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Backpacking ADK/Great Range

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  • Backpacking ADK/Great Range

    I'm planning backpacking trip this weekend.. but am having trouble finding a good loop or base camp to hit some peaks. (friday night, sat, sun)

    I'm honestly open to suggestions. I can go anywhere, but so far i've been leaning towards Dix range or the Great range. My main goals are amazing views and 10-15 miles per day. A quiet camp is nice, and i dont need to stay in a lean-to.

    I thought about traversing the entire great range and camping over on Gill Brook, but i may not make that hike with a full pack. Perhaps setting up a day camp on Ore Bed or WolfJaw Brook after traversing WolfJaw would be a better idea.

    Are there better options for a peak-bagging backpacking trip, base camp or otherwise? Perhaps Lake Colden/ Avalanche pass?

    I've done my fair share of backpacking but this is my first ADK trip, so any tips at all would be awesome.



  • #2
    The Great Range is a worthy opponent. And awesome. A good bailout at the end is a campsite down the trail between the Wolfjaws. Dix could also be a possibility, it's loopish, and has some cool slides.
    What kind of guidebook/maps do you have? Hint: get the ADK mini-book, it's good.
    46er #9404
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    • #3
      Do you think it's doable with a loaded pack? It would be cool to do a true loop, but since its my first time, I don't want to set myself up for failure. I'm a pretty strong hiker and the views look amazing though.

      I dont have any guide books, but may have time to pick one up if it would help. I just looked for the 'mini-book' online and couldnt find it, is there somewhere else to look?

      Currently im mapping everything out with maps i've found online/GaiaGPS. Normally i use GaiaGPS with a printed paper map of my section as a backup. If i decide on a route, i'll probably grab some .gpx files to help as well.

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      • #4
        Get the ADK guidebook; it's widely available (EMS, REI, many others). The Dix range has two sets of campsite/lentos which enable you to pack in relatively easily and not carry the packs over the peaks. You could do the same with the Great Range, but it's not as obvious. The legal campsites in the ADKs are almost all down low; only the Sno-Bird campsite (between Haystack and Basin) is at elevation. There are some campsites in the Johns Brook valley, but the Ausable valley is all private and no camping is allowed.
        Mike

        ADK 46r #8003; 6W
        2nd round: 16
        SL6r #596
        Catskill 3500 21/39; 11W

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        • #5
          I agree, please get the ADK High Peaks Guidebook, as it has very helpful and important information about trail descriptions, land use regulations, etc. Please make sure you're aware of the special regulations that apply to this area, such as required bear canisters, no campfires, etc. There is a list available at: http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.p...158#post249158

          I'm usually more of a backpacker than a base camper / day hiker, but I've found that base camping and day hiking seems to make more sense in the High Peaks. This way, you're only carrying your heavier overnight gear a few miles on very moderate, fairly flat terrain. You could park at the Garden in Keene Valley (if the lot is full, you'd have to add a few miles to walk from the Rooster Comb parking lot) and hike in approx. 3.5 miles to set up camp at one of the designated DEC tent sites near the Howard lean-to (if available), or at the designated DEC tent sites along the Phelps Trail a few minutes beyond Johns Brook Lodge. Fellow forum member Trail Boss has put together an excellent collection of the designated tent sites on Open Street Map. See the general area near JBL at: https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=1...5957/-73.86193

          Next day, carry a "day" pack with essentials up to and along a section of the Great Range. You could go up the Ore Bed trail and over to Gothics (going up the cables), Armstrong, Upper Wolfjaw, Lower Wolfjaw and back to camp, then hike out the next day. Or if you're up for a fairly challenging day, you start from camp and continue southwest along the Phelps Trail, turn southeast over the arduous Shorey Shortcut to the range trail, and turn east to climb Basin and Saddleback, and then continue on over the range to LWJ and back to camp. This is a fairly long, tough hike, depending on your ability and experience, but there are a few spots for bail-outs (Ore Bed, Wolf Jaws col) if needed. Or you might just totally love it. The views are quite spectacular all along the way. On Sunday, grab a cup of coffee at JBL and have a leisurely hike out.
          We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige

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          • #6
            I backpacked most of the Great Range several times last summer so it can be done - schlepping that burden up and down those steep and rugged trails. One big day with the pack was Garden-Big Slide (instead of Lower Wolf Jaw) -Across to Upper Wolf Jaw and up the Range to Snowbird campsite (between Basin and Haystack) then next day I did Haystack, Marcy etc. and out to South meadows Road. I did variations on this theme, some even harder. However, my pack weighed between 20 and 25 pounds depending on how much food and water I carried. That's the trick. A very light pack. Don't try it with a 40 pound "sofa" on your back.
            1111111111

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            • #7
              Is Snowbird a legit site these days? Years ago I did it and was told about it as "the old Snowbird site", so I was never sure if it was a proper one.
              46er #9404
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              • #8
                Last I knew, Snowbird was legit. "Old" refers to when the lean-to was there.

