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4/5 Dix Range 8/29/21

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  • 4/5 Dix Range 8/29/21

    A friend of mine has access to a camp a few miles from Elk Lake Road. He was going up this past weekend with his own plan, something to do with broadcasting with his Ham radio from obscure peaks. I was invited to the camp to do my own hiking, and I had my eyes set on the Dix Range.
    To avoid parking issues, I was dropped off at the trailhead and started off at about 6:30am. The lot had 1 or 2 spaces left, FYI. As I left the truck, I realized I didn’t put extra water bottles in my pack. I was pissed because I knew how dry the range is, and I would be more comfortable with more than the 3 liters in my bladder. It was still a cool morning, and I figured I’d make do the best I could.
    The approach to Macomb seemed smooth and I was sailing. As I was ascending to the slide, I was passed by a group of three with two dogs, whom I saw at the parking lot. When I got out on the slide I kept an eye on them above me, as I heard the occasional rock falling. We were in the clouds, so no views. I crisscrossed upwards, finding a relatively safe route until I entered back into the trees at the very top of the slide. I soon realized that I could have exited the slide earlier when I saw the path going in two directions. I clawed my way to the summit, taking the usual summit selfie, 2.5 hours after I began.
    The traverse to South Dix was fairly quick, and it was a pleasant surprise when I broke out into the open…a scramble on exposed rock, I love it! It’s too bad I was still in the clouds, I imagine the views would have been epic.
    I got another summit selfie and had caught up to the dog group. I started chatting with one young man, as we set off for Grace. I noticed I was moving a bit quicker and on the final ascent I had to slow down. Come to find out, these three were much younger than I and were training for the Chicago Marathon. WTH was I doing trying to keep up with them? Lol. I saw them again at Grace’s summit, where I took a food break. The clouds partly blew away and it started looking nice.
    Back to S. Dix, and began to descend to the col on the way to Hough. Climbing Hough, I felt my energy waning. My upward pace slowed to a crawl, and I began to consider my options. I had a sandwich and an apple left, and hadn’t checked my water level. Sweat was pouring off me faster than I could drink. I started feeling like I wanted to puke. I was almost to the funky rock step-like formation when I met my dog handling friends coming down. S.D.- thank you so much for offering me a half liter water bottle, a great level of kindness!
    I made it to Hough and laid down while I ate the rest of my food. Food, rest and water made me feel a little better. The stubborn part of me tried justifying how I could continue on to Dix and descend the Beckhorn. The sensible part of me acknowledged that I was hiking solo, out of food, low on water, in the clouds with no views, with rain and potentially thunder arriving in about 90 minutes. As frustrating as it was, I shouldered my pack and started back to the Lillian Brook bailout herdpath. Right before the turn, I found another water bottle left standing in the path. TY TY TY!!!
    The first .4 miles down were pretty steep and everything was wet and slick. After that it was pretty nice and the Brook is beautiful. I drank the last of my water as I marched through the rain. I wanted to move faster, but the mud and rock hopping prevented that. I didn’t see another soul on the trail from Hough to the EL trailhead. It took me about 3 hours to do that.
    So, for anyone planning to hike the Dix Range, learn from my mistakes: Bring enough water and food. Understand that as beautiful as the views are along this range, it is a rough and stumbly herd path that could take anywhere from 10-12 hours or more. It was 9.5 for me, and that was cutting out Dix.

    A hot shower, strip steak, potato salad, cuc/Tom/mozzarella salad, two beers and I was crawling into my sleeping bag at 8:30.

    33/46

  • #2
    Thanks for the report, hoping to hit these four Saturday. I assume at this point the Lillian Brook herd path entry between Hough/S. Dix is fairly obvious?

    Comment


    • Not_Built_For_Speed
      Not_Built_For_Speed commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, it is a flat clearing with a three way intersection.

    • WeHikeForMike
      WeHikeForMike commented
      Editing a comment
      There's a "bump" you'll go over before ascending Hough, commonly called Pough (Huff-n-Puff). At the col between the two you'll see Lillian Brook to your left. It's been a few years since I've been there, so the trail is likely much more defined now.

  • #3
    Wow! I went through 5 liters of water, so I understand you not feeling so great by later in the day. I was sweating hard going up Hough as well. Maybe the humidity was higher than we thought. In fact I was sweating like crazy when I got to the slide on MacComb too. Anyways, way to go getting 4 of them. Now you have options on how to get Dix and you can get it on a day with a view which we did not have Sunday.

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    • #4
      For a different reason, I also skipped Dix on my first attempt at this range. However, that turned out to be a blessing because a couple years later I climbed Dix via Round Pond. That hike ended up being (arguably) my favorite from my 46er quest.

      Comment


      • Not_Built_For_Speed
        Not_Built_For_Speed commented
        Editing a comment
        FF&B are planning to do that very route.

    • #5
      These very reasons are why I broke this hike it into two delightful and manageable days.
      Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
      ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

      Comment


      • #6
        Smart decision on not pushing past your limit and now you get the chance to revisit the area from a different direction! Even though most people who attempt the full range in a day start with Macomb and end with Dix, I much prefer the reverse route. My second time going up to Dix (and my first time on the rest), I hiked the full range in a day and was glad to be "fresh" for the climb up to Dix. To me, that got the hardest part of the day over with early and I was able to relax and really enjoy myself for the rest of the peaks. The elevation gains / losses between the peaks felt fairly moderate and going down the Macomb slide wasn't too bad with careful stepping.
        We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige

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        • #7
          Excellent report. I have a lot of respect for your decision to come back another day for Dix. ‘glad to know “trail angels” are alive and well in the ADK!
          46/46, 20/46w "I only went out for a walk, and concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." John Muir

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          • #8
            Nice report. Any trip to the Dix range promises to be a big day. That open scramble up South Dix is one of my favorites! There's something special about it.

            On the topic of water in the Dix range, during my mid-August hike this year I found a surprisingly accessible source of water on the side trail that descends the col between South Dix and Macomb, (which connects to the Lillian Brook herd path). Just a couple of minutes of moderate descent from the col yielded a drainage with quite a lot of clean cool water flowing nicely. Perhaps not 100% reliable, and it's not exactly centrally located, but if I were on that end of the range and thirsty it would be worth the trip.

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by Not_Built_For_Speed View Post
              Sweat was pouring off me faster than I could drink.
              How hot was on that day?
              The slower you go on a hot day the less water you need and you are lees tired.

              BTW: From my point of view you were too fast. It took me 4:27 to reach Macomb summit (in winter).

              Comment


              • #10
                Originally posted by Yury View Post
                How hot was on that day?
                The slower you go on a hot day the less water you need and you are lees tired.

                BTW: From my point of view you were too fast. It took me 4:27 to reach Macomb summit (in winter).
                It warmed up to 80 or so, with high humidity. I’m sure I hiked too fast. I tend to do that when I’m alone. Lesson learned.

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