MacNaughton wasn't on my list.
Not on my 46er list, that is. For so many years, I'd been focused on the official list of 46 peaks over 4000 feet. Official. Sanctioned. Honored. What's this? Some peaks on the list aren't actually over 4k? phffft! No matter! They're on the list! With this kind of attitude, there's no surprise that I had a dim view of MacNaughton, a peak not on 'the list'.
Or is it - really - a 4000-footer? In my research, I've found conflicting measurements of MacNaughton's height. To this day, there is still disagreement on which altitude is correct.
Regardless of the controversy, Jenn and I wanted to get out for a hike at the start of the fall season. Lists matter less these days (says he who is working on his NE 115...) Anyway, I wanted do to something new, and we had never been up to Wallface Ponds; never done MacNaughton. Mellowing with age, I guess.
Our hike fell on the very first day of Fall 2007, and what a day it was. As we approached the High Peaks, the view over golden fields was stunning.
Parking at the High Peaks Info Center parking lot, we started off at a brisk pace along the connector trail towards Indian Falls. I had chosen to put my backpacking boots in my pack and hike along the first stretch - the Indian Falls trail stretch, in my comfy, light, outdoor sneakers. We knew we had to maintain a good speed, because this was a long hike, and we didn't know how bad the bushwack would be, nor the condition of the notoriously mucky upper Wallface Ponds trail.
The views from along the shore of Heart Lake were breathtaking. Splashes of brilliant fall color were beginning to appear!
As we walked along the gentle and easy Indian Pass trail, we noticed that conditions were dry - very dry. Most of the little creeks that the trail crosses were either bone dry or practically bone dry. I'd not seen things this low in a long time in the Adirondacks - if ever!
We decided to take a quick detour over to Rocky Falls (a spot I'd never visited before). Indian Pass brook was mostly a wide jumble of dry boulders, with a small bit of flow winding through the center. Rocky falls had two tiny little spouts of water, and that was it. Very dry indeed! I thought, however, that that might bode well for our hike along the Wallface Ponds trail; I'd heard from many different reports that the upper part can be very marshy and mucky. Perhaps the conditions had dried it out?
We made excellent time along the Indian Pass trail, owing to its general flatness and excellent footing. We therefore arrived at Scott's Clearing and the junction to the Wallface Ponds trail in short order. The view from and of the clearing was peaceful and magnificent.
Wallface Ponds trail junction
After Scott's Clearing, we headed up the steep bits of the Wallface Pond trail. The trail was rougher, but not all that wet. Although most of the leaves were still on the trees, and large sections hadn't even turned color yet, there were still enough on the ground to create a very pretty and brilliant carpet.
Once most of the Wallface Pond Trail's elevation had been gained (by about 3,000 feet it starts to flatten out), the character changes and it undulates up and down and around many small clearings, ponds, and marshy areas. The biggest of these is Scott's Pond, which has a broken-down old dam at its lower outlet. The trail did get more muddy, but it was nothing unmanageable. I enjoyed the walks through the occasional small grassy area and near the several ponds. Slightly different scenery and conditions than one usually experiences in the High Peaks region.