Full TR From Saturday’s Hike

April 29, 2010 · 0 comments

If you’ve jumped to this page from my recent trip report at the ADK High Peaks Forum, I’m sorry to say that this post doesn’t contain anything you haven’t read before (except what you’re reading right now).  Swing your eyes to the right, though, and you’ll see “Recent Posts” – maybe you’ll find something in there worth reading.

If you’re not viewing this post via the forum, then don’t click this link – it’ll take you to basically what’s below, only in forum format.

Here’s the map-version of the trip over on EveryTrail – you can see where my iPhone died near the end – it’s a straight line back to camp.

By the way, I’m now 7/46 and Joe is 10/46 for the Adirondack 46ers.

Thumbs  up Wright, Algonquin, Iroquois 4/24/2010

After SoloJoe’s detailed (and timely) TR of the days before I joined him, I almost wish I hadn’t volunteered to put together this TR.  Ah, well: promises to keep.  So here we go:

I left work around 4:30 on Friday and met Joe at the South Meadows Road semi-PA around 10PM.  We left his car there and took mine to the Loj parking lot, then headlamped the 2.3 miles in to one of the lean-tos at Marcy Dam.   (We crashed at the one just across the dam.)

Friday night was COLD.  For me.   I’m 133.5 lbs of skin, bone and sinew.  It was 22-24 degrees that night.  We ate breakfast and hit the trail around 10 or so – it might have been earlier or later, but I wasn’t paying attention:  we had all day and a headlamp; someplace to go and all day to get there.

We crossed back over the dam and headed up the Whales Tail Notch Ski Trail, then banged a louie onto the Algonquin Peak trail and later another louie to ascend the .4 miles to the summit of Wright.  We didn’t see much snow until around the 3200′ mark; we switched to microspikes for Joe and crampons for me once we hit the ‘monorail’ of the packed-but-withering snowshoe trail.

[The snow and ice had all melted from the basically rock-only last sections of the ascent on all three peaks.]

Rather than carry them or strap them up, I left my cramps near one of the cairns before we summited (and donned them again on the way back down).  Three hundred sixty degree view from the summit, and it was a relatively clear day.  Great way to start.  Joe and I hung out with a couple of dudes at the summit for a bit, took some pics (video for me), ate a bit and faked some French (I was belching in English, so they didn’t get that bit), and headed back down to tackle Algonquin.

Same deal on the way up Algonquin:   rotting snowshoe trail.  No big deal.  Definitely more snow than on the way up Wright; not as much of a monorail situation; some ice still left on the rocks.  We stepped aside to let a family of three in jeans and sneakers butt-slide past us and chastised each other for being gear-nazis after giving them disapproving looks (which quickly morphed to smiles because they were having so much fun).  We inquired (enquired?) with a couple of dudes in full expedition packs, mountaineering boots and glacier crampons about the conditions on the way to Iroquois – they said it was easy and that we could drop our packs at Marcy (??) before swinging up there.  Grain of salt.  They hadn’t been to Iroquois that day and “already bagged it”.

At this point, Joe and I were pretty tired:  Joe because he’d been in the woods racking up the miles bagging peaks for the past three days, and me because my wind was a month old.  We were considering heading back after Algonquin.

Summitting Algonquin changed that.  The view over Boundary to Iroquois promised a quick up-and-down and we had tha feva anyway.   Peak fever, that is.  Yes, I just made that up.  I’m sure it’s not original.

Anyway, here’s the video from the summit of Algonquin (I think I point out Whiteface and call it Marcy, but whatever, it must have been the altitude ).

The monorail to Iroquois was narrow and a couple of the dudes who were out there just before us lost the trail (so they explained), so we faithfully followed their tracks and lost it for a minute too.  Solidarity, brother.  Here’s the video from Iroquois.

Somewhere between Algonquin and Iroquois we passed Ben, Josh and Zach (as Joe mentioned in his TR) – they weren’t the guys who got lost.

