I had this trip on the back burner for a few years. It involved easier logistics than flying out West, since I could just throw gear and food in the car and drive. Steve was game for the trip since he had the vacation time remaining due to missing the Utah trip due to an injury. For various reasons, it seemed like a reasonable time to finally execute on it.
It took roughly nine hours to drive to the trailhead for Seymour. Since it was a Saturday afternoon, we put in for this one as it’s more remote, hence avoided crowds. We saw other people on the trail and at the campsites, but it was very reasonable for a weekend with good weather. The climb to the summit involved some steeper slab for a bit, but otherwise wasn’t particularly remarkable.
We put in at the ADK Loj trailhead for Tabletop and Phelps next. We wound up using this trailhead on the remaining hikes other than Rocky Ridge peak. Even though there are four lots here, it was full at 5:55am on Saturday when we were leaving.
The DEC has a number of signed “camp here” campsites which are marked on the adk.org map. Given the thickness of the forest, it would be non-trivial to find a site for tent camping that isn’t one of these sites. The one near the turn off for Phelps was nice and even sported a “thunderbox”. A thunderbox is just a box privy without an enclosure. Of the backcountry campsites used on the trip, the one near Rocky Falls used at the end of the trip was particularly nice. It was nice to relax for a few hours at the end of the trip by the waterfall.
After summiting Tabletop and Phelps, we checked out the nearby Indian Falls. It was pretty and worth the extra 200 meters of hiking. Apparently the Falls were skipped on a DC UL winter adventure recently, however winter adventures involve a lot less daylight so I can understand pruning an unknown view.
As for other camping in the area, we stayed at the ADK wilderness campground. It’s more expensive than Meadowbrook, but it was more convenient for the trailheads. It has a shower stall too. We opted for one night in Lake Placid in the middle of the trip instead of camping in the rain after a day of hiking in the rain and mud.
The ADK wilderness campground is also right by the trailhead for Street and Nye. We initially headed there with a 4pm start. After doing two thirds of the trail, we estimated that there would be two hours of hiking out by headlamp if we continued on, so we turned around and tried again the next day. Other than some mud up high, the hike the next day was uneventful. There are two small views near the summit of Nye, but otherwise it’s treed in.
Finally, I was left with Rocky Ridge Peak for my final 46er. There are two main ways to climb Rocky. Most people go over Giant to get there since that gives you two 46ers for the same hiking time that it takes to climb Rocky from NY-9. Thankfully, we took the scenic route from NY-9. We had tried this route in a previous winter trip and made it as far as Bald peak. Beyond Bald peak, there are a number of nice views continuing onto the summit. Since most hikers use the path from Giant instead, we only saw three other people on our climb: one trailrunner, one friendly Canadian and one woman who had mistaken the path to Rocky as the descent path from Giant so had an accidently long hike back to her car.
Having completed the 46ers, Steve and I put in for some highlights and peaks that he hadn’t climbed. We went for a loop that took us past the ever pretty Avalanche lake to Lake Colden. After setting up camp at Lake Colden we climbed the slab-fest that is the trail to the summit of Colden. The next day, we climbed Marshal via the brook and descended to Cold Brook pass. The climb up the brook was pretty, but the short segment to get to Cold Brook pass was harder going since it’s not a popular trail. Finally, we camped around Rocky Falls and headed back to the parking lot in the morning.
Some reflections on the trip:
For me, the point of doing the 46 peaks was that it forced me to see different things in the ADK park. Many of the peaks aren’t highlights, but it provides for new trails and new things to appreciate. I don’t think I would hike Allen again, I appreciate how it was a new adventure when I set off with Bryan Abbe to climb it.
I know that many in the club have seriously stripped their first aid kits, but I found it useful to have the oxygen permeable bandage for a longer cut that I picked up. Perhaps I wouldn’t have had quite the cut had I been hiking in pants instead of running shorts, but then I would likely have had chafing from sweating too much. Steve hiked the entire trip in pants, so it was a feasible option.
Every trip for the 46 peaks was a posted DC UL trip. So even larger hiking goals are feasible to break into sections and accomplish. None-the-less, the point is to enjoy each trip, not focus on some arbitrary goal. The ADK has a different aesthetic in summer and winter, but it’s nice in both. Hiking while solo and with a group also have different aesthetics, so I enjoyed both the trip where I was solo and the club trips with other people. I view the ADK as one of the wilder options on the East coast that’s closer by car than Maine or the White Mountains.
By sharing a stove and a bear canister, Steve and I were able to shave a little bit of weight for the backpacking segments. None-the-less, I’m glad we just had day hiking gear with us for most of the peaks.
Since I work a desk job, I struggle with maintaining sufficient physical fitness for trips like this. I do a reasonable job of staying active outside of work. None-the-less, quantitatively, the problem is that I go from getting 5-9 hours/wk of exercise to getting 48 hrs/wk of exercise for one of these trips. Even with a training taper and cutting intensity for the backpacking, it’s still a huge increase in exercise volume. I thought that it went fairly well this time, but still was quite tired when the trip was over.