Today's outing was a quick and quite routine affair, and we chose something very straightfoward and quick to complete: Wright Peak, one of the scenic summits of the central Adirondack High Peaks.
A combination of requirements led to the choice of Wright: prior commitments for later in the day, dictating a quick hike; the desire for a nice summit; and something that my friend Chris had not done and which was a 46R peak. Wright fit all three.
We had intended to hike as a larger group, including a couple of other hiker friends, but they got held up by a road closure and couldn't make it to the Adirondak Loj trailhead parking in time. So, it was just myself, Jenn and Chris who started off at the already-busy trailhead towards Marcy Dam, at a few minutes past 8am.
I had recently upgraded my camera, and Chris had expressed some interest in my old model. I offered to let him use my camera for a few weeks, starting on whatever mountain hike he next joined us on. I have a feeling that was an additional incentive for him to join us on this hike!
The main trail towards Marcy Dam has been described by me many times before, and there's not much for me to add about our walk along it today. It was a warm and pleasant sunny day, and the trail was in good shape - not muddy, not rutted. The boardwalk crossing over MacIntyre brook is in good shape after the damage suffered during the previous fall's visit of Hurricane Irene, although much of the vegetation at the crossing is a bit beat-up.
We quickly reached the junction with the MacIntyre trail, and turned onto it, bound towards Wright.
I've often complained about the steeper stretches of the MacIntyre Trail, and how it is badly eroded and tiringly bouldery in places. Well, it appears that bits and pieces are gruadually being worked, and there are now several stretches where mud and boulders have been re-organized into a very nice stepped path. There is still much to do, but it is improving.
Junction to the MacIntyres
MacIntyre Range trail improvements
At the traditional rest stop of "the Falls" (I'm not sure it actually has a name), we encountered Clay Olds, a hiking acquaintaince that we first met back in 2007 on a winter climb in the Dixes
. We chatted with him and fellow hiker Ricky for a bit (and took a few shots of the pretty little waterfall), then headed on our way. Our objective was to finish hiking before 2pm, and while we had plenty of time for breaks, they couldn't be extra long.
A bit more bouldery climbing along the trail brought us to the little notch between the slopes of Wright Peak and the bald outcropping that I now like to call "Wright's Nubble". Jenn and I climbed this little peak-let last time we were up Wright, and I suggested that we climb it again and have a rest break and snack atop it, since it offered much better views than a snack break along this section of wooded trail. So, we scrambled up the couple of short steps and the easy chimney to the top of the Nubble, where we had a scenic - but black-fly infested - rest stop.
I discovered a herd path leading down the southern end of the nubble, and I decided to follow it for documentation's sake. Initially it led downwards through a nice bit of open heather, but then once down in the trees it quickly faded into a thick bushwhack, which I battled through back to the trail. I probably missed the actual route of the herdpath once down in the trees, but in any case it wasn't all that obvious, and the shorter and more scrambly climb to the Nubble is, in my opinion, better. So, if you zoom in and see my little loop over the top of the Nubble, and you decide you want to try it yourself, don't bother to follow the long way to the top.
Wright Peak Spur Trail
After being chased off of the Nubble by annoying black flies, we continued along up the trail. In a few short tens of minutes we arrived at the junction with the spur trail leading to the top of Wright, which we started up without much pause.
The Wright Peak trail immediately starts off steep, levels off for a hundred feet or so, then continues quite steeply up slabby bedrock and some small scrambles to treeline. This is where the wonderful 0.3 miles or so of steep and open alpine hiking begins - definitely the highlight of any hike to the top of Wright Peak.
We were soon atop Wright's open top, where summit steward Kevin greeted us. We plopped down for a cool-down break and a bit of lunch, and enjoyed the excellent view that Wright's summit provides.
Over on Mount Colden, I could see the bright gash of a large, substantial new landslide on its western face. It extended from nearly the summit ridge, all the way down to the Trap Dike. The debris from the slide must have scoured the bottom of the dike quite substantially. It would be interesting to go on a climb up Colden via the mountaineering route in the dike, to see what things look like now.