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Topic: The Great Range - ADK, First solo trip< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 04 2013, 11:06 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This is a little overdue (did this hike a few weeks ago), but better late than never right? I hadnt backpacked in a couple years, so this trip was desperately needed! In fact I think this is my first TR on this site, and my first in the NE.

So let me start with a brief intro. Despite the name (just thought it sounded good compared to everything else I came up with) its been a long time since I've been in the Adirondacks. Long enough that honestly I've forgotten most about it - most places I've been I don't recognize. When I was growing up, most of our family trips were all to the mountains (ADKs and Whites). We didnt have a lot of money and it was an inexpensive thing to do (we also didnt have fancy gear like most of us have now). My parents still have my list of what peaks I've bagged, still a long way from being a 46'er but probably half way there or more. Last time I hiked in the ADKs was probably in college in the late 90's. Since then I've been in Ohio, and only in the last couple years, 15 years later almost, have I got back into those things I used to love like hiking. I've done some local hikes in Ohio, travelled next door to WV, but always wanted to get back home to NY. Last year I started gathering the remainder of what gear I needed to go completely solo, since my hiking buddy was fairly limited in ability I figured if I wanted to start doing bigger destinations I might be on my own. For a year or more I gathered gear and wanted to go for a hike. I planned on a week off, which originally was foiled by work, then a week before that date it freed up again. I scurried about to put together a trip in under a week. Dad had already picked out a trip for me, so I went with his suggestion of the Great Range which I had not done yet.  

Most all my gear was brand new, unfamiliar, and un tested on the trail, Heck I didnt even know if it would fit in my new pack. I had practiced a couple times setting up my HS Notch tent, figuring out burn times of my whitebox stove, etc. So all the critical stuff I at least played with in the backyard. But I was really nervous, this would be my first solo trip ever, and also the maiden voyager for most of my gear. Not to mention it was a bit bigger of a trip than I am used to, and not sure what kind of mountain climbing shape I was in. But I gathered everything up, put a lot of thought into what I needed, and planned a 3 day / 2 night trip on the Great Range. The day before I'd drive up to norther NY to spend the night at my folks and pick up a couple remaining things I needed that I didnt have, and head out early the next morning for The Garden parking lot.


My new pack and poles ready to go. Even with all my lightweight stuff I still was over 30 pounds. Well still a lot better than before, and quite manageable especially considering I was going to setup a basecamp and do most of the hiking with much less weight.

I had broke the range up into 3 loops, all centered around basecamp, but I wasnt sure exactly where that would be or exactly where the tentsites were. I decided that on the fly. I got such a late start (after 11am) that I favored a spot more into my first loop, and setup camp near the Ore Bed Brook Lean To...


The perfect spot with the brook within earshot, not loud but wonderful sounding.

Day one was going to be Gothics, Armstrong, and the Wolf Jaws.


The cables on Gothics. It was such an incredible feeling finally being back in the high peaks. Working so hard under the canopy to finally emerge into wonderful views. Oh yeah, and as you can see I am barefoot. I started going barefoot a couple years ago, mainly to improve my running form and leg problems i was having. I did some dayhikes with minimalist footwear but this is the first true mountain experience completely bare. I did have my minimalist sandals with me, and in case I really needed them I brought my minimalist Merrell trail shoes (you can see them in the pic of my backpack).


My first solo peak, and my first ADK peak since the 90's. The moment was nearly overwhelming and I almost started to tear up!


Just for the record.

Well as much as I wanted to stay in that spot forever, I still had 3 more peaks to bag and it was after 5pm. Most all hikes I was back at camp and having dinner by now. This had me a bit worried. I was 6.5 miles in and still had nearly that much more to go!