                Packing the Range can be difficult and you have to make to Snowbird to camp. IMO, you're much better off setting up a base camp in Johns Brook and day tripping the peaks; easier on you, easier on the mountains.

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                • #9
                  debmonster, Great tips, thank you. The map is very helpful. I ordered the guide book for some additional resources as well.

                  Neil, My pack is ~20lbs, so that should be possible. I'm thinking since it's my first time i'll base camp it. I'll come back for a backpacking trip if it's a walk in the park. Thank you for the suggestions!

                  I'm thinking of entering from the Garden parking lot, then hiking in on Phelps to a base camp near the JBL. After setting up camp I'll follow Phelps to Marcy, then around to Haystack/Gothics and back to WolfJaw to camp. Then on sunday, if im feeling froggy, i can hit Big Slide on the way out.

                  I cant decide whether i should start my saturday hike by taking Phelps to Marcy, then following the peaks back to camp, or tackle the peaks first and take Phelps back to camp.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by krispycrustacean View Post

                    I cant decide whether i should start my saturday hike by taking Phelps to Marcy, then following the peaks back to camp, or tackle the peaks first and take Phelps back to camp.
                    If the weather is good, it doesn't much matter, but starting with Marcy means you're getting progressively closer to camp with each subsequent peak. Also, if it's more than you planned for, you can bail after any of Marcy, Haystack, Basin or Saddleback (or backtrack from Gothics). Once you go past gothics, the next bailout is after UWJ. On the flip side, if you start with the Wolfjaws, the peaks are more protected early on (in case of weather), and the views get better the further you go along the range. Another consideration is the Saddleback "cliffs", which are on the south side of saddleback, and people often choose to hike that section south-to-north for that reason alone. Just depends on your comfort level.

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                    • #11
                      FoulHooked

                      Great info, thank you. I think i'll see what the weather is like. If it's going to be nice all day, i'll start on Phelps and take the peaks back to camp. If things are looking worse towards the end of the day, i'll try to get the peaks out of the way in the morning. The cliffs look pretty cool. I've done my fair share of scrambling so i don't think they'll be too much of an issue.

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                      • #12
                        So many options. Great advice here concerning the Great Range, but I second the suggestion to do the Dix range, if not this time then the next. You can get all 5 by setting up base camp near the junction of the Slide Brook trail, then hit Macomb (up the slide), South Dix (Carson), East Dix (Grace), Hough and then Dix Mountain proper. That's a worthy trek!
                        Last edited by Charlie; 09-13-2017, 05:32 PM. Reason: typo
                        Charlie

                        Charlie's Adirondack Adventures

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by krispycrustacean View Post
                          debmonster, Great tips, thank you. The map is very helpful. I ordered the guide book for some additional resources as well.

                          Neil, My pack is ~20lbs, so that should be possible. I'm thinking since it's my first time i'll base camp it. I'll come back for a backpacking trip if it's a walk in the park. Thank you for the suggestions!

                          I'm thinking of entering from the Garden parking lot, then hiking in on Phelps to a base camp near the JBL. After setting up camp I'll follow Phelps to Marcy, then around to Haystack/Gothics and back to WolfJaw to camp. Then on sunday, if im feeling froggy, i can hit Big Slide on the way out.

                          I cant decide whether i should start my saturday hike by taking Phelps to Marcy, then following the peaks back to camp, or tackle the peaks first and take Phelps back to camp.
                          I think you'll enjoy hiking the range much more without a backpack, so the idea of a base camp in the JBL area is a good one. Regarding the Marcy-first vs WJ-first, I guess it depends on the weather; if it's going to be nice all day, I'd start on the WJ side and work towards the better views. If it's good in the morning but looking sketchy in the afternoon, you can go to Marcy-Haystack-Basin-Saddleback and then bail on the orebed trail if necessary. That loop from JBL, orebed/phelps trail, is really great and a very worthy day hike. In fact, you could go over Marcy, down to Panther Gorge, and then up the southside of Haystack and back along the range to orebed. That adds quite a bit of elevation loss/gain, but you're really hitting the highlights. If you're looking for even more punishment, you could also ascend Gothics from the col, then simply backtrack to the orebed trail to return to JBL. I've done that a number of times.

                          Definitely get the guide book and a good map. You mentioned something about traversing the range and camping at Gill brook, but they're not in the same area at all. Gill brook is the on other side of the AMR/ausable club.

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                          • #14
                            halocline ocine True, the hike to gill brook would be a long one, and i'd need my pack for the entirety.. So that's a no go.

                            Awesome tips though. My guide book is coming in tonight and i'm going to study it pretty thoroughly. Seems like i have a pretty solid plan though. This will be one of my largest solo hikes in a while and the weather looks perfect. Hopefully there will be some campsites available

                            Look for the trip report in a week or two!

                            Charlie Dix range is next up!

                            Thanks for the input everyone. This seems to be a very helpful forum.

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                            • #15
                              From the Garden to Marcy and back along the Range to LWJ then JBL? That's a heck of a long day.

                              Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

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