August 27, 2016
We reached the Loj right round 6:10, with our goal to be on trail by 6:30. It was already a bit crowded for our liking and once we were almost ready (hence locking the doors to the car and ready to go use the bathroom), we noticed two MASSIVE buses pulling to the parking lot. This group haunted us all day. We later found out there were 67 French Canadians on those buses who seriously caused a ruckus throughout the area (see article for more on this fiasco: http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2016/08/group-67-people-ticketed-algonquin-peak.html). So, when we saw a ton of people getting off the buses, we basically ran to the trailhead in an attempt to avoid over crowded trails. We succeeded for a while, but they later caught up to us.
We reached the Algonquin turn off after about 20 minutes and we kept moving along steadily, setting a solid pace for ourselves. We passed some cool waterfalls, but nothing was flowing too heavily as it still hadn’t rained much this summer. It was muddier than the last time we had been out, which was about two months earlier.
We reached the turn off for Wright at 8:30, had a snack, and kept moving. We summited by 9. I don’t know if it was just early and I wasn’t warmed up yet, or those two months of no hiking really slowed me down, but once we came above the tree-line, I started to struggle a bit. I just ran out of breath so fast – even though it wasn’t necessarily super difficult. There was only one other person at the summit when we got there, but two men snuck up behind me quick since I had slowed down so much compared to Alex. That always happens. The best quote I heard all day was from one of those two men, who said “If God wanted me to be on top of this hill, he would’ve put a road up it!” It made me chuckle to myself and somehow motivated me to keep moving.
The summit was really nice. The sun was just starting to peak out and there weren’t too many low clouds. It wasn’t too big, so we didn’t stay too long. Just had a snack, took some pictures, and kept going as we still wanted to head to Algonquin and Iroquois, and also try to beat all those people we knew we would see.
Alex also went and checked out the plaque from the plane wreck that occurred in 1962. I was too much of a baby and just stayed right where I was. I was feeling nervous about the rest of the day, and the height of the land was making me even more nervous. Stupid fear of heights. But, I always pull it together and keep moving because it’s worth it.
On our way down, we were happily moving and then a bunch of the bus load of people were coming up the trail at the same time. So we moved aside for them. We ended up having to wait 15-20 minutes, which slowed us down pretty significantly. We made it back to the junction around 10, and had to decide if we should go on or go home. We decided to keep going. It just didn’t make sense to be so close to Algonquin and not do it. The weather was too perfect, despite the crowds.
At this junction, Algonquin’s summit is only .9 miles away. We summited around 10:45-11. The climb up wasn’t too bad. There were a lot of bare rock slabs and some pretty steep pitches along the way too. Most of it was easy to walk right up, which always makes the challenge slightly easier. I don’t remember too many sketchy pitches except one (which was more difficult to come down than go up). Once we made it above tree line, it was still a big haul to the summit. But I don’t think it was as difficult as the backside of Marcy. I wasn’t struggling as much with this as I had been that day.
Reaching Algonquin’s summit marked my halfway point for the 46! Woohoo! I was pumped. The views were amazing. Colden with Marcy right behind was such an incredible view. At this point, we only took a few pictures because we knew would have to come across this summit again on our way out. It was also starting to get crowded and we thought that Iroquois might have significantly fewer people on top.
Climbing down the backside of Algonquin was tough (climbing back up it was literally breath taking). It was so steep! So I took my time going down, but it never got too crazy to handle. When we reached Boundary I tried to take a minute to really soak it in because the perspective was so cool. We could see Algonquin on the one side and Iroquois on the other, and that was also incredible. But we kept up a good pace and summited Iroquois around noon!
The herd path to Iroquois from Algonquin was quite narrow, but really easy to follow. We saw some human feces on the side of the trail, which was not only disgusting, but also really disappointing. It’s so unfortunate that people think that is ok, and have little regard for others and their enjoyment of the peaks. There were a couple of sketchy pitches that I had trouble climbing up, but heading back down I didn’t even notice them! It’s crazy the difference that perspective can make on a challenge.
We were right – there were significantly fewer people on Iroquois’ summit (the French Canadian’s thought Boundary was Iroquois so they never made their way all the way over). We ate lunch and took in all the incredible views. The breeze picked up a little bit at this point, but it actually just made the experience better, since it had been so calm all morning. We watched as some people made their way over to the Shepherd’s tooth and we looked for the trail up Marshall that we had taken a couple months prior. People were asking about going from Iroquois to Marshall, but I think that would be a serious undertaking!
Going back to Algonquin was difficult both physically and mentally because it was difficult, but it also meant we were headed back into the crowds and out of the woods. Always a bittersweet feeling. Climbing up the backside of Algonquin was a big challenge for me. Alex has been running so much lately that for him it was nothing, so I told him to go ahead of me and I would eventually catch up. He practically ran up the mountain while I slowly huffed and puffed my way back the summit.
We took some more photos at the summit and had some more to eat. We let the large group get a head start in front of us in hopes that we wouldn’t have to pass them or let them pass us again. We also noticed that a couple had gotten engaged at the summit that day! The summit steward seemed to be very busy trying to explain to everyone up there how fragile and crucial the environment is.
The trek out wasn’t bad at all. There was a lot of butt sliding coming down the rock slabs though! Even Alex used the butt sliding technique a bit and he never does that! I honestly think this is the only time I’ve seen him do it. The rock slabs were easier to climb up than down. But that doesn’t surprise me at all.We made it out to the car around 5. There was a long line to sign out at the trailhead, and with that, we were glad to be making our way to the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery for a beer and a burger! 24/46