I took a long weekend to get back to Adirondack Park, my first trip since April. Going into this trip I had 33 of the 46 High Peaks completed. The High Peaks are the 46 summits that were believed to be above 4000' in 1918.
I ended up hitting all my goals on this trip, something that is never assured. There's a mountaineering quote that goes "Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence." Hiking isn't the same as mountaineering, but the idea applies.
My main goal was to reach Macomb, South Dix, and Grace mountains. The most practical way to get to Grace is to go over Macomb and South Dix first. Two of the three wouldn't gain me anything as I'd have to go back to get Grace.
I went directly from the Albany airport to the trailhead at Elk Lake, arriving about 3 PM Wednesday. The parking area was nearly full, even mid-week. I can't imagine what it's like on a Saturday in the summer. I hiked out to Slide Brook, a designated camping area about 2.5 miles from the trailhead.
The next morning I struck out a few minutes after a pair of hikers. I'd end up seeing them several times all day. I followed them up the rock slide on Macomb. This was my first time climbing a rock slide. The slide was very loose, but footing wasn't too bad. This is looking down the slide.
But Macomb was a nice climb with nice views at the summit. This is Elk Lake seen through a passing cloud. The cloud passed shortly after, but I forgot to take another picture. I'd passed the pair of hikers at the top of the slide, and they caught up to me at the summit.
I left the pair to have the summit to themselves while I headed on to South Dix. The summit of South Dix has zero views, but there are several fantastic ledges on the ascent. This is looking back on Macomb.
This is starting to get a little long, so I'll skip Hough and go straight to Dix. Dix is the sixth highest peak in the area, so it has some pretty good views. My panoramas are too large to upload to imgur, but here's a nice shot of Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge, the large summits. The nearer, pointy summit is probably Noonmark, with the summit between Noonmark and Giant being Round Mountain. It's sometimes a little tricky to figure out.
I'd been in the "lead" all day with nobody ahead of me (as far as I knew). Descending from Dix, the pair of hikers I saw first at camp and then on the Macomb slide passed me. I'm a fairly strong hiker on ascents, but I'm not great descending. I'm capable but slow. I did briefly catch up when they took a break, but I took a break at the same point and lost them. Back at camp, we asked each other the same question: Are you hiking out tonight?
My plan going in was if I was done quickly and felt strong, I'd hike out. If it was late and I was tired, I'd stay and hike out the next day. It was about 4:30, kind of late in my book. But my hike in only took an hour. I was tired, but I felt too tired when I knew I could be back at my car in an hour. I saw the pair one last time as they were pulling out of the trailhead just as I walked into it.
The Thursday hike from the Slide Brook camps to do the full Dix loop and back out to the Elk Lake trailhead was 12.5 miles and 5157 feet of ascent.
The advantage to hiking out Thursday was it gave me all day Friday to be lazy and recover. I was still a tad sore by Friday night, so I made plans to hike the easiest hike I had left in the High Peaks: Rocky Peak Ridge. This summit is adjacent to Giant (as pictured above), and the shortest route is to hike up Giant and then follow the ridge down and back up. It's a little discouraging standing at 4400' after hiking up 2800' knowing you're about to descend 700' only to gain it all back again. But it's still the easiest way.
One quick picture from Rocky Peak Ridge, this time looking back at the Dixes. Dead center is Nippletop, with the Dix range starting to the left of it across Hunters Pass. Dix is the large summit with the rock slide visible. Left of that is Hough, the pointy cone. I believe left of that is Macomb, with Grace just poking above the horizon further left. South Dix is lost in the contrast in front of Macomb.
Backpack: Osprey Atmos AG 65
Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1
Sleeping bag: REI Flash, I think.
Sleeping pad: Something inflatable from REI.
Daypack: Marmot Kompressor Plus. It's very minimalist, and there is essentially no shoulder strap padding. But it weighs less than a pound and packs down very very thin. I used it on Rocky Peak Ridge, too.
Bear canister: The ostentatious Bearikade Scout.
Food: I did not take a stove. I took Mountain House blueberry granola for breakfast and will definitely be doing this again. Lunch isn't really a thing during hikes, it's just a couple meal bars and gummy bears. For dinner I took summer sausage. That worked fine, but I may opt for a hot meal every other day on a longer trip.
What would I do differently: the only thing that comes to mind is to have changed my socks mid-day. My feet were sweaty, and I think the dampness caused some blisters. Hypothetically, I took too much food, but I don't think it was unjustified. Had I spent the second night I'd have used much more food. I'm planning a 2-3 night trip, and I'll probably take my larger (and heavier) Backpackers Cache.
I'm now at 39 of 46 summits. If my 2-3 night trip pans out, it will check off four or five summits and some of the more remote ones. Finishing feels so close.