|The Great Range in all of its majesty with Giant Mountain rising off in the distance and Camel's Hump in the very faint horizon.|
I love high pointing, that's for sure. After finishing my New England trips, I was ready to explore the Adirondacks and hopefully climb the highest point in the range and New York State. Some high points are easy to get to but Mt Marcy is comparable to Katahdin in strenuousness and remoteness. Come to think of it, Mt Marcy has to be one of the most difficult high points east of the Rockies. However it is in such a vast wilderness that the reasons for visiting it are numerous.
As a side note, September 3rd was the anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 which has preserved so many places that I love.
|Nice view of the wilderness near the Marcy Dam|
The trail is roughly 7.4 miles one-way and involves nearly 3,400 feet of elevation gain. Again, this isn't one of those easy high points! Beginning at the Adirondack Loj, the trail is actually very easy to start. The first 2.3 miles to the above Marcy Dam are pretty flat, by Adirondack standards. From here, the elevation gain becomes apparent and the trail winds up Phelps Brook, passing by the tempting 1.0 mile Mt Phelps side trail which bags another ADK 46er. At about 4.0 miles, the trail crosses just above Indian Falls. Don't get confused here- Indian Falls is about 0.1 miles away from the trail and can be reached by a little herd path. However the lack of a view of the falls themselves from the trail has confused many hikers in the past.
|Great View of Algonquin from Indian Falls|
Getting well into the 4,000 foot elevations, the trail goes by many side trails but the route to Marcy is well marked and signed. With just 700 vertical feet to go, the forest growth became more stunted and I entered the Alpine Zone. This is always my favorite part of a high-elevation Northeastern hike. It feels very much like hiking in Northern Canada or Scotland.
|Always a pleasure to walk though such a rare and exquisite environment|
The summit was, of course, phenomenal. I'm still convinced that September is an ideal time to hike otherwise crowded summits. I only saw perhaps a dozen people that day and only 3 on the summit (four if you include the dog). The constant wind was brisk but nothing that couldn't be handled by my light jacket. (I'd recommend bringing one regardless of the time of year.) Panther Gorge dropped off precipitously and I was reminded of the extensive rock climbing that exists in the area. The Great Range that I tried so hard to traverse was just northeast and lead to a view of Mt Giant and Camel's Hump. I couldn't believe how clear it was. Lake Champlain was as plainly visible as the Great Range, as was Whiteface and Lake Placid. Mt Algonquin, the second highest peak in the range, rose almost as abruptly as Mt Marcy and I instantly thought of future ways I could get back here for more climbing and hiking.
|Mt Haystack and Dix, I believe|
Back to the lower elevations, I was able to fly on though the flatter sections and I made it back to the parking lot in just about 8.5 hours. Really, it wasn't as long of a hike as I thought it would be. From here, I turned south to the Catskills and Mt Everett in Massachusetts. I do hope that it isn't too long before I return here.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!