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
The bright idea for today was a horshoe-like traverse of the Wolfjaws, starting at the Garden and ending at the Roostercomb trailhead on route 73. We'd bumped the hike from Saturday to Sunday in order to avoid a particularly cold and windy day. Along on today's hike: Myself, Jennifer, Pu, and Ewart. We drove down in two cars, leaving Ewart's at the Rte 73 trailhead, and then climbing into Jenn's little Echo hatchback and driving up to the Garden Trailhead.
Things started off badly with me forgetting to bring the memory card for my camera. So, not too much in the way of pictures for this outing! Conditions were cold and breezy, so we were prepared for the weather with lots of winter clothes. The hike up to JBL was quick and uneventful. Stopped at the "welcome hut" to some warmth, hot drinks and friendly volunteers.
Hike up to the wolfjaws col was quick and efficient as well. Ewart had to bail on the steep stuff up the Wolfjaws because he didn't bring his crampons - and there was a lot of ice from recent freeze-thaws. Jenn, Pu and I summited Upper Wolfjaw. Met with Ewart again at the col, agreed to split up, he descending back to the Garden, we up and over Lower Wolfjaw and down to the Roostercomb trailhead.
Climb up Lower Wolfjaw steep but no problem with crampons. Trail not broken after Lower Wolfjaw. Steep icy sections mixed with unbroken snowy sections - lots of switching back and forth between crampons and snowshoes. Blowdown moderate in the vicinity of Hedgehog. Fairly slow going - we were two hours later than Ewart in arriving at the Roostercomb trailhead!
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: February 2006 Wolfjaws Traverse Hike
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
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