Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wright Peak (ADK 15/46), New York, July 21, 2017

Wright Peak (4,587') via Van Hoevenberg (61), Algonquin (64), and Wright Peak Spur (65) Trails, 7/21/2017.

Mileage:  7 (RT)

Elevation gain:

TrailheadThe Van Hoevenberg trailhead is located at the ADK/HPIC parking lot (at the end of Adirondack Loj Rd, Lake Placid). There is a fee for parking. 

Hiked with Lindsley today. The last time we hiked together was to bag North Brother, the mountain in Maine that was my finish of the New England 67 4k peaks (see previous report). I was excited to be hiking with her again and since Lindsley had never hiked in the Adirondacks, I chose Wright Peak for its easy access and spectacular views.  

We got to the High Peaks Information Center/ADK parking lot at about 8:30 and the lot was filling up fast.  The Information Center is under construction and there are port-a-potties outside. I would recommend that you NOT use these and go inside where there's a rest room. (I am all for accommodating the crowds with port-a-potties but these are the worst I've seen.)

We signed the trailhead register and headed up the Van Hoevenberg trail for just a mile. It's wide, like a well maintained dirt road.  

Van Hoevenberg trail.

The path to Wright Peak veers right at the junction (Algonquin trail). Here the ground changes; the path becomes narrow, rocky - more like an Adirondack mountain trail!

The trail steepens and there are a few tricky turns; look for obvious signs - erosion, footprints or evidence of wear on ground or roots.

Like many trails in this area, parts of it run up a brook but it's well marked with the DEC disks and easy to follow.

The higher you get the steeper the slabs, but when dry the rocks are sticky, easy to get up and over.

We went left when we reached the second trail junction (straight would take you to Algonquin Peak) and immediately negotiated a wet, steep slab.  This portion of the trail is pretty much steep slab and rock, you'll work for that summit view!

This slab greets you when you turn left.

The jumble of rocks and treeline disappear once you conquer this one grand rock formation (shown below). We noticed yellow blazes on the left, suggesting we go that way but instead went up on the right side, shown here, followed a horizontal crack and then up.

The one grand rock!

After that it's all slabwalking, baby!  It's fun. And of course the views wowed us.

Coming up on the summit.

The wind whined as we approached the summit. Wright Peak is famous for it's tough summit winds, sometimes requiring the determined peak bagger to crawl to the top!  

But not today. It was loud in our ears but perfectly walkable.

Hanging on the summit.

The 360° summit views are spectacular.  On top we talked with the summit steward a bit, had lunch and then poked around trying to see the wreckage of a B-47 bomber that crashed in 1962.

Aw, how cute! Starburst living in a vertical crack!

We headed toward the site of the plane wreckage but weren't motivated to hike down to it or the memorial plaque. I spotted a few pieces of wreckage, took photos and headed back to the summit.

Small piece of wreckage.

Getting down was quick and easy; we signed out and drove back to Keene Valley, where we were staying.

Hiking the McIntyre Range from Avalanche Lake is planned for next month but all in all I am glad to have Wright Peak done now. The spur trail puts you to work; the .4 miles is steep and rocky; I doubt my legs will want to "run" up there after Iroquois and Algonquin.

And, Wright Peak is one of the few Adirondack peaks that offer mad summit views in under four miles.  

NE 111 (84/115)

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Gothics (ADK 12/46), Armstrong (ADK 13/46) and Upper Wolfjaw (ADK 14/46), New York, July 19, 2017

The Gothics (4,734'), Armstrong (4,446') and Upper Wolf Jaw (4,203') via Johns Brook Lodge to Ore Bed Brook (8) and ADK Range (4) Trails, 7/19/2017

Mileage: 8.4 ish (15.4 if hiked from The Garden)

Elevation gain:
  3,300'ish (3,900' if hiked from The Garden)

Trailhead: Today the hike started at the John Brooks Lodge, a back country facility run by Adirondack Mountain Club.  The easiest way to reach the Lodge is to park at The Garden parking lot (see prior report for directions) and hike 3.5 miles (600' gain) to the Lodge.  

Hiked with Jill, Ken and Ed today. I felt horrible on this hike from my first step onto the trail.  

A Great Range traverse is one of the most exciting and beautiful hikes in the Adirondacks.  The trail holds your interest with slides, ladders, cables, ledges and steps, and of course beautiful views.  And the day was gorgeous but I guess I hadn't recovered yesterday's hike up Haystack Mountain (see previous report).  My legs were heavy and rebellious and if not for the excitement of those trail features, I might've strung my tarp in at tree at one of the cols and napped til I felt better!

We left Johns Brook Lodge late, around 8:45 - my fault, already I was struggling with gear and food.

