The High Point Trip: New York

Correction!  I put elevations in Mount Greylock incorrectly.  We Started at 1, 273 ft above Sea Level.  That is a gain in elevation of 2,218 ft.

On the road again…   After our hike down from the Summit of Mount Greylock in MA, ripe from a sunny hot hike, we hopped back into the Burb and started the nearly 3 hour drive to NY’s High Peaks area in the Adirondacks.  While we did a lot of hiking this trip, I cannot stress how much driving we did.  We cruised in the Burb a lot.  We claimed our spaces, set up camp and had our “car” gear stuffed into cubby’s for easy access.  Kerry drove, I navigated, Jason chilled in the backseat.  We would mix it up for a leg, then back to normal.

Up to this point, So far, we have been tackling short hikes.  Next up is Mount Marcy, NY’s high point.  The shortest trail to the summit is almost 15 miles round trip, and the average hiking time is 10-12 hours.  We decided to stay near the trail head the night before and start early.

Our digs for the next 2 nights will be the amazing Dartbrook Lodge in Keene, NY.  The cute the mountain town of Keene is a great spot.  Not too touristy, very small and quaint, this was the perfect place to stay and feel close to nature.  Lake Placid is nearby, but if you like quiet over busy, check out Keene.  The Dartbrook Lodge was an oasis.  Each room is a little cabin, outfitted to perfection with comfy beds and linens, a nice big bathroom and all the amenities. I highly recommend this wonderful spot.

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Another nice thing about the Dartbrook Lodge is that the ADK Cafe is right next door.  There, you will find great wholesome cooked food, with plenty of local craft beers to choose from.  We were there so often that we claimed a table and declared ourselves regulars.

Our aim was to hit the trail between 7:00 am and 7:30 am on Tuesday.  The night brought a terrific thunderstorm, and I fell asleep to the sound of rain, but the morning after a rain is a wonderful thing!  Sunny with not a sign of rain in the sky, we had good breakfast at the ADK Cafe, then drove to the trailhead.  We hit a slight snag when the firetruck passed us on the road to put out a transformer fire, but we were able to drive around them and continue to the trail head.  The High Peaks Information Center is located at the trail head, near the ADK Loj – that is not a mis-spelling.  A gentlemen by the name of Van Hoevenberg was influential in exploration of this mountain and created the Lodge where a lot of hikers stay.  He was very much into phonetic spelling and called the Lodge the Loj.  I think it was having to spell his name to everyone over and over again – I mean, Van Hoevenberg….

We started out on the Van Hoevenberg trail just a bit before 8 am.  The trail is scenic and pleasant for the first 2 miles up until you hit the Marcy dam.

 

After crossing a very scenic bridge just south of the Marcy Dam, the trail starts to get a little rocky and you are avoiding roots, the type of trail that slows you down just a bit.  Then you start the elevation gain – up, up, up.  But the maintenance on this trail is remarkable.  The stones are cut into steps, there are rail ties stretched out over bogs and when you reach a certain elevation, the tundra is cut away from the granite creating a side walk effect.

This is a long hike, so there were a lot of changes.  We crossed over small brooks, took bridges over streams and rivers, saw small waterfalls, were lost in the trees, broke out into meadows, the trees were grand and then diminished to small as we reached elevation.  Finally we were climbing up granite to reach the summit.  In short, the elevation gain really starts to hit you after you cross the Marcy Dam.

It was around this point in the hike where Kerry noticed her pack was wet – her entire water bladder had leaked out.  So we shared water from this point.  I had filled my bladder the night before and in the middle of the night I had noticed that my bladder had leaked.  So having re-filled I knew I had a solid 3 liters and enough water to share.  While we hiked, I had milage markers and with every crossing trail was able to keep track of where we were.  The weather was great, the scenery terrific.  We did run into other hikers, but for the most part felt like we were in the middle of nature.  This was my favorite hike of the trip, without a doubt.  Once the trees cleared, we could see our goal.

 

And then we made the summit.

It was cold and windy, but the views were great!

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We spent about 40 min at the peak eating lunch and taking in the views before we headed back down.  We had a really nice hike back down and even took a break at one of the streams about 2.5 miles from the end of the trail.  Best foot soak ever.  I can’t tell you how good it feels to soak your hot trail feet in an ice cold stream of fresh water.  It made the last 2.5 miles go by so much nicer.

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Mount Marcy is Ranked 21st of the State HP’s, at 5,344 ft above sea level.  The Van Hoevenberg  trail head sits at 2,180 ft for a total elevation gain of 3,16f ft (however overall you gain much more elevation).   The round trip distance is 14.8 miles.  It took us 4 hr 15 min to ascend to the summit, and 4 hr 5 min to hike down.   Total round trip hiking time was 8 hr 20 min.  We spent 40 min at the summit, and 10 min soaking our hot feet on the way down.  There are no amenities along the trail or at the summit.  Bring 3 liters of water, bug spray, clothing for a sudden change in weather, lunch and extra food.  The trail is great, however you could get disoriented off to a side trail.   The vegetation was lush and so were the bugs.

By the time we returned, the High Peaks Information Center was open and we poked our heads in.  They carry a lot of good gear that you may have forgotten, t-shirts, patches and other goodies.

The trail head is actually closer to Lake Placid than Keene.  Does that name sound familiar?  Lake Placid was the site of the 1980 winter Olympic Games.  So after we came off the mountain we went in search of the Lake Placid Brewery for a celebratory beer.  I have to say that the most memorable part of Lake Placid is driving by the Olympic High Ski Jumps.  They are so HUGE and so high, and so intimidating!  The other thing we noted about Lake Placid was how crowded it was.  We found a nice pub, had a beer and headed back to the Dartbrook for a well deserved shower and another nice dinner at the ADK Cafe!

And we slept so well that night!

By now, we are naturally waking up early, enjoying our hearty breakfasts.  We pack up and head out to Vermont.  Ah, so sad to leave the High Peaks of the Adirondacks.  I will be back.

Next up: Ferry trips and bad weather.  Vermont and New Hampshire.

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