Tuesday, December  11, 2018
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192 Climbing log entries Found.


Oct 14, 2018 (Sun)
Elevation: 3035 feet; Order of Height: 152
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Brian Connell, Jennifer Innes, Steven Hao, Kaha
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A hike focused on the fall colors of 2018. We chose a quieter part of the Adirondacks: the eastern end of the Rocky Peak traverse, as far as the summit of Bald Peak.

The weather was quite cool but mostly sunny. Colors were beyond peak but still quite excellent. The first few lookouts along Blueberry Cobbles were especially good. Fun climb/scrmable up to the top of Bald, where there was a nice mid-fall view of the surrounding Eastern Adirondacks. Lost one of our hikers for a bit on the way down, resulting in a bit of extra hiking, but everyone turned up in the end and the only damage was the burning of a few thousand extra calories among us.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: October 2018 Bald Peak


Aug 11, 2018 (Sat)
Elevation: 3169 feet; Order of Height: 140
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Pu Chen, Nancy
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Another one of my meteor-shower-on-a-mountaintop outings... and again, not exactly as successful as I would have liked. Still, unquestionably enjoyable!

Perfect weather apart from too much cloud. Again, like earlier in the year - no bugs. No wind. Slept outside in the open, it was so nice. Everything was perfect, except, again.... pesky clouds.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: August 2018 Catamount Mountain


May 21, 2018 (Mon)
Elevation: 3169 feet; Order of Height: 140
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Sophie Innes
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A completely perfect intro hike for Sophie Innes up Catamount Mountain - crystal clear, moderate temperatures, no bugs, no mud, interesting hiking and climbing, nice views.

Also of note is that this was the first time experiencing the new trail re-route in the initial part of the climb. I wonder if there are more trail re-route plans (the bouldery bit up to the conifers is kind of yucky).

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 2018 Catamount Mountain


Mar 11, 2018 (Sun)
Elevation: 3314 feet; Order of Height: 116
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Brian Connell, Sophie Huggins
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A climb up Ampersand in optimal winter trail conditions - freshly packed out trail, basically grippy snow all the way virtually to the summit marker. [Climbing] snowshoes only, nothing else required. Weather was a bit more 'meh' - cloudy and with maybe only 5-6 miles of visibility. But calm and mild.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: March 2018 Ampersand Mountain


Feb 17, 2018 (Sat)
Elevation: 5114 feet; Order of Height: 2
Participants: Andrew Lavigne
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Another solo outing, this time a longer one - a brisk loop from the South Meadows Road, up through Avalanche Pass, up the back-side of Algonquin, over the top and back down to the Loj and along the road back to South Meadows.

Weather started off clear and crisp, and gradually changed to high overcast by mid-afternoon, with temperatures rising dramatically through the day. Rock-hard bare-boot conditions all the way to the start of the Ascent up Algonquin. Quiet, didn't see anyone about. Trail conditions fairly optimum until treeline on Algonquin, where extensive ice coated everything, and crampons were required.

Biting wind and blowing snow from an easterly wind above treeline - did not stay long and soon was descending to the Loj area. Many people coming up via the short way. All in all, a good loop if you want to avoid the cost and crowds of the ADK High Peaks VC area.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Algonquin loop from South Meadows


Oct 20, 2017 (Fri)
Elevation: 3314 feet; Order of Height: 116
Participants: Andrew Lavigne
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Last minute rush to the top of Ampersand Mountain on a mild October evening to take in the Orionid Meteor shower. The only problem was, I saw very very few meteors. However, the mild and slightly breezy open summit of Ampersand was a great place to do an open Bivi. Very comfortable.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: NOrionids on Ampersand


Jul 30, 2017 (Sun)
Elevation: 2720 feet; Order of Height: 280
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Rae McGhee Glen
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A different sort of hike, focusing on watery things, along with a few great viewpoints. We stayed entirely within the lands of the AMR in Ausable Valley, heading up the East River Trail to the lower lake, across to Indian Head, then back along Gill Brook and the Lake Road. We visited many points of interest along this loop, including Cathedral Rocks, Bear Run, Beaver Meadow Falls, and Lost Lookout.

The weather was perfect for the outing - sunny, cool, dry. This outing is also a perfect example of a great hike that does not involve a high summit.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Ausable Valley Loop


Jul 9, 2017 (Sun)
Elevation: 3576 feet; Order of Height: 82
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Rae McGhee Glen, Trevor Kanaya, Claire, Tanya Ni
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Newcomers to the Adirondacks! Four of them, and Jay was the perfect intro.

Wanting to give newcomers Trevor, Rae, Claire and Tanya a scenic but relatively easy ADK intro, I chose Jay Mountain: not too busy, super scenic, non-torn up trail, lots of terrain variety - I could go on for a while. We had a pretty decent weather day, sun and clouds - but a bit hazy and rather windy. The rainy spring/summer of 2017 meant that even parts of the normally dry Jay Mountain trail were muddy, which was quite a surprise. We turned around at one of the more prominent of the eastern sub-summits, since the true summit is a a bit tedious to get to and doesn't offer any better views.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Jay Mountain (to a subsummit)


May 21, 2017 (Sun)
Elevation: 4736 feet; Order of Height: 10
Participants: Andrew Lavigne
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A training hike for upcoming out-west mountaineering, and my first solo hike.

Wanted to get something >20km in, but not busy and away from the main trailheads. Gothics from the Ausable Valley seemed like the ticket. Started off super early to avoid upcoming rain, and enjoyed a nice walk up along the East River Trail on the way in (some really nice waterfalls, too). Trail conditions were not that muddy, despite the NYSDEC muddy trail advisory. Arrived at top roughly around 11 a.m. to an overcast sky but good seeing conditions. Hike over Gothics crest and down the Weld Trail, crossing over Pyramid and down to yet another beautiful waterfall (Rainbow Falls). Contrary to forecast, sun actually came out on my walk back down the Lake Road to the car.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Gothics via Lake Road / Ausable Valley


Apr 14, 2017 (Fri)
Elevation: 3600 feet; Order of Height: 80
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Sophie Huggins
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A spring hike along highway-paralleling Pitchoff Ridge, with wall-to-wall sun and cool clear views.

We set up to do a traverse of Pitchoff (which is how I always do Pitchoff) from the eastern end. Only had one car, so I brought running gear along to fetch the car at the end. The initial climb was dry and clear down low, rough and blowdown-ish in the mid section, and still snow in the shadowed areas up high (but fortunately solid and walkable without snowshoes). With the beautiful day, the walk west along the ridgeline was superb, with super clear views to the still-snowy high peaks. We brought microspikes but mostly avoided the need to use them. At the far western end, enjoyed the final huge lookout and boulders, then backtracked a bit and descended the western approach trail to arrive at the western pitchoff trailhead by 2pm, about four hours after setting out. Changed into my running clothes and ran the 20 minutes back to fetch the car. Tidy!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Pitchoff Ridge Traverse


Feb 19, 2017 (Sun)
Elevation: 4627 feet; Order of Height: 12
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Chris Hatko, Gillian Hatko
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A quick hike up one of the Adirondack's nicest short 46R ascents - the ridge trail on Giant Mountain.

After a recent dump of snow finally brought snowpack levels up to proper midwinter levels, we decided to utilize a long weekend day to enjoy the (hopefully) good trail conditions. We did encounter good snowpack and trail, but we hiked up on an uncommonly warm day, and things were definitely melting. Much clearer and sunnier skies than forecast graced our trip, and I was hiking up much of the way no gloves and only a t-shirt. Fast-moving intermittent clouds and clear air made for some dramatic lighting on the peaks - especially Haystack and Marcy, which occasionally lit up like beacons in the distance.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Giant via the Ridge Trail


Jan 14, 2017 (Sat)
Elevation: 4580 feet; Order of Height: 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Joel Koscielski, Ginette, Daniel Rosenblatt
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Our third "Twilight Hike" - to the summit of Wright Peak.

A cold visit to the summit of Wright Peak to see the sun rise over the Central High Peaks. Rock-hard snow conditions but surprisingly little ice. Microspiked-it the whole way up to treeline and then bare-booted the rest of the way. Arrived just in time to witness the sun rise over the Great Range. Not as visually impressive as the previous two twilight hike outings but still well worth the effort.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Twilight Hike #3 - Wright Peak


Dec 4, 2016 (Sun)
Elevation: 4098 feet; Order of Height: 36
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Kristina Mansveld, Eric Shoesmith, Ginette, Daniel Rosenblatt
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Our second "Twilight Hike" - this time on Cascade Mountain. An excellent peak when one wants relatively high open alpine terrain with a short approach.

Originally this was planned as a morning outing, but the weather forecast dictated otherwise. We moved from Saturday morning to Sunday evening, departing from the Cascade Mountain trailhead shortly before 3pm. A brisk pace allowed us to reach the first lookout about ten minutes before sunset, where we were treated to a truly superb sea of undercast. Proceeding on to the bare summit, we enjoyed more incredible views of clouds below with the western Adirondack peaks poking through like volcanoes. An excellent addition to the annals of the ACC twilight hike series.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Twilight Hike #2 - Cascade Mountain


Nov 12, 2016 (Sat)
Elevation: 3576 feet; Order of Height: 82
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Dianne Wadden, Frederic B
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A "Twilight Hike" - an Alpine Club sponsored trip up Jay Mountain, with the express intent to arrive on the summit ridgeline during and after sunset, with the intent to experience all the scenic beauty that has to offer.

We left shortly after 3pm, angling to be on the open part of Jay's ridgeline before sunset. We cut it close, but after 70 or so minutes of brisk uphill hiking, we emerged onto the first open areas with only minutes to spare. The real show came afterwards, thoguh, when a brilliant progression of colores played across the underside of the clouds above us. Truly excellent and well worth it, even though we had to endure a cold, strong wind. With growing darkness and an unpleasant wind, we turned around just before Grassy Notch, and did not proceed all the way to the summit.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Twilight Hike #1 - Jay Mountain


Oct 8, 2016 (Sat)
Elevations: 2374 feet, 2815 feet, 2440 feet; Order of Height: 500, 225, 400
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Sophie Huggins
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A race against the rain-clock to sample the fiery fall colors of the Adirondacks.

Today we decided to visit three different small peaks, all ones we had never done, in order to sample the near-peak fall colors of 2016 in the Adirondacks. We chose Silver Lake Mountain in the north country, The Crows, above the town of Keene, and Baxter Mountain, near the town of Keene Valley. All three were in the 1-3 mile total distance range and had reputations for excellent views.

An approaching system with rain had us start very early first on Silver Lake Mountain, followed by an exploratory traverse over the Crows, and finishing off with a quick there-and-back up Baxter Mountain. The fall colors were indeed superb, nearly at peak intensity, and each of the three peaks offered some excellent views, although none had a truly 360-degree bare summit. An interesting trio of hikes, to be sure.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: October 2016 - Silver Lake / Crows / Baxter Mountains


Jul 24, 2016 (Sun)
Elevation: 4960 feet; Order of Height: 3
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Julie Moran, Mike Moran
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Tagging along with Julie and Mike to Haystack, as they aspire to complete their 4th round of the ADK 46.

Decided to reach Haystack from South Meadows - a slightly less orthodox but still quite viable approach to the Adirondack's third highest peak. Weather started off with low cloud but with a forecast of burn-off and clear skies later. Walk in along South Meadows truck trail fast and easy. Catching Van Hoevenberg trail, continued on up past Indian Falls (some nice views through the breaking clouds) and up onto the high terrain north of Marcy's summit. Reached high point with Phelps Trail at 4800 feet. Noted that VH trail has many smooth stretches and is overall only moderately rough by Adirondack standards (I guess it has been a while since I've done the VH without snow cover).

Descent 700 ft along Phelps Trail to head of Panther Gorge was rough and tedious, as was 600 ft ascent back up to first of Haystack's sub-summits. Excellent view of Haystack Ridgeline from here as usual. Soon emerged onto Little Haystack and enjoyed wonderful alpine scenery. Over the top of Little Haystack, down the scramble, then continued on main ridgeline to summit. Superb views as usual, and I repeat statement that to do this peak in poor visibility would be a shame.

Return journey without major incident, and found it quite an easy stroll after completing the tedious down-and-up back to the Van Hoevenberg Trail.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: July 2016 Haystack Mountain Climb


Jul 17, 2016 (Sun)
Elevation: 3169 feet; Order of Height: 140
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Veetil Sanjay, Rakhee
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Special request hike for work colleague Veetil and wife Rahkee: something short and steep.

After work-colleague Veetil's thumbs-up on his first ever ADK climb to Noonmark in March of 2016, he requested another, this time with his wife Rakhee. They wanted something short and steep (or maybe they said short and sweet and I just misheard them). In any case, the perfect choice was Catamount.

Veetil and Rakhee enjoyed the scrambly and slabby challenges on Catamount, and came away wanting more. A beautiful day on a small but beautiful peak.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: July 2016 Catamount Mountain Climb


May 29, 2016 (Sun)
Elevation: 2594 feet; Order of Height: 281
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Grant Blanchard
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A filler / exploratory hike after completing a long hike of Mt Allen the day before. Since we were in the Newcomb area, Grant and I decided to explore something new for us - the short hike up to the top of Goodnow Mountain.

Goodnow is a great starter hike - the trail is wide and easy, the elevation gain not too excessive (1200 feet), and it has a very nice, well-maintained fire tower on top, along with several historic structures. The caretaker's cabin in particular is in very good shape. We did the hike early on a hazy summer morning and were treated to low-angle light and cottony-white ground fog in valleys. Views were superb from the tower.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 2016 Goodnow Mountain


May 28, 2016 (Sat)
Elevation: 4340 feet; Order of Height: 26
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Grant Blanchard, Murray Fleming, Kevin Heiss, Phong Nguyen, Dennis, Kellen
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I joined an ACC-led group for this outing to Allen, led by Grant Blanchard. It was a hot and muggy weekend for late May, much warmer than normal for this time of year. An extended dry spell meant no insects, however, extremely unusual for the May-June timeframe. There were seven of us in total. We started off from the trailhead along Upper Works road shortly after 6 a.m. Bridge over the Hudson was in good condition, but the old causeway across the top of Lake Jimmy is now gone. In its place, the NYSDEC has put in a bypass around the northern arm of the lake, adding just under 1/2 kilometre to the total distance each way. Beyond Lake Jimmy, we soon came across the old cabin structures (of which one has been fixed up).

Walking south along old road beds and connector trails, we arrived at the banks of the Opalescent, which we followed up-stream to the site of the bridged crossing. Except that today there was no bridge (the plan is to replace it later in 2016). With the Opalescent being a fairly sizeable river, this could have been a tricky crossing, and we had brought our watershoes. However, the water level was low and there was no problem. Beyond, we hiked through the old logging cut (now well on the way to growing back into a forest), then veered off the official trail and onto the herd path towards Allen. Many of the signs explicitly pointing to Allen are now gone, but the herd path itself is obvious. There are, however, a few junctiona and roads that must be negotiated correctly.

Beyond the old gravel pit, we started gaining altitude towards Allen. After crossing Skylight brook, it was all uphill, with the really steep section starting with the arrival at Allen Brook. Overall the herd paths and trails had been relatively clear of blowdown and the footing was good. The hike / scramble up the side of Allen Brook was in decent shape, wet but still grippy. We made a slight mistake near the top and stayed too far right, incurring some unnecessary bushwhacking. Cross over and stay left at the large steep slab section to maintain your course on a well-defined herdpath. The summit was as boring as ever, but the excellent viewpoint a minute north of the summit makes up for it.

The return journey was hot but uneventful. We stopped several times to filter water and rehydrate.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 2016 Allen Mountain


Mar 12, 2016 (Sat)
Elevation: 3556 feet; Order of Height: 85
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Veetil Sanjay, Chris Hatko, Gillian Hatko
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An intro hike for work-colleague Veetil. Large amounts of ice on the mid-to-upper part of the Stimson trail made full crampons a virtual necessity (we did see a lone hiker manage to get to the top with only microspike-like devices but it was a sketchy effort). Beautiful day, well above freezing and nice sunshine. Elected to descend via southeast trail from summit to avoid having to down-crampon the steepest bits of the Stimson trail. This made the hike a bit easier on the technical side but added some distance. Veetil did quite well for his first ever hike, showing enthusiasm and pretty good cramponing technique (although he did seem quite bagged by the time we finished).

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: March 2016 Noonmark Mountain


Jan 17, 2016 (Sun)
Elevation: 3314 feet; Order of Height: 116
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Brian Connell
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Surprisingly little snowpack for a mid-January hike up Ampersand Mtn. Weather calm and cool and gray, with the sun faintly shining through a thin cloud deck. Easy hiking (bareboot on perhaps 2 inches of snowpack) along the flats and then up the slopes of Ampersand, with the snow depth increasing only slightly as we climbed. Conditions on summit remarkably calm and docile, with a few flakes lazily drifting down out of the sky. Visibility decent despite the overcast and flurries. Total round-trip time a decent three hours and thirty minutes.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: January 2016 Ampersand Mountain


Dec 5, 2015 (Sat)
Elevation: 5114 feet; Order of Height: 2
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Pu Chen, Caroline Doucet
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A day of unbelievably beautiful undercast on Algonquin Peak

The day started out inconspicuously enough, with the desire to do a moderately vigorous hike. Although we had the Algonquin loop as a rough starting idea, we weren't entirely sure until we got close to the trailhead, and a number of other ideas were bandied about. A glance at the skies, though, had me thinking that the possibility for an above-the-clouds hike was possible, so we returned to the idea of Algonquin, which had an approach that was short combined with a nice high summit altitude.

Starting out under overcast (hopefully soon to be undercast) skies, we quickly made our way up from ADK Loj towards Algonquin. A dusting of snow at the trailhead grew to about 2 inches at altitude, so there was no need for snowshoes. Traction aid was required, however, and microspikes were worked to the max on a very icy trail as we approached treeline. Our hunch was rewarded - a beautiful view of undercast spread out before us, especially so to the west and south. In fact, the most superb views I have seen in the Adirondacks in quite a long time.

The descent from the summit southward to treeline was supremely beautiful, with only the 46Rs visible in the distance above the nearly 4000-foot undercast. The descent down to Lake Colden was the worst part of the hike, slushy and slippery and wet. The hike back past Avalanche Lake was a nice final scenic flourish - a warm december sun illuminated the canyon-like area.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: December 2015 Algonquin Peak Loop via Avalanche Pass


Nov 21, 2015 (Sat)
Elevation: 3899 feet; Order of Height: 50
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest, Roland Hanel, Stephanie Dusablon
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A hike up a new Adirondack Peak for our little group: Snowy Mountain, in the southern Adirondacks.

A relatively still and grey November day saw us arrive at the Snowy Mountain trailhead, not far south of the town of Indian Lake, NY. With only one other car at the trailhead, we expected a quiet day on the trail. Started off around 9 a.m., hiking along a very gradually ascending leaf-covered trail. Had to cross the first of many stream crossings about a third of the way to the summit. After the first crossing, the trail became fairly wet in places, fortunately helped with some deteriorating planking.

The steep part of the climb began at the two-thirds distance mark. Here the trail became worse quality-wise, with lots of erosion, boulders, roots, and general water drainage directly down the trail. A brief respite from the poor trail conditions at 3000 feet was appreciated before a final steep scrambly bit of trail brought us to within a hundred or so feet of the summit. A final bit of trail, sometimes steep, brought us to the summit ridgeline and a flat area of open grass, open towards the east, giving a nice view. A network of little herdpaths led away to all parts of the summit ridge from this clearing, and we visited a couple of excellent lookouts (west and north) using these herdpaths. We then visited the sturdy and well-maintained fire tower on the actual summit, climbing it for a 360-degree panorama of the Southern Adirondacks. The chill wind blowing through the tower forced us down quickly, and we didn't stay much longer before starting our descent. I took a quick side detour to visit the summit slabs on the way down, but other than that it was a straightforward trudge down the eroded bits of trail and over the many stream crossings before the final bit of trail down to the highway. A worthwhile summit, probably better done in winter, though.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: November 2015 Snowy Mountain Climb


Nov 8, 2015 (Sun)
Elevation: 3169 feet; Order of Height: 140
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Andrea Craig, Andy Brown
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A quick jaunt up scenic and scrambly Catamount Mountain to test out Andy and Andrea's new boots.

Beautiful November day - a cool wind add some chill, but a trend to completely clear skies meant a strong sun often warmed things up. No ice or snow to speak of, other than a little bit of frost-tipped branches at the very top. The view-filled, scrambly ascent was as enjoyable as ever.

Andy and Andrea's new boots performed well for them - no hot spots or other issues. Although our speed wasn't overly quick, the Catamount trail's short distance meant that we completed the entire ascent and descent in under four hours. Definitely one of the Adirondack's best short hikes.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: November 2015 Catamount Mountain Climb


Oct 3, 2015 (Sat)
Elevation: 2919 feet; Order of Height: 197
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Julie Moran
Click to Enlarge

A sampling of the eastern Siamese Ponds wilderness area in the Southern Adirondacks, culminating in a visit to the summit of Peaked Mountain.

Met up with fellow hiker Julie in Indian Lake and then drove east to the general vicinity of Thirteenth Lake. Dropped a car at the Thirteenth Lake trailhead and started off from about 2km to east at a different lot, adjacent to a tennis court on the property of the Garnet Hill Lodge. Our plan was to visit various points of interest in the general vicinity of Thirteenth Lake, around which we would be describing a large U-shaped route.

We first visited the abandoned Hooper Garnet Mine, which in addition to having lots of broken rock that sported little spots of garnet material also had some fairly striking spires and walls of rock.

Next, we walked along various trails south, across large stretches of flat terrain east of Thirteenth Lake. Eventually we bent to the west, following the Puffer Lake trail around the south end of Thirteenth Lake. It was only at this time that the terrain got a bit hilly, as we climbed up to a trail junction with side spur to Hour Lake. The side visit to Hour Lake was pleasant enough, with a scenic beaver pond en-route. Returning back to the main trail, we continued north along the western margin of Thirteenth Lake until we reached another side trail, this one to Peaked Mountain.

The climb Thirteenth Lake to Peaked Mountain is about an hour and a half, and climbs about 1300 feet, of which only the last 600 are steep. Along the way are a few nice meadow views and one particularly striking view of Peaked Mountain itself. The trail arrives at Peaked Mountain lake and then takes a right, soon climbing up the mountain to the top. There were excellent views on clean ledges to the south, east, and north. The distant High Peaks are visible from the northern viewpoint.

After the summit, a quick two-hour walk brought us back down to Thirteenth Lake and north to the Thirteenth Lake trailhead, completing our day.

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: October 2015 13th Lake hike and Peaked Mountain


Aug 22, 2015 (Sat)
Elevation: 4012 feet; Order of Height: 42
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Pu Chen
Click to Enlarge

A climb of the great slide on newly-minted Grace Peak.

The northwest slide on Grace is a wonderful gem of the Adirondacks - out-of-the-way, possibly via an attractive approach, offers a sporty scramble, and excellent summit views, especially for a 'low' 4000-footer.

We had planned to do this outing in July, but bad weather (and then vacation out west) deferred that to mid-August. We were only able to secure Pu for the day, so it was just a small team of three once again. It is tough these days to gather people into a big group!

Under mixed cloud and sun, we started off on the Boquet River approach route (the best and most convenient way to do this climb) on route 73. Low water levels and an easy, mostly flat path meant we zoomed up the approach valley to the high part of the South Branch of the Boquet river. Here, after the last of the good tentsites, the path finally became rougher and slower.

About an hour later, we'd followed the herdpath to the first of the open slab. The wetted out portion of the slabs were extremely slippery, requiring a lot of caution. Fortunately, the wet sections became less prevalent as we ascended, and by the time we got to the craggier part of the slide, it was mostly all good, dry grippy rock. We caught up to passed a large party, choosing some different climbing lines from before.

A relaxing rest at the slide's top rim, and then it was on to the summit, where I thought there may have been some sort of memorial to the dedication/renaming of East Dix to Grace Peak (but I couldn't find anything). Then, we continued on and took the slide bypass herdpath down, avoiding having to deal with the slippery wet slabs. After that, a no-nonsense brisk walk brought us back the way we came, arriving back at the trailhead just over seven hours after starting out.

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: August 2015 Grace Peak Slide Climb


Jul 19, 2015 (Sun)
Elevation: 4580 feet; Order of Height: 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Brian Connell
Click to Enlarge

Wright Peak, on a muggy, hazy, and thunderstorm-forecasted day.

It isn't usually my thing to do an Adirondack climb when the weather is not particularly nice, or the views likely to be obscured. However, in light of an upcoming larger trip, we wanted to get more mountain hiking under our belt, so we made an exception today.

We started off under (surprisingly) sunny skies from the ADK High Peaks visitor center parking, soon becoming drenched in sweat in the 100% humidity. We made rapid progress up to about the 3000-foot mark on the sometimes good, often rough and tedious Algonquin Peak trail. Here, Brian had to take a bit of a breather. This was much less of a stop than the fairly big bonk he experienced on our Trap Dike climb from a few weeks before, and soon we were on our way again.

A minor thunderstorm rolled in around 9am, sprinkling us for about 20 minutes or so before gliding off to the east. After that, we had dry conditions for the rest of the hike.

Steep climb to summit of Wright was enjoyable as always: open alpine terrain and steep, grippy slab. We were mostly in the cloud, but a vigorous and refreshing breeze made it feel interesting and exciting. We topped out shortly before 10:30 a.m.

A trouble-free descent brought us back down to the trailhead at a very early pre-1pm. The clouds we had experienced at the summit had mostly blown away, and the day was - at least for the time being - mostly sunny. Overall, the weather was less bad than had been predicted.

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: July 2015 Wright Peak climb


Jun 27, 2015 (Sat)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Caroline Doucet, Peter Bujold, Brian Connell
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A return to the Trap Dike - this time in summer - to explore the aftereffects of the 2011 landslide.

Curious to see the state of affairs after 2011's huge Irene-caused landslide on Mt Colden's northwest face (and in the Trap Dike), we organized an outing to repeat a classic route I've done many times now - an ascent of Mt Colden from Avalanche, up the Trap Dike, and up the new 2011 slide scar.

After reports of muddy trails and a forecast of cloudiness, we were pleasantly surprised to find not much of either, nor of bugs. Our hike from the ADK Loj area to Avalanche pass was very rapid.

After working along the rough trail alongside Avalanche Lake to a point opposite the Trap Dike, we stopped for a good look - what a huge difference from pre-2011: virtually all of the vegetation scoured out of the dike, and lots of fresh bedrock visible. The dike looked a lot more imposing now.

Bushwhacking from the lower end of Avalanche Lake to the base of the dike, we began our ascent. The newfound openness in the dike meant there were many more scrambling options. The straightforward lines of ascent remained, howeve, and an easy 3rd-class scramble brought us over the first step and to the base of the second. Here we encountered another party who were a bit unsure of their climbing abilities. We gave them some mild assistance we they climbed up the crux second step; we followed shortly thereafter.

The upper dike was equally blasted bare by the landslide; wide open stretches of rock and slab led up - now less steeply - to the base of the new slide. It was wide, white and clean: our highway to the top.

A bit of routefinding was required to surmount the first steep pitch on the open slide. Thereafter the climbing was steady but relatively trouble-free until the very end, where the grade steepens again. There are a few ledges and cracks to assist the final bit to the top. A quick break and a rapid hike down to Lake Arnold and beyond brought us back to the trailhead around 5:30 pm.

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 2015 Trap Dike and New Slide Climb on Mt Colden


Jun 14, 2015 (Sun)
Elevations: 4361 feet, 4140 feet, 4040 feet; Order of Height: 24, 33, 40
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Caroline Doucet, Peter Bujold, Iris, Arn Hyndman
Click to Enlarge

A training hike of sorts; something long-ish and moderately challenging. A prep hike for an upcoming Solstice hike repeat.

Parking at the recently-opened summer trailhead, we made good time along the mostly flat trail and old forest road to the start of the Calkins Brook herdpath (our chosen route of ascent to the Seward Range today). Weather was dry but humid.

Calkins Brook herdpath in excellent shape - clear of blowdown, easy to follow. A few muddy spots and some erosion at the top end, but other than that, quite good.

We elected to visit Seward's summit first, and found the hike over to be trouble-free and quick. Not so much for the hike over Donaldson to Emmons. Some large annoying mud-pits along the top of Donaldson, and many little ups and downs and a longer-than-it-looks distance to Emmons. Plus lots of black flies. The trees are just high enough in most spots of interest to obscure views, save for the nice couple of lookouts near Donaldson's summit. I definitely prefer this ridgeline in the winter, when all of the roughness is covered up and the extra few feet of elevation (from the snow) gives you more views.

A long trudge back to the cars from Emmons rounded out an eleven-and-a-half hour day. Tiring, but a good workout.

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 2015 Seward Range via Calkins Brook


May 18, 2015 (Mon)
Elevations: 3899 feet, 3861 feet; Order of Height: 50, 57
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Caroline Doucet
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A repeat of our pleasant 2010 loop over the two main peaks of the Mckenzie Range, just west of the actual lake of Lake Placid.

We parked at the start of the re-routed Lake Trail, on Blodgett Road (the old Chipmunk Lane access is closed). This new stretch bypasses all of the upscale homes and boathouses, but eventually rejoins with the old Lake Trail route (some attention required to follow properly). From there, we continued along the Lake Trail as before, to a point below Moose's summit, then caught the trail that leads up to it. The morning was humid but sunny, clear, and still. Shortly after heading up-slope towards Moose, we were drenched in sweat.

The snows of winter had all but melted away, and we had a mostly dry ascent to Moose's summit. Some excellent trail clearing and a very un-eroded path provided a quite straightforward ascent, despite being a bit steep in places. A stop at picturesque Loch Bonnie, about halfway up, was welcome.

We took in the limited views from Moose's summit, then continued on, along the ridge trail over to Mckenzie. This, in my opinion, is the gem of this loop: a long, meandering, beautiful little path, soft and springy, relatively free of blowdown, and through picturesque taiga-type woods. And very secluded; likely you'll meet no one else. The first half from Moose is best; the second half that climbs up over bumps to Mckenzie's summit is a little bit less enchanting.

We stopped on Mckenzie's excellent western lookout for lunch, then continued on, hoping to beat some approaching bad weather. We descended the more-travelled southern approach to Mckenzie, and the extra wear and tear on the trail was quite apparent. Once at the valley floor, we turned left on the Mckenzie Pond / Jackrabbit ski trail and completed the section back to Whiteface Inn Road (Blodgett is perhaps just a hundred yards farther, completing the loop).

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 2015 McKenzie and Moose Mountains Loop


May 3, 2015 (Sun)
Elevation: 4867 feet; Order of Height: 5
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Caroline Doucet, Peter Bujold, Iris
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After our tough slog on Rocky Ridge two weeks ago, a gentler outing: Whiteface via Marble Mtn.

Another nice spring day as we started out along the Marble Mountain trail. Toiled up the rather rocky trailbed along the old ski lift line to Marble Mountain itself, then west along the ridgline. Hit the start of snow at roughly 3100 feet and to full snow-pack by 3400. Fortunately, snow conditions were way better than two weeks before, and we were easily able to bareboot along the trail.

Once up on the Esther-Whiteface massif, we made good time - the trail conditions and flat terrain allowed us to quickly reach the slopes of Whiteface's summit cone. We quickly climbed up to the auto road (still closed), where we had a very pleasant time lounging about on the warm asphalt.

The final bit up the open northern ridgeline was the scenic highlight. Snow still deep between bare bits of rock, but still able to support travel without snowshoes. The top was mostly deserted, save for a couple and their dogs, who had walked up the auto road. Decided to descend via the 'tourist' trail to the top of the auto road, then back along the road to the meeting with our ascent route. A quick descent down the trail (we elected to skip Esther) brought us back to the car at a decent 3:30pm.

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 Image Gallery: May 2015 Whiteface Climb


Apr 19, 2015 (Sun)
Elevations: 3035 feet, 4420 feet, 4627 feet; Order of Height: 152, 20, 12
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Caroline Doucet, Peter Bujold, Brian Connell, Matt Wilkins
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A beautiful (weather and scenery-wise) but horrible (snow conditions-wise) traverse along Rocky Peak Ridge, and a kick-off to a prep for a 2015 version of the Great Range Traverse.

Plenty of dry, open ground down low at the New Russia end, all the way up to and over Blueberry Cobbles. A few patches of soft snow on north-facing slopes, but nothing significant until the top of Bald. Beautiful clear skies and calm conditions. As usual, the walk over the Cobbles was most pleasant.

After Bald, every spot in the trees had significant snowpack. Furthermore, the snowpack was mushy and very soft. Putting on snowshoes did not stop post-holing, but it did make passage at least possible. We left our snowshoes on for the period dry open spots, since it would have been too troublesome to take them off and put them back on repeatedly. The climb up to the east end of Rocky's ridgeline was very tiring with the snow conditions, and we took a long break at the first of the good lookouts near the top. Following Rocky's ridgeline was a bit better, with frequent dry bedrock sections and a relatively flat grade. And, of course, good views west to Rocky's and Giant's summits.

