Friday, 5:00 pm I left work and it was finally time for the long-awaited weekend. We got in the car and started our 5+ hour drive up to the Adirondacks. We rented an AirBNB. We got up there around 11 and went straight to bed, so we had no idea that we had these amazing views of the Great Range until the next morning.
DAY 1: BLAKE AND COLVIN MOUNTAIN
-Blake Mountain (43) 3,960 ft
-Colvin Mountain (39) 4,057 ft
-Dial Mountain (41) 4,020 ft
-Nippletop Mountain (13) 4,620 ft
6 am wake up! Our plan for the day was to get to the trailhead at 7am, we decided that we would start with Mount Blake and Colvin and if we had time, we would add 3 more miles and tackle Nippletop and Dial too. This was probably an ambitious goal since this was only my second time snowshoeing, and there was probably about 6 ft of snow on the trail, but hey aim high.
We drove to the St. Hubert’s Parking area on route 73 and started our trek. Heads up to the dog owners out there, unfortunately, dogs are not permitted on the Adirondack mountain reserve from the St Hubert’s golf course.
We walked for approximately .6 miles from the parking area and the Golf Course before reaching the guest sign in book and the ADK gate….one of my favorite places in the Adirondacks, brings back memories of the Great Range (to date still my favorite hike). We put on our snowshoes and started our trek.
We hiked down Lake Road for about 1.1 miles before turning off to the Left on The Gill brook trail. It’s a nice flat trail, good warm up to the hike, though on the way out it seems sooooooo much longer.
Here is when the uphill starts, you gain about 1,442 ft over 2.1 miles. The snow adds a fun challenge. For those of you who don’t know me that well, I am what we like to call a GIANT klutz; and this is by no means an exaggeration. In my everyday life I fall, hit into things, and trip on daily basis. So, going uphill in ice and snow is a recipe for disaster; grabbing onto trees for balance the entire way up, sliding backward again and again. No joke I gave myself mini pep talks the whole way up saying “you got this” over and over again. I wish I was kidding but there is video evidence of that and other things I prefer not to share.
Trying to keep my balance up hill is where I made a rookie mistake, which I totally paid for the rest of the day, and the next day (but hey I am still new to this). I walked on my tippy toes. This is where the spikes on the snow shoes are and I felt as if this was the best way to get traction on the way up. The result, I burned out my calves and damn they hurt.
TIP: Most snow shoes have heel bars, mine do but I did not use them. This is a metal bar that helps you keep your foot more level when walking up hill and will help protect your calf muscles.
Here are some other tips to help with the uphill:
-Kick in to the snow/ice and press down when you step
-Go slower and watch where you step—try to step in the harder snow. Remember it is not a race. You have a higher chance of post holing if you step near trees
-if you need to bring poles, this will help with balance (I can not attest to this because I have yet to try them, but I have heard great things! They help to provide balance)
Now back to the hike. We reached a trail junction and headed along the Elk Pass Trail. The snow was so deep, to put in to perspective these signs are usually eye level, and look at where they are now?
The added snow also puts you at a higher level which Im sure sounds stupid, like duh obviously, but you are constantly ducking and dodging tree branches. I think we each got hit in the face at least one (my dad took several to the face including a blood blister under his eye), which lead to initial pain and then lots of laughs.
One mile and about 800 ft of elevation until we reached the summit, we headed up at a tentative pace, taking our time to plan our footsteps with the steep icy trail. We finally reached the Summit and the view was amazing. It was a tiny summit and there were already 3 other people up there. We helped each other take summit pictures, exchanged some stories over a snack, and then it was time to go.
It was getting late and we still had to summit Blake and make it back to the car. At this point based on how the day was going we had accepted that the 14.6 mile to Blake and Colvin and back was all that we were going to be able to tackle. I was a little discouraged, but with the shorter days and the added challenge of the snow, 17.7 miles just wasn’t going to be possible. Part of hiking is being realistic and knowing when to change your plans for safety purposes.
We headed down the other side of Colvin and towards Blake with breathtaking views as we walked along the ridge.