We negotiated the water crossing in front of the Lodge, which was high from Monday's torrential rains, and headed up Ore Bed Brook trail, a mellow path with a few more water crossings.

The trail is muddy and eroded dipping down to a brook crossing. At the crossing I tested what appeared to be a stable rock and once my weight was on it, the thing flipped over and my boot went deep into the brook.  Not what you want to happen, especially one mile into the hike!
Erosion here; near where my boot went into the drink.

It wasn't long before the woods opened up to the base of the slide. Hurricane Irene beat up this area badly and you'll see a mess of tangled trees and what looks like plowed earth.  
There are yellow blazes at your feet at the base of the slide but we didn't follow them. Instead we ducked left into the woods (there's a disc on a tree at the entrance to the wooded path).

Open area by the slide.

We were ascending in the woods for just a few minutes when we arrived at the base of the famous stairs. These steps are awesome and feel secure, though the pitch is steep and the steps a bit shallow. Without these we would have quite a challenge getting up the slide - they're fun!

At the top of the steps we headed left and back into the woods where we climbed steeply past the Saddleback junction -  and then up to open slabs.  Here is where things got tricky as these lower slabs were really steep, wet and a bit mucky, particularly the first few. We hugged vegetation to get up these. After that things got drier, easier.

Junction sign. Stay off the plants! Bury your poop!

Take it from someone who is squeamish - even panicked- when it comes to exposure: the cables are no big deal.  At the base of the cables is a lip, so if you slipped (unlikely on dry slab), you'd slide down to the vegetation.  Not once did I feel like it was scary, though one of the cables toward the top was nothing more than a garden hose that stretched when you grabbed it (boiiiiinnggg!). The lower slabs weren't all that steep, some of it Jill low-walked up.  I imagine if wet and icy it would be a different story, and going down these cables might need caution but up was absolutely fun!

On a lower slab.

Cool picture (Not as steep or scary as it looks.....)

We topped out and could see the summit in the distance.  A few minutes of trail later, and very little elevation gain, we were on top.

Approach to the summit.

The summit is so beautiful; a generous slab of rock that today was filled with happy people and 360° views. I still felt awful but a bit more hopeful that I might make it back to the lodge in once piece. At 4,734', Gothics (one summit with several mini peaks - hence the name) is the highest mountain we will hike today. It's all downhill from here (well, kinda).

One view from the summit of the Gothics.

 Ray, a hiker from Philadelphia, summitted Gothics as #46!

Big crowd for a Wednesday.

Time to head to Armstrong. I'd heard it a was long (one mile) and mellow trip to the next summit.  I needed that break, though it seemed to me the "down" took a long time while the "up" came too quickly (how can that be?!). 

Views as we ascended Armstrong.

We passed the junction where Beaver Meadow trail comes in from St. Huberts - and continued on to the summit. The level portions of the trail were quite muddy and puddly.

Armstrong's smaller summit was filled with most of the people we saw back on Gothics. They were all still happy!

View of where we came...

No USGS marker here.  We did rest on the summit for a bit, long enough to learn from another hiker how tricky our descent would be...

The stories we'd heard about the descent were pretty accurate. Continuing on the trail and down the other side of Armstrong is steep and ledgy, the mountain reaffirming that it's not for the faint of heart. Crazy steep slippery walls of ugly with "root fingers" taunting you!  I got down the muddy, slimy, mocking ledges slowly, often using those roots for hand or footholds, with one or two butt slides (not ashamed).

One of the crazy ledges.  Some take a few minutes to figure out the way.

The long ladder near the col was such a welcome sight! And, as we got lower we enjoyed more forgiving terrain.  Soonafter, we reached the col between Armstrong and Upper Wolfjaw.  

Lovin' the ladder!

We climbed yet again, our last climb of the day. Upper Wolfjaw was our last summit. We jumped up rocks to the short trail on the left that takes you to the top.

The hikers we saw on Gothics and then Armstrong were less happy now, leaving Upper Wolfjaw, "over it" and anxious to head down.

Not that big a summit.

The summit is a big old rock that you hop on. No USGS marker and limited (nice) views. Again we heard rumblings from others about how tricky the hike down Upper Wolfjaw is and I hoped I had enough left in me to make it safely down whatever muddy steep cliff awaited.

View from UWJ.

With Ed's help I was able to get down the shiny black, treacherous walls that are the back side of Upper Wolfjaw.

Immediately we were thrown into a descent off ledges.

We got safely down and walked past the path that went to Lower Wolfjaw. Save that one for another day!

We sailed down the Range trail over to the Woodsfall trail (6) and back to the Lodge.

We got back at the Lodge a little after 5 pm, washed up and had dinner.  My legs and feet were burning and spent and the next day we hiked out and to our car.