Deep soft, yucky snow returned around the Lake Mary Louise area, briefly abated along the open meadows, then returned just before Rocky's summit. We were glad to see others on the summit of Rocky, as this likely meant some extra traffic to beat down the trail beyond. This proved to be the case, and the postholing ceased to be a problem after Rocky Peak. Our slow pace from the bad snow conditions meant it was after 5pm by the time we reached Giant's summit. We split up to improve the logistics of the car shuttling, with three of us arriving more than thirty minutes before the rest. We were therefore able to retrieve the far vehicle before the remainder of our group arrived at the trailhead. Eleven long and tiring hours - but good training for a re-do of the Great Range Traverse hike!

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 Image Gallery: April 2015 Rocky Peak Ridge Traverse


Mar 29, 2015 (Sun)
Elevation: 3169 feet; Order of Height: 140
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Arn Hyndman, Gosia Hyndman, Nel Hyndman, Kai Hyndman, Caroline Doucet
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A return to Catamount - nearly two years to the day after the last time. Again a crisp and cool early spring morning, although far more snow on the ground this time. New to me were the infrastructure improvements at the trailhead - Catamount is now a much more official destination.

Started off barebooting, but switched to traction enhancement at the first uphill. We were able to follow tracks and stay with boots only until shortly after the subsummit, where the track ended and we had to start breaking trail (with snowshoes).

Beautiful fresh snow started to become a bit wet as a strong spring sun warmed things up. An only slightly breezy summit and perfectly clear skies yielded a very pleasnt top-spot.

The way down was quick and uneventful, save for the troublesome balling underfoot, caused by the effect of the increasingly warm conditions on very fresh snow. Given our large group, our elapsed total time was a relatively sedate five hours round trip.

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 Image Gallery: March 2015 Catamount Mountain Climb


Jan 31, 2015 (Sat)
Elevations: 4166 feet, 3895 feet; Order of Height: 31, 45
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Chris Hatko, Alana Wilcox
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A frigid winter day on a couple of the easier 'untrailled' 46R peaks: Street and Nye mountains. Chosen to give Chris a chance to get a couple more 46R peaks under his belt while still being fairly easy. The day was sunny and cloudless but quite cold. High temperatures in the lower elevations perhaps reached the zero mark (0F, -17C), while up above on the summits, we registered reading colder than -25C (-13F). How cold was uncertain because my digital thermometer started showing 'Lo'. Herdpath was superbly packed-out throughout, no routefinding problems. Blowdown minimal. Encountered a lot of other hikers on the trail today.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: January 2015 Street and Nye climb


Dec 20, 2014 (Sat)
Elevations: 4059 feet, 4098 feet; Order of Height: 38, 36
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Caroline Doucet
Click to Enlarge

A beautiful pre-winter-solstice day on the best short traverse hike in the Adirondacks: The Porter-Cascade traverse. Everything went just right for us on this winter-season hike: just-below freezing temperatures, clear and calm skies, and a developing bit of interesting low cloud formations as the day progressed. Starting from the Marcy Field trailhead at 8:30 a.m., we followed a firm snowshoe track up the steeps to scenic Blueberry Mountain, then on up to the eastern end of Porter's ridgeline. A few snow-laden branches were the only real obstacles to an easy walk along the ridgeline to Porter's summit, where we noticed a buildup of clouds below us near South Meadows. Continuing on to Cascade, we encountered a beautiful snow-covered alpine stretch to the summit. Having only brought one car, we received a generous ride back from the hike's end to our start point by a fellow hiker named Noah. Definitely my best Cascade Mountain summit experience so far!

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 Image Gallery: December 2014 Porter-Cascade Traverse hike


Sep 7, 2014 (Sun)
Elevation: 3576 feet; Order of Height: 82
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Caroline Doucet, Pu Chen
Click to Enlarge

Our first visit to Jay since the NYSDEC put up a new official trail to the ridge. A perfect late summer day, cool and crisp. Discovered that the new trail is already well beaten out, well-signed, and well-engineered. Also noticeably longer than the old unofficial route. Once atop the ridgeline, the same beautiful mostly open mix of meadows, open bedrock, and little scrambles was a delight - as it always is. Upon reaching the 'commonly-accepted' summit point, I decided to continue on, and discovered a faintly-marked route that leads another 250 yards (meters) to the official highpoint, complete with survey marker. In total, the new trail and going to the actual summit adds an extra two miles (3km) of round-trip distance. Not a huge amount, but definitely noticeable. Still a super-worthwhile hike!

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 Image Gallery: September 2014 Jay Mtn hike (using new trail, and to official summit)


Jul 19, 2014 (Sat)
Elevations: 4627 feet, 3150 feet; Order of Height: 12, 151
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Arn Hyndman, Gosia Hyndman
Click to Enlarge

An outing to sample a trail I'd never done before - the North Trail to Giant Mountain.

On a moderately warm but very humid day, we organized a traverse hike utilizing the North Trail, from Route 9N, up to Giant's summit, then back down and over to Hopkins to end directly in Keene Valley. At the parking lot of the Mountaineer outdoor store, to be precise. We left a bicycle at the mountaineer so that we could retrieve our vehicle from the North Trail trailhead on Route 9N.

After a pleasant but sweaty hike up through mostly open forest to Green Mountain's eastern ridgecrest, we visited the most excellent Owl Head lookout. This lookout, perched atop an airy crag, is worth a visit even if you go no farther on this trail.

We did continue, however, and next enjoyed a very nice open broadleaf forest walk as the trail led mostly along the level on a traverse of a lower flank of Green Mountain. From there a gradual climb brought us to the Giant-Green col, where we made a sharp left and headed up the steepest part of the route. Most of the trail up the north flank of Giant, however, is actually very nice, with only a few really steep bits. There's very little in the way of views, though, until you are almost right on Giant's summit.

Returning back down to the Giant-Green col, our traverse continued west, over some annoying ups and downs and through a tedious boggy section, before arriving at another excellent lookout spot - Hopkins Mountain. The trail continues over the top of Hopkins and down along a crest to neighboring Spread Eagle Mountain. This we decided to bypass, and we followed a very faint trail that led down to the network of gravelled residential streets above Keene Valley. A simple walk from here down the streets to Keene Valley.

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: July 2014 North Trail traverse (Owl Head, Giant, Hopkins)


Jun 22, 2014 (Sun)
Elevation: 3314 feet; Order of Height: 116
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Pu Chen, Denis Fournier, Roch Bellefueille, Dan Malcolm, Rene Lavigne, Nancy, Sophie Huggins
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Tagging along with friend Pu on a beautiful day on an easy Adirondack intro peak.

Warm but not hot and not humid day, and no bugs of any consequence. Trail was in good shape and not muddy, other than perhaps a few hundred feet of the steepest part of the ascent, where the trail is most heavily eroded and the least maintained.

Summit conditions were perfect: mild temperature and a light breeze; mostly sunny with the occasional puffy cloud casting a bit of cool shade. We were nine in total, but even so, it only took us just over four hours in total, round trip. After the hike we took a brief extra journey down to the shore of Middle Saranac Lake. Several families had set up for a day at the 'Beach'.

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 Image Gallery: June 2014 Ampersand Mountain Hike


Apr 6, 2014 (Sun)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Stephanie Dusablon, Roland Hanel
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Hard snow and tiring conditions in the classic mountaineering outing of the Adirondacks - the Trap Dike on Mount Colden.

After a very soft-snow experience just days before on Gothics, I was concerned that there might possibly be avalanche conditions in the Dike. We made sure we got an early start (before 7am), and with brisk walking, we were at the base of the Dike not long after 9 a.m. The whole of this side of Colden was in the shade and the temperatures were still below freezing, so we knew the snow was stable.

In fact, it turned out to be too stable. Stable as in rock-hard stable, and our climb was actually a tiring calf-burner of an ascent, with careful crampon-placement required on almost every step. The Dike was well-filled in with snow, with the ice steps noticeably shortened as a result.

We were quite careful, both in terms of movement and staying roped and protected. That, in combination with our relative rustiness with respect to winter mountaineering, meant we were very, very slow. It took us nearly eight full hours to climb from Avalanche Lake to the summit. Ideally, we should have been able to complete that climb in perhaps a third of that time.

Still, it was a useful experience, and the weather - with crystal clear air and brilliant sunshine - couldn't be beat. We arrived back at the car at 10pm, marking the end of a very arduous 15+ hour day.

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 Image Gallery: April 2014 Trap Dike climb


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

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.

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 Image Gallery: April 2014 Gothics, Armstrong, Upper Wolfjaw loop


Mar 8, 2014 (Sat)
Elevation: 4120 feet; Order of Height: 34
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Harold Piel, Roland Hanel, Brian Connell
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A climb of Seymour with friend Harold Piel, on the occasion of his final winter 46R peak.

There were five of us in total on this outing - myself, Roland, Jenn, Brian and Harold. Jenn, myself and Roland decided to make the long flat winter approach to Seymour more interesting by skiing from the winter trailhead all the way to the Ward Brook Lean-to (Brian and Harold started off earlier on foot).

The skiing, while indeed faster, proved to be more difficult than expected. The snow base was not thick enough to fully cover the ground irregularities, and as a result, the skiing was slower and trickier. Try as we might, we didn't catch Brian and Harold on the way in. We only managed to finally meet up with them on the very summit, just minutes after they arrived.

After some congratulations and photos, we all headed down as a group, enjoying some great glissading on the way down the steep part of the Seymour Mountain herdpath. On the way out, we (on the skiis) outpaced Brian and Harold, but waited back at the winter trailhead until they arrived. We then proceeded to Tupper Lake, where we had a celebratory meal at a local restaurant. Congratulations, Harold!

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 Image Gallery: March 2014 Seymour Mountain Climb


Feb 17, 2014 (Mon)
Elevation: 3600 feet; Order of Height: 80
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Andy Brown, Andrea Craig
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An excellent winter snowshoe traverse of Pitchoff Ridge.

We did this as a traverse, leaving a single car at the eastern trailhead and hiking to the western trailhead. Once at the western trailhead, I got out a pair of running shoes I had packed and jogged bthe 2.6 miles along rte 73 to the eastern trailhead to fetch the car.

Weather was perfectly clear, and snow conditions were ideal - fresh, soft, deep snow. For the most part, the trail was reasonably well tracked out. One stretch of trail below the western summit of Pitchoff was done by people without snowshoes, making for a much less enjoyable time. Fortunately, that stretch was not long.

Winds were light but temps were quite cool, making for cold toes and covered faces. The jog from the western to the eastern trailhead took about 25 minutes. Road is fairly narrow for running; care is required.

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 Image Gallery: February 2014 Pitchoff Ridge Traverse


Nov 16, 2013 (Sat)
Elevations: 4009 feet, 4240 feet; Order of Height: 999, 27
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

An excuse to get out on a beautiful late fall day: a new unclimbed 4000-footer peak for Jenn: Yard Mountain.

Although Yard is not an official 46R peak, it is still over 4000 feet - and it has an official trail leading over its summit. So, Jenn stated that she'd like to climb this "forgotten" 46R.

We started off early on a clear and calm November morning, choosing to do the hike as a loop, first starting up Johns Brook Valley's main trail. We made good time, arriving at Johns Brook Lodge an hour and a half after starting out.

An increasing amount of snow thinly blanketed the ground but provided no real obstacle as we climbed the cliffy south slopes of Yard. Despite being over 4000-feet, the unmarked summit provided only very limited views. We continued on along the ridge to Big Slide, where we had both lunch and much better views.

We chose to use microspikes on the fairly slippery and quite steep descent off of the east side of Big Slide, then walked eastward through forest to the first of the fabulous Brothers. This was the scenic highlight of the trip, providing great views in all directions.

It is a very short walk from the lowest Brother to the trailhead, so we were soon at the end of our loop, finishing the whole thing off in a fairly short six and a half hours.

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 Image Gallery: November 2013 Yard-Big Slide-Brothers Loop


Aug 17, 2013 (Sat)
Elevations: 4840 feet, 5114 feet, 4580 feet; Order of Height: 8, 2, 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Julie Moran, Ty
Click to Enlarge

A re-visit to the little-visited Shepherd's Tooth, on the flanks of Iroquois Peak, at the request of Julie.

After seeing my 2009 report on the Shepherd's Tooth, Julie expressed interest. So, this summer I suggested that we retrace our steps. We approached from the Indian Pass side, hiked up to Cold Brook Pass, then did the thick bushwhack up to the Tooth.

We followed the same track I recorded for the winter ascent, although in retrospect, I think the route could be tweaked to be a little easier. No matter, the bushwhack was still successful and I can report that the top of the Shepherd's Tooth is as pretty and enjoyable in the summer as in the winter. We completed the day with a triple ascent of Iroquois, Algonquin and Wright before finishing up the loop back to the Loj. See full trip report by following report link below.

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 Image Gallery: August 2013 Shepherd's Tooth Loop


Mar 30, 2013 (Sat)
Elevations: 3169 feet, 2362 feet; Order of Height: 140, 510
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

Catamount - part 1 of a 2-peak Easter Saturday in the Adirondacks.

Another cold day in late March of 2013. Sunny, but cold. Good for winter climbing conditions, though, and perfect for our quick ascent up the feisty little peak of Catamount Mountain.

A mix of snowshoes, bare-booting and micro-spikes were the order of the day, owing to the changing snow conditions and depth. The Chimney section and the slabs presented no climbing difficulties; the only problem was a bit of routefinding through the col between the south summit and main summit.

Excellent atmospheric conditions on top: good visibility, beautiful sun, and light winds. Since we were aiming to head down to Keene Valley and climb Snow Mountain before it got too late, we did not stay long. We arrived back at the trailhead about 15 minutes shy of four hours. Not all that fast.

Snow - part 2 of a 2-peak Easter Saturday in the Adirondacks.

Continuing on from our fun and sporty climb of Catamount mountain, we decided to tackle Snow Mountain - a short little peak in Keene Valley that I had yet to do, and which I had heard had nice views on top.

We quickly bare-booted it up the mostly snow-free lower trail, using the high-water route due to a main trail closure. Above this, we encountered little difficulty over the remaining 1000 feet to the summit.

The open ledges just southeast of the summit were surprisingly scenic - an excellent panorama from Giant all the way over to Dix and Nippletop. Conditions were perfect: light winds, clear, late-day sun, snow on the peak-tops. A perfect little outing to round out the day.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: March 2013 Catamount Mountain Climb
 Image Gallery: March 2013 Snow Mountain Climb


Mar 17, 2013 (Sun)
Elevation: 3678 feet; Order of Height: 72
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Gillian Hatko, Chris Hatko
Click to Enlarge

A short and scenic intro winter hiking route up the north side of Hurricane Mountain

A rather cold Saint Patrick's day 2013 was the setting for an ascent of Hurricane Mountain from the north, via the Nun-da-ga-o ridge trailhead. I had never done Hurricane by this route, and wanted to give it a try.

Starting off from the trailhead, we headed south to the Gulf Brook lean-to, where we then turned off onto the north trail to Hurricane. A quite hard snow base and a broken-out trail made ascending the route easy. Soon, we were at the small flat area just west of the summit blocks, where the southern and northern trailled routes meet.

Unsettled atmospheric conditions made for a final blustery trek to Hurricane's open top. There were limited but still-nice views in all directions, with the central High Peaks looking a bit hazy. The aforementioned weather conditions meant we spent only a few minutes on the summit

The packed path and help of gravity saw us quickly make a descent back to the lean-to, where we reverted to bare-booting, and then less than thirty minutes more brought us back to the trailhead. A perfectly reasonable (although slightly longer) alternative to the standard southern approach route to Hurricane.

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 Image Gallery: March 2013 Hurricane Mountain Climb


Jan 26, 2013 (Sat)
Elevation: 4360 feet; Order of Height: 25
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Brian Connell, Harold Piel, Jean-Guy, Maurica Maher
Click to Enlarge

Returning to the Adirondacks after a 3-month hiatus, we climb Mount Marshall via the Herbert Brook ascent route.

We set off on a clear but cold day that had originally been forecasted for clouds and possible snow, making rapid progress (2 hours) from Upper Works to Flowed Lands. We took advantage of the winter highway across Flowed Lands to the Herbert Brook Lean-to, and from there started our ascent up the Herbert Brook route.

An excellent broken snowshoe track and the beauty of Herbert Brook made for a very easy, very enjoyable ascent. Near the top we discovered the "right" way to reach Marshall's summit - a route that leads to the small col just to the north of Marshall, and then climbs steeply up to the summit ridge. There is little to no bushwhacking or blowdown. It is practically a fully-fledged trail.

A breezy and cold summit had us on the way back down within a few minutes of reaching the top. The clear route and good track had us back at flowed lands in no time, and we then marched steadily back to the Upper Works trailhead, arriving 8.5 hours after starting out.

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 Image Gallery: January 2013 Marshall Climb


Oct 11, 2012 (Thu)
Elevation: 3556 feet; Order of Height: 85
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Andy Brown, Chris Hatko, Carolyn Beaton, Arjun Nair, Brent Hadden, Hilton Lem, Arn Hyndman
Click to Enlarge

Another team hike visit to the summit of Noonmark Mountain, this time on a breezy sun-and-clouds late fall day.

We started off late, at 10:30 am, but marched briskly up through the forest along the Stimson Trail, soon reaching the first lookouts an hour after starting out. Higher up, a faint dusting of snow and ice made for a few slippery bits, but otherwise it was an enjoyable scramble to the top. Once on top, we took shelter from chilly winds on the south side of the peak, had a quick lunch, and descended via the trail descending down to the south-east.

Once on the Dix trail, we headed back north through the Noonmark-Round notch, reaching the AMR lands shortly before 3pm, and the parking lot quickly thereafter. A quick but enjoyable day in the mountains with my work-colleagues.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: October 2012 Noonmark Team Hike


Sep 1, 2012 (Sat)
Elevations: 4867 feet, 4240 feet; Order of Height: 5, 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Julie Moran, Ann Hitzrot
Click to Enlarge

An unusual twice-in-one-year visit to the summit of Esther and Whiteface mountains, this time on a busy summer weekend.

I was tagging along on one of Julie Moran's trips today. She had originally planned this as a dog group outing, but all of those participants had cancelled, and so it was just myself, Julie, Mike (Julie's lab) and a new hiker from Maine - Ann.

We set up vehicles at the Marble Mountain and Connery Pond Trailheads, and starting hiking from the northern end (the Marble Mountain end) southwards. It was a warm and beautiful late summer day, more than enough to get us sweaty on the ascent up to Marble Mountain.

I hadn't been up Esther in the summer in quite a few years, and was surprised to see all of the pretty extensive trailwork (including a boardwalk) along the herd path. I think we can stop calling it a herd path at this point.

The summit of Whiteface was crowded - expected for a long-weekend summer day - and we were glad to get to the relative solitude of the trail heading south off of Whiteface's summit. We then made a fairly quick descent and hike out, reaching the Connery Pond trailhead almost exactly eight hours after starting out.

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 Image Gallery: September 2012 Whiteface-Esther Traverse


Aug 12, 2012 (Sun)
Elevation: 3704 feet; Order of Height: 71
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Andrew Silver, Julie Moran, Larry Chasnoff
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A long but relatively easy bushwhack up the south ridge of Hoffman Mountain.

This climb was initiated by a visitor to my website, Andrew Silver. He had wanted to climb Hoffman Mountain - a forested peak in the southern Adirondacks - for quite some time, but felt apprehensive tackling it without someone who had more off-trail hiking experience. He recruited myself and fellow hiker Julie Moran, and together with his friend Larry, we all set out to climb this peak.

According to some beta we gathered before the climb, the south ridge was the least brushy ascent route. so, we started out from the nearby Big Pond Trailhead, heading for a spot closest to the base of the south ridge. The south ridge did in fact turn out to be quite open for off-trail travel, and we encountered relatively easy terrain all the way to the summit. There was an increase in brushiness near the top, but a faint herdpath helped gain passage through this section.

There are several decent lookouts along the ridge, and we had great weather to enjoy the views. Our pace was measured, and so even though the entire distance is under 20km, we still took twelve hours to complete the climb. See the trip report for more details and pictures.

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 Image Gallery: August 2012 Hoffman Mountain Climb


Jun 16, 2012 (Sat)
Elevation: 4580 feet; Order of Height: 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Chris Hatko
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A quickie... something scenic, short, and a non-climbed 46-R (for friend Chris). This was as standard and non-eventful as an Adirondack hike can get. The only detraction was the annoying number of black flies above 3,000 feet. We had a happy surprise encounter with hiker acquaintance Clay Olds at the waterfall, and we once again climbed the little open nubble alongside the trail at about the 3,800-foot mark. Even though it was a nice summery weekend day, we managed to have the summit to ourselves (well, except for the summit steward). We were back down at the parking lot shortly after 1:30pm. Tidy and fun. Except for the black flies.

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 Image Gallery: June 2012 Wright Peak hike


May 19, 2012 (Sat)
Elevation: 3960 feet; Order of Height: 43
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
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A two-day outing, originally destined to culiminate in beautiful Haystack Mountain, instead saw us only do a loop of less-than-glamorous Blake Peak.

We had chosen a perfectly-clear weekend to do a quiet and remote 'lollypop' loop over Haystack Mountain, starting from Elk Lake. However, when Ewart turned around due to a bit of extreme lethargy, we later ultimately decided to cut our plans short, and returned to see if he was ok. What followed the next day was a futile effort to locate him, as miscommunication and assumptions resulted in us becoming very familiar with most of the Elk Lake-Placid trail.

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 Image Gallery: May 2012 Blake Peak Backpack


Mar 17, 2012 (Sat)
Elevations: 4098 feet, 4059 feet; Order of Height: 36, 38
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Roland Hanel, Sara
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A summer-like hike on a late-winter day in the Adirondacks. The objective simple: a quick climb of Cascade and Porter from Cascade Pass.

This hike was part of a larger weekend cabin stay in the Adirondacks - something unusual for us. We wanted a short hike to allow us spend some time doing other activities over the weekend.

It was an extremely warm day for March 17, and the lower half of the trail was completely bare. Higher up, a layer of melting hard-pack and ice necessitated traction aids.

The summits of both Porter and Cascade both offered great views on this very warm but still very clear day. Usually an unusually warm day is accompanied by lots of haze and a reduction in clarity. This was not the case today.

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 Image Gallery: March 2012 Cascade and Porter Hike


Feb 4, 2012 (Sat)
Elevation: 5344 feet; Order of Height: 1
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Andy Brown
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A simple, straightforward, and scenic hike to the top of Mount Marcy. We opted for the multi-modal solution, using skiis over a too-thin-for-February base to get us from South Meadows road -- our starting point -- to the vicinity of Marcy Dam.

We then switched to snowshoes and continued up the nearly-bare lower Van Hoevenberg trail. We finally encountered a snowpack of significance upon reaching Indian Falls, and from there, the snow quickly got deeper. As we neared treeline, we had a beautiful snowshoe track and winding through snow-coated trees.

No wind and bright sunshine meant a hatless and nearly gloveless ascent into the alpine. Crystal clear views in all directions. Higher up on the summit dome, we came into a stiff, cold wind, and had to quickly don several additional layers. The summit was a blustery but beautiful place this day. Magnificent, if a little cold.

Continuing what had already been a fast pace, we descended back down all the way to Marcy Dam in a scant three hours. Switching back to skiis and taking advantage of the slight downhill to South Meadows took less than another hour, and shortly we were back at the car, less than four hours after leaving the summit. A fast and ultra-scenic winter day on the highest peak in the state.

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 Image Gallery: February 2012 Marcy Winter Hike


Jan 22, 2012 (Sun)
Elevations: 4867 feet, 4240 feet; Order of Height: 5, 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Brian Connell, Harold Piel
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You could call this a 'Helping Harold' hike: helping him, that is, to achieve his newest goal of becoming a winter 46R.

Originally Brian and Harold were going to do Whiteface and Esther as a there-and-back via the Wilmington Trail. I convinced them instead to go for a shorter and [allegedly] easier loop that started and ended at the toll road gate and utilized a bushwhack route between the auto road and the summit of Esther.

A crisp winter morning saw us briskly walking up the auto road. Things went well, and we arrived at the summit in just under three hours. Beautiful views, good conditions, no wind. Onwards we went on a broken out Wilmington Trail over to the Esther herdpath. The herdpath was in perfect shape - pretty much as good as any hiking trail, really. We arrived at the summit of Esther not long after noon. Motoring we were!

After a good lunch, we set about on the biggest unknown (and potentially the most onerous) part of our day - a bushwhack descent down off of Esther to the auto road. I had done this before, back in 2004 with Markus and Caroline, and remembered as being a bit brushy but not too bad. Well... I remembered wrong. It was bad - thick, difficult, slow bushwhacking. Although the total distance from summit to road was just around 2km, it took us nearly four hours to do it! Something must have been different between 2004 and now, because in 2004 it took us that much time to ascend and descend the very same route. Perhaps it was the depth of the snowpack! Anyway, we made it, in just around 9 hours total. Not a bad overall time, I guess.

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 Image Gallery: January 2012 Whiteface-Esther Loop Hike


Jun 4, 2011 (Sat)
Elevations: 3556 feet, 3084 feet; Order of Height: 85, 152
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Pu Chen, Denis Fournier, Roch Bellefeuille
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An intro hike (sort of, actually it's his second) for Denis to the Adirondacks. As such, a good intro peak was in order: Noonmark Mountain.

We started off relatively late (for us) after 10am - but the Noonmark trail isn't that long, so there were no worries in that respect. We kept a good, moderate pace, stopping at all of the great lookouts on the way up. The summit was a little breezy with a chilly north wind, so we snacked on the southern side, facing the Dixes.

We did the typical loop route, heading down to the Dix trail, then north towards the Noonmark-Round col. We were all doing well and in good spirits, so we decided to tack on an ascent of Round.

After some more lazing and horsing around on the quite scenic summit of Round, we headed down, using the north side trail to gain direct access to the parking lot area. A dinner at the Noonmark diner was fitting and rounded out the day.

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 Image Gallery: June 2011 Noonmark-Round Hike


May 22, 2011 (Sun)
Elevation: 4580 feet; Order of Height: 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
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A short little hike by myself and Jenn, just to get out and hike a peak in the Adirondacks. We had been away from the Adirondacks for three months - much too long!

We picked Wright for its straightforwardness and nice summit. It would not take a long time, but still provide a good workout and good views.

The trail up Wright was in its usual summer state - that is to say, very eroded and bouldery. In order to add some spice, we climbed the rocky open nubble (which I've termed 'Wright's Nubble) that sits alongside the trail not too far above the waterfall and not too far below the Wright summit trail junction. Very nice views on top.

We took our snack break on the summit under hazy skies and calm winds. In another first for me, we visited the site of the 1963 B-47 bomber crash - only a few hundred feet from the summit and now with the way marked by a sign.

A quick walk back down to the trailhead and we were finished, just under five hours after we set out.

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 Image Gallery: May 2011 Wright Peak (and Nubble) Hike


Feb 20, 2011 (Sun)
Elevation: 3576 feet; Order of Height: 82
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Arn Hyndman, Andy Brown
Click to Enlarge

After a long three-plus month hiatus since the last hike, we're finally out on the trail again. This time it's Jay Peak on a glorious winter day. Something short but scenic.

We weren't alone on the side of Glen Road as we packed up for our outing. Two other groups from Quebec, Canada were sharing the route with us today. We got started shortly after 8 A.M., hoping to be back for 2 P.M. We had a dinner appointment that we did not want to miss and we needed a bit of time to make the long drive back home after the hike.

A low snowpack and a recent thaw-freeze cycle meant that we had a hard base. Very easy to snowshoe on. A steep but uneventful grind brought us to the first of the open sub-summits along Jay Peak's ridge.

I was slightly worried about the need for crampons (I didn't have enough to supply our group of four, so I didn't bring any), but as we traversed the ridge (and especially Grassy Notch), my fears subsided. There was little ice and lots of nice, grippy styrofoam-like snow.

We reached the highest point along Jay Peak's ridge right around noon. That gave us two hours to meet our 2pm return deadline. As it turned out, we arrived back at 2:08 P.M. Not too bad, and not too disruptive of our dinner plans. A great day indeed!

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 Image Gallery: February 2011 Jay Peak Winter Hike


Oct 23, 2010 (Sat)
Elevations: 4405 feet, 4060 feet, 4012 feet, 4400 feet; Order of Height: 21, 37, 42, 23
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Brian Connell, Harold Piel
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Today was the day that my good friend Brian Connell (and friend Harold Piel) had chosen to complete their Adirondack 46, and Brian had invited me along on this momentous occasion. Both Brian and Harold had several peaks in the Dix Range yet to do, so we worked out an itinerary that covered the superset of them: Grace (formerly East Dix), South Dix (Carson), Macomb, and Hough. And, I convinced them to involve the lovely Boquet River valley in the approach.

We started off on a pleasant and crisp late fall day from the herdpath start on Route 73. The previous evening had seen a light dusting of snow fall, and we were slightly worried about one of our possible ascents -- up the Great Slide of Grace -- being too slick to climb. We waited until deciding for sure, however, until we got to its base. The alternative was a bushwhack up to the Hough-Dix col, a route that I'd done a few winters ago.

It was (as usual) a delightful but somewhat long walk up the Boquet Valley herdpath. A group of beavers have been very busy in the valley of the North Fork of the Boquet River, causing extensive flooding.

To my disappointment, Grace's slide turned out to be fully covered with a thin layer of snow. We still decided to ascend in that direction, picking our way up along the edge of it. However, in doing so, we stumbled upon a very good herdpath that leads up in the woods to the right of the slide. This led very nicely to a spot along the Grace-South Dix ridge herd path. From there it was a simple walk along a slightly snowy and icy herd path to Grace.

The rest of the peak summitting went pretty much as planned. There was no extensive snow or ice making life too difficult, and the views, temperature, and wind were all very acceptable for a hike at this time of year. Harold reached #46 on Macomb shortly after 2pm, and Brian's 46th was reached two hours later on Hough. I brought along a fresh 46R patch for them to triumphantly hold on the summits. Congrats, guys!

We bushwhacked down from the Hough-Dix col to the Boquet River valley, discovering that it is more suited as a deep-of-winter bushwhack route. Still, it's not a bad way to go, if required. Following that descent, a long walk out via headlamp rounded out the day.

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 Image Gallery: October 2010 46R Completion Hike for Brian and Harold in the Dix Range


Oct 9, 2010 (Sat)
Elevation: 3150 feet; Order of Height: 151
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Chris Hatko
Click to Enlarge

As part of the continuing effort to find new trails and peaks to climb, we decided to try Hopkins Mountain, reportedly a very nice sub-4000-footer on the slopes above Keene Valley.

It was a completely perfect October fall day, although perhaps a bit beyond color peak. It was a bit tricky to find the very understated trailhead, but once we did and got on the trail, it was smooth sailing. The path we chose to follow to the top was the Mossy Cascade Trail, and it is highly recommended. Quiet, uneroded, and very scenic. There is much variety along the trail, from shady huge pine trees to a fun climb alongside Mossy Cascade Brook itself, and then an enjoyable climb along a ridgecrest with many sections of open deciduous forest -- especially nice on a fall day like today.

The summit is a spectacular long sloping ledge that offers perfect vantage points towards the Dixes, Noonmark, the Ausable River Valley, and the lower Great Range. An excellent 'lower' peak. In fact, an excellent peak, period.

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures (including a section focusing on views of the trail itself).

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 Image Gallery: October 2010 Hopkins Mtn Climb


Sep 11, 2010 (Sat)
Elevations: 3035 feet, 4627 feet, 4420 feet; Order of Height: 152, 12, 20
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Pu Chen, Nicholas, Jean-Marie, Dean, Stephane, Guy
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Jenn and I joing Pu and his hiking group for another west-to-east go at the best-in-class Rocky Peak Ridge traverse. There were nine of us in total, and we had a beautiful moderately-paced hike up the Giant Ridge trail to Giant's summit, then the long but rewarding ridge hike from there to Rocky Peak and down the ridge beyond.

The conditions were absolutely perfect, with warm temps, no clouds, no wind, low humidity, no bugs, and almost completely dry trail conditions. One really couldn't ask for any better.

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures (including a section focusing on views of the trail itself).

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: September 2010 Rocky Peak Ridge Traverse


Jun 8, 2010 (Tue)
Elevation: 4098 feet; Order of Height: 36
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Arn Hyndman, Chris Lynk, Brent Hadden, Chris Hatko, Hilton Lem, Frank Meijer, Hassib Khanafer, Andy Brown
Click to Enlarge

A team-building outing with my work group. Thirteen people in total -- a big group -- and with some first-time adirondack hikers along for the ride, the prudent choice was something short but scenic: enter Cascade Mountain!

With cool and mostly cloudy weather above, we started off at around 10am, made very good time for such a large group, and summitted right around noon. A cold frost the previous night meant no bugs, even down in the trees. A very welcome situation!

Although the day was not clear, the cloud deck was high and not continuous. Views were not at all impacted, which is a good thing for a hike to such a nice summit as this one. After a summit lunch break, it was two more hours back down to the cars, for a total of roughly four and a half hours. Good job by all!

