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rookie
08-21-2005, 08:14 PM
I am hoping to get some advice about hiking. My wife and I are eager to try some more challenging hiking trails and we are thinking of trying the Van Hoevenberg trail. We are in pretty good shape and but have not done a hike of that magnitude before. We would like to try this the second week of Sept. Maybe spend the night up near the 4000' mark. I have read about the bears and I am somewhat hesitant about meeting one. I also am not sure what to expect of the weather. I am basically wondering if we would be taken too much on, on our first hike of this nature, what equipment is necessary and recommended, etc..........

AntlerPeak
08-21-2005, 09:00 PM
We would like to try this the second week of Sept. Maybe spend the night up near the 4000' mark.

First of all you cannot camp above 3500 feet and you must be 150 feet from the water ( brook lake pond etc) and 150 feet from the trail. This makes it difficult to find a legal campsite near that elevation.

I have read about the bears and I am somewhat hesitant about meeting one.

New regulations require that for camping in the Eastern High Peaks you use a bear cannister see link
http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=2339
Bears are a real problem in that area.

I also am not sure what to expect of the weather. I am basically wondering if we would be taken too much on, on our first hike of this nature, what equipment is necessary and recommended, etc..

That is a hard one you can expect most anything at that time of year. At 4000 feet you could have snow, for that matter in the lower elevations snow could occur as well.
You will need warm clothing, a good sleeping bag, the walmart car camping type won't work for backpacking. Rain gear is a must, preferably a rain jacket and rain pants. You will need a good backpacking stove. Coleman peak 1 for instance is not too expensive and is rather easy to operate. Not much different from your standard camp stove but designed for backpacking. I am sure I left something out. go to your local library and look at some basic backpacking books there are a lot of them out there.

It can sound overwhelming but it really isn't I'd suggest that you try staying in a camp ground and do day hiking instead. A serviceable day pack some warm clothing and rain gear along with a map guidebook and compass would be about all you would have to worry about. For instance the Van Hovenburg trail can be done as a long day trip. Try something shorter Cascade Mt or perhaps Phelps Mt Phelps utilizes the Van trail and is half the distance or so that it is to Marcy. It would give you a good idea of how well you would do on that trail. until you know how long it takes you to hike over distance and ascent.

imarchant
08-22-2005, 09:17 AM
Welcome to VFTT. This site is a great source of information. Below is a list, from various sources, of recommended items for day hiking. For overnight you will need to add sleeping and cooking gear.

Ten Essentials
The special items that should ALWAYS be with you:
1. Map
2. Compass
3. Flashlight/headlamp
4. Extra Clothing
5. Extra Food
6. Sunglasses
7. First aid supplies (include an extra day of medication you are taking or might need in an emergency)
8. Pocket knife
9. Matches
10. Fire starter