We then began our trek home.  Down the col to Lake Colden was off-again, on-again snow (and cramps/micros) until around 3000′.  The trail was rugged, but the stream wasn’t flowing too high, so our feet stayed dry.  We met three French-Canadians in club clothes on their way up and didn’t have the strength to poo-poo their lack of gear/prep (Sketchers just weren’t appropriate that day); one of their number decided to head back down with us, but thankfully struck out ahead – we didn’t find a body or any evidence of him leaving the trail, so we’re pretty sure he made it back to circle up with his buddies.  This was pretty late in the afternoon, too.

We were pretty beat at this point, and we were kind of surprised that the trail stayed wicked rugged for the next several miles, but such is life: we traded expletives and generally whined for a bit until we found our stride again.  Past Lake Colden, over the hitch-up Matildas (sp?) along Avalanche Lake, and through Avalanche Pass.  That was wicked cool.  No snow or anything at this point.  We sat down with Ben, Josh and Zach near Avalance Camps and traded hiking stories while they ate their couscous.  Then we donned our headlamps and added a few more miles in the dark to our hiking-partner tally.

We got back to the lean-to and cooked dinner while talking to Skip, a sex- or septuagenarian who hiked the AT a few years ago and was buddies with Kurt Vonnegut and his wife.  Between Skip and Joe, I think they’ve read just about every piece of modern ‘literature’ that’s been written.  I was deeply troubled to find out that Katz was simply a ‘literary device’ of Bryson’s and probably wouldn’t have slept well that night if we didn’t have about 13 miles under our boots.

The morning found us packing up and heading out.  We had a nice conversation with one of the park rangers who (inevitably) asked “so, the real question is: “how did you store your food?””.  Joe proudly displayed our heavy-ass Garcia bear canisters while Skip made himself scarce.

So, if this isn’t the longest TR ever (and I’m sure it’s not, you bunch of one-uppers ), I’d still like to add a little post-script commentary about this hike and whatnot:

  1. A word on maps: the National Geographic ADK map I was using, though relatively waterproof and good-looking, is incorrect with some of the mileages.  I posted a question a while back regarding maps, and got some great answers.  This map worked just fine, but don’t rely overmuch on the mileages when planning a trip (for all you ADK n o_O bs like me).  Mileages are marked pretty well on the trails, btw.
  2. I didn’t want to muck up the TR with too many references to it, but I re-opened the scratch to the cornea of my right eye sometime while I was sleeping on Friday night.  It wasn’t painful, but what it portended was pretty irksome for most of Saturday’s hike.  By Sunday morning, it took me two hours to get the eye open and I was back to the opthamologist for a compression patch on Monday.  Sunday night through Tuesday afternoon were a nightmare.
  3. I’m currently navigating the old-fashioned way (map and compass), but I use an app for my iPhone to track my progress for posterity.  I’m currently exploring other options for keeping the iPhone juiced up, as I can only get about 6 or so hours out of a full battery and maybe another three on top of that with my current portable charger.    Here’s the .gpsx version of the trip over on EveryTrail – you can see where my iPhone died for the last time: the line gets REAL straight.  I brought a second AA battery-powered charger, but had some trouble with it.  Any suggestions would be appreciated (besides the obvious “get a gps”, of course).
  4. SoloJoe is an awesome hiking partner.  He planned the whole trip down to the last detail and didn’t mind letting me follow him for pretty much the whole time (and avoid any slippery, pointy or movey rocks he stepped on).  We’re both solo hikers anyway, so maybe that’s why we get along.  And excellent conversationalists.   I think the daylight hours of last Saturday may have added up to surpass the number of hours we’ve hiked together by headlamp (though I’m sure we’ll rectify that situation soon).

And that’s about all I have to say.  I’m sure I missed some things, but whatever – if I go on much longer, I might not be the only one with sore eyes from this trip.  Good times, Joe.  Thanks again.

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