Everyone once in a while a convergence of weather, scheduling, and enthusiasm come together to manufacture an extra-special day. March 6, 2010, qualified as one of those days. Supremely clear and mild, with a recent fresh snowfall from the week before, March 6 fell on a weekend day, with seven cheery hikers in good shape and available. Perhaps nearly the perfect hiking outing? Read on.
Our plan for today was 'the Mount Colden Loop', so chosen because of the combination of moderate hiking difficulty, moderate driving distance, and because of an abundant variety of great scenery along the way. We'd be doing the loop counter-clockwise, heading up and through Avalanche Pass first, then on the Lake Colden, then up and over Mount Colden and down the other side.
Along for the fun were seven of us: Myself, Jenn, and Asmir; Greg and Andy; and Graham and Alanna. Greg offered his minivan, allowing us to get (perhaps stuff is a better word) everyone into one vehicle. We arrived at the ADK High Peaks center parking lot shortly before 8:30 am. The day? perfectly crisp, clear and beautiful.
The Adirondack's Biggest Trailhead
Even here at the trailhead, the trail was soft enough that we'd likely leave deep foot divots, so we wore snowshoes right from the start, wanting to preserve the nice even track. We wound our way around and up and down the little hills and gullies that underlie the main trail from the parking lot to Marcy Dam.
We emerged into glorious sunshine at Marcy Dam, getting our first good look at the pyramidal shape of Mount Colden, our objective for the day. After a bit of snacking, re-adjusting and photo-taking, we continued on, making our way towards Avalanche Junction.
Our Objective - Mt Colden
Avalanche Junction marked the start of the loop portion of our hike. We'd be hiking right, up towards Avalanche Pass, and returning left, down from Lake Arnold. Heading up now towards Avalanche Pass, the trailed steepened for a bit (up until this point the grade of the trail is quite moderate).
Our pace slowed as we entered the scenic area in Avalanche Pass. We observed the 1997 Floyd slide, the shady section of trail underneath the ice-plastered cliffs of the pass, and on downwards towards Avalanche Lake.
Graham and Alanna at Av. Pass