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3 days, 2 nights, 1 peak !

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  • 3 days, 2 nights, 1 peak !

    3 days, 2 nights, 1 peak !

    No , it wasn’t a 3 legged sack race ! The emphasis on this trip was spending time with my 2 oldest sons while making things as comfortable as possible with a moderate amount of hiking. I want to get them “hooked” and I think this trip did it, or at least helped. This was the opposite philosophy from my last 23 mile day hike.

    We arrived at the northern-most Upper Works parking lot about 2PM on Friday 9/30. It had been a 7 hour trip from Boston , NY including a stop in Old Forge to rent 2 bear canisters ($10 a day for both ,“Backpackers Cache”). Since we brought way too much stuff we took an hour to sort through things and decide what to leave. Then we repeated the process until we got it down to a manageable amount. My definition of manageable, that afternoon, means we all had full packs and I also carried a hockey gear back slung around my neck and hanging in the front. The parking lot was full and there were people arriving.
    We registered and put “boots on trail” by 3PM heading for Flowed Lands (along Calamity Brook) and hopefully a lean-to. I brought a 10x20 sheet of plastic in case we couldn’t get one. I figured we’d beat the weekend rush for grabbing a lean-to but as the trip wore on and a few people blew past us, I started to feel like we probably would be sleeping under plastic.

    We moved along pretty well, took 3 stops and passed a few people. My boys were doing
    great and no one developed any blisters or equipment problems. Our spirits were high in anticipation of seeing some great views over the weekend that had such a glorious forecast. I like this trail. It’s 4.5 miles and raises 1000 feet on the way in, which is nice when you are coming back out. We arrived at Calamity Lean-tos at 6 PM and moved in at the first one with 2 fellows from Philadelphia. I was not about to chance going any further and wind up with nothing.
    The men from “Philly” (Jerry and Mark) were gracious about sharing and were very compatible. They were experienced hikers and I learned a few things talking with them and seeing their gear. Earlier that day they had hiked Marcy and there was snow on top ! They said it had been 28 degrees that morning.

    We blew up our air mattresses, spread out our bags and boiled some water for our dehydrated meals and hot cocoa. I have a single burner propane stove (cost $20) and a single mantle propane lantern (cost $15). Therefore, I bring 2 bottles of propane to run both at the same time. This is cheap way to go, although heavier.

    We hit the sack by 9PM after putting on our “down” ski parkas with hoods up. This was pretty comfortable sleeping and nobody was cold. There was no bear activity during the night. We were careful to get everything edible, and all garbage, in a bear canister and away from the lean-to (regulations say 100’).

    I was up at 5:30 and watched the sun rise over Mt Colden while enjoying multiple coffees and smokes. My boys were up at 8:30 and we headed out by 10. Breakfast was oatmeal, cocoa, coffee, trail mix, and power bars. The day looked like the gift it was forecasted to be and I figured we should head for Algonquin from Lake Colden to take full advantage of the views. I thought the short steep trail would be better than pounding out a longer trail since you flex your body in more positions and use your hands a fair amount as you ascend. I swore I’d never do this trail again, because it’s a relentless climb (2 miles). We took it slow and stopped often. About ¼ of the way up you will find yourself on open ,bare rock with nice views of Colden. We stopped for a while and enjoyed the sun and views. Things were perfect.
    Then my son Zack said he was feeling ill, like a cold coming on. I told him some good hard work might drive it away (elevated body temperatures) and he agreed. He took some Tylenol, I took his pack, and we continued. We kept working along, passing some folks, and getting passed by others. My 2 packs were giving me the kind of exercise I love, Zack was feeling OK and Tyler was way friskier than I thought he’d be. I wondered if there was a more aggravating way to climb this trail than with 2 packs sticking out and catching on everything when my question was answered. A guy came along with a small dog on a leash with 2 female companions. The dog , unable to follow the markers or climb when necessary, would get tangled or have to be lifted and carried frequently. We passed each other numerous times and although they didn’t speak English, I’m guessing they all weren’t too happy by the tones, hand gestures and volume.
    We got to the intersection of the trail over to Boundary/Iroquois and stopped to put on our winter coats. It was windy and we were soaked and wanted to avoid getting chilled. I even had brought heavy duty PVC rainpants for protection from the wind but everyone passed on the offer. We slowly went to the peak, enjoying the splendor of the moment. The views were breath-taking and beyond what I had imagined. It’s one thing to look at everyone’s pictures but this was light years above and beyond.
    We hung out for a while , out of the wind as best we could. Then it was time to move on. We were going to work our way over to Iroquois and then head down to Cold Brook Pass. I think the chill knocked Zack back down a few pegs because he didn’t want to do anything but go down hill. Going back down that steep trail was the last thing I wanted to do but I figured “ what the heck” and we took off. It was slow and careful going but we made it down by 4:30 or so. We got back to our Calamity lean-to by 6 and were pretty beat. It was an easy transition to dinner and bed since we were all set up. More “Backpackers pantry” and cocoa then sipped some brandy. It was a great nights sleep. I can’t imagine giving up my air mattress, even if it is heavier than other mats.
    I was up at 5:30 making coffee and puttering/packing as quietly as possible .I think we broke camp at 9:30 and hit the parking lot at 1PM. We had a long stop along the way since it was such a nice day. We saw a few groups heading in towards the peaks and a few groups passed us heading out. It was good to hit the van and change into the fresh clothes we had waiting. We agreed that sub’s, chips and pop would be on the agenda when we hit Old Forge . It was heavenly.

    Things I learned :

    Giant zip-lock bags are great for compressing your clothes, sleeping bag or winter coat.
    Pita bread would have really been nice to have with the dehydrated dinners.
    A nice warm weekend brought out a lot more people than I imagined would show up.
    Don’t count on a Lean-to.
    I’ll probably always bring my “down” parka and rain pants to enjoy the summits.
    Power bars are good fuel but aren’t very pleasurable to consume.
    I need a bigger pack . The one I have is nice with lots of compartments but it doesn’t hold enough. I had about 70 pounds of stuff but had to carry an extra bag.
    Training on the treadmill, fully elevated with a 45 pound pack is good preparation.

  • #2
    Sounds like a good hike with the boys, glad that Zack didn't get too ill. One more thing to remember, that Colden trail to the Boundary/Algonquin col is best taken one war, DOWN! Unfortunately, from where you were staying, you would have to go around through Avalanche Pass and up the other side of Algonquin to accomplish that.


    • #3
      Nice report. I used that trail to climb my first high peak (Algonquin). I've been going back ever since!
      This post is for entertainment purposes only.