On the road again

Hiking Trip # 2 – Keene Valley

July 28-July 30

keene valley

Dave and I finally got some free time to go hiking again!  We have both been working hard so we couldn’t wait to escape for a couple of days.  Friday night is kind of a haze.  I didn’t get out of work until 7 and Dave didn’t get done with soccer until around 8:30, which didn’t give us much time to pack.  I helped a little more on the packing end since I knew what we had packed last time.  Let’s just say our hiking gear was not neat and orderly like the picture below…

neat packed

Our hiking gear, although very well organized in Dave’s hiking gear closet, looked like it had been thrown all over the basement.  There were boxes of food all over the place, bags everywhere, shoes scattered around the room, piles of clothing…well you get the picture! It was too embarrassing to even take a picture of!  Eventually we got everything nice and organized.

Dave put himself in charge of preparing the meals.  For breakfast each morning we packed oatmeal and coffee (Starbucks Via instant coffee..amazing little invention!).  Since we would be hiking all day, we packed trail mix, cornuts and sesame sticks, honey packets, naan bread, cheese and pepporoni to snack on throughout the day.  Let me tell you what, that pepperoni and cheese tastes soooo good on the top of a mountain! Dinner items included: macaroni and cheese mixed with dehydrated beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and corn, and then a ramen noodle combination.  These may sound gross but after a long day of hiking, they taste sooo good and fill you up quick! Wine also made the packing list (thank goodness!!).  Since we wouldn’t pass any lean-tos on this hike, we had to pack the tent to sleep in.  Everything else we packed was pretty much the same as last time.  By the time everything was packed and ready for the morning, it was already 11pm! To bed we went!

Once again, we decided to get up super early (4am!) on Saturday morning and leave.  It took us about 5 hours to get to the Ausable Club in Keene Valley.  We parked in the St. Hubert parking lot that is located next to the Ausable Club.  The Ausable Club reminded me of the movie set from Dirty Dancing.  The main house had the same look to it.  It was GORGEOUS!!

ausable club

We had stopped at a gas station about an hour before we got there to fill up our camelbacks, get one last cup of coffee and eat our yummy pre-hike peanut butter and honey sandwiches for breakfast.  Once we parked at St. Hubert’s, we did some last minute rearranging of items in the packs, making sure the necessities were easy to get to and changed into our hiking clothes.  Our plan was to knock off 9 peaks over the course of saturday and sunday.  I thought that was a pretty lofty goal, but better to over plan than under plan.  Once we reached this gate (below), it was off into the woods for the weekend with Dave.

wooden gate

Peaks #4 and #5 – 5/26/12

Peaks #4 and #5

Mt. Marshall and Colden



The second day of hiking was interesting. I woke up a little stiff from the previous days hike but nothing that a little Aleve couldn’t help with.  It was mainly my quads that hurt…. guess I should do more squats at the gym!

After a delicious oatmeal and coffee breakfast, Dave and I headed out to tackle Mt. Marshall. Mt. Marshall is the 25th highest peak (4360 ft) in the Adirondack’s and is the last peak in the MacIntyre Range. The trailhead was literally right next to where we slept.  Since we would be hiking down the same way we went up, we left our packs in the lean-to.  It was nice to hike with no weight on my back.  This trail was really fun.  It was rocky like Algonquin but there were still some pretty steep parts.  Along the trail, you could still see snow and ice from winter.  Most of the trail is tree covered, so we had shade the entire time.  We kept crossing over little creeks and streams.  When hiking this trail, you need to be on the lookout for the cairns otherwise it’s easy to get off track!.  Because we were probably the first ones on this trail that day, we had to walk through a lot of cobwebs.  Yuck!    On top we could see Indian Pass, Iroquois, and Colden.  Here’s a quick video from the top!

Once we got back to the lean-to, picked up the packs and headed to the stream to pump water before moving on.  It was soooo nice in the sun that we decided to hang out at the stream for a little bit and take a nap. After about an hour I was ready to get going.  We changed our hiking plan a little bit and decided to hike up to the summit of Colden.  Mount Colden, at 4714 feet, is the eleventh highest peak in the ADK.  The mountain is known for its distinctive Trap Dyke, a large crevice running up the center of the mountain.

