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Apr. 1, 2014 (Tue.)
Elevations: 4736 feet, 4400 feet, 4185 feet; Order of Height: 10, 22, 29
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Chris Hatko
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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

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