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: June 2010 Cascade Mountain Team Hike


Mar 27, 2010 (Sat)
Elevations: 3899 feet, 3861 feet; Order of Height: 50, 57
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
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A hike meant to fit into our day before the 2010 winter 46r dinner. I'd never done Moose, the northern peak in the McKenzie Mountains, and it was close to Lake Placid (location for the dinner), and it promised to offer some interesting views of Lake Placid and Whiteface Mtn.

We parked at the end of the Whiteface Inn Road (Chipmunk Lane, to be precise), and walked the Lake Trail along the shore of Lake Placid, past upscale homes and boathouses. We continued along the Lake Trail to a point below Moose's summit, then caught the trail that leads up to it. There was only patchy snow down by the lake, but up above it was plentiful and extremely hard -- So much so that we did not need to use snowshoes at all.

There was no sign of previous hikers, and the biggest challenge of this hike was making sure we stayed on the trail. Fortunately there is a reasonably plentiful sequence of SOA trail markers, so with a bit of scouting, we were ok. Moose Mountain's summit, although wooded, does have some very nice lookouts, and the beautiful day made them well worth visiting. We continued along the somewhat rambling ridge trail over to McKenzie peak (again we needed to be careful to not lose the trail), over the top of that peak, then down to the Jackrabbit ski trail and east back to the Whiteface Inn Road, completing a nice 7.5 hour loop.

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: March 2010 McKenzie and Moose Mountains Loop


Mar 6, 2010 (Sat)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Greg Gnaedinger, Asmir Arifovic, Andy Brown, Graham Ashford, Alanna Wall
Click to Enlarge

A superb spring-like winter day; Perfect for doing one of the very scenic hikes of the Adirondacks - the 'Mt Colden Loop'. Near-perfect snow conditions and friendly company meant we had a super-smooth, relatively quick day. I'd never been up Mt Colden in the winter WITH clear views, so I was very much looking forward to the great vantage point(s) that Mount Colden provides. I was not disappointed! The upper part of the 'backside' trail up the southwest angle on Mount Colden provided a multitude of fantastic views, primary among them being the gleaming-white domes of nearby Algonquin, Iroquois, and Marcy.

Also of note was the excellent baklava on the summit. Yum.

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: March 2010 Mt Colden Loop


Jun 27, 2009 (Sat)
Elevations: 4175 feet, 4185 feet, 4400 feet, 4736 feet; Order of Height: 30, 29, 22, 10
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Brian Connell, Julie Moran, Johanna, Mirek, Chris, Joe, Duncan, Rocky
Click to Enlarge

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.

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 Image Gallery: June 2009 Lower Great Range Loop


May 18, 2009 (Mon)
Elevation: 3107 feet; Order of Height: 150
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Rene Lavigne, Dan, Asmir Arifovic
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Short, easy, varied and quiet Nun-da-ga-o Ridge. An intro hike for Rene and Dan (and an easy refresher hike for Asmir), and hopefully this will whet their appetites for more!

We had cool and mostly cloudy conditions as we started out from the trailhead at the end of O'Toole road. We did the loop counter-clockwise, hiking along the easy flats as a warm-up before heading up to Lost Pond. Lots of beaver activity there at the moment!

Beyond Lost Pond, we climbed up steeply to Weston Mountain's summit, where the good lookout points provided great views of the central high peaks and Lost Pond. From there, we hiked down, then back up onto Nun-da-ga-o Ridge proper, where we enjoyed the open ledges and mats of lichen. We completed our leisurely circuit in just over 5 and a half hours.

Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: May 2009 Nun-da-ga-o Loop


Mar 14, 2009 (Sat)
Elevation: 3960 feet; Order of Height: 44
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Brian Connell, Harold Piel
Click to Enlarge

Brian needed to cross Cliff off of his ten remaining unclimbed 46er list, and I offered to help him out. Given the time of year, I suggested we go for the Flowed Lands approach.

We could not have asked for a better day for an ascent of Cliff Mountain via the Flowed Lands: the conditions were absolutely perfect. The temperature was below freezing at night, and had been for many days, and so the snowpack was very firm and perfect for a bushwhack climb. The forecast high was nicely above freezing, and the skies were crystal-clear.

Upon reaching the beginning of the bushwhack, we encountered a very nicely defined use track. And as it turned out, this use track threaded it's way very nicely up the northern slopes of Cliff, hitting many open areas and avoiding any serious bushwhacking. To top it off, views on this glorious day were fantastic. More information and lots of pictures available in the main report (link below).

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 Image Gallery: March 2009 Cliff Mountain via Flowed Lands


Feb 15, 2009 (Sun)
Elevations: 4840 feet, 5114 feet; Order of Height: 8, 2
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

Today, something new: a visit to the little rocky crag on Iroquois Peak's south slopes called the Shepherd's Tooth.

The Shepherd's Tooth is an attractive little sub-summit that I've noticed for some time now, and today, we finally decided to do it. We did it as a loop hike, starting at the high peaks info center, hiking through Avalanche Pass, up to Cold Brook Pass, then bushwhacked up from there to the Tooth. We then continued upwards, traversing over the summits of Iroquois, Boundary and Algonquin and descending via the main trail back to the parking lot.

As it turned out, the bushwhacking up from the pass was not too bad, although I believe we chose a good route that avoided the worst of the cliff bands that exist above the pass. More information and lots of pictures available in the main report (link below).

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2009 Shepherd's Tooth Loop


Sep 20, 2008 (Sat)
Elevations: 3035 feet, 4627 feet, 4420 feet; Order of Height: 152, 12, 20
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Bob Kowalski, Pu Chen, Patrick, Nicholas, Robbie, Bill, Judy, Cindy, Tony, Ian
Click to Enlarge

Today we joined Pu and his hiking group for a glorious Rocky Peak traverse hike, this time from west-to-east (a first for me). Weather was awesome, if a bit hazy. We made excellent time going up the super-scenic ridge trail, with a few of us peeling off to check out the Giant's Nubble on the way up.

Met Bill and Judy on the way up, at almost exact same spot we first met 3 years ago. Bill was finishing his 46th on Rocky today, and I was honored to be there to share in his moment. Congrats!

Beautiful hike, as usual, along Rocky Ridge. Unfortunately not much color yet, even though we were at the end of September. Must come here again at full color sometime!

All went well as we slowly and scenically descended east to Lake Mary Louise, Bald Peak, and finally down into the forests before arriving at the New Russia trailhead nine hours after we started. Excellent hike!

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 Image Gallery: September 2008 Rocky Ridge Traverse


Aug 31, 2008 (Sun)
Elevations: 4059 feet, 4098 feet; Order of Height: 38, 36
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Miriam Romer, Asmir Arifovic, Luke Ward, Sophie Huggins, Bob Kowalski
Click to Enlarge

Another intro hike for Miriam. Grew into something a little bigger and harder after we churned all the required parameters into the mix. We were seven in all: Luke, Sophie, Bob, Miriam, Asmir, Jenn, and myself. A glorious late summer day in the Adirondacks!

We left a car at the Cascade Mtn trailhead and shuttled everyone down to Marcy Field, where we headed up the trail to Blueberry. Kept the pace nice and slow so as to promote enjoyment for all. Slabs and steep bits on Blueberry were fun, as usual. The big bald spot on the other side of Porter's summit was a scenic, if somewhat breezy and chilly, place to stop.

One final major grind up to Porter's ridgecrest, and then we enjoyed the delightful little path that runs along the crest all the way to Porter's summit. Weather continued to be great; couldn't ask for a better day to showcase one of the Adirondacks shorter fine hikes.

After Porter, things got really busy, and the summit of Cascade was crawling with hikers! Filled out a survey on summit impacts from the University of Vermont -- interesting. Headed back down to catch up with compatriots and to get ahead and make progress on retrieving the far vehicle before everyone got down. Was pleased that Luke's feet didn't bother him too much and that all seemed to enjoy the hike!

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 Image Gallery: August 2008 Porter-Cascade Traverse


Jul 27, 2008 (Sun)
Elevation: 3314 feet; Order of Height: 116
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Miriam Romer, Asmir Arifovic
Click to Enlarge

An intro mountain hike for Miriam. We climbed on a sunny but hazy and humid day. Lots of recent rains meant wet and muddy trail conditions. Recent trailwork on the steeper sections of the trail are very nice! Summit was great, as usual. Discovered eastern lookout on summit for the first time. Miriam did very well; we completed the entire hike in just over four hours, including a very long lunch/rest break on the summit.

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 Image Gallery: July 2008 Ampersand Mtn Hike


May 25, 2008 (Sun)
Elevation: 3820 feet; Order of Height: 60
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Bob Kowalski
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A short, quick hike to get the rust out of our legs after two months of no hiking.

I'd never been up Lyon Mountain before, even though it is a pretty prominent peak with a good, wide trail. It's proximity to Ottawa made for a short ride down.

Although it isn't marked, the well-graded gravel road leading from Chazy Lake Road to the trailhead was easy to find. Ditto for the trail, which is wide and road-like at it's start.

The climb was very straightforward: the way was always obvious, and the route is more or less straight up. The trail gets increasingly steep and rocky (but is always wide), and then gradually flattens out near the top. The summit has a decent open area with good ledges to the east, and there is a fire tower in good repair (that is climbable). Excellent views to the east and south from the ledges, and 360-degrees from the tower. A nice, short hike!

See the image gallery link below for a much more detailed writeup, and the set of pictures, graphs, maps, and GPS data.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 2008 - Lyon Mtn


Feb 23, 2008 (Sat)
Elevation: 4960 feet; Order of Height: 3
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest, Jason Chlopecki
Click to Enlarge

Today was the day: Saturday, February 23: the day to attempt our final winter 46 peak.

Jenn and I, having just completed Marcy, Gray and Skylight just a week before, were at 45 out of 46, with only Haystack remaining. Ewart had two: Basin and Haystack, and so in order to accommodate this, we co-ordinated with Ewart so that he would start out on the trail an hour before us, summit Basin, and then join with us on our ascent of Haystack (for those of you who don't know, Basin is a peak adjacent to Haystack). Also along for the adventure today was Phuong, a co-worker of mine and an avid, aspiring adventurer.

There was a light dusting of fresh snow, perhaps an inch or so, and the trail was well-packed. The sky overhead was gray, and it was very lightly snowing, but I felt confident enough in the forecast to not be too worried. Sure enough, as we hiked along, the sky brightened, turning a yellow-y color, and before long we could see breaks in the overcast to our south. It wasn't long after that that the skies cleared completely, developing into a calm and beautiful sunny morning.

Phuong was experiencing a bit of a food bonk, and as a result we slowed our pace a bit and stopped for several restorative snack breaks. Also at about that time, a fellow hiker who we'd met the week before on Gray had charged up behind us to join our climb.

At the Shorey Shortcut, we parted ways. They kept on the shorter, straighter route, and I veered left onto the Shorey Short cut trail to meet up with Ewart, who was over on Basin. We'd meet up again near the base of Little Haystack.

Ewart hadn't yet finished with Basin, so I broke the Range trail up to Little Haystack alone, then met up with Jason, Jenn, and Phuong, and go the explanation for the late arrival: Phuong's knee was bugging her, so she was going very slowly and was going to turn back. Jason had missed the unbroken trail junction and had accidentally summitted Marcy.

Jenn, Jason and I made our way over to Little Haystack, finding the steep descent of the far side of it a little challenging. We then proceeded up, under increasingly-clearing skies, through the beautiful alpine terrain to the summit, where we hugged and celebrated the last of our winter peaks.

Ewart came up shortly thereafter, having caught us up after doing Basin. We waited for him and did a quick re-summit so that all three new winter 46ers could stand on Haystack's summit together.

A beautiful hike down through the late day light, a quick descent on the now well-packed trail, and a few hours of power-walking brought us to the warming hut near JBL and reunited us with Phuong. From there, it was another hour and a bit in darkness back to the Garden, where Mark and Linda Perry had a wonderful congratulatory greeting and gift-set for us. Quite a memorable day!

See the image gallery link below for a much more detailed writeup, and the set of pictures, graphs, maps, and GPS data.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2008 - Finishing the Winter 46: Haystack Mountain


Feb 16, 2008 (Sat)
Elevations: 4840 feet, 4926 feet, 5344 feet; Order of Height: 7, 4, 1
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Jason and Jason
Click to Enlarge

We were getting close - Four left to go! And this day's objective was ambitious - a long loop to try and summit three of the higher High Peaks summits - three that we had left to do - for our winter 46er quest: Gray, Skylight, and Marcy.

Saturday, February 16 - unlike Saturday, February 9 - was forecast to be crisp, cold, and mostly sunny - the perfect opportunity to try and summit these excellent peaks (well, maybe not so much Gray, but we have Gray on our list, and so it has to get done).

We knew it had the High Peaks had received several significant dumps of snow since last weekend's trail-breaking frenzy, and so we knew that we couldn't expect any of the broken-out trail from then to have survived. We were somewhat hopeful, though, that the main trails up to the Marcy area were broken out.

At Avalanche Junction, we debated our choices: go up the Avalanche Pass way, and hike through the beautiful scenery around Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden, or go up the Lake Arnold way, which was significantly shorter but less scenic (and perhaps less broken-out). We chose the long, scenic way.

From the Lake Colden camping area to the Uphill Lean-to, things got harder. There was only a narrow, deep ski track. As a result, I found that my snowshoes were always being torqued inwards - uncomfortable and awkward. Our pace slowed quite a bit on this section. Still, we were grateful we had a path to follow.

After the lean-to, our luck ran out. Maybe a couple of hundred feet beyond, the tracks stopped. It took us two further hours to break trail from the Uphill Lean-to to Lake Tear of the Clouds. The snow conditions were such that the trail-breaking was very laborious.

We were deliriously happy when we heard voices come up behind us at Lake Tear of the Clouds. The voices were not so deliriously happy to catch up with us. We introduced ourselves, and found out that we all had the same itinerary, and decided to join forces.

With our combined muscle power, the ascent of Gray was relatively easy, and it wasn't long before we were standing on the Gray's summit ridge. With the very deep snowpack, Gray was almost a completely open peak. Excellent views of Marcy!

The hike back down to the Lake was efficient and fast. We dismayed to see, however, that a Marten had gotten at our food (or rather was in the process of), since we saw him slinking around. Packing up what food we had left, we continued on to four corners. Imagine our surprise and amazement when we saw a track broken up from Panther Gorge, and leading up to Marcy! Hardly anyone comes up from Panther Gorge.

The trail to Skylight was still unbroken, and so we still faced a 700-ish foot climb with trailbreaking. Having the two Jasons with us, though, made things much easier. Rotating the lead amongst four is an order of magnitude better than two.

Standing on the summit of Skylight was number 44 for Jenn and I, number 41 for Jason and Jason. Another somewhat significant milestone was that this summit of Skylight marked the completion of my second regular 46er round.

Not wanting to stand around too long in the biting wind, we started back down the way we came. Besides, it was getting late and we still had a good thousand feet of elevation to gain to the top of Marcy.

Unfortunately, the broken track up to Marcy did not stay on the official trail, but rather bushwhacked up all the way to treeline. Still, better than breaking a new track. From treeline, it was a straightforward but chilly and gray ascent to Marcy's summit. Only one more to go now!

The way down through the alpine terrain on the eastern side of Marcy's summit was relatively pleasant. It was sheltered from the wind, and the path was far more defined and beaten (due to the fact that it is the far more popular way to ascend the peak). In all, it took us about three hours to descend on good trails all the way back to the Loj parking lot.

See the image gallery link below for a much more detailed writeup, and the set of pictures, graphs, maps, and GPS data.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2008 - The Final Countdown: Gray, Skylight and Marcy


Feb 3, 2008 (Sun)
Elevation: 4098 feet; Order of Height: 36
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Phuong Truong, Scott Barnaby
Click to Enlarge

In addition to being a peak on Jenn's winter 46 list, we wanted to introduce our friends Scott and Phuong to the beauty of the Adirondacks in the winter. And, more than that, we wanted to get a little test hiking in with them before our upcoming Utah desert trip, which they were coming on with us this year.

The weather looked like it was going to give us one of those 'socked-in' days, where the summits are solidly in the clouds. On the plus side, the temperature was forecast to be moderate and the winds not that strong.

The trail conditions were very firm. In fact, there was very little snow base down low at the start - perhaps 6 inches at most. What was there was hard, and one could easily bareboot it with some traction aids. We took our time and headed leisurely up the pretty trail to Cascade Mountain. The clouds occasionally showed some hints of sunlight, but overall it stayed solidly clouded-in.

Above treeline there was a moderate wind, but nothing too strong. The open bedrock of the summit was coated in the same ice we encountered earlier, and we had to be extra positive with our snowshoes' toe crampons in order to climb the little scrambly bits on the way to the summit.

We were soon on the summit, and I congratulated Scott and Phuong on becoming 'winter 1ers', and Jenn on becoming a winter 42er. Jenn and I were now aligned: we both had the same four summits to finish for our winter 46: Marcy, Gray, Skylight and Haystack.

With a chilly breeze and no views, we didn't dally long at the summit, and headed back down, using the buttsliding technique to get down the little scrambly bits. Soon we were back in the stillness and relative warmth of the trees, and it was a simple and short trek down the trail back to the car.



See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: February 2008 - An Intro to Winter Hiking on Cascade Mtn


Jan 26, 2008 (Sat)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Caroline Doucet, Roland Hanel
Click to Enlarge

This trip was the fortuitous intersection of a number of goals: one, I'd recently been thinking that it would be interesting to try the Trap Dike route in the winter, especially since I'd been up and down it many times in summer. two, Roland over the years had been stating his interest in doing a winter mountaineering route in the Adirondacks like this one. And three, Jenn needed Mt Colden as part of her winter 46er quest.

As we were getting ready to leave, we noticed a couple of other teams with climbing gear leaving the lot. Likely we'd have some company in the dike, I thought.

We left from the parking lot shortly after 9am. Later than I usually like to leave, but Roland had scheduling pressures that precluded a proper early departure. We hiked on the firmly packed trail to Marcy Dam, arriving to a nice - if somewhat misty and hazy - view of our objective - Mount Colden.

With the relatively warmer winter we'd been having up 'till recently, I was slightly worried that Avalanche Lake might not be in condition to cross. However, the hiker-highway that led across it left no doubt as to it's integrity, and we walked down the length of the lake, angling for the avalanche-battered cone of trees that marks the start of the Trap Dike.

We arrived at the base of the dike to discover a couple of parties ahead of us (as expected). After about half an hour or so of waiting around for the bottleneck to clear up, it was our turn to go, and we started up the deep notch of the Trap Dike. Nothing too difficult, and we climbing it using a running belay. We caught up to the group ahead of us at the next, slightly harder ice climbing section. Here we waited for almost an hour.

We made our own way up the second ice climb. This was the hardest part of the climb, and we did it with a more formal belay. Still, in the grand scheme of things, it was fairly easy stuff. Above this it was pretty much a soft snow climb up to the exit point of the route out of the dike.

We began the long climb up the slab towards the summit. The condition of the surface was mixed. In places it was a tricky thin layer of ice over rock - these sections were a little unnerving; in others, it was foot-deep snow; and yet in others, the snow had a hard styrofoam-like consistency, which was particularly good for cramponing. We did the running-belay thing again, putting in some anchors here and there. Higher up, we got a little more comfortable with the conditions, and we mostly just cramponed straight up towards the summit. It was getting late, and we wanted to summit before it got dark.

We arrived at the crest just about at sundown, quickly packed up our stuff, took a few summit pictures, and then were off, hiking the long but well-graded and nicely in-shape trail back to Marcy Dam, and ultimately the Loj parking area. One more for Jenn's winter 46, and my first time up the Dike in the winter!

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: January 2008 - Winter Ascent of the Trap Dike on Mt Colden


Jan 19, 2008 (Sat)
Elevation: 4340 feet; Order of Height: 26
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

After much, much procrastinating, the time had come to tackle a winter ascent of Allen. We settled on a day that had a so-so forecast: mostly cloudy, chance of snow showers, moderate temperatures. I didn't want to put off tackling Allen for too long. Our intention was/is to finish the winter 46 this year, and to do it with a finish on "good" peaks. Allen wasn't on our "good" list, and so we wanted to get it out of the way before the final climbs.

I proposed skiing in over much of the flat stuff, then switching to snowshoes. With grudging acceptance, Ewart and Jenn agreed to my ski-and-snowshoe plan. We started off from the trailhead shortly after 6am. Surprisingly, the sky was mostly clear and the stars were out.

We bumbled our way along the trail, across the Hudson and Lake Jimmy, and onto the network of old logging roads. Here, we encountered an excellent recent ski track, probably left by someone coming in from the private lands on the far side of the Opalescent. It was heavenly to be able to glide along the track, chewing up ground at a faster-than-hiking pace.

Unfortunately, all too soon the track we were following went straight ahead into private land at a spot where the trail headed left, and we were forced to break trail. The connector trail between the two roads turned out to be less than ideal for skiing. There wasn't enough snow depth to fully cover the uneveness of the terrain underneath. And, in one spot, I crashed through some innocuous-looking flat ground into about 1 to 2-foot of water. I immediately tried to clean off my skiis, knowing otherwise very shortly they would be entirely encased in ice My feet were soaked, but - for the moment - still feeling fairly warm.

We finished the "lumpy" section (that's what I'm going to call it from now on) and arrived at the road that parallels the Opalescent, cutting a nice new ski track through the light powder that covered a firm base.

We switched to snowshoes at the bridge crossing of the Opalescent. I gratefully accepted Jenn's offer of fresh, dry socks, and changed into them, and then donned my mountaineering boots. Then, we crossed the bridge across the Opalescent and hiked through the logged land. It was definitely nicer in the winter than when I did it four years ago on a soggy, wet November.

The next phase was a gradual ascent up to a pass over a low ridge that separated us from Allen itself. We hiked up the wide old logging road, but again here the recent rains and freeze had created a lumpy hodgepodge of good deep snow and very thin snow and ice over muddy and swampy ground. We were therefore required to snake back and forth around and across this stuff. Somewhat annoying. Outside of these wet and thin sections, though, the snow conditions were perfect for snowshoeing.

Next, we followed the markers (which soon stop after the pass), and then the ever-fainter tracks, down towards Skylight Brook. At one point the tracks diverge from the official herdpath (I was watching my GPS with its track of our non-winter ascent), but it followed a generally straighter path to Skylight brook, so we just kept following it. The crossing of the brook was easy, and we quickly made our ascent towards the start of the steep stuff in Allen brook. Just after skylight brook we encountered some more of that lumpy semi-wet ground in the base of the herdpath.

The steep portion of the herdpath went well: The route mostly stays to the right of the brook, and there was a surprising bit of trailwork here and there - cleaned up blowdown, cut logs, etc. A bit of flagging, too. The snow conditions turned out to be very good, actually. The melted-out sections were small and confined only to a few sections in the center of the brook. On either side there was plenty of solid snow to hike on. The slide portion had good grip underneath a powdery layer. Jenn very nicely contribed much effort to breaking trail up the last steep 500 feet to the summit.

While Ewart and Jenn were milling about at the summit, I went a few tens of feet further along the lookout facing Marcy. The lookout provides a nice vew, giving a unique angle on Panther Gorge and the mountains around it: Haystack, Marcy, and Skylight.

The hike back down to Skylight brook was speedy, with the trail now broken out and the snow on the tree branches now all knocked off. As we ascended back over the low ridge (between Skylight brook and the Gravel Pit), it started to snow quite heavily, but fortunately it didn't last long, and by the time we returned back to the trailhead, it had all mostly cleared up and we were treated to beautiful sunset colors. It was a long, dark walk (and ski) back from here! By 8:10pm, we were back at the car. Fourteen hours - quite a marathon, but now... Allen in the winter is complete! yay.

See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: January 2008 - Allen Mountain


Jan 5, 2008 (Sat)
Elevation: 3960 feet; Order of Height: 44
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

The second day of our 2-day Marshall/Cliff trip. After having spent a semi-sleepness night with the battling varmints under our lean-to, we got up shortly after 5am to prep for Ewart's arrival at the lean-to. He was only interested in the climb of Cliff, and so was hiking in early to team up with us just for today.

We were choosing to ascend Cliff via the 'Flowed Lands' side, rather than the official herdpath route that leads up from the other side, near the uphill Lean-to. We were doing it this way because it was shorter (from where we were) and in my opinion, it was more open way up. I'd done this route once before in 2004 (link) with Markus and Caroline, and we had followed someone else's excellent track up. Given the recent snows, I wasn't expecting a track this time, but I did have my GPS tracklog from the 2004 ascent and would use that to recreate the route.

The walk across the flowed lands gave us a view of the forested ridge of Cliff Mountain above us. The start of the route is basically along the southeast edge of the Flowed Lands under Cliff Mountain (see my track map for details). There was, as we had expected, no track, so it was going to be a full trailbreak all the way to the summit. It was now about 7am, so we had lots of time to cover the one mile between the edge of the Flowed Lands to the summit.

It was good that we'd started early. It was slow going, breaking trail and navigating, all the while attempting to shake the loose snow off of trees before bushwacking through them. There spruce-trap rate was quite high, too, further slowing us. Ewart fell far behind as we ascended - his greater weight meant that he was breaking through and falling into spruce traps that Jenn and I had managed to successfully traverse over. When we stopped, we could hear a long stream of curses from far below us. There were several times where the difficulty of the conditions brought me close to calling for an abort of the climb. We were close, though, only a few hundred yards away now.

Perserverance won out. At 10:30, 3.5 hours after starting up from the edge of the Flowed Lands, we reached the summit sign on Cliff. Boy, was I glad that was over! We enjoyed the relatively good views from the summit of Cliff, taking in the shining white summits of the newly-snowed-upon peaks all around us. Dark clouds and shifting sunlight provided some great photo opportunities.

We were in a bit of a rush, hoping to get back home for an engagement in the evening, so we stayed at the top for only five minutes and then started back down at a good clip, enjoying much better progress going downhill on a defined track. On the way back down, we met Ewart about 300 feet below the summit, tiringly wading his way through a 10-foot continuous section of spruce trap. His words for the mountain were unkind.

We were back at the Calamity Ponds lean-to before noon, and hastily packed up, and we then hoofed it back to the Upper Works trailhead. So ends our report on two somewhat tiring and tough days of wet, snowy trailbreaking. Anyone wanting to do Marshall or Cliff (via Flowed Lands) is now invited to try out our well-set tracks. Might as well make use of 'em!

See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: January 2008 - Marshall and Cliff


Jan 4, 2008 (Fri)
Elevation: 4360 feet; Order of Height: 25
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

Mount Marshall and Cliff Mountain were two of the few remaining trailless peaks on the Jenn winter-46 catch-up program. They are also situated relatively close to one another, making a trip which combined climbs of both of them an efficient prospect. We therefore decided to do a two-day overnight trip, staying at the Calamity Lean-tos, and doing Marshall on the first day and Cliff on the second. The Lean-tos are strategically positioned at Flowed Lands - nicely between the two peaks.

After hiking into and dropping our overnight gear at the lean-to, we started off towards Marshall. This season's snowy weather had been continuing - the 48 hours prior had seen a good 6 to 12 inches of fresh, new snow. I was expecting the worst: a totally unbroken trail up to the top of Marshall.

To my mild surprise, there was an indication of freshly-covered over snow-shoe tracks leading up the herdpath route. Excellent - a track meant less thought and time required for routefinding, and it also meant a firmer base of snow to hike upon. Up we went, buoyed by this and hopeful for a fun and quick ascent of the peak.

We couldn't tell for sure if the person or persons who'd made the track had gone up before or after the last snowfall - it was hard to tell. But, in any case, it was easy to follow at this lower elevation. Soon, the route emerged onto Herbert Brook, and we started the long stretch that more-or-less follows the bed of the brook. Unfortunately, the bed of Herbert Brook was not in ideal winter condition. It was possible to break through in various little hollows and dips in the brook, and in general the way was somewhat tricky. We had to slow down and probe and test anything which looked suspect.

Once above the brook section, we again had a relatively easy time following the track through a section of fairly open forest. Following that was a difficult and wet final bushwack to the summit. We trudged back down our track, out across Flowed Lands and back to our lean-to. As we approached, we could see several headlamps there. Was our lean-to now occupied by others as well?

Four hikers were at the lean-to, busy preparing hot food and drinks. As we approached, the greeted us and expressed relief. They had seen our entry in the trailhead register, and they had talked to the ranger we encountered, so they knew our plans. They were worried about us, and were starting to think about heading out to look for us. How very thoughtful!

Our companions turned out to be a special bunch: four firemen from the New York City Fire Department, up for a weekend in the Adirondacks (now the 'rescue' thinking is starting to seem more obvious!). They were all from Battalion 46 of the FDNY, and were a lively bunch. We had a great time chatting over dinner. As it turned out, they were on the first day of a three-day trip, climbing over Mount Marshall and then down to Indian Pass. We told them that their way up, at least, was now well-tracked and marked!

We settled in for a nice, long restful sleep, which was unfortunately interrupted several times by nosy, quarreling martin(s) living under the lean-to.

Ewart was scheduled to arrive in the morning at 6:30am, and we would then attempt to scale Cliff via the Flowed Lands side.

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: January 2008 - Marshall and Cliff


Dec 27, 2007 (Thu)
Elevation: 4427 feet; Order of Height: 19
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

Today was a beat-the-weather day. Bad weather approaching, so we needed a short-ish, fast-ish peak and also one on mine and/or Jenn's winter 46er list. Tabletop fit the bill for all of those requirements.

Ewart's objective for today was Iroquois, so we shared a parking spot and the first bit of the route along the main trail to Marcy Dam. We then motored along at a brisk clip on firm, well-set trail, all the way up to Indian Falls. The cloud deck remained high and textured, and we were treated to excellent views from the top of the falls.

The herdpath to Tabletop was well-defined and broken out. We ascended quickly, arriving at the summit before 9am. Tendrils of darker, lower clouds started to creep into the area. We still had good views from the limited lookouts on Tabletop, but we could see that that was about to change. We had gotten up here just in time!

Our descent was rapid. A long, somewhat bone-jarring snowshoe trudge on hard-packed trails, all the way back to the Loj. We arrived shortly after 11am, just as the first few flakes of snow started to fall...

See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: December 2007 hike - Tabletop.


Dec 26, 2007 (Wed)
Elevations: 4627 feet, 4420 feet; Order of Height: 12, 20
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Pu Chen, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

A thoroughly enjoyable day climbing a very scenic route with Pu and Ewart.

Pu and Ewart were already down in the High Peaks, enjoying a bit of Christmas break hiking. We were joining them for a couple of days and this was our first outing together.

The weather forecast called for mostly cloudy, but what we were treated to was a warm, sunny and clear day. Almost springlike, in fact. We decided on two more for Jenn's winter 46er list: Giant and Rocky.

The snowpack from route 73 all the way up the ridge trail to Giant was in good shape, as was the trail - firm, and with good traction. We used snowshoes the entire way up. Noticed that the steep lower part of the trail on the ridge itself has been re-constructed into switchbacks.

Fantastic views all the way up the lower ridge section. Summitted Giant first, then dropped backs at junction with trail to Rocky Peak and quickly scampered over to Rocky and back. Ewart skipped Rocky and lounged in the sun at the junction. A rapid descent back to the car at route 73 wrapped up a fine day. Jenn's down to ten winters now!

See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: December 2007 hike - Giant and Rocky.


Dec 22, 2007 (Sat)
Elevations: 4867 feet, 4240 feet; Order of Height: 5, 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

The kickoff to the winter 07-08 hiking season: a ski-snowshoe-ski up Whiteface and Esther Mountains.

Jenn needed these two for her winter 46er list, and the snow conditions were good for cross-country skiing, so we decided to make these two our first winters of the year. Despite the forecast, we arrived to a pretty bright and sunny day. Temperatures were moderate, and there was little wind.

We skiied up a snowmobile-packed toll road to the 2nd hairpin, where we ditched the skiis and snowshoed up the short remaining bit of the north ridge of Whiteface. Excellent views here! At the summit, we noted a neat undercast that was starting to develop over the Central High Peaks to the south of us, and also the busy Whiteface Olympic ski hill directly below us. People trying to get a good day of skiing in before the weather turned, perhaps?

We trudged back down to the 2nd hairpin and then broke trail all the way to Esther's summit. My previous tracklog proved useful for staying on the herdpath portion to Esther. We arrived relatively late, at 3pm. The return trip over now-broken-out trail was much faster, but still not fast enough to avoid dusk falling just as we arrived back at our skiis at the second hairpin.

The way down should have been fun and quick, but the darkness (plus our skinny old skiis and lack of skiing skill) made the descent back down the road slow and awkward. Still, a fine day, all-in-all!

See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: December 2007 Winter kickoff hike - Whiteface and Esther


Oct 17, 2007 (Wed)
Elevation: 3556 feet; Order of Height: 85
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Greg Gnaedinger, Beili Zhou, Gerry Monforton, Shaoli Gao, Tim Wang, Steve Anderson, James Ellwood, Satheejan Gugananthan
Click to Enlarge

This hike was a little different, as I took my group from work down to the Adirondacks for a team-building mountain hike. My choice for a best-bang-for-buck intro peak was Noonmark - not too long, good lookouts along the way, great summit, and great views.

