After a quick bite, drink, and foot airing, we are off to Armstrong. We hike some super excellent trail (picture with caption If only all the trail was like this
) - if only more of the Adirondacks was like this! The route to Armstrong is really not that difficult, and in fact I am closely watching my altimeter and notice that the low point between Gothics and Armstrong is not anywhere near the required 300 feet of elevation loss/gain required to make Armstrong an officially separate peak. So, _really_, it should be one of the ADK 46. But, it is officially so, so I guess it stands. I won't complain, I guess - it is making this traverse from Gothics to Armstrong quite a bit easier!
Armstrong is not so much a peak as it is a really nice ledge from which to view Gothics. We did not spend a long time here, especially since we'd only been atop Gothics not more than 25 minutes before. Next stop was Upper Wolfjaw, which had a more "real" descent/ascent to it. In fact, the trail down and up was very very steep, with lots of sections where you need to climb down using tree roots and such.
Upper Wolfjaw's summit was an elongated boulder admist scrubby conifers. And it had 15 other hikers on it. We stuck around for 10 minutes of so, noting how Lower Woljfaw had a an unappetizingly deep col between it and us. All of the "good" summits had been done now, and, having finished seven, we were just looking forward to slogging up the last peak and then starting our final descent.
And so we marched on, climbing over a small sub-summit, and then down nother exceedingly steep, root-holding descent, and we were at the col between Upper and Lower Woljfaw (2:15pm). Since our route took us up to the peak and then back down to this col, we decided to leave our packs here to make this last peak a little easier.
Without our packs, the last climb went well, and by a quarter to three we stood atop the eighth summit of the day, almost 26 kilometres from where we started. And, you know, we were all doing really pretty well. We were tougher than we thought, I think.
The limited viewpoint atop Lower Wolfjaw still allowed us to view almost the entire route, which you can see in annotated format in the picture captioned Our entire mountain route
A group photo via timer and we were finished with Lower Wolfjaw. It was time to retrace our steps back down to the col, pick up our packs, and get down to the cars.
Gratefully, the trail down from the col into John's Brook valley was quite gentle and non-rocky, making the end of a day much more comfortable. By 4:15pm we were down at John's Brook, and after a bit of debating, decide to take the Southside trail (following the south side of John's Brook) rather than the standard north side trail. Thus we entered plod mode, truding the last few kilometres to the Garden Trailhead. Along the way we got rained on by a heavy shower (and a few claps of thunder to boot), but, nothing could now prevent us from completing an excellently challenging hike.
Eventually the southside trail forces you to ford John's Brook (Caroline slipped in a few times), and from there it is a couple of minutes before the main trail to the Garden is rejoined.
Pu gets the crazy idea of trail running the last few hundred metres to the trailhead, so, stupidly or not (Ewart certainly thought so!), we run the last bit into the parking lot.
We are all in one piece, and we are all in good moods, and we are not done late. Fantastic work, guys - I did not think it would be quite this easy (not to say that it was 'easy', but that it was perhaps easier than I had expected).
For those with an appetite for details, here's the numbers on this hike:
Start Time: 1:50
(South Meadows tr head)
End Time: 5:20 pm
(The Garden tr head)
Total Time: 15 hours, 30 minutes
Total Distance: 33.75km
Total Elevation Gain: appr. 8,200 feet
(more data after the interactive map)