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Marcy and Phelps 1-12-13 & 1-13-13

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  • Marcy and Phelps 1-12-13 & 1-13-13

    This was my first true, snow hike and first winter overnight, although it wasn't really that cold. I had camped in colder weather in fall, but with much less snow. It proved to be a great experience for me as it allowed me to do some things and gain some experience in a slightly more forgiving set of circumstances than 10 below.

    Left home at about 2:15am and got to the Loj at about 7:45ish. Quite a few others there including many people who were strapping snowshoes to their packs and wearing microspikes or crampons in the parking lot. I was a bit confused by that but it being my first snow hike I strapped my snowshoes to the sides of my pack too thinking, "Why am I doing this? I am going to put them on in 30 seconds when I get to the register?" Which I sure enough did. It was odd to see a group led hike with a leader wearing full crampons in the parking lot. Sorry if you're that guy It just made me think...maybe I know a tiny bit more than I give myself credit for sometimes from being a member here.

    Got to Marcy Dam and the trail was fine - not too soft and I found hiking pretty easy except for the 40lbs on my back. I had decided to camp at the designated camp site after Marcy Dam but before the Phelps summit trail on the left. Comissionpoint had asked about that site and I can report I found it to be quite nice. It is up the hill quite a bit (much further off trail than the site I camped at near Colden in the fall) and I would recommend it. There is a pic in the photos link. Got camp set up and headed out. I was at the Phelps summit trail at 11:30am and made the decision to head for Marcy.

    It was a nice day, conditions were good and I felt good. I knew this would be a long day but it seemed like a good opportunity. For whatever reason, my cell was working so I was able to text my wife to keep her appraised of my plans. Trail conditions up to the Marcy summit were fine. I used snowshoes all the way. This was my first time hiking Marcy and I have to say, when you first see the summit cone coming up the Van Ho it is quite a site. I have been to Peru, Alaska, Japan, Colorado, NH, Maine, etc and this was no less spectacular than any of those places. One thing to note about the trail...after the junction with the trail that heads down to the JBL just a short way on the Marcy summit trail splits. I don't think it is supposed to, but it is broken out in two directions - to the right and left. I believe to the right is the actual trail, but the path to the left is actually more broken out. I think because it goes over less rock. This isn't necessarily a good thing and I am not sure if it happens every year. The painted blazes are obscured at that point and if you have never been there it is not clear which way to go.

    Summited Marcy and actually saw a dude wearing a Jack-ass mask on the summit - I get up there, I'm exhausted, and there is a friggin' donkey sitting up there. Hilarious. Very windy, took some pics and headed back down. Made it back to camp by about 5:45pm.

    This was my first time snow camping and I got to try out some new skills and gear. I had no issues melting snow for water, digging a hole out in the snow to place my stove etc. Everything worked well - although I am VERY aware if it had been 10 degrees out and windy it is a very different situation. At any rate, I was very beat (as Trail Boss and DSettahr advised I would be after hiking Marcy in a day). I ate, packed my stuff up and was in my bag by 7pm.

    Got up at 6 the next day and it was downright balmy out. Took my time heading out and hit the Phelps summit trail at about 8:25. Heading up it got progressively windier and windier but no precipitation and the trail was fine, nicely packed and no issues. Right as I started to come out of the trees I saw a rainbow (possibly the same one AHPQ saw on Esther) I snapped a pic and just as soon as I saw it, it was gone. It really was a highlight. Summited Phelps, very windy, almost knocked me over but the views were good. Very cool to see Marcy as I had been there the day before.

    Hike back to camp and out was uneventful if not tiring once I added my weight back. Took some more photos on the way and tried to pull every last ounce of joy from this trip before I got to my car. At the register I encountered two guys and a dog at about 1:30pm who asked me, "Did you go up?" To which I replied, Marcy? Yes I did. They asked, which way is it? We're headed there. I said follow the blue blazes, you know it is about 7.5 miles from here, right? Yep they said. They asked, will we need the shoes (snowshoes). will. OK then peace be with you. They didn't look like the had overnight gear but maybe I was wrong. I dunno - seemed odd to say the least.

    Anyway, a great trip for me with some takeaways to "improve" on my technique for next time. I know it was warmer than usual and what not, but I have to say, if I wasn't a member of this forum for the last year plus and asking questions - no way I go out and hike 18+ miles overnight in the ADK's in winter. Thanks ya'all.


  • #2
    Great job! I do believe that was the same rainbow - same time of day. I love that view of the cone up the Van Ho - the only view that (for me) beats it is that awesome view of Haystack and little Haystack as you approach the col...
    46R (#7146) ADK, 46W
    48 (NH 4000) + winter
    NE 115 (#706)
    NE Winter 115 (#82)


    • #3
      Sounds like the begining of many new adventures. I love Winter camping . Thanks for sharing
      Not all those who wander are lost....JRR Tolkien


      • #4
        Sounds like you had a good first winter camping experience, Congrats. Nice pics too, but I didn't see the one of the Donkey on Marcy in there


        • #5
          Originally posted by rbalbs View Post
          Sounds like you had a good first winter camping experience, Congrats. Nice pics too, but I didn't see the one of the Donkey on Marcy in there
          Funny, as I was hiking back down I was thinking damn I should have taken a picture of that guy - or had his friend take a picture of me with him. It was certainly not what I expected to see as I walked over to the summit.


          • #6
            Hey, good work. That's a nice intro trip, for sure.

            For what it's worth, I've been the guy in full crampons in the parking lot a time or two; I don't generally carry microspikes and crampons, so if the latter is what I've got for traction (which usually means heading for an icy alpine summit later on) and the trail is so obviously hardpacked and icy that a) snowshoes are clearly unnecessary or a problem, and b) I'm going to need something for traction, that's what I do. It's not the world's most elegant way to travel (feels almost as stupid as a donkey mask, I suppose), but it can get the job done.

            Anyway, congrats on accomplishing a cool trip on your own.
            Winter hiking -- "It's so easy an eight year old can do it!"

            - Photobug65


            • #7
              Originally posted by mirabela View Post
              For what it's worth, I've been the guy in full crampons in the parking lot a time or two
              I hear ya - I guess I sort of take it for granted that people have read TR's and have some idea of the trail conditions. I wonder what percentage of people that hike out of the Loj read this forum or have much of an idea of what to expect on the trail. Probably the minority I suppose. I am not sure. Hopefully I didn't sound overly judgmental. I guess in this case, as I was listening to the gentleman speak with his group while I was getting ready it contributed to my "impressions." Sometimes I wish I could just turn my ears off when I start hearing things that I know are going to bring up a certain negative, judgmental reaction in me. Hard as I try to crack the ego it keeps popping back the whack-a-mole game.


              • #8
                Hey, man, we're all human. I've been the 16 year old kid in cotton cargo pants postholing up Cascade in thigh-deep March mashed potato snow, too. Some fellow travelers likely registered a thought or two about that at the time, also.
                Winter hiking -- "It's so easy an eight year old can do it!"

                - Photobug65