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Old 09-04-2009, 11:21 PM   #1
Chef
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Great Range Traverse 9/1/09

This story is weeks in the making. The hike was planned originally to take place 3 weeks ago. Tara, a friend and hiking partner, suggested it, and I was all about it. My friend Devin also wanted in. My pack was ready to go the day I heard about it, but for one reason or another, the hike was pushed back again and again. Finally I said to Devin, this Tuesday we're doing the big one. After work on Monday night, we met at PJ O'Neils in Lake Placid, ready to hike. Tara was there and heard that we were going on "her" hike and she wanted in. The plan was to Climb Mt. Marcy in the dark, watch the sunrise from the summit, and continue on to Skylight, drop down into Panther Gorge and and hike over Haystack back to The Garden over the rest of The Great Range. Tara drove back to her apartment Saranac Lake to gear up while Devin and I drove to The Garden to leave one of our cars. We met back at the Pub at 12:30 and drove straight to the Loj. Finally this story is getting somewhere.

We were on the trail to Marcy by 1:00am and we reached the summit at around 4:30. The glow coming from the Eastern horizon was unlike anything I have ever seen before. We lounged on top for 20 minutes or so, took a few pictures and then headed down. At the 4 corners we dropped layers and headlamps and had a quick snack. Halfway up Skylight the sun finally hit our backs. We carried our rocks and added them to the Mothercairn, took some pictures and snacked again. After about 30 minutes, we were headed down, down, down into the depths of Panther Gorge. Amazing is the only word that comes to mind. It is so beautiful back there. We took 10 and had a snack (we like to snack) at Panther Gorge Leanto, and at 9:00 we headed up, up, up (and I mean UP) Haystack. I now understand why this one is so many people's favorite. We summited at 10:30 on the dot and lounged in the sun, had lunch, drank one of two PBR's that I brought along and took in the incredible view. After about an hour we decided it was time to head down. On our way to Little Haystack we met up with procook131. We talked shop for a few minutes and off we went in search of water to filter. After a brief filtering session, and a demo of Devin's fancy new UV water filter, we were headed up Basin. Now, lets be completely honest... Basin is one steap mother! We sat on top and marvled at the distance we hade come and thought about how far we still had to go. We headed down towards Saddleback. The cliffs of Saddleback gave us a run for our money. We had so much fun scrambling up these cliffs. I wonder how people get over these during the winter. As we approached the top, procook131 caught up to us and we chatted again on the summit. So far, it had been an incredible day. Not a cloud in the sky, no crouds on the summits, and despite the lack of sleep, we were all feeling 100%. It was time to head down and finish the last 4 peaks of the range. I love going up the cable side of Gothics, and I had been talking it up to my friends all day. That slab with the crack right below the cables is also a favorite of mine. The entire time we were climbing up the cables, we heard someone coming up from below us. We debated stopping to let them pass but be kept on chugging and they never came into view. After we crossed the false summit and made it the top, we snacked again and took in the amazing view. after 10 minutes, we finally met up with the person who was behind us. It was a gentleman who had hiked to the Adirondacks from South Dakota on the National Scenic Trail System. He was finishing his 4000 mile journey the next day with a 28 mile road hike to Crown Point. Inspirational to say the least. I hope when I'm his age I'm still hiking. After a half hour, we were headed to Armstrong. We didn't stay long on the summit here because we were eager to get to Lower so we could watch the sunset. We hustled down the trail towards Upper Wolfjaw, and made it to the fork in the trail in good time. We hopped up to the summit, snapped a few pictures and were off down into the the col. We reached Wolfjaw Notch and quickly made our way up Lower. Ok, it wasnt exactly "quick", but it was as fast as we could comfortably move. When we reached the summit, we were greeted by the sun hovering above the horizon. The perfect way to finish, almost. A shot of Jack Daniels and a big group hug made it official. Time to hike the last few miles back to The Garden. When we reached Wolfjaw Brook, we stopped to filter water one last time. At the junction with the South Trail we decided to cross the suspension bridge and take the slightly friendlier (easier to follow in the dark) North Trail back. At 11:15pm we reached the register box and we officially checked out. We were tired and sore and cranky, but we were all still smiling.

It's been said that you can't traverse The Great Range in a day without rushing and enjoy all of the unique summits and views along the way. We sucessfully did just that. An amazing day spent with good friends in my favorite place in the world, the Adirondacks. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Pictures.

Peace, Love, and Mise en Place,

Chef
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Old 09-05-2009, 07:37 AM   #2
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Awesome job guys. My friend and I tried a similar traverse in July, but heavy rain turned us back just shy of Marcy. We hadn't thought of adding Skylight and Panther Gorge, but now I want to add them in...

Nice report and great pics,
Jim
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Old 09-05-2009, 11:19 AM   #3
Cory D
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Wow, fantastic idea and trip. The sunrise-sunset deal is great. I love the range, I have done at least the HaBaSa part usually including much more 5 times this year already and have the range as part of a hike for next Thursday. Even with having been there you've got me excited about next week. My last trip included Panther Gorge like yours and your darn skippy it's an awesome area.

Seriously, you should post this over on ADKhighpeaks for others to enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

Oh and PS you should try the trail that goes down Sawteeth towards the Upper lake and then up Haystack that way in the future too, you will not be disappointed.
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Old 09-06-2009, 01:02 AM   #4
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Very cool hike. A few years ago I watched sunrise from Haystack.....so I know how awesome that is and am glad you got to experience it. Kinda makes you wonder why most people only hike during daylight hours.

I agree with Cory, you should post on ADKHP too.

And now start thinking of all the other sunrises and sunsets you could see
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Old 09-06-2009, 01:05 AM   #5
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Nice job

It was fun to read your report. Great job.
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Old 09-07-2009, 10:53 AM   #6
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Great trip report.Excellent pics.Memorys that you can take with you.
Ahhh....To be young again.
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