I headed out for the Adirondacks on Friday morning with the intentions of knocking a few more 4000'ers off of my list. I thought it would be quite an adventure to bushwhack 5 peaks in NY, solo, with Tropical Storm Irene heading through the region. After an uneventful 6 hour drive, I arrived at the relatively unmarked trailhead for the North Fork of the Boquet River off Rt 73 at 2:00 PM. After checking my gear and locking up the car, I hit the trail.
My first impression of this hike was the amazing swimming hole located not 1/10th of a mile up the trail from the highway. There was a huge deep pool and rocks 1', 15', and 30' high that you could jump off. Unfortunately I'd have to wait for another time before I could partake in this.
I was a little worried that the trail I was taking was unmarked/de-trailed/a bushwhack and the guidebook only had minimalist instructions on how to follow it. I spent the first half hour wandering around and trying to find the right herd path into the woods. After all but deciding to bag it and start at a different trailhead, I stumbled upon an 8' wide thoroughfare that was supposed to be my bushwhack upriver.
After hiking about a mile in, and finding another beautiful picnic spot and swimming hole, I had the first of my two mystical moments on this trip. When I stopped at a Subway for lunch earlier on my drive to NY, I asked for stamps after I paid for my order. (Buy 8 subs, get one free - you know?) The cashier told me they didn't give out stamps anymore. When I got to this spot at the river, I noticed a piece of paper by a rock near the water. It was a card from Subway with 2 stamps on it in perfect condition! What an eerie coincidence!
I crossed the river and followed the trail for another mile or so and as it started to get narrower, I decided to take a little side trail to a nice campsite next to the river for a break. As I sat on a rock and lamented to myself that I forgot to bring a compass, I looked down and about 5 feet away from where I was sitting was a compass just laying there in the dirt! I brushed it off and checked it out, and it worked perfectly! Ever get the feeling that someone up there is looking out for you?
I followed the trail for awhile longer and just as I started to get confused, I noticed that someone had made their own blazes with neon-orange spray paint on trees where it was most confusing. How convenient! From there on, I followed the herd path and the blazes to the foot of the East Dix slide, went up, and summited at 6:30 PM.
I wandered down off East Dix in a howling wind, went off trail for a bit, and finally made it to a sheltered area in the col on the way to South Dix. I camped here for the night and prayed that it wouldn't rain too hard overnight.
Well, it rained more than enough overnight. The good news was that the herd path on the ridge was easy to follow. The bad news was that there were no views all day and every branch in the trail was soaking wet and I was completely drenched within 1/2 an hour of breaking camp.
Anyway, here is what I remember from the next 6.5 hours:
Broke camp at 8:30 AM. Summited South Dix at 9:15. Left my pack and summited Macomb at 9:45. Returned to South Dix at 10:10. Summited Hough at 10:55 and met three friendly, jovial people that insisted they weren't peakbaggers and that they were merely "just crazy". Summited Dix at 10:53. (I still don't know what a "beckhorn" is...) Met "Dave" on the way down, who let me partake in his delightful selzer water. (Thanks, Dave!)
Met up with a group of college kids that were discussing the merits of chocolate bars. One of them asked me "when I peaked"... I thought it was a funny question, so I replied, "about 6 years ago but I'm hanging on okay." From there, I just slogged on for 2.5 more hours and made it out to the road at 2:56 PM. The rain had stopped a little below the Dix slide and I made 22 minute miles for the last 4.5 miles or so.
The trip home wasn't uneventful, as my car started to give me problems and I hitched a ride into Keene Valley with Wayne Rhino Flower, former drummer for such notable Seattle indie bands The Tree People and The Halo Benders. Seemed like a nice guy. I managed to get the Subaru running and made it home okay, but I couldn't resist bagging one more peak on the ride home...
I pulled off across from McGrath's Tavern at what I recall was the Inn at Long Trail on Route 4 in Vermont. It was 7:15 PM and the Red Sox had just lost on the radio, so I decided to run up Pico Peak, one of the remaining peaks on my NEHH list. I brought my headlamp since I knew it would be getting dark soon. I ran up the 2.9 miles in 44 minutes, catching a neat sunset from the ski slopes, and ran down in 36 minutes in the dark. Back on the road at 8:45 and six more peaks in the bag. 18 of the 46ers down in 2 weekends, and 65 of the hundred highest... hopefully I'll finish this year but that's a lot of driving!