I met up with Eric Morse on Friday afternoon and we did an easy run on the Montpelier bike path. I needed some easy running after two days of fast running. We were planning on bagging a couple of peaks in NY and VT so getting some of the kinks out was a good idea.
We headed out at 5am on Saturday and drove 3+ hours to the trailhead at the Adirondack Loj near Lake Placid NY. Our goal would be Algonquin Mountain, the second highest peak in New York. We also considered adding on the out/back section to Wright Peak but would wait and see how we were doing before making that decision. We paid our $10 for parking (!) then checked in at the ranger station to get the latest on the trail conditions. Temps were in the upper 20’s and we were in the low cloud deck. Traction devices would be needed on the trail but otherwise everything sounded okay.
We double checked out packs which had plenty of extra warm gear, headlamps, etc. then headed on down the path. We “jogged” on down the way and were soon warm enough that I took off my shell top and just went with a technical t-shirt with a tech long-sleeve over it. We clicked off a 15 minute mile on the first relatively easy early part of the trail which only climbed about 200’. The next mile took 20 minutes (500’ of climb) and we were still moving well at an easy jog. There were a fair number of people on the trail and we chatted with everyone. There was no rush. The third mile was when things started getting a bit sketchy. It was a lot steeper (over 1,000’ of climb), rockier, and there were a lot of icy sections where we slowed to a tentative forward motion despite our Kahtoolahs. The third mile took us 32 minutes. We got some nice views of Wright which was sticking up above the under-cast and we also broke out into a much nicer seeming morning.
The final mile plus was going to be a challenge as we hit a lot more ice and some ledges. Just shy of the 4 mile mark (.2 from the summit and 300’ lower) we hit a ledge that was quite steep and had a lot of ice. There were no good hand-holds. Eric got up it and I thought I might be able to do it but was more worried about how I’d get down. Eric did manage to come down but nearly took a spill. I’m glad we decided to turn! That mile took us 53 minutes and we were just over 2 hours when we decided to head back down. This is sometimes a tough decision but I like to play it safe.
Our descent wasn’t any quicker than the climb as both of us are not the surest footed. We were back down in another 2 hours, but we did spend a lot of time talking to each group about the conditions they’d face up above. Our total time for the trip was 4:03:42. We debated how much longer it would have taken us to hit the top, but it is safe to assume it would have added on a solid ½ hour. We got some nice views along the way so it wasn’t a big disappointment, I’m happy just to be out in the woods. We finished the day with a nice 3 mile loop around Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, it was great to see so many people out there getting in a post-Thanksgiving walk.