This past Saturday my wife was out of town for a geology conference and I was free of any other commitments… so it was time to go hiking. Originally, I had intended to tackle the 14.5 mile, round-trip, hike to Mt Marcy the highest point in New York. However, the combination of me not being familiar with the area, cold temps, and snow at the higher elevations I decided to ratchet it back a bit and in the end decided to hike Algonquin Peak. Now, Algonquin isn’t that much lower than Marcy. It’s 230 ft shorter and comes in as the second highest point in New York. So, I was expecting similar conditions as one would expect on the hike up Mt Marcy, but the supposed 7.2 mile round-trip distance left me with more time should the trail be difficult to follow or overly treacherous with the leaves, mud, snow and ice.
On Saturday morning I left Burlington a little before 8:30 and started the drive to the Adirondack Loj. It’s a drive of a little less than 2 hours, if you don’t take the ferry, and when I arrived it was made well aware that the parking lot at the trailhead was full. I should have known better considering it was leaf-peeper season and a Saturday. I’m always amazed at how many people are out here on the east coast, but I figured it wouldn’t be as bad due to the snow/weather… I was wrong. I ended up having to park roughly 1.25 miles away and then walk back adding 2.5 miles to my trip.
Once on the trail the going was pretty easy for the first ~2 miles. In the lower elevations the mud was frozen and firm, but eventually I started to encounter more snow, and more problematic, ice covered rocks and ledges. Now, my trail runners are pretty grippy, but they’re really no match for ice. That’s where my Kahtoola Microspikes come in. These things are sweet. I picked them up after an icy hike this spring and should be required equipment for anyone that does any hiking here in the East during the early or late shoulder seasons. They not only grip the ice very well, but the provide incredible traction even on bare rock. I found myself constantly passing other hikers skipping from icy rock to icy rock and scrambling up steep ice cover slabs of rock while they clung to trees and branches on the side of the trail. I could often overhear the words “We should really get some of those” after I passed. They’re awesome… get yourself a pair.
Eventually, I reached the summit of Algonquin, wandered around, had some food and took some photos. I made such good time that I decided to do nearby Wright Peak as well. About a mile back down the trail from the Algonquin summit the trail forks and there is a short spur that takes you to the summit of Wright that’s about .5 miles and 600 ft each way.
After a granola bar on top of Wright I started my decent. Heading down was a little slower. A lot of the ice had melted and had given way to mud. I took my time and eventually made it back to the car without incident. All in all it was a great day spent outside. However, now I want to hike Mt Marcy. Sure the trail is twice as long, but the elevation gain is almost the same so one should be able to move pretty quickly. Maybe I’ll wait for some more snow to smooth things out… supposedly you can ski a large percentage of it.
Anyway, enjoy the pics.
My route courtesy of Google Earth…
Heading down from Algonquin… you can see Wright there in the foreground on the right