Since finishing hiking the 46 high peaks last month, I took a much needed break! However, I can’t stay away from the mountains for too long. My new hiking friend was looking to hike in the high peaks on Saturday and I couldn’t resist joining him. The great part is, now I can hike what I want, whenever I want! There are bunch of peaks I want to hike again, taking new routes. YEsterday, we decided to hike Big Slide, one of the easier high peaks. Instead of doing the popular out and back route over the Brothers, we chose to take the trail into the John’s Brook Lodge, ascending Yard Mountain first, followed by Big Slide, then out over the Brothers for a nice loop hike.
We got to the Garden lot in Keene Valley a little before 7:00am and were on the trail to the Johns Brook Lodge at 7. After hiking for 3.5 miles we came to the JBL (at 8:30), which was closed for the season. We took the Klondike trail (red), which on the left behind the JBL, our destination Yard Mountain.
This trail clearly doesn’t get much use! There was a lot of blowdown and overgrown grass. We didn’t encounter another soul until just before the summit of Yard. At 9:15 we came to another junction, taking the blue trail on the right to Yard.
The trail got pretty steep for some small section, but nothing to horrendous. It was quite enjoyable! Walked up and over Yard without really even noticing, the summit just a small clearing at 4,009′ elevation. It was 10:22am. On top is a sign indicating the direction to Big Slide. It was refreshing to take an alternate approach to such a popular mountain–there was nobody up there!
We stayed up there to have lunch and enjoy the sunshine for about 30 minutes. It was time to head back down, going over the Brothers. I had forgotten what this trail was like–but it was muddy and steep. There was a pretty degraded ladder also, which I didn’t remember from last time. You can tell this trail gets a lot of use. I was so glad we hiked Yard first becuase the view on each of the Brothers is even better than on Big Slide, in my opinion.
The hike out took longer than I was expecting, but once we got down off the First Brother, it was an easy walk to the car. We got back before 3pm.
Yard, Big Slide, and the Brothers Loop
Distance 11.3 mi
Total time 7 hrs, 45 minutes
Gear used EMS hiking pants, Nike baselayer long sleeve, Gregory Amber pack, 3 L Platypus bladder, Vasque Snowblime hiking boots, Kelty trekking poles, Smartwool socks, EMS Gore-tex gaiters
Saturday afternoon after hiking Seymour, I was pretty tired. I decided ahead of time to get a space at Tmax & Topo’s in Keene, a hiker hostel. It’s owned by some pretty legendary 46ers (they even made an appearance in the The 46ers Film!) and is frequented by high peaks hikers. So staying here on the eve of my finish, along with so many other accomplished hikers, seemed fitting.
I showered, cooked my dinner (trader joe’s boxed mac and cheese!) and hunkered down in my room, reflecting on the journey while other hikers milled about discussing their day’s hikes. I chatted with my bunkmate who had just hiked Marshall. He was considering hiking Esther and Whiteface the following day, also! I felt at home.
I slept like a rock, woke up around 6:00 am to quietly gather my gear, and snuck upstairs to the kitchen to make my oatmeal. Soon, my friend Jona, also a 46er, arrived and we carpooled over to the Whiteface trailhead at the Reservoir in Wilmington. I was so happy she was here! We were meeting Jenna, Colleen and my boyfriend Jordan at the trailhead at around 7:30. We started down the trail at around 7:55.
I chose the trail from the Reservoir because it’s less steep than the one that begins at the Atmospheric Science Research Center. After hiking 15 miles the previous day, I wanted an easier route.
We got to the cairn marking the unmarked trail to Esther at 10:18am. You can’t miss it.
I had heard the herdpath was nice and flat, which was a relief.
It took longer than I expected though, because we reached the summit at 11:02 am. The weather had taken a turn and it became extremely windy and overcast. Not sure if there are usually any views on this hike, but we didn’t have any.
So happy to be at high peak #45, Esther (named after the 15 year old Esther Macomb who discovered the summit when she got lost).
The walk back was quick. Onward to Whiteface. At about 12:26 we came to an old ski trail, which was interesting to see. It looked like a tornado had ripped through there. We also saw Chair 6, which was pretty awesome.
At around 1:00 we got to the rock wall, meaning we were close! The toll road was just up ahead. The trail runs to the left of the road, my parents were parked up there across from the lookout. I was so glad they came! But, we couldn’t celebrate yet, I had to make it to the summit. The winds were so bad, the path up to the summit from the parking lot was closed, so I was a little nervous. Thankfully, we had the alternate hiking trail to climb to the summit.
Visibility was pretty bad, so we had to follow the yellow markings on the rock to make our way. Soon enough, we were there and the summit sign was right in front of me. I made it to the summit of Whiteface at 1:11pm, a 46er.
On August 17, 2013 I hiked my first two high peaks in the Adirondacks, Cascade and Porter mountains. I still remember driving up route 73 to Lake Placid the night before, the sun setting, casting its glow on the peaks. I think that was when I really fell in love with these mountains.
It has been one long, crazy journey filled with sheer joy, determination, paralyzing fear, and at times defeat. These mountains are nothing to mess with, and finishing some of thesehikes was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m proud to be able to finally call myself a 46er!
We didn’t stay on the summit for long…it was cold and windy. We hiked back down to where my parents were parked. They had donuts waiting!! It was time to celebrate! We had some champagne, ate our donuts and then started back to the car.
We said our goodbyes to my parents (and Jona…she got a ride down because she had to be back in Troy at 5!) At this point my legs were getting pretty tired…but I had to hike the last 5.5 miles down. The descent was slow-going. Around 5pm we arrived back at the reservoir. Still on cloud 9 (and hungry!), we drove to the Noonmark Diner for a celebratory dinner. And then it was time to go home.
