It’s been a long 9 months waiting for winter to arrive.
Sunrise comes late this far north, so starting hikes before dawn usually means cold. It was 5°F as I pulled in the lot at the Adirondack Loj. I got the front spot.
After an even one hundred summits in 2016, number 101 was short and sweet. With the rest of the US was gripped in the big freeze swooping down from the Arctic, we knew that the calm winds and sunny skies would make a great day hiking.
Not having hiked these three together (colloquially referred to as ‘HaBaSa’) since July of 2014, I wanted to reacquaint myself with them before winter.
The route through the South Boquet River takes a meandering path, making four river crossings before leading to the base of a slide and up the north slope of Grace Peak.
We got our first hint that we were in for a treat at the initial boardwalk along the Van Hoevenberg trail. Looking off to our right, the MacIntyres sparkled.
I’ve bailed out of Basin (and Saddleback) twice after excruciatingly long days. As I soaked in the morning views I remembered what I was missing. The 4,827-foot summit (9th highest in the Adirondacks) has an open, rocky summit with nearly 360° views dominated by the close-up of Mount Haystack.
We swung over Whiteface’s summit and headed down for lunch at the cafe with the Mumaughs. I can’t believe we didn’t do this our first time here, it was absolutely brilliant to sit and have a hot lunch and cold soda in the middle of the hike. This will be the plan for this pair from now on!
Lacking my usual distance-and-elevation calculator, I mapped out what looked to be a not impossible 24-mile loop, starting and ending at the JBL and covering Lower & Upper WolfJaw, Armstrong, Colvin & Blake. There just happened to be the Ausable Valley in between them.
I made a speedy ascent of the short-but-steep Cascade, enjoyed the amazing variety of mushrooms on Porter, and descended via the expansive Little Porter Mountain on one of my favorite traverses. I followed it up with a hike into the JBL and a quick up-and-down Big Slide.
Staring down the sheer south side of Redfield, thick with what is nearly impassibly thick trees and debris, and over to Allen Mountain jutting steeply from the surrounding flats, a vulture launched beside me a circled the thermals over my head. I understood the symbolism, took some pictures and headed back.
After completing two days of hiking from the Adirondack Loj, I set off for Tahawus, near Newcomb, and Allen Mountain.
As I descended to Bartlett Ridge and Panther Gorge I was a bit surprised at how steep it was. I remembered it as steep, but not *this* steep.
The six-hour drive home after hiking in the Adirondacks is sometimes harder than the hike itself. Not this hike.