Adirondack High Peaks
On Friday 8/1, hiked in 8 miles from the Elk Lake parking area to Panther Gorge under sunny blue skies. Setup my HH in the designated camping area, and took a quick swim. By the time I had finished dinner I was ready for sleep. Temps were mild so I only brought my small 48x20 CCF and a synth bag/quilt.
Woke up Saturday to overcast skies. Had a quick breakfast, got my daypack together, and I was off to tackle a couple of New York's highest peaks traveling in a loop. First up was Haystack, the 3rd highest in NY at 4960 ft. Reached the summit and saw storm clouds approaching from the west, the direction I was heading next. Headed down into the col between Haystack and Mt. Marcy, and began the ascent of Marcy, the highest in NY at 5344 ft. Halfway up, it started to rain with rumbles of thunder in the distance. I reached a trail junction where a few other hikers were debating a summit bid with storms closing in. A moment later a Ranger approached from the summit with a group in tow that he was evacuating off Marcy's summit. The rule is, if thunder is heard, everyone moves below tree line for 20 minutes. If no thunder is heard during that time, the summit is safe. During our 20 minute wait the Ranger gave a quick lesson in lightning survival techniques. The group consisted of folks from Albany NY, Glens Falls NY, Atlanta GA, and Toronto Canada. We all counted down the last few seconds of waiting, and then it was a mad dash to the top. We all reached the summit in about 10 minutes. Not long after this another rumble of thunder was heard and everyone scattered. Most retreated the way we came up, but myself and one other guy continued down the opposite side. We reached tree line and found another Ranger giving safety instructions to hikers going up this side. At least I was now within easy reach of my campsite with no more exposed summits to cross. With all the rain, thunder, and excitement, I totally forgot about my HH and wondered how it had fared. I reached camp and found all of the tent sites flooded, but my HH was high and dry! I was never so glad to be in a hammock.
I hadn't brought a change of clothes so I slept a bit damp, but comfortable enough for a good night of sleep.
Sunday was basically the same, weather wise. Packed up camp and was on the trail by 6:30am. Rain started at 7:30am and continued until I was back at the Trailhead at 11am. All things considered, it was a great trip with lots of memories.
Sounds like it was great trip. And those are great pics.
I'm guessing that puddle at the campsite is one of the tent areas in the designated campsite. That is when it is great to have a hannock.
Last October my son and I did Phelps from the Loj. We hiked in the dark in a downpour to the campsite just below the trail to Phelps and set up the hammocks off to the side over some rocks to keep our packs high and dry from the constant flow of ground water.
The next day when we return from summiting Phelps a group of tenters were trying to find a puddle free area to set up their tents and jealously eyeing our hammocks.
We are taking one of my son's friends up algonquin later next week and planning a short bushwhack over to Rocky Falls.
The regulations limiting camping to designated campsites in the south meadows - flowed lands corridore are expected to go in to effect next summer (although that is not definite) so we want to get some bushwhack camping in before that.
Nice report, Timber. The Adirondacks are on my list of places to go hiking.
Nice photography Tim! Thanks.
What kind of wilderness has Rangers posted near summits forcing hikers off mountains and giving safety lessons on lightning? That is just weird and annoying? Summit bids should be your decision and yours alone in my opinion. ;)The Adirondacks are quite breathtaking though, your campsite looked primo, looks like that HH came in for you, campsite looks pretty soaked. Thanks for sharing the great pics, beautiful country!
Summit bids should be your decision and yours alone in my opinion.
Then there should be no such need for SAR. You want those decisions to be yours and yours alone then you should have no expectation of assistance should things get bad. People should not be expected to put their own lives at risk because of someone else's personal agenda. In a culture where some woman leaves the wheel of her RV while in motion to go back to the kitchen and make lunch, then sues the RV maker and _WINS_ because they didn't tell her she couldn't do that, I think the rangers are within their rights and doing appropriate work. But that's just _my_ opinion. :)
They might not have been rangers. Rangers can be distinguished from other DEC personel by the fact that rangers have sidearms.
Most likely at least one of them was a summit steward or assistant ranger.
The peaks in the Adirondacks used to be covered with alpine vegitation. Unfortunately, lots of people were walking all over it and killing it off.
The DEC and several conservation organizations started the summit steward program to educate hikers about the fragil alpine vegitation, keep them on the narrow designated trails, and provide genreal information about hiking and backpacking in the Adirondacks.
They are only on the two most popular peaks, but the theory is that most people will climb those peaks first and become educated about the alpine vegitation.
The DEC takes a proactive approach to safety because they average one SAR a day in the Adirondack Park. Summer stewads, assitant rangers, and outpost caretakers are all involved in educating hikers about safety and wilderness conservation issues.
They also enforce the usage rules including required bear canisters, mandatory snow shoes in winter, dog leash rule, and prohibition of campfires being the most common.
Thanks for all the kind words!
nogods, you’re right about the puddle being the designated campsite. It was kind of ironic to see the “Camp Here” yellow marker directly above the puddle :confused:. You’re also correct about the rangers being Summit Stewards. I wasn’t sure how common a term this would be so I just called them rangers.
I’m not sure if Summit Stewards have the actual authority to detain or prevent hikers from taking their intended course, but based on the weather conditions, everybody was more than happy to accept his suggestion to wait. While waiting for the storm to pass he gave a brief talk about the alpine vegetation, which was quite entertaining. Since the summit was socked in with clouds, the only view from Mt. Marcy this day was going to be alpine vegetation. ;)
I guess I'm of the mindset that I desire as little outside human involvement as possible in my outdoor experiences, we get enough "assistance" and "stewardship" in our busy live. I hardly see groups or individuals, let alone SAR (Lord willing) or DEC, or rangers out ON the trail or in the backcountry in most instances in New Mexico so that experience Timber had on the mountain struck me as odd. I probably wrongly assume that all hikers are educated in mountain safety and practice in general so I can see the need for wilderness staff in high traffic wilderness areas where the likelihood of more inexperienced incidents occur. The Adirondacks are amazing though, I would love to make a trip out there in my lifetime:cool:
The Daks are amazing... but you need to remember they are only about 4-5 hours from NYC. They get more stupid people than you can shake a stick at. People have tried to climb Marcy in flip flops. They have gone off without water or food. People have no clue of the dangers above timberline and they can't, don't, won't read warning signs or think that the warnings don't apply to them. People who know to get out of a backyard pool in a thunderstorm have no clue that lightening exists above timberline. (hyperbole) Temps in the 50's are notorious for hypothermia, but folks will go out with out rain gear and not realize the denim jeans they are in may be the pants they die in. Just a glimpse of what Marcy sees in a day. If you think the high country in the west gets idiots... multiply that number by several factors of ten and you probably come close to the Daks.