Another February weekend - another winter 46er peak!
This time, for me, the objective was Armstrong Mountain. Now, there are several ways to get up Armstrong. All but one involve going over other peaks. Since one of the neighbouring peaks is Gothics, a very scenic peak, and since Jenn had never done Gothics, we decided to combine the two. We concocted a traverse route, starting at the Garden Trailhead, heading up the Orebed Brook Trail to the col between Saddleback and Gothics, then up the steep southwest ridge, over Gothics, over to Armstrong, and then down to the AMR lake road.
Now, to do this, we needed two cars. Fortunately, Roland and two friends of his (Lawrence and his nephew Colin) also wanted to come along, so we had the two vehicles needed to do this cool traverse.
Our free day on this last weekend in February was Saturday; the forecast wasn't quite as good as Sunday's forecast, but we were hopeful that we'd get some breaks in the clouds, so that we could enjoy the spectacular views on the ascent, summit ridge, and descent of Gothics. If you don't already know, Gothics is a very nice Adirondack peak.
We convoyed down to St. Huberts, and left Lawrence's car at the parking lot there. We then all piled into my car and drove to the Garden trailhead. Before leaving, we made absolutely sure that the keys for the car at the far end of the hike were actually in our possession (not having them is an unfortunate situation I've been experienced more than once!).
A ton of snow had finally arrived in the Adirondacks. A snowstorm a week before this day had dumped many feet of snow - even down here in the valley. I went into the woods near the parking lot for a quick pee and quickly sunk up to my hips in fresh powder! Nice to see that true winter has finally arrived!
Jenn on Johns Brook Valley Trail
We started off on the very well-packed John's Brook Trail shortly after 9am. Even at this lower elevation, the track was well-inset, with high banks on either side (meaning - there was a lot of fresh snow on the ground).
We hiked along at a good clip. Sure, the going was good here on this main arterial trail, but given the recent heavy dump of snow, we didn't know what state the different legs of our route would be in later on: would the orebed brook trail be broken? would the trail over Gothics be broken? what about Armstrong? and what about the rarely-used descent trail to the Lake Road? Poor conditions on any of these legs would slow us down, and we had already started kind of late. No time to lose!
It didn't take us too long to get to the Johns Brook Lodge area. We quickly moved through, crossing a connector path over to the start of the Orebed Brook trail, which was, thankfully, fully broken out. We heard from other hikers that it was at least broken up to the saddle between Gothics and Saddleback. That was heartening, because it meant that most of our elevation gain would be on broken trail.
Heading over to the Orebed Bk Trail