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Old 08-19-2019, 07:29 PM   #1
rbi99
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Grace Peak from 73

My plan now that I have decided to not take on any bears at Colden by myself is to backpack the approximate 3 1/2 miles to the camp site on the herd path from 73 towards Grace. I hope to be able to ascend the slide and get in a few of the mountains up there. Already have done Dix and will most likely leave Macomb for another day. With that in mind, is there anything any of you think I need to be especially aware of? I know crossing the Bouquet can be tricky (it got me twice), but anything that might help me would be greatly appreciated. At 68 I really don't need to find out the hard way if possible!!! In addition, I will have at least one of my dogs with me. She has done multiple peaks, including down/up Saddleback and Basin, Gothics, Whiteface from the landing, etc. Is there a reason (of course there is a reason, but I don't know it) that very few climb from this location and prefer instead to ascend the rocky Macomb slide instead?
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Old 08-19-2019, 10:24 PM   #2
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You might get more detailed answers on the sister forum, ADKHighPeaks.

Study this thread:

https://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/...et-forks-trail

Crossing the Boquet will be super easy at this time of year - low water.

Use the shoebox falls crossing.

If you go over the South Dix, it's a pretty short trip to Macomb.

Did your dog do Saddleback from the west side (the "cliffs")? If so, dog can handle most of the Grace slide. When it gets steeper at the top it's easy to bail to climber's right to finish in the woods.

If the slide is wet or the dog doesn't like it, there is a solid "go around" path on climber's right, right from the bottom.

This is a beautiful approach. I think people go from the Elk Lake side more often for a couple reasons: More of the hike is on marked trails; and if you are doing the whole range in a day, it's a little easier to put that together from the Elk Lake side. But if you are only climbing Grace, the "Boquet Forks trail" has become the standard approach.

Have fun!
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Old 08-19-2019, 11:18 PM   #3
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My dog blew up Gothics and yes she did the cliffs from Saddleback down and back up. All I needed to do for her was rope her up in two spots I think because I didn't want her gaining too much speed going down. As for the bailout to the right, glad to know it's there. If anyone needs to bail - it will be me!!!
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Old 08-20-2019, 05:44 AM   #4
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If you do Grace-South-Hough you can bushwhack off of Hough. Go back to the Hough-Pough col and start the whack from there.
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:32 AM   #5
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If you don't already have it, get the newest (2019) version of the ADK High Peaks map. Among other numerous updates, it now more accurately shows the locations of the designated tent sites located along that herd path.

Note that the last site (which I think is the one you mention as your planned destination) is moderately popular. It's a nice site, and it's also fairly big- so it can accommodate a couple of small groups- but it's also hard to find ground in the vicinity that allows you to do the 150 foot thing if the site is full (or has a group that is more on the rambunctious side). The 3 sites further north on the herd path (2 on the South Branch and 1 at Lillypad Pond) tend to see a little bit less use. The Lillypad Pond site is small but nice- set back from the water a bit but there is a path that continues down to the pond from the site for some nice views.

Even though the ADK map shows it ending at the campsite, the herd path does continue all the way to the Grace Slide, and then around to the slide and up to a spot just north of the Grace/South Dix col. It can be a bit tricky to follow in the vicinity of that last campsite- there is a somewhat obvious path that continues up the tributary of the South Fork that branches west towards Dix before fading out, and it's not uncommon for hikers to get sucked up this false path. Instead, when you get to the campsite, follow the herd path beyond the site. It should loop around the site (keeping the campsite on your left), and you'll soon rejoin the South Fork. Above the campsite there's a few spots where the path gets faint (and it does meander back and forth across the Boquet a few times to avoid areas where the banks have washed out IIRC), but it's generally not too difficult to follow. It does follow the slide for a short stretch before branching right off into the woods along a path that was cut to avoid the slide climb (illegally cut FWIW, but at this point it is here to stay).

If you do decide to do the slide climb, it's pretty straightforward- for the most part. It does get kind-of-sort-of technical for the final 20 feet of ascent or so. There's plenty of hand holds, and it's generally the sort of situation where "if you fell, it would hurt... a lot... but as long as you're prepared (with good footwear especially), and don't do anything particularly foolhardy/risky, your chances of falling are pretty minimal." The dog may have a little bit of difficulty with this last stretch in any case, so I'd be prepared for this.

If you do go up the slide, the easiest return route is probably via the herd path- so you'll want to continue south on the herd path towards South Dix and look for the junction a little bit before reaching the col separating Grace from South Dix. Do note that this junction can be tricky to locate if you're not already familiar with it, as the spur path back to the Boquet will likely be covered with brush at the junction. Every time a hiker coming from Elk Lake takes a wrong turn at this junction, they contribute more brush to the pile covering the herd path to prevent others from repeating their mistake. Last year, an AFR spent several hours working on this junction to try to make it more obvious- building a cairn at the junction (so that ideally, hikers will stop and realize they need to make a navigational decision), and placing logs along each of the 3 paths that branch out from said junction (so as to make it clear to hikers that it was a 3-way junction). Within a week, "do-gooders" had dismantled the cairn and re-brushed in the first 20 feet or so of the path down to the Boquet. Apparently, in the modern age of hiking in the High Peaks, hikers are no longer capable of making decisions on their own- and the presence of an unexpected junction on an unmarked herd path exceeds the navigational capabilities of many members of the current generation of aspiring 46ers.

