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.
Haystack and Panther Gorge
Back down at Four Corners, we got ready for the 'final ascent'. Jason and Jason were ready to go before us, and we told them to go ahead and not wait up if we took too long. Soon afterwards, we started up the nicely pre-beaten track up to Marcy. Immediately the track went off-course, bushwhacking through the trees. I figured it would soon rejoin the proper trail, but no - it continued bushwacking up through the trees (in the right direction, mind you) towards treeline. I could hear Jenn muttering a few choice words behind me, no doubt thinking her words about no further bushwhacking were coming back to haunt her. Still, I explained, it was better to have a beaten bushwhack track to follow than an unbroken trail - at least with today's snow conditions, anyway.
Despite the annoyance of the off-track path, it wasn't long before we reached treeline just below Schofield cobble. The toll of the long day, both distance and effort-wise, was starting to be felt. We stopped, took several breaks for photos, food and to put on baclavas and face masks, and started up. We could see Jason and Jason about 100 feet above us.
Jenn suddenly felt a little under the weather, and so we proceeded a little more slowly up to the summit. Up above treeline, the wind was again biting, and we were grateful that the route led up mostly on the lee side of the peak. At 4:50pm, we reached the summit of Marcy, and unfortunately, a grey and somewhat clouded-in summit. Jenn stood braced against the breeze and held up one finger. 45 winters down, only 1 to go!
With Jenn still feeling off-kilter, and wanting to get back to the car at a reasonable time, we didn't stay at the top for long. A few pictures later, we started off. As we crested the east edge of the summit ridge, we could see two black figures, now much further below. With our slowdown on the ascent, Jason and Jason were now a fair bit farther away. I figured we'd catch up to them as we made good time on descent.