Outdoor Clothing
Boots: Of heavy lug construction, they should fit comfortably snug with free play for toes and with little or no slippage on the heel. The boots should be weather proofed and broken in before hiking.
Socks: Four pairs recommended; two of lightweight nylon and two of heavy wool. Wear one pair of wool socks over one lightweight pair. The other two pairs go into your pack in case you need dry socks.
Pants: Constructed to be loose, warm, comfortable, and quick drying. For added warmth, wear polypropylene underwear.
Shirts: Light, man-made fiber - such as bunting or nylon pile - recommended for good insulating quality and quick drying.
Jacket: Mountain style with a hood, wind-proofed, water-proofed, and sized large enough to cover more insulating clothes worn under it.
Head Covering: Styled to retain body heat or provide shade as changing weather dictates.
Gloves or Mittens.
Rain Gear: A lightweight poncho, or rain pants and hooded parka.
Equipment
The following list of items, in addition to the ten essential, is designed to support life under any trip emergency in the backcountry, regardless of the season or weather conditions. Learn how to use it. Keep it always in your pack and check the condition of these items periodically. Your life may depend on it.
Wire saw. The saw is for cutting large pieces of wood for an emergency fire.
Space blanket. The space blanket can be used as a wind breaker, heat reflector, and as a signaling device for air rescue. Wave the red side up when standing on snow; the silver side up when standing on dark grounds.
3 large plastic leaf bags. For quick rain and wind protection, put one bag over your head, the second around your legs, and the third over your backpack. Make a gap in the first for breathing.
Duct tape. This is handy for general repairs to space blankets, clothing, tents, boots, etc.
Ensolite pad. Reduce body heat loss by sitting or sleeping on pad instead of cold ground.
Metal cup to melt snow.
Extra safe (boiled or filtered) drinking water.
Iodine tablets or water pump
Whistle and signal mirror and 50 feet of parachute cord.
Sun cream, chapstick.
Toilet paper.
Insect repellent.
Extra pair of glasses (if you wear glasses).
Recommended First Aid Kit
(No.) Item Use
(1) Triangular Bandage Hold compresses or splints in place.
(1) "Ace" Bandage Supports weakened limb joints. Holds compresses or splints in place.
(3) Sterile pads 4"X 4" Dress large wounds.
(1) 4" bandage compress Dresses large wounds.
(6) Band-aids Treat small wounds.
(1) Roll of adhesive tape Holds compress or splint in place.
(4) Moleskin tape squares Prevent and treat blisters.
(3) Antiseptic towelettes Cleans wounds
(2) Antibiotic ointment Treat small wounds
(4) Acetaminophen Relieves aches and pains.
or Ibuprofen Tablets.
(1) Small scissors Cuts moleskin and tape.
(2) Safety pins Hold compresses or splints in place. Open blisters Make arm sling from shirt sleeve.
(1) Tweezers Remove splinters and ticks.
(1) Backpack medical guide
(1) Waterproof Bag Holds all of the above.

see below for Word.doc version of this list

catskillclimber
08-22-2005, 09:25 AM
rookie, I have to agree with AntlerPeak. The Van Hoveburg trail to Phelps would be a great way of testing yourselves out to see if your up for Marcy. Plus you get the bonus of a great view when you reach the top of Phelps. This should give you a good idea if you would rather hike the whole Van Hovenburg trail as a day hike or maybe even stay in the Loj, enjoy the company, then head out nice and early to give yourselves time. Bring crampons, you never know. Enjoy.
cc

dr_wu002
08-22-2005, 09:34 AM
Bring crampons, you never know. Enjoy.
cc
!?!?

The second weekend in September? Not a very good thing to tell someone new to hiking in my opinion! :eek: '

My advice is to use common sense... lots of people hike Marcy in jeans and cotton t-shirts and no packs. I don't recommend this at all but Mt. Marcy is not Olympus Mons (http://www.kahl.net/astro/graphics/mons_olympus_large.jpg) either. Get a decent pair of hiking shoes, a pack that'll hold some gear (it might get cold) and plenty of water and food. If you go on a weekend, The Van Hoevenberg Trail will feel like you're still on I-87 so you probably (as long as you stay on trail) won't get lost or anything. The trail is a little on the long side (15 miles round trip) but very easy until the last mile or so when you start to hit treeline. At that point it's only slightly more steep but there are a lot of false-summits. You think you're about to reach the top but then you realize you have more to go. Good Luck and have fun.

-Dr. Wu

ADK4Life
08-22-2005, 09:37 AM
Always come to any mountain prepared. The one thing about our hobby is that we never know when disaster may strike, it is pure randomness. Make sure you are ready when and if that time comes.

dr_wu002
08-22-2005, 09:44 AM
Always come to any mountain prepared. The one thing about our hobby is that we never know when disaster may strike, it is pure randomness. Make sure you are ready when and if that time comes.
This makes it sound like they should prepare to walk through a war-zone. Honestly... I feel a lot safer in the woods than I do walking through Boston (muggings, drunk drivers, reckless T-drivers and getting caught in thunder storms while walking around).

Just use logic... what are some of the things you feel like you'd need on a 15 mile walk on a moderately steep and very popular trail. If you're planning to camp (Marcy Dam?) you'll need more provisions (bear canister) but again, you're not walking to Everest. Trial and Error and have a lot of fun!

-Dr. Wu

ADK4Life
08-22-2005, 10:37 AM
You should always bring weather protection regardless of the ease of the trail. There is exposure on marcy and other issues that need to be taken into account. This may be a really simple trail but its always wise to factor with possibilites of bad scenarios. This is advice that should be given to beginners.

