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debmonster 05-29-2019 10:47 AM

Scarface May 24
I volunteered for the 46r trail crew project over Memorial Day weekend, and we stayed at the Meadowbrook Campground in Ray Brook. I arrived a day early to do some hiking, but Friday's weather forecast was questionable, so I decided to keep it short. It's possible to hike out directly from the campground, walk along the railroad tracks for a few minutes, and connect with the trail to Scarface. This made my choice of hikes very easy.

The day started with rain, and I woke with a mild headache, so I allowed myself the luxury of a late start and leisurely breakfast while I waited for the weather (and my focus) to improve. I finally got going around 11am.

After turning left from the tracks, I soon came to the memorial bench dedicated to Australian soldier Captain Paul McKay, who died in the area in January 2014. I crossed the stream on an interesting wooden bridge, and continued on. The first 1.5 miles are quite flat, but pleasant, and go by very quickly. The trail climbs gradually after that, and then gets more steep and muddy (though the mud factor was never too bad). There are a few spots where a bit of scrambling was needed, but I was able to find footholds and handholds to aid me (these trails weren't built with 5'6" people in mind ;)). A man and his 2 young sons were coming down as I was going up and they said they were able to manage with no problem.

I passed 2 women who were taking a break from climbing, and entered the "mist zone" after the first set of ledges. Unfortunately, any potential views were socked in, but it felt great just to be out hiking in the woods. A few more hikers were descending, including Chris from MA, who I would also meet at trail crew the next day. We all agreed that this hike was not about sweeping vistas from spectacular viewpoints, but that this was a perfect hike to do on a day when the weather was not ideal. I paused at the open area on the false summit, and then continued on the unmarked trail another 0.4 mi. to the summit marker.

I ate my lunch and sent a text to my boyfriend to let him know I was okay so far, and got ready to leave. The 2 ladies (one local, the other visiting) reached the summit just then, and I had a wonderful conversation with them for a while about challenging ourselves in work, play, and life in general.

I met more hikers on the descent, including 2 guys who were doing the Saranac 6 Ultra, and this was their 3rd peak after Haystack and MacKenzie. They told me about the extremely muddy conditions there, and I let them know that the 46r trail crew would be doing work there for the next few days.

The rest of the hike went by rather fast as I descended, and I soon reached the turn where the flat section began. I took photos of some rusted old items left near the trail (bicycle, hibachi grill, oil can), and wondered when does trail trash achieve the status of "artifacts?"

I retraced my steps the rest of the way, and reached camp with plenty of time to clean up before the rest of the group were expected to arrive. The entire hike took just under 4 hours, and it was nice to be able to take extra time to chat with people and still have plenty of time left in the day to hang out at camp. Doing a hike that wasn't too strenuous set me in "mini-vacation mode" and left me with plenty of energy to enjoy the activities in the days to come.


webby459 05-29-2019 11:21 AM

I'd also be interested in learning of your experiences with the trail crew. Good tr, and thanks for doing work!

debmonster 05-29-2019 01:50 PM

Thanks! The 46r trail crew was an awesome group! Really fun and incredibly hard working (you don't have to be an official 46r to help - hint, hint ;) ). The ages ranged from 16 - mid-70s, and skills varied as well. We worked from 7am - 2pm, which was nice because it left a lot of time in the afternoon to relax and clean up. They have a lot of projects coming up from June - September; see the schedule on the 46r website at:

There is a lot more mud to be drained on the trail, but on Saturday we fixed a section of 210 feet that was transformed from a muddy abyss into a beautiful pathway. See:

We returned on Monday to clear drainages, and the difference in that section from 2 days before was significant. The schedule doesn't have another project there for this year, but we talked about returning for more work up the trail, so hopefully things will continue to improve.

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