Autumn is short in the Adirondacks; it seems like just yesterday it was summer and tomorrow it will be winter. Hikers call it ‘shoulder season’, and it can run the gamut of conditions. Yesterday perfectly encapsulated it: A nice 3-4″ of cool snow on the way in; about 6″ of snow (drifting in places) at elevation; icy steep pitches, sometimes hiding under powdered snow; warming sunshine melting low-lying snow by the end of the day creating wide mud swaths.
Needless to day, the 15+ mile hike was both difficult and beautiful. The weather was perfect, staying cool enough through our hike that we kept our hard shells on all day without overheating. We were the only ones on the whole range for a couple days even.
It wasn’t enough snow for snowshoes, and in the morning our spikes worked well to give us a bit of bite. By mid-afternoon, it had warmed up just enough to make the snow sticky in places, which led to it balling up between the spikes. I took mine off coming down from Seward and just bare-booted the rest of the day.
After the out-and-back to Seward, it was a long push to make it all the way along the ridge to Emmons, but Kathy made it like a champ. We were treated to a lovely sunset over Long Lake on the way back, and made the remaining 4 hours under headlamp. All the low-elevation southern slopes had melted by late in the day. The final mile was the worst, along a poorly-designed and even more poorly-maintained horse trail which was mostly leaf-covered boot-sucking mud pits. A little cursing of the DEC made us both feel better.