Despite my broken state, I was glad I was lucky enough to hike this ridge on such a beautiful day.  The hike has everything you'd want for a fun hiking adventure.  

NE 111 (81, 82, 83/115)

Mount Haystack (ADK 11/46), New York, July 18, 2017

Mount Haystack (4,961') via Phelps trail from Johns Brook Lodge, 7/18/2017

Mileage: 11.2 miles RT (18 miles if hiked from The Garden)

Elevation gain:  2,970' (3,570' if hiked from The Garden)*

Trailhead: Today's hike started at the John Brooks Lodge, a back country facility run by Adirondack Mountain Club.  The easiest way to reach the Lodge is to park at The Garden parking lot (see prior report for directions) and hike 3.5 miles (600' elevation gain) to the Lodge. The trail to the Lodge is wide and well established.  

Hiked with Jill, Ken and Ed today.  We'd booked three nights at the Johns Brook Lodge in hopes of bagging the faraway peaks of Mts. Haystack, Basin and Saddleback.  

Weather permitting.

We hiked to the Lodge the day before.  Not twenty minutes into that hike we heard rumbling and soon after we're in a full-on thunderstorm.  The arms of my nice Gortex jacket soaked through (bring one of those $5.99 plastic ponchos on all your hikes, just in case). 

Lot at The Garden. We usually see it full!

Walking in the rain.

The four of us filled the smaller bunkroom at the Lodge; it was a challenge drying our wet gear. We'd planned to tag Upper Wolf Jaw that afternoon but instead watched thunder, lightning and heavy rain come and go until dinner. We were sidelined and wound up drinking most of the 3-day-supply of wine we'd brought.

Johns Brook Lodge.

The next morning started our trek after breakfast. 

We went right toward Bushnell Falls (not left).

Up Phelps trail (1) we went, past Bushnell Falls toward Slant Rock.  The trail was soaked, much of it underwater.  In fact, a portion of the trail is a stream and this is important to know in a few spots as we followed the yellow discs (trail markers) and couldn't find a discernible trail - so it had to be the waterway.  

We ducked back into the woods and at about 2-ish miles negotiated a water crossing (there would be more crossings), winding up at Slant Rock.

The Slant Rock area confused the hell out of us; it appears on the maps as being after a left turn (I recommend following the description of this area in the High Peaks Trail book instead of the maps). But we hadn't turned left or passed any junction signs. After checking a friend's track I'd loaded on my GPS we went left at the rock, followed the path by the stream and found the junction further up. The trails in this area also drift in and out of the streams so we followed what appeared to be the way others had gone and eventually got on a more visible trail.

Slant rock on the way up (before the junction!).

When we'd reached the junction of the State Range Trail (11 then 9 then 10 on the map), we turned left and immediately headed "up."  

Trust the direction (but not the mileage).

Up those "bad boy" rocks!

The steep rocks continued until we topped out on a nub that provided great views of Little Haystack and Haystack.  

Great picture of Little Haystack and Haystack.

We dropped down again, past the trail junction to Basin (we'd hit that trail on the way back...NOT!), and before we knew it we were on top of Little Haystack.

Follow the slabs' yellow blazes on the descent.  Don't let those blazes intimidate you - the first blaze looks like it goes over a cliff! Actually it veers left and you find yourself on a switchback.  I dropped my pack for one of the scrambles - no big deal, but then again all rock was dry.

Heading up Haystack Mountain involves some scrambles; not too taxing when dry. Descending those areas would take a bit more time but again, not big in difficulty or exposure.

Heading up Haystack
We saw two others on the summit, which is a bump of a rock amidst open slabs.  The view is breathtaking - definitely worth the effort.  Mt. Marcy is close by and on a clear day you'll see the endless stream of hikers on top. The rest of the views are serene and population-free!

On the summit.
Views a little hazy but fantastic!

I thought we'd get to Haystack around lunchtime, eat at the summit then head to Basin, rest for a minute on that summit, and then return more or less the way we came.

So much for thoughts...  We arrived at Haystack around 2 pm after a fierce battle with mud and [sometimes deep) running water, only to turn around and head back, passing the junction to Basin, and arriving at the Lodge just before dinner (the Lodge serves dinner at 6:30).  There'd be no hiking Basin today.

Someone at the lodge mentioned that we should've left much earlier if we were going to summit both Haystack and Basin. Perhaps they were right - though we ran out of energy as we ran out of time!

And yes, the last few miles seemed to go on and on.....

Basin is saved for another day.  At the beginning of our trip we planned to focus on getting the peaks furthest from a trailhead and Haystack was our priority. We accomplished that - and on a day with beautiful weather, and rough trail conditions.  

NE 111 (80/115)

*My GPS indicated an ascent of close to 4,000'