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Old 10-24-2017, 07:39 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 256
Need input planning next years HP hikes please


Trying to get my head around some hiking next year.

Other priorities for holidays, so we're not going to get our week in the Adirondacks.

So looking at just 3 w/e trips:
  • Mother's day w/e (secret season, post snow/ice, pre bugs/crowds)
  • First w/e in August (Canadian holiday Monday)
  • w/e after Columbus Day (end of season, avoid Columbus day crowds)
  • Grace, South Dix, Macomb - Traverse from 73 to Elk lake, up Great Slide, down Macomb slide
  • Pyramid, Gothics, Armstrong, UWJ - Two nights at JBL lean-to to reduce mileage. Up Cable route, return Wolf Jaw trail
  • Colden - Up through Avalanche Pass, return Lake Arnold

Here's where I'm at.

Camping with family so May or Oct could be cold in a lean-to. So I'm thinking Aug for the Gothics hike. Means we'll need mosquito netting but better than cold.

Need 2 cars for the lower Dix traverse. At this point the only w/e we have friends joining us is Oct.

So I guess that leaves Colden for May.

I appreciate that it's a crap shoot but is the Colden hike a good candidate for mid May? Or is one of the others more likely to be ice free?

Mid October can possibly have ice as well but the last 2 years the post Columbus w/e has been very mild. We're not prepared/qualified for ice so we won't go if things are dicey.

Any thoughts?

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Old 10-24-2017, 07:52 PM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2005
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You have a better chance of the Lake Arnold trail being ice free. Colden from the lake faces NW and hold the cold late. I have seen Avy Lake 1/2 frozen over on May 12.

Save Avy for later in summer. It's fabulous - worth a special trip.
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Old 10-24-2017, 11:36 PM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 256
Thanks, just what I was looking for.

If we move the Colden / Avalanche Pass hike to later in the year is one of the other hikes a better candidate for May?
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Old 10-25-2017, 09:59 AM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Most years it's a good idea to carry spikes through most of May. Any of the higher peaks could have some ice and snow. This year on trail maintenance on May 13 we ran into quite a bit of snow above the Hunter's Pass junction on Dix.

Really though if you bring spikes, gaiters and a change of socks, most of the mid-May snow and ice is manageable. Depending on your comfort level, you might want to stay away from long steep rock faces (Gothics Cable, Lake side of Colden) but normal trails are no too bad. Really just have to bring the right equipment.
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Old 10-25-2017, 11:02 AM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 256
Thanks again.

OK, so mid May at elevation is more sketchy than I realized.

We don't have gaiters/spikes. Fairly new to this. We've been accumulating gear. Boots, packs, water purification, bladders, rain gear, stove, map, gps. Not even a tent or emergency blankets yet so gaiters/spikes is still a ways down the list.

Should have mentioned we're hiking with kids which further complicates things.

I guess we should put a mid May high peaks hike in the unlikely category.

Gothics cable not a good choice.
Avalanche Pass / Colden not a good choice.

That leaves either Colden out and back via Lake Arnold or Grace, South Dix, Macomb traverse from 73 (which includes a couple of very short slides).

Which one of those is a better option?

I think we'll make tentative plans and then ask about conditions a week before realizing that it's likely we'll need to substitute another hike. We're working on our own list of 19 hikes at lower elevation so there's lots of choices.
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Old 10-25-2017, 11:31 AM   #6
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Conditions at higher elevations in mid-May vary from one year to another. I looked through the pics I've taken over the past 7 years and May can offer everything from bare rock to ice, snow and slush. The summit might actually be quite nice (everything has melted in direct sunlight) but the shaded trails might be a sloppy mix of slush and ice.

Here's the Wilmington Trail to Whiteface May 2017. Summit was fine, trail not so much.

Soupy trail conditions.

In May 2016, this was the iciest obstacle on the way to RPR from Giant. All else was ice-free.

Ye olde ledge is looking mighty icy today.

Now for a change of pace. Surprise! Here's Marcy in early May 2014.

Marcy's snowy northern face.

Here's a vestige of the snow cornice that develops on Gothics. This is in May 2013.

Leftover snow cornice.

In May 2013, wearing trail-runners, I hiked up the Bennies Brook Slide, traversed LWJ to Gothics and the only snow I encountered was the vestige of the snow cornice seen above. I proceeded to descend the True North Slide. Microspikes were not required. Compare that to May 2014 where microspikes were definitely needed for a significant portion of the hike (Marcy and Haystack).

