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Sawteeth, Pyramid, Gothics, Armstrong 8/22/08

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  • Sawteeth, Pyramid, Gothics, Armstrong 8/22/08

    On a near perfect hiking day, I had the opportunity to revisit my absolute favorite Adirondack High Peaks’ loop hike. Under clear skies, a light breeze, relatively high humidity and temperatures in the low 80’s (that felt several degrees warmer), we started walking on the AMR Lake Road just after 8:30 AM.

    This would be my eighth round trip over this fantastic route and in particular what Tony Goodwin describes as “what many consider to be the single most spectacular view in the Adirondacks” - speaking of the panoramic vista from Pyramid Peak. That portrayal is what first enticed me in 1995 to follow his commendation and I have never been disappointed. Over the years, the conditions have been different, but the incredible beauty of the southern flanks of the central Great Range has never diminished.

    It was Seals and Crofts who composed the song “We May Never Pass This Way Again” and throughout the day, I thought how fortunate and grateful I am to be able to relive the extraordinary majesty of these summits.

    So I was delighted with the weather and my hiking companions, Jessica and her college-bound daughter, Emma. It was Emma’s first trip on this route and I am always thrilled to share these wonderful places with such good friends! It just doesn’t get any better!

    Just after starting the Alfred Weld Trail we had a close encounter with two deer that stood their ground on the trail just ahead of us. One repeatedly stamped his front hooves, clearly upset with our presence. As we moved toward them they uncharacteristically meandered off the trail and continued to leisurely browse as we went past them.

    The sound of running water remained with us as we worked our way up to the Sawteeth/Pyramid col. My last hike of this loop in July of 2004 was also quite wet, but the mud and occasional quagmires were easily navigated. After returning from the summit of Sawteeth, we began the 940’, .6-mile, precipitous ascent to Pyramid’s 4595’ summit. Not much has changed over the years on this unrelenting approach except that it takes longer.

    The summit of Pyramid is a 360-degree overload of incredible, rugged Adirondack wilderness! The length and breadth of the magnificent south rampart of the Great Range is breathtaking! There are several trailed routes to the summit of Gothics, but only the approach from the south gives you the most inspiring view of this impressive mountain!

    We spent a good amount of time on the summit of Pyramid before the biting flies drove us off. The painful wounds kept us moving and flailing even after a generous coating of repellent. This annoying scourge persisted at higher elevations throughout the hike and was the only nuisance in an otherwise trouble-free day.

    Summit time on Gothics was also short due to the flies again, but we did manage to get in a few snapshots before beginning the 400-foot, .5-mile descent to the Armstrong/Gothics col.

    We were swarmed with flies there as well so a quick, but sloppy detour to Armstrong was completed. Returning to the Armstrong/Gothics col shortly before 4:00 PM we started the 2.4-mile, 2400’ descent to Beaver Meadows Falls. Each time I descend the Beaver Meadows Falls Trail, I am reminded why I never ascend this route. The Beaver Meadows Falls Trail is steep with many ledges and chutes that require a leap of faith or a preseason butt slide However, Beaver Meadows Falls is a great finish to this outstanding loop.

    Someday I hope to be back again, but for the time being, I will treasure this day and the people who shared it with me.

  • #2
    I've been on Sawteeth and on Gothics but never Pyramid. Sounds like I'm missing something good !
    Nice report -your love of hiking really shines through !
    What it is is in your head !


    • #3
      Bucket List

      Hi Rookie!

      I know individuals have their preferences as far as "views from the tops". One could make a case for many Adirondack peaks with extraordinary views whether 4000' or not.

      The view of the southern flanks of the Great Range is perhaps the most stunning example of just how rugged and steep the Adirondack High Peaks are. On most of the ascent trails you experience the steepness of the mountains as you hike upwards.

      But seeing the immense open, rock slides of Basin and Gothics from Pyramid's pinnacle is one of the most impressive and memorable sights in the Adirondack Park.

      Waiting for the best weather is recommended, but regardless of the conditions.....Pyramid should be on every High Peaks hiker's "bucket list".


      • #4
        Gonna have to agree there... Pyramid is a "must do" hike. After climbing up through the bush from the AMR with limited views up Gothics ridges and out towards Giant one steps out on the summit balcony of Pyramid to the jaw dropping amphitheater of Basin, Saddleback and Gothics. I was gonna add a link to a pic.... but maybe you'd prefer to go see for yourself...