I picked up the pace and didn’t take many pictures (no great ones anyhow). Hit the peak of Armstrong (#22 4400') at 5:52PM, 8.1 miles into the journey, and then Upper Wolfjaw Mountain (#29 4185') at 6:46PM and 8.8 miles. When I was heading down Upper Wolfjaw I had to make a decision about Lower Wolfjaw. It was a short out and back on my route, which took a trail back down the valley in between these two peaks. I really didn't want to hike in the dark, especially barefoot, on potentially rough or dangerous terrain. But the valley was already under the shadow of the nearby ridges. When I hit the trail junction at 7:42PM and saw it was a half mile to the peak still, meaning a mile extra, I decided to get headed back to camp and save Lower Wolfjaw for a future trip. I was getting more nervous by the minute, especially with some scary-steep descents. Twilight was soon upon me and I tried to use natural light as long as I could. I would have loved to got a nice sunset picture from one of the peaks, maybe another trip I can camp closer, or one with terrain less dangerous to traverse in the dark. Soon I broke out my headlamp for my first night hike. I was so glad I brought the GPS, and marked the tent site. It was very reassuring seeing the flag denoting the tent site getting closer and closer. And finally back to basecamp at 9:40. Dinner was freeze dried Mountain House beef stew, which tastes so good after a long days hike. And then a nice treat...


Freeze dried ice cream sandwich. Pure joy after a long day in the mountains! Its been a tradition with my buddy and I to have a good dessert after a long hike, and I think I'll carry on with this myself too ;-)

Day one, though pretty strenuous, was fantastic! And hitting the high peaks on a Thursday yielded hardly any competition for the trails or peaks. I passed several groups on the way in up until JBL, but once I got off that path, I passed only a handful of people the rest of the day, and had every single peak to myself!

Total distance: 12.2 miles
Total time: 10hrs 32 minutes
Elevation: 4678' ascent / 3407' descent.

One thing about being barefoot, I sure wasnt making the same time as I used to. But it was still fun, even if a bit challenging!

Day 2 started off a little later than I had planned. I knew I had went to bed late and wanted to get some decent rest for the long journey ahead, so I slept in a bit. Actually my most restful sleep seemed to be after the first time I woke up around dawn until about 9:30. It was also much colder than I expected, closing in on the thermal rating of my new quilt - an enLIGHTened Equipment RevelationX 30 degree quilt (but with 20% overstuff), and an uninsulated Nemo Astro 2.5" air pad. I gambled on my smaller and lighter uninsulated pad. I was hoping the lowest I would see was mid 40's (which is freezing compared to the overnight lows in the 70's we had been having) but nearby weather reported a low that morning in the upper 30's! I had a thin wool top and my running tight pants I wore to bed, and a pair of wool socks. I was actually comfortable. Props to the folks at EE, another piece of local handmade gear that well outperformed my expectations.

I was stiff and sore that morning, legs had more of a workout than they have had in a long time, err... well a different kind of workout at least (I am a runner, but generally flat roads, no hills around here!). And it was still a bit chilly so I kept my wool socks on and Pah Tempes (sandals custom made by another local small business) while I made some dehydrated scrambled eggs and filtered a few liters of water from the nearby brook.


Feet seemed to be in good shape after their first hard day in the mountains.

I headed out at 10:45, not much earlier than the previous day. I started out barefoot, and my feet felt fine after they got going. The legs were still stiff and sore, but eventually just got used to it. Today had a much longer trek to reach the first destination.


When it wasn't mud, it was boulders. This scene was very familiar throughout the trip. Nothing but boulders as far as the eye can see. This kind of stuff was great barefoot, its the smaller gravel like stuff thats most of the problem. The stuff above was actually fun, and barefoot resulted in great agility and surprising traction.

Well I guess there is an image limit so I'll split this up...


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 12:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE




Haystack would be my first peak of the day and tallest peak of the 3 day journey, #3 in the Adirondacks at 4960'. Once I reached little Haystack at 3:53PM, 5.9 miles, I was pretty much above the treeline the rest of the way. I had to put the poles on my pack and secure the camera, this stretch was constantly crawling and climbing up and over boulders and rock walls. I didn't reach Haystack until 4:30PM, 6.3miles in. I knew it was going to be another long day, but the views from Haystack have to be one of the best in the Adirondacks. Unfortunately my photography skills were lacking, but got half way decent pics I suppose. It took a lot of work on the computer to fix em though.


Mt. Marcy and Panther Gorge, as seen from Mt. Haystack.