This was my favorite hike of the trip.  We left our packs down at the trailhead by the lake.  Since most of the trail was rock sheets, I was slipping all over the place. NEED NEW SHOES!! This must be a popular trail because it was packed with people going up and hanging out at the top.  I wish I had taken some pictures along the way.  One family we saw had a dog with them that they had to carry down because parts of the trail were too steep for him to climb down.  Dave and I sat at the top for twenty minutes or so before heading back down.  The way down was much quicker.  I basically did the crab walk the entire way down…I guess what you learn in kindergarten gym class is helpful!

Once we got our packs, we headed towards the Mt. Marcy Dam to find a lean-to to spend the night in.  Along this trail there were a lot of parts that had wooden planks for us to walk on.  Once at the lean-to, we did the usual end of the night routine- food, water, change clothes, and of course drank some wine!  I must say wine is a **necessity** after a long day of hiking.  Once again, Dave did most of the work but hey it was my first time hiking I needed to relax 🙂

We got up early the next morning, ate breakfast and set off towards the Adirondack Lodge.

We walked by the dam and saw some of the damage on the dam.  Must have been one big storm that wiped parts of the dam out! The hike out was pretty short.  I think we were at the lodge by 9:30am.  We were both incredibly stinky!  After purchasing my peak patches, we headed into Lake Placid to meet my sister and her husband at 46 Sandwiches (soooo good!!).

Crying… there’s no crying in hiking!!

Crying… there’s no crying in hiking!!  5/25/12

Yes I admit it…I cried during my first hiking trip. Exhaustion, wet conditions, bad hiking shoes and hunger all contributed to my explosion of emotions.  Hiking down was much different than hiking up the peak.  I felt much more stable hiking up in altitude instead of down.  During most of the descent I felt as though I was going to tople over and land flat on my face.  My ultra-light trail running shoes were no match for this slippery, rocky terrain.  As my legs began to tire and my fear of falling increased, I just started to cry.  I’m not your typical wishy-washy girl so this was somewhat unexpected.  Dave looked at my like I was crazy. This scene from the movie “A League of Their Own” popped into my head…

Much to my surprise, Dave was a lot nicer than Tom Hanks.  He made sure I was okay and kept reassuring me that I would not fall and die..  Our plan was to hike down Algonquin and camp in one of the lean-to’s near Lake Colden.  This was my first experience camping in a place other than my backyard or a typical campground.  It was a little nerve-wracking, but a good experience.  After hiking what seemed to be hours upon hours and going down the wrong trail for a little while, Dave and I finally found the place where we were going to sleep.  The lean-to that we chose to sleep in opened up to a wide field with a stream just a few steps away.  lean-toWith no reservations taken in the wilderness, we had to share the lean-to with three guys from Buffalo.  They were very friendly.  We ended up hiking the same route they did that day.  The lean-to we slept in was supposed to fit 8-10 people comfortably…I would have to say it would have been a very tight squeeze if 3-5 more people joined us.

Dave basically waited on me hand and foot.  He prepared dinner, set up the sleeping area, took care of the bear bins, pumped water and washed dishes.  What a gentleman!  For dinner we had a combination of ramen noodle soups. I can’t remember what flavors they were but  it was the best thing I ever tasted (or so I thought since I was sooooo hungry!).  We brought a bag of wine for the trip, which was much needed after my little crying episode! Nothing like a little alcohol to take the edge off! Here’s a quick video of the recap for the day.

Dave even had a surprise dessert for me!  Iceream!!! Yes we were out in the middle of the woods and yes it was about 80 degrees but Dave managed to serve me icecream.  How, you ask?? …well it’s a little something called Astronaut Icecream.  I had never heard of it but it tasted ***almost*** like the real thing.  He sure knows the way to my heart!  After dinner, wine and icecream I was one sleepy hiker!

