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Dixes and Panther Gorge

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  • Dixes and Panther Gorge

    This past week my girlfriend was visiting family in Cape Cod, so I took the opportunity to backpack in the Adirondacks. I was there three days. The weather for those days was glorious, rainy, and glorious.

    Tuesday 27 Aug.: Macomb, South Dix, Grace, Pough, Hough, Beckhorn, and Dix

    On Tuesday I got to the Elk Lake parking area at about 6:00. There were plenty of parking spots left. I hiked up to Slide Brook Leanto, where there was a family packing up to leave. I dropped some gear and headed up towards Macomb.

    I'd been on the Dixes once before, but from the east, so I was repeating trails on the ridges, but redlining on the ascent and descent. The "herd path" up to Macomb via the slide is very well marked and maintained, not like herd paths anywhere outside the Dacks. Macomb Slide reminded me of Owlshead Slide in the Whites; it has lots of loose rock, although it does have some slabs of nice grippy Adirondack rock near the top. It was a fun slide to hike; not too difficult or long. Soon after reentering the woods, though, there was a rock scramble which was the most difficult section of trail for the entire trip. I got past that, though, and was soon on Macomb.

    There were great views all day. I went from Macomb to South Dix, to Grace, back to South Dix, to Pough, to Hough, to Beckhorn, to Dix. I saw maybe a dozen other hikers up on the ridges, including one couple I would leapfrog from Grace to Dix. The only trail finding difficulty I had was coming back from Grace; I had trouble finding the trail I'd just come in on.

    On the final approach to Beckhorn I went up a steep section of obviously new trail. Talking it over with that couple I mentioned when we were all on Dix, I concluded that this was a bypass of a rock climb which they had done and which I'm pretty sure I did when I first did this range.

    After Dix I went down via Hunters Pass. That has some very steep sections I had to be careful coming down. Eventually it flattens out, though, and then it was just a long stroll back to the leanto. When I passed Lillian Brook I could hear people in the leanto/camping area, and soon afterwards I met a half dozen people headed for there. At about the same time I put on my headlamp for the final mile to Slide Brook Leanto. I had the leanto to myself that night.

    Wednesday 28 Aug.: Slide Brook Leanto to Panther Gorge Leanto

    When I got up Wednesday morning it wasn't raining, which was hopeful, since the last forecast I had seen was for rain all day. That only lasted a while, though; not long after passing the parking area it started raining, and kept it up the rest of the day. Early on Wednesday I put on deet. That was the only time the entire trip bugs were bothering me.

    Wednesday's hike was in theory fairly easy, eleven miles with only a little elevation gain, even though it was with a full pack. When I crossed through the parking area I checked but did not even bother opening my car, and went up towards Panther Gorge. This hike is very flat, then up and down small hills, then very flat (through Marcy Swamp on maybe the most extensive sequence of bog bridges I've ever seen), then gradually uphill, then fairly flat. In spite of this I was wiped out when I arrived at Panther Gorge. I think the fact that the previous day had been so tough had a lot to do with it. In any case, although I had a tentative plan to hike Haystack that day, when I got to the leanto exhausted in the rain that was out of the question.

    I had the leanto to myself that night as well.

    Thursday 29 Aug.: Marcy, Skylight, and Gray

    On Thursday it was partly sunny with no rain. The previous day's rain, though, created streams and mud on the trails, and soaked branches on the trees brushed against me all day.

    I went from Panther Gorge up to Four Corners. From there I went up to Marcy, which was not a hard hike; even though it's the state high point it's only about 1100 feet of gain from Four Corners. Even though I started so close, I didn't leave the shelter until 7:00, and a lot of other hikers left early enough that I met them on the peaks. I also met the summit steward on Marcy. I was thinking that sitting on Marcy on a day like that would be the perfect job, but then I asked her and she confirmed that she had spent the previous day up there in the rain.

    I then went down from Marcy and up to Skylight. On the way up I hit a high blowdown I hadn't seen. A stump of a branch on the blowdown was just at eye level, and it popped a lens out of my glasses. I put on my reading glasses and hunted around the stream which was the trail for a small piece of clear plastic among the pebbles. I finally found it and popped it back in. When I got to the top of Skylight I found John from Florida, who was finishing his ADK46 list.