I took lots of stitched panoramas. My camera lens wasnt very wide, so I pretty much had to anyhow. Of course the forum doesnt allow very big pics, so I'll throw up a link to larger sizes of many of my best pics from the trip... check out My google album: The Great Range 2013


Sharp small rocks. After nearly 20 miles (total trip) my soles were finally ready for a break (not to mention I needed to make quicker time). I got out my Unshoes Pah Tempe, which are pretty minimal flat 6mm rubber soles and some webbing, made based on a tracing of my feet.


One again the sun was soon setting and I still had so far to go. I reached Basin (#9 4827') at 6:40PM, 8.2 miles in. And Saddleback (#17 4515') at 7:47PM 9 miles. Twilight again was soon approaching, this time I had no shortcuts or side trips I could cut off. Luckily after Saddleback, I would reach a junction with the trail I took up yesterday, only this time I'd be going back down it, to the camp site. I felt a little better knowing the trail somewhat. I reached said trail at 8:18PM after descending from the last peak of the day, and once again had to use my headlamp to get me back to camp at 9:45. I knew the routine now and started up dinner quick, feasting on Mountain House's pasta primevera, and afterwards some freeze dried neapolitan ice cream.

Total distance: 11.4 miles
Total time: 11 hrs
Elevation: 4600' ascent / descent.

Day 3 Would be a short day, but still pressed for time as I hoped to get out early afternoon and be at my parents house for dinner. This whole trip has been non-stop fast-paced terrain conquering adventure. Not very relaxing but I'll save that for a different trip. Today's trek would also be with a full pack, since the path I had chosen takes me out over two mountains and back to the trailhead.


Beautiful blue morning sky over my tent.

I got up a little earlier, skipped making oatmeal and went for a quicker PBJ pita. Filtered water, packed up, and departed the site by 9:05. The route would take me over Yard Mountain, Big Slide (#27 4240'), and The Brothers. This trail was very muddy and overgrown in spots. I was barefoot again, figured I'd give it a shot for as long as I could. My legs were pretty worn down, but seemed like they adapted to the conditions and despite being worn out they just kept going. The Klondike trail up to Yard had many flat-ish sections that were smooth dirt I actually picked up the pace to a hybrid jog/hike even though I had a full pack. It was great actually stretching the legs a little and making good time. Yard had only a small outlook and it was crowded with people (it was Saturday after all) so I passed it by. Big slide had some nice views, and also The Brothers.


I think this was on one of the Brothers where a fellow hiker helped me get a photo.


This spot was almost mystical in person, like I was in Lord of the Rings. Everything was glowing with a green aura.

At some point a couple miles from the trailhead I decided to put the sandals on again. This trip was just so much more rugged than I envisioned I can't believe I got as many completely barefoot miles in as I did. But my soles weren't quite up to this, and I was wanting to make some good time during the final stretch.


One last glimpse of the Great Range.

Well I made it! Back at the trailhead at 3:30PM, just enough time to get back home for dinner, and visit my folks which has been just a once a year thing.

Total Distance: 8.6mi
Total Time: 6hrs 25min
Elevation: 2650' ascent / 3630' descent

3-day trip total distance: 32.2 miles

All toenails still intact. My pinky toe on my left foot took a beating though, multiple times. Seems it was the only one I ever hit. But its fine. Dirty, but fine. This trip was rather brutal on the feet and legs though, more so than I was prepared for. I held up fine, but realized running mostly on flat road and rail trails does not work the legs like hills and climbing on boulders does. The bottom of my soles were surprisingly good, but up around the sides especially around the heels took a lot of abrasion and those areas weren't really toughened up yet.

http://i903.photobucket.com/albums....329.jpg
My 3 day journey. So many more mountains to climb, but I'll definitely revisit these, Gothics and Haystack were especially fun and full of wonderful views. And I'm so happy to be back. I plan on making at least a visit or two now every year up to the Adirondacks, and really debating on moving back a little closer too.

