Our original plan was to hike in from Upper Works to Up Hill Lean to and use that as base for a couple of days. The plans changed as we saw shelters being full on the way up and I didn't want to take a chance. We decided to stop at Colden Dam lean to area...I can't believe we got my favorite spot but it was open with only 2 guys in it. We dropped our stuff and got ready for the next day.

Up early and ready to go I went down to the lake to just take it all in and pray. I was blessed to see a loon just swimming along as the fog was lifting. It was amazing. Got Matthew up and we headed out for the day. Matthew wanted to hit Marcy first because this would mark his official half way point through the 46ers. He told me this as we started up Gray so we backtracked to make him happy. Lucky thing we hadn't gone that far. On the way up by the Felspar junction we saw a pile of bear skat that was mostly plastic rappers with the food still in them? We were warned by the ranger the night before not to cook after 7:00 and to get what we needed out of our canister and immediately lock it back up. She wasn't joking as we were to hear.

The climb up Marcy is up, up, up but oh so pretty. We reached the top and was talking to the ranger up there. We told him we had wanted to stay at Up Hill Lean to but was afraid it was going to be full so we opted not to. (P.S. It was not full at all, but empty when we went by) He said that they had lots of bear activity in that area and we made the better choice. I was happy to hear that. After sitting a bit and taking in the views (there was hardly anyone up there because it was still early), we headed down and over to Skylight. Skylight is short and sweet and we made quick work of that. We didn't stay too long because we decided that if we hit the junction for Cliff and Redfield and felt good, we were going to attempt to add them to the day.

Over to Gray again. This time to the top and back. haha. I hated that first rock you had to go down and we did that twice because that is where we turned around the first time. We met a group at the summit as we were heading down. We were making good time and still felt great so off we went to see if we could hit our time. We did by 10 minutes.

Up Cliff. When I did this 11 years ago, the only real worry I had was to not get lost in all the herd paths that were near the summit. This time....oh that trail is a mess....lots of erosion and mud. It is sad to see. The cliffs were a lot worse that I remember especially the last one that had me quite intimidated. Matthew scrambled right up it but when I tried, I got stuck in the middle. There was a husband and wife waiting to make sure I made it up OK. He was a rock climber and trying to help me. I ended up backing down and going another way. I didn't look forward to going down that. My heart was still beating crazy when we reached the summit of Cliff. Matthew had offered to go and tag the summit and come back so I wouldn't have to climb Cliff but there was no way I was going to allow that.

Coming back to "the spot", Matthew went first. My heart was in my throat. I have a great imagination and kept thinking he was going to slip on that stuff on the rocks and just fall and get very hurt. I cried and prayed but he was fine. Then it was my turn. I had to calm myself and then I went the way the other people went. I made it down. I was shaking. (The older I get, the less I like hanging from a cliff unless I have something to hang onto.) Matthew and I hugged and then I told him it was time to put that part behind us. The rest was a breeze.

We made it to the junction and headed up Redfield. It is rooty and rocky but fine with me.....no cliffs. haha. We hit the summit and sat for a bit. The black flies were annoying us so we couldn't stay long plus we still had the 2ish miles back to our lean to and we were hungry so off we went.

I had no idea the ruckus that was going to be going on at Up Hill lean to but we were to find out the next day when we resaw the father/son and 2 other guys we saw on Cliff. Apparently the 2 guys got down and went to start cooking supper. One guy said, he started the water and went to get more and when he turned, the bear was charging. They grabbed what they could but the bear got the canister and proceeded to empty the contents. The father and son were already in their tents with the son sleeping. The father got out to see the commotion and tried to get a couple pictures which scared the bear temporarily but he kept coming back. The both ended up packing up and leaving for around where we were.

We didn't dare cook because we got back after 7:00. We just had cold food even though we were starving. There was a Canadian couple that didn't know that and were surprised. They weren't there when the ranger came through. They were nice and ate only cold food also. We cleaned up and headed to bed. Around 9:30ish (it was dark) I heard what I thought was someone swimming...apparently it was a bear and he was coming our way. We could see people with their headlamps flashing them at the water and making noise. I did a lot of praying that he would just keep going. He did and then we heard the people on the other side of us banging things together, screaming, clapping....it was an eventful night but our food and us were safe.

The next day, after a long night (the mosquitos were horrible...no breeze and I forgot our bug hats and lost my bug spray somewhere that day) we got up, packed up and headed over to Marshall. I dropped my full pack and headed up. I love this trail. It is so pretty out of all the trails in the ADKs...so green. Even with the lack of rain it was still pretty. We got to the summit and just relaxed and savored our end to our weekend of climbing. It was time to head down. We ended up seeing the father and son from the day before and that is when we heard the story of the bear. We waited while they tagged the summit and then headed down together. It was nice the boys (both 9) had someone their own age to chat with for the long walk out.

What a great weekend. The weather held out for us. We met new friends and accomplished our goals. Can't ask for more!