Mt Marcy, Haystack, Basin, and Saddleback

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Mt Marcy, Haystack, Basin, and Saddleback

New postby Sam » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:19 pm

Hello Everyone,

Yesterday 9-12-12 I set off for a very long day hike in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks with a gentleman I met on the summit of Algonquin last week. He goes by "PathGrinder" his real day to day name amongst mere mortals back within civilization is Brian. Of all the days one could meet a fellow motivated hiker I met Brian on his 46th peak for the Adk46er requirements. As we were chatting on the summit he revealed nonchalantly that he would try to climb an additional eleven peaks this year, so that he can stand amongst those who have climbed all 46 peaks for the adk46ers in one year!

Now I've met some outstanding athletes in my life, but this guy who is 55 years of age completely shakes my notions of being "over the hill". I mean most older folks that I've had the pleasure to hike with have complained to some degree about physical "things" mostly in regards to knees. However this guy just runs up and down these mountains like he's being pulled to the summit by the very forces that formed them.

Anyways back to yesterdays LONG HIKE. We were up at 4:00am and at the ADK Loj trail head by 5:30am and on the trail at 5:45am. The itinerary is as follows:

Climb Mt.Marcy, then Little Haystack and Haystack, followed by Basin, and lastly Saddleback. The total mileage is/was 19.2 miles for this hike, so I've been told. I didn't do the paper work. As far as elevation gain is concerned I'm not entirely sure. I recall Brian saying something about it being near 6000'. But this doesnt take the descents into account.

We were standing on Mt. Marcy at 9:00am, after a 3hr and 15min ascent. I usually don't keep punctual track of my climbing time, however Brian seems to enjoy announcing stuff like current elevation, time, projected arrival times, and so on. He delivers these readings in a rather boisterous, enthusiastic, and overall driven voice. The type of tone you'd expect for a marathon, or quintessential climb, such as Mckinley, or Everest.

On our way up little Haystack we noticed a woman climbing up Haystack. She was gliding along the rocks like a lizard. Her pack seemed very small compared to ours. Each of us was carrying 3litres of water and a single litre of an electrolyte mix, along with rain gear, cold weather gear, first aid, lunch ect. I envied her at that moment and longed to be climbing with her. Not to say that I wasn't enjoying my hike with Brian, but she seemed content with just climbing Haystack, which is a hell of a climb in its own rite. We later met on the summit and I wasn't able to say much as I got a weird muscular spasm in my stomach after sitting in a cross legged position...duhh. After all that exertion it's never good to get completely sedentary. So I sat as Brian chatted this girls ear off, while I tried to hide my grimace of pain. Soon we were leaving the summit of Haystack very promptly and "on time" to head towards Basin.

After dropping down from Haystacks 4961' summit we found ourselves in a col between Haystack and Basin. Soon I heard Brian announce in a congenial yet annoyed voice "3860'!" or somewhere along those lines. At that point we had lost sight of most of the prominent features of the Adirondacks; the slides, the craggy peaks, and all that magnificent stuff. We treated some water in the col from a good running source and soon found ourselves hiking briskly towards the summit of Basin.

I'm not sure of the time...Brian chime in now if you're reading this, but eventually we were standing on the summit of Basin. I love to lounge on the summits like a reptile basking in the sun, however due to our itinerary and the lack of daylight this time of year we were up and at it after about fifteen minutes. While looking around on each and every one of these Adirondack high peaks I was completely struck by the grandeur of the landscape. The same voice returned and began asking is this how I want to spend the rest of my life? In awesome places like this, but somehow chiseling out a living through outdoor recreation? It's a question I constantly contemplate. In the back country and while in the grind. I suppose it's just a matter of time, experience, and most importantly commitment.

Fifteen minutes on a mountain top is not a lot of time to absorb a landscape as grandiose as the Adirondacks. I suppose a lifetime isn't either. The painters and photographers that lurk around these beautiful American Landscapes can capture but a brief scene at a given time. Waiting for the light to dim and the contrast to come alive. But the living, moving, vibrating, sometimes stinky landscape that surrounds us while hiking or whatever it is we may be doing "out there" is something so overwhelming to a subtle mind that it could not conceivably be truly absorbed and withheld. The surface of the scene itself is enough. After that quick look around we shoulder our packs and are soon on our way.