Being a mid-week day, we had the mountain to ourselves. With so many new hikers in the group, we took it slow and easy, taking lots of breaks and enjoying the many great views from the lookouts along the Stimson trail.

The weather, which was forecast to be unsettled, turned out to be clearer, warmer, and much more pleasant than I had anticipated.

Our summit experience was great - warm, good views, no wind. We lounged up there for a good 45-minutes, enjoying the satisfaction of a job well-done.

The hike down was via the Adler trail, then back through the Noonmark-Round pass on the Dix trail to the golf course. The only major thing of note was the stonyness of the trail through the pass, made even more annoying by the thick covering of leaves. All in all, a great day, and a great intro for a bunch of new-to-the-Adirondacks hikers.

See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: October 2007 Noonmark Loop : A team-building Intro Hike.


Oct 6, 2007 (Sat)
Elevation: 2887 feet; Order of Height: 212
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Aurele Lavigne
Click to Enlarge

Well... since my Dad was approaching 87, I figured it was high time that he do a hike in the Adirondacks. So, while he was with us on a short visit, Jenn and I took him on short-but-scenic intro hike: Mount Jo. This was also a first for me, because after all this time, I'd never took the time to hike up this peak.

Our weather options were less than optimal, and we chose the best part of the weekend - a little stretch of mostly cloudy and hazy weather on Saturday morning. It was suprisingly warm out for October! Oh, and the ADK Loj parking area was bursting at the seams with cars and people. Wow!

Fortunately, our little trip up to Mount Jo is where 99.9% of the people did not go, so we had it mostly to ourselves. My Dad made slow but steady progress, and we were impressed with the way he managed himself up the quite steep and bouldery 'short trail' to the summit. I'd say a little regular hiking practice in these parts and he could probably do some bigger peaks.

The summit view is great - for such a low elevation peak it has a great lookout ledge, and on top of that, the ledge is perfectly situated to look out over Heart Lake the central high peaks. A stunning spot, even with the slightly gloomy weather conditions.

A sudden rain squall forced us off the summit and into our raingear. We descended via the less-steep 'long trail', then cut over to Heart Lake via the Rock Garden side trail. Water level of the lake was super low, owing to recent dry conditions. Fabulous hike, and I'm proud of my soon-to-be-87 year old Dad. He did great!

See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.

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 Image Gallery: October 2007 Mt Jo Loop : Dad in the 'daks


Sep 23, 2007 (Sun)
Elevation: 4000 feet; Order of Height: 47
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

The lure of something new has finally brought me to this day: Finally, I climb the forgotten 46er... MacNaughton Mountain. It is a perfect autumn day - in fact, it is the very first day of Autuum 2007. We approach from Adirondak Loj (although I debated long and hard between this and the Upper Works appraoch), making good time on the easy Indian Pass trail.

From Scott Clearing (which, btw, is beautiful at this time of year), we start up the steep stretch of the Wallface Ponds trail. Exceptionally dry conditions mean that most of this part is not wet.

Once the climb up to Scott's Pond is over, we hike along the pleasant undulating and uneroded trail towards Wallface Ponds. There are several interesting little meadows and ponds. As we approach Wallface Ponds, we do encounter a stretch of badly muddy and flooded trail, but in these dry conditions they are easily bypassed on the left. Soon we're at Wallface Ponds, and the trail ends. From the shore of the lake is a good view of MacNaughton.

There is a faint herdpath leading to the neck between Upper and Lower Wallface Ponds. Fortunately, there's a good beaver dam crossing the neck. The herdpath continues, but then peters out. The rest is a true bushwack to MacNaughton's summit ridge, although most of the bushwacking is not all that bad.

We found that MacNaughton's true summit is at the far northwestern end of the summit ridge (and that is where the sign is located).

In a bit of a hurry, we made good time bushwacking back down to Wallface Ponds, and on the hike back out to Adirondack Loj. The combination of solitude and the nice approach route made this a very enjoyable hike. It doesn't have knockout views in any one location - just a general overall nice feel...

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: Septemer 2007 MacNaughton Mtn Climb


Jul 1, 2007 (Sun)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

I wanted something different, something a little more alpine, a little more like mountaineering. I settled on a couple of slide climbs, put back-to-back, on Mount Colden. We'd climb up the south-east slide, and then downclimb the Trap Dike.

Although there was oodles of clear sky and sun on the way down, there seemed to be a dark cluster of low clouds enveloping the high peaks. Gloomy was the name of the game as we started out from Adirondak Loj. There was a relatively low chance of rain, which we didn't want while scrambling on steep slabs of rock.

The lower part of the slide consists of a lot of gravel and boulders. The terrain is fairly open at this point, and it is a simple matter to chart a reasonable course up the slide. If you look up, way, way up, you'll see the very top of the slide, which looks impossibly steep from this point. It isn't impossible, of course, but it is steep! It requires confidence in your boots' ability to grip the coarse and grippy anorthosite. Soon after climbing the steep top part of the slide, we entered the thick scrub of the summit ridge and we shortly at the big boulder near the summit.

It is a little damp today, and so we take care to stay off anything that doesn't look clean and dry. There are a few wet and tricky ledges that have to be downclimbed, and in one spot we use a bit of cordalette as a hand-line. Eventually we work our way over to the upper access point into the dike. Half of our descent is now over.

Next we need to descend the narrow, blocky and steep confines of the dike. The dampness of the past few days means there's a lot of wet rock in the dike, too, and so care is needed when descending. When we reach the steepest part of the dike - a 30-foot 4th class step, we decide to opt for a quick rappel, rather than downclimb. Our decision to do this is aided by the fact that someone has recently left a rappel ring tied to a tree.

Once below the 4th class step, it is easy scrambling down to the base of the dike. The small delta of trees at the base of the dike has been recently wiped out - victim to last winter's avalanche in the trap dike. Well, the access to the base of the dike is now easier!

It is regular hiking from this point on, all the way back to the trailhead.

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: July 2007 Colden Slides Climb


Mar 18, 2007 (Sun)
Elevations: 4857 feet, 4400 feet; Order of Height: 6, 23
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Alex, Linda, Mark, Peter, Jim
Click to Enlarge

Our new friends Linda and Mark are on track to make this day the day that they finally achieve the last of their winter 46er peaks, and have invited us along with them. The last peak they need is Hough Peak, in the Dix Range. Happily, this coincides with my and Jenn's need for Dix and Hough Peak.

The weather is overcast, with a more-or-less continues cascade of light snow and flurries. Based on the forecast we had seen before starting the hike, we have no expection at all of a nice day with clear views. Such is life!

It is a long trudge in over partially broken-out trail. We eventually break out onto an open slide on the face of Dix, and choose to hike up it, rather than follow the trail across the slide and back into the woods. The slide is an alluring alternative, offering a steady, open ascent with good quality snow conditions. Unfortunately, a little bushwacking after exiting the slide takes away from the overall enjoyment!

We are now quite close to the summit of Dix. All that is left is a short but steep climb up the crest to the summit. It is quite windy out, and with all of the recent fresh snow there is a fair bit of it blowing about. There is pretty much no visibility -- I can't see any surrounding peaks. I put on my face mask and goggles and make my way up the final few hundred feet.

Since our objective for the day included Hough Peak (especially important to our soon-to-be winter 46ers....!), we needed to continue on, over the summit of Dix, and onto Hough peak, which lay in waiting on the other side.

It is a long but straightforward bushwack from Dix to Hough. We leave our packs at the col between Dix and Hough, and quickly climb up to the summit of Hough. There are many high-fives and congrats all around - well done to the three new winter 46ers!

We decide to return via the more direct and shorter Boquet River route, so we return to the col and head, east, down into the valley and out to Route 73. A good and fairly open descent route!

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: March 2007 Dix and Hough and 3 new winter 46ers


Mar 13, 2007 (Tue)
Elevations: 4827 feet, 4515 feet; Order of Height: 9, 17
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Alex, Linda, Mark
Click to Enlarge

This report is an account of a most excellent winter off-trail ascent route up to Basin and Saddleback : the Chicken Coop Brook approach. We would never have thought to do this route had it not been for the generous invitation of our newest hiking companions: Bill and Linda.

I wanted Basin for one of my winter 46er peaks, and Jenn wanted Basin and Saddleback for both her regular and winter 46ers.

We met at the Garden trailhead at 6am sharp on Tuesday morning. The weather forecast was unsettled, trending towards the cloudy and rainy. It was very warm, with temps above freezing at the Garden.

Mark, Linda, and Alex (another hiker Mark and Linda had invited along) set a breakneck pace, and we were up the start of the route, at the Bushnell Falls Lean-to, in no time. The route itself had been well-broken out a few days previously, and the ascent was perfect. Mostly in the bed of the brook, with a good track. At the top, the route emerges onto a steep slide coming down from Saddleback. A quick bit of bushwacking at the top of that brings us to the Range Trail.

The weather continued to hold (and in fact improve), and we had a great time over a good track over to Basin. Then it was back to the col and up the cliffs on Saddleback. I brought a little climbing gear to give a safety belay in a few places. From Saddleback, we had good glissading conditions down the Orebed Brook Trail.

We chose the southside route on the way out as a change of pace and a slightly shorter return route. Unfortunately very warm temps made the snow super soft and I was postholing even with snowshoes. Even so, we got back at a reasonably early 4pm. Fantastic route with lots of variety.

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: March 2007 Basin and Saddleback via Chicken Coop Brook


Mar 11, 2007 (Sun)
Elevations: 4012 feet, 4060 feet, 4405 feet; Order of Height: 42, 37, 21
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest, Bill, Linda, Mark, Clay
Click to Enlarge

With the 2007 winter climbing season drawing to a close, we wanted to ramp up the climbing. Initially thinking of Allen, we switched to the Dixes when we heard of other groups going in (and as a result, having broken trails to follow).

After much planning and re-planning, we set out on Sunday, March 11, using the Boquet River approach. The ambitious plan was to summit all five dixes this way. We had seven in total, with several people from the adk forum joining us.

We were fortunate to have a track to follow for about 3/5ths of the way to the Grace Slide. From there, it was not-too-bad trailbreaking to the base of the Grace Slide. It was quite tough to climb the slide, and as a result we all reached the summit of Dix at around noon (we started at 5am from route 73).

From there we had a broken path to south Dix and Macomb, but not to Hough. We therefore skipped Hough and Dix, and did a traverse over Macomb, down its slide, and on to Elk Lake, where the daughter of two of the members in our group was waiting for us with a car. A great day, and three more winter peaks down!

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: March 2007 Grace-South Dix-Macomb Traverse


Feb 24, 2007 (Sat)
Elevations: 4736 feet, 4400 feet; Order of Height: 10, 22
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Roland Hanel, Lawrence, Colin
Click to Enlarge

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


Feb 11, 2007 (Sun)
Elevation: 4606 feet; Order of Height: 15
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

We decided we were going to try an ambitious two-summit day of both Redfield and Cliff, thereby satisfying everyone's objectives. We've had a hard time in the past finding the south-eastern herdpath route up Cliff in the winter, so we weren't sure this would fly.

Our plan was to start from Upper works, head up to the Uphill Lean-to, and then we'd split up, temporarily, with Ewart breaking the herdpath to Cliff, and myself and Jenn summiting Redfield (Ewart had already summited Redfield a few months before).

The weather forecast didn't turn out quite as planned - the weather was a socked-in gray, with very light flurries falling.

We made excellent time, reaching the uphill lean-to only a little over 3 hours after leaving the trailhead. We split up, as planned, with careful plans and radios on how to re-join. Our route up Redfield was unbroken, and the going was quite slow. It took us 2 and a quarter hours, and I was pretty pooped when we reached the summit.

Ewart didn't even manage to find his way through the annoying blowdown maze that is Cliff's southeast approach. He aborted and met us as we returned back to the uphill lean-to. We decided to skip Cliff (and to come back sometime this winter to climb it), and started back down, through ever-improving weather, to the upper works trailhead. We finished off at 3:40pm, under 10 hours from start to finish. One more winter 46er down!

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 Redfield Climb


Jan 21, 2007 (Sun)
Elevations: 4607 feet, 4442 feet, 3820 feet; Order of Height: 14, 18, 46
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest, Brian Connell
Click to Enlarge

This is an account of an epic day climbing the Santanonis in the dead of winter... cold, long, and tedious!

As part of our winter 46er work, the Santanonis had to be completed. We mulled about doing this as a two-day backpack, and mulled, and mulled... and then the weather then decided. It had finally turned decidedly like late-January should be: frigid! The camping spirit drained out of us, and we decided to make a go of it in a very, very long day.

We arrived at the trailhead slightly behind schedule. It was a cold winter night (it was 3:30am, after all!), and the temperature was around -20C (-4F). Perfectly clear, with thousands of stars above. About 6 inches of fresh snow had fallen the day before, and the trailhead was deserted. With all the fresh snow still on tree branches, we would likely get dumped on today! We tried as much as possible to get dressed and ready IN the car, rather than outside in the cold!

Bare-booted to the start of the trail to Duck Hole; switched to snowshoes there to preserve trail quality. Snowpack not that deep, maybe 6 inches to a foot at most. Upon reaching Bradley Pond (and the start of the Herdpath), I started following my GPS tracklog from my 2003 summer climb of the Santanonis. This proved to be very useful with the mostly untracked herdpath route! Snow conditions were good, except for some tricky slide-sloping snow-over-ice-crust stuff partway up to Times Square.

Arrived Times Square a bit behind my planned schedule. We decided to tackle the 'worst one' first (i.e. Couchsachraga). Did that, then went on to Santanoni, and finally Panther. Temps were frigid but day was mostly clear; excellent views. Tracklog again proving very useful in negotiating snowed-in herdpaths. We were pretty late in getting the peaks done and it was solid nightfall by the time we returned to Bradley Pond. A long, boring trudge out and we were finished. Tough!

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: January 2007 Santanoni Range Climb


Jan 7, 2007 (Sun)
Elevation: 4240 feet; Order of Height: 27
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest, Roland Hanel, Heather, Colleen, Greg
Click to Enlarge

Today's hike had a number of highlights: firstly, it was a fun social event: Roland invited a number of his friends - people that I'd either not met at all or only met briefly; secondly, the weather was wonderfully fantastically warm; and thirdly, we did a perennially favorite and scenic trail: the ascent of Big Slide via the Brothers. The reason why we chose Big Slide was due to my 46er winter quest; I'd not done Big Slide during the winter months.

It was a super-warm, super-nice day... except that this was the middle of January. There was only a dusting of snow below 3000-feet, and only a couple of inches above 3000 feet. And by the time the afternoon's warmth had set in, there was little to no snow at all below 3000 feet. This set a new record for the most un-winterlike day I've encountered during the winter in the Adirondacks.

Our group was lively, chatty, and generally a lot of fun to hike with. We had a great day, with great views. This summit marks my 30th winter 46er peak (although it sure didn't feel like a winter ascent!)

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: January 2007 Big Slide Mountain Hike


Dec 31, 2006 (Sun)
Elevation: 4100 feet; Order of Height: 35
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

What peak was an unclimbed winter 46er for me, not too long so that we could return for New Year's Eve celebrations, and something I'd not often done? Only one peak satisfied these criteria: Sawteeth.

Wanting to take advantage of another rare and fine winter day in the Adirondacks, we decided to tackle Sawteeth on New Year's Eve. We left the skiis at home, thinking the Lake Road would not be covered with enough snow (it wasn't down low but was up high). After a long and boring trudge, we reached the trails at Lower Ausable Lake.

We chose the rugged 'scenic' route on the way up, and it is indeed rugged and scenic - perhaps even more rugged than I remembered. The trail winds very steeply back and forth up the very steep terrain on the Ausable Lake side of Sawteeth. The trail does a lot of steep climbing interspersed with short horizontal bits where it traverses under cliffs.

After a long and challenging hike up, past many excellent viewpoints, we reach the summit altitude and quickly traverse over to the real summit, where there are superb views of the central high peaks. Wanting to get back relatively early, we take only a short break and then very rapidly make our way down the other side of Sawteeth (which is much easier and more direct), and make our way down to the lake. Another long boring trudge down the road and we are back at the car by 4pm.

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: December 2006 Sawteeth Mountain Hike


Dec 29, 2006 (Fri)
Elevation: 4580 feet; Order of Height: 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Roy Innes
Click to Enlarge

While the Innes family was visiting for Christmas, Jenn wanted to get her Dad out to experience a climb in the Adirondacks. We waited until the perfect winter weather day, then headed up Wright Peak: a relatively short hike, but with a maximum of beautiful summit experience.

There was unfortunately very little snowpack, and the hike up to the junction with the Wright spur trail was unpleasant; none of the boulders and roughness of the trail was covered in sufficient snowpack, except at the very top. We were rewarded, however, with a beautiful winter wonderland on top. The air was exceptionally clear, and even Vermont's peaks stood out with great clarity. There was very little wind, and the sun was strong. We could not have hoped for a better introduction to the Adirondacks for Jenn's Dad.

The terrain above treeline was coated in ice and snow, but the texture of it was such that yaktrax were sufficient climbing aids; at no time did we need snowshoes or crampons.

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: December 2006 Wright Peak Hike


Nov 25, 2006 (Sat)
Elevation: 4012 feet; Order of Height: 42
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Roland Hanel, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

Warm, wet, then dry November weather made it possible to make another go at the Great Slide of Grace. There was much less snow (more or less none at all), although recent cold nights resulted in a pretty thick buildup of ice on the lower part of the slide. We brought crampons and made short work of that section, then enjoyed a very warm, clear November day while scrambling up the excellent rock up to the top of the slide, and the crest of Grace's summit ridge. Lower stream levels and late-day warming meant that on the way back we were able to follow the entire herdpath properly; consult graphical trackmap in the image gallery. for our exact route. This is a very fun slide climb!

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: November 2006 Grace Hike


Oct 21, 2006 (Sat)
Grace Peak [Failed to Summit]
Elevation: 4012 feet; Order of Height: 42
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Graham Ashford, Alana, Dave
Click to Enlarge

This one turned out to be a recon hike for a future winter ascent of the dixes via the Boquet River valley. A bit of early fall snow made the slide itself a little too treacherous, so we opted instead to explore the snow-free Boquet valley, figuring out the lay of the land and the herdpaths. In this way, we could come back in the winter with a solid understanding of how to quickly and efficiently get to the base of the slide. (plus, it was a nice fall day, and the Boquet River valley is quite a pleasant walk in the woods).

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: October 2006 Grace Hike


Jun 24, 2006 (Sat)
Elevation: 3576 feet; Order of Height: 82
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Luke Ward, Sophie Huggins
Click to Enlarge

Finally we get to hike the Jay range, a place I'd heard good things about for a long time! We were saving this one up for Luke and Sophie, and when the weather looked good we went for it!

A sunny and moderately buggy day saw us parked along Glen Road, ready to tackle Jay Peak again (last October's snowbound attempt was very different than today's conditions!). Instead of having to carefully route-find, a clear and easy path led us up to the first lookout (where we had turned around last October).

The hike along the ridge from that point eastward is fantastic. It is mostly open, with lots of meadows, open rock, ups and downs. In short - it is a fantastic hike by Adirondack standards! In my opinion, this quiet rarely-visited peak ranks in the top ten of all-time best Adirondack mountain hikes.

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 Image Gallery: June 2006 Jay Peak Hike


Jun 17, 2006 (Sat)
Elevation: 2789 feet; Order of Height: 250
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

A quick, short outing, primarily to break in a new pair of mountaineering boots, but also to visit something new for us - Roostercomb Mountain.

It was rainy and gloomy on the drive down, but at the Roostercomb parking lot conditions were cloudy and humid, but dry (I am pretty sure that Keene Valley benefits from a rain-shadow of sorts from the main high peaks). I laced on the new boots and we were off just after 10am.

The trail up to Roostercomb (which is also the lower part of the Great Range trail) is well-built, has good footing, and winds through pleasant open forest. We made excellent time on the way up. Just before the top, we had a quick side-look at the Valley View lookout (pretty spot, views hazy, would be nice in the fall!)

Roostercomb's summit is partially in the trees, but also partially out in the open, over a big craggy cliff. A wonderful and airy viewpoint from which to spend time looking around at all of the Adirondack Mountains around you. Today's view was pretty hazy, but we could make out Giant, Porter, Lower Wolfjaw, and a few other nearer peaks. This is a good one to add to the list of Adirondack scenic lower peaks.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: June 2006 Roostercomb Hike


Apr 30, 2006 (Sun)
Elevations: 3556 feet, 3084 feet; Order of Height: 85, 152
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Sara Ednie, Brian Connell, Bodo, Yi Wang
Click to Enlarge

Ambitiously billed as the first of our "2006 summer mountaineering training" outings. In addition to getting out and into the mountains, the general idea was to start getting the folks who are going to be heading out in July on the mountaineering course together, so that we could get to know each other.

We chose something pretty reasonable and easy : Noonmark, combined with an ascent of Round. I'd never done Round Mountain before, and although it didn't look like much on paper, I'd heard that it was quite a nice peak.

Our weather was a fine sunny spring day. In fact, it was so nice, so warm, that it really felt like a mid-June hike. The only clue was the lack of leaves on the trees. We ascended via the Stimson trail up Noonmark, and it was not until almost the very top that we encountered any snow remnants at all. What a huge difference from just three weeks before on Marshall!! I'd packed my crampons but they ended up being training weight only!

Wonderful views everywhere as we ascended the upper open ledges on Noonmark. Took a slight variation to the top, directly scrambling up a few of the steeper ledges instead of taking the trail in spots. Again, good foreshadowing of our summer course!!

After a most pleasant summit stop (no wind, very warm, and suprisingly few other hikers), we headed off to the east, down to the junction with the Dix trail. Once there, we headed back north to the height of land between Noonmark and Round. Here we split up, with Yi and Brian continuing on straight, bypassing Round Mountain (Brian had twisted his ankle and didn't want to stress it, and Yi had hurt her finger). The rest of us headed up to Round Mountain.

I'd never been on Round mountain before, so it was nice to hike a bit of new trail. The way up went very quickly, and there are several very nice open spots on the way up. The summit of Round is even better, with lots of smooth, open rock. Very nice for a less-than-3200 foot peak! Here we had a proper lunch and lazed around.

The north route down was in good shape and again there were a few good lookout spots on the way down. Near the very bottom the trail winds through some nice open forest (has a slightly west-coast feel), and skirts the edge of some fairly steep dropoffs. In fact, in one spot you can look down right onto the St. Huberts trailhead carpark. Shortly thereafter the trailhead is reached and, in a few more steps, the parking lot. Felt longer than 10.5km, but overall pretty easy. This loop hike is highly recommended, and offers a maximum of good views and trails.

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 Image Gallery: April 2006 Noonmark-Round Loop Hike


Apr 9, 2006 (Sun)
Elevation: 4360 feet; Order of Height: 25
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Roland Hanel, Brian Connell
Click to Enlarge

First Spring daks hike of 2006: Mt Marshall. I'd done this peak two years before from heart lake, and so this time I figured it might be nice to climb up from Upper Works, and, as a bonus, do it as a loop, ascending the standard route via Herbert Brook and returning via Indian Pass (which I had never seen before). Plus, Jenn and Brian needed to cross this peak off of their 46er list.

Only patches of snow at Upper Works Trailhead. Snow became continuous along Calamity Brook trail, but snow conditions excellent in cool early morning. Weather also excellent! Calm and clear.

Located the base of the herdpath just beyond the little bridge over Herbert Brook. A few tracks were present on the herdpath, which allowed us to get started up with relative ease.

Soon switched to snowshoes and had a wonderful, wonderful ascent up a mostly snowy Herbert Brook. This is a very nice ascent. Near the top got off the route a little and had to do some bushwacking to get to the summit. Weather still perfect. Lots of snow up here - full winter conditions still!

Bushwack over to Iroquois pass was completely horrible in spots, especially with all the fresh wet snow about. No recent tracks on way down to Indian Brook, nor on Indian pass trail. South of Indian Pass the trail is partially snow-covered, and where not snow-covered is very wet and muddy, very difficult to negotiate - not too fun! Arrived back at Upper works trailhead well after dark. Its been quite a while since we've come back from a hike this late!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: April 2006 Marshall Loop Hike


Mar 5, 2006 (Sun)
Elevations: 4057 feet, 3960 feet; Order of Height: 39, 43
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

Colvin and Blake today - A fine conclusion to our 2006 winter Adirondack outings. Next week it is off to Utah, and by the time we get back, Spring will have arrived!

We brought and used our skiis to help ease the pain of the trudge up and down Lake Road. Leaving our skiis at the middle trail (above Gill Brook, but before the end of the road), we headed up on a trail that was in perfect winter conditions.

Under perfectly clear skies and a stiff breeze, we arrived at the summit of Colvin at around noon. Fantastic views of the Great Range, of course. Pristine white snow mantled all of the higher peaks. Apart from the wind, it would be glorious to be up on Marcy today!

The hike along the ridge to Colvin was in great shape, too. And very little blowdown. The steep bits were very amenable to a bit of skilled glissading. At the col between Colvin and Blake, we met 'adksteve' from the online forums, who was doing precisely the same route as us today. The ascent up Blake went very quickly, and we tagged the summit and then made great time sliding down the perfect bobsled-track like trail.

We chose to head down to Lower Ausable lake from the col and dash across the lake, thereby saving us a re-ascent of Colvin. Then, back to the point along the road where we stashed the skiis, and a very quick glide back to the trailhead.

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 Image Gallery: March 2006 Colvin and Blake Hike


Feb 19, 2006 (Sun)
Elevations: 4185 feet, 4175 feet; Order of Height: 29, 30
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest, Pu Chen
Click to Enlarge

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!

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 Image Gallery: February 2006 Wolfjaws Traverse Hike


Feb 12, 2006 (Sun)
Elevations: 4166 feet, 3895 feet; Order of Height: 31, 45
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

For today's hike, we wanted something moderate in difficulty, that I had not done in the winter, and that Jenn had not done at all. Street and Nye fit all those criteria, so... Street and Nye it was!

Weather was not exactly clear (high cloud deck), but visibility was good, there was no wind, and the temperature was moderate (below freezing but not by a huge amount). Almost no snow down at the 2200-foot level. Was concerned with the Indian Pass Brook crossing (because of the recent warm weather), but it turned out to not be a problem, with a narrow but sturdy bridge of ice across the wide stream.

Herdpath was well-track, set, and defined from several parties the day before. A breeze to follow! Also a breeze was the blowdown situation... as in, there was virtually none.

The good trail and lack of blowdown meant we made good, easy progress, and the summits of Nye and Street were easily reached. Had an excellent lunch at the lookout on Street (partially because of the great views, partially because of a very tasty lunch!). Met fellow winter hikers Danielle and Dave at the summit. They didn't stay too long, as they were aiming to bag Phelps before the day was out.

Our way down was quick, tidy, uneventful, but pleasant. Back at the trailhead at 2:30, about 7 and a half hours after starting.

For more complete trip text, and for all of the pictures, click on the image gallery link below.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2006 Street and Nye Hike


Jan 29, 2006 (Sun)
Elevation: 4120 feet; Order of Height: 34
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

Another hike where the weather improved at the last minute. Not wanting to give up another opportunity to use the open Corey's road, we go for it.

Very warm day, very springlike (again). This is really starting to seem like more than just another winter thaw. 6:50 am start; Long flat hiking section dispatched fairly quickly. So little snow at the 2000-foot level that it is a bareboot all the way to the Ward Brook lean-to.

Snowshoes donned at the turnoff to the Seymour herdpath. Path well-tracked, good condition, minimal blowdown. Very steep near the top. Track avoids the slide portion completely. Summit views are pretty good with a high overcast. A quick break, a few snaps, and it is a quick bum-slide down the steep upper sections. Long flat relatively boring (but relatively quick, too) hike out brings us back to the car at 3pm.

For more complete trip text, and for all of the pictures, click on the image gallery link below.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: January 2006 Seymour Hike


Jan 22, 2006 (Sun)
Elevations: 4361 feet, 4140 feet, 4040 feet; Order of Height: 24, 33, 40
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
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Originally the weather for the January 21-22 weekend was looking pretty bad. The previous week had seen yet more unseasonably warm and rainy weather, and the weekend looked to be more of the same. At the last minute, though, the forecast changed: Sunday's forecast changed to clear, calm, and with a reasonable (read: not too warm or too cold) temperature.

Owing probably to the short notice, it was just Jenn and myself today. Things went our way all throughout the day - excellent weather, no problems at all on the approach road to the summer trailhead (potentially could have been tricky, or worse, blocked), and, apart from some strange January muddiness, the trails were in great shape - especially the Calkins Brook herdpath. Excellent condition.

The views from the summits were great, and we finally met the infamous Pin-Pin! what an incredible and nice guy - glad to have finally met you. Pin-Pin and his crew blazed excellent paths along the Emmons-Donaldson-Seward ridge, and these no doubt helped us quite a bit. Thanks muchly! A long day, but all-in-all, a pretty easy 3-peak winter ascent of the Sewards!

For more complete trip text, and for all of the pictures, click on the image gallery link below.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: January 2006 Sewards Range Hike


Jan 15, 2006 (Sun)
Elevation: 4059 feet; Order of Height: 38
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest, Pu Chen, Maureen Hughes, Brian Connell
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Today's hike's objectives: Introduce some new people to Adirondack winter hiking; Get Jenn and Brian some more as-yet-undone 46er peaks; and something with nice views. I figured the porter-cascade traverse would fit the bill, because it was fairly short and had quite a lot of good lookouts, and the summit of Cascade offers big open terrain on a relatively low peak.

We left Brian's car at the Cascade Mountain trailhead, and drove around and started at the Porter Mountain trailhead at Marcy Field.

The forecast was unsettled. The previous few days had seen very warm temperatures and heavy rain; the last 24 hours had seen an abrupt deep freeze. We were at the tail end of a winter storm and flood warning combination. As a result, I was unsure of exactly what weather and trail conditions to expect.

There was very little snow at the lower elevations, and the streams were flowing vigorously, although crossing them on this particular hike is not hard because they are still small.

We only got to use snowshoes above the 3000-foot level. Weather was actually pretty nice if you weren't in the wind, and there was a lot of blue sky. The final ascent up to Porter's ridgecrest had a lot of tiresome blowdown (from about 300 to about 3600 feet).

Pretty brisk and cold on Porter's ridge, but we made good time. Brian noticed that he'd forgotten his keys!!! back at Marcy Field, so we aborted the Cascade summit and I went ahead at a run to see if I could flag someone down at the Cascade Trailhead to bring me around to the Marcy Field trailhead.

Fortunately, a very kind Mary Brandt stopped and gave me a lift, and I was able to fetch both the CRV and Brian's Accord keys within the CRV and bring both back to our finish spot. A somewhat more eventful and tiring day than I had planned for!!

(a more detailed report and lots of images available by clicking image gallery link below)

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: January 2006 Porter Mountain Traverse Hike


Jan 4, 2006 (Wed)
Elevations: 4620 feet, 4020 feet; Order of Height: 13, 41
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
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Last week's abject failure on Dial could not be let standing. It was time to take a deep breath and try it again.

We walked very briskly up the Lake Road and reached the turnoff to the Gill Brook trail in no time. The route up Gill Brook was scenic, with lots of frozen and semi-frozen cascades and other water features along the way. Blowdown along this trail all the way up to Elk Pass was fairly minimal. Weather was perfect - still clear, no wind. not too warm nor cold.

The steep ascent up to Nippletop from Elk Pass was in good shape - again minimal blowdown and a good track. The summit presented an excellent view (my first time up here not in the clouds), especially towards the Great Range.

The track over to Dial was not as well-set but was still a help over breaking a new trail. Blowdown along the ridge to Dial was minimal. A quick stop at Dial's summit's excellent lookout rock, and then we were off - we could see the weather changing from bright blue to dark slate grey! bad weather on the way.

The stretch from Dial, and over Bear den was through the same messy blowdown that had halted us the week before. This time we had tracks to follow, and we knew the extent of the blowdown, so things went fairly uneventfully.

Quickening our pace with the approaching bad weather, we motored through the burn area, down to the road, and made it back to the entrance gate just as the first few ice pellets started raining down from the sky. Squeaked this one through just in time!

(for a more detailed trip writeup and lots of pictures, click on the image gallery link below)

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 Image Gallery: January 2006 Nippletop-Dial Mountain Hike


Dec 27, 2005 (Tue)
Dial Mountain [Failed to Summit]
Elevation: 4020 feet; Order of Height: 41
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

Today's hike was the first of the official 'winter season'. I wanted to kick it off with a couple of winter 46ers that I had not done, and that would also make a couple of winter AND regular 46ers for Jenn.

(If you'd like to see this text inline in the image gallery for this hike, follow the image gallery link at the bottom of this page)

Initially I had thought about a loop that would summit the Wolfjaws, but, as we arrived near the trailhead, I saw how wonderful idea it was looking to be (as in, clear beautiful skies). I decided that perhaps we should switch to an outing that had more views. I thought perhaps Dial and Nippletop might be a good choice. Similar in distance to my original plans, and with a good view from Nippletop, and from the 1999 burn area, which I had heard about but not yet seen. I suggested the idea to Jenn, and she was agreeable.