To reach the summit of Blake, you travel for about .6 miles down hill and drop roughly 650 feet of elevation. The trail was icy and had a frozen over ladder. We were careful to take our time here. We preferred to go slow rather than have someone get injured. Then we started up what felt like the longest .4 miles of my life. In .4 miles, you pick up about 560 ft. It was an unrelenting up. We were all feeling it. It just seemed to go on and on and on, but finally, we got to the summit. No views, but the feeling of accomplishment was enough … officially putting me at 19 46ers done!
We headed down Blake and back up Colvin, which to be honest I was dreading. The walk-up Colvin though was not as bad as I had expected. I’m not sure if it was second wind or in this case maybe a 15th wind. It was one of those rare cases where it was easier to go up then down, due to the ice. We started down Colvin, and that was when the real fun started. Have you heard of glissading, also known as butt sliding? Well this was my first experience and it was SO MUCH FUN! Pretty much all you do is sit and slide down the mountain … we were zooming down. It is extremely important to be careful if practicing this, make sure you are on a straight path, you do not want to zoom off a cliff. Control your speed and be careful of other hikers … this can dangerous.
After getting down off Colvin we still had the 2+ mile walk out. At this point we were tired and chasing the light. When we were finished, we all felt accomplished, even though we didn’t get to tackle Nippletop and Dial. It isn’t about killing yourself to tackle more mountains they will always be there, be safe and listen to your body.
I am pretty sure we each chugged a giant bottle of water, ate thousands of calories, and passed out by 9:30 from pure exhaustion.
Total steps: 44,120 steps
Total elevation gain: 4,048 ft
DAY 2: STREET AND NYE MOUNTAIN
-Street Mountain (31) 4,166 ft
-Nye Mountain (45) 3,895 ft (although it is considered one of the ADK 46ers)
Another early start the next day and it is safe to say that we were all dragging a little bit, tired and sore from the day before. We drove to the Adirondack LOJ (heads up there is a fee when parking here.) We started up following the Indian Pass Trail by Heart Lake.
At about 1.5 miles you reach a point where you must cross over Indian Brook. This is not my first time attempting this hike. The last weekend in December we had gone to the ADK to attempt this, but when we got to the Brook it was unpassable and we had to turn around. This time we were lucky, and the brook was frozen over. I was so happy to be able to cross!
The best time in my opinion to do this is in the winter when it is frozen, though it is passable in the summer you just have to take off your shoes to make it across. After you cross the Brook, the uphill begins. Over the next two miles, we picked up almost 1,900 ft of elevation before reaching the fork between Street and Nye. The trail is steady and steep. I would be lying if I said that these two miles were easy, but they were not. All of us were pushing ourselves up the mountain and moving slowly. I kid you not we were counting our steps, breaking them into tenths of miles … cheering at our mini milestones. Hey, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to make it to the top. Unfortunately we miscalculated by .3 miles … leading us to some false excitement.
Finally, we reached the junction and had a small snack. Street was .4 miles on the left fork, while Nye was .1 miles to the right. Since Street was the furthest we decided to tackle that one first. Unfortunately, the trail had a lot of post holes from the people in front of us making a small portion of the trail rather difficult to walk through. We got stuck more than once. Remember, always wear the right foot gear to be courteous to other hikers. At the top, there was a small view point to the right of the summit. We headed to the summit and met some other hikers, took a few photos, and were off again
After we left the summit, we headed back to the Junction and up the .1 mile to Nye. This was a viewless summit but an enjoyable climb (maybe because it was short).
We headed back to the car, (not really any slides here) though it didn’t stop me from trying; but ultimately it just lead to me just sitting in the snow. The walk out seemed much longer than the walk in, but I feel like that is normal on these hikes. Ultimately, we made it to the final summit, the car! 20 and 21 in the books. Only 25 left to complete my ADK 46!
It was time to start the long drive home, but not before stopping for a coffee and black raspberry ice cream from Stewarts. Even with all the challenges of the weekend it was so much fun, pushing ourselves and each other to finish, and laughing at ourselves. I am counting down the days till I can go back to the mountains!
Total steps: 28,931 steps
Miles: 8.3 miles
Total elevation gain: 2,643