From Basin the hike to Saddleback wasn't all that bad. There was one small qualm that I carried during the approach. Everyone we passed on the way to Saddleback had something to say about the cliffs. Brian talked about how he was practically stranded at a particular spot on the cliffs with no hand holds, during one of his past ascents of this mountain. The funny thing is that we never actually ran into this feared spot. I found myself doing some non technical moves to get up on these big slabs of granite and after a few pitches I was looking up at 55yr old Brian standing in front of some krumholz. I laughed out loud to myself and announced "did you purposely not say we got to that dicey spot just so I wouldn't hesitate"?
He replied "Nah I don't know what happened to that cliff. I think I somehow got off trail last time." With a quick look around at the sheer slabs of rock that were to the left and right of the yellow blazes and then down to the abyss below I realized he was definitely in a pinch, during his last climb of Saddleback.

We soon turned the corner to a grand vista on the summit and were welcomed by an amiable group of people who seemed to be enjoying themselves. One fellow was alone and carried a large leather bound journal in an old jansport back pack and then there was a couple in their late twenties or early thirties from Burlington Vt. They had some interesting things to say. I couldn't refrain from remarking aloud how the slides on the surrounding peaks reminded me of the slides during the last scene of Last ofthe Mohicans. I then got to discussing with the fellow with the jansport backpack how they filmed the movie in the Smokey Mountains and not the Adirondacks due to obvious reasons.

After leaving the summit I immediately noticed a change within me. I no longer had to climb any more mountains. It was just a six mile walk back to the Garden trail head where we spotted a car. During the walk back we walked over a nice slide where the trail has been rerouted due to the mayhem that Hurricane Irene caused for most trails in the North East. Before I knew it we were filling up our water bottles at Johns Brook Lodge and chatting with some other hikers. Everyone whom Brian shared our day with gave him a wild eyed look and declared something along the lines of "you did what?", or "holy moley", "You've been all over the place today". From Johns Brook Lodge to the Garden is about 3miles. This is mostly flat and we whizzed back to the car. During the walk back, Brian took a fall and some girls who were jogging past asked him if he was alright. "Im fine, Great, Golden, just angry". haha.

Earlier in the day we decided on eating at the Noonmark diner in Keene Valley. About 15minutes after we sat down that same girl from the summit of Haystack walked in and we welcomed her over to our table. We talked for a while and had a few laughs, revealed a little bit about ourselves and so on.

A long day well worth it! God bless yah Brian. He climbed big slide the day before this hike and today climbed the wolf jaws, pyramid, Armstrong, and Gothics. He's got three peaks left to go for a complete 46er list in one year, although he finished all 46 peaks last week.

Happy Trails!

P.S. we finished our hike at nearly 5:45pm.

Summit of Marcy
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Panther Gorge from summit of Haystack
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Approach of Marcy
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Approach of Haystack
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Last edited by Sam on Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:40 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Mt Marcy, Haystack, Basin, and Saddleback

New postby mike » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:27 pm

Great pictures and a great trip report. Very enjoyable to read.

Ultralight hiking is nice. But, if something goes wrong you can get yourself into real trouble. The problem with Marcy this time of year is that it can get cold or snow, so you do have to be careful.
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Re: Mt Marcy, Haystack, Basin, and Saddleback

New postby Sam » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:33 pm

Thanks Mike.

I put a wind breaker on as soon as we got on top of Marcy. After my body began to cool down and the wind picked up it got chilly. I had a lot of stuff in my pack that I didn't use, but if anything went wrong during our hike it would've got me through the night. Ultralight hiking is very enjoyable! Today I walked up Lundy Road down in Napanoch, Ny with just a 5lb pack. What a difference!

Fall is moving in slowly, but steadily up North. The leaves are beginning to change. Lots of dried up leaves on the trail. It's cool at night and in the morning. All the animals are bustling around putting up stores for the long trek through winter. The crowds have returned to their ordinary lives etc. Great time to be hill walking!

Oh I saw a Bear today on Lundy Rd. Just had to throw that in as a post script. Right on the side of the road foraging. I made a whooping noise and clapped my hands, then he was off before I knew it. Like lightning!
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