Progress up the Leigh trail to the burn area was rapid, even with Jenn's pulled muscle. The first glimpses of the Burn area were quite interesting, especially in how almost all of the existing forest had been razed by the fire and was replaced by millions of young saplings of some sort.

Up and through the scenic burn area we went, and then down into a deep 300-foot dip between the shoulder of Noonmark (which we were on) and Bear Den Mountain, the sub-summit below Dial. The descent portion was very open and in the burn area, whereas the ascent of Bear Den was out of the burn area and in thick coniferous forest. Blowdown (which I had been a bit worried about) started to rear its ugly, snow-laden, messy head.

Eventually we got to a point where the ATIS trail markers stopped, and we reached an area along the ridge between Bear Den and Dial (about halfway, I'd say) where there was either the mother of all blowdowns, or we got ourselves slightly off-trail (can't be too off trail when you are following a ridge-trail!). We traipsed around for a good 20 minutes and could find no sign of further ATIS markers or the faint snowshoe tracks. Given that, Jenn's muscle thing, the time, and just the sheer annoyance of it all, we decided to call it quits (we were about 1.1 straight-line kilometres from the summit of Dial).

As consolation, the clouds had mostly cleared, and the views from the burn area to the mostly clear Great Range were simply spectacular.

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 Image Gallery: December 2005 Dial Mountain Hike


Dec 18, 2005 (Sun)
Elevation: 4627 feet; Order of Height: 12
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Graham Ashford, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
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Today was planned as an 'intro day' for any new hikers wanting to be introduced to Winter Hiking in the Adirondacks. As it turned out, only seasoned veterans showed up (ok, well, Graham isn't a seasoned veteran yet.... let's call him an honorary seasoned veteran).
(If you'd like to see this text inline in the image gallery for this hike, follow the image gallery link at the bottom of this page)


As we drove down to the High Peaks region, I kinda drifted away from our initial 'easy hike' idea (which was going to be Noonmark and Round) towards doing a 4000-footer. The clouds looked low and thin, and if there was a chance of getting above them, I wanted that. Jenn and Graham had expressed an interest in doing a 4000-footer, and neither Noonmark or Round satisfied that. And we needed something not too long, because we were going to be starting at 9:30am at the trailhead and it was practically the shorted day of the year. So.... the mind wandered to Giant - right next door to our originally-intended trailhead, had a beautiful scenic ridge ascent, was fairly high (to hopefully get above clouds if it came to that), and was a 4000-footer that neither Jenn nor Graham had done. So there it was: our new objective: Giant, via the ridge trail.

As I'd say there was about 6-10 inches of snow on the first part of the ascent, from the highway to the top of the first cliff bands. Mostly ok, but a few rocks, branches and boulders still poking through. Another foot should take care of that!

The day was turning out to be glorious, with about 60 to 70% of the sky a clear, solid blue. And no wind, either!

It did not take us very long to get onto the ridge proper, and soon thereafter we were hiking up through the many open and extremely scenic open spots on the ridge. This is a very very scenic bit of trail, especially with the beautiful weather conditions we were experiencing today. Good snowshoe conditions, not very cold, no wind, and almost completely clear!

As we were munching on our lunchies, we were pleased to see Ewart make the summit 15 minutes after we arrived. Good show!

The sun briefly came out, illuminating the trees gloriously against a dark background.

The way down... could best be described as fast and furious! The snow conditions were perfect for a nice, fast, cushy descent. Couldn't ask for better! one hour and roughly forty minutes later, we were back at the car, making it a very respectable five hours and forty minutes or so since we left. Good job, all, and really, quite a fantastic little hike!

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 Image Gallery: December 2005 Giant Mountain Hike


Dec 10, 2005 (Sat)
Elevation: 3169 feet; Order of Height: 140
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Graham Ashford, Melanie Roy
Click to Enlarge

This hike was really Graham's hike - I just tagged along. He was wanting to go out with a few of his friends for a short but scenic Adirondack hike. And, he wanted to do it in a day from Ottawa, and leave at 8am. Yeah, better be short! I rifled (in my mind) through all of the good short hikes, and although I was tempted to choose the Jay Range (having been turned back just a month and a half ago), I ultimately decided that Catamount had the best desired qualities - closest to Ottawa, short, and excellent views for its height.

The forecast for the day was "mostly cloudy". However, there were a few promising blue-ish spots in the sky. The temperature was not too cold, although we could hear a stiff breeze above the trees. There was no one at all before us, and the trail register said that no one had climbed the peak for almost a week. We had it to ourselves!

There was fresh snow around, which was nice. There was only about 6 inches of it, over bare ground and rock, which was less nice. It was more of the usual dilemma - slip and slide on snow covered rocks and roots, or put crampons on, and have them scrape and screech against the rocks underfoot. About halfway up, we opted for the crampons. Hard to say what the right way to go is in this sort of situation.

The steep scrambling section was actually kinda tricky. There were bits of fresh snow here and there, obscuring the flat slabs of rock that one has to scramble up on Catamount. Since there was no ice underneath, the crampons quickly went through the fresh snow to bare sloping rock - unnerving and tricky to climb on.

We reached the summit shortly after 2pm, but did not stay for long. On the way down, we chose to ditch the crampons and take our chances slipping and sliding. In any case, we'd discovered that there was little actual ice under the snow, and, for the most part, the way down was a quick and easy boot slide.

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 Image Gallery: December 2005 Catamount Mountain Hike


Nov 27, 2005 (Sun)
Elevation: 4427 feet; Order of Height: 19
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Pu Chen
Click to Enlarge

The idea for this hike was to satisfy the following criteria: 1) get out into the mountains (that one's obvious). 2) A 46er peak that Jenn hadn't done yet. 3) A 46er peak that I had already done in the winter ('cause I want to save my yet-to-be-done-in-the-winter peaks for winter). 4) wasn't super-duper long. Only a few peaks satisfied all of these criteria, and we picked good ol' Tabletop.

The weather was cold but clear and still as we started out from South Meadows. Marcy Dam was beautiful in the clear morning light. We decided to do a loop, going up the Lake Arnold trail, cutting across to Indian Falls, and returning via the VH trail. There was snow on the trails, about 10 inches at most, but it was unconsolidated and there was no underlying base. This meant awkward slippery moves on snow-covered boulders. We broke out snowshoes in the upper reaches, and it was a painful experience to hear them screech and gronch against all of the rock underneath.

We almost failed in our summit attempt when a very inconveniently-fallen tree fooled me off of the proper herdpath and into the network of old paths on the west side of Tabletop. Reminiscent of the 2003 fiasco with myself and Markus. I came to my senses and backtracked to where the tree had gotten me off track, and we then quickly made our way to the top on the proper route. We were soaked from wet snow by the time we got to the top. And, to add insult to injury, clouds had moved in, obscuring the already-limited views from near the summit. Anyway, with peak done, we made a rapid descent, choosing to use the ski run down the VH trail instead of the regular route (big mistake, not enough snow made for a most uncomfortable rough descent). Back to Marcy Dam, then the car at 5:30pm at South Meadows. Tiring with all that wasted bushwacking!

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 Image Gallery: November 2005 Tabletop Mountain Hike


Oct 30, 2005 (Sun)
Jay Mountain [Failed to Summit]
Elevation: 3576 feet; Order of Height: 82
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

I'd always wanted to explore the Jay Range - I kept hearing word that it was this out-of-the-way shangri-la, that had wonderful views and lots of open ground.

Unfortunately for us, we went hiking up Jay Peak immediately after the biggest October snow dump I'd seen in a while! (I didn't think it would be quite so deep!) So much so that it was hard to find and follow the herd path. Really, really hard. And, near the top, the snow was so deep that it was often deeper than knee-height. Should've brought the 'shoes for this one!

We ended up turning around at the first sub-summit (quite close to Jay Peak, really). What we saw looked great, and we'll be back with proper gear for the conditions!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: October 2005 Jay Peak Hike (attempt)


Oct 10, 2005 (Mon)
Elevation: 4240 feet; Order of Height: 27
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Luke Ward, Sophie Huggins
Click to Enlarge

My third or fourth time on this a guaranteed-to-please loop hike: Big Slide via the Brothers, returning via JB valley. Except, of course, when the weather refuses to co-operate, as it did for most of fall 2005. I was trying to pick a good moderate hike for Luke and Sophie (and a new 46er peak for Jenn) that also had some nice views. As it turned out, we didn't see much.

Things went well on the way up, and the trail conditions were not too muddy given the recent wet fall weather. The summit had a few other folks, but it wasn't too crowded. We spent a good hour relaxing and chatting. It wasn't clear, but it also wasn't raining and it was quite calm. The way down was slightly tedious due to the many crossings of Slide Brook. Luke developed some soreness in his knees that really cramped his style. It made the final [normally-easy] walk back to the garden parking lot quite painful for him

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: October 2005 Big Slide via the Brothers Loop Hike


Aug 6, 2005 (Sat)
Elevations: 4867 feet, 4240 feet; Order of Height: 5, 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

This outing was a Whiteface/Esther combo hike that Jenn and I did on August 6, 2005. Jenn wanted to do these two peaks as part of her 46er quest; I'd never hiked from the lower Wilmington trailhead, nor had I ever done both Whiteface and Esther in a day. And, the weather was beautiful and warm, a situation I'd also not encountered on a previous ascent of Whiteface..

We stayed the night before at the Wilmington Notch Campground, a nice state-run facility very close to the Whiteface ski hill. There is a nice waterfall down below the campground that is worth visiting.

We started off our hike not long after 7am, and encountered very few people on our ascent that day. The lower trail, being the longer option, has little traffic and therefore good trail conditions. Higher up, the usual Adirondacks rockiness rears its head once in a while, along with some tiring stretches of muddy trail in the long flat sections at around 4,000 feet.
An officially unmarked but fairly obvious junction marked the way off to Esther. and the summit of Esther was reached not long afterwards. This was the first time at Esther's summit in the summer for me, and so it was the first time that I actually got to see the summit marker. Very nice.
After Esther, it was back to the unofficial junction, then up over first muddy trails, then the beautiful north summit ridge of Whiteface. The summit views were beautiful, but as a result, also crowded with tourists who have driven up on the auto road. We take a few snaps, then head down the "protected" west ridge route to the castle, where we pop in for a quick snack and new batteries (I only brought one set of half-charged batteries for my GPS, and they were now out). From there, we walked down the auto road to where it intersects the ascent trail, and from there back down to the trailhead.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: August 2005 Whiteface and Esther Hike


Jun 19, 2005 (Sun)
Elevation: 3314 feet; Order of Height: 116
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Yi Wang, Peter Krug, Markus Wandel, Pu Chen, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

This was a hike we did with Pu and a bunch of his friends. He was introducing many of them to mountain hiking, and chose Ampersand mountain as in intro (an excellent choice, BTW). We had a nice, cool, partly-to-mostly sunny day. Perfect!.

The weather was mostly cloudy (with a few bright breaks) on the way up. On the plus side, it was not too humid and it was a pleasantly cool temperature; good for hiking. The trail leads gently through beautiful, mostly deciduous woodland. Of the 4 and-a-half kilometre total distance, it is only the last 1 to 1.5 km that are really steep. The pace was surprisingly fast considering the size of the group. Most very large groups end up being very, very slow.

By the time we broke out onto the wonderful open top of Ampersand, most of the clouds had melted away (as was forecast) and it was a glorious exceptionally clear day. The lake country to the north and the high peaks to the east were both clearly and crisply visible, although a few of the higher peaks were still shrouded in the remaining bits of cloud. The group had split up into a few large chunks, which over the course of 30 or so minutes reached the top. Seeing us all standing on Ampersand's summit highlighted how many of us there were!
After a speedy descent (Jennifer was practically running down the mountain, so we arrived back at the trailhead about 30 minutes ahead of everyone else), we decided to wander over to nearby Middle Saranac Lake for a swim. Chilly! but very clear and nice, and once actually in the water it wasn't so bad. The lake bottom is very sandy and shallow out a long ways, so I was able to easily go way out into the lake, turn around, and get a good shot of Ampersand's summit from below. Eventually Pu, Markus and others joined us in the water.
On the way back, we stopped for a quick and tasty treat at a local burger/ice cream stand in Tupper Lake. Thanks, Pu, for organizing this great outing, and I hope to see many of you on the trail again soon!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: June 2005 Ampersand Mountain Hike


May 7, 2005 (Sat)
Elevation: 4098 feet; Order of Height: 36
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Meghan Innes
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Jenn's sister-in-law Meghan decided that she wanted to start coming on some Adirondack hikes with us... and this weekend turned out to be a good time for her. Graeme was also thinking of coming, but thought better of it at the last minute and decided to pass. The day, as it turned out, was wonderful - clear but rather cool. We got going early and made good time to the Adirondacks, arriving at the trailhead around 7:00am. Meghan was excited to get started!

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 Image Gallery: Meghan's First Adirondack Mountain


Apr 16, 2005 (Sat)
Elevation: 3520 feet; Order of Height: 87
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Luke Ward, Sophie Huggins
Click to Enlarge

Luke and Sophie were on vacation and had invited us to do a short Adirondack hike. They wanted something in the 4-hour range, and so after thinking a bit, I chose Cascade Peak. The weather forecast looked warm and springlike and clear.

You may ask 'well, isn't this an image gallery about Mt. Adams?'. As it turns out, upon getting to the Cascade Pass trailhead, Jenn suggested that we re-do the Mt. Adams climb, since Jenn and I had been there 3 weeks before but had no views whatsoever. Today was perfectly clear. It was about the same distance, so we changed our plans and drove all the way around to the other side of the high peaks, and the start of the trailhed to Mt. Adams.

The day was indeed clear, sunny and mild. We encounterd only patched of snow until almost right at the summit, where there was still a fair bit of snow (also some tricky ice on the steep sections just before the summit)

From the top of the fire tower, the views of the high peaks and the MacIntyre mine were perfect. There was only a slight cool breeze up in the tower. We used the handy little round table in the fire tower to have a very tasty lunch. Thanks everyone for helping me with lunch (I had forgotten mine back at the car).

After returning to the cars, we decided to explore the old MacIntyre mine blast furnace, which sits right off the road not far from the trailhead. Very neat structure.

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 Image Gallery: Mt Adams 2005 Redux Climb


Mar 25, 2005 (Fri)
Elevation: 3520 feet; Order of Height: 87
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
Click to Enlarge

Jenn and I wanted to get one last training hike in before an upcoming Grand Canyon backpack. We wanted something short, since we needed to be back for a pre-arranged dinner later that evening. I wanted to do something different (i.e. something I hadn't hiked before) as well. So, let's see, what's short, potentially interesting, and something I haven't done before? Well, the Mt. Adams and its firetower came to mind. It is a short little hike (about 3.5 km one way), fairly steep (1700 to 3550 feet), and has what is reputed to be an excellent view from the old fire tower on top.

The weather forecast was for it to partially clear by mid-morning. Unfortunately, it looked solidly cloudy with a few flurries as we started off - not too hopeful for a good view. The hike started off mostly on the flat, quickly crossing the brook-like Hudson river, then an arm of Lake Jimmy, then past an old mining ruin. A side spur trail to mt. Adams is reached shortly after the ruin. The weather continued gray, breezy, and a little snowy.

The spur trail starts of moderately, then becomes quite steep as it climbs about 1500 or so feet in less than 1.5 km. We reach the top well before 11 am. The tower stands silently and sturdily against the blustery spring day. We carefully climb the tower, which has many little repairs done on it, I notice. At the top it is much windier. Although still quite scenic, I know that there is a super-spectacular view being hidden by these clouds. We wait around, hoping for the predicted clearing of the skies to come while we are up here. But nope, doesn't happen!

No sooner than we are partway down does the weather clear up almost completely and it becomes wonderful and sunny. AAAAH! frustrating. I can just imagine the awesome view of snow-dusted peaks back up at the tower. Oh well, dinner at home awaits, and we must be off. Definitely have to come back and see what the view is like from this unique southwestern vantage point. A good little intro hike, to be sure!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Mt Adams 2005 Climb


Mar 19, 2005 (Sat)
Elevation: 4161 feet; Order of Height: 32
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Pu Chen
Click to Enlarge

I wanted to get in one more winter adk 46er climb before the winter season was officially over. March 18 looked excellent, weather-wise, so we headed down to the Adirondacks to do 'something'. We agreed that we wanted to do something in the 15km-ish range, so I suggested Phelps. Pu and Jenn had never been up Phelps, in any case, so this would be nice for them, too! The weather was indeed fabulous as we started off on a clear, crisp but not too cold morning, from the South Meadows trailhead.

The trail conditions were perfect. Good snow, hard packed. In fact, we bare booted all the way up to not far from Phelps' summit, where we then experimented with snowshoes and crampons, finding that crampons worked best in the hard-packed snow. As we got to the lookouts on Phelps, we were treated to spectacular winter views of the Adirondacks. There is something especially panoramic about Phelps' views.

We had a long hour-long lunch stop at the top, enjoying the still air and warm winter sun. Pu set a brisk pace, and we arrived at the summit in no time, only a little more than 2 and a half hours from the trailhead!

On the way down, I got to try out the next iteration of my "ground-skiing" device - a crazy carpet with attachment points to allow it be fastened behind. I got many interesting looks from uphill hikers, but I did manage to cover quite a bit of distance with it! Tricky to steer, though, and I will have to come up with a simple but effective directional control. We were down at Marcy Dam in no time - we spent a long time there, lazing about on a log next to Marcy Dam, soaking in the very warm late winter sun. Lots of little critters were out, presumably because spring was near!

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 Image Gallery: March 2005 Phelps Climb


Mar 5, 2005 (Sat)
Elevation: 2720 feet; Order of Height: 280
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest, Caroline Doucet
Click to Enlarge

Hoping to cash in on another beautiful winter weekend, Jenn, Ewart, Caroline and I headed down to the Adirondacks. I wanted to try and mix in some more cross-country skiing, so we decided to ski up the AMR lake road to lower Ausable lake, then switch to snowshoes and climb Indian Head, Colvin, and Blake. This would also add two peaks to my winter 46er list, and so that was a bonus! This was also good training for the upcoming Grand Canyon backpacking trip in early April.

We arrived at the bank overlooking Lower Ausable Lake in short order. The ski up was pleasant and there were very few other people around. We all looked forward to the nice gradual ski descent back along lake road at the end of our day. We switched to snowshoes, and then started up towards Indian Head. The trail was unbroken, and the powder new and deep, so it was a good workout.

Indian head was extremely beautiful, as usual. One of the best vistas in the Adirondacks! The day was brisk, with a cool breeze forcing us to bundle up as we snacked at the lookout. The day was getting on, though, and we wanted to get to Colvin's summit, so off we went.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. One of my MSR snowshoe bindings snapped at the usual place (this has happened to me in the exact same place before, and to some of my friends as well, in the exact same location). The snow was soft and we had a long way before completing our snowshoe portion, so we decided to turn around right there and head back to the road (and the return ski portion). Damn - I'm not liking this trend with these MSR bindings. Even though our day was cut short by the broken snowshoe, it was still an excellent, fun and beautiful outing. The combination of skiing and snowshoeing was excellent, and I look forward to doing that again.

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 Image Gallery: March 2005 Indian Head Ski - Snowshoe


Feb 6, 2005 (Sun)
Elevations: 5114 feet, 4840 feet; Order of Height: 2, 8
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Pu Chen, Brian Connell
Click to Enlarge

The first hike after coming back from climbing Kilimanjaro. It was an extremely warm Febuary day. Clear, almost hazy, and warm. The plan was to do the classic and beautiful loop hike from Adirondak Loj, through Avalanche Pass and Lake, up the backside of Algonquin, and bag both Iroquois and Algonquin. Along for the hike were Jenn, myself, Caroline, and Brian.

The trail from Adirondak Loj was quite hard-packed, so we bare-booted it all the way to Marcy Dam. It was a bit crisp starting off, but by the time we made it to the dam, it was quite warm. The sky was crystal clear and suprisingly, there were few to no people around. (I remembered later that this was Superbowl Sunday!). Avalanche Pass and Lake were beautiful, as usual. Avalanche Lake had beautiful stretches of clear, dark ice, in which many fascinating and interesting patterns could be seen.

The way up the backside of Algonquin steep and extremely warm. I couldn't believe how spring-like it felt. It was definitely well above zero. The snow was firm enough, though, that crampons were all that we wore. We did not posthole at all. After a long and tiring and very steep 2000-foot ascent, we gained the main ridgeline.

Although cooler up here near 5000 feet, it was still very warm for an early Feburary day. Caroline decided to skip Boundary/Iroquois, and headed up to Algonquin to await us. Crampons were very useful on the hard, crusty and icy bits going up and down over Boundary and Iroquois. Iroquois' summit was magnificent, with superb views everywhere.

We reached the top of Algonquin late afternoon. Things started to get breezier and cooler on the summit. We therefore did not stay too long on top. It was much icier heading down the northwest side of Algonquin - crampons were very useful here. We then slipped and slid our way down the steep snowy trail, taking only a short 90 minutes to reach the main trail to Adirondack Loj. It was deep dusk by the time we made it back to the ADK parking lot. What a magnificent and warm winter hike! Two more for the winter 46er list!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2005 Algonquin - Iroquois Hike


Dec 12, 2004 (Sun)
Elevation: 4580 feet; Order of Height: 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Yi Wang, Peter Krug, Caroline Doucet, Sara Ednie, Pu Chen
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Our fourth 'Kili training hike'. Not the best weather day, but the promise of snowy and/or icy conditions and the fact that we were running out of days before Kili made us go. I chose Wright because it was short, relatively steep, and had an open summit where I hoped we'd get a chance to get Yi to try out crampons and become comfortable with them.

We had a devil of a time getting her crampons adjusted due to sticky adjustment screws, and that delayed our start until almost 9am. The trails had less snow on them then I had expected, since the recent forecast had been for up to a foot and a half of new snow. Instead, we bare-booted all the way up to the waterfall on the trail up to Wright / Algonquin.

The weather was still socked in by the time we got to treeline. On the plus side however, the entire terrain above treeline was coated in ice. Perfect for crampons! We all tramped up sure-footedly with our crampons, enduring the strong winds. Very neat wild feeling up here today in the white and ice and wind. A short but steep climb in the open brings us to the nice little summit of Wright, where we all shake hands. Then its off to the northeast just below the summit to take shelter from the wind for a few moments. On the way down, Yi gets lots of good crampon practice (yay!).

Down below the trees, everything is calm and warm in comparsion to the blustery summit conditions. Once back at the waterfall, we take off the crampons and bare boot it the rest of the way. All in all, a very fun hike in very neat winter conditions, and good practice. Total distance = 11.5km, Total time about 7 hours.

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 Image Gallery: December 2004 Wright Peak Hike


Nov 27, 2004 (Sat)
Elevation: 3314 feet; Order of Height: 116
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Yi Wang, Peter Krug
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This was the third in our 'Kili Prep Hike' series, and we were again constrained by bad weather to doing a short 1/2 day Adirondack hike. We were going to climb Mount Adams (and its fire tower), and Markus had also wanted to explore the ghost town at Adirondac. However, there were only five of us today, and Markus was displeased with the idea of using two cars for five people (Jenn was sick and wanted some space in the back seat to sleep), so he left and went home.

I figured since Markus had wanted to explore the ghost town that we should do something else today instead, and so I chose Ampersand mountain: it is scenic, short, and a relatively short drive from Ottawa. The hike in and up was nothing notable; the trail had a fair bit of thin snow and ice higher up, but not quite enough to warrant crampons. The summit of Ampersand was howling with wind, and we could see all sorts of strange and dark clouds moving in. Other higher peaks were clearly experiencing little mini blizzards. The views were grand in all directions. Walking required some extra care due to the strong winds.

We all summitted and enjoyed the stark beauty of the day. We didn't stay up here long, though, because we were hungry for some lunch and it was way too windy to sit down for a bit out in the open. So we clambered back down into the trees for our snack. We carefully picked our way back down over the slippery steep parts of the trail and then, in no time at all, back to the car.

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 Image Gallery: November 2004 Ampersand Mountain Hike


Nov 20, 2004 (Sat)
Elevation: 3600 feet; Order of Height: 80
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Pu Chen, Caroline Doucet, Jennifer Innes, Yi Wang, Peter Krug, Asmir Arifovic
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This hike was the second in our 'kilimanjaro preparation series'. It was, at this point, 40 days until we were to leave for the Kilimanjaro climb. Even though the weather looked only reasonable for the first half of the day, we wanted to get out and climb something, so I thought about it a bit and picked a hike that I knew was pretty scenic but not too long, so that we could avoid the afternoon rains which were coming.

Well, as it turns out, it was quite an amazingly nice hike. The last (and only) time I'd done this hike it was in the clouds, and I knew that there were many lookouts. With good visibility, though, this hike is super scenic, with tons of good viewpoints as the trail follows pitchoff's ridge-like summit.

This hike was also characterized by many digital SLRs being used - resulting in a huge amount of picture taking. The day was warm for late November, and there is little to no wind. Ewart had parallel-hike along the Porter-Cascade ridge while we hiked, and, with radio contact, we arranged for a tele-photo flag-unfurling picture with him atop Cascade peak.

Another point of note is the fabulous open rock at the west end of Pitchoff's ridge. Very scenic and very interesting.

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 Image Gallery: November 2004 Pitchoff Mountain Hike


Oct 3, 2004 (Sun)
Elevations: 4840 feet, 5344 feet, 4427 feet; Order of Height: 7, 1, 19
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel
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Well, the time had finally arrived. After months of re-doing peaks (so Markus could catch up), and working around vacations, and finding a good weather forecast, I was ready to tackle my only unclimbed 46er peak: Gray Peak. And since we were along with a friend also finishing the 46 on Tabletop, we decided to combine the two into a single hike. To do this, we planned to start at South Meadow, climb Gray via Lake Tear of the Clouds, then traverse over Marcy, then down the Van Hoevenberg trail to Indian Falls, quickly summit Tabletop from there, and head back down to South Meadow.

The forecast for Sunday, October 4 was good - although sandwiched in between two bad weather days before and after, but as we got closer to the weekend, this forecast remained firm, so we decided to go for it. This was a pretty ambitious itinerary, well in excess of 30 km, and lots of elevation gain to boot, so we decided to head down Saturday evening and camp at South Meadow. The drive down, apocalyptically, was almost a continual torrential rainfall. Was this some sort of sign? Despite our fears, we continued to Saranac Lake, where we stopped for dinner at the Pizza Hut, partially because of hunger and partially because it was still pouring and the thought of putting up tents in such conditions was pretty unpalatable. We clung to the fact that the forecast was still predicting a nice day for tomorrow (Sunday).

Sure enough, after our pizza, we came out to a soggy night, but the rain had stopped. On the way to South Meadow, Markus noticed a couple of rents in the sky, with even a star or two poking through. I decide to sleep in the CR-V, partially because of the wet ground and partially because I've wanted to try it out and see if I fit in the back ok. By the time we hit the hay, the sky has completely cleared, and the waning gibbous moon casts a bright light over our campspot. Apart from a noisy ranger participating in a hiker-rescue, the night is calm. We get up at 3:30am, quickly scarf down some food, and are off on the South Meadow trail at 4:10 am. The sky is crisp and clear, and it is not too cold (above freezing, at any rate). The moon is brilliant, and we hike the whole way to Marcy dam sans headlamps, making for a wonderful ambiance.

At Marcy Dam I take a ghostly 30-second exposure of a scene I've taken many times before, but which is wonderful everytime I see it. From Marcy dam, we quickly head up to Avalanche junction, stopping to put on our headlamps when the footing gets too rough to navigate by moonlight. We make excellent time, and are all the way to Lake Colden before actual sunrise. The early morning mist and the reflection of Mount Colden on the surface of the lake deserve a couple of photo snaps as we hike by.

The ascent from Lake Colden up to the Twin Brook Lean-to is quick and uneventful - we don't stop to take too many pictures of the scenic Opalescent . A quick food break at the Lean-to, and then it is onward, up the steep Feldspar brook trail to Lake Tear of the Clouds, which we reach mid-morning. A small but well-defined cairn marks the start of the Gray Herdpath, and it is located just down from the outlet out of the lake into Feldspar brook (in fact the cairn is right across Feldspar brook from the trail).

The well-defined herdpath quickly takes us up to Gray's summit, which, although treed, has many surprisingly nice views in all directions, including the summit cone of Marcy looming nearby, and excellent views towards Lake Placid, Skylight, and the MacIntyres. We reach Gray's summit sign... and the moment is here. Markus and I shake hands, 'bergheiling' our last as-yet-undone 46er peak. For me it has been ten years since I started hiking down here, and it is a satisfying feeling to look around and know that you've been on every single high mountain in view. There are three other aspiring 46ers who summit just behind us (including one guy named Dave, and one for whom Gray is his first 46er peak). Other than that, we are alone. We decide that a traverse over to Marcy from here is much more interesting than heading back down to the trail and around (plus much shorter). There also seems to be a faint but reasonably followable herdpath marking the traverse, so we decide to go for it.

The herd path turns out to be quite scenic, with periodic viewpoints. Gray is turning out to be a much nicer peak than I had expected. A few tangly spots, but with no major problems, and we reach treeline on Marcy, marked by a small cairn (in case you need to do this route going the opposite way). Trailless alpine hiking in the Adirondacks, an extreme rarity, now presents itself to us. The final bit of ascent up the alpine terrain on Marcy is spectacular (and we carefully keep to the open rock to avoid damaging the vegetation), and we take a ton of photos!

The summit of Marcy has its usual bunch of hikers (although really not all that many), and we stop for a lunch break, since we've reached the summit just before noon. We have a nice long talk with the summit Steward, soak in the amazing views, and then head on down to our next objective: Indian Falls and Tabletop Mountain.

For the first time in 10 years, I get to see Indian falls in the daylight and with no clouds, and the view of Algonquin from it really is quite spectacular! We then locate the herdpath going up Tabletop (which is just below Indian Falls where the hiking and ski trails meet), and start up. At the start of the Tabletop route, we meet a hiker who immediately recognizes Markus and I from our Adirondack web pages - very strange being so recognized by a complete stranger! After a chat, we shake hands with Jeff (from Albany), and we are off. The route up Tabletop is short (less than 1km) and steep, and we are up and down it in just over an hour total.

With our day nearing the end, we cruise back to Marcy Dam, getting down to elevations where the most beautiful fall colors are located. The late afternoon autumn light and the brilliant colors make what is often a boring walk back to the trailhead most enjoyable.

We reach South Meadow at 5:10pm. A simply superb 13-hour, 32.7km Adirondack journey. Not only did we finish our 46, but this hike was such a nice one as well, combining beautiful fall weather and colors with a suprisingly excellent hiking route. If you can handle the distance, this hiking itinerary hits many of the Adirondacks' scenic highlights! Anyway my first 46 are now done... I wonder how long it'll take until my second 46er is achieved? Looking forward to finding out....

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: October 2004 Gray Peak Traverse


Jul 11, 2004 (Sun)
Elevations: 4405 feet, 4060 feet, 4012 feet, 4400 feet, 4857 feet; Order of Height: 21, 37, 42, 23, 6
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

Markus wanted to 'catch up' to me on his 46er count with a hope towards summitting our final 46er peak together. He hadn't yet done the Dixes, and from doing it before I knew it was a great hike, so I decided to do it again with him.

We went down on a Sunday that promised good weather - Ewart also came along, for the fun of it (as this would be his third time at least on each of these peaks), and worrying about being too slow, he went down in advance and started 2 hours before us. We had FRS radios for communications so that we could meet up at some point.

It was no problem finding the herdpath turnoff, right after Slide Brook. Unfortunately, the low clouds had not lifted, and we were soon ascending into cloud. The trail was followable but somewhat tortuous, winding around and up and down, sometimes through annoying blowdown. Eventually the trail descended into slide brook, which soon turned into a real slide - but this one is different, being full of gravel and scree. Very unusual for the Adirondacks, but very interesting.

We reached top of Macomb in fairly short order, due to the direct and steep nature of the slide. The views had opened up, with some interesting above-and-below cloud views. Pretty nice, all in all. We had established radio contact with Ewart, who was a couple of peaks ahead of us. We'd have to try to catch up!

The weather, although forecast to be clear, was actually mostly cloudy, although at altitudes that created some pretty dramatic effects. The hike over to South Dix from Macomb was pretty easy, really. The approach to South Dix is quite spectacular, with some nice open rock along the way. At the summit of South Dix, we met Ewart backtracking from Grace on his way to Hough, so we had a brief Pow-wow. We were then off to Grace ourselves, sometimes in the clouds, sometimes not. Grace's summit is quite excellent for a peak that is barely over 4000 feet. Open and lots of views everywhere.

Next on the agenda was a hike all the way back to South Dix, and then on towards Hough Peak, a pointy summit not far from Dix. The trail goes through a lot of elevation gain and loss on this section, so maybe that's why they called the peak 'Hough' (pronounced 'Huff', as in Huff and Puff, maybe?). The summit of Hough, although treed, has lots of really nice viewpoints and has a good steep pointy feeling. This is also where we get very good views of the pointy side of Dix and the Beckhorn (a subsummit of Dix).

