Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Wright Peak

Continuing on with our hiking adventures from back in October (and now I have some to blog about from a few weeks ago, so behind), we decided to see how Bernie felt the morning after our hike up Colden to decide if we would attempt another peak.

Hiking? Again?

When we woke up, we were happy to find that Bernie was moving around easily and seemed ready for another hike (we were all feeling the previous day's hike, but wanted to get another high peak before leaving to go home).

The night before we decided that we would go for Wright Peak, but instead of starting at the Loj we would park at South Meadow and take a ski trail over to the trail from the Loj. We got to South Meadow pretty early and got ready to go. It was warmer than the day before, but cloudier. We weren't expecting many views at the top!

Gorgeous light at the trail register

After gathering our things, and helping another hiker figure out where she might be meeting her friends for their hike, we got going. The walk on the South Meadow truck road is nice and flat in the beginning. We checked in at the register and then kept going. We weren't going to be on the trail for long and we were looking for our turn off for the Mr. Van Ski Trail.

One nice thing about this trail is that we got a different perspective of the ADK

Our owl friend!

Walking single file

We saw it about a mile or so into our hike, and went for it. The Mr. Van Ski Trail connects with the trail from the Loj that we needed to take to get to Wright. The ski trail was a little over a mile and the trail was really overgrown. I worried about ticks and Bernie, so we were walking single file the entire way.  The trail wasn't too bad until we came to a stream crossing. The water we walked into was calf deep, but luckily it was passable. It was at this moment that I knew that I didn't want to take this trail back to the car.

I was happy to get out of this section, it was a bit creepy!

The ski trail widened at the end and then we were back on the trail from the Loj that we had used the day before. We didn't have very long to go and then we were at the junction for Marcy Dam and Iroquois, Algonquin and Wright.

Different direction than the day before

Cute family photo

Still some fall foliage

The trail became rocky right away, and it started to rain. We were still making really good progress and thankfully it wasn't icy.  Along the way we didn't see many people, but two hikers did take our photo together and one hiker from a couple that we stopped to talk to at a waterfall gave Bernie a couple of dog treats (he really liked her!)

Another pretty good family photo 

The waterfall 

Mike playing on the rocks

After the waterfall, we didn't have too much further to go to a junction for Wright, Iroquois and Algonquin. Mike and I stopped to have a snack and to put our down jackets on since it was getting colder.

So dapper 

The weather was definitely going to change!

As we started our way up the final .4 miles toward Wright, we came across two hikers who were coming back down. They told us that it was very windy, socked in and slippery at the top. As we got closer, we could tell that it was definitely windy up there. We took a short break before navigating one of the last difficult sections before getting to the exposed terrain. We saw these two hikers coming down as we started to make our way up, they commented on how much warmer it was there than at the summit!

Up we go! 

Taking a break before going the final distance to the summit

Once we got up there, it was windy. It was difficult to navigate because of how windy it was (it had to be at least 50-60mph winds), but Mike, Bernie and I continued on. We could see the large cairns marking the way (and that we thought were the summit). It was so cloudy that we could barely see in front of us.

Bernie's pack was vertical!

At one of the cairns

After determining that a bump a little ways away was the summit, we trudged along. Finally, we made it to the summit of our 16th high peak! Mike took a short video to document how windy it was (you couldn't even really hear him yelling into the phone) and I immediately sat down on the rock with Bernie. After a few minutes up there, I said that it was time to go back down.

Me and Bernie, my 16th high peak and his 7th!

Mike on his 16th high peak! 

Heading back down

We quickly made our way back to the safety of the trees and then continued our descent. We stopped at the junction again to take off our down jackets and then we kept going.

Back to the trees!

Earlier on in the day, I had suggested that we try to go to the Loj instead of taking the ski trail back to South Meadow. As we kept going down the trail, I asked Mike if he wanted to try to do that. The worst case would be that he wouldn't be able to get a ride and that we would all have to walk back on the road to the car (which we hoped wasn't going to happen).

A family photo at the waterfall 

I love hiking with this boy! 

A beautiful end to a hike

We made it to the final junction (another option that we could have used to take the South Meadow trail back to the car), and we decided to go for it. The hike back to the Loj was easy, just as it was the day before, and just as we were approaching the parking lot we saw a guy and a girl in front of us.

I told Mike to go ask them for a ride (just for him) and when he asked them they said that they would take him to our car. Bernie and I hung out waiting for him, I was thankful that our plan had worked out!

Bernie waiting for Mike

In the end we hiked 9.5 miles in a little over 6 hours, not bad for our second hike of the weekend!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Mount Colden

A little over two weeks ago, Mike and I went back to the Adirondacks! Surprise, surprise.

We already made a reservation for the KOA for the end of October, but then I said I wanted to go again to try to see some fall foliage. I booked a cabin at the KOA in Wilmington and plans were made! We didn't know what peaks we would aim for, since we would have Bernie with us and as always what we hike is weather-dependent.

We decided to try for Mount Colden on Saturday. After asking people what route would be best for dogs, we decided to start at the Loj and go up and back via the Lake Arnold route.

