Wow, what a trip...
Monday I started out at Loj and did Wright (4580', #16), Algonquin (5114', #2) and Iroquois (4840', # 7). I did most of this hike about 5 years ago with a friend, and we barely made it up and down Algonquin with daylight to spare. I look back on that trip and see how out of shape I was, and keep telling myself it wasn't just my friend that slowed us down. I'm definitely in much better shape today than I was then. It started out, cloudy, but warm at the trail head. The hike up to the point that Wright turns off wasn't bad, and I made pretty good time. It started to get chilly though, and I had to lose my hat because of the wind... I should have known at that point.... I get to the top of Wright, and we're in the clouds, a pretty steady 20-30 MPH wind with gusts that made it difficult to stand if you were not facing into the wind and bracing yourself. Even better, I was getting hit with cloud ice crystals with those gusts.... and here I was in shorts and tee shirt. I reached the peak, didn't even look for the plaque for the airmen that crashed into the mountain, and went back down below tree level.
The climb then up Algonquin was fun because all the slides were covered in running water... not an unexpected or uncommon thing, but not a fun thing to deal with too... the whole trail after where it turns rocky was pretty much a small stream. Just like Wright, when I got to the top, high winds, clouds, and I just pressed forward over the peak until I got to the turn off for Iroquois. This was a well trodden herd path that is not hard to miss... yet a pair of girls I ran into on my way up did just that... they missed the herd path and were a good way down the path to Lake Colden before they realized... Iroquois was a nice short hike, and another bald peak in the clouds with lots of wind... marked only by a massive cairn. I got my picture of clouds, turned around, went back over Algonquin and rushed down into the trees to get out of the wind.
Tuesday, it rained all day, so I did the 2 peaks that have little to no views, Nye (3895', #45) and Street (4166', # 31). There really is not much to report on these... the herd path was decent, and the tops were treed in with a little bit of a viewing area just before the top of Nye. When I came back though, the one river I crossed going up had raised a few inches. This mean that a couple rocks I used to get over were a couple inches under water. Ut Oh! I did find a way across, and my boots only got a little wet. I was soaked though, not from rain, but from sweat. The hot shower that night felt amazing because of it.
Wednesday, and all the days after, were great weather days. Wednesday specifically though had a relatively low ceiling of around 4500'. I hiked up the Van Hovenberg trail to do Tabletop (4427', # 19) and had flashbacks to Allen... The trail was walking up a stream. I'm not sure if it is usually this wet or not, but it was very wet... actually the Van Hovenberg trail after Marcy Dam was rather wet too. That's to be expected the day after a big rain though. I got to the top, and walked a tiny bit past the peak and got some great views of the mountains with their peaks covered by clouds. On my way back to Loj, I did Phelps (4161', #32), which had done as a teenager. It was also a very wet trail, but again, the views from the top were great... just with all the mountains being covered in clouds. Oh well. I went down and back to Loj.
Thursday I switched from staying at ADK Loj to backpacking. The plan I had and what I did were two completely different things. I backpacked in to Lake Arnold only to find that there was only 1 camping site, not 2, and what the 2nd one probably was, was flooded so I wouldn't camp there anyways. I decided that getting a camping spot was more important than doing the peak, so I kept going to the Feldspar Lean-to area. This is an ok trail, and the defining feature of it are the floating logs going across a marsh shortly before you get to the Feldspar brook. Well, the logs were out. I had to follow a faint bushwhack around the water, on soft ground, with a 60 pound pack on (so total weight about 230 pounds with size 10 shoes). I managed. I got the the lean-to area, found one camp site occupied, but the other wasn't, so I took that and set up camp. This was all before noon.
I then decided instead of going back up and doing the peak I passed, I'd go and get Cliff (3960', #44) and Redfield (4606', #15). The trail up Cliff started out with a very muddy bottom. Then it became a little faint, but not hard to follow. The worst part was going up the few cliffs that you encounter... not horribly hard to do, but they did take a bit of time to find a good route. I got to the top though, and the views were excellent. I finally saw Allen from afar... that's one of the weird peaks that just isn't in a place it's often seen. Getting back down was not bad, apart from trying to remember how I got up the cliffs. I then did Redfield. This was an ok trail, but it followed the Uphill Brook. At points you were on the banks hiking, at other points, you were climbing over the rocks in the brook. Not a horribly bad hike overall, just wet. Got to the top, and again, it was amazingly good views, including Allen again. The hike down was quick and I was back in camp by 5 to cook dinner. That night, I noticed a slight pain in my left shin when going to bed.