We arrive at Dix's summit mid-afternoon. The weather, although not clear, has lifted considerably, and the interplay of dark clouds and patches of sun creates dramatic lighting effects. Dix is an excellent summit, well-positioned and with views of the immediate rugged surroundings as well as views of the more distant Great Range. A very very enjoyable day to be up there. And, this is where we catch up with Ewart! Finally we'll actually be able to hike together! We head down via the Beckhorn on a very nice bit of trail. Down below things get a bit muggy and buggy (overall the bug situation was quite good for the entire day), and so the last bit out on the trail was a bit of a slog. We stopped to purify a bit more water.... but basically trudged right out to the trailhead, finishing at a pretty reasonable 6:30pm.

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 Image Gallery: July 2004 Dix Range Hike


Jun 26, 2004 (Sat)
Elevations: 5344 feet, 4960 feet, 4827 feet, 4515 feet, 4736 feet, 4400 feet, 4185 feet, 4175 feet; Order of Height: 1, 3, 9, 17, 10, 22, 29, 30
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Pu Chen, Caroline Doucet, Luc Alary
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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


Jun 20, 2004 (Sun)
Elevation: 3169 feet; Order of Height: 140
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Yi, Pu Chen, Luke Ward, Guy, Julia Zhou, Lloyd Morrison
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This hike was meant as an intro for some new-to-the-Adirondacks hikers from where I work. I chose Catamount because it has the right combination of short, interesting route, and scenic summit. (I had also considered Ampersand and Noonmark as other good intro hike possibilities).

In any case, it was another perfect cool, bug-free, sunny day (summer 2004 is turning out to have a lot of these). The nice flat 500m of start to the trail served to get everyone warmed up in a nice and relaxing fashion. The steep forested part of the route up was dispatched with relative ease and not too much sweat. Soon we broke out onto the open ledges and excellent viewpoints. Everyone loved the steep rocky chimney and steep slab scrambling to get up to the 'south summit'. From there, it only took us about 25 minutes to navigate the short but interesting trail to the summit. 1h 45m from trail to summit! obviously a good crowd of new hikers! A relaxing lunch and a relatively quick 1h 20m descent saw us back at the cars at 12 noon! pretty early! Pu led the post-hike Yoga activity (see pictures in the image gallery), and then we headed off to Lake Placid for a Ben and Jerries Ice cream, and then the drive back home!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: June 2004 Catamount Climb


May 30, 2004 (Sun)
Elevations: 4361 feet, 4040 feet, 4140 feet; Order of Height: 24, 40, 33
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Caroline Doucet, Markus Wandel, Ewart Tempest, Jen
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In January of 2004, Caroline, Ewart and I attempted this peak on one of the coldest days of the year. Unfortunately for us, we were unable to route-find successfuly up Seward through fresh snow. At below the 3000-foot level, we turned back.

Now, I had heard about an alternate way up, the Caulkins brook route, which ascends from the west almost to the summit of Donaldson. I didn't have any good sense of whether or not it was an easily followable herd path or not, so we did not try it in January. But, perhaps we should have.

For once, the forecast for the weekend looked absolutely perfect: clear, cool, low humidity. Caroline and Markus also needed this peak for their 46er list, and so all three of us headed down to the trailhead on Sunday, May 30. Along also were Ewart and a newcomer: Jen, friend and room-mate of Shannon, a BCer who wanted to hike some mountains after spending a little too much time in the Ontario flatlands.

One huge bonus about the weather conditions was the fact that the night before had seen a good frost, and as a result, there were essentially no black flies to be seen - and this was prime black fly season in the Adirondacks! The hike to the Caulkins brook herdpath is quite easy. Follow the normal trail to the signed junction with the caulkins brook road (just a hiking trail now). Follow that road towards the Caulkin Lean-tos until just before the road intersects Caulkins brook. There is a small cairn marking the herdpath, which heads off to the left.

The herdpath is quite easy to follow, with perhaps the only tricky bit the crossing of Caulkins brook itself - it is easy to miss the fact that the herdpath crosses. The crossing is not far up from the start of the herdpath, and if you arrive at a nice open area which looks good for a campsite, then you've gone too far. Additionally, my GPS tracklogs have a waypoint near this crossing.

The rest of the way up gains the required 2000-foot elevation gain with remarkable ease, and for the most part the herdpath is in good shape, with only a bit of blowdown nearing the top. The herdpath deposits you almost at the summit of Donaldson, so if you want to do the Sewards as a loop (as we did), then this cuts of significant distance and effort by bypassing Seward entirely. Donaldson has two good lookouts, one east and one west, with fine views (and the weather is superbly clear and crisp, which helps). From Donaldson, the herdpath to Emmons is not too bad, but I question whether or not there is actually a 300-foot drop between the peaks - I think it is less than that, and so by all rights Emmons should perhaps not be a separate 46er peak. But whatever, if Couchie is part of the 46, then Emmons should be as well, I guess! Emmons has some limited views, especially towards the long lake area. Retracing our steps to Donaldson, we set out for Seward. The trail goes up and down a couple of times before climbing quite steeply up some rocky gulleys to near the summit. Sewards's summit is much less scenic than Donaldson's or Emmon's - essentially you don't see anything (oh, and BTW, the big summit marker signs are gone; all that is left are small trail markers with the name of the mountain written on them). From seward, the herdpath down has a couple of excellent views of Ampersand mountain and lake, and is also very steep, and continuously so. Finally, getting tired and weary, we eventually rejoin the main trail to the ward brook lean-to. Markus is complaining about a sore spot on one of his ankles (which later develops into a bit of tendonitis). From here, we march back along the mostly flat trail to the trailhead, with Markus counting the 'Posted' no trespassing signs along the way. 90+ signs in all - hmmm....

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 2004 Sewards Climb


Mar 21, 2004 (Sun)
Elevation: 4736 feet; Order of Height: 10
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Caroline Doucet
Click to Enlarge

The original plan for this weekend was to do an outing to the White Mountains in NH. However, the weather was not co-operating. Still, I felt like doing a mountain somewhere, so I picked the best weather day of the weekend (Sunday), and decided to do something in the Adirondacks. As it turned out, only Caroline could make this one, so we tackled something she needed for her 46er quest: Gothics.

The drive down was through some pretty yucky and tricky winter weather, but we made it to the St. Hubert's trailhead in one piece. We decided to use skiis to help ease the passage of the boring section along the AMR lake road. Snow conditions were excellent and we made good time skiing up the road. At Lower Ausable Lake we switched into snowshoes. Weather was actually pretty good. Lots of sun and blue sky mixed in with clouds. After donning our snowshoes, the long and high slog up to Gothics began (2800 foot ascent from the Lake). I had obviously snowed over the past week, but only a few inches worth at the lower elevations, and we could follow an old snowshoe track up the trail to the Sawteeth/Panther col, no problem. However, above this col, at 3500+ feet, there was a ton of new snow, and no tracks were visible at all. Breaking the trail up the very steep section up Panther was agonizingly tiring. This slowed our ascent and we ended up summitting Gothics around 2-ish. Unfortunately, the weather had also closed in again and the summit was socked in and windy with blowing snow. Still, felt good to have made it to the top - and because of the ADK winter 46er rules we managed to bag a winter 46er summit even though it was technically spring on March 21 of this year!

Also at the summit were two hardy climbers that had just finished an ascent of the North Face of Gothics - impressive! The way down was MUCH quicker than the way up, and soon we were back at lower Ausable Lake, where off went the snowshoes and on went the skiis. The ski down the Lake road was heaven... mostly a nice swift glide all the way back to the gate. Took us only about 30 minutes to do the whole Lake Road!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: March 2004 Gothics Climb


Mar 13, 2004 (Sat)
Elevation: 3678 feet; Order of Height: 72
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Caroline Doucet, Shelly, Rehana, Asmir Arifovic
Click to Enlarge

An intro Adirondack hike for a couple of new participants: Rehana, Asmir, and Shelly (although Shelly had been to the Adirondacks before). A beautiful but very windy day in the Adirondacks. Of note was how little snow there was on the lower slopes of the mountain. In places, melted right down to mud! Very early in the year for this. We moved along at a brisk pace and summitted in only a little under two and a half hours. It was not that cold temperature-wise, but a very strong wind was blowing at the summit, requiring one to bundle up. Markus explored the old fire tower and our two new Adirondack first-timers took in their first Adirondack summit vista (which, BTW, is one of the better views in all of the High Peaks region). There is an organization looking to save the tower from being dismantled, and you can view their website here www.hurricanefiretower.org. Trail conditions, as mentioned earlier, ranged from a very thin snow cover to patches of ice, to mud, to lots of ice. Certain sections were best suited to crampons. A very enjoyable outing. Hurricane is such a great little peak!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: March 2004 Hurricane Mountain Climb


Feb 29, 2004 (Sun)
Elevation: 3960 feet; Order of Height: 44
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Caroline Doucet
Click to Enlarge

A second attempt on Cliff after January's failed attempt. This time we decided to try the Upper works trailhead, as that offered a slightly shorter approach than from the ADK Loj area. The day was hazy, sunny, and super-warm (for February!). The trail was packed rock-hard all the way to Flowed Lands, where we then donned our snowshoes I had originally planned to go up the Opalescent to the standard summer herdpath up Cliff, but then I noticed prominent snowshoe tracks heading straight across flowed lands, and just to be sure I followed them for a bit. Sure, enough, they seemed to head straight up cliff from Flowed Lands. Whoever blazed this path did an excellent routefinding job, and very little brush was encountered enroute. Lots of good lookouts, too! In no time we were on top (before noon, even). Could not find sign - perhaps it was buried. Good views through blowdown to all surrounding peaks. Cliff is extremely well positioned amidst most of the higher peaks. We quickly returned down the excellent herd path and, in under 3 hours, we were back at upper works and the car.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2004 Cliff Mountain Climb


Feb 8, 2004 (Sun)
Elevation: 4240 feet; Order of Height: 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Caroline Doucet
Click to Enlarge

The time had come to cross off Esther. We wanted to do a short winter hike (had to get back in time to take Caro out for her birthday). Sunday, Feb 8 presented us with a brief window of clear but cool sunny winter weather (pretty windy, too). The plan was to ascend Esther via the 'north basin' direct route (for lack of a better term). This route starts off from the Whiteface Memorial highway toll road about 800 metres above the toll booth. The road crosses the main drainage down the north side of Esther at this point. The route goes up this drainage on the left side of the stream.

We had some relatively good tracks to follow, and that helped immensely. The tracks stayed on the left side of the drainage (when viewed looking up), and, as we got higher, the tracks veered a bit more to the east, through some thick and troublesome foliage, to the east ridge of Esther, about 700 metres from its summit. At this point there is an excellent viewpoint down the other side of the ridge and into vermont, as well as a unique perspective on Whiteface's summit. The bushwack along the east ridge to the summit is mostly pretty nice, with a few craggy bits, some nice views, and generally good hiking (not much tangled underbrush). Near the very summit we lost our benefactor's snowshoe tracks and did a little bit of thrashy bushwacking through some thick stuff. That was soon over, however, and we summitted just before 11am. Many good views in most directions, including to Whiteface itself. We looked around extensively for a summit sign on a tree but could find none (discovered later that Esther has a summit _placque_ on a rock, so that's why we didn't see it). Many summit photos were taken, and soon we were heading back down the way we came up, which went clickety-click, and in no time we were back at the toll road, and then to the car, at around 12:30. Short n' sweet! This marks my 41st 46er peak and my 11th winter 46er peak.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2004 Esther Mountain Climb


Jan 25, 2004 (Sun)
Seward Mountain [Failed to Summit]
Elevation: 4361 feet; Order of Height: 24
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Ewart Tempest, Caroline Doucet
Click to Enlarge

The forecast for the entire Northeast on the second-to-last weekend in January 2004 was cold, cold, co-old! The forecast was for crisp, clear and lows of around -30C (before any wind chill). Caroline, Ewart and I decided to accept this challenge of nature, hone our cold-weather camping skills, and get out and exercise the old bones.

The feature this time around was the Seward Range: Seward Mountain, Emmons Mountain, and Donaldson mountain. These three are all connected in one continous ridge. Normally one drives to a trailhead a fair ways up a gravel road off of route 3 between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake. In the winter, however, the last 3.3 miles of the road are not plowed, and so we had to hike that extra distance both in and out.

We got started somewhere between 1 and 2pm. We considered but elected not to use cross-country skiis. It was a long (but pretty flat) slog. We selected the Blueberry lean-to as our overnight camping spot, which we arrived at mid-dusk. We immediately set upon building our snow quinzee, which would give us a break from the bone-chilling nighttime low temperatures. Unfortunately there was [still] not that much snow depth at this elevation (2000'), and so we had to scrape far and wide to get enough snow together for the quinzee. This time (relative to last winter on the Whiteface winter camp) we made sure to build a raised flow such that the entrance was below the level of the floor, offering a block to heat escape. For dinner, Ewart brought along a concoction of meat and vegetables which he fired up into a tasty meal.

We slept in relative comfort (although we built the inside a little too small, so we were cramped) from about 10pm to just before 6am, when we got up and braved a very cold winter morning. We fired up twto MSR stoves and made water, breakfast, and warmed our hands (with me melting a hole in my fleece mitts for good measure). Within an hour we were up and running, crunching along the trail eastwards towards the ward brook bridge and start of the herdpath up to Seward. The day was very clear and beautiful.

It was unfortunately obvious that no one had been up Seward all that recently. There was an extremely faint indication of the last hikers up, and it was the best we could do to occasionally come across it and follow it for a while before it became too faint to follow. We managed to stay more-or-less on the herdpath route for a while, but as we gained elevation we lost it completely and entered what I now have come to dread on a winter bushwack : a belt of snowy, densely packed, short conifers. After a while of making very slow and tiring progress (until about 10:30am) we realized that, given the long hike out, we had to concede defeat and turn around. Hopefully I'll have someone else's route to follow the next time I'm out on a winter trailless peak! It took us no time at all to follow our tracks back down to the main trail and from there to our lean-to campsite, where we cooked up a hot lunch and packed our gear.

The trek out was unventful and very quick. We covered the entire distance in about 3 hours and 20 minutes. So... another failed peak, but good exercise, company, and experience nevertheless.

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 Image Gallery: January 2004 Seward Mountain failed attempt


Jan 17, 2004 (Sat)
Cliff Mountain [Failed to Summit]
Elevation: 3960 feet; Order of Height: 44
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

Cliff was probably overlooked by me until this point because it is a relatively nondescript peak in the middle of an area with much more interesting mountains. Cliff mountain is, technically speaking, not over 4000 feet. However, when the 46er list was drawn up a hundred years ago, it was thought to be over 4000. And so it has remained in the list to this day.

This was also an outing where I would get to try out a bit of cross-country skiing in the Adirondacks. We selected a route with gentle terrain, starting at the South Meadows trailhead. The forecast was for a nice and sunny day, not too cold.

There wasn't much glide on the morning snow as we skiied along the south meadows route to Marcy Dam. We stayed on the skiis up to Avalanche Junction, where we stashed them and switched to Snowshoes. From there it was up and through Avalanche Pass. We encountered saw a couple of groups making winter climbs of the Trap Dike. The recent deep freeze meant that the lakes provided excellent passage past some (in the summer) very rough trails.

We arrived at the uphill leanto around noon, and take a quick break. From here, it was off-trail towards cliff mountain. Ewart has been on the route before, and I have an understanding of the route myself, so we are hopeful. Certainly was a good day for it. The weather was as perfect as you could ask of a Winter Day - clear, calm, and not too cold and not too warm.

It is soon apparent that no one had been up Cliff in a while. There was only a faint hint of a previous snowshoe track, and soon that became too hard to follow. We tried to stay on the herd path but soon got lost in an area of yucky blowdown. Even Ewart, who has been up this mountain before, is unsure of the exact way. We slowed to a crawl as we struggled our way through this.... Eventually it became apparent that we were running out of time (if we hoped to finish at a reasonable hour). So, just before the height of land between Cliff and Redfield, we decided to turn around, leaving the summit of Cliff for another day.

The way back was quick and unventful. We retraced our steps back the way we had come. The late afternoon sunny winter day was spectacular. We reached avalanche junction and our skiis at about 4:30pm. The ski conditions were extremely fast and even a slight slope got you gliding. It was a bit tricky at first but great overall! Ewart found it a bit dicy and ended up walking it back to Marcy Dam. From there we both continued on skiis down the south meadows route in increasing darkness. Good thing the trail is an old road at that point! A small hiking headlamp is not good enough when you are barrelling along at 20km/hr and want to see what is ahead! All in all, an excellent day, even though we did not make the summit. And, backcountry skiis are definitely better for this terrain than my old clunkers!

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 Image Gallery: January 2004 Cliff Mountain Climb


Jan 10, 2004 (Sat)
Elevations: 3035 feet, 4420 feet, 4627 feet; Order of Height: 152, 20, 12
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Caroline Doucet, Luc Alary, Pu Chen
Click to Enlarge

We wanted to take advantage of a nice and clear winter weekend day that had presented itself to us after so many weeks of very wet and soggy conditions. I'd always wanted to do the Rocky Peak Traverse in winter, and I wanted to do it when it was nice and clear. So, this seemed the perfect day, albeit a little bit on the cold side: the forecast for the day was in the -25C range without wind chill!

The hike went well, and the weather was cold but very beautiful. No one had been on the route since the last snowfall, although below 3000 feet there was so little snow (less than 6 inches) that we barebooted it. Bald Peak was a perfect spot to have lunch, although by then it was already 1pm. By the time we got to the main ridge of Rocky Peak, it became apparent that we were making less progress than we thought. It was getting colder and the prospect of doing a significant and challenging portion of the hike in the dark was a daunting thought!

After Rocky Peak, the last steep ascent up Giant I found very tiring. We spent about 30 seconds in pitch black on the very windy summit of Giant (nice views of twinkling lights in the valleys, though). The way down from Giant had been steep and very treacherous and icy in spots; I was very cautious about my ankle, not wanting to aggravate the sprain that was healing nicely; The muscles in Caroline's back were bothering her, making it difficult to move in certain ways. Pu's and Caroline's headlmaps both had failures and were not working. So, it took us a long time to get from the summit to the end of our route. We arrived at Markus' car not long before 9pm. I was feeling particularly tired. I don't think I ate quite enough on this trip. Anyhow.... we were all back safe and sound. An interesting and challenging adventure, that's for sure!

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 Image Gallery: January 2004 Rocky Peak Winter Traverse


Dec 13, 2003 (Sat)
Elevation: 4098 feet; Order of Height: 36
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Angelina
Click to Enlarge

An ankle-testing hike (I had sprained it pretty badly a few weeks before). Day was cold but beautifully sunny. Took our time going up; saw suprisingly few people for such a nice day. Summit views were exceptional. Got back to the car around dusk. Ankle survived but still has a ways to go before being fully healed.







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 Image Gallery: December 2003 Cascade Mtn Hike


Nov 16, 2003 (Sun)
Elevations: 4240 feet, 4009 feet; Order of Height: 27, 999
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Johanna Wandel, Markus Wandel, Pu Chen, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

This hike was designed to introduce Johanna (Markus' sister) to the beauty of the Adirondacks. We chose the hike over the Brothers to Big Slide, which offers much: multiple viewpoints and open areas on the Brothers; an excellent vantage point from which to view the heart of the High Peaks region, and a loop route rather than a there-and-back route.

The day turned out to be excellent - a somewhat cool but calm and sunny day. It had snowed a couple of days before, and a fresh white mantle of snow was over everything. After parking at the Garden parking lot, we tackled the route up to the Brothers, which wastes no time in climbing upwards. It isn't long before we start to be treated to the excellent viewpoints, and are soon on the Brothers themselves. Johanna is thrilled with the breathtaking views. The late fall sun and crystal clear day go a long way towards making the view superb. We push on, stopping for a good lunch break on the second Brother, and then hike into the dense but beautifully snowy forest between the Brothers and Big Slide. At the single viewpoint to Big Slide, we stop and take a few pictures. Big Slide looks magnificent today... a combination of the amazing sky and fresh snow coating and low-angle light. Definitely my best shot of Big Slide ever.

Ewart is feeling quite under the weather today and is falling a bit behind. At the junction just below Big Slide he decides to return back the way we came and to meet us back at the trailhead. So, unfortunately, Ewart does not get to summit Big Slide for a third time. The rest of us head up the very steep and icy final bit to Big Slide's summit. Markus puts his crampons on, while Pu and myself and Johanna opt to try it out without. I was very tempted to put them on but before we knew it we were on the summit. Calm, clear, even warm, and, as always, a spectacular view of the Great Range, Marcy, Algonquin, and on and on. A long lunch break ensued.

We decided to return via Yard mountain (not a real 46er peak, but close...), a trail I had never done before. Markus put crampons on Johanna, thinking she might find them useful on the way down, but the trail down the other side of Big Slide was not steep at all, and all Johanna succeeded in doing was tripping, falling, and ripping her gaiters. Markus and Johanna then ditched the crampons.

No one had been on the trail to Yard since the last snowfall, and in places some significant drifts had formed. We plowed through them, and in an hour reached the totally treed summit (there is, however, one very good view towards Gothics just south of the summit). The trail down from Yard to Johns Brook Lodge is initially quite steep, and on our hike there were a lot of short drops, frequently coated with ice. We negotiated these without incident, and before long interested the klondike pass trail, at which point we turned left and headed down to JBL (a bit muddy and soggy here, still). I was glad to reach JBL and be rid of unbroken and muddy trail (2:30pm). From here it was a well-trodden boot path, mostly flat, all the way back to the Garden trailhead. This we covered in a relatively short time (just under an hour and a half). Ewart was dozing in his car, having returned back two hours earlier than us.

All in all, an excellent day and a fantastic intro to the Adirondacks for Johanna.

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 Image Gallery: November 2003 Big Slide and Yard Hike


Nov 2, 2003 (Sun)
Elevation: 4340 feet; Order of Height: 26
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Ewart Tempest, Caroline Doucet, Markus Wandel
Click to Enlarge

Allen mountain was a peak that I had been avoiding for a while. From the descriptions I'd heard of it, it was a long and relatively uninteresting hike, and a peak without an interesting summit. And trailless to boot. I knew I had to do it at some point, though. Anyway, what finally pushed us over the edge was the fact that at this point, Allen was the last peak left for Ewart in order for him to complete his second complete ascent of all 46 peaks. Quite a milestone.

The weather, however, did not co-operate with us. Although it initially looked like the weather was going to be ok, the day of our hike arrived and the weather consisted of low, leaden clouds with an occasional drizzle. By the time we arrived at the trailhead near Upper Works, it was lightly raining.

Off we went, soon crossing the hudson on a sturdy suspension bridge. Not long after that was a neat causeway-bridge crossing an arm of Jimmy Lake. After this the trail soon started to follow old and newer roads, some of which looked like they belonged to the nearby mine. We passed by two derelict shacks (I think they are called the 'observers huts') and turned sharp right. From there it was a hike on rough gravel roads, mostly on the flat. It was raining lightly most of the time and not all that cold. When the route went over old roads or trails, it was extremely wet and muddy.

Eventually the trail joins up and follows a fairly recent road on the north banks of the lower Opalescent river. At this point it began to rain more consistently and more heavily. Great! We stopped to don our Goretex, and then soldiered on. After some time along this road, we came to yet another bridge, this time a very nice wooden suspension bridge crossing the Opalescent. From there there was a bit of forest walking, and then we emerged into an area of messy clearcut (large chunks of this hike cross private property). Combined with the rainy and wet weather, this area was a depressing soggy mess. I imagine that on a clear day there might be good views of surrounding peaks, but today we saw nothing.

After a long time trudging through this mess, we came across an unmistakable set of signs, large and crudely drawn. One pointed left to the trail going up to Flowed Lands (and said 'Marcy'), and the other pointed right and said 'Allen'. From here the route is officially trailless, but at this point is still well-marked. It proceeds for a bit until hitting another maintained road, at which point you turn left and walk for just a couple of hundred feet before turning right into a gravel pit (and here there is another 'Allen' sign). At the far side of the gravel pit the route continues, open and well-marked, through what was for us miles of muddy wet trails. Eventually the route passes through a small pass and then heads back down towards Skylight brook. At this point all of the informal trail markers stop and one must pay more attention to follow the route. The route winds its way down, crossing one smallish brook before reaching Skylight brook, then crosses it. We stopped here and had a good lunch break. Rain continued on and on.

Soon after Skylight brook the trail turns sharply left and follows the brook upstream (although somewhat away from it) until Allen brook is intersected. At this point, the trail follows the brook uphill, at times very steeply, and at times on either side (mostly on the right-hand side, though). There are occasional open areas on the brook that can be climbed as well. We encounter cloud at about 3000 feet and we are in it all the way up. Near the top, the trail crosses the brook to the east and follows a very distinct path up to the summit ridge of Allen. A short walk along this summit ridge and we are at the top, where we encounter the plain brown 'Allen' sign on a tree. No views whatsoever. I've brought along a couple of Heineken (sp) beer and a specially made double-46er hat, which I give to Ewart in celebration of his acheivement. We are all soggy messes, but we've conquered this peak!

We are all getting a bit chilly from being damp... especially Ewart in his shorts. So, after a bit of heat rub on his legs, we all head down somewhere around 2pm, knowing we have a long, rough and wet walk out. Not looking forward to this! The way down goes relatively well, and no one injures anything. We want to be back on the road portion of the trail before dark arrives (being November, we have until 5pm-ish only). With brisk walking and few stops, we manage to cross the wooden suspension bridge back onto the road just in time. Shortly thereafter we haul out the headlamps and trudge back, through the rainy night, to the car. Really looking forward to changing clothes and blasting the heater in the car! We get back not too late (6:30-7:00-ish) and carefully peel off our wet stuff and climb into the warm cocoon of the vehicle, glad to be finished this one. Nearly 30 kilometres of soggy trail and no views. Ugh.

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 Image Gallery: Allen 2003 Mountain Hike


Oct 18, 2003 (Sat)
Elevation: 4606 feet; Order of Height: 15
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Ewart Tempest, Caroline Doucet
Click to Enlarge

This turned out to be a pretty interesting hike: we started at the South Meadows trailhead under low patchy cloud and a few flurries; Along the way from South Meadows to Marcy Dam we admired the late fall feel of everything slightly dusted with snow. At Marcy Dam we were greeted with much higher water flow than we'd noticed all summer. It started to snow with a bit more gusto as we hiked up towards Avalanche Junction, and, as well, with the increased elevation we encountered more snow already on the ground. From Avalanche Junction to Lake Arnold the accumulated snow on the ground got deeper and deeper, up to the point where, at the pass, I estimate that there was a good 4 inches of snow on the ground. This made for tricky going, as this whole section of trail is basically a big pile of small boulders, all made slippery by the snow. It was snowing lightly but steadily at this point.

The descent to the junction with the trail to four corners was slow going with all the slippery rocks and snow, but, on the plus side, the weather started to break up and we were treated to occasionally brilliant views of a hillside or a peak (especially Mount Colden). We had a good eating break at the Lean-to near the junction with the trail up to four corners (forget the name), and then made our way down the trail to the Uphill Lean-to, where the herdpath to Redfield (well-marked with a cairn and some flagging) is found. Apparently this initial section of the herdpath up Redfield is newly blazed, and I found it to be quite nice, with soft footing and is easy to follow. Higher up, the route follows the Uphill brook and some minor tributaries and, especially with all of the new snow, is quite tricky in spots. Also difficult to follow at times with all the snow cover. Views back to the Macintyre range are very good, and we embarrassed ourselves for somehow getting confused and mistaking Algonquin for Marcy.

The final bit of the ascent is through low conifers and soon we are on the summit. With a good dusting of snow and a spotlight of sunlight against it, Marcy's cone stood out very dramatically. The summit [of redfield] is treed, but has one very good lookout to the south, where there is an almost 180 degree view encompassing Skylight, Allen, and other more distance southern peaks.

On the summit are a couple of veteran 46ers waiting for a threesome to come up and finish their 46er quest on this very summit! They have beer and champaign and are ready for a bit of a celebration. (I cannot for the life of me remember his name - maybe Paul? and as I recall he uses the 'views from the top' website often). Anyway, after a good bit of lunch, we head down, me not looking forward to the slippery boulders over snow in a stream descent. But it goes better than I expect and soon we are back at the Uphill Lean-to. None of us are much into going back up over the Lake Arnold route, so instead we decide to return via Lake Colden and Avalanche Pass. This turns out to be a wonderful choice, because as the trail descends (instead of ascending for the Lake Arnold route), the snow disappears. Also, the gorges and flumes on the lower Opalescent River are very scenic and interesting, and Markus and I explore them. We arrive at Lake Colden to witness some beautiful late afternoon sun-and-cloud scenery. We take the North-west trail around Lake Colden, which is wayyy better than the trail on the other side, and I note how nice some of the lean-tos are in this area (e.g. Cedar Point). We reach the Interior Outpost on Lake Colden, and, while briefly poking around, strike up a chat with the undertaker, who has come out to talk to us. He graciously lets us take a quick peak and photo inside (it is truly a wonderfully attractive rustic cabin) - thanks!

Time and light are a-wasting and so we hurry along, hoping to get past the rough trail along avalanche lake before dusk. In fact, we manage it most of the way down towards Avalanche Junction before it gets really dark, and at the Avalanche Junction Lean-to we don our headlamps. Then it is one final push in the dark all the way back to the South Meadows trailhead. Although long (almost 30km), this was a great hike with lots of variety, both in the weather and the nature of the trail, as well as scenery.

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 Image Gallery: October 2003 Mount Redfield Climb


Sep 27, 2003 (Sat)
Elevation: 4120 feet; Order of Height: 34
Participants: Markus Wandel, Andrew Lavigne
Click to Enlarge

Up to this point, there was some question about whether or not to try to do the Sewards and Seymour in a single outing. In the end we decided that a single day for Seymour and a single day for the Sewards would be ok. And, this day was to be for Seymour. The weather was unsettled, with mostly cloudy conditions with occasional pockets of sun. And it was VERY windy. Even on the long section of trail leading to the Ward Brook lean-to, the wind was very strong. We were of course wondering what things would be like up above. Markus was feeling a little under the weather; even so, we maintained an excellent pace from the parking lot to the Ward Brook lean-to, and on beyond that to the cairn marking the turnoff onto the herd path up towards Seymour (Also noted was the location of the cairn marking the Sewards, so that we could find it with ease even if we decided to climb them in the winter).

The herd path up Seymour was well-defined, although in its upper reaches it was quite steep, muddy and rooty in places (reminds me a little bit of the orebed trail in John's Brook Valley). I did attempt the slide for most of its upper reaches, which was nice, but the rock was wet and very slippery - much caution needed. The herdpath reaches the northeast ridge of Seymour not far from the summit, and from there it is an easy walk along a well-defined herdpath to the summit area, which is notable for several very nice distinct lookouts separated by a little maze of herdpaths. The best lookout is to the north towards Ampersand mountain. Very windy on summit. Luckily for us, the cloud base was just high enough to provide good views.

The way down was fairly uneventful, except for the fact that Markus was feeling a little better since he more easily maintained a faster pace all the way back to the parking lot. We finished pretty early (mid-afternoon) on this one. A nice peak - much better than some of the other trailless ones.

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 Image Gallery: Sep. 27 hike (Seymour Mountain)


Sep 13, 2003 (Sat)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Graham Ashford, Vanessa, Dave, Simon, Kathy, Chris Carter
Click to Enlarge

The Trap Dike Again! 2 times in one Summer! And Mount Colden again! 3 times in one year! Must be a good peak...

For this hike I did not do any of the organizing - just tagged along with Graham's group of friends, who were mostly climbers. In fact, Simon, the organizer, had only ever climbed one mountain in the Adirondacks, and that was Colden via this route!

Graham and I camped overnight at a leanto at the ADK Loj campground, waiting and waiting for everyone to show up. Eventually everyone did, but at a pretty late hour. This meant of course a late start in the morning (9:30am). Made good progress, reaching Avalanche Pass by 11:30 am. Had a good lunch break along Avalanche lake and started the climb up the dike at about 1pm. The climbing was fun, as always, but the cloud deck was at about 3500 feet so soon we were 'in the white'. A couple of our group were a bit nervous about the steepness of the slide climbing, but we all managed ok and we hit the summit at about 2pm. A looong lunch break ensued.... so long, in fact, that I ended up hiking out by myself, and ended up setting a speed record for this section of hiking: two hours flat from the summit of Colden all the way back to the ADK Loj parking area trailhead.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: September 2003 Trap Dike Climb (Mount Colden)


Aug 31, 2003 (Sun)
Elevations: 4057 feet, 3960 feet, 2720 feet; Order of Height: 39, 43, 280
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Caroline Doucet
Click to Enlarge

I had already done Mount Colvin via the Lake Road in an earlier outing. But at the time I was not actively pursuing my 46er quest, and so did not bother to summit Blake at the same time. So... this weekend we decided that maybe we should get it done. Initially I wanted to do a 2-car point-to-point affair from Elk Lake, over the Blake-Colvin ridge, and down and out the Lake Road, but there were only three of us hiking this weekend, and there was little support for the idea. So we decided to repeat my original Colvin hike and hike just a bit farther to bag Colvin.