All set to go!

We woke up relatively early on Saturday morning, after a decent night's sleep in our cabin. Bernie was ready for some hiking and we set off from the Loj for a nice start to our hike. It was only 27 degrees, but thankfully it did warm up later on in the day.

A frosty start to the day!

This is the way we go!

I enjoyed the start of our hike from the Loj, we had never hiked from there before, and it was an easy trail to a junction after a mile. We went to the left toward Marcy Dam and the trail was still pretty easy. We stopped at the dam to take some photos and give Bernie some water, and then we crossed over the bridge to continue on with our hike.

Pretty view! 

Me and my guy

We had picked the same weekend as a college weekend to go hiking, so there were a bunch of people out on the trails! Thankfully, once we deviated from the trail to Marcy/Phelps, and went toward Colden, we didn't see as many people.

 Toward Avalanche camps we go!

Some fall foliage still out

The trail became a bit more rocky at this point, but we were still making good progress.

Hilarious, his butt isn't even touching the ground! 

The guys

As I mentioned previously, I had asked on the Aspiring 46ers Facebook page which way up (and down) Colden would be the best while hiking with a dog. Most people expressed that the Lake Arnold route would be better than the Avalanche Pass route (too difficult for most dogs). While Mike wasn't keen on doing an out and back, I decided that it would be best for us while hiking with Bernie and that's the way we went (we will hike Avalanche Pass another time, since it looks amazing!)

Cute family photo! 

The show dog

We pushed on once we reached the junction for Avalanche Pass and Lake Arnold. It was still rocky and the wooden planks on the trail were really slick, but we made our way along the route.

What a good hiker dog 

This way?

When we arrived at Lake Arnold, we took a bit of a break to check out the lake. The walk through the woods near the lake was a little bit muddy, but not too bad. We were almost to the false summit of Mt. Colden!

Lake Arnold

We saw a couple making their way down the false summit right before we were going up. They told us that it was a bit icy in spots, but that as it was getting warmer out the ice was melting. The woman had on microspikes, but we decided not to put ours on yet.

Pretty walk through the woods 

Starting to see the peaks!

The false summit was amazing, and I could see how some people might mistake it for the true summit, and we took in the views. We could see the actual summit of Mt. Colden looming over to the left, so after some photo ops we continued on our way.

Taking in the views 

 Still some color in the lower elevations

Love him

We actually had to go down again, before we made our way back up. There were some stairs that we had to climb up, but thankfully Bernie made it up them easily since they were true stairs and not ladders (like on the Avalanche Pass route).

 Bernie looks so serious

Stairs! 

The small rock opening

We had some difficulty making it through a rocky opening on the trail, mainly because of the ice, but all three of us made it through. Mike and I took some time to climb on the rocks and take photos before continuing to the summit.

I love these mountains 

 King of the mountains

"Why are you up there, dad?"

The summit isn't marked, but we found the rock that has a hole in it from a former marker. We talked to three guys who also made it to the summit (Bernie really just wanted their food) and then we went to explore more of the mountain.

#15 (#6 for Bern) 

Happy boys

 Gorgeous

I wish I could have climbed up on that rock, but I was too scared to try!

I could have taken photos up there forever, but alas, we had to go back to continue on with the rest of our day. I ended up putting on my microspikes to make the hike down to the false summit, and then I took them off. We saw a bunch more people going up as we were coming down.

I love this photo, and this guy! 

Happiest in the mountains 

Looks more dangerous than it really was 

Heading back down through the rock opening, our band photo

Leaving the alpine zone

We were making decent time, and we eventually were at a junction for the trail we took up to Mt. Colden and a side trail over to Indian Falls. I had suggested to Mike that we could go over to Indian Falls (even though we had already been there before) if it was early enough when we reached the junction, and we decided to go for it.

The trail wasn't flat, it was actually pretty steep. We made our way up it and eventually it flattened out. We could hear the falls and I said that we should check out a small unofficial path that went down in the woods to see if we could get to the bottom of the falls (that we had never seen before).

The trail to Indian Falls

Indian Falls

The path took us right to the falls and I'm glad we decided to check it out! After some photos we went back up to the top and hung out for awhile. There were a bunch of people, including some guys we had started our hike with in the beginning and they remembered Bern.

Still gorgeous the second time there

After some relaxing, we pushed on. We took the Phelps/Tabletop trail back down toward Marcy Dam. Even though we had already hiked this before when we did Tabletop and Phelps last year, it was nice to not do a complete out and back hike. We usually prefer loops if possible!

When we got back to the dam, we knew that we didn't have much longer to hike. Bernie actually picked up the pace and before we knew it we were back at the Loj, and it was still light out!

A beautiful fall day 

Love this dog!

Mike and I decided to head over to Heart Lake and check things out over there.

Heart Lake

The aftermath! (And planning a hike for the next day)

Overall we got 14.1 miles in 9 hours and 22 minutes for our 15th high peak! (Ironically, our 15th peak fell on October 15th).