Saturday, I went up and did Gothics (4736', #10) and Sawteeth (4100', #35). The day started off rather poorly. When I got up there, I realized how tired I was, not having a great night's sleep along with getting up at 4. On top of that, the AMR and Roaring Brook parking lots were full! According to the ranger I talked to on my way out, they were full at 530... I got there at 605. WTF? Well, it was a perfect day for hiking, so everyone went up there I guess. I ended parking in a pull off about 1/4 miles up (and I mean up) the road. I hate walking along roads, and Rt. 73 is no exception to that... especially when the speed limit there is 55.
The start of the hike wasn't bad. It was a couple miles of road hiking then off onto AMR trails to get to the trailhead. I went across one cutoff before I needed to which added a little bit in distance, but it wasn't bad. When I finally reached the trail to the Gothics/Armstrong col, I realized how long a day it was going to be. This trail starts off steep... A ladder to start and then some wood blocks nailed into the rock... and that's the first 500 feet of trail! Overall the trail was not that bad though. There were steep spots, but no overly horrible scrambles until you get to the ridge. On the ridge there were a couple scrambles, and more ladders to go up and down various rock faces. Once I got to the ridge trail in the col, it was relatively easy hiking to the top of Gothics.
The view from Gothics is worth it. Not quite as good as Haystack on a clear day, but still pretty damn impressive. You can see most of the great range, the McEntire range, Dix Range, and it was clear enough I could actually see Whiteface. You really can see most of the high peaks region of the park from there. This is definitely a hike that is worth doing just for the view. From there I did a short climb down and up Pyramid which is itself well over 4000', but not considered a peak because the criteria is 300' elevation loss between 2 peaks and peaks must be at least 0.75 miles apart. Pyramid doesn't fit that criteria. Even at that, the views from Pyramid are just as impressive. You don't get a good view east, but the north and west are great.
Then began the difficult hiking. The trail down Pyramid is steep... you start at 4516, go down to 3550, so about 1000' of elevation loss over 0.6 miles. Then you go up Sawteeth which is 4100, so about 550' elevation gain over 0.5 miles. There were plenty of scrambles to deal with going down and up. I did make it though, and the views from Sawteeth, while not as spectacular as from Gothics, were well worth it. There are not many places in the park you get to see the Asuable lakes. Then I made my last mistake... I took the scenic trail (that's actually what it's called) back down. This only adds 0.8 miles to the trip, but it's not a great trail. Many ladders and scrambles on the way down, and as you get to the bottom where it levels out along the lake, there are still a lot of rocks to climb over and around. The views were nice though. I agree with the trail reviews, it's not a bad trail to come down, but I wouldn't go up it. The other option would be to do a 1000' per mile descent for 2 miles... so you're kind of screwed which ever way you went... it's just a steep mountain.
In the end, I parked and got on the way at 623, signed in at the register at 645, signed out at the register at 1845, and got back to my car at 1923.... 13 hours on the trail, 14.7 miles, 5100 feet of elevation gain and loss.... No wonder I was exhausted when I got home.
26 done, 20 to go.