, I do tend to get a little bit ahead of him as he films portions of the blog, especially if I have some good leg strength like I did on this day, but I kind of thought that he shouldn’t have fallen that far behind me under these conditions, so I decided to walk a little ways back down until I managed to see the reflection of the sun off his sunglasses as he climbed up. I never really get too worried on these climbs, but the conditions on Allen might be some of the most dangerous in the High Peaks, so I did get a bit concerned for a second that he went for one of those unwilling water slide rides I’d referenced before. Sure enough, once Chris caught up to me  he told me just that, that he took a fall and if not for a helpful tree root, he would’ve went flying down the mountain in the wrong direction. His hip was hurting pretty bad from the fall, and his elbow was decently cut up as well, but he said there was no way we’d be turning around this close to the summit. I wouldn’t personally recommend continuing climbing if you’re in pain, but we’d been anticipating this climb for a long time and we were pretty close to the summit, so we just took our time and made it up as fast as he could manage.

 

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Ouch.

 

I figured we should stop and regroup for a second, but Chris said it was better for him just to keep pushing through it anyway because his hip would just start locking up, so he really just powered through until we reached the summit. It was probably the least triumphant we’d ever felt reaching the summit of a high peak, but we were just happy to finally get to the top of Allen!

The summit of Allen was just as non-descript as it’s billed to be, just a height of land in the woods with a plaque on a tree. There is, however, a very nice lookout to the northeast of the summit with pretty cool views of the surrounding mountains like Haystack and the lower great range, so all-in-all it’s actually not the worst summit of are of the High Peaks (Blake still wins that competition I think, though Couchsachraga is a close second). The lookout was a nice spot to stop and enjoy the summit before heading back down into the sloppy descent and long walk out that was between us and the parking lot. The group ahead of us on the mountain was happy enough to offer us some first aid supplies, as I hadn’t packed too much with me for the hike, so Chris bandaged up his cuts as best as he could and it didn’t end up being too serious of an issue from that point on. One thing is for certain though; I’m definitely bringing a better stocked first aid kit next time just in case of emergency. We may have spent 15 minutes on the summit overall since we were a bit too anxious about the descent to really enjoy the triumph of reaching another peak, and we headed back down eager to get that slippery descent behind us.

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1 To Go!

 

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Going down the steep section of Allen was just as treacherous, and on the way down was my opportunity to wipe out as well. I decided I was going to walk across a stream instead of finding a drier route, and I did my best Charlie Brown kicking a football impression, falling flat on my pack faster than I could even realize what was happening. It was a bit of a wake-up call to really slow the pace to a crawl, and we spent the rest of the descent taking it at an extremely casual pace. Once we reached the waterfall again we both breathed a sigh of relief knowing our risk of further injury just decreased significantly. We both really bemoaned the standing water and mud on the trails coming in, but to a small extent we welcomed the return of the mud over the slippery rocks by that point. We kept going after stopping for a second, and went on for a while before we made our way back to the herd path trail register right around 4 PM.

It was a tiring and frustrating walk back to the car after all of the slipping and sliding of the day, but we trudged on nonetheless. This was one of those moments where you wish you could just snap your fingers and be back at the trailhead, but no, we had to drag ourselves back unassisted (sigh). It was an extremely uneventful walk back comparatively, even though it was interesting seeing dozens of frogs and even a couple of snakes in the marshes that were passing as marked trails. I don’t think I’d ever seen a snake on a trail before, so that was kind of a fun surprise on what was overall a generic walk back. The mental exhaustion of the day was far greater than the physical exhaustion, in both of our opinions, so we managed to find our way back slowly and steadily without breaking stride for any photo opportunities or extended breaks like we normally do. Climbing Allen wasn’t the greatest hiking experience we’d ever had, but at least we managed to get our 45th peak in the Adirondacks and got it in with plenty of daylight to spare, arriving at the trailhead a little bit before 6:30 PM. It was a long day, but at least it was another interesting experience to share as we got that much closer to completing our 46!

Recommendations: Allen Mountain isn’t a fun hike. I’d only recommend it to people seriously interested in the 46 because it’s a somewhat unpleasant experience. If you do plan to climb Allen, make sure you read up a little bit on the trail before you go up, and be careful on the final ascent because it is no joke. Allen really isn’t terribly steep (with the exception of the slide section near the summit) or overly challenging from a physical standpoint, but it’s a taxing hike nonetheless, so be mentally prepared for a long day.

Ratings:

Difficulty – 10

Views – 1 (5 from a lookout just off of the summit)

Cliff Mountain

It had been about a week since my hike in New Hampshire which I was hoping would prepare me for the daunting task of ascending Mt Redfield and Cliff Mountain in the same day.  Andrew and I left Clifton Park just before 5:00 a.m.  A long drive and a few pit stops later we arrived at the Adirondack Loj parking lot for 8:00 a.m.  Despite the late start we still had it in out mind to tackle both Redfield and Cliff and with that in mind we bolted for Marcy Dam.  As usual Andrew and I made very quick work of the 2.1 miles to Marcy Dam.  The walk provided us with a really nice warm up paired with the chilly morning we really could not ask for better conditions.  From there we signed in at the register and took off down the trail towards Lake Arnold.  Once again Andrew and I were very familiar with the trail although we did notice that work had been done putting stones and gravel on the ground in some of the wetter areas.  We reached the next trail junction where the trail forks to Avalanche Pass or to Lake Arnold and we decided to take a quick break.  I noticed along the way that there were a lot of new out houses along the trail leading up to this point.  My guess is that this was in effort to cut down on trail poopers but who knows.