It was a beautiful late summer day, and after signing in with the white-bearded 'entrance guard', quickly made our way up the Lake Road. We decided to indulge ourselves of the excellent views from Indian Head and the Fishhawk cliffs even though that meant an extra bit of a detour. It was well worth it, and we had an excellent lunch break atop the Indian Head cliffs, with Lower Ausable Lake spread out below us. From there we toiled up the ridge to the summit of Colvin, with its little summit area providing the usual excellent views in almost all directions, especially towards the Great Range and down to the Lake. Next was a somewhat tiring and sometimes treacherous hike over to Blake. Blake's summit is one of the less interesting in the Adirondacks, with basically no views to speak of (and no summit sign - I had to continue down past the summit just to be sure we got it). Our mission complete, we headed back along the ridge and over Colvin again (guess I can't count that as another summitting of Colvin, can I?), and then down to the Lake road and out for the day.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: August 2003 hike (Mount Colvin and Blake Peak)


Aug 24, 2003 (Sun)
Elevations: 4607 feet, 4442 feet, 3820 feet; Order of Height: 14, 18, 46
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Caroline Doucet, Ewart Tempest, Markus Wandel, Daryl Boyd
Click to Enlarge

Whereas many people do these peaks as a backpack, we decided to try to do them in a single long day. In order to do this, we camped out the night before near the trailhead to ensure an early start. We were up and off on the trail just a tick before 5:00am. With headlamps lighting the way, we hiked along the trail, which is actually a road, for the first few kilometres. The trail then turns off to the north and, after a few well-constructed bridges, starts a steady but moderate climb next to Santanoni Brook. At this point morning twilight had arrived and we ditched the headlamps.

Just before 7am we reached the start of the herdpath up to the Santanonis. The herdpath is marked by a cairn of stones at the edge of a small marshy/meadowy area. The herdpath heads more or less straight west and soon we can see Bradley pond through the trees to the south. We find a lookout on the shore of the lake and stop for our morning break. The day is amazingly clear and cool for summertime. There is no haze whatsoever, and it is actually quite nippy. Simply Excellent hiking weather!

Next we tackle the ascent up to the four corners area. The herd path gets a bit braided as it climbs up steep, earthy ledges, but then rejoins into a single path. We then climbed a nice section of trail along the base of some cliffs to a spot that looked like a popular camping area. From there the herdpath angles a bit to south and intercepts the brook coming down from the ridge above. The trail is sometimes along the side, sometimes in the brook, and at this point it is pretty typical rocky and rough Adirondack trail.

Just before nine we arrive at a herdpath junction (which I initially think is the four corners, but I am wrong). We take the trail to the right and are very soon climbing a few scrambly bits to the summit of Panther Peak. There is an excellent flat open area a few feet from the summit (which has a sign on a tree) that provides excellent views to the west and south. Couchsachraga and Santanoni are both quite visible, as is the Seward Range and Seymour to the northwest. Again, I cannot stress how clear, cool, and haze-free the day is for August. A good food break and rest on the top of Panther and we are off, back along the trail. At the junction we head west again, and the path braids. We aren't sure which goes to Couchsachraga, so we split up and follow both. Turns out that the route Ewart and Caroline take is the right one, since ours soon peters out into a yucky bushwack. After a few shouts back and forth Markus and I make it across to the correct herdpath, and we are off to Couchsachraga, which is reached by following a long downhill ridge to the west. The trail is ok in spots, and very steep and rough in other spots.

The summit of Couchsachraga is all treed, although if you stand on tip-toes you can see around a little bit. There is a summit sign attached to a tree here as well. Returning back along the ridge I finally get to see the infamous 'four corners' (I had bypassed it on my bushwack going the other way). It is a neat little area clear of trees and with a huge boulder on one side. Herd paths lead out in three directions to the three peaks. We have our lunch here, and then set out for our final objective, Santanoni. The herdpath is pretty easy from four corners to Santanoni and it only takes us about 40 minutes and we are near the summit of Santanoni. There are a few excellent lookouts to the east, affording very good views of the central High Peaks region, and from a unique, not-often-seen perspective. Also visible are the mining operations of the Upper Works.

We tag the summit, take some summit cookie shots, and then we are off back down the trail, hoping to get back to the road before it gets too dark. We make good time, but as we start the descent I notice that one of my knees is starting to hurt - and I've never had that before. It was a strange type of pain, because jarring it or putting my body weight on it did not hurt - just the act of swinging it. This got increasingly worse as I descended, although I still managed to keep up - barely. It is about 6:30 pm by the time we get back to the road, and so still ight. Dusk falls just as we get back to the parking lot. 14 hours and 35 minutes, and 28 kilometres. A hard but very enjoyable hike, and three 46er peaks bagged!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: August 2003 Santanonis Climb


Jul 12, 2003 (Sat)
Elevations: 3035 feet, 4420 feet, 4627 feet; Order of Height: 152, 20, 12
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Ewart Tempest, Angelina
Click to Enlarge

My second visit to Rocky Ridge Peak, and who knows how many for Ewart. This was a test hike for Angelina, who was interested in ramping up her hiking skills to see if she could possibly be ready for an extended hiking trip this summer. It was a beautiful day and the trail, as before, was wonderful (see my description of my first hike of this ridge). Angelina found things a bit tiring but soldiered on, especially enjoying the many blueberries on blueberry cobble (where else?).

The nice sunny day started to give way to increasing clouds, but visibility was still good. Soon we were atop Bald Peak; definitely cloudy now, and a bit cooler and windier. Slowly we toiled our way up the steep ascent past Bald peak and up onto Rocky Peak proper. It started to drizzle and rain on and off. We stopped for lunch just beyond the lake during a short shower. Fortunately, the weather cleared up a little after that and we were treated to a slightly windy but relatively dry hike from that point up to the summit, where it was quite windy. Someone had stuck an small American flag in the summit cairn and it was fluttering fiercely in the wind. Angelina didn't look too pleased about the col between Rocky Ridge and Giant that had to be negotiated, but seemed resigned to it at this point. Eventually we made it to the trail junction near the summit of Giant, and managed to convince Angelina to take a few extra unnecessary steps so that she could summit her second 46er peak!. I took my obligatory Dare Cinnamon Danish summit shot (tough to do because the wind kept blowing the box down before I could take a picture), and then we started our descent, being careful of slippery rocks. We chose the Giant's washbowl route, which is a nicer hike with lots more lookouts than the Roaring Brook route. Angelina's boots were killing her feet on the descent, which seemed a bit extra strange until she revealed that they were actually 1 and 1/2 sizes too small! no wonder! I did some rejigging of the laces to temporarily reduce the problem and we slowly made our way down. Giant's washbowl had lots of annoying insects, but was otherwise very scenic. Soon we could hear the cars rushing by on Route 73 and before long we were done. Angelina had done pretty well, I think. Good Job!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: July 2003 Rocky Peak hike.


Jul 5, 2003 (Sat)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Luc Alary, Andree Plouffe, Constantine Tikhonov, Larry, Ewart Tempest
Click to Enlarge

Another Trap Dike excursion. This time the newcomers to the Dike were Constantine, Luc, Larry, and Ewart. Ewart especially wanted to do Colden by this route, having climb the mountain so many times by other routes. We started from our new trailhead of choice: South Meadows, and quickly hiked from there to Avalanche Pass. A bit of hiking and bushwacking around the lake brought us to the start of the Dike and the climb itself.

The dike was very dry and there was almost no water flowing, allowing for climbing of the rock more to the left than usual. This being my 3rd time up the Dike, I had little problem finding the right exit point onto the slide (and now I've captured a waypoint with my GPS so all can find it easily now! - see the trip report reference below). The rest of the climb was the usual excellent stairmaster-style climb up to the summit. The day was hazy and warm, so visibility was good but not perfect. Lunch on the summit and down via Lake Colden and onto Marcy Dam, where Markus attempted to help out a photographer who dropped his rare lens cap into the waters of Marcy Dam. From there back down the trail to the South Meadows trailhead.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Trip Report: July 5 2003 Trap Dike Climb (Mount Colden)


Jun 22, 2003 (Sun)
Elevation: 4161 feet; Order of Height: 32
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Ewart Tempest, Daryl Boyd, Peter Guidry, Caroline Doucet, Stacey
Click to Enlarge

For this climb of Phelps, we decided to hike in using the South Meadows Trail. The prices for the ADK Loj parking area was steadily rising, and was now a fairly expensive $9 per vehicle! The South Meadows parking area is free, and trail, although a little bit longer, is a fairly straightforward fire road. Plus we'd all been on the ADK Loj-Marcy Dam trail so many times it was nice to have a chance to hike in a different way. Soon after starting the hike, we came across an amazing Beaver dam constructed right alongide the trail - amazing work. Took about an hour to reach Marcy Dam, and then only about another hour and a half to the summit. Although cloudy, the views were still far-ranging from the summit ledge. Started to take summit pictures of one of my favourite summit snacks: Dare Cinnamon Danish cookies. Down and back to the car took only two hours and 45 minutes, even with the extra distance of the South Meadows trail.

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 Image Gallery: June 22 2003 hike (Phelps Mountain)


Mar 8, 2003 (Sat)
Elevation: 4360 feet; Order of Height: 25
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Andree Plouffe, Constantine Tikhonov, Caroline Doucet, Markus Wandel, Ewart Tempest, Kerry
Click to Enlarge

The plan for this hike was to hike up via the trail up to Indian Pass, then up to the pass separating Iroquois and Marshall and from there to the summit. A return via Lake Colden and Avalanche lake would make for a really neat loop. Weather started off a bit cloudy but soon turned clear. We made good time up the trail towards Indian Pass - Really nice when the snow trails are in shape! Had to break the trail a bit going up towards the pass - I don't think anyone had been up that way in a while. Andree was feeling pretty under the weather and was having a tough time but she stuck with it!

At the pass, I struggled a bit to find a way that matched the discription of the herd path from there to Marshall. Eventually I did stumble on to something which I _think_ was the way but I cannot be sure. If it was the herd path, I lost it somewhere going across the sub-peak before Marshall. What followed after that was a difficult time bushwacking through deep snow with spruce traps everywhere. On the positive side, though, were some simply excellent winter views of the High Peaks. After much toil we made it up the last stretch to Marshall and the summit sign.

Weather was starting to turn (big weather system moving in) and at the summit our clear sunny skies were completely gone. I attempted to find the more official herd path leading up from Lake Colden but just couldn't find it in the snow. Time was getting on so we just decided to retrace our steps, which was much easier now that we'd trampled a path through the snow. We made it down from the pass before it got dark and then it was just a long mostly flat walk out to ADK Loj. A loop would have been better but overall still a very good day.

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 Image Gallery: March 8 hike (Mount Marshall)


Mar 1, 2003 (Sat)
Elevation: 4427 feet; Order of Height: 19
Participants: Markus Wandel, Andrew Lavigne
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It has been almost two months since our first failed attempt to climb Tabletop Mountain. The thought of our failure burns our minds and makes us ache for the victory of the summit! Well, maybe we don't feel quite that bad about it - but I wanting to try it again, and this time, there won't be any mistakes. I keep a close watch on trail reports online and have a very good idea now of where the herdpath is (it is just below Indian Falls, just a few feet from where we stopped looking the first time. Argh!).

Markus can't sleep the night before the hike, so I tell him to just call whenever and I'll get up and we'll go. This turned out to be sometime between 2 and 3am! So we were on the road early, to say the least! We arrived at the ADK Loj trailhead at 6:15 am. Quite early. We start out our hike in the dark and are treated to some nice sunrise light at Marcy Dam. We opt this time to go straight up the Van Hoevenberg trail (no fancy detours this time) and we make the start of the Tabletop Herdpath at a very early 8:30am. A quick break at Indian Falls and then it is back to the start of the Herdpath, which is actually well marked (red flagging, I think). Also there is a very good snow path beaten down. It is an easy and pleasant and quick ascent from here, especially in contrast to the attempt back in January. Soon we are atop tabletop, and, although there is a fair bit of vegetation, the snow does indeed help elevate us in places and we are treated to great views of the Great Range wreathed in Clouds, of Big Slide mountain from a unique angle, and, after a while, Mount Marcy itself, rising out of a cloud bank. It is still very early 9:30 am-ish. In fact, this is probably my earliest summit ever in the Adirondacks. It is a still and relatively warm and sunny late winter day. Quite peaceful and beautiful.

On the way back, we think about doing Phelps as well, given how early it still is, but since I've already done it, we decide to go with Esther instead (another fairly easy climb that both Markus and I have not yet done). Unfortunately, on the way from Marcy Dam to the ADK Loj, one of my snowshoe's binding parts fails completely, rendering the snowshoe useless. I am forced to bare-boot it back to the parking lot, and that's the end of our hiking for the day.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: March 2003 Tabletop Mountain hike
 Image Gallery: January 2003 Tabletop Mountain hike (failed attempt)


Feb 14, 2003 (Fri)
Elevation: 4867 feet; Order of Height: 5
Participants: Ewart Tempest, Adelia Chetreanu, Caroline Doucet, Markus Wandel, Andrew Lavigne, Brian Mullen, Pu Chen, Deborah
Click to Enlarge

This was a grand winter adventure! We decided that we wanted to try out our backcountry winter camping skills in the dead of winter, so we planned an outing - and the itinerary was to be Whiteface and Esther (Esther being one of my yet-to-be-climbed peaks at this time). The objective of the winter camping portion of this outing was to construct and sleep in a snow shelter, and so, to that end, we did not pack tents. And to add to the excitement, the forecast for the weekend predicted what turned out to be the coldest temperatures of the whole winter! (Markus, Pu, Brian, and Adelia did not want to try out the winter camping, so they agreed to instead hike in the next morning and meet us).

We hiked in from the trailhead off of route 73 just before sunset. We reached Connery Pond around dusk, where there were some nice views of Whiteface mountain. From that point onwards it was headlamps time, although there was a rising full moon in the east that promised some light later on. We snowshoed along the gently rising and then falling trail to Whiteface landing, where we made a sharp right to head up towards the Whiteface lean-to. We planned to make our snow shelter there.

The moon was up now, and cast a ghostly bright glow over everything. I took a 30-second exposure with my camera that captured the feeling quite well. Nearing the lean-to, we had Ewart catch up to us (he had not been able to drive down with us, and had started separately). The lean-to area was deserted and untouched since the last snowfall.

Ewart agreed to use the Lean-to as a cooking area, and started whipping us up a tasty hot meal. In the meantime, Caroline, myself, and Deborah started constructing our snow shelter. The type we built is known as a Quinzee, and is made by piling up a huge mound of snow, letting it settle slightly, and then hollowing out the interior. It took us about 45 minutes to do this, and, in the end, we had hollowed out a 4-person sleeping area.

After our meal and a bit of cleanup, we retired inside. The temperatures for the evening fell to below -30C (and -30F). Inside the shelter it was considerably warmer, although, because of a slight error in construction, not as warm as it could have been (lack of a lowered entrance tunnel). Still, it was pretty nice.

The next morning we were up fairly late, by our standards, since we had to wait for the rest of our gang to hike in to our location. It was perfectly clear but very cold, and Caroline melted a hole in one of Ewart's water bottles trying to unfreeze it. Markus and gang arrived sometime after 10:30 am, and by the time we were rolling it was after 11. Deborah was having knee problems and so decided to skip the climb and head back. The rest of us started up the south side of Whiteface. The trail was tricky in spots, with very soft snow even for our snowshoes. Adelia was finding it tough going, and, as a result, we were not making rapid progress. It wasn't until after 4pm that we summitted. Above treeline the combination of -25C temperatures and a brisk wind meant one had to be very careful to cover everything up. Ewart actually managed to get a bit of frostbite on his fingertips. .

The summit was beautiful in the clear afternoon sunlight, with rime ice and crusty snow everywhere. We realized that the late time meant that there was no chance for Esther, so we decided to simply head down the Auto Road (which was closed for the winter) to the car (which was parked at the toll entrance on the road). On the way down, Pu was possessed for a moment and wrestled with Caroline (he says it was just fun...) to the point where one of her snowshoe bindings snapped! Caroline was then relegated to bare booting it down through some fairly soft snow, which was pretty tiring for her. The road seemed to go on forever, but finally, at 6:40pm, we arrived at the toll entrance. Caroline and Ewart went on ahead to fetch the other car, while the rest of us did laps around the parking lot to keep warm (the temperature had fallen to below -30C again). They came back before we succumbed to hypothermia (kidding!) and that marked the end a successful and interesting winter ascent!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Trip Report and Pictures: Winter Whiteface Climb


Jan 25, 2003 (Sat)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Caroline Doucet, Shannon Rector, Deborah, Max, Bryan Mullen, Ewart Tempest, Pu Chen, Molly
Click to Enlarge

This was my first winter climb of Mount Colden. We had a big crew this time: ten in all! This had originally been planned to be a sequel to the 2002 Porter-Cascade hike with my friends from the Wilderness First Aid course that I'd planned. However, not everyone could make it, although Bryan Mullen did.

It was a cloudy day with flurries, and so prospects for views on the summit were iffy. The trail from ADK Loj to Marcy dam was a nice, well-packed snow highway. Encountered a few other parties, most of them on backcountry skiis. Marcy Dam was solidly frozen over, and I took an opportunity to get a picture of everyone crossing the frozen lake. The hike up to Avalanche pass was blissful: no rocks, boulders, or muck. Just nice smooth snowy trail. Avalanche lake was a spectacular wintry place - totally transformed into this wild, windblown plain with ice covered cliffs on either side. Since we were all well-bundled, the stiff wind and blowing snow did not bother us in the least. And what was even better was the ability to walk straight across the lake and avoid all of the nasty bouldery trail.

We stopped for a food break between Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden, then proceed out onto Lake Colden for a bit before heading to the southeastern shore where the start of the trail from Lake Colden to the summit of Colden was located. From there it was a steep, huffy climb, although the snow conditions were very good for snowshoes with good crampons. Although it was cloudy and lightly snowing, we were able to see a fair distance to the lower flanks of nearby peaks. Reaching the boulders and cliffs of the summit area, we emerged out into a fairly strong wind and blowing snow, making our goggles and balaclavas very useful. I was amazed that my digital camera was functioning so well in these harsh conditions - it was covered in frost and the temperature was at least -15 C, yet everything was still functioning perfectly. There was a tricky bit along the cliff bands near the summit where thin ice over rock was difficult to scale... but eventually everyone managed to find a way up. We took a few celebratory pictures near the summit boulder and on the actual summit itself, and then went a little farther down into the col between the summit and the northern sub-summit for our lunch snack. Then from there it was down on the trail to Lake Colden and on to Marcy Dam (grateful all the way for the fantastic trail conditions in the winter!). Night had now fallen, and so headlamps guided us back to ADK Loj to complete the hike. Well worth doing in winter!

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 Image Gallery: January 25 2003 hike (Mount Colden)


Jan 12, 2003 (Sun)
TableTop Mountain [Failed to Summit]
Elevation: 4427 feet; Order of Height: 19
Participants: Markus Wandel, Andrew Lavigne
Click to Enlarge

My impression of Tabletop was of a mountain with no particular views, given the descriptions I'd heard or seen. So, I thought that perhaps a winter ascent would raise the ground level enough to offer them [ie- some views]. The position of Tabletop meant that if one could get a view, it probably be very good. So, Markus and I decided to head out early one January morning to try and make it to the top. We started off at the ADK Loj parking lot and quickly snowshoed to Marcy dam, where there was some neat early-morning cloud-and-sun lighting. I decide that we'd do a little loop by taking the Lake Colden trail as far as the cutoff trail to Indian Falls, then over to Indian Falls and from there up to Tabletop. Things went quite well, and I especially enjoyed the remote feeling on the Indian Falls cutoff trail, which was all drifted over and which looked like it had not seen any activity for a while.

At Indian Falls, we stopped for a food break and were treated to a nice opening in the clouds all the way over to Algonquin Peak. From here we attempted to find the herd path. I based my search on some sketchy info I had from an older ADK guide; We went up and down the trail from around Indian Falls up to about 1/3 mile above that on the Van Hoevenberg trail, but I couldn't see any sign of tracks in the deep snow. I wasn't sure if it had just snowed a lot since someone had last been up, or if in fact we weren't looking in the right range to find the herd path. After a bit of this, I decide that maybe we should just try and bushwack up and to the left, hoping eventually to cross the herdpath partway up. Well, this turned out to be quite an odyssey: The snow was fluffy and deep, and there were many spruce traps and thickly intergrown brush. It was so bad that it took us an hour to go only a few hundred metres! At that point it was obvious that we should turn around or risk bushwacking totally in the dark, so after some slow backtracking we reach the Van Hoevenberg trail, much more tired than when we left it. We had a quick food break, but, being tired and cold (we were totally covered in snow), realized that we should get moving and warm ourselves up. We hiked back in the growing dusk and chalked this one up as a failure. Mental Note: More careful advance study of herdpath routes (especially for winter climbs) needed!

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 Image Gallery: January 2003 Tabletop Mountain hike


Nov 16, 2002 (Sat)
Elevation: 3861 feet; Order of Height: 57
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Andree Plouffe
Click to Enlarge

A frosty day. Not much snow down low, just a dusting. Hiked northwest from the trailhead near Whiteface Landing until we reached a four-way junction. The trail north to McKenzie mountain was signed by an elaborate carving in a tree. Trail went pretty much straight up - on steep spurt, so to speak. At the top there was a bit more snow but nothing too major. Lots of neat snow formation on the trees. Several small up-and-down false lookouts and we were on the top. Very good views of Lake Placid (the lake). Also very good views back west towards Saranac Lake and the lake country. After a brief lunch we were starting to get pretty cold so we quickly headed down east to complete our loop hike, and it wasn't long before the hiking warmed us up again. (oh, btw, lots of distinctive and good signage from the trail maintainers). Bartlett pond had an aluminum rowboat frozen into it. The trail continued downhill next to 'Two Brooks', and, as it did so, we went below the snow line. Not far from the head of 'Two Brooks' we encountered the remnants of some sort of Dam-works.

From here we had to carefully traverse between all sorts of very fancy 'cottages' on the shore of Lake Placid. Lots of 'warning' and 'no tresspassing', etc. type of signs. Some really nice residences, though, and some good views of mountains from Lake Placid's shore. Eventually ended up at the end of the Whiteface Landing road (our starting point). See maps in attached image gallery for precise start/stop location.

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 Image Gallery: November 2002 McKenzie Mtn Hike


Sep 2, 2002 (Mon)
Elevation: 3107 feet; Order of Height: 150
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Gilbert Benoit, Andree Plouffe, Sharon

A beautiful late summer day. Although not much of a noteworthy area in the elevation department, I had heard that the Soda Range and Nun-Da-Ga-O ridge was a wonderful short loop hike. The area lies just to the north of Hurricane Mountain, to the east of the hamlet of Keene. We did the loop clockwise, first going north and soon reaching a rocky nubble with good views to the west. From here the trail is 'not officially maintained'. Continuing north and easterly, the trail goes over many interesting rock ledges and through small clearings. Good views of the somewhat distant Central High Peaks region. After the ridge itself, the trail drops down into a col between the ridge and neighbouring Weston Mountain, which itself has a good viewing ledge. From Weston Mountain, the trail leads down to scenic Lost Pond, with Hurricane mountain rising in the background (as viewed from the northern shore). Soon afterwards the trail becomes 'officially maintained' again (in fact becoming a wide an easy path, eventually) and leads quickly back to the parking area. See the maps in the presentation below for details on the route.

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 Image Gallery: September 2002 Nun-Da-Ga-O Ridge Hike


Aug 5, 2002 (Mon)
Elevation: 5114 feet; Order of Height: 2
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Peter Krug, Andree Plouffe

Another loop climb of Algonquin via the 'back way'. Hiked in through Avalanche Pass and took the trail up from Lake Colden. The day was hot and hazy. On the climb up from Lake Colden, there were good (although hazy) views of the Trap Dike on Colden. I Took a little jog over to Boundary peak (Peter and Andree waited on the main trail going up Algonquin) to get some photos of the summit (of Algonquin) from a good vantage point. Enjoyed a (as usual) busy summit and then headed down the northside trail to Adirondak Loj.

No References


Jul 13, 2002 (Sat)
Elevation: 3556 feet; Order of Height: 85
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Pu Chen, Adelia Chetreanu, Adelia ?, Sarah ?, Cameron ?, Irtiza Zaidi
Click to Enlarge

An outing with the folks at work. Bunch of new / infrequent hikers, so we wanted something really scenic but not too hard (I remember the lessons of my early hiking days). This was Pu's first intro to the Adirondacks and he simply loved it! We climbed up from the Golf Course, up the North Ridge, down to Round pond, then from there down to Rt 73, where we had a car stationed. A good day, even if a few people got good and sore!

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 Image Gallery: July 2002 Noonmark Mountain Hike


Jul 6, 2002 (Sat)
Elevations: 4166 feet, 3895 feet; Order of Height: 31, 45
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Ewart Tempest, Phuong Truong, Markus Wandel
Click to Enlarge

After a long dry spell of no new peaks, I felt it was time to perhaps consider doing some. In fact, this hike probably marks the beginning of when I really started to think about completing the Adirondack 46ers. Phuong was along for her first Adirondack hike.

To this point I'd never been on any of the trails leading west from Heart Lake, so this was a nice change for me. The trail ascends slightly and then down to Indian Pass brook. At the brook one crosses at a point just upstream of the confluence with a brook coming down from the flanks of Street and Nye. A very nice un-eroded herd path (really nice) wanders very clearly up and down over gentle slopes before getting down to business and following somewhat above and away from the south bank of the aforementioned side brook. Eventually the path follows more or less in the brook and becomes a more standard rugged Adirondack route, but still, not too bad.

Once on the ridgetop the going is easy and itsn't long before we reach the totally treed summit (but with a sign) of Nye mountain. From there we backtrack for a bit and then make our way over to Street, which actually has one not bad lookout just beyond its summit, and I'm looking forward to the unique view of Algonquin to be seen from here. However, there is so much smoke and haze from a Quebec forest fire that we can barely see Algonquin's outline.

One the way back, Phuong has a little mishap and slips into Indian Pass Brook, but she is none the worse for wear. We had thought about doing a return detour over Mount Jo, but we are feeling a bit bushed and so we skip that and head straight back to the Adirondak Loj parking area.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: July 6 2002 hike (Street and Nye mountains)


Jul 1, 2002 (Mon)
Elevation: 4240 feet; Order of Height: 27
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Peter Guidry, Gilbert Benoit
Click to Enlarge

My second ascent of Big Slide. Wanted to show Gilbert the nice trail up the Brothers to Giant. We had tried to climb Big Slide a couple of weeks before this date but were turned back at the Garden parking lot by torrential rains.

Not much to say about this hike, other than that the day was hot and hazy, and so the views were not as spectacular as they could have been. The hike over the Brothers was enjoyable, as always, and we saw relatively few people on our hike. Gilbert brought along an issue of the Economist so that he could keep abreast with world economic events (very important to do on hikes, obviously!).

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 Image Gallery: July 1 2002 hike (Big Slide Mountain)


Mar 24, 2002 (Sun)
Elevations: 4098 feet, 4059 feet; Order of Height: 36, 38
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Lorraine Hughes, Brian Mullen, Peter Krug., Ilja ?, Others
Click to Enlarge

This hike came about after meeting a bunch of like-minded outdoors types on a Wilderness First Aid course that I took. We decided to do a point-to-point traverse of Porter and Cascade, a very pleasant route with lots of good lookouts and with one particularly nice summit (Cascade). Even though it was late March there had been a recent heavy snowfall and everything was very wintry. We started off from Marcy Field in clouds and light snow, but with still enough visibility to take in some good views on the way up Blueberry Peak. Once up on the ridge, snow conditions were great for fast and easy snowshoeing. The weather steadily improved and by the time we reached porter it was a mostly clear late winter day (although even though these were clearly winter conditions it technically NOT a winter hike, since it was now spring). A final stop on the very nice open summit of Cascade and then it was down the steep stuff to the Cascade mountain trailhead before it got too dark.

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 Image Gallery: March 24 2002 hike (Porter-Cascade traverse)


Feb 9, 2002 (Sat)
Elevation: 3678 feet; Order of Height: 72
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Lorraine Hughes, Ewart Tempest, Peter Krug
Click to Enlarge

Beautiful Winter Day. Sunny and Calm. Not a whole lot of snow on the trail at first, but we wore snowshoes anyway. Higher up the trail was covered by a few higher drifts but nothing major. Excellent summit for such a low peak! Broad and open. Excellent views of Whiteface, with the ski runs sharply visible in white. Also good (albeit distant) views of the central high peaks region. While we were on the summit, some fellow hikers scaled the old abandoned fire tower - seems like it is actually in pretty good shape (actually, there is an organization looking to save the tower from being dismantled, and you can view their website here www.hurricanefiretower.org). I had brought along some ice cream bars as a sort of joke, since it was February and you could do such a thing in February. Well, it turned out to be not cold enough and when we opened them at the summit they were half-melted and gooey... messy! All in all, an excellent peak - and so short!

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 Image Gallery: February 2002 Hurricane Mountain Hike


Nov 17, 2001 (Sat)
Elevation: 3556 feet; Order of Height: 85
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Lorraine Hughes
Click to Enlarge

The meteor shower hike. Andrew, Markus and I went up at dusk and spent the night gazing at one of the best meteor shows in 30 years. 5 and 6 meteors per second at one point near 5am! fabulous. Actually had a a couple of people show up in the middle of the night to join us! Wonderful sunrise. After heading back down, we wrapped this one up with a tasty breakfast at (where else) the Noonmark diner!

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 Image Gallery: Leonid Meteor Shower atop Noonmark Mountain


Nov 4, 2001 (Sun)
Elevation: 3314 feet; Order of Height: 116
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Bob Gibson, Markus Wandel, Annette Labossiere, Gilbert Benoit, Lorraine Hughes
Click to Enlarge

A suprisingly warm mid-November day. Parked on the higwhay (route 3) near Middle Sarance Lake (there is a trail sign and a little parking area just opposite it). Trail was well-marked and in good shape. Gets a bit steep towards the peak and then, near the summit, winds around some neat cliffs and boulders. We then climbed up onto a very nice and open summit, with remnants of some structure (pylons, etc), some graffiti, and also a plaque dedicated to the former hermit of the mountain. Very good views of the Lake Country to the west and north. High peaks were somewhat obscured by cloudy conditions.

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 Image Gallery: November 2001 Ampersand Mtn Hike


Feb 24, 2001 (Sat)
Elevation: 4580 feet; Order of Height: 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Lorraine Hughes
Click to Enlarge

A cold but brillantly clear winter day. Down at the High Peaks visitor center at ADK Loj, there was a display of broken snow-gear on sale. A quick browse through revealed a set of basic MSR denali snowshoes with no apparent damage... oh wait, there was a hairline crack in the metal foot plate. Still, only 10 bucks, so Lorraine bought a pair (she didn't have any of her own at the time). The shoes worked well, although there was well-trodden boot path all the way up to the treeline on Wright Peak. The day was simply beautiful - fluffy snow everywhere, not a breath of wind, completely clear and sunny. Above treeline we traded snowshoes for crampons, although things were more snowy than icy. The summit presented us with a beautiful winter view of the High Peaks, and still, not a breath of wind, even up here. Wondeful. And not only that, I don't recall anyone else being on the summit with us (Wright peak often being crowded, of course).

Footnote: Lorraine called up MSR to inquire about getting the footplate on her snowshoes fixed, and they said to just send them in and they would replace them with a brand new pair for free! Pretty good deal : 10 bucks (plus some shipping) for brand new snowshoes!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2001 Wright Peak Climb.


Aug 26, 2000 (Sat)
Elevations: 4857 feet, 4400 feet, 4012 feet, 4060 feet, 4405 feet; Order of Height: 6, 23, 42, 37, 21
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Lorraine Hughes, Peter Guidry, Trisha
Click to Enlarge

This was a fairly ambitious day... actually, my most ambitious Adirondack outing (by peak count) ever: five 46er peaks in one go. Along for the ride were PG, Lorraine, and her manager, Trisha. As I recall, it was actually pretty nice day - warm and sunny. I had a bit of difficulty locating and following the herd path up towards Macomb mountain, but more or less it went up near slide brook. Higher up it opened up into a rubbly slide, which was nice, although I recall it was pretty hot out in the open. The summit of Macomb mountain was more-or-less treed in, without any super-good views. From there, we made our way along towards the three-way junction between the paths for Macomb, Grace/South Dix, and Hough Peak. South Dix had a summit register but no real views to speak of. Grace's summit was much better - it was totally open. An excellent summit for such a relatively low elevation. After retracing our steps back to the junction, we mad our way over steep ups and downs to brushy Hough peak; a few views from this summit, despite the brush, with the Beckhorn on Dix being especially prominent from here. Upon reaching the beckhorn, Lorraine decided she'd had enough and skipped the short detour to the summit of Dix. We returned and descended via the Beckhorn and hiked the long flats back to the Elk lake trailhead.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery : August 2000 Climb: Macomb, Hough, and the Dixes


Jun 24, 2000 (Sat)
Elevation: 4926 feet; Order of Height: 4
Participants: Brian Connell, Peter Guidry, Gilbert Benoit, Andrew Lavigne
Click to Enlarge

Brian, PG and I did this hike as part of our training regimen for climbing Mount Rainier (plus I'd never summitted Skylight before, so that worked, too). We did it entirely in a day, and with extra weight to simulate the full packs we'd have to carry up Rainier. In my case, I put an 18L water cooler jug in my pack along with the rest of my stuff. I estimate the weight to have been around 45-50 pounds (Gilbert was just along for the fun - he had his normal very light load).