I wouldn't write-off May entirely but simply come prepared for the worst and hope for the best.
Looking for views!
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Old 10-25-2017, 02:27 PM   #7
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Elizabethtown
Posts: 264
Because we regularly do trail maintenance on Memorial Day, I've taken that opportunity to grab a few peaks the week before. Santanoni, Marshall, Allen to be specific. The main issue was rain, although there was a visible snow spine on Santanoni. Had spikes, but didn't use them except on Allen and that wasn't for ice! No snow, but in '14 (I think), there was a unexpected snowfall on Friday so our trail maintenance Saturday was snow
covered! Of course, Memorial Day is late May. No black flies!
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Old 10-25-2017, 03:52 PM   #8
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Location: Rochester NY
Posts: 389
Originally Posted by AvalanchePass View Post
accumulating gear. Boots, packs, water purification, bladders, rain gear, stove, map, gps. Not even a tent or emergency blankets yet so gaiters/spikes is still a ways down the list.
Accumulating gear is one of my favorite parts. I get one new item each trip and alternate between big ticket items and small ticket items. We are six hours away so only get up 3-4 times a year (have to fix that).

My economy suggestions:
  • water purification: sawyer mini filter @ $20
  • bladders: plastic snapple bottles or Gatorade - free. Better yet, bring them unopened and enjoy the beverage first.
  • rain gear: frog toggs @ $20 (will upgrade shortly).
  • stove: We use a Trangia or Esbit alcohol stove. $20 ($40 for set). Yes, even in the cold. You could use a free soda can stove as well but I find them fragile.
  • map: Free. I print from cal topo for each trip. zoom in on area. print 3 copies. one for me, one for buddy one in bottom of pack. all in zip loc. we carry 2 compasses to. Not cheap ones but not high end either.
  • gps: Free. we carry two phones and one spare battery. phones and water filter sleep inside bag with us. i just met a 46'r who was unaware the gps in your cell phone will function fine out of cell tower range.
  • emergency blankets: ah, these are less than $5 and fit in your shirt pocket. we carry two. recently upgraded by getting an emergency bivvy as well (<$40)
  • Gaiters: handy but get spikes first. Ours are cheap ones, <25. Have survived 3-4 trips now.
  • Spikes: < $40 We went with hillsound freetsteps. Maybe a mistake, other models have longer teeth. they have worked pretty well though. We bring them on every hike outside of 3 summer months.
  • Tent: Inverse relationship between weight and price. We converted to hammocking and have not looked back.

Things you did not mention that you really need to have:
So the links are all to one merchant but we buy are gear from many sources. Just made pricing simple. I know your question was not about gear but I was not sure if you were aware of some less expensive alternatives. And no matter what you buy you often will either want to upgrade or replace as time goes on. Some of this stuff is available rental as well.

I do not think any of the above is best in class gear (maybe sawyer and trangia) and do not bill it as such. Your mileage may vary. We wanted to get out in the woods and gradually increase the difficulty of where we hike as our gear & experience accumulate - similar to the path you are on.
Eyes on the Forest, not on the Trees
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Old 10-26-2017, 08:35 AM   #9
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 256

Thanks, we plan to come down mid May with tentative plans for a HP. Something @ lower elevation as a backup.

Mothers Day 2018 = May 13. Memorial Day 2018 = May 28.

I think we'll give the sun an extra week to do it's job and schedule May 18-20. Sounds like we'll still be OK for black flies and we'll avoid Memorial Day crowds.

Grace, South Dix, Macomb traverse from 73 would be ideal since that would leave Gothics cable loop and Colden / Avalanche Pass loop for warmer weather. We'll try to get some intel on the two slides (Great, Macomb) come mid May.

Last edited by AvalanchePass; 10-26-2017 at 08:56 AM..
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Old 10-26-2017, 08:55 AM   #10
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 256

Thanks for detailed list. Maybe consider posting in the gear checklist sticky. Think it would be helpful for newbs like myself.

We do carry a 1st aid kit, matches, and head lamps. My wife uses a single pole but I'm not a fan.

No guide yet. Do have a map. I do extensive online research. Have OSM on the phone and I print a hard copy of the local area from OSM. Write "no later than" times at intervals on the map. Later than scheduled time at a checkpoint means we'll be hiking out in the dark if we don't pick it up.

Thanks for highlighting the compass. Plan to take the ADK compass course next year. Last year it was offered outside of the winter months so it could have been combined with some hiking. Maybe they'll add another date.

With or without the course, no excuse not to carry a compass. I'll get it done.

Next will be emergency blankets. Tent, gaiters, spikes down the road.
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Old 10-26-2017, 06:08 PM   #11
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Elizabethtown
Posts: 264
One thing I would like to add to my description of the rainy pre-memorial day hikes - there were no other people on any of these trails. Of course, that was a few years ago and such lack of hoards may be a thing of the past.
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