Yard Mountain, Big Slide and the Brothers Loop

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.

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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.

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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!

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About an hour later, we saw the summit of Big Slide! It had been a few years since I was last up here. We had such clear views–not a cloud in the sky. Pretty rare for mid-November in the high peaks!

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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.

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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.

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Yard, Big Slide, and the Brothers Loop
Distance
11.3 mi 
Ascent  
2,961′
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

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My 46er Finish on Esther and Whiteface Mountains

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.

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We got to the cairn marking the unmarked trail to Esther at 10:18am. You can’t miss it.
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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.

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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).




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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 these hikes was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m proud to be able to finally call myself a 46er!

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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.


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Thanks Jona for presenting me with the Official 46er Patch!

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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.

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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

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“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

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Fall in the ADK and Hiking Cliff Mountain

This past weekend was prime for leaf peeping in the Adirondacks! Sunday morning I drove up to Keene Valley to hike one of my favorites, Indian Head! Last summer Christine and I hiked it and I couldn’t wait to come back.  Just look at this view.

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Monday was my first day off since Labor Day! Brendan and I drove up to the Upper Works trailhead in Newcomb to go back for Cliff, a peak we orphaned back in May when we hiked Redfield. It was going to be a long day.

It was in the mid 30s when we got to the trailhead. Brrr! We got there around 7 and were on the trail by 7:15. The parking lot was crowded, but we were wondering where they all were since we didn’t see many people on the trail. The 4.5 mile hike in to the Flowed Lands was uneventful. We passed the time chatting. When we got there, we signed in and headed to the Uphill Lean-to. We got to the Lake Colden bridge at 9:40am.
Looks like winter here
Looks like winter here
Then it was up, up, up to the Uphill Lean-to. We got there at around 11:45 and stopped for a brief snack before taking the herdpack on the right to Cliff/Redfield, marked with a cairn. I forgot the herdpath splits and Cliff’s goes to the right, and Redfield’s continues along the Opalescent. At 11:15 we were climbing Cliff.
We got some nice views while climbing. There was ice on the neighboring peaks!  Winter is coming!
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The bog was a sloppy mess, but the “cliffy” sections of cliff weren’t as bad as I was expecting. There were lots of hand holds and tree roots to hold onto. There was only one small section where I needed a boost.
We arrived at the summit at 12:30, which was 8.8 miles from Upper Works. We made pretty good time!
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Descending was a lot easier. It included a lot of butt sliding. I had to take my pack off and throw it down first before going down some sections.
After descending the final cliff, our friend took off to hike Redfield, while Brendan and I made our way back to the Uphill Lean-to for lunch. We got back there at 1:40. We shared some lentil soup and cookies. Perfect for a chilly fall day! We also had a visitor, a little Pine Marten! So cute!
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We started heading back at around 2. Again, the hike out was uneventful. We got back to the bridge over Lake Colden at 3:00, stopping for a snack for about 5 minutes. It turned out to be a gorgeous fall day.
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Our speedy friend caught back up with us with a few miles left so we all hiked out together.
We arrived back at the car at 5:45. It was a long, but enjoyable day in the mountains. I’ve got three high peaks left. It’s a bittersweet feeling.
 
Cliff Mountain
17.5 mi RT from Upper Works
10.5 hours, including stops
Elevation 3,944′
Ascent 2,691′
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Gear Used: EMS Gore-Tex gaiters, EMS hiking pants, ExOfficio long sleeve, Reebok puffy vest, LL Bean fleece gloves, Osprey Sirrus day pack, Kelty trekking poles, Keene Durand hiking boots, Smartwool socks, 3L Platypus hydration bladder
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On Top of New York – Hiking Mount Marcy

Yesterday was the day! It was time to tackle New York’s highest mountain, Mount Marcy! I took the day off from work so Jordan and I could hike together (he works weekends so he usually can’t hike with me then). We met Brendan at the park and ride at 5:30AM and off we went to the ADK Loj. The easiest and most popular trail to the summit of Marcy is the Van Hovenberg. This is the same trail to Phelps and Tabletop as well. The last time I was on this trail was January 2014 and it was zero degrees. Yesterday was a bit different with 80 degree temps in the middle of August.

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Much of the trail up to Marcy is a gentle ascent. The biggest issue was the mud! I wasn’t expecting it! The trail finally got really steep once we could actually see Marcy in the distance.

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Looks daunting, but it isn’t so bad.

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At 5,344 Mount Marcy is the tallest peak in New York! There are excellent views from the summit. Totally worth the almost 8 mile hike to it. We had a warm but amazing day.

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Since it was a Monday, the summit wasn’t too crowded. I spotted a woman on the way up that I saw when hiking Colden last weekend and had to say hello.

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Marcy was Jordan’s first high peak! Woo!  It was great to finally hike in the high peaks with him! He loved it!

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I’m at 25.

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Brendan is at 16.

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A strange bug landed on Brendan’s backpack. It looked like some kind of bee. Everyone gathered around to take a photo of it.