Anyway, this being a pretty long hike (30km in total), we made special efforts to move along quickly. We zoomed through to Avalanche Lake and unfortunately chose to take the left-hand (south-east) trail along Lake Colden. What a yucky, uneven, rooty mess. Remind me not to go that way again. The trail up the Opalescent was really nice - lots of interesting flumes and gorges and waterfalls - definitely one of the more interesting 'river sections' of trail in the high peaks region.

Finally reaching four corners, we turned right and were soon on the very broad but also nicely bare summit of Skylight. At the very top is a huge cairn (the biggest in the ADK high peaks, as far as I know). Marcy looms very big from the summit of skylight. Also looming big were some huge wasp-type insects that were very attracted to our brightly colored outdoor gear. We found these creatures a bit unnerving, so we kept our goretex on with the hoods drawn tight. A ceremonial dumping of my jug of water (wanted to save knees on the way down) and we were off, trying to make best time back to the car before it got too late. In the end, we managed the full 30 kilometres in 10 hours flat. An excellent average speed of 3km/hr including all stops! Good training hike!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: June 2000 Skylight Climb


May 21, 2000 (Sun)
Elevations: 4827 feet, 4515 feet; Order of Height: 9, 17
Participants: Brian Connell, Markus Wandel, Andrew Lavigne
Click to Enlarge

After an earlier aborted attempt to do both Basin and Saddleback (did manage to do Saddleback in that attempt, though), this was the encore. Also, this was part of my and Brian's 2000 Mt. Rainier training regimen. And, Basin has always looked pretty interesting from afar.

We decided to rent one of the rentable cabins near Johns Brook Lodge: Grace Camp. Very nice facilities. Luke and Sophie also came along but did not end up doing the peaks with us.

We hiked in on the Phelps trail from the Garden to the Cabin the night before, and in the morning continued up the trail to the 'Shorey short cut' cutoff trail. We took that and shortly intersected the range trail. The weather was mostly overcast, with a cloud deck around 4000 to 4500 feet... but as we neared the summit there were many breaks in the clouds, which was definitely promising. Didn't want yet another socked-in summit experience! I recall climbing at least one fairly long ladder on the way up the backside of Basin. The summit of Basin is quite neat: a small, pointy and open knob. Much more summit-y feeling than many! And, there were more than enough large breaks in the clouds to get good views of Marcy and some of the other peaks.

After a short break we continued east along the range trail. Not far below the summit of Basin is some really neat trail that traverses along some ledges with steep dropoffs. On the ascent up Saddleback, we encountered some really steep sections of what was fairly difficult rock scrambling. Fun, though! At the very top of one of these steep sections is the summit, which is mostly treed but has a good view west. Unfortunately the clouds had rolled back in completely and we had no view whatsoever... but Basin's summit more than made up for it. We returned via the Orebed trail and then on the Phelps trail back to the Garden.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 2000 Basin and Saddleback Climbs


May 14, 2000 (Sun)
Elevation: 3600 feet; Order of Height: 80
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Lorraine Hughes

Lorraine and I parked the car at the Cascade Mountain trailhead, then crossed the road and started up towards Pitchoff. Lots of interesting lookouts not far up this trail, including some really good open ones with huge boulders. From some scorch marks here and there on these open areas, it looked like this was a popular spot with the local party-bonfire crowd. The path continued over the various bumps and knobs, often with good views, even though the day was mostly overcast. Then steeply downwards off the ridge, we rejoined route 73 some distance below Cascade pass and hiked back along the road back to the car. Would be better with a two-car setup, as the hike back along the road is long and with lots of traffic.

No References


Feb 13, 2000 (Sun)
Elevations: 4098 feet, 4059 feet; Order of Height: 36, 38
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Peter Guidry
Click to Enlarge

Peter and I did this hike as part of our training for Rainier. We wanted to get some wintry conditions under our belt for the upcoming summer climb. We rented/borrowed snowshoes and hiked up from the Cascade mountain trailhead. Weather was clouds mixed with sun and lots of wind - gave things a good winter-adventure feel. We did Porter's summit first and then returned and did Cascade. Cascade is really such a nice summit for so little distance!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 15, 2000 Hike (Porter and Cascade Mountains)


Jan 2, 2000 (Sun)
Elevation: 4515 feet; Order of Height: 17
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Peter Guidry, Lorraine Hughes, Annette Labossiere, Bob Gibson

This was one of my early attempts at winter climbing in the Adirondacks. We drove down to Lake Placid the night before and stayed at the classy 'St. Moritz' hotel (well, maybe not so classy). Then, after a bagel at a downtown shop, we headed off to the Garden trailhead. Now, you would think that early January would guarantee some nice cold temperatures. Not so. It was an abnormally warm day for January - it was well above freezing and, to top it off, it was cloudy. Now that I look back at it I wonder why we continued. Anyway, the hike in to Johns Brook Lodge was over a well-packed but now slightly soggy snow trail. From there we headed, now in drizzle and fog, up the Orebed trail. The going was ok at first but then slower higher up with all of the wet soggy snow. About three-quarters of the way up the Orebed Trail, Annette was finding it a bit tough, and so after a bit of consultation she and Bob decided to head back. Lorraine, Peter and I decided to slog on, even though we were in the clouds.

The original plan was a loop over Saddleback and Basin, but now that was in question given our slowness and the weather. From the col between Giant and Saddleback it was apparent that no one had been up in a while - the trail was not broken. There were a couple of rock steps on the way up Saddleback that were totally encased in ice. For fun I chopped some steps in the ice with my ax and we ascended that way. Soon we were on the summit of Saddleback, at the western ledge where the trail descends almost vertically over the rock; all we saw was white only a few feet in front of our faces, and it was still raining. blech. Well, we weren't about to risk our necks on the treacherous bit of trail up ahead just for another view of white, so we decided to call it a day and head back down. Not an especially good hike, this one! (Also, I have no pictures of this hike, and they wouldn't be any good, anyway!)

No References


Dec 11, 1999 (Sat)
Elevation: 5114 feet; Order of Height: 2
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Peter Guidry, Brian Connell, Lorraine Hughes
Click to Enlarge

A cold early winter day. Only a few inches of snow on the ground, not nearly enough for snowshoes. Pretty cloudy at the Loj but looked possibly hopeful - end the clouds seemed especially low. Nice hike through fluffy snow, except the combination of only a small amount of snow cover and a rocky trail made for slippery going.

But... at about the 4000 foot level we climbed OUT of the clouds and over top of them into a brilliant sunny day. Looking back to the north, I could see Whiteface's snow dusted flanks rising out of the clouds! Excellent! I love this above-the-clouds effect and have never until this point ever experienced it in the mountains of the northeast. Feeling very pleased and lucky to have come up here during these conditions, we continue the ascent above treeline (with the help of crampons). There is not much snow, just some crusted ice.

The summit view is fantastic, with a beautiful low-angle light view of the high peaks dusted with snow (in fact, the title banner to this whole section of my web page is a panorama taken from the summit on this hike). I hope to someday experience the same weather conditions while on an ADK high peak!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Algonquin, December 1999


Oct 2, 1999 (Sat)
Elevations: 3035 feet, 4420 feet, 4627 feet; Order of Height: 152, 20, 12
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Peter Krug, Lorraine Hughes
Click to Enlarge

My friend Ewart had always told me that the traverse over Rocky Peak was one of the best outings in the Adirondacks. This route is usually done as a point-to-point, starting at a trailhead on route 9N or at the Giant Mountain trailhead on Route 73. There is a lot of elevation gain and loss on this hike, including many ups and downs over subsidiary bumps and peaks along the ridge. Myself, Lorraine, and Peter decided to do this one fine fall day. We started at the route 9N trailhead. As a pleasant start, a nice uphill trail climbs through unusually open woods (at least by Adirondack standards). Not only that, the trail is not 'bouldery' like many other Adirondack trails. Not long after that and a brief steep section the first of the open cobbles is reached (blueberry cobble, I think). There are very neat sections of nice trail winding over the tops of these cobbles with many little lookouts. The vegetation is somehow different on this trail (compared to most of the Adirondacks), seeming less coniferous and more open. After these pleasant cobbles, a steep down-and-up col marks the start of the next major part of the climb up to bald peak. A few scrambly bits and lots of good lookouts, culminating with an excellent summit at bald peak with lots of open rock. From here you can see views of most of the ridge you must follow, and it can look a bit daunting from here, because you can see a lot of the up and down that you have yet to do. Lorraine was still breaking in some new boots and was suffering from a few blisters, and so we stopped and fixed her feet up. The trail then follows the ridge westward, often in the open, sometimes near short cliffs, past some very large glacial erratics. Good views of fall foliage down below.

Next comes the part that I liked the least, which was first a descent of a few hundred feet, then a long relatively boring ascent up to the main Rocky Peak Ridge section. Once past that, things got better again, with some good bits of a ridge that had lookouts, and then a very neat little lake tucked up on the ridge, called Lake Mary Louise. Once around that we emerged out into the very nice partially open meadows of the summit area of Rocky Peak. There were nice long sections of open hiking, and relatively easy grades. Soon the open summit of Rocky Peak is reached, at which point I took some closeup shots of Lorraine's boots at the summit marker. From here you get an excellent look at the back of Giant mountain, with some large slides visible, and also of the deep col between yourself and Giant. After having hiked up and down all of that elevation so far, this looks pretty tiring, since the trail goes all the way down to the bottom of the col and then practically all the way up to Giant's summit before starting its descent down into Keene Valley and the ending trailhead.

Anyway, there was nothing to be done but to do it, so down and up we went, huffing and puffing but knowing that this was our last big ascent and after this it was all downhill. Near the summit of Giant we took the short couple-of-minutes detour to visit Giant's summit, and then it was down via the Roaring Brook trail. Dusk fell as we descended and we finished that last kilometre or two with headlamps. Not a long hike distance-wise, but still fairly difficult because all of the elevation gain and loss. An excellent hike, though - lots of variety, lots of scenery.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Oct 1999 Rocky Peak and Giant hike.


Sep 5, 1999 (Sun)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Peter Guidry, Bob Gibson, Annette Labossiere, Markus Wandel

An intro the Trap Dike fo PG, Bog, Annette and Markus. We also backpacked this one, camping not far from the Avalanche Jct Lean-tos. Got started good and early, and were on the Dike before too long. I'd brought rope and a bit of gear to help anyone not feeling comfortable, and on a couple of pitches we in fact did do some belaying. Again had a bit of a hard time locating the exit (went too high last time, this time went too low), but after some trial and error, located a good route over to the main slide that avoided bushwacking. Everybody loved it, although the steep slide climb is the ultimate stairmaster workout!

We returned via Lake Arnold, packed up our campsite and returned via Marcy Dam.

No References


Jul 1, 1999 (Thu)
Elevation: 4960 feet; Order of Height: 3
Participants: Brian Connell, Peter Krug, Andrew Lavigne
Click to Enlarge

An ambitious hike, this one. I wanted to do Haystack, never having done it before, but didn't feel like hiking all the way in and back from the Garden trailhead. So.... I propose a two-car point-to-point, starting at Elk Lake and traversing over Haystack, and ending up at the Garden. For some reason, Brian and Peter agreed to this!

We spent a bit of time in the morning arranging the vehicles, one at Elk Lake, and one at the Garden. Then we were off, on an excellent sunny day. The hike through the Elk Lake area crosses many 'private' paths belonging to whatever club/organization owns that section of land. Our first test is climbing over the Colvin-Blake-Boreas range of peaks, through a fairly low pass. From there, down to Marcy Swamp, with some good low-altitude unique views of the high peaks. Lots of good boardwalks over the marshy areas - nice area. From there it is a slow rise into Panther Gorge up to the Panther Gorge lean-to. We stop for a good break here, and then tackle the real ascent, up the backside of Haystack. Very steep and nicely isolated (haven't encountered anyone so far today). Soon we are above treeline with excellent views into the gaping gulf of Panther Gorge - definitely the most impressive basin of this sort in the high peaks region. Soon, the summit is conquered - and an excellent summit it is, being nicely out in the open and narrow and elongated.

We continued our traverse by heading northeast down towards Little Haystack. Getting on top of Little Haystack requires some fun scrambly climbing, too. Too bad it isn't a peak in its own right, because Little Haystack is quite nice.

From Little Haystack we headed down towards Slant Rock and then on down towards Johns Brook Valley. We were encountering other hikers now, including one lady who had decided to hike topless!

It was not soon after this that Brian started to wonder about whether or not he had his keys with him. Finally, at one rest stop, he had a thorough look and to his dismay discovered that the keys to his car (which was at the end of our hike) were back in Peter's car (which was at the start of the hike), now probably 20+ kilometres behind us! This was a pickle we'd gotten ourselves into... We needed some way to get all the way back to the Elk Lake trailhead, which by road must have been at least 40 or 50 kilometres. Rental Car? not in Keene Valley! Hitchhiking? what is the chance of finding someone going to Elk Lake, of all places? Not good. At the very least we hoped to catch the Shuttle bus that runs down to Keene Valley from the parking lot, and manage what we could from there (maybe a taxi). Only one problem: the Shuttle ran until 7pm and we were still a ways from the trailhead and 7pm was approaching! So... I offered to jog the whole remainder of the way back to try and flag down the Shuttle driver and get him or her to wait.

I made it *just* in time, and did manage to get the Shuttle bus driver to wait. Not long after, Peter and Brian arrived, and as we were getting driven back down to Keene, explained our situation to the driver. In the end, we managed to convince the driver to drive us all the way to the Elk Lake trailhead (with a little payment, of course). Close call, that!

This ended up being one of my longest day hikes ever, at over 35 km! Quite an adventure!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Haystack, July 1999


Jun 6, 1999 (Sun)
Elevations: 4057 feet, 2720 feet; Order of Height: 39, 280
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Lorraine Hughes, Markus Wandel, Luke Ward, Sophie Huggins, Leslie Price
Click to Enlarge

This was Sophie and Lorraine's first hikes with us in the Adirondacks. I had never been to Indian Head or Colvin, and so looking forward to seeing some new terrain. We started off from the AMR club and walked up the lake road all the way to the lake. From there, we veered left onto the trail heading up to Indian Head (I realize now that this route is not part of an official DEC trail). Lorraine, having not really hiked before, was wearing nice shiny new sneakers, but she was managing well nevertheless. Soon we were atop Indian Head - quite a fantastic viewpoint (one of the better in the Adirondacks), with the long narrow fjord-like Lower Ausable Lake sandwiched between Colvin and Sawteeth. From there we headed down steeply to rejoin the main trail heading up Colvin. A pretty reasonable trail, with very few rocky bits. The summit of Colvin, although treed, does have a very excellent little flat platform of rock that you can stand on that gets you out of the trees enough to give spectacular views straight down to Lower Ausable Lake and of the Great Range. Markus used his Brother's RIM Pager to send e-mail and unix commands to his linux box from atop the summit - he really impressed the girls with that! :-). After a good lunch break, we were headed back down the mountain, this time avoiding the Indian Head detour. Returning to the Lake Road, it was then an easy stroll down to the AMR club and beyond that to the parking lot.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery : June 1999 Mount Colvin Climb


Jun 3, 1999 (Thu)
Elevation: 3556 feet; Order of Height: 85
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Leslie Price, Bob Gibson, Annette Labossiere

An intro hike up one of the nicest peaks in the sub-4000-foot category. Started from the Golf Course and up the north ridge with its excellent lookouts. Examined the big western cliff on the summit (looks like good rock climbing potential). Returned down the south-eastern side and then cut north to complete the loop.

No References


May 15, 1999 (Sat)
Elevation: 4857 feet; Order of Height: 6
Participants: Peter Guidry, Peter Krug, Brian Connell, Andrew Lavigne
Click to Enlarge

BUGS...if there is one thing I remember about this hike, it was these infernal pests. Apparently we'd arrived in the thick of black fly season, and I can understand the Voyageur's insanity after this one. They attacked us the instant we got out of the car at the Elk Lake trailhead (actually, I could swear I could see them swarming around the car even before we got out of it). From Elk Lake, the long flat section of hiking went by uneventfully except for the annoying insects. We ascended the ridge up to the Beckhorn, which was a very cool airy ledge with huge flat slabs of rock - an excellent stopping point - even better than the real summit, in my opinion. From the Beckhorn it is a gentle and quick hike to the true summit of Dix, which, although mostly open, suffers from having a bit too much brush and low trees to make it feel truly open. Nevertheless, good visibility in all directions and a good, if a bit distant, view of the Great Range.

We returned via Hunter's pass, which is nice but not as interesting as the Beckhorn route. The long flat hike out from the base of Dix to Elk Lake was agonizing with the Bugs. PG and I wore our goretex jackets with hoods fully drawn, even though it was a warm and sunny day, just to keep the amount of exposed skin to a minimum. PG has since purchased a bug hat.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery : May 1999 Mount Dix Climb


Sep 12, 1998 (Sat)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Andree Plouffe, Brian Connell

This was a two-day backpack, starting from Upper Works, to climb Mount Colden via the Trap Dike, a mountaineering route up the west side of Colden.

We hiked in and set up camp at the Lake Colden backcountry camping area. Had too much food for the bear canister, so hung up the rest of our food a ways from the tents. During the night, heard noises and sounds about bears from neigbouring campers... but didn't get out of the tents. In the morning, my bear-canister food was fine, but the hung up food... gone! A bit of investigation revealed the remnants not far away in a bush, cleanly picked over. A lesson learned!

We still had enough provisions to finish our little mission, so we started off for Avalanche Lake and it was not long before we reached the southwest end of the lake. From there it is a bit of bushwacking along the southeast shore of the lake to the base of the dike, which looms up impressively.

The climbing was fun, with several pitches of class 3 or 4 interspersed with easier scrambling. I was unsure of the precise exit point from the dike onto the face and was a bit too conservative, causing us to have to do a little sideways bushwacking over to the main slide. Complicating matters was the fact that the night before had been below zero and there were several icy sections on the slabby portions that we had to traverse. Would have been very bad to slip on any of these sections, so we hauled out our rope and did a little safety belaying where needed. It was easy to stay in the dry on the main part of the slide and we burned up the steep slope. We could see the big perched boulder on Colden's summit from far away and that acted as a good marker for progress. An excellent route! We returned down Colden to the southwest, packed up our campsite, and returned to Upper Works.

No References


May 25, 1998 (Mon)
Elevations: 4736 feet, 4400 feet; Order of Height: 10, 22
Participants: Brian Connell, Andrew Lavigne, Andree Plouffe
Click to Enlarge

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


May 10, 1998 (Sun)
Elevations: 4620 feet, 4020 feet; Order of Height: 13, 41
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Andree Plouffe

I have one (1) picture of this entire hike. The weather was, shall we say, crappy, right from the start. Drizzly and low clouds. And the picture I do have is of a spider web. This give you a good idea of what I thought of the views. Anyway, the hike up the Lake road was uneventful and short, since we turned off up to Bear Den early on. This trail really hits you right away, climbing very steeply from the get-go. Tough! Once up on Bear Den, the trail follows the ridgeline westward, and at the time I recall a lot of blowdown on the trail that had not been yet cleaned up. Dial was not a memorable summit, especially with the clouds, and Nippletop had no views either, although I could tell from the way the land dropped off steeply on either side that this was a much more interesting summit. I'll have to redo it one of these years when I can actually see something. We returned via Elk Pass and down to the Lake Road. Quite the wet soggy hike.

No References


Apr 25, 1998 (Sat)
Elevation: 4580 feet; Order of Height: 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Peter Guidry, Mark Enright, Andree Plouffe
Click to Enlarge

A late winter / early spring climb of Wright. I hadn't been up in the mountains so far this year, so we weren't sure what the conditions would be like. To be on the safe side, we rented snowshoes from the EMS in downtown Lake Placid. As it turns out, however, we really didn't need them at all. It was super firm boot path or open rock all the way up. Oh well, extra weight, extra exercise! Still lots of snow on Algonquin.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery : April 1998 Wright Peak Climb


Jul 20, 1997 (Sun)
Elevation: 4867 feet; Order of Height: 5
Participants: Brian Connell, Andrew Lavigne, Andree Plouffe

Don't remember a large amount of detail about this climb. Here's what I do remember, however: Weather, ehh... not so great. Cloudy. Started the hike from the trailhead that leads up to an abandoned ski run, complete with some old remnants of a ski lift. Upon gaining a ridge, we rejoined with the main trail leading up from Wilmington. A few good lookouts here and their. After a fairly long slog with occasional 'fudge' and 'double-fudge' sections (my words for mucky), we came across a mysterious looking wall of stone... and, well, after ascending around it, we find that it is the buttressing for a hairpin of the auto road leading to the top. Rather than take the road to the summit, we elect to take the trail leading up the ridge to the summit. Excellent choice, because the trail runs along the edge of the steep cliffs and ravine that drops away to the east. Whiteface is quite unique and nice relative to the other ADK high peaks in that it has these ridges with sharp dropoffs. Fairly windy and a little rainy and in the clouds, of course, so no summit views. We did indulge in some french fries in the restaurant below the summit, however. We returned by way of the road to the aforementioned hairpin and then back down the trail to the car.

No References


May 17, 1997 (Sat)
Elevation: 4240 feet; Order of Height: 27
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Andree Plouffe, Peter Guidry, Brad Fehr, Rama Thavasinadar
Click to Enlarge

Starting off from the Garden parking lot, we chose to ascend via the Brothers, which turned out to be a very nice series of open spots with excellent views down Johns Brook Valley and the Great Range. Still being naive about conditions in the mountains, I was somewhat surprised to see so much snow not long after the Brothers. We did not have snowshoes and postholed a little, but mostly just got our feet wet. Approaching Big Slide one gets a very neat side view of the steep rock slab that forms the 'slide' part of Big Slide's summit. Very distinctive. The top has a very good 270 degree view facing south, with Gothics especially prominent across Johns Brook Valley. Brad broke the strap on his el-cheapo daypack but managed to cobble something together for the hike back. We boot-skiied down the trail to Johns Brook Lodge and from there hiked out to the Garden.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 17, 1997 Hike (Big Slide Mountain)


May 3, 1997 (Sat)
Elevation: 4161 feet; Order of Height: 32
Participants: Luke Ward, Andrew Lavigne, Rob Hounsell, Mark Enright, Andree Plouffe?
Click to Enlarge

Rob Hounsell's first hike with us. There was still quite a bit of snow - Marcy Dam was still frozen over. I remember that Mark had an early GPS unit, which could only get a lock in totally open areas like at Marcy Dam. Lots of snow all the way up to the summit. Luke has a propensity for nailing his skull on overhead branches, and this hike was no exception! The very summit of Phelps is treed, but just off of the summit is an excellent ledge with good views to the south towards Colden and Marcy. The descent was uneventful and quick. Having a hard-packed snow trail meant a quick slide down back to the Van Hoevenberg trail, and from there a straightforward walk back to the Adirondak Loj parking area.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 3, 1997 Phelps Mountain Hike


Oct 5, 1996 (Sat)
Elevation: 4100 feet; Order of Height: 35
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Andree Plouffe, Gilles Plouffe, Brian Connell, Gilbert Benoit
Click to Enlarge

This hike was another in the series of 'learning experiences'. The plan on this one was to do Gothics, but I was feeling ambitious and so planned an elaborate route: From the AMR club, we took not the road but the trail that follows the ausable river, up and over Lost Lookout, then down to lower ausable lake, up over Sawteeth, and then to Gothics. Firstly, it was a lot of extra up and down; and secondly, I was managing my food very badly: I hadn't eaten anything for breakfast and neglected to eat much along the way. Things were actually going very well and we motored along at a good pace, but on the ascent of Sawteeth I simply bonked completely (and Brian did the same thing I did and he bonked at nearly the same place). I was unable to keep up and fell to the back of the pack, feeling miserable. Slowly I managed to regain some energy and semi-enjoyed the climb up Sawteeth, although to tell you the truth I can't remember too much about whether there were good views or not (the weather was very nice, though).

Even at the summit of Sawteeth I still hoped to summit Gothics... but our winding route so far and my and Brian's slowdowns soon made it clear that it wouldn't be prudent (timewise) to try for Gothics. Instead we turned and went down via the trail alongside Cascade Brook and returned to the cars via the Lake Road.

I did not neglect the importance of fuel for the body after this hike!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Oct 5, 1996 hike (Sawteeth)


Jun 1, 1996 (Sat)
Elevations: 5114 feet, 4840 feet; Order of Height: 2, 8
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Luc Alary, Ewart Tempest, Gilbert Benoit, Andree Plouffe, Martin ?
Click to Enlarge

A trip up the 'backside' of Algonquin, as it is called. Strange that this ended up being the first way up Algonquin for me. The guidebook describes this as the longest continuous ascent in the Adirdondacks (from Lake Colden up to Algonquin's peak). As always, the hike past Marcy Dam and through Avalanche Pass and Lake was very scenic. The hike upwards from Lake Colden was quite nice, with some nice mini-waterfalls and ever-increasing views back towards Colden, where the Trap Dike was especially prominent. Day was nice but warm and hazy. Up on the ridge, we took a side detour to visit Boundary, and then Iroquois, both nice peaks (Boundary not official being a peak, of course) with open summit areas. A fair bit of muck in some of the low points separating these two, though. Good view of Wallface from the summit of Iroquois. One final burn up the nice open alpine area on Algonquin and we were on top. The usual crowd was here, as was a summit steward, as I recall. From here we returned via the north side of Algonquin and down back to Adirondak Loj.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Algonquin and Iroquois, June 1996


May 5, 1996 (Sun)
Elevation: 4627 feet; Order of Height: 12
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Alan Lawrance, Todd Pepin, Luc Alary, Andree Plouffe, Rama Thavasinadar
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This was Markus' first hike. Markus was, back then, not the Markus you know today. He'd decided to come because he thought some of the pictures from one of my slide shows were nice, and wanted to see the area for himself. Of course, there was lots of talk about how this was just a short term thing for him, he'd get bored soon enough, not want to come down that often, etc etc. Vintage Markus. Anyway. This was his first time out of the country (Canada) since he'd immigrated from Germany. Also along on the hike were many colleagues of mine at the time, as well as Andree and Luc.

It was still early spring in the mountains, so there were no leaves anywhere yet. We stopped at the neat falls along Roaring Brook, and took a detour over to the Giant's Nubble, where I took a good group photo of everyone. From there it was up the southwestern ridge of Giant, with a fair bit of spring wetness, eventually giving way to snow. Many wet feet at this point, since many of us had inadequate hiking footwear and things were really wet. A clear view greeted us on the summit, with excellent views back west to the central high peaks area. On the return leg, we chose the direct route down towards Roaring brook. Markus was very sore for many days aftewards, this being his first hike, and stated that he thought mountain hiking was not for him and that he would not be coming on one again. yeah, right...

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 1996 Giant Mountain Hike


Apr 30, 1995 (Sun)
Elevations: 4098 feet, 4059 feet; Order of Height: 36, 38
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Luke Ward, Ewart Tempest, Wayne Pitman, Billy Nickerson, Peter Kalab, Others
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This was the hike where I introduced Luke to the Adirondacks. We did this hike as a point-to-point (which is the only reasonable way to do this). As I mention in another trip report, this route is very nice with lots of different lookouts in different directions all along the way. I recall Billy and I investigating some cool ice formations on the way up Blueberry, even though it was May.

The other thing I recall vividly about this hike is that Luke's feet ended up killing him. By the time he got to Porter he was quite uncomfortable and by Cascade's summit he was in severe pain. Weather was so-so with limited views into the still-snowy high peaks. I think Luke's feet problems combined with a fairly long hike conspired to turn him off of hiking with us for quite a while.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: May 1, 1995 hike (Porter-Cascade traverse)


Oct 1, 1994 (Sat)
Elevations: 4175 feet, 4185 feet, 4400 feet; Order of Height: 30, 29, 22
Participants: Brian Connell, Andrew Lavigne, Andree Plouffe, Paul Osmond, Gilbert Benoit
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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


Sep 24, 1994 (Sat)
Elevation: 5344 feet; Order of Height: 1
Participants: Billy Nickerson, Andree Plouffe, Luc Alary, Ewart Tempest, Andrew Lavigne
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One of 'the early' climbs. Luc was still very young (like about 14), and Billy had not yet moved south to California. And it was before learning about goretex and no cotton, etc.... This was my first and only hike (as of Oct 2003, anyway) up Marcy, strangely enough. I remember it being a cloudy day, but we went up anyway hoping to maybe get above the clouds. We stopped for several pictures at Marcy Dam and Indian Falls (we took the Van Hoevenberg route), and then soon afterwards were up in the clouds. The summit was totally socked in, but we could tell that we were not far below the tops, since it was very bright just above us and occasionally we could discern a bit of the sun's disc. I recall that Billy had a good snooze on the summit. We returned the way we came up.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: Mount Marcy, September 1994


Jul 3, 1994 (Sun)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Andree Plouffe, Gord Walls, Brian Connell, Ewart Tempest, Nathalie ?, Kai Mao, Paul Osmond
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The second hike ever after the infamous starter 'Eclipse Hike'. We managed to round up quite a bunch for this one, 11 people in total, which is one of the highest number of folks I've ever brought on a hike. We camped the night before at the ADK Loj campground - I recall Gord and Nathalie had what seemed to be a 10 person tent just for the two of them, whereas Andree and I had a little-bitty 2 person job. Also recall Ewart choosing to sleep out in the open on a picnic table (this was an early exposure to Ewart's bush-man behaviour).

We started out fairly early (I think around 7am, but do not quote me on that). This was my first time ever visiting Marcy Dam, and was of course impressed with the nice view from there. Then it was on and through beautiful Avalanche Pass (another first for me), where I simply loved the craggy, dark, shady area in the notch of the pass where the trail follows the base of the cliffs of Avalanche Mountain. Then on to the grandeur of Avalanche Lake and the rough boulders and ladders of the trail through there. At that time I thought that section was really fun, but now having been through there a bunch of times I find that section of trail a little rough. Loved the hitch-up Matildas, of course.

I remember stopping at the junction with the trail up to Mount Colden from Lake Colden and reading the trail description from 'the bible' to everyone (the green adirondack high peaks guidebook). The trail up was described as 'unrelentingly steep' (or something like that), which elicited a few groans from some of us (most people on the hike were newbie hikers, especially so for Kai Mao's young nephews, who had brought along only donuts as food, I recall). The trail up Colden was indeed very steep, with lots of sections of trail worn down to the slab rock of the mountain, and very steep. Andree loved the physical challenge of this section of trail and just powered up it, leaving everyone behind. She was in her element. Near the summit are some really sections with little cliffs and huge boulders that the trail winds around. Past these, we arrived at the summit and took in the excellent views (it was a very hot summer day).

We stopped by the big boulder that is perched near the edge of the summit ridge and had our lunch break. Ewart was not big on bug juice and had a lot of bloody bites on his legs. The view down to Avalanche Lake, complete with the hitch-up Matildas visible, was fantastic.

We took the Lake Arnold way down, and by this time our newbie hiking crowd was feeling pretty ragged. We'd not brought enough water, and in fact Nathalie so much so that we though she might be starting to suffer from some heat illness. At one point, Paul O. decided to take matters into his own hands and dunked here into a little side brook somewhere between the Avalanche Lean-tos and Marcy Dam! Kai's nephews were done for, totally wrung out. Still, we all made it back in one piece and yet another bit of hiking experience was gained (I was on the steep part of the learning curve at this point).

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: July 1994 Mt Colden Hike


May 10, 1994 (Tue)
Elevation: 4580 feet; Order of Height: 16
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Gilbert Benoit, Brian Connell, Paul Pantages, Paul Osmond, Gord Walls, George Zhao, Bob Gibson
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The hike that started it all.

I won't go into too much detail here, since this is well described in a separate trip report.

Being an astronomy buff, I wanted to be in the path of the 1994 annular eclipse, which went straight over the Adirondacks. Managed to convince my manager (then Brian) to let the department take the day off and go hiking in the mountains. Down we came, totally unprepared (not realizing there would still be snow), me with jeans, sneakers, cotten, etc. We managed to make it up, through snow, cold and sleet, and managed to get a full view (with our welder's glass) of the eclipse. Everybody except maybe Gilbert was totally freezing (partially due to the eclipse's effects, probably), so we didn't stay long and slip-slided our way back down. I shake my head when I look back at this trip. Live and learn.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Trip Report and Pictures: May 1994 Eclipse Hike

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