Mount Esther and Whiteface Mountain (45 and 46/46)
12.4 mi RT from the Reservoir Ascent 4,187′ Esther Elevation 4,239′ Whiteface Elevation 4,865′ Total time (including stops) 9 hours
“It was tough. I was on all fours sometimes. I didn’t think I was going to get there. But I had to get to the top – there was some reason. God knows what it was but I had to go on. And on the top just for a fraction of a moment, the clouds lifted while I was there and I looked down and there a mile below me was Lake Tear of the Clouds, the Hudson’s highest source. And you know, that did something to me. I had seen something – I felt it.”–Grace Hudowalski, 46er #9, and the first woman to climb all 46 high peaks
I have my first official backpacking trip behind me and it was awesome. On Friday, my best hiking friends Brendan, Jenna, her boyfriend and their friend Greg headed to the Upper Works trail head in Tahawus. Our plan: hike in our gear to a lean-to in the Flowed Lands, get up the next morning and hike high peaks Cliff and Redfield.
With heavy packs we started down the Calamity Trail. We hiked for a little over an hour. We passed a good looking tent site on the right of the trail next to the Calamity Brook and decided to set up camp there versus setting up our camp in the dark since it was another 2.5 miles to the lean to. It was a really good decision!
My little Kelty Grand Mesa 2 tent worked perfectly!
We could hear the rushing stream all night–relaxing! However, despite being comfy and cozy in my tent, I had trouble sleeping. I thought I was hearing voices all night (probably from the camp sites a few miles away) and wanted to bad to sleep. Eventually around 3 or 4 I think I finally dozed off.
We got up around 7, made breakfast, packed up and hiked the 2 miles to Calamity lean-to, dropped our overnight gear off, and headed left toward Lake Colden. On our way we stopped briefly at the Henderson Memorial, the spot I missed when I was last here to hike Mount Marshall.
I didn’t do that great of a job keeping track of time/distances on this trip. It was long.
I think it was only about a mile or so from Flowed Lands to Lake Colden. We crossed the suspension bridge to start the trail to Uphill lean-to, where the herdpaths to Cliff and Redfield begin.
The trail to the Uphill lean to was amazing. All along the left were amazing waterfalls, cascades and swimming holes. It was getting hot and the water was tempting.
We reached the Uphill lean-to at around 12:00, ate lunch, and headed up to Redfield. It was rocky and muddy, but didn’t have too many crazy steep sections. It was just long and felt like forever.
We reached the summit at around 2:00pm.
At least there are some great views!
We only stayed up top briefly–it was crowded, a large group of kids and their parents were up there as well. I didn’t feel the usual sense of awe and accomplishment on top of this mountain-I just wanted to get down, which was rare for me. I was dreading the descent. I like to relax and enjoy mountain summits, but for some high peaks it’s just checking them off a list–that’s how I felt for Redfield.
We arrived at the junction for Cliff at 4:00PM, a little too late since we were not camping out a second night. We evaluated and decided to orphan Cliff, unfortunately. It was a tough decision but knew it was the right one. We were tired and didn’t want to risk hiking out for too long in the dark. On the hike down we stopped at the bank of the Uphill Brook to soak our tired feet. We left there at 5:30 and still had about 6 miles left of hiking to the car.
We stopped briefly at Calamity lean-to to grab our gear and chatted with the family that was staying there. Then on we went.
The sun started to go down, but thankfully we got back to the car without having to take out the head lamps. The sky was looking magnificent! Despite feeling like death, after hiking about 18 miles, this trail is still one of my favorites. The tree peepers were out, one of my favorite sounds!
We arrived back at the car at 8:40PM–phew. I couldn’t wait to change out of muddy clothes and take my boots off. Cliff, I’ll be back for you.
Total Distance: ~16-17 mi RT from Upper Works
Total time (Saturday): 12 hours
Yesterday I hiked Phelps, the 32nd highest peak in NY, for the second time. The first time I hiked this mountain was back in January 2014 with Jona. It was cold. Yesterday’s weather was much better! The temps were perfect. There was very little ice on the trail (only at higher elevations). It was a beautiful day.
Brendan is my good friend and one of my hiking buddies. He’s working on the 46 also and we both wanted to hike this weekend. I need to get my legs in shape for summer high peaks hiking. Phelps is a short hike compared to the rest of the 46. It is about 9.5 miles round trip from the Adirondack Loj. I didn’t mind hiking it again because it has some great views. We started hiking at 10:45 am. We arrived at the junction at Marcy Dam at about 11:40. From there it was only 2.1 miles to the summit of Phelps.
The Phelps junction is about a mile from Marcy Dam.
It’s only about a mile, but it’s an “Adirondack mile”, or a mile that takes forever to hike since it is incredibly steep.
It was great to sit on the summit and enjoy the sunshine. The last time I was up here, it was 40 below and my mittens froze. We arrived at the summit around 1:30.
Phelps was Brendan’s 20th peak. Almost halfway!
A man from Vermont was on the summit also. He’d just recently started hiking in the Adirondacks. “Have you been on all of these mountains?” he asked me. I could say yes! All but a few. We could see Saddleback and Basin–I’ve yet to tackle those! But all of the other surrounding peaks I’ve been on. Below is one of my favorite views. Mount Colden is on the left with Algonquin and Wright across from it on the right side. The first time I was on the summit of Phelps, I couldn’t name the peaks. Now I know them pretty well.
We started heading down around 2:00.
Spring has sprung in the High Peaks. I cannot wait for summer hiking!
We got back to Marcy Dam at 4:20.
Back at the parking lot around 5:30.
Phelps Mountain Distance: 9.5 mi RT Elevation: 4,161 ft Ascent: 2,149 ft Total time: 6 hrs, 37 minutes (including stops)