Jenn's parents visited Ottawa during the Christmas break this year, and Jenn wished to take her Dad on an introductory hike in the Adirondacks. The main challenge this wish faced was from the weather: most of December had been warm, wet, and yucky. Finally, on the last day before Jenn's parents were scheduled to leave, a wonderful clear day appeared over the Adirondacks. Time to go!
We first chose Cascade peak, owing to its shortness and beauty of summit. We then decided to be slightly more ambitious and aimed for Wright Peak. Slightly longer, but with an even more beautiful summit, and closer to the other major peaks, giving (IMO) better views. We left a little earlier to account for the longer hike.
Prepping at the Visitor Center
We started off from the ADK Loj parking area. The trail was barely covered in snow - a dusting at most. We therefore bare-booted it, making good time to the junction with the Macintyre / Algonquin Range trail. The day was crisp, clear, and without wind. It would most certainly be beautiful on top of Wright!
Junction to the Macintyres
The lack of snow depth continued at higher elevations. The annoying boulders on the trail up to Algonquin were not covered; little rivulets and streams were still flowing. As a small consolation, at least most of the muddy areas had frozen over, thanks to colder temperatures over the previous few days. At about the 3300-foot mark, the trail was steeper, necessitating the use of some sort of traction aids. We chose yaktrax, since there wasn't enough ice to warrent full crampons.
Approaching Wright Junction
As we neared 4000-feet, there was finally enough snowpack to result in a nice, cushy winter trail. We soon reached the junction with the Wright Spur trail. It wouldn't be long now before we'd be revelling in what I was sure would be fantastic, glorious winter Adirondack views.
After a short but steep grind up to the treeline, we were indeed greeted to glorious views. There was not a breath of wind at this point, and the exceptionally clear air let every ounce of heat from the sun hit our bodies. It felt quite warm up here!
Wright peak has a wonderful bit of alpine terrain on its summit. Our route rose steeply up, following a broad ridge towards the summit. The open rocks had a plastering of corrugated ice over them, with a further coating of snow on top of that. The yaktrax worked suprisingly well on this sort of surface, and we had no need to switch to full crampons. The last few hundred feet of glorious alpine walking to the summit made the poor trail conditions down low fade from memory.
Ascending below Algonquin