A late-winter tracing of the always-scenic loop over the top of Gothics Mountain, one of the Adirondack's premiere peaks.
We did this outing mid-week, tired of being stymied by weekend after weekend of unfavourable weather. Partially we chose this route for our friend Chris, who was interested in increasing his 46R count and for which this loop was ideal, since it involved three of the Adirondack 46: Gothics, Armstrong and Upper Wolfjaw.
Under crystal clear skies and calm conditions, we rapidly bare-booted on a packed trail from the Garden TH to Johns Brook Lodge, where we donned snowshoes and continued on to the Orebed Brook Trail. A set of tracks lured us up the bed of the Brook, instead of on the trail, and we were glad that they did: a deep snowpack and the recently Hurricane Irene-widened Orebed Brook system made for a beautiful open walk with many new views.
Near the 3300-foot mark on the main Orebed Brook slide, we had to jog left through the trees to reach the also-widened upper slide. The far western side of this slide offered yet more expanded and scenic perspectives, especially across the impressive north face of Gothics.
Rapidly warming temperatures and sticky, soft snow greatly reduced our ascent speed, and it was well past noon when we arrived at the Gothics-Saddleback col. Unbroken trail and lack of traction issues made for another very slow ascent over the last steep 5-600 feet to Gothics' western sub-summit. Fortunately, the fantastic day and views more than made up for the toil.
Gothics' summit was achieved just past 2:30pm, with an ever-building overcast turning the cheery blue sky increasingly grey. A short but beautiful descent down a snow crest on Gothics' east ridge, then some routefinding as we descending along the now-trackless trail into the trees. Fortunately, a lone set of tracks appeared at the Gothics-Armstrong col, and helped guide us along over the summits of Armstrong and Upper Wolfjaw. Arriving at the UW-LW col, we immediately started down along a once-again unbroken trail, noting many additional new slides formed by Hurricane Irene along the way. We reached the valley bottom at 7pm, knowing for sure now that we were going to finish in the dark. In order to minimize this, we chose the shortest possible trail route - along the southside trail - arriving back at the Garden TH shortly after 8:30 PM. Long and tiring, but a very rewarding hike.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: April 2014 Gothics, Armstrong, Upper Wolfjaw loop
On this hike, we were invited to join Julie Moran's Hiking Mates Challenge hiking group, on a challenging loop of the Lower Great Range + Sawteeth. The weather forecast looked unsettled, and it delivered! We had several bouts of heavy rain and were socked in on most of the summits - the exception was Gothics, where we had a few brief glimpses of something beyond the end of our noses.
On the plus side, I discovered that during times of rainy weather, there are beautiful cascades and waterfalls along Wedge Brook. And the Wedge Brook Trail itself is pretty nice. Beaver Meadow Falls, too, was spectacular (on the way down). Julie's hiking group are a very fun bunch to hike with, too, and hopefully we'll get to hike with them again.
Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: June 2009 Lower Great Range Loop
This one looked pretty easy on paper but turned out to be quite a toughie! We had two cars and planned out a traverse of Gothics and Armstrong, coming up from the Garden, up the Orebed Brook Trail, up and over Gothics, continuing over to Armstrong, and then backtracking slightly and taking a connector trail down to the Lake Road in the Ausable Valley, and then walking out to the car at the Saint Huberts parking lot.
The thing was, a huge dump of snow had fallen the week before, and there was a lot of fresh snow in the Adirondacks. Things started off well enough, with good and solidly packed trails all the way up to the col between Saddleback and Gothics. From there, though, there was only a faint track, and that only lasted partway up Gothics. The going was very tough, with lots of soft, drifted snow in the steep sections that sucked energy from you at every step. The open bits on Gothics were spectacular, though, and the weather cleared just as we reached the top. A welcome stroke of luck!
Trailbreaking was required all the way from Gothics, over to Armstrong, and down to the Lake Road, and I don't think I've ever had as hard a time breaking trail downhill. Still, it was a great day, with great company and great views, and I now have one more winter 46er peak done! (Armstrong was a new winter 46er for me).
See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: February 2007 Gothics-Armstrong Traverse
Back in November of 2001, while Markus and Lorraine and I were watching the Leonid Meteor Storm on top of Noonmark mountain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, we learned, through some other star gazers, of a famous and challenging hike known as the "solstice hike". This is a hike where one traverses the entire Great Range in a single day. Yes, you heard right - in one single day, usually around the summer solstice, when days are longest. Eight of the highest peaks in NY state, around 35 kilometres total length, and all in one day. We were impressed at such a hard hike had a name and a following. However, at the time, it just seemed like a crazy outing for folks with more stamina than brains. As a few more years slipped by, and, as we got more into ADK 46er hiking, the thought of this legendary outing took on a more tangible and attainable quality - but, for one reason or another, we were never able to pull together the right conditions to tackle it - until this year (2004). We managed to cobble together five enthusiastic challengers of this legendary hike: myself, Pu, Caroline, Markus, and Luc. Now, I won't go into a large amount of detail in this trip log - a very complete writeup is available via the image gallery link below. But, in summary, suffice it to say we did it, and we did it in good style, not injuring anyone, keeping well hydrated and fed, and experiencing some of the best summits of the Adirondacks on a cool and beautiful June day.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: June 2004 Solstice / Great Range Hike
Don't remember too much about this one... Started from AMR club and up along the Lake road. Summitted both Armstrong and Gothics. Summit of Gothics very nice, especially the great lookout to the southwest, where Brian found his trademark 'orthopaedic' spot on a rock and went for a nap. Clear day, good views. We descended via the trail down towards Sawteeth (recall one or two short ladders) and down by Cascade Brook. I distinctly remember reaching Rainbow falls right at dusk and taking a couple of long exposure snaps of it. From there we hiked out in the dark along the Lake Road.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: May 1998 Gothics hike
Another in the series of 'early hikes'. Was a crisp autumn day, as I recall. Started out from the parking area below the AMR club and headed up towards Lower WolfJaw (we skipped going over the roostercomb). I remember the first nice lookout on the trail looking over JBV was very nice, although someone had beat us to it and was relaxing and enjoying the view. The trails up and down the Wolfjaws were exceedingly steep; or perhaps it was just that I wasn't yet used to Adirondack trails - I don't know. The summits of the Wolfjaws were nice in that I like winding paths along ridges, and with a few nice lookouts as well. I recall one section (the east side of Armstrong, I think), where there is a section of steep rock that one can climb with the assistance of a bit of cable. Very nice broad ledges on the west side of Armstrong with good views of Gothics. Brian finds his orthopaedic rock and Paul Osmond was eager to try out his new saw on some deadwood on ths summit (at which point Gilbert looked for a convenient place to hide). The return leg of the trip was down to the col between Armstrong and Gothics and then down to the Lake Road and a quick walk out.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: Armstrong and the WolfJaws, October 1994