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 ADK 46ers - Iroquois, Algonquin & Wright 
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 ADK 46ers - Iroquois, Algonquin & Wright
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A few friends and I spent the weekend in the Adirondacks. I'll file this under another of my non-NH trip reports, but if you're interested read on, and sorry, but it's a tad on the long side.

The route. 16.1 miles w/ 5400 feet of elevation gain
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We got into town in the afternoon and after some of my friends rented the required bear cans at EMS in Lake Placid we grabbed a very good burger, fries, fried pickles and beer at the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery (highly reccomended even though the service sucked!) before heading to the Adirondack Loj parking lot. The access road in is maybe 5 miles long, and the last two miles of it were lined with cars from people that had hiked the trails in the area that day but arrived after the main lot was filled. Most of the hikers were headed for Marcy according to the log book and I'm sure a 2 mile roadwalk is just a ton of fun before and after a 17 mile hike to the top on NY. Anyhow we geared up and headed out on the almost level 2.3 mile hike to the Marcy Dam interior outpost, where we set up camp quickly, stashed our food in the bear cans and went down to the dam to enjoy some star/moon/satelite/space station gazing. Our only stop was for the ranger who was spot checking people to make sure they had bear canisters. The first of four rangers we'd run into, which is three more than I've ever seen in the Whites in 20 years of hiking.

I don't think most of thrails are actually named, they just alternate at every junction with yellow and blue dots
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Quiet nightime sky from Marcy Dam as the moon rises over the drained lake Image

Fresh bear tracks in the AM
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We heard bears in the night and saw tracks in the morning but our food supply made it through the night just fine so I can give nothing but an excellent review of the UDAP bear can I bought. Smaller than most but still surprisingly roomy it held way more than enough food to get me through the trip so I'd highly reccomend it if you're looking for one. We did see people hanging bags all wrong, and they're really not even legal there, so maybe the crashing around was their food going bye-bye. They also had a fire, another no-no in the area. The rangers are pretty strict there and they could have even got sent packing if they got caught doing either, as a few others wrote in the ledger they were. We broke camp, left our tents and sleeping gear in the woods for a rendezvous at the end of the hike and headed out for Avalanche Lake. The trail was quite easy for a while, passing a few more shelters as it gradually climbed up into Avalanche Pass. They aren't shy about using bog bridges in the area either and this trail, as well as the others we hiked, was full of them. After a couple miles we hit the cleft in the mountains known as Avalanch Pass. Vertical walls on either side of the narrow pass and large areas of destroyed trees and vegetaion were evidence the place was appropriately named. No wonder skiers dread going through the place in winter.

One of the many shelters along the trail I'd like to make use of in the future
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Trail winding it's way through the bottom of Avalanche Pass
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After the pass we finally hit Avalanche Lake. You come upon it kind of like Mt. Willards summit views. Hiking though the darker pass under huge vertical walls of rock and then you descend a bit, pop out of the trees and BAM! You get smacked in the with a stunningly beautiful lake wedged in between the vertical rock faces hundreds of feet high on either side. Really an awesome spot. The weather wasn't the best and the photos don't do the spot justice but we took a break and many photos anyhow. It's so in your face close I tried to take some panoramic photo's to show the whole thing, but even after scrambling up a large boulder couldn't get much I was happy with. Hopefully next time I go it'll be on a nice blue sky day.

Snack time at Avalanche Lake. Too bad we couldn't have had blue skies at that point :(
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A little rowboat I now wish I had taken out for a spin
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The trail around the lake is another unique route. Hugging the shoreline and climbing over boulders most of the way with plentiful use of wooden ladders, steps and boardwalks was just plain old hiking fun. At the far end of the lake when there ceased to be a shoreline and the trail had to get around the 500 foot high cliffs they just built a boarwalk right into the cliff face. I've never seen anything like it elsewhere. There were a couple of segments like that which provided great views back up the lake and across to the slide scarred slopes of Mt. Colden.

Ladders, boardwalks and boulders for the next mile or so
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The trail runs along the cliff faces to get you over the lake and through the pass. The only other options would be the boat or swimming.
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Avalanche Lake and Mt Colden's famous trap dike spilling into it
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Once past the lake the serious climbing started. The guide book describes the trail up from the pass as very steep with some exceedingly steep spots. Pretty good description of it I'd say. It started off following a brook much like Falling Waters but with not as nice waterfalls. Eventually it just climbs right up the rocks and ledges of the stream bed occasionally veering into the woods to bypass a waterfall but otherwise it pretty much followed it to the source. From there the trail transformed into a close relative of the Hancocks trail in the Whites. Steep, rocky and eroded in spots it continued the climb to the col between Algonquin and Boundary peaks before finally popping out of the trees. It's rumored to be the steepest trail in the Adirondacks, or at least thats what the rangers both told us, climbing 2200 feet in 1.7 miles but 1700 of it is in one relentless mile long stretch at the top. I haven't done much big mountain hiking lately and this was definitely a workout for me whatever the case may be.

