Friday, July 28, 2017

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'

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