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.
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!
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
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!
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
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
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)
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
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
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.
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).