Mike P.
08-22-2005, 10:51 AM
Rookie, can you provide us with a few shorter hikes you've done that gives you the idea you are ready for a 15 mile hike? Mid-September can be interesting although snow & below freezing weather is not probable, it is quite possible.

Phelps is a nice walk, many people start doing ADK peaks with Cascade & if they feel good, skip over to Porter also. They weould be better ADK 4k's to start with.

Do you camp now? Camping skills are not the same as hiking, full packs slow you down, animal concerns, sanitation & cooking require skill & planning as others have mentioned.

Hikerdad
08-22-2005, 12:52 PM
Rookie:

You may want to consider camping at the Heart lake campground at the Loj or at the "primitve" sites at South Meadow and do a challenging day hike as an intro to the high peaks...You could do Algonquin and Wright from the Loj and consider the loop down to Avalanche lake and back through Avalanche pass (this would be a challenging hike)...there are many good hikes and people on this site and others will willingly share thoughts and ideas. These mountains are big and will challenge you so don't underestimate them.

The thing about backpacking in the high peaks is (and I made this mistake on my first baclpacking trip) is that there is really only tenting sites near the various lean-to's....you really can't just stop and camp someplace (the land is too steep or the brush is too thick or it is wet). There are tenting sites away from the LT's scattered around but they're tough to find. Plus there are the various rules and regs that limit what you can do. Climbing these mountains with a full pack is very tough (probably tougher than you think).

Definitely get a good map (Nat'l Geo maps are great...they have the mileage right on them) and a good guidebook (Adk Mountain Club guides and map are good) as you do your planning.

On my first backapcking trip I thought I'd just climb over these two mountains (Saddleack and Basin) and find a place somewhere along the trail to camp....wrong...there were no places where it was possible to camp and the climb with the packs was just plain tough...finally I went all the way back down into the valley to a lean-to and thankfully found a place there...even though it was tough I fell in love with the area and just keep learning from my mistakes...

Hiking the high peaks is a great experience and well worth the effort, just don't ruin it the first time out by doing too much...unless you're nuts like me!

giggy
08-22-2005, 01:13 PM
listen to WU -

crampons in september is useless weight - rookie don't do this - if you need them on this hike I will personally kiss my own arse at the next gathering in front of everyone. I have never been up marcy - but can't imagine crampons needed anywhere in the NE this early - but I guess I have been wrong before.

I think the bear issue is a bit more problematicc in NY than NH/ME - but typically - stow your food properly - don't eat in/near the tent and you shouldn't have to worry about bears. Chances of not seeing one are far greater than seeing one. I know how you feel though- I have been hiking/camping for years and still have a paranoia about bears.

ADK4Life
08-22-2005, 01:27 PM
I was at Marcy Dam around the last week of October last year and there were people coming down from Marcy that had not used crampons. There is no way you would need that type of protection this time of year.

TEO
08-22-2005, 02:05 PM
I'm with Giggy, you will not need crampons on this hike. Some have offered good advice, others have offered daunting lists that I would deem to be a tad overkill.

All you really need is a cell phone and a GPS.
:D
JUST KIDDING!

dreamstream
08-22-2005, 02:49 PM
ADK4life posted, "The one thing about our hobby is that we never know when disaster may strike, it is pure randomness." Respectfully, I don't think this is true. Just look carfully and untangle the histroy string of any "disaster" and it will quickly come to light that it was a sequence or a chain of events.

for example

Bad weather = person forgot to check forcast or ignored signs of changing weather = person was inexperienced

Hypothermia - Poor clothing = person was inexperienced

Became lost - no map + weak navigation skills +hypothermia +bad weather

Fell - result of being cold + tired +lost + wearing unsuitable footware

died of exposure - result of not telling anyone where they were going, getting separated from the group....

Break the chain at any point and "disaster" could have been averted"

So there are are the basics to do, cloths, map, emergency gear, shelter, guidbook, compass... read all about it... (chain breakers) But what about experience, here lies the paradox, you can't gain experience without doing, and doing without experience can get you killed (RISK and it yours to take). So take a bag of "chain breakers" and some good judjment and build on it.

bear can is a good thing, this was the first year I used one and found it to be a break from the hastle of playing capture the bag with the bears.