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From here Andrew and I knew that we had a little bit of an ascent in front of us so we tried to get a quick pace going as we wanted to set ourselves up to have enough daylight to complete the two mountains.  We went non-stop until we reached another trail junction at which point Andrew and I stopped to hydrate and catch our breath.

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Follow the trail toward Lake Arnold

 

After joking around for a bit we took off for Lake Arnold.  It didn’t take to long before we reached the high point of the trail.  The whole portion of the trail leading up to this point is a very consistent gradient but not overwhelming by any means.  As we started to descend towards Feldspar Brook Andrew noticed his pack open and his jacket missing.  So Andrew decided to go looking for his jacket and I decided I wanted no part of that crap so I sat and ate a granola bar.  About 10 minutes elapsed and Andrew finally popped out of the woods with his jacket in hand.  Andrew quickly got a drink and we continued towards Feldspar.  Along the way we came back to the floating logs in that small pond/bog thing which once again we crossed without any issue other than a few loose logs.  After this portion the longs lining the trail were not all that secure making the footing shaky at best.  Loose logs aside we managed to get through it without issue or injury and finally came to our next trail junction near Feldspar Brook.

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Take trail towards Uphill Lean-to

From here we did not waste any time heading towards the Uphill Lean-to.  Along the way we noticed that the trail had been re-routed away from the brook.  Upon observing the brook we noticed that a large part of the banking had completely washed away likely from a flash flood a couple years ago.  Aside from this the hike to the herd path for Cliff and Redfield was a pretty straight forward walk through the woods.  After about 15 minutes or so we came across a cairn marking the herd path

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Cairn marking herd path towards Redfield and Cliff

We walked along a pretty muddy path looking for another cairn which would mark the trail junction for Redfield and Cliff.  After about 5-10 minutes we found the second cairn.

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The plan was to go ahead and hike Cliff first and then if we had the time go and run up Redfield.  The trail to Cliff was immediately very muddy and we slowly started to ascend.  The trail had several logs laid down along the way telling me that it used to be maintained.  Andrew told me that it was an old trail to Mt Marcy which I did find a little interesting.  After very gradually ascending for a bit we came to another cairn where we would take a right to follow the herd path.  From this point you can add a bunch of blowdown to the mud issues we were experiencing.  The blowdown then turned into a bunch of rock scrambles, the likes of which we hadn’t really seen since we climbed Saddleback last year.  Although the scrambles are trickier than your basic hiking its always been my favorite parts of any hike.

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We made pretty quick work of the rock scrambles and from there I was expecting to arrive at the summit.  Turns out we still had some walking to do…The summit is never as close as you think it is as Andrew and I had to walk on what was reasonably flat terrain (or at least compared to the last half mile) for the next half mile or so until we reached the summit of Cliff Mountain.

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Andrew and I on the summit of Cliff

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The summit itself was very heavily wooded and offered little to nothing as far as a view went although we did get one nice lookout point along one of the rock scrambles we had to traverse.

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We spent close to a half hour on the summit after we pretty much gave up on the idea that we would be able to reach Redfield and get out by dark.  The situation was compounded by the small group we encountered on the summit.  There were three people.  The first was a 46er who resembled Buffalo Bill, a woman who seemed perfectly normal, and a veteran sitting next to an empty 6 pack of Shocktop.  He told us there was 3 keys to life.

#1.  Don’t hike Cliff ever again

#2.  Don’t hike Sawteeth via the Scenic Trail

#3.  Don’t get married

After the weird conversation they took off, we got a few pictures, and took off for the Loj.  We slowly worked our way down Cliff rather slowly, and along the way we passed the 3 amigos, and managed to avoid any more conversation in spite of their efforts to part more sagely wisdom upon us.  By the time we made it back to Marcy Dam essentially coming out the same route we used to get to Cliff we were spent.  From here Andrew and I took a slower pace for the last 2 miles until we reached the Loj with about an hour of daylight left to spare.  For Andrew and this marked the 38th high peak we had climbed to date.

Recommendation for Hikers:  Average hiker will probably hike this and never want to go again.  Its a long day with and a rugged herd path.  For the aspiring 46er you may want to get an earlier start if possible and combine this with Redfield.  Although long and grueling its best to get them both done at once….unlike us.

Cliff:  Views – 3  Difficulty – 9

 

 

Mt Marshall

On a hot day in August Andrew and I decided it was about time to get back out on the trails.  In the week leading up to the hike we had initially intended to finish the Dix Range.  However the night before the hike Andrew informed me he had been feeling off for a couple days and wasn’t sure that was in the cards.  Given how Andrew was feeling we opted for what we felt would be a simpler hike.  With that in mind Marshall seemed to be the best fit for us on this day.  We managed to get on the road a little after 5:00 a.m. and get some breakfast along the way.  We arrived at the Upper Works trailhead just before 8:00 a.m., but not before enduring some interesting sections of road work along the way.  We got a nice glimpse of what used to be an active iron mining area of Tahawus and found the New York history pretty interesting.

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After signing in at the register we got going down what was a pretty well maintained trail until we reached our first junction about a quarter of a mile into the hike.

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After the first junction we found another one in very short order, and it had a special reminder for anyone wishing to crap in the woods.

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From this point you want to make sure you follow the red trail markers toward Lake Colden.  The trail from this point on was very simple with mostly flat sections and planks to help you get through some muddy areas.  At one point we got to an area with a large clearing which we stupidly thought was the flowed lands (nope), but it did give us a little scenery to start the day off.

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It wasn’t long until we made it to a bridge at which point we switched over to some blue trail markers that would lead us towards Lake Colden.  I should mention that while you are supposed to go towards Lake Colden you don’t actually reach the lake, if you do you have gone too far and will need to double back to get to Marshall.

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The trail up to this point had been very flat with virtually no obstacles making it a good warm up for what we would have in store for us the rest of the day.  Knowing that we would have to start gaining some elevation at some point we figured we shouldn’t get used to things being so easy.  Gradually we started to hit some inclines but even so it was not overwhelming so we just kept up our leisurely pace we had established to start the day.  One obstacle we started to encounter more of the further we went was the mud, several sections were sopping wet, and when stepped onto would leak over the top of my boots which resulted in wet socks for most of the day.  We kept on going through mud and all until we got to a portion  where the trail forked in two different directions at a steadily moving brook.  We figured this was a decent spot to assess the map and get a drink of water.

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Turns out the reason the trail forks is because of the stream.  The foot bridge you can see in the distance was put in place for the potentially high water.  Given the dry year we have had there was no such issue and no need for us to take the bridge.  With this in mind we kept on going until we reached what looked like a blank trail sign.  The trail went in both directions so we decided to take a left.  While it really wasn’t the right way I am happy we ventured there as it took us to the David Henderson monument.  Long story short this monument is in honor of David Henderson who accidentally shot himself over 150 years ago.

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The Henderson Monument
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Calamity Pond

After admiring another piece of New York history along with scenic Calamity Pond we turned back and headed in the right direction.  The trail after this was once again just a very gradual incline until we reached a second register near the Flowed Lands.

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In reality you don’t really want to follow any of the arrows as you don’t want to enter the Flowed Lands or Lake Colden.  Instead go left towards a small campsite (if you look at the register there is a campsite marker pointing left you’ll want to follow that)  The red trail markers will mark this area until you eventually get to a cairn marking the start of the herd path for Marshall.

Shortly after finding the herd path towards Marshall I was rudely greeted by a hornet.  For anyone allergic to bee stings please carry an epipen on your hikes because you really never know what can happen.  Fortunately for me I am not and just had to deal with some substantial burning in my leg for the next 30 minutes or so.  I kept on going until we started to parallel Herbert Brook.  We meandered along this brook for quite some time crossing it more times than I can count until we made it to another rock cairn.

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The trail forks at that first cairn, look for this second one to the left which will mark the correct direction

Now according to our map which Andrew had recently purchased it looked to be about a quarter of a mile from this point until we would reach the summit.  However after going through and climbing it I am pretty convinced that it is in fact more than that.  Nonetheless after a few muddy spots and a couple of trickier rock scrambles we made it to the summit of Mt Marshall.  Marshall stands as the 25th tallest peak in the Adirondacks, and for Andrew and I our 37th high peak climbed.  The views from the summit sign were non-existent, but after a little bit of exploring we managed to find some rock outcrops that gave us some very nice views towards the South and East.

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#37
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Andrew on Marshall
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Typical 2 course summit meal for me

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Standing on an outcrop near the summit of Marshall
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Andrew looks to the Flowed Lands below

As far as the pace of our hike, we managed to get through about 6.5 miles in just over 4 hours which is relatively slow for us.  However given the heat and the fact we knew it was only a 1 peak day it was mostly our intention to go slow.  We packed up the gear and trudged our way back down muddy Mt Marshall.  Along the way I did stop to get a picture of Iroquois Peak, and also remember the stupidity we were guilty of on that day.

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View of Iroquois Peak my halfway point

After the brief stop we went back down the Herbert Brook trail until we reached the marked trail again.  It had taken us about an hour and a half to get back to the second register which was about the same as it took us to ascend the mountain from that point.  From there we continued down the straightforward marked trail until we reached the bridge we had crossed earlier in the day.  From there it was only going to be 1.2 miles until we would reach the parking lot.

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Almost back…yay

After drinking the last of my water we just booked it until we got back to the trailhead.  It was just after 5:00 p.m. when we reached the lot making this a 9 hour day for us.  Overall I was happy with the day and we decided to make our way to Keene Valley for some food to celebrate number 37.

Recommendation to Hikers:  Mt Marshall did not really present too big of a task for us despite the fact that you will encounter some sloppy trails while hiking this mountain.  Once you reach Herbert Brook try to stay on the herd path as it started to meander a bit and you will cross this brook numerous times so make sure you pay attention.  On another note the water levels are quite low for the time being. Make sure you are careful crossing especially in spring when the water is higher.  The average hiker may find all the mud and lack of summit view as a draw back, but there are some spots near the summit that will offer you some great views towards the Southern Adirondacks and also towards the East.

Marshall:  Difficulty – 5  Views – 5

 

 

Santanoni, Couchsachraga, Panther

Well due to some bad luck, work, and other stuff I hadn’t been able to hike for about a month and a half.  So its fair to say that I was having some pretty intense mountain withdrawals for the past month or so.  I also decided to try something new with this hike and make a vlog.  I have to say it was a good bit of fun filming a lot of the hike.  Not to mention I think it gives you a better idea of exactly what you can expect when you’re out on these trails.  So yeah I waited until high peak number 34 to do one, but I’m just a person…The video is above.

