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Three days at Lake Colden.

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  • Three days at Lake Colden.

    I'm not a total newbie when it comes to camping but the combination of peakbagging and camping is not exactly my forté. I thought I'd kill two or three birds with one stone and:
    • do some training
    • assess my current fitness status
    • shakedown my camping technique
    • have fun

    It took me a few days to get ready and dehydrate my suppers, make some beef jerky, granola bars and granola and decide on my gear and clothing. By the time my pack was crammed full it weighed no less than 39 pounds, roughly double the target for P-FD! In keeping with the boot camp mentality I got up at 3:30 am and was hiking on a rock solid trail from the Loj at 6:50. The spikes went on just past Marcy Dam and stayed on while hiking for nearly the entire 3 days I was out. The Northern Lite snowshoes I carried were useless dead weight that I left below every summit.

    Much to my delight the ice on Avalanche Lake was a good 4 inches thick and this was a time and energy saver although I gave some of that up by attempting to take the ski trail out onto Lake Colden. The north end of the lake was a mess of open, swampy pools of water and after soaking my boots I ended up turning around and taking the trail part-way around before crossing on the ice.

    When I got to the Beaver Point LT I noticed a fresh breeze blowing in from the frozen expanse of the Lake and realized that Brendan had called it right. It was like going into a walk-in freezer and standing in front of a fan so I beat it to the McMartin LT. There it was calm. Feel-good sunshine penetrated my flesh. I hung my socks and insoles out to dry, unpacked my backpack and packed my daypack. At 10:30 I headed out the “door” and back-tracked to the Algonquin trail. At the crossing I filled both of my Nalgenes. I popped a pill in each one, put one in my pack and left the other there for when I came back. The plan was to do Iroquois, Shepard's Tooth and Algonquin and return the same way.

    The trail was awesome rugged and steep and the sun was strong. There was lots of ice and ascending was pretty easy. I was watchfull for undermined sections that might collapse but the ice was good and thick. On Iro who should catch up to me as I was scoping the Tooth but Rbalbs. I had thought of doing Marshall and either going up from or down to the Cold Brook pass trail but nixed the idea thinking of ice at the cliffs. But, with Rick I felt we could get down so we flew down from the Tooth to the cliffs in 15 minutes on hard crust which was covered with a couple inches of late-season snow. From the cliffs to the trail took a little longer. Rather than go the usual way we tried Rick's route, which I found pretty hairy but a helping hand at two key cruxes made it OK.

    Sucking air, I chased speedy Rick up Marshall and there we split up, he returning to Cold Brook Pass and down to the Indian Pass trail and I went down Herbert Brook. This meant I had to go fetch my water bottle which ate up another 30 minutes and it was 5 when I settled in. The LT faces west so the late afternoon sun was wonderful and I set my soaking boots out to dry while I rested my weary body and felt the baking sun heal my muscles while I listened to the birds twitter. My camping “instincts” slowly woke up and I prepped for the next day, ate supper, stashed my bear can and by 7:30 was already in my bag. Once the sun was gone it grew very chilly and by 5am it was cold. I got up at 5:30 and by 6 was sitting back with a big cup full of scalding hot coffee laced with instant hot cocoa.

    At 7 I crossed the Lake Colden dam and by 8:30 was on Redfield admiring the view. There was two feet of snow off-trail and the trail was rock solid, which made for the most ideal travel conditions ever. The trip up to Uphill Brook alongside the Opalescent was as good as it gets. After Redfield I decided to put Cliff on hold and let the sun soften the ice so while that was happening I did Gray, Sky and Marcy in the blazing sun. I was attentive to my nutritional needs and made sure I ate all of my alotted food and drank a lot of water, which flowed abundantly everywhere and most of which I didn't treat. Fill and swig. Didn't see many people, only 6 on Marcy, where I spent 30 minutes letting the sun work on my socks and boots. I swapped out my socks once for every peak except Cliff. Hanging off my pack they dried really quickly.

    Just below the steep part of Cliff I met a guy coming down and when I asked he said it was pretty tough. However, the two steepest difficult sections had melted dry! Nothing like mixed hiking in spikes. The spikes are great on steep rock. Near the true summit 3 guys were coming down and two shared a single pair of spikes. I met them again heading down the difficulties and their leader pulled out a rope, which I was glad to use to ease my descent through a long steep section on bare rock. (I visited them later at their LT at Herbert Brook and for two of them Cliff was their first ever High Peak!).

    I went through the same routine that evening but I had two LT-mates to shoot the Sh*t with and at 7:30 we were crashed out in our bags. Next morning at 7:30 I strapped my “sofa” onto my back and headed 1000 gradual feet up to lake Arnold. I figured this would be a good test of my fitness after the previous days' exertions. I was in the sun most of the way to Lake Arnold and I felt great, totally in the moment relishing every sight and sound. Up on the false summit I met Carter who had visited “my” LT before hammock-camping near Lake Colden. He had gone up the “dark side” of Colden but there was no way I was shlepping my “sofa” up that, boot camp or not. We sat in the sun eating his cheese and sausage before heading our separate ways. After visiting the summit I got back to my pack to discover a critter had gotten at my day food and the little stuff sack was about 6 feet away. I had forgotten to put it in my day-pack. But I always leave the pockets open whenever I drop a pack to prevent holes from being chewed through it.

    The cross-over trail to Indian Falls was still in good shape with a couple of minor wet spots. Tabletop was all ice lower down and snow higher up with snow in the woods. The Van Ho to the Phelps junction was pretty ugly but the spikes stayed on to the bridge. The Phelps trail was bone dry to 550 feet above the junction and then it was an ice river with lots (and lots) of water pouring off while the woods were totally dry to the top. Spent 30 minutes on top and then back at the junction put the pack back on and it felt heavier than before. It was a very slow and picky hike out to the car with some very deep mud. I decided to be a good citizen and I walked right through it all,which was not easy!

    I spent a lot of time on this trip thinking about how to shave off ounces for P-FD and pondered a few other gear and logistics questions. (For instance, anyone coming in to meet up and hike with me will have to come in the night before because I'll be getting started near dawn.) I also know I'm in decent shape but not good enough for this summer.

    A few pics.
    The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.

  • #2
    I remember eating a very, very cold lunch at that lean-to a few years ago on a 4 day trip in winter. My companions and I all remarked that we were glad we weren't spending the night there. We spent a much more comfortable night at the Livingston Point Lean-to on Flowed Lands instead.


    • #3
      Thanks for the account of your trip!


      • #4
        Why the chopper? They were probably told there was some idiot out on the ice.
        Scooting here and there
        Through the woods and up the peaks
        Random Scoots awaits (D.P.)

        "Pushing the limits of easy."™


        • #5
          Originally posted by randomscooter View Post
          Why the chopper? They were probably told there was some idiot out on the ice.
          I was testing out the SOS function on my Spot device. Seemed to work pretty good.
          The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.


          • #6
            Home is where you hang your pack.
            "Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
            Seeking grace in every step he takes
            His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
            The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake" -John Denver


            • #7
              Sounds like a really cool trip. Nice read.


              • #8
                You tossed out an itinerary that would have taken me a week to accomplish!!! Beaver Point is my absolute favorite spot in all of the Adirondacks. Not only is it beautiful beyond words, but you have so many options right there to partake in, or you can just sit there in awe as well.
                Are you hiding in the shadows - forget the pain, forget the sorrow.