My bear encounter count this year is at 5, about average for me, not 1 problem which is also about average, though I have noted a strong decline in my bear encounter problems over the years, with a strong corrilation to learning to keep a clean camp.

Forget the pots and pans, stove.... if it's just for a weekend I would bring cold meals just to keep things light and simple. lots of high NRG snacks, don't forget the water filter or other H20 treatment.

spaddock
08-22-2005, 03:20 PM
crampons in september is useless weight - rookie don't do this - if you need them on this hike I will personally kiss my own arse at the next gathering in front of everyone.

If we get snow or a cold snap in September I'll definitely be at the gathering... :eek:

-Shayne

audrey
08-22-2005, 07:05 PM
It may be a "short" hike for some of you at 15 miles, but someone without hardened feet or with overly soft boots could suffer mightily on the way down on all those rocks. Rookie, if you've tried hikes like Phelps or Porter and Cascade and did fine, then you're certainly ready for Marcy. You could always camp at Marcy Dam to shorten summit day.

Better yet, camp near Feldspar Brook and ascend Marcy that way. It's much less crowded and you could climb Skylight/Gray if you're still feeling frisky.

rookie
08-24-2005, 08:59 PM
All your advice is much appreicated... :)

After reading everything here, I have mixed feelings about whether we are ready for a 15 mile backpack hike. We have some light weight equipment but not all. We have done 10-15 km hikes before in northern Ontario but we do not do it regularly. I was basically relying on my camping skills, common sense and my physical aptitude. I am still really eager, Bears are what scare me, I thought of bringing bear spray. I am also getting a better understanding of how to manage food and site, from all your advice and extra reading. Perhaps we will camp at Marcy dam if we go or maybe we will just go for the day. Here is another question... should we take a radio or cell phone( not sure it will work) and is there any one in the area that we should notify that we are going if we decide to stay over night?

Thanks again

spaddock
08-24-2005, 09:36 PM
Rookie,

You sound nervous about it, which is fine. You mentioned Northern Ontario and being from Ottawa, I've hiked in Algonquin Park and other places around there. Elevation makes a huge difference in the amount of distance you can cover in the day.

That being said, I think you are worrying too much. If you are nervous go for the day. Hike into Marcy dam, check it out, and maybe go up Phelps. That would be a great intro to the park and you get to bag a high peak. Then after you've had one experience you can gauge how much to do the next time. Besides Marcy Dam is really close to the Trailhead and the shelters fill up super fast.

Letting someone know your intinerary is always a good idea.

Hope your first trip is a blast!

-Shayne

imarchant
08-24-2005, 09:59 PM
All your advice is much appreicated... :)

After reading everything here, I have mixed feelings about whether we are ready for a 15 mile backpack hike. We have some light weight equipment but not all. We have done 10-15 km hikes before in northern Ontario but we do not do it regularly. I was basically relying on my camping skills, common sense and my physical aptitude. I am still really eager, Bears are what scare me, I thought of bringing bear spray. I am also getting a better understanding of how to manage food and site, from all your advice and extra reading. Perhaps we will camp at Marcy dam if we go or maybe we will just go for the day. Here is another question... should we take a radio or cell phone( not sure it will work) and is there any one in the area that we should notify that we are going if we decide to stay over night?

Thanks again

Remember, you can always turn around and go back if it becomes to much. Pick a time that you will turn back, no matter where you are. As far as the bears, with cannisters now mandatory, as long as you are neat and cook away from your sleeping area there should not be problem. Cell phones will most likely work from near the summits, but should not be relied on and used consideratly of others.

Silverback
08-27-2005, 11:20 AM
It is possible to need crampons in September, but it would be gross overkill to bring them. I've been on Marcy at the end of June and started out in 65 degree weather. By the time I arrived at the summit, it was sleet and ice, almost enough to justify crampons. Same could happen in September, but not likely. As others have said, this is not Everest, but people can and do die in these mountains.

Best tool to have is common sense. On that day in June, I ran into hikers who were totally unprepared for weather (t-shirts, shorts and sneakers) and insisted on continuing on beyond the treeline, despite my caution. One was already shivering uncontrollably. Thankfully, two rangers appeared who turned them around.