Anyway we got the day started at about 5:00 a.m. when Andrew picked me up at my parents place.  We ate our breakfast at the house, and normally you would think cooking eggs at 5:00 would be annoying to everyone else.  However my father was up at about 4:30 as this is a daily thing for him, in fact I got crap for “sleeping in”.  After eating, we got on the road a little after 5:30 and headed up the Northway and into the high peaks.  From the Northway we took exit 29 and headed down snaking roads for several miles before taking a right when we saw a road sign for Tahawus.  From there we continued on until we made it to the Upper Works trailhead.

The hike started off down a gravel road for 1.8 miles.  This part served as a nice warmup to the real hiking that would take place after this point.  The walk along this road was absolutely brutal with horseflies.  I’m not sure if that’s atypical, but nonetheless it was very bothersome.  After about 25 minutes of walking and swatting flies we made it to our turnoff which is marked by a blue foot trail disc and an arrow.

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To my knowledge this is the only marked trail of the entire hike and the plan we had was not to follow it for a particularly extended period of time.  Our plan was to hike this marked trail until we reached a cairn marking the start of the Santanoni Express.  We started down the marked trail and kept up a fast pace until we reached sign that said “bridge out”.  To neither of our surprise we came across the sad remains of what used to be a bridge.  It wasn’t too long after that when we reached a second bridge which had about a quarter of it missing as well.  Despite the bridges we kept on moving.  We hiked until we reached a small stream which we figured was a good spot to catch our breath and take a peek at the map.  This was also nice as it gave me a chance to take some pics, and upon looking at our map we saw that the turnoff for Santanoni was not much further ahead.

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Andrew catches his breath and checks out the map

We quickly got everything back together and got back on the trail.  It was only about 10 minutes until we reached the cairn for the Santanoni Express.  The trail was initially pretty easy to follow but it quickly opened up into a swampy area in which we noticed small herd paths leading everywhere.  It took a little walking around to figure out the right one but eventually we got on the right track and started really climbing.  We really only took one break on the way to the summit of Santanoni which I was pretty proud of considering the lack of physical activity both Andrew and I have exhibited over the last couple months.  Before long we made it to a false summit where I was able to get a couple pictures.

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A view of where we came from

We would reach another false summit but from that point it was only another tenth of a mile through some muddy areas and rock until we reached summit number 34 Santanoni Peak.  The views weren’t much to speak of but it was great to check off another high peak.

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Andrew pondering the summit sign
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#34

After refueling on cliff bars and Gatorade we took off for Couchsachraga.  The way we planned to get there was to go about a quarter mile back where we came from and take a left turn down the trail towards “Times Square”.  The way down Santanoni was initially pretty rocky and wet so we went slower than I was hoping for.  However the descent overall was not too severe as the hike seemed to stay on top of a ridge line that connects the Santanoni Range.  It was only about 45 minutes until we made it to a small cairn marking Times Square and the turnoff for Couchsachraga.  After continuing to descend we made it to a very muddy bog which I had heard about from reading other blogs.  We proceeded very slowly through the bog as losing a boot didn’t feel like the greatest thing.  After making it through we began our climb of Couchie, but not before we got our boots caked in mud.

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The aftermath of the bog

From this point we would begin climbing until we made it up to the summit of Couchie.  The trail along the way was never overwhelming, but more of a gradual steady climb without too much scrambling or steep rock.  In just about 25 minutes we would reach the small summit of Couchsachraga the shortest of the 46.

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Andrew takes out Couchie for 35
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finally crossed off Couch

To this point Andrew and I were a bit ahead of schedule from what we were anticipating so from Couchsachraga we decided to take our time heading to Panther.  It was a good thing too as I was feeling a little dehydrated and sluggish heading down toward the big bog again.  After trudging through the large area of slop we took another break so I could hydrate and get some nutrition in myself.  Almost immediately I felt more energized as we made our way back up to Times Square.  From Times Square we found the letter P scratched into a tree with a directional arrow, which logically we followed.  From here the walk to the summit was extremely gradual and short.  Just before the summit we got some outstanding views towards the rest of the Santanonis and into the Adirondack wilderness.  From the lookout the summit was right around the corner covered with trees.  Upon reaching the summit Andrew and I are down to 10 peaks left.

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10 to go!
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Andrew on Panther Peak
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View from just below Panthers summit

 

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After sitting on Panther for a while Andrew and I decided that it was time to pack up and head out.  The goal was to make it back to the car for around 7:00 p.m.  Our plan was to head back to Times Square and from there make the trip down to Bradley Pond and follow the foot trail back to the road.  We made our way down to Times Square rather quickly before making a slow descent down towards Bradley Pond.  The long day thus far was starting to wear us out now that the motivation to climb was pretty much gone.  After about an hour of walking we reached a cairn marking a spot where we needed to cross a stream.  We figured it would be a good spot to take one last break before making one big push back to the car.

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hard to miss this cairn, fortunately the water was dead low

After we caught our breath we picked up the pace to try and get the heck out of the woods as we were both tired and hungry.  It wasn’t too long before we reached Bradley Pond although we never walked off the trail to check it out.  We eventually made it around the water and found the foot trail marked with a blue disc.  From there it was just a long walk out until we would reach the road, by our calculations about 2.6 miles.  Once we reached the road I really started to feel the effects of the day.  I was done. So done.  We hauled ass for another 40 minutes or so before we saw the gate marking the end of our day.  It took us just under 11 hours as we made it out just 10 minutes before 7:00.  10 more to go!

