"The hardest hike I have ever taken!"
to Mt Dix
Taking a break from Word of Life Inn, I drove 20 miles north to the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks today for a hike and a campout.
I started at a pull off from Rte 73, 3.1 miles north of its intersection with Rte 9. My aim was to hike the 6.7 miles to the summit of the mountain and then hike down most of the way so that I have a short drive the next day.
I began the hike about 930 AM, in a slight misting rain. The first objective was Round Lake, about 0.6 mi from the road. That easily accomplished with a short steep climb, I moved on to an intersection with two other trails another 1.7 miles up the mountain. On this climb, I ran across two groups of hikers. One was a group of guys that said they were headed for the same shelter I was considering as a possible place to spend the night. The other was a group of girls, no plans shared, or asked for.
I passed both groups without difficulty and reached the intersection. Turning left, toward Mt Dix, I proceeded down a flat, muddy path. Wearing my sandals with socks began to look less and less like a good idea.
After an hour, I reached the Boquet Shelter. I stopped for a couple minutes of rest, leaving there at 1230 PM. The trail from there to the top was only 2.5 miles, but ascended more than 2000 feet. I walked for 2 hours, on a severely steep and rugged trail. I have not seen its like anywhere on the AT. Still a thousand feet shy of the summit, I turned around, out of time and defeated by the worst trail I have ever seen.
I walked down to the shelter, cooked dinner. While resting, a fellow walked by, who had just walked down from the peak, having just accomplished his 46th peak today. There is a set of 46 peaks in the A Mountains, and attaining al 46 is a bragging right. He had taken 5 years to do them.
After resting for a few more minutes, I decided to do some more walking. I proceeded an additional 2 hours, putting in 9.5 hours for the day, and made camp at stealth site on the opposite side of Round Lake from the established campground. I am laying in my hammock there right now as I write this journal.
PS The night went well, and I arose at 0530, ate breakfast, packed up and was back for a larger breakfast at WOL by 0700.
Reflection 3 days later:
During this last week in NY, I was able to take a day and a half for an overnight trip. I chose to climb Mt Dix from Route 73 - a difficult but listed trail of about 6 and a half miles each way. My plan was to climb the mountain trail and then return most of the way and walk the rest of the way out the next morning.
I failed at the final portion of the climb. Beginning at a shelter about 2.5 miles from the summit, I walked two hours toward the summit but was still about a mile and a thousand vertical feet from the top when I packed it in. This is the most difficult trail I have ever tried.
The difficult section started at this slide
I was in sandals, kilt, and tee. I had my 15 pound backpack on. It was not too rough until I reached the "straight up" last mile and a half (1600 vertical feet) which was the most difficult trail I have ever tried to follow. There was essentially no foot path, just a long vertical succession of rocks the size of couches, miry mud, flowing water, and a tangle of trees on either side. The overall grade was a little steeper than 45 degrees, or so it seemed. After about 600 feet of that, I had done enough.
This is the only hiking I have recently done where a thick pair of pants with kneepads and very sturdy climbing shoes would have been better than my usual hiking gear. Hiking poles were essentially useless, and a better way of climbing the hill would have been closer to on my hands and knees. No technical climbing gear was needed, just the will to get wet, dirty, and to scramble.
It showed me the determination of the Adirondack hikers. I met a fellow who was just finishing his 46th of 46 peaks that day. He has been 5 years finishing the list. He told me that this climb was rough (his sister had broken her leg on it just a year ago trying to get her 25th peak) but that it is far from the hardest. A number of the peaks do not have any trail at all and the only way to visit is by bushwhacking!
I think I will go back to the relative ease of the AT....
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