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Colden 8/26

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  • Colden 8/26

    A couple of friends and I made the S. Meadows > Marcy Dam > Avalanche Pass > Colden traverse loop last Saturday. The new hardware along the Avalanche Lake trail is really nice. I'm impressed at how much work the trail crew was able to accomplish in such a short period of time.

    Colden's SW trail on the other hand, was a huge disappointment. I was shocked at how much it has changed since my last ascent up that trail. While the work the trail crew has done on that mountain certainly deserves recognition, it's unfortunate that it was needed. I'm just happy that there are still a few bare slabs where one has to pay attention to what they're doing, but most of the "fun parts" are now stairs and ladders.

    Edit: Almost forgot, true to form for Colden, there was a group illegally camped directly under one of the the no camping discs on Lake Arnold. I didn't even bother getting into a conversation with them. Just gave them a look, looked at the disc, and back to them. As I walked away shaking my head I overheard
    "[something inaudible]...guess we should move." Hopefully they did.
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

  • #2
    Hello fellow Redditor, I can't seem to find a means to downvote your post here to express my disapproval of your disapproval of massive infrastructure that dumbs down an otherwise challenging trail because we masses can't stay off its edges.

    ​But seriously, the staircases are effectively a capitulation by the DEC. Y'all can't stay on the centerline so we give up; here's a lovely staircase to lure you away from the soft edges. Yes, it looks out of place in a so-called Wilderness area but, honestly, you guys forced us to do this. The resource comes first and you're making it FUBAR.

    ​Like you said "This is why we can't have nice things."


    Looking for Views!

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    • #3
      Thanks again for your input, both here and over there. My observation of Colden's new hardware was not very welcomed among that group, but wadya gonna do? As the rest of the peaks inevitably start to follow suit, they'll get it (hopefully).
      My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

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      • #4
        I believe we did that route in June 2016 and only remember one 10 foot ladder going up Colden. Is this new hardware since last year? Slab/Rock scrambling is one of my favorite things, I'm old and I don't remember any place where it was needed on that trail.

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        • #5
          I ascended the Mount Colden Trail in August 2016 and the first staircase was in place (at high elevation).


          Stairway to Colden

          Neil was there recently and reported there's more now including one located where the trail makes a hard left to the north (trail ascends from Lake Colden in an eastward direction then turns left to the north). I recall that initial northbound stretch to be in dire need of some form of TLC because it looked like hikers had ripped a chunk of flesh off the mountain leaving nothing but bone and tendons in view.
          Looking for Views!

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          • #6
            We eventually lost count but I believe there are now 4 separate sets of stairs totaling close to 250 steps (two had over 100 steps each, as pictured above). This doesn't sound like much on paper, but using old school residential estimation this comes out to 25 stories worth of stairs. This is a pretty stark contrast to the last time I climbed this route, when there was just a single ladder IIRC.
            My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

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            • #7
              i was late to the game for the reddit thread you guys are grumbling about so my only contribution was ignored, for better or for worse. but i feel the picture from that post is worth sharing here too.



              i don't like seeing the woodwork either, but looking at the section of slab in that picture i can sort of understand why it happened. could i go up that slab via the centerline? yep, i would say so. down? that starts to get more tricky, especially with a bit of water, mud, or ice in the mix.

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              • #8
                My initial statement on the post may have been a little abrasive, and clearly some people were offended by it. Still, it stands to reason that the hardware isn't necessary to aid hikers. Some of the responses were a bit appalling and hopefully not representative of the community... basically "its volume and we're all to blame," or "get used to it," and "if you don't like it don't hike here," which is also funny since the most of those comments came from folks who live a day or more from the ADK....anywho. There's another, far less challenging route up Colden which people are welcome to take. This particular slab certainly isn't any steeper or more dangerous than the Allen slide headwall, and this section used to be much narrower. My issue isn't that the wood is there, my issue is the cause of it being there. As Taras has pointed out, there's no stairs on the north side of Haystack, or Saddleback's ledges. Why? because the vegetation isn't being ruined by hikers. Again, nothing to do with volume.

                Not for nothing, and I realize this is anecdotal, but I'm wearing approach shoes in that picture (hard to tell with the short gray gaiters). I was able to simply walk up every section of "unaided" bare rock we encountered, and many were steeper than this one. I've never had any issues descending them either, other than the ache in my knees from constant braking. My friend who was wearing LaSportivas had more or less the same experience.

                Edit: I hadn't actually seen this picture blown up until now. I'm not using my poles on the stairs; just holding them up.

                Also, thanks for sharing this. I still can't figure out how to do that without going through the process of uploading to another site first.
                My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

                Comment


                • Trail Boss
                  Trail Boss commented
                  Editing a comment
                  > I still can't figure out how to do that without going through the process of uploading to another site first.