Recommendation To Hikers:  The Santanonis while not overly extreme or difficult do not offer you anything particularly rewarding for views.  While I know the popular route is to go up the route Andrew and I went down I feel like our approach worked the best for us. As the steepest part of the day was done and over with quickly which was advantageous to us.  If you aren’t seeking to join the 46ers maybe you skip this one unless you want to make the trip up to Panther which was the easiest in my opinion and offered the best view.  I would also caution anyone hiking this in the spring months as the snow melt and high water content will serve to make a lot of the muddy bogs a lot worse.

Santanoni:  Difficulty – 6  Views – 4

Couchsachraga:  Difficulty – 5  Views -2

Panther:  Difficulty – 4  Views -7

First 35 In Review

Me on gothics

The past 2 years of hiking have been some of the best times of my life.  I find myself only 13 peaks away from completing the Adirondack 46 while slowly making my way into the AMC 4000 footers.  Anyone who has climbed these mountains has their own unique experience, and mine have made for some pretty memorable moments.  We all have our opinions in regards to the Adirondacks, Whites, and the others comprising the Northeast 111 (115) so with that in mind I thought I’d share mine.  Ill break this down into different categories some serious and some not so much, and with so many mountains left to climb I’m sure this will all look a lot different one year from now.

Best Views

1st Place:  Mount Marcy

Ok yeah it seems kind of lame and unoriginal to pick the tallest peak in New York State for this, but the views we got in every direction were too spectacular to be ignored.  We were fortunate enough to climb this mountain on a clear day and really get to appreciate everything it had to offer.

2nd Place:  Rocky Peak Ridge

Up until Marcy this one was my favorite.  Andrew and I were fortunate enough to get views clear over Lake Champlain and into Vermont, and the majority of the high peaks to the South and West.

3rd Place:  Dix Mountain

If not for the hazy day this mountain might have topped the list.  The views toward Elk Lake were stunning as well as the Great Range to the west which was a little faded due to weather conditions at the time.

Honorable Mention:  Iroquois Peak, Algonquin Peak, Basin Mountain

Incredible Views on Mt Marcy
Incredible Views on Mt Marcy

Worst Views

1st Place:  Blake Peak

Although I will admit it was some fun to get there the summit of Blake Peak was about as breathtaking as an hour long infomercial.  At least there was a nice rock to sit on with the name of the mountain aggressively scratched into it.

2nd Place:  Mt Emmons

While you get some views on the way to Emmons the summit itself is one you wont want to spend a ton of time on, that is unless you’ve been moving for several hours.

3rd Place:  Mt Esther

This underwhelming summit at least offered a nice little plaque at the top but given the thick trees (and blizzard conditions when I hiked it) not much to see here.

Dishonorable Mention:  Nye Mountain, Lower Wolfjaw, Street Mountain

Blake Peak
Blake Peak

Easiest Hike

1st Place:  Mt Moosilauke (Gorge Brook Trail)

My introduction into the White Mountains was both easy and bizarre.  The hike was a very gradual ascent with no serious obstacles or scrambling, coupled with the fact that one way it was only 3.7 miles and you had a pretty easy 4 hour hike.  Also worth noting the strange summit which was enormous and flat almost like a grassy plain.

2nd Place:  Cascade & Porter Mountain

Great way to introduce yourselves to the Adirondacks this combo hike doesn’t get much easier, only tricky part is near the summit of Cascade where some scrambling is required

3rd Place:  Cannon Mountain (Kinsman Ridge Trail)

While the first bit of the hike is a bit steep this 4 mile round tripper is perfect for anyone who wants the view without the effort.

Honorable Mention:  Phelps Mountain, Giant Mountain

Part of the Kinsman Ridge Trail on the way to Cannon Mountain
Part of the Kinsman Ridge Trail on the way to Cannon Mountain

Most Difficult Hikes

1st Place:  Dix Mountain (from St Huberts)

While I think many will not agree with me this hike was a killer.  Couple a 90 degree day and 1.5 miles of insanely steep terrain near the summit and you have yourself a grade A ass-kicker.

2nd Place:  Iroquois Peak & Algonquin Peak (Via Avalanche Pass)

Never have I been so mentally drained like I was after completing this one.  Dealing with the snow melt and a very steep ascent to boundary peak, as well as several unexpected obstacles made this one Ill always remember.

3rd Place:  Saddleback & Basin Mountain

The famous Saddleback Cliffs coupled with an overall long hot day made this hike a tall task but a fun one at that.  Probably the most technical climbing you will experience in the Adirondacks.

Honorable Mention:  Mt Donaldson & Mt Emmons, Gray Peak, Mt Skylight

About sums up the day on Dix Mountain
About sums up the day on Dix Mountain

Best Weather Hike

1st Place:  Seymour Mountain

Cant beat an early fall hike, zero humidity and about 60 degrees not a cloud in the sky.

2nd Place:  Mt Moosilauke

Mid summer but it was a great day with sunny skies and not too hot, the cool breeze helped too

3rd Place:  Mt Colden

My second climb of Colden was just perfect as the summits were starting to get some ice but the temps were a cool 50 degrees perfect for hiking

Beautiful day on Seymour
Beautiful day on Seymour

Worst Weather Hike

1st Place:  Mt. Esther and Whiteface Mountain

Forecast called for sunny skies and cool temps.  What we got was a friggin blizzard at the summit.