Peak #3 – Iroquois Peak 5/25/12

Peak # 3 – Iroquois Peak

Iroquois Peak

Since we were already at the top of Algonquin, it only made sense to do Iroquois peak.  The trailhead for Iroquois was near the summit of Algonquin.  It was actually pretty easy to miss this trail because the trail marker wasn’t very well marked….You have to look really close to see the arrow pointing the opposite way for Iroquois…

iroquois trail marker

This is an unmaintained trail…meaning it was not clear-cut like the 2 previous trails. There was mud, water, and overgrown branches everywhere.  Even though it wasn’t maintained, it was pretty easy to follow. We ran into some other hikers who were coming down from the top and they warned us that it got even more muddy ahead.  At that point I gave up on trying to walk around the mud spots.  Five minutes later and my feet were soaking wet and muddy!  I definitely need new trail shoes ASAP!

Iroquois Peak is 4840 feet in elevation, making it the 8th highest peak in the ADK.  Because of it’s rocky summit, we were supposed to have great views of Indian Pass.  Unfortunately, it was still extremely windy and rainy.  We could barely see anything!  This is a picture of what we were supposed to see…

Iroquois Summit


After summiting this peak, we headed back to the trailhead.  Here we began our hike down Algonquin….which was difficult to say the least!

Here is a quick video from the top!

Peak #2 – Algonquin Peak 5/25/12

Peak #2 – Algonquin Peak

algonquin peak


After heading back down to the trail head where Wright Peak and Algonquin Peak diverge, we picked up our packs and headed up to tackle Algonquin.  I was a little weary of climbing Algonquin because of the intense wind at the top of Wright.  I was hoping my pack would help weigh me down!  The summit of Algonquin was only 0.9 mile away.  In running, it’s really easy and fast to cover that distance.  In hiking…not so much!

peak post

Algonquin is the second highest peak in the Adirondacks, with an elevation of 5,115 feet.   This is a maintained trail (meaning people ‘groom’ the trail).  Before this hiking trip I didn’t know some trails wouldn’t be groomed.  There were some longer steep sections on this trail compared to Wright Peak.   Basically we were climbing up a streambed.


The summit seemed large and relatively flat.  Supposedly there are great views from the top.  Unfortunately, it was really windy and cloudy the day we went.  We could barely see two feet in front of us.  Below is a picture of what we were SUPPOSED to be able to see.

algonquin summit

Here is a quick video of our summit!

Algonquin summit


After finding the peak marker we headed off to climb peak #3- Iroquis!

Peak # 1- Wright Peak 5/25/12

Trail Marker

After arriving in Lake Placid and having a delicious pre-hike sandwich at 46 Sandwiches (See Video), Dave and I headed to the ADK Lodge.  This is where we parked the car, signed in on the trail log and began our hiking journey.  The first mile or so was on trails that I was used to (dirt/woodchip wide trails with barely anything I had to climb over like at Mendon Ponds).  At this point I was wondering if the whole trip would be like this.  The shoes I had chosen to wear- New Balance 101 Trail Running Shoe- were perfect on this type of trail.

Our Pre-Hike Meal

Unfortunately, this was short-lived!  Definitely need different shoes next time we go hiking!  This ‘easy’ trail soon changed into something a little more challenging.new balance shoe Before I knew it, I was climbing up huge boulders.  My heart rate began to soar. Man, this was getting tough!  I guess I should have been doing some leg weights to prepare for this!  About 90 minutes into the hike, I had to take a break.  Although I had been sipping water the whole time, I was thirsty and hungry!  Using an altimeter, we had a good idea of where we were and how many feet in altitude we had to climb.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures hiking this trail.  I was having a hard enough time hiking, let alone looking for a good place to take a picture!  Looking back on the trail, it was really quite pretty.  We got to a trail head where we had to veer off to the left to get to Wright Peak.

The trail got a little narrow at points and a little more wet at this point.  The trees started to get shorter and shorter untiltrail marker for wright peak there were none at all.  There were a few false summits, but it was so windy and foggy that I couldn’t really see them.  Dave tried to trick me a couple times by saying we were at the top when we really weren’t.   This is where I first encountered what I like to call “rock castles,” otherwise known as cairns (more on this topic later!).  There were basically 50-70 mile-per-hour winds at the top so we didn’t stay long.  We did get s quick video of Dave and I at the top of my first peak.

Mary on Top of Wright Peak