I agree that South Dix is a mere hop, skip, and a jump from East Dix, especially in comparison to the effort you've put in to get to East Dix already. Macomb and/or Hough from South Dix do add noticeably more elevation gain.

If you have time on the hike in and/or out, some of the branch herd paths that split off of the main Boquet herd path further down towards Route 73 are worth checking out. The path that stays on the south side of the North Fork will take you to a neat designated campsite high up on a gravel bluff overlooking the river, and from there to Rhododendron Pond, a small but scenic body of water that is usually full of solitude. The path that follows the north shore of the North Fork will take you to a fairly impressive waterfall with a nice designated campsite nearby. It is also possible to bushwhack down the South Fork from where the herd path crosses the height of land separating the North and South Forks, and then pick up the South Fork herd path and follow that back to Rt 73. The designated campsite located on South Fork at the end of this herd path is huge- which makes me wonder about the history of said site, because it's not exactly like that herd path gets you anywhere easily enough to generate a substantial amount of use.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:08 AM   #6
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Thank you guys so much for all of this info. The link itself was amazing. I have done a lot of solo backpacking (alone and with my dogs), but those were always on designated trails. Going solo on less obvious trails is a little disconcerting. I have a backup battery charger for my phone and will take pictures anytime I feel it is a spot that needs to be remembered. I do have the latest topo and the Gaia app. I have hiked as far as the campsite I plan on staying at (mid week hike should help). Plan an early hike in so that after setting up I can scout ahead at least partway up the slide. Will do the actual climb the day after. The following day I do plan on hiking around the area and checking out Lilipad as well. Did Gray and Tabletop and both of those paths were very easy to follow in my opinion. It helps that though I have had the pleasure to hike with a lot of dogs, my present companion is by far the best capable hiker yet. She went up and down the ladder at Colden dam just because she thought it was cool.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:29 AM   #7
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Mid-week will definitely see less use, but remember that if you go before Labor Day that mid-week is also the domain of youth groups- whether they be from summer camps, college freshmen orientation trips, or similar. These groups tend to run a bit on the larger side and when they move into any campsite they tend to completely take said site over, with little or no room remaining for any late comers.

The herd path does become a bit harder to follow above the last campsite- a bit more so than what you've experienced previously on Gray and Tabletop (it gets less use than those herd paths). The difference between before and after the campsite is actually fairly noticeable. I believe that the herd path does actually get some regular level of "official" maintenance as far as the last campsite, as DEC fisheries employees use it to carry fish in to stock the river. Beyond the campsite any maintenance is much less regular (and much less "official"), so the path does almost immediately become less well established once you've passed the campsite. And again, you've got the potential challenge of finding the junction up on the ridge if you take the slide climb as opposed to following the path all the way to the col- this junction is much less obvious than what you've experienced with Gray and Tabletop previously.

With all of that being said, it sounds like you're generally well prepared. As long as your anticipating and prepared for the added navigational challenge, I would agree that transitioning to this path after having some previous experience with some of the more heavily trafficked herd paths is a logical way to increase the challenge somewhat.
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Old 08-20-2019, 02:36 PM   #8
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Will be hiking in on Sept 16 or 17, so that should help as well. Thanks again.
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Old 08-20-2019, 02:58 PM   #9
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Great route. Did it last year with family and the dog. Slide was very fun; only a couple of places required boosting the pooch and taking a few deep breaths with the humans. View from top of slide is great, as is the view from Grace. S Dix easy hop; Macomb or Hough would add quite a bit, though Neil's whack suggestion is interesting and would likely save a lot of time and effort if done right. Have fun!
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Old 08-20-2019, 05:49 PM   #10
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You say that you have the GAIA app. The herd path is shown in the default layer. I just looked at my phone where I have it installed and my two trips up Grace follow it exactly (within the errors of the GPS)! (I didn't have GAIA at the time, but added my Garmin GPS track to GAIA).
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Old 08-20-2019, 06:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTVhike View Post
You say that you have the GAIA app. The herd path is shown in the default layer. I just looked at my phone where I have it installed and my two trips up Grace follow it exactly (within the errors of the GPS)! (I didn't have GAIA at the time, but added my Garmin GPS track to GAIA).
The few times I used it just to familiarize myself with it, I was amazed how accurate it was. I knew exactly where I was, and so did it. I already have it logged into my phone and I'm not leaving for a month.
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:43 PM   #12
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Great route. Did it last year with family and the dog. Slide was very fun; only a couple of places required boosting the pooch and taking a few deep breaths with the humans. View from top of slide is great, as is the view from Grace. S Dix easy hop; Macomb or Hough would add quite a bit, though Neil's whack suggestion is interesting and would likely save a lot of time and effort if done right. Have fun!
How did you overcome the top section with the rock face?
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