I took over 500 pics (one reason I was rather slow!) and the best ones I didnt even post since they are so wide...

my best pics are here: My google album: The Great Range 2013


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 11:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You're nuts, but that's some good stuff. Thanks for the share.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 9:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

YEAH..barefoot Christ. You are nuts, but I love it. I think I wanna do Haystack, with my trail runners of course. Yes, you weren't kidding about being a bit more ambitious for your first solo then I, lol. Nice job, nice pics, and nice TR. Thanks for shareing.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 06 2013, 6:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

After going thru my trail guide and scouring my maps..I like the idea of parking at the gardens and doing a trip up Haystack and then hit Marcy and loop back.  Possibly make camp around  Slant Rock Shelter on first night and maybe around Bushnell falls for the second night. After doing this trip do you think that would make a nice 2 night trip? Not killing myself but deff getting feet wet for the Daks?

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2013, 11:28 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Awesome, but your crazy to do it barefoot!  hahaha  good for you though.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2013, 12:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice pix, great TR.

Welcome back to the ADKS.

I was up there this weekend on a few small hikes....wearing boots thank you!...But I bet the bare rock if warmed up feels good on bare feet

How did you get up to 30lbs btw in your pack?


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2013, 9:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks all!


(GottaGamble @ Oct. 06 2013, 6:04 pm)
QUOTE
After going thru my trail guide and scouring my maps..I like the idea of parking at the gardens and doing a trip up Haystack and then hit Marcy and loop back.  Possibly make camp around  Slant Rock Shelter on first night and maybe around Bushnell falls for the second night. After doing this trip do you think that would make a nice 2 night trip? Not killing myself but deff getting feet wet for the Daks?


GtG - I'm sure others might have better suggestion but I just broke out the map and it looks like a great trip to me! My family and I did Marcy back when I was in high school but we came in from the other side through Marcy Dam as I recall. Splitting it 3 days and two nights would be like what I did, and if you don't plan on hitting any peaks the first or last day it would make for easy days, good if you have to travel in and don't want to get up super early, or even if you do, would give you plenty of time to take your time and enjoy the sights and setup camp. I'm not sure if you want to do a loop of Haystack and Marcy, but know that the other side of Haystack has 'The Devils Half Mile', a steep long stretch. You could avoid that if you retrace your steps from Haystack, up to you. You sure would get some great views from up top on that trip! If you had some time the first or last day you could come in or leave Via Big Slide and The Brothers, versus doing The Phelps trail twice (its fine, but pretty long and might be boring twice in the same trip). Also realize the Garden parking lot fills up quick on the weekends (at least in peak season) and is a pay to park per day.


(wcolucci @ Oct. 07 2013, 12:19 pm)
QUOTE
Nice pix, great TR.

Welcome back to the ADKS.

I was up there this weekend on a few small hikes....wearing boots thank you!...But I bet the bare rock if warmed up feels good on bare feet

How did you get up to 30lbs btw in your pack?


Thanks, so glad to finally be back! Now if I can maintain doing at least a couple trips a year I'll be happy!

Not sure about the 30 pounds, do you mean its a lot? I was hoping to get my weekender pack down in the 20's so I was a bit disappointed when I got it all together. Especially after spending so much change on lightweight stuff. Still a vast improvement since my last big trip was at 40# with all my old gear. I'll have to weight everything individually and make a list. But I really only brought what was needed, except for I did have a few pieces of clothing I didnt need, and a bit more food than needed. That weight didnt include water, trekking poles, or my dSLR either, if I remember correctly.

Warm rock is fine, but cool is much better on a summer day! I had to pause for 30 seconds in every stream crossing. Oh the cool mountain stream felt so great!



BTW just a disclaimer, although I think going bare can be very healthy for your feet and gait, I don't recommend anyone to do or try it without proper acclimation seeing how most people have adapted to wearing shoes most of the time. Not that anyone else is that crazy, but you never know. I debated not even bringing that aspect of the trip up, but I just can't not mention it. I mean I'm the quite shy kind of guy and not very memorable, so at least this way I actually have something that makes me stand out a little, even if it means some strange looks.  :O

Got my first barefoot marathon in 2 weeks too!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 08 2013, 8:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Congrats!