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There is neighboring Haystack.

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Colden with Wright, Algonquin and Iroquois behind it.

We sat at the top of New York for about 45 minutes and then headed back down the way we came. We decided to stop at Indian Falls, a few feet of off the trail near the junction for Tabletop.

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Great views of Wright, Algonquin and Iroquois!

It was pretty warm out yesterday, but not unbearable. I brought almost 4L of water with me and a large Gatorade and didn’t drink it all. The walk out was nice, too.

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We made a stop at Heart Lake to jump in and cool off afterward. What a great ending to a perfect hiking day!

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Mount Marcy
Distance
15.3 mi RT
Total hiking time
10 hours including stops
Elevation
5,344′
Ascent
3,182′

Gear used Osprey Sirrus day pack, 3 L Platypus hydration bladder, 1 L Hydroflask, Kelty trekking poles, Under Armor crops, Old Navy tank, Keen Durand hiking boots, Smartwool socks, Buff headband

Mount Marcy

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Hiking Mount Colden via Avalanche Pass

Today I’m writing my trip report in a form of a Day in the Life Post-Enjoy!

3:50AM – Wake up before my 4AM alarm. I was convinced I was going to toss and turn all night but I slept fairly well and got a solid five hours. Get up, put in my contacts, and finish packing my hiking pack. Fill up my 3L platypus bladder with filtered water (I know from experience that putting filtered water vs. tap water makes ALL the difference in taste when your water sits in a bladder all day) and my 1L hydroflask. Make bagel and cream cheese to bring for breakfast and PBJ for lunch.

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4:30AM – Meet Jenna at the park & ride in Clifton Park. This is a popular spot for hiking meet ups since it’s very accessible from the Northway, right off of Exit 9.

5:30AM – Pit stop, usually in Warrensburg. We missed the exit this time, but decided to stop at Stewarts in Keene instead.

6:15AM – Arrive at Keene Stewarts for a bathroom break and to pick up some granola bars for the hike. Realize I left my hiking socks on my chair at home and discover Stewarts does NOT sell socks. Ask a stranger in the parking lot if they have spare socks—someone does! Thank goodness, the day was saved.

7:00AM – Arrive at trailhead called South Meadows. It’s located on the left a few miles down Loj Road off of Route 73 going toward Lake Placid. Drive down a dirt path and discover a number of campsites along the road. Park car, put on boots. We’re ready to tackle Mount Colden!

7:05AM – Sign into trail register. Notice that there are two people ahead of us taking the same route. Make the 3 mile trek down the truck road to Marcy Dam. It’s a little chilly at 5o degrees. These miles go by quick! We are excited for an awesome day in the mountains.

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8:30AM – Arrive at junction for Avalanche Pass, Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden. We’re taking the steeper and scenic route up to Mt. Colden through Avalanche Pass and will come back down to Lake Arnold for a loop.

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9:10AM – Finally get to Avalanche Lake! It’s gorgeous. The trail around the lake is extremely rocky-there are many ladders and boards crossing large boulders, it’s tiring and feels like a jungle gym! There are shovels hanging from the trees that I can only assume are for digging people out of the snow in case of an emergency. We are thankful it is not winter, but a fine summer day.

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9:50AM – Can officially say we’ve hiked through Avalanche Pass! We arrive to the trail register for Mt. Colden—but we won’t be signing out of this one since we’re doing a loop. It is only 2.1 miles to the summit, with a total gain of 1913’.

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10:00AM – We can see Lake Colden!

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10:45AM – The trail starts to get super steep! It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen, but it is tough.

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11:15AM – We get our first great views while climbing! Amazing day.

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A great view of Mount Marcy. I’m coming for you next!

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11:45AM – Finally get the summit of Colden, 4.5 hours after leaving the car. Enjoy the summit for about 30 minutes.

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I’m at 24/46 – That’s Wright and Algonquin behind me!

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12:30PM – Start to head down to Lake Arnold-the trip down is rocky and tough on the feet. After almost 9 miles of hiking, we are getting tired! We reach the false summit of Colden and look back to where we were just 10 minutes ago.

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3:10PM – Finally back at Marcy Dam after what felt like forever. From here, it’s only a few more miles until we can take our boots off!

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We get to enjoy some pretty scenery on the hike back out on the truck trail.

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4:00PM – Back at the car!! Time to change and drive back to Stewarts for an ice cream cone. What a day!

7:15PM – Finally back to Troy. Time to shower, have a beer and veg out for the evening. 15 miles of hiking is tiring.

Mount Colden via Avalanche Pass to Lake Arnold
Distance 15.1 miles
Time
9 hours, 3 minutes
Elevation
4715′
Total Elevation Gain 2887′
24/46

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Gear used Osprey Sirrus day pack, Kelty trekking poles on the descent only, 3L Platypus bladder, 1L Hydroflask, EMS hiking shorts, Steel Rail half marathon tshirt, Keen hiking boots, random guy’s cotton socks (not recommended for hiking, but did the trick in a pinch !)

 

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