Friday, I woke up and my left shin was hurting. I took a couple ibuprofen and got on my way. First stop was Gray (4840', #8). The herd path begins at the outlet of Lake Tear of the Cloud, the highest headwaters for the Hudson River, and the highest standing body of water in the state. I snapped a couple pictures of the lake, crossed the Feldspar Brook, and climbed up the peak. Again, not a horrible climb apart from one big scramble that I found I could have avoided when on my way down. The peak was lovely, and the views south were excellent, seeing my next target across the col. I went back down and then hiked up to the lake proper, and took a liter of her water for my local congregation. I then went along until the turnoff for Skylight (4924', #4). That trail was rather good, and I made it up with little effort. The views from the top rival those that you get on Haystack (4960', #3). I still think Haystack has better views, mostly because you can see the Great Range much better from it. Still spectacular views from Skylight.
The next peak after I got down from Skylight was the big one, Marcy (5344', #1). She is just barely over a mile tall, and the highest place in all of New York State. The trail from the north, which is how I went up, is short (0.8 miles), but challenging. Going up to the tree line was not a problem, but the second half of it is all going up a slide... and it's relatively steep most of the way, like 30-40 degrees steep. Then there is the Schoenfeld Cobble that makes it even more fun as you get closer to the top. Oddly enough though, this is my preferred way up her as it's massively less traveled. I got to the top, and again, the views were spectacular. They really aren't as good as those from Skylight and Haystack though, in large part because they're blocked by those mountains.
At this point, my shin was really hurting. I stopped and had a snack, and had a decision to make. Do I go back to camp the long way, or go back the way I came. I decided to go the long way, over Marcy, down to Indian Falls, and then back up to Lake Arnold where I missed the peak the previous day. At that point I was hurting, but was like, there is no reason I shouldn't do Colden (4714', # 11) now. So I went up. It's a little annoying to go up this way because you hit a beautiful, wide open, bald, false peak on the way up, about 0.4 miles from the real peak. Going down into the col and up the last little bit, I finally made it to the top of Colden... One peak that has been nagging me because I kept missing it. The views were again great, mostly of the MacIntire Range as you could only see west from the peak. I turned around and went down and was back in camp with a very very sore shin that was getting to be rather painful to hike on, by 4.
Saturday, well, I was originally going to do a peak or two and then camp overnight, but I had done all 13 peaks I planned to do, so I decided to take the long way out via Avalanche Lake/Pass. This is by far one of the most beautiful and magical places in the entire park. You hike up the hill from Lake Colden, or down the hill from the pass, and this long, narrow lake with sheer rock walls on either side just appears. It is really my favorite place that I've come across in the 6.1 million acre park. I know I'm not the only one that has said that either. Even better, they had been doing trail work recently and all the cat walks and “Hitch-Up Matildas” were relatively new. The Trap Dyke on Colden was difficult to see due to the sun being right over it, but I can tell you, that rock climbing trail up Colden will probably never see me go up it. The rest of the hike was pretty average, and I got to Loj about noon.
I had some lunch, relaxed for a bit, and then headed into Placid for the night. I got a good night's rest, and was still in pain in the left shin, so I didn't do my stretch goal of Colvin (4057', #39) and Blake (3960', #43) on Sunday, but instead went home. Overall it was an amazing trip.
As for my shin... it appears to be a very large bruise, but it feels like shin splints. I had those back in high school from all the running I did in either soccer or tennis. I am hoping that some rest, a different pair of shoes, and lots of analgesics will make it so I can do the 2 peaks I didn't do Sunday in 2 weeks, and the 5 other remaining peaks the last weekend of August.
39 peaks done, no more repeats to do, so that's all time and this year, and 7 to go.