                  You'll be pleased to know that the pic above is hosted on Reddit (i.e. image above is linked to the file residing on Reddit).

                  I don't believe the Forums's software allows photo uploads larger than postage stamps ... so hosting on a remote site (like Imgur, Flickr, etc) is the way to go.

                • greatexpectations
                  greatexpectations commented
                  Editing a comment
                  something i like about imgur for forums is that it lets you adjust the size of the image you want to embed by varying the last letter of the url. that way you can share an image without blowing up the page. i considered doing this with your (FF&B) image but it felt weird to upload your image somewhere else. (unknown to me if other services now let you alter images in that way)

                • FlyFishingandBeer
                  FlyFishingandBeer commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Huh. greatexpectations that's good info. Thanks for the discretion of not uploading my pics to another site too. I guess once its on Reddit its probably free game, but its nice to know that people take privacy into consideration.

              • #9
                greatexpectations

                No question descending the exposed slabs is more hazardous than ascending, when wet/icy/snowy/etc. However, that's true for many trails and part of a trail's challenge. You and I know that some trails are far from being "all-weather" routes (especially during freeze-thaw cycles in shoulder seasons). Sometimes you choose not to descend them or avoid them altogether. However, many hikers don't do that much "homework" (contour lines? whazzat?) and just wing it.

                ​When I ascended that trail last August (90% dry with only a few damp patches), I watched a group of hikers thread their way down through the trees along one particularly steep slab just above where the trail turns north. To be completely honest, I empathized because the slab is wickedly steep and, without sticky soles, you might have to crab-walk backwards. Or "drag anchor" like one hiker had done (telltale blackened butt). I concede that section desperately needed some form of enticement to keep people off the edges and hopefully the staircase will do the trick.

                ​Instead of a staircase, I prefer a cable because it blends into the background (less visual impact), serves as a secure handhold (something the stairs don't offer), can be useful under a broader range of conditions (if strung up to avoiding resting on the slab), and requires less material, time, and labor to install. However, if you were to put a staircase and a cable side-by-side on the same slab, it's not hard to guess which one a newbie would prefer.

                ​Here's a thought: let's imagine the cables on Gothics' southern side being replaced by staircases. You'd easily see them from Saddleback ... and beyond. Ouch!
                Looking for Views!

                Comment


                • greatexpectations
                  greatexpectations commented
                  Editing a comment
                  oh yeah, i prefer cables too. i think we have agreed on that point a few times by now. i just found myself looking at that and finding myself seriously wondering how i would descend it safely. if i am being perfectly honest, i probably end up near the edges somewhere on that stretch, intentionally or not.

                • Trail Boss
                  Trail Boss commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yeah, I think I know what you mean; each step is a beveled wood block attached to the slab to create a set of stairs. I've seen them on the Fishing Jimmy and Beaver Brook trails in the Whites and, most recently, on the Indian Head Trail in the AMR! However, that's under the direction of ATIS and I'll hazard a guess it may be Tony Goodwin's handiwork.

                  It's discreet, aesthetic, made of natural materials and does the job. I think it may take more labor to construct and install them. You have to shape each step to fit the slab properly and drill holes in the rock for each step. I've only seem them used for short stretches (a few feet or a few yards) and never on the scale of Colden's staircases.

                • greatexpectations
                  greatexpectations commented
                  Editing a comment
                  ah glad you caught that. i meant to just delete the picture until i found a better one but took the while comment. that style would be nicer bit i suppose we are stuck for now.

              • #10
                FlyFishingandBeer

                here is an image of mine from imgur. i added an 's' (small i assume) to the end of the first url and an 'm' (medium) to the second. i could do the 'l' but that gets big, and, well, you get the idea. i typically will go for the 'm'. you can quote me to see the formatting used - for imgur i think you just need to link to the image file (.jpg, .png, etc) to be able to change sizes.





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                • Trail Boss
                  Trail Boss commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Good choice of peaks! That one can use a couple of those discreet steps (or a ladder) to keep people off the krummholz.

              • #11
                Gosh...with my first glance at the pictures I thought I was looking at the Orebed Brook Trail. I had no idea regarding the extent of work that had been completed on Colden. I have only gone up the SW side of Colden once, back in September 2009. I recall the trail being narrower then, but I would have to look back at my pictures to be certain. I do not remember it being particularly treacherous, just steep in sections. As suggested above, perhaps people descending that trail in wet weather is what led to most of the damage. It's kind of shocking to me to see what can happen to a trail in such a short amount of time, necessitating the need for the installation of steps by DEC.

                Comment


                • debmonster
                  debmonster commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I felt exactly the same way looking at these photos and reading FFandB's post. I climbed up the south side of Colden in July 2011 and it felt totally different than what I see here (and we stayed in the center line of the open rock the whole way, but were blessed with dry weather). Alarming and depressing at the same time. :(
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