2nd Place:  Cascade & Porter Mountain

Andrew and I spent most of this short hike getting mercilessly pummeled by rain and by the time we reached the summit it was coupled with ice pellets.

3rd Place:  Dial Mountain

Dial was a wet windy hell on this day offering us no views or comfort of any kind, fortunately by the time we got to Nippletop the weather did calm down some.

Honorable Mention:  Gothics (2nd hike)

Yay Whiteface
Yay Whiteface

Most Challenging Obstacle

1st Place:  Whiteface Mountain – The initial descent

This needs to be prefaced by explaining the conditions.  All exposed rock had a thin layer of ice, the snow was nuts, and we had no traction devices.  Even though we opted to take the road down there is still a portion of this that was very tricky before we got there.  If not for a railing holding us up its conceivable that both Andrew and I could have badly hurt ourselves from a fall (we did fall but not bad).

2nd Place:  Saddleback Mountain – The Saddleback Cliffs

Anyone who has climbed this knows its pretty much the gnarliest little section in the Adirondacks.  This one will definitely test your technical climbing skills more than most if not all peaks in the ADKS.

3rd Place:  Iroquois Peak – Boundary Trail Brook Crossings

Once again this needs to have its conditions explained.  It was mid spring snow melt in full force and water levels were quite high.  We decided to shimmy across a downed tree which got us from bank to bank which was great except we needed to cross 3 more times.

Honorable Mention:  Mt Armstrong – Steep rock faces on descent towards Upper Wolfjaw

Looking down at one of the most challenging stretches of trail in the Adirondacks
Looking down at one of the most challenging stretches of trail in the Adirondacks

Best Photos

1st Place: This is a picture taken by my friend Dan, it shows the two of them ahead of me on Algonquin Peak as I struggle to get through a awful quad cramp
1st Place: This is a picture taken by my friend Dan, it shows the two of them ahead of me on Algonquin Peak as I struggle to get through a awful quad cramp
2nd Place: The angle of this picture really gives you the feel of being on Saddleback, here is Andrew looking for his next handhold
2nd Place: The angle of this picture really gives you the feel of being on Saddleback, here is Andrew looking for his next handhold
3rd Place: Rocky Peak Ridge was a stunning summit, add this little Julie Andrews thing Andrew has going on and you have a perfect picture lol
3rd Place: Rocky Peak Ridge was a stunning summit, add this little Julie Andrews thing Andrew has going on and you have a perfect picture lol

Dumbest Decision

1st Place:  Algonquin Peak/Iroquois Peak

On this hike we experienced very high water levels and a ton of melting snow.  First obstacle…. we crossed Avalanche Lake itself in sub 40 degree water temps because the foot bridge had been totally destroyed.  Next we were faced with a brook flowing at a quick rate and a good deal of volume, naturally instead of giving up we crossed the brook by sliding on a dead rotting tree connecting the banks only to find out we would need to cross the brook 3 more times.  Next dumb move was telling Dan to go up stream to see if we needed to cross the brook again until we noticed the brook forked which our map did not account for leading us to believe Dan was probably going to die.  Fortunately he popped out of the woods before we could panic.  The rest of this hike kicked our ass as the snow was melting but still very deep forcing us to post hole the majority of the way to the summit.

2nd Place:  Sawteeth

This long day resulted in bloody shins from 3 hours of postholing…Please people be smarter than I and get some snowshoes, even though it was 70 degrees and the DEC website claimed most of the snow was gone we were not prepared for this.

3rd Place:  Lower Wolfjaw

Why the hell did we not climb this thing when doing Gothics, Armstrong, and UWJ? (of course I went and did it later with Sarah but Andrew still has to do this)

This was a bad idea
This was a bad idea

Best Summit Experience

1st Place:  Mt Marcy

There was simply nothing like being on top of the state of New York, 360 degree views, Andrew got halfway to 46, and I got to spend the day with my girlfriend.  Could not have asked for anything better.

2nd Place:  Phelps Mountain

This was the first hike I did with my friends Andrew, Dan, and Dennis.  I knew my goal was to complete all the peaks and I had done some in previous years, but this was the day Andrew got hooked and he has climbed each one with me since (except LWJ…)

3rd Place:  Mt Colvin

Simply one of the more relaxing moments I’ve had in the Adirondacks was sitting on the rock outcrop just past Colvins summit and staring off into the wilderness.

Honorable Mention:  Mt. Moosilauke – Spent a long time on the huge flat summit exploring

Left to right: Dan, Myself, Andrew, and Dennis on top of Phelps Mountain. This is where the duo of Andrew and I started our 46er run
Left to right: Dan, Myself, Andrew, and Dennis on top of Phelps Mountain. This is where the duo of Andrew and I started our 46er run

Most Interesting Stranger

1st Place: Brian

On the way to Marcy we stumbled across a hopelessly lost pothead named Brian.  In a self admitted stoned stupor Brian asked us if he was going the right way to get to Marcy.  When we informed him that he was not in fact on the right track he just decided to follow us for the remainder of the extremely long day which included bagging both Mt Marcy and Mt Skylight.  After tagging along the entire way back to the Adirondack Loj Brian would disappear into the woods again instead of going home.  Who knows what has become of him.

