September 1, 2013

Three MacIntyres

Algonquin
5,114 feet  |  ranked 2/46 in height  |  6th peak climbed (repeat)
Iroquois
4,840 feet  |  ranked 8/46 in height  |  22nd peak climbed 
Wright
4,580 feet  |  ranked 16/46 in height  |  5th peak climbed (repeat)

Since we were both staying in the Adirondacks over the holiday weekend, Erin and I planned to meet up for a High Peaks hike.  Erin and her husband Brian were campering in Wilmington, while Erwin, Frankie, and I were staying in the Notman Suite at the Keene Valley Lodge (which is perfect for traveling with a little one – it’s so handy to have a kitchen, and a separate living room for nap/bed time).  Jason and Susie and a big group of their friends were staying at the Phelps Cottage next door, a big house that is part of the Lodge property.  When he found out I’d be meeting Erin for a High Peak hike, Jason was super excited to join in on the fun; Susie and an indeterminate number of the larger party also expressed somewhat lukewarm interest.  Erin and I are pretty slow hikers and were somewhat intimidated by the prospect of hiking with much fitter companions.  That consideration weighed heavily into our peak selection – we didn’t want anything too long or too challenging.  We also wanted something with impressive views, to wow Jason on his first official Adirondack High Peak. 

The MacIntyre Range seemed like a good fit.   I had previously climbed both Algonquin and Wright, but had never been over to Iroquois, and Erin hadn’t been up that way at all.  We decided we’d do an out and back, going over Algonquin to Iroquois first, and decide on the way back down whether to add Wright.  Perhaps because we are slow, or maybe just cautious, Erin and I prefer an early start for big hikes.  Jason was on board with the alpine start, but Susie and the rest of their crowd were not remotely interested in getting up early.  We decided to split up, with the group prioritizing hiking leaving early.  The group prioritizing late night drinking and sleeping in would come later in a separate vehicle.  This hike seemed a particularly good fit for this strategy.  Erin, Jason, and I could hike Algonquin and Iroquois, then meet the rest of the gang back on Algonquin as we re-traced our steps back over the mountain the second time. 

Erin and Brian picked Jason and I up in the foggy pre-dawn.  Brian wasn't interested in hiking with us, but kindly dropped us off at the Loj parking lot before heading out in search of some Adirondack fishing holes.  As we headed out along the Van Ho, Erin and I were concerned about the dubious weather forecast.  Jason is ever the eternal optimist, and was certain the low clouds would clear in time to grant us summit views.  However, when we reached treeline, we were inside a cloud, with no views at all.  At the summit, we sat in the damp fluff and snacked.  Then, as as we were packing up to head onward to Iroquois, Jason's predictions came true.  The clouds started breaking up, lifting and blowing in a continually shifting magic show: the world revealed.  It was truly a spectacular sight.  By the time we crossed the new bog bridges on Boundary and scrabbled up the last steep bits on Iroquois, it was like a completely different day.  We were in such fine spirits!  More snacks and photographs were obligatory, of course. 

By this time, Jason had begun to wonder if Susie and the others were up on Algonquin yet.  He was concerned that they'd be confused or worried if they arrived and we weren't there, so Erin and I encouraged him to go ahead.  He could re-ascend Algonquin faster solo, and we would meet up again at the summit.  With his bright orange shirt, we could track his progress as he ant-like emerged above treeline and ascended the summit cone.  When we met back on the summit, he was still alone; Susie had not been waiting after all.  We hung out a bit longer to see if they would show up, soaking in the views we missed the first time through.  Unfortunately I'd forgotten to charge my camera battery before setting out, and it finally quit here, much to my dismay. 

We did quite a bit of waffling as we descended Algonquin.  Should we tack on Wright, too?  It is only 0.4 miles from the junction but it seemed like we had lost more elevation than would be ideal, and the legs were getting a bit tired.  I decided I was game, since there had been no views on my previous hike there, but ultimately I decided to leave it up to Erin and Jason, since neither had climbed Wright before.  They decided to go for it.  I confess it was a tough 0.4 miles, for me at least.  The grade is steep and my legs were like jelly; they seemed to weigh a ton.  Although each bit of elevation gain was a struggle, it was so worth it!  Wright is really nice.  Algonquin looms so high above, and Colden and Avalanche Lake are still in your face.  Marcy, Gray, and Skylight rise behind Colden, and a succession of other peaks layer one behind another in ever more distant ridges.  There is nowhere like the mountains.      

We felt a bit rushed on the way down, since Erwin and Frankie were picking us up and we didn't want them to have to wait too long.  I doubt we were really moving very fast, but it certainly felt that way at the time.  Turns out Erwin had come a little early, so Frankie could play at Heart Lake.  They also browsed the HPIC before settling in on porch to wait for us, and apparently weren't there long when we finally popped out of the woods.  Erwin had the most welcome cold drinks waiting for us in a cooler in the trunk: V8s for Erin and I and a Coke for Jason, such a nice treat at the end of a long day.  It turns out the rest of the crew never got motivated enough to join us; I think Susie regretted not coming along with us early birds.  I feel a little bad about that, but I'm so glad we stuck to the plan and hiked three High Peaks instead of lazing about town!     

Read Erin's trip report here

The view towards Iroquois from Algonquin as the clouds lift



Jason at the Iroquois summit, with Colden on right
Jason on top of Iroquois, with Boundary and Algonquin on left
Marshall and Shepherd's Tooth from summit of Iroquois.

Colden, Lake Colden, Flowed Lands





Jason on the way back up Algonquin

View of Colden from Algonquin, with Marcy, Gray and Skylight behind
Looking down at the Wright summit from Algonquin


Panoramic views from Algonquin
Jason, me, and Erin on Wright
Sign for the plaque about the plane crash
View looking east from summit of Wright