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Upper/Lower 7/15

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  • Upper/Lower 7/15

    A friend and I headed to the Peaks on Saturday with no particular place to go. We were well rested and the Allman Brothers playlist we were air-jamming to was a perfect driving soundtrack for the trip – my kind of day so far. We opted to hike Upper/Lower and make it a “light day.” On the way up 73 from the Northway it appeared that the peaks were just escaping the morning’s clouds and fog despite our late start but things were still OK at street level, so we decided to take a slow, meandering route around the Ausable Club property to give the trails some time to dry out.
    Lake Road > Beaver Meadow Falls junction > East River trail > Pyramid Brook junction > West River trail > Wedge Brook trail. This little 3+ mile detour added some time to our day but was worth it since we got to see some club terrain that we’ve never taken the time to truly explore before and most of the day’s hikers would be descending by the time we hit state land.

    The lower section of the Wedge Brook trail was as it always is; fairly dry and soft with mischievous slick roots here and there. The higher portions were a different story. Lately I’ve been getting pretty lucky when hiking peaks that are known for their mud; Donaldson/Emmons and Couch were all nearly bone dry when I last hiked them. This pair would be a different story. After the past week’s rain everything above the WJ Notch Cutoff and the Wedge Brook junction was a soupy, slippery mess. We tagged Upper first, which I quickly became thankful for. While the summit ledge offered its famously gorgeous views, it smelled like the inside of an outhouse at a music festival. I didn’t see any of the TP blooms that were present on my last trip to this peak, but FFS did it smell awful. Despite the fact that it was warm and breezy and we had the place to ourselves, we decided not to stay long. A quick trip back down to the notch and straight over to LWJ was another tour de’ mud. We hung out and scarfed some PB&J’s and beers on the summit as we watched the sun set then donned the headlamps and hit the trail. I typically don’t mind night time descents. ADK sunsets on nice days are nothing short of surreal, and the critters that inhabit the trails at night make for good company. This descent proved to be a little more tedious and tiring though, because everything was soaked and slick. By the time we hit the bridge to access the lake road I was happy to be able to look ahead and not down.

    I had been considering Cliff/Redfield or Allen for my next hike as I’m pretty close to finishing off this round, but after Saturday I think I’ll aim for some of the drier peaks.
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

  • #2
    "....but after Saturday I think I’ll aim for some of the drier peaks."

    So that means waiting until, say, September?

    Sounds like a nice loop, and I like the evening return option. Also hear you on the human waste. It has reached critical mass, IMO, in the High Peaks (pun realized). I wish I had a solution, short of thunder boxes at every conceivable trail junction and on/near summits, along with tons of signage telling people to take care of their 'business' before the hike or at least where there are facilities. I know I am preaching to the choir here...but it is gross. Some baby steps already (Cascade, Giant, Keene Valley trailheads) but clearly more has to be done, especially with the volume of traffic.


    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      After the constant rain that area has gotten recently, even a couple of days without repeat saturation will improve things tremendously. A couple of places below the notch had even started to firm up a little from the time we ascended to the time we came back through.

      I'm baffled by the whole sh*tting everywhere thing going on up there. I've never had this issue on a day hike, so I find it hard to believe that so many people are fit enough to climb a mountain but not internally strong enough to hold it for a better location than near a mountain's summit.

      Re: the evening return option. I've now descended almost every 4000 footer at night at one time or another. I love it. I'll still occasionally bump into other hikers, but they're usually sunrise hikers who have the same idea, but do it in reverse order.

    • Yury
      Yury commented
      Editing a comment
      Algonquin and Giant should be pretty dry.

    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't need either of them for this round, unfortunately.