You can always turn around. If you run into a situation that you are unequipped for, back off. Nonetheless, you should carry enough gear that would allow you to survive a night in the woods in the event of an accident. Space blanket, fleece, gorp, rain gear and a water filter should be more than enough for September to serve that purpose.

Being a bit nervous is a good thing. Keeps you sharp. Many times it is the experienced roofer who falls off the roof because he gets too comfortable up there. I never got seriously hurt up there until long after I completed my 46. You get to a point when you feel almost invulnerable, and that's when you are likely to make a dumb mistake.

Have fun! If an old guy like me can survive the 46, you should have no trouble at all.

una_dogger
08-28-2005, 07:41 PM
ADK is offering a guided backpack of the Santanoonis Sept 3 to 5. The cost is $110 but it may be a great way for you to learn the ropes and ease some of your concerns.

For info check out the ADK at www.adk.org

ADK4Life
08-28-2005, 09:57 PM
I highly advise making sure that you are used to long descents before attempting this hike. If your feet are not used to a long day on the trail you may find the descent to be quite unplesant. Make sure to bring enough water or a filter. I took this trail yesterday and was fine with 2 litres each.

ALGonquin Bob
08-28-2005, 10:29 PM
Funny... I was just talking to my wife and her friend about a trek up to Marcy in mid-September. Crampons never entered my mind. We won't be carrying crampons or snowshoes. We WILL be carrying extra warm clothing, gloves and rain gear.

Our friend asked about staying at Marcy Dam to shorten the trip, but since Marcy Dam is a very easy walk in of less than one hour, it's not worth hauling in packs and extra gear to camp there. We'll do the Van Hoevenberg trail to Marcy as a leisurely day hike of perhaps 11 hours, and that's what I recommend to you. Watch the weather forcast, but still prepare for foul weather. Most of all, have fun.

P.S.: Santanoni as a warm-up? I consider the Santanoni's as much more difficult than the VH "highway" up to Marcy. An easy warm-up would be Cascade, for one.

ADK4Life
08-29-2005, 12:01 AM
It was damn hot on Marcy Saturday. I put my shell on for a bit of relief from the wind but was too warm. This trail is very easy for ascent, probably the easiest of the 46ers I have been on, I found Cascade to be steeper. As the weather slowly drops the trail conditions will change fast. I advise camping at the Dam as the 2.4 from the dam to the loj tends to drag on after hours of hiking. Cutting off 4.8 RT from the trail would make for a much more enjoyable day.

Raymond
08-29-2005, 02:52 AM
There's no need to consider Marcy a "backpack" hike unless you're trying to go out of your way to camp out. Yes, it's about 15 miles, but most people can hike it in 10-11 hours. Check the weather report before you leave and you can leave most of the gear suggested here at the motel or wherever you stay. You'll save your knees and make the hike more pleasant the less weight you carry. We met a young fellow who never hiked anywhere without carrying a tent, sleeping bag, extra food, etcetera, and needed a knee operation at about the age of 20. I couldn't bear my pack on my back anymore so I switched to a hip bag in 2000 and I'm much happier.

Animals. I'm 22 High Peaks into my second round of the Forty-Six and I've never encountered a bear while on a hike. Saw one way down the road while driving through Algonquin Provincial Park in 1990, and at Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln, New Hampshire, when I was a kid. We met a deer once in the Adirondacks, just after leaving Johns Brook Lodge on our way to Yard Mountain. That was in 1999. Nothing else wild bigger than a woodchuck, and the woodchuck was near the St. Huberts parking lot just last week when we climbed Noonmark. I've seen plenty of deer tracks, but only the one deer. Bear track once, near the Flowed Lands. Never a moose track. Thought we saw a moose poop last week between Moose and McKenzie Mountains, but, as it was only one doot (as my ex-wife would have said), it was probably from something else.

una_dogger
08-29-2005, 11:02 AM
P.S.: Santanoni as a warm-up? I consider the Santanoni's as much more difficult than the VH "highway" up to Marcy. An easy warm-up would be Cascade, for one.

No I was actually referring to the technical experience of backpacking they may gain on a guided hike, but I'm not so sure that this hike is open to beginners. Just an idea :rolleyes: