Everything aligned for one last trip to the Adirondacks this summer: our schedules, the weather, and our motivation. In our last trip, we re-climbed Giant Mountain in order to summit Rocky Peak Ridge; on this day we would be making our second stop on Algonquin in order to complete Wright Peak and Iroquois Peak.
Algonquin, at 5,114 feet, is the second-highest mountain in the Adirondacks. The sign at the junction with the Van Hoevenberg trail there is a sign reading Algonquin Peak, 3.0 miles (ascent 2992′). Mount Marcy, the tallest peak in the Adirondacks, climbs only 230 feet more – yet is 6.7 miles from the same sign. Algonquin is short, but straight up.
I wondered how differently the hike to Algonquin would feel the second time around, and after completing 15 high peaks since. I remembered it as being steep, filled with boulders & small bare slides, and unrelenting – exactly as it felt the second time around.
Signing in to the trailhead around 6:30 AM, we were the only hikers all the way up to Wright Peak, which we reached around 8:45 AM. Wright offered us close-up views of Algonquin, Colden, and Marcy, and sweeping views to the north. We took our time enjoying the underrated summit, and after paying our respects at the plaque for the airmen killed in 1962, rejoined the trail up to Algonquin.
Not long after, we were on the summit of Algonquin, again the only hikers there. After the steep climb, it was a perfect place to catch our breath. Only Marcy to the southeast can block Algonquin’s view; otherwise, we had sweeping miles-deep panoramas.
Looking to the southwest, we could see Iroquois Peak’s bare top rising above Boundary Peak. Here is where our mental conditioning changed from the first time: last year, we didn’t even consider the extra 1.1 miles – this time, we set off without worry. We followed the huge cairns down Algonquin, and arrived at a sign for the trail to Lake Colden. Someone with a Sharpie was kind enough to scribble in “Iroquois” with an arrow to the right, just in case you missed the cairn marking the entrance. The herd path up to Iroquois was swampy at times, and towards the end was quite steep and rocky, but the 1.1 miles went by quickly and before noon we were on our 19th high peak.
Iroquois offered similar glorious views as the first two mountains, with the scar giving Wallface Mountain its name coming into sharp relief. I looked over to Mount Marshall to see if we wanted to push our way there, but after realizing that it was the second (not the first) bump over to Marshall we quickly nixed that plan.
Instead, we decided to explore new trails by taking the path down to Lake Colden, exiting via Avalanche Lake. It didn’t look too much farther, and the part of the trail we knew already was mild and easy. The 1.7 miles to the lake turned out to be a heinous mistake.
The trail from Boundary Peak to Lake Colden, which I will always refer to as the “Sucks Trail”, was as steep as the ascent to Algonquin, even more rocky (if that is possible), and interminably crisscrosses a stream. After descending for what seemed like forever, we missed the sign and instead crossed the bridge towards the DEC Interior Outpost. Quickly turning around we were nearly mortified to see that we still had 6.2 miles to go. It felt like we should already be home!
Luckily, the views of Mount Colden were breathtaking, and Avalanche Lake lives up to its billing. We soldiered on, eventually finding our way onto familiar trails and back to the car. What was supposed to be 11 miles turned into 14.6. Wright, Algonquin, and Iroquois were the three best back-to-back-to-back peaks we’ve enjoyed in the Adirondacks; the Sucks Trail was the worst trail, ever.
Photos taken with a Pentax*ist D & *ist DS (IR) cameras and Pentax-FA* 85mm f/1.4 & Pentax-FA*24mm f/2 lenses.
2012: 15 high peaks (+2 repeats) As of 9/12/12: 19 (out of 46) high peaks completed.
Our 2012 high peaks: Big Slide; the Wolfjaws & Armstrong; Marcy; Gothics & Sawteeth; Street & Nye; Phelps; Rocky Peak Ridge & Giant; Skylight & Gray; Wright, Algonquin, & Iroquois; Dial & Nippletop; Dix, Hough, S. Dix, E. Dix & Macomb
Edit: See: Our Path to 46.