2nd Place:  “111 Guy”

Andrew and I sat on our second peak climbed (Rocky Peak Ridge) and began to discuss some of the other peaks in NY, and the rest of the Northeast.  Admittedly we did not know a lot at the time and thought there were 110 peaks over 4000 ft in the Northeast.  Well this thought exited our minds rather abruptly as “Actually its 111!?!?” was abrasively barked at us.  This guy looked like a child molester with a sun hat and combat boots as he began to educate us on our surroundings before taking off down the trail without so much as a “good luck” for a parting remark.

3rd Place:  Guy attempting to hike Saddleback with a Chihuahua

I’ve seen quite a few dogs on the trails, but never a 2 lb. Chihuahua.  This guy was wearing flip flops and was trying to bring an unleashed football with legs down the steepest trail in the Adirondacks.  The dog wanted no part of this but the brilliant owner just scooped him up and ran down the mountain (literally), consider me shocked he did not die.

This is where we met 111 guy
This is where we met 111 guy

Worst Fall

1st Place:  Whiteface Mountain

I really wish I had the assistance of a traction device on this day as the summit was not kind to me…Despite a railing to grab onto both feet flew out from under me forcing me to hit my spine on a sharp rock.  My neck hurt for weeks after the fact.

2nd Place:  Nippletop

A rainy day and a steep trail made for quite the interesting day.  I fell not once but twice on our descent of Nippletop drawing blood through 4 layers of clothing.

3rd Place:  Cannon Mountain

This time it was Andrew’s turn to experience pain as he took a nice tumble down some wet rocks.  Nothing like a gnarly bruise to wrap up your hiking season.

Painful mention:  Big Slide – Hiking on 1 hour of sleep was bad enough couple that with unstable ground giving way leading to you cutting up your arms and you have full on tired misery.

It was a joke trying to walk on the slick ground
It was a joke trying to walk on the slick ground

Biggest Win

1st Place:  Tabletop & Colden

On a day where I didn’t think we would get out by dark we managed to find a way.  We had 2 hours of light left and we had to get from Lake Colden back to the Loj.  2 hours later and approximately 6 miles of jogging we were out of the woods.

2nd Place:  Iroquois & Algonquin Peak

Yay we lived!

3rd Place:  Mt Moosilauke

7.4 mile hike that we managed to do in just over 3 hours, after spending about 35 minutes on the summit.  Any faster and we would be running.

The vast summit of Mt Moosilauke
The vast summit of Mt Moosilauke

Biggest Fail

1st Place:  Tabletop and Colden

While trying to make it out of the woods before nightfall I lost my focus on the trail and walked straight off of a bridge.  Somehow I was able to catch myself on all fours without injuring myself, but man did I feel stupid.

2nd Place:  Gray Peak

We did a multitude of things wrong here.  First we missed the turnoff at Feldspar Brook to take the Lake Arnold Trail out to the Loj, but to compound things after walking towards what I think is the Opalescent Andrew fell off some logs and right into thigh deep water.  We figured it was time to turn around.

3rd Place:  Nippletop

I forgot all of my food at the car, yay me.

Area similar to what Andrew took an unexpected dip in
Area similar to what Andrew took an unexpected dip in

Best Post-Hike Meal

1st Place:  ADK Café (Keene Valley)

Reuben Sandwich with a side of Cole Slaw, Homemade Potato Chips, and crispy Mac & Cheese with Diet Pepsi….does it really get any better?

2nd Place:  Mr. Mikes Pizza (Lake Placid)

1 Large Pepperoni Pizza and 6 Breadsticks to split between Andrew and I.  The best slice of pizza in Lake Placid in my opinion.

3rd Place:  Black Mountain Burger Co.  (Lincoln NH)

The “Smitty” Burger (Andrews order)  This masterpiece was comprised of 2 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for buns with a half pound ground beef patty, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickle and Jalapeno’s with a side of Fries, and of course Andrews favorite beer.

 

I have had a lot of fun out in the mountains the past 2 years and I look forward to eventually completing my goal!  I made a short video with my favorite picture from each of the peaks I have climbed so far.  Feel free to comment and share some of your stories or opinions below as I know everyone’s will be different.

 

 

 

Seymour Mountain

Summit Marker on Seymour
Summit Marker on Seymour

The day after a short vacation to Toronto I couldn’t not go hiking.  For whatever reason I was not in the mood for a huge hike but the idea of knocking off another Seward seemed right up my alley for the day.  We decided that we would go and try Seymour.  From the reports I’ve read I was not expecting anything amazing at the summit as Seymour has generally been poo-pooed for its views.  Either way it looked like it was going to be a great day weather wise, bright and sunny with temps in the low 60’s.  I was with Sarah who lives closer to Saranac than Andrew so we were able to get a little more sleep than Andrew who left at 5 am.  We took off right around 7 am to make it to Coreys Road for 8:30.  The drive down was beautiful, the leaves were starting to change and the roads there were nice and windy making it a fun ride.  We made it right on schedule, Andrew had been waiting for us for about 15 minutes (oops).

We got the gear on and got going while I consumed the remainder of my breakfast.  Sarah decided to make her boyfriend (me) carry all of her food (yay) so my pack had to be 30 lbs and we were only doing a day hike.  I took it as a better workout but I made sure to sarcastically complain about it for at least a little while.  The hike started pretty straight forward, the trail is wide and overall very easy.  We were going to head towards the Ward Brook Lean-to and take the turn off for Seymour.  The hike to get there seemed like it would be very flat and about 5 miles.  We kept going on our relatively quick pace and at no point did the trail become challenging.  We noticed that there were several cut trees along the trail, these were likely the aftermath of a logging operation.  The trail continued to be pretty boring so we made the most of it by joking around and poking fun at things (and each other) until we came to a nice wooden bridge.  It was at this point where we finally decided to stop and have a break.