    From Skylight I went back down, up past Lake Tear of the Clouds, and up Gray. This was much more difficult that I'd remembered. Even though it's the least elevation gain of the three I did that day it seemed to me to be the most difficult climbing.

    After Gray I went back down to the leanto, picked up the rest of my gear, and slogged out to my car. It wasn't bad, really, but it seemed to take forever. I ended up turning on the headlamp during the flat section near Elk Lake. When I got to the parking area my car was the last one there. I finally made it back to Connecticut around 2:30.

    Macomb, South Dix, Grace, Hough, Dix, Marcy, Skylight, and Gray were numbers 63 through 70 (out of 115) in my project of reclimbing the Northeast 111 in my 60s.

    Here are the pictures for Tuesday (the Dixes).
    Here are the pictures for Wednesday and Thursday (Panther Gorge Area).

    --

    Cumulus

    NE111 in my 50s: 115/115 (67/67, 46/46, 2/2)
    NE111 in my 60s: 70/115 (48/67, 20/46, 2/2)
    NEFF: 50/50; Cat35: 39/39; WNH4K: 40/48; NEHH 89/100
    LT NB 2009; CT NB 2017

    "I don't much care where [I get to] --" said Alice, "-- so long as I get somewhere," ...
    "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
    - Lewis Carroll

  • #2
    Wow. Nice!!!!
    Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
    ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Cumulus View Post
      On the final approach to Beckhorn I went up a steep section of obviously new trail. Talking it over with that couple I mentioned when we were all on Dix, I concluded that this was a bypass of a rock climb which they had done and which I'm pretty sure I did when I first did this range.
      Nice trip Cumulus.

      There are a number of places where rock scrambles were obstacles that people have beat paths around. I'm pretty sure this one is very close to where you top out on the Beckhorn. But, having been there just a week ago I have to say I didn't notice this new bypass. We scrambled down the usual v-shaped pitch on our way to Hough.

      Don

      Comment


      • Eddie Fournier
        Eddie Fournier commented
        Editing a comment
        If it's what I think, I saw it in July and I wouldn't call it a bypass. If you continue to your right under the v-shaped rock after maybe 10' there is a path marked by a swath of dead plants that goes up very steeply on very soft ground. This didn't seem safe to me so I went back and climbed through the crack. A small ladder or a metal rung would go a long way in preventing additional damage to the vegetation, since climbing through the crack is obviously not very appealing to everyone.

      • Hear the Footsteps
        Hear the Footsteps commented
        Editing a comment
        Ok thanks. Eventually this type of thing will widen more. And being in the Alpine Zone, it's the type of thing that the people that say hikers are destroying the high peaks will cite as an example.

        There are too many hikers out there that love the hike except for and especially the rocks, rock slabs, water, ice, and mud. And they will do anything to avoid it. Including making new paths, walk on the alpine plants, etc.

        Don

    • #4
      One thing I forgot to mention is that on Wednesday, between Elk Lake and Marcy Swamp I think, I saw some moose scat. I've never seen a moose in the Adirondacks, and I understand they're rare there, but as a long time White Mountains hiker I'm very familiar with moose scat, and I'm sure that's what it was.


      --

      Cumulus

      NE111 in my 50s: 115/115 (67/67, 46/46, 2/2)
      NE111 in my 60s: 70/115 (48/67, 20/46, 2/2)
      NEFF: 50/50; Cat35: 39/39; WNH4K: 40/48; NEHH 89/100
      LT NB 2009; CT NB 2017

      "I don't much care where [I get to] --" said Alice, "-- so long as I get somewhere," ...
      "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
      - Lewis Carroll

      Comment


      • #5
        Cumulus,

        Great to see you "tramping" around the High Peaks again and pursuing your 60's round of the NE 111! The photos are always enlightening and the one of you on Grace Peak is terrific! Best of all...your Lewis Carroll quote still fits you to a T. Best wishes for continued success!

        Pete Hogan

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