I like going sans shoes, but I can't imagine going barefoot in that part of the Adks. Kudos, sir.

30 lbs for a weekend trip in the Adks in fall is not a bad weight.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 08 2013, 9:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Adirondackiteer @ Oct. 07 2013, 9:18 pm)
QUOTE
Thanks all!


(GottaGamble @ Oct. 06 2013, 6:04 pm)
QUOTE
After going thru my trail guide and scouring my maps..I like the idea of parking at the gardens and doing a trip up Haystack and then hit Marcy and loop back.  Possibly make camp around  Slant Rock Shelter on first night and maybe around Bushnell falls for the second night. After doing this trip do you think that would make a nice 2 night trip? Not killing myself but deff getting feet wet for the Daks?


GtG - I'm sure others might have better suggestion but I just broke out the map and it looks like a great trip to me! My family and I did Marcy back when I was in high school but we came in from the other side through Marcy Dam as I recall. Splitting it 3 days and two nights would be like what I did, and if you don't plan on hitting any peaks the first or last day it would make for easy days, good if you have to travel in and don't want to get up super early, or even if you do, would give you plenty of time to take your time and enjoy the sights and setup camp. I'm not sure if you want to do a loop of Haystack and Marcy, but know that the other side of Haystack has 'The Devils Half Mile', a steep long stretch. You could avoid that if you retrace your steps from Haystack, up to you. You sure would get some great views from up top on that trip! If you had some time the first or last day you could come in or leave Via Big Slide and The Brothers, versus doing The Phelps trail twice (its fine, but pretty long and might be boring twice in the same trip). Also realize the Garden parking lot fills up quick on the weekends (at least in peak season) and is a pay to park per day.

I did notice the loop around Haystack to Marcy was a steep long stretch. I didnt know what is was named, thanks for that info, lol. Depending who will be joining myself on this trip, when I make the time to do it, will decide to do that loop, or retrace steps back towards Marcy. I personally love a challenge, but would not not want to put anyone who is not comfortable with it in a bad situation.  :angry:  It is an option that I will consider when I actually do this trip.  Thanks again for the info and for posting your trip and pictures.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 08 2013, 10:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

QUOTE
30 lbs for a weekend trip in the Adks in fall is not a bad weight.


It was in late July if the pictures EXIF are correct but nonetheless amazing.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 10:57 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I think my pack always weighs 30 lbs, no matter what season/length........ hahahaaa

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 12:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(InExtremis @ Oct. 08 2013, 10:36 pm)
QUOTE
QUOTE
30 lbs for a weekend trip in the Adks in fall is not a bad weight.


It was in late July if the pictures EXIF are correct but nonetheless amazing.

Yep! which is why I mentioned the posting was a bit late. After the trip when I finally had all the pics processed, someone (I forgot who) had their awesome trip to K2 recently posted up and well mine seemed pretty insignificant in comparison lol! Then a little while later I stumbled into the Northeast section with GtG's first solo trip TR and it inspired me to post up in that section, were more might be familiar and appreciate it. Just took me a couple more weeks to have the time to do it - I'm slow and it takes me a good couple hours to come up with that post and get all the photos uploaded and linked etc.

One thing about weight - whats the saying about a pound on your foot is worth 4 in your pack or something like that? So 0 for me but for most of y'all you'll need to add 4-12 pounds to your pack weight to compare  :D


(hikingFF77 @ Oct. 09 2013, 10:57 am)
QUOTE
I think my pack always weighs 30 lbs, no matter what season/length........ hahahaaa

Sounds like we are similar then, though I havent really gone in any other season so cant comment on that!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 09 2013, 2:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Adirondackiteer @ Oct. 09 2013, 12:47 pm)
QUOTE
]

Then a little while later I stumbled into the Northeast section with GtG's first solo trip TR and it inspired me to post up in that section, were more might be familiar and appreciate it.

Glad I inspired someone to post their TR. I am still working and waiting on one other guy to post his...



hint hint..Northville Placid Trail  :O  
hint hint..There is something about me that he doesnt know  :p


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