Time for a break
Time for a break

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After a quick snack we packed up again and headed off towards Seymour.  The trail continued to be very easy and straight forward and we continued for a couple miles until we reached a very grassy area with a trail junction.  It seemed like we flew through the hike to this point and from here we didn’t have that much left until we made the turnoff for Seymour.

Trail junction in a
Trail junction in a “field”

Our pace for the day was fantastic thus far.  The trail we were on is what I’m assuming was the Ward Brook Truck Road, we continued on this road until we passed the Ward Brook Lean-to which was a short .9 miles from the junction.  This only took us about 20 minutes to reach and shortly after we found the cairn marking the turnoff for Seymour. (note there are 2 cairns for trails the first one you pass takes you to Seward, the second is Seymour so pay attention)  Before taking the trail to Seymour we sat down to get some food into our systems.

Very large noticeable cairn marking the start of the Seymour trail
Very large noticeable cairn marking the start of the Seymour trail

The trail started to get steeper than it had all day to this point.  We estimated that it was going to be a little less than a mile and a half until we reached the summit.  We gained elevation for a short while until we reached a large pile of mud, of which Sarah went knee deep into (lol).

Sarah managed to keep her boot after going knee deep in mud
Sarah managed to keep her boot after going knee deep in mud

After that conundrum we kept going and the trail began to get steeper.  We were starting to slow down for really the first time all day, but we weren’t dogging it like the last hike of Dix Mountain.  We kept going until we got to a section of very wet and slippery rock.  In my opinion this was the most difficult portion of the entire hike as the footing was not fantastic and there was not a ton to grab on to.

The start of the steep rock slide on Seymour's ascent
The start of the steep rock slide on Seymour’s ascent

We took our time here as I wanted to make sure that nobody hurt themselves.  Once we got by this section we knew there wasn’t going to be a ton left in the hike.  We continued on for about 20 minutes before the trail finally started to plateau.  I thought that we were going to be at the summit, but I looked ahead and realized that we still had another quarter of a mile to go (yippee false summits).  Nonetheless the last part of this trail was pretty easy going and we eventually made it to the summit of Seymour.  For me this was high peak number 33.  While walking around the summit I was very pleasantly surprised at the views given the negative reputation Seymour has got from some other write-ups.  We took our sweet time on the summit before heading back down.

View from Seymour's summit
View from Seymour’s summit
Andrew poses on his 32nd summit
Andrew poses on his 32nd summit
Enjoying my 33rd peak with Sarah
Enjoying my 33rd peak with Sarah
The rest of the Seward's (from left to right) Emmons, Donaldson, Seward
The rest of the Seward’s (from left to right) Emmons, Donaldson, Seward
Make sure you don't miss the outcrop near the summit which has the best views on Seymour
Make sure you don’t miss the outcrop near the summit which has the best views on Seymour
lol
lol

After enjoying the beautiful weather on the summit we packed up and made our way back down.  Just like the trip up the mountain we slowed down at the large rock slide just to ensure that nobody slipped and went for a short but very likely painful ride.  We carefully navigated our way off the rock slide and continued descending Seymour.  The trip down definitely seemed to be quicker than the way up as the trail while steep did not contain a ton of serious obstacles.  When we got back to the cairn we once again took another break before we headed back.

It was a little after 2:30 p.m. when we started again and the goal we set was to be done by 5:00 p.m.  With that goal in mind we did our usual routine of hauling ass out of the Adirondacks.  It was much easier on a day where the temps were perfect and a light refreshing breeze was in the air.  In seemingly no time we were back to the bridge and the pace we had going could be considered by some as a jog rather than a walk.  At this point it was about 3:45 so we seemed to be right on track.  We took a quick break here once again before bolting for the trailhead.  It was an easy brisk walk until we finally made it out although Andrew did fall behind a little bit we all managed to get out at 4:57.  Hooray for beating our goal and completing another ADK high peak.  13 to go!

Recommendation to hikers:  Despite what I have seen some say I would actually recommend anyone try Seymour as there were multiple very nice views on the summit and the hike to get there was not overly taxing.  The aspiring 46er may be able to combine this with Seward but unless you get a very early start and go very quickly I find it highly unlikely you can take on the whole range in a day.  For the most part I think for a day hike you’re best served to tackle Seymour alone.

Seymour:  Views-5  Difficulty-5

Dix Mountain

View from Dix
View from Dix

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.

Trail Junction, stay on the yellow trail markers for Dix
Trail Junction, stay on the yellow trail markers for Dix

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.

From this point stay on the blue's
From this point stay on the blue’s

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.

We set the bag down and got a snack in the 90 degree weather
We set the bag down and got a snack in the 90 degree weather

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…

yay...
yay…

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.

Trail junction near the summit of Dix
Trail junction near the summit of Dix
About sums up the day
About sums up the day

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.

High peak #32!
High peak #32!
Andrew made it to 31 despite a tough day
Andrew made it to 31 despite a tough day
View towards the Beckhorn
View towards the Beckhorn
Views towards Elk Lake
Views towards Elk Lake
Peering down the side of the mountain
Peering down the side of the mountain

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