All that melted snow had to go somewhere, and the trail was obviously the path of least resistance. There was so much water pouring down the trail that it was at points truly a stream, with little waterfall cascades and everything.
Lake Road still had a dusting of snow, and turning up the Weld Trail I realized that I probably could have brought snowshoes. There was easily 4″-8″ of snow all the way up to the junction with Sawteeth, and there was 8″-12″ up to the summit.
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.
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.
I had recently hiked the three Santanoni mountains in June, at the time remarking on how wet it was. Earlier this month, the drought had dried up even the wettest of trails; the thunderstorms that preceded this hike brought them back to their soaked and muddy glory. The lead-in trail to Bradley Pond was, unimaginably, even wetter than in June.
These three peaks are normally two long days, but with enough will they make a single inspiring, exhausting, rewarding one.
The rain muffled my steps enough that I startled more wildlife than usual, and the bird songs were particularly crisp and clear.