A ton of bottle gentians along the way, unfortunately all closed up but an interesting blue color you don't often see in nature
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Continuing the 1700 foot climb
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After lunch at the col one of the guys took a nap while the rest of headed off down the herd path to climb Boundary and Iroquois peaks. The route is officially not a trail but is even more well travelled than the Owls Head path and has a couple dozen bog bridges along the way as well as huge cairns on the open ledges. Why it's not just brushed out a bit more, blazed and called a trail officially is beyond me. But it was easy to follow and climbed over Boundary peak easily before going up to 4840 foot high Iroquois, 8th highest of the ADK 46ers, on a rougher section of path with some moderately difficult scrambles. The large open summit offered up amazing 360 degree views of the High Peaks area.

The "unmaintained herd path" to Boundary and Iroquois peaks
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Impressive views from Boundary Peak surrounded by 46ers
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Neighboring Algonquin dominating the views of the High Peaks from Iroquois
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We headed back to the col, grabbed our packs and went up the steep open summit cone of Algonquin. With few rocks and little alpine vegetation, most of the way was just following cairns and paint up open ledges well above treeline. At the top there were maybe a dozen other people milling around the "Lafayette of the Adirondacks" as the ranger called it. Not the tallest but close to it, spectacular and very busy most of the time. She was on duty to educate people about the alpine zone and make sure they stayed off it. She told us there weren't many trails as rugged as the one we had come up, which made me feel a little better about how long it had taken us. Kind of surprising considering how rough some of the peaks look, but apparently the trails aren't that tough, although they have a love for climbing the steep slides of the region also, most of which arent maintained trails so that may explain things a bit and about half the 46ers don't even have trails, just paths and slides. After our chat with her and the usual summit stop we took a few pictures from the second highest summit of the Adirondaks and headed down the trail to the next peak.

Climbing up Algonquins summit ledges
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View of the High Peaks region from the top of Algonquin, 5114 feet high and second highest summit in the Adirondacks
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Next stop, Wright Peak, another of the 46ers and our last of the day
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The trail down was less steep but still no piece of cake. Glad we decided to climb the steeps and descend back to treeline and on the easier trail, we continued down to the spur trail for Wright Peak where one guy stayed with the packs for a break. At 4580 feet the peak ranks 16th on the 46ers list. The climb up the .4 mi spur trail is yet another steep open ledge climb to an open summit, and also another relentless climb of 700 feet in .4 miles with a few scrambles. Views were similar to Algonquin, and yet another ranger met us at the top, asking what our plans were and offering to take our picture. After we talked to him we descended the short side trail to the site of a B-47 crash in the 60's. The only things left are some aluminum and what looked like pieces of the landing gear. There's a memorial plaque set in the mountain there too. After that it was back up to the top and then carefully down the ledges, which weren't scary steep but a fall would send you tumbling down quite a ways with little opportunity to stop.

Climbing the (surprise surprise) steep summit ledges of Wright Peak
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View from Wright Peak
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Piece of the B-47 at the crash site, 100 feet or so below the summit
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Waves of mountains while descending from the summit
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From there the trail was uneventful. When we got down to the trail junction for the camp site however we looked at the map and a very wise man happened to be coming down and asked where we were going? It was the ranger from the top and he informed us the trail we had planned on using to get back to our gear was so overgrown we'd probably never get there if we followed it! #%*$@!!!! That meant we had no choice but to go an extra 2 1/2 miles out of our way. No time to waste as it was already 5 o'clock we double timed it grabbed out stuff and of course took a few pictures at the dam as the weather was finally clearing up on what was supposed to be an entirely clear weekend according to the weather channel.

Back at Marcy Dam as the weather finally reached it's full potential
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The last couple miles was a pleasant stroll out as the sun sank low on what is essentially the Lincoln Woods trail of the Adirondacks. Both I and my boots felt surprisingly good (the boots were brand new right off the shelf never worn and I only got one tiny little blister so the Keene Bryce boot gets my Adirondack seal of approval for weekend trips! :D )! We arrived at the parking lot right at seven, still needing to go to town and return bear cans and get a quick dinner before beginning the 5 hour ride home, but a little lost sleep is a small price to pay for a great weekend of hiking.

16+ miles later the parking lot was a welcome sight
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Moonrise in Lake Placid. NOT something you want to see when you have to be to work in less than 12 hours unless you live nearby
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So that was that. Three more 46ers and a weekend of hiking and camping in an amazing spot with good friends. Well worth the drive, which is shorter than the trip to Baxter State Park actually, and I already can't wait to get back there and get into some different areas of the preserve, hopefully during foliage season. I think that pretty much covered everything but of course there's always more pictures, so if you're interested you can link to a slideshow here...

https://picasaweb.google.com/107457015580599787070/ADKs813#slideshow/5914054111274124706


Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:26 pm
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Peak Bagger
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Fantastic report and pictures - looks like a great trip! I've done some camping in and around Lake Colden (via Avalanche Lake / Marcy Dam) and that whole area offers so many good options for trails and peaks.


Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:41 pm
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Leg Burner
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Nice report GG!

My son is off today on his college freshman pre-orientation trip in this same area (Marcy, Haystack, Colden, Cliff, Redfield). Needless to say, I am pretty jealous. But, with any luck, I can work some hiking into the trips to visit him in upstate NY.

With each passing day, the bucket list gets longer & longer.


Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:25 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman

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You sound like a masochist like my husband!! Another year of massive miles and elevation gain only to drive a zillion hours home to get up an go to work, ugh!! WOW.

Beautiful pics of the area!! I've never been there. Interesting about the parking lot and people walking 2 miles to go for a hike. I suspect NH is heading in that direction as well. Seems a bit nuts doesn't it?!

I am looking forward to someday being able to check the area out, looks absolutely spectacular. I'm sure you enjoyed the time away with your partners in crime. Good stuff, glad you posted it!


Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:28 pm
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That new slide on top of Trap Dyke looks (to master understatement) a bit slick.

Nice trip report - it makes me want to turn in my notice at work and go now.

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Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:44 pm
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Great report GG. That Avalanche Lake looks like an awesome spot. Haven't made it out that way yet. Someday hopefully.

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:14 am
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Wow, what a set of pictures there. Very scenic and varied terrain. Boardwalks, Bears and all. Great report!

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:18 am
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Some day...some day...some day I'll actually hike in NY. Sadly, I grew up in NY, though 6 hours from the ADK High Peaks. Looks like a super trip, nice report and pics.

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:21 am
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Wow! I'm surprised how many seriously avid hikers have never been to the area. I thought I was pretty much the only one who'd never been at least a time or two. Long drive for sure for most of us but definitely worth it. As I said, shorter than Baxter and it seems like everyone's been there a time or two.

The AMC lists have a pretty firm hand in influencing where people are willing to drive 5 or 6+ hours to hike it would appear. I know they did for me until my hiking partner and I were almost finished the 67 and wondering what next, as neither of us really wanted to repeat about half the peaks on that one ever again, or at least not any time soon. I didn't want to get into any lists myself but my partner is list/goal driven so once I wrapped my mind around the fact that there was so much spectacular hiking closer than some of the Maine peaks we did as day trips that sealed the deal to start a long term chase of the 111. I'm fully blaming him for this quest! :D The power of lists is really quite amazing. Between that, and my wife and kids hopefully getting into the NH4K's in the near future (wife already has 7 and she's not even keeping track yet but I am :wink: ) that's probably enough on the plate for now.


Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:56 am
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Nice report. I really need to get over to the 'Daks someday.

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:01 pm
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Nice report and great pics. Did hear that the rangers would be hard to miss. I have started to look in to adirondack hiking and have found the map selection to be wanting. There seem to be a great number of good maps for New England hiking, but not for NY. What map source did you use for planning the hike?


Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:49 pm
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rock quarrie wrote:
Nice report and great pics. Did hear that the rangers would be hard to miss. I have started to look in to adirondack hiking and have found the map selection to be wanting. There seem to be a great number of good maps for New England hiking, but not for NY. What map source did you use for planning the hike?


Apparently the NY DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) has Rangers, Asst. Rangers, backcountry stewards and summit stewards, and yes the place is crawling with them. We saw 2 Rangers and 2 Stewards I believe. Very helpful and friendly but will send you packing out if you are blatently violating rules.

I had both my ten year old 14th edition Adirondack Mountain Club guide to the high peaks and accompanying map (1:62,500 scale) and the newer 16th edition I just bought at EMS with its map which is a colaboration of the Adirondack MC and National Geographic Trails Illustrated which is 1:75,000 scale with 50 foot contour levels and has all the mileages from jct to jct so its a big improvement. Great looking but the big problem is the area is so huge its hard to read the maps accurately. They'd do everyone a favor if they broke it into a handful of more detailed maps like the AMC WMG. Our entire 16 mile loop only took up a spot about 1.5 x 3 inches on the 20 x 30 (or so) map. Trail descriptions in the guide leave a lot to be desired also but are much better than the maps.


Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:26 pm
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Nice one.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1074570155 ... 6316104018
This is Gothics (L) and Saddleback (R)

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Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:14 pm
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Ah yes, Gothics, the one with the cables to help ascend right? I thought that might be it but never would have guessed Saddleback. Still going over my maps and reading the guide book to try and figure it all out.


Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:13 pm
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I have to get out that way sometime soon. I always look forward to the pictures, especially the night shots.


Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:42 am
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