So a couple of Saturdays ago I had another hiking adventure that I’m just now getting to posting about! Go ahead, slap my hand.
This was the first weekend the Eastern High Peaks Region was reopened since Tropical Storm Irene. There was a lot of damage caused by flooding to this part of the Adirondack Park. Because there wasn’t a lot of information about the condition of many of the trails we decided to do something within our skill level and what we’ve been working on time wise. We narrowed it down to Wright Peak.
Ranked #16 of 46
Trail head: From Adirondack Mtn Club (ADK) High Peaks Information Center (HPIC)
Travel time from Glens Falls (with detour through Elizabethtown): ~1.5 hrs
This was the first time that I’ve gotten to visit the ADK’s property in Lake Placid. You may or may not know, but I am a newer member of the club, I joined back in April. I haven’t gotten to really participate in any of the club’s outings but I’ve attended some of the lectures and have enjoyed some of the other benefits of being a member. This property includes the HPIC, the Adirondack Loj (for overnight stays) and campgrounds. It also provides parking for 200+ cars and access to many trails including access to the popular Van Hovenberg trail which can take you to many of the popular High Peaks, including Wright. Adirondack Loj Rd was closed after the storm because the main bridge on the road was washed away…it actually stranded 30 visitors of the loj for a few days! As of our trip, this was the condition of the bridge:
There is a fee to park at the HPIC. For ADK members it’s $5, for everyone else it’s $10. There is a discount for parking after 1PM although I forget how much it is.
So a lot of people will combine the trip of Wright Peak with Algonquin, which is the second highest peak of the 46. We decided NOT to do that for a couple of reasons, 1) we were unsure of what kind of blowdown or other messes we were going to run into 2) we wanted to keep it simple 3) realistically speaking, we are not ready for Algonquin, it’s one of the hardest High Peaks.
We were quite pleased with our decision! We started off right around 8AM, it was still quite chilly, I thought I saw frost on the grass along Adirondack Loj Rd but I’m thinking it was probably just dew since their first frost warning didn’t actually come out until the weekend after. The trail starts following blue markers along the Van Hovenberg Trail. This part of the trail you can tell is really well maintained and has many bridges and man made steps to use along the way. There was a lot of evidence of blowdown, flooding and general storm mess but I was really impressed with how clear the trail itself was. The trail was pretty muddy while we were going up, but due to the crowds (it was quite busy) coming down was worse. I’ve hiked in worse mud, but mud in general is kind of an annoyance to a hiker…well to me anyway.
Bears! Make noise, don’t run!
Eventually the trail stops following blue markers and switches to yellow markers. While going along there are several points of crossing small streams, although this could’ve been more frequent because of the amount of water in the area. There is one definite river crossing, where there was a small waterfall to see! Beyond this the trail became really rocky, again because of the abundance of water there were a lot of small running streams going down the rocks, but I’m not sure if that would be an occurrence during a dry period.
We reached the peak a little bit before 11:30, about a 3 hour hiking time, which we thought was quite good for us. There were a lot of people on the trail, which can really cause a lot of stress on my end because I’m a “nervous” hiker. Since this is the same trail to Algonquin, most people were headed that way so we lost a lot of people at the junction. Once past the junction for Wright Peak it became more and more steep and eventually became total rock. There were definitely a couple of points where I really needed to stop and think and get some assistance to climb the rock (I’m a really terrible rock climber). Something I really need to work on getting over as I continue the journey to being a 46er. This summit was in an alpine zone so you need to be careful to follow the yellow blazes and stay inside the rocked trail and off of any of the vegetation.
This was difficult and scary for me, it took me a good 2-3 minutes more to get to the official summit than my BFF Alison but we both made it!
- Peanut butter and crackers
- Monster Trail Mix
This is the neighboring Algonquin Peak. It’s so much taller, and so much more steep! It was kind of neat, you could actually see people going up and some people at the top! Luckily our peak was SUPER quiet. I think the entire time we were up there we only saw 4 other groups, made for good lunching, picture taking and resting. One of us even decided to nap a little bit…
Mt Colden from the summit. It has many slides on it including a new one created by Irene.
This is Cascade and Porter from Wright. It’s funny, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to name these peaks but it’s starting to get easier and easier…at least to pick out the ones I’ve done The smaller pictures don’t really give you the full effect, but you can start to see the leaves changing. There was a predicted 3% change in the leaves for this weekend, we’re headed into prime “Leaf Peeping” season so our next trip should really have some amazing leaf colors in the pictures.
A view of Heart Lake and you can see Lake Placid in the background…if you look real hard you can see the ski jumps. The tall peak in the back is Whiteface. Algonquin also had a new slide from Irene, you can see it here in this picture to the left. Notice it’s not quite as smooth as the others:
People climb and ski these slides VIA bushwacking, I guess they get to name them if they’re the first ones to venture them. Gratuitous summit shots!
The summit was chilly, which was to be expected. My bangs are dumb looking because of me sweating (prior to getting to the summit). Premade Chex Mix muddy buddies (or puppy chow as I know it) is not nearly as good as when you make it yourself FYI. In the 60’s Wright Peak was the site of a deadly plane crash. I’m taking this from memory, but I believe there were 4 individuals who perished. They flew from the Plattsburgh Air Base (which has since closed) and were doing a practice flight. We found a sign that directed hikers to a commemorative plaque and to the peak although we weren’t successful in finding the plaque. We did however find a few remnants from the crash:
Ok so, going down was scary. I mean, the scariest it’s been of any of our hikes. So scary that I slid down the summit mostly on my bum…I ruined my favorite pair of hiking pants by doing this (don’t think that tiny hole in my rear is going to stop me from wearing them though)…
Once past this point the trail going down was quite enjoyable. It did take us longer to get back down, we spent about an hour and half at the summit and didn’t get back to the trail head until 4. So it took us about a half hour longer to get down, it didn’t feel like it though. This was by far my most favorite trail to go down, with the exception of sliding down the summit of course.
We made it back to the trailhead around 4:00 with several other groups. My big thing after a long hike like this is wiping myself down with baby wipes and I usually like to at the very least change my pants and get out of my hiking shoes and socks. Of course today I really needed to get out of my pants since I wore a hole in them, haha After changing and cleaning up we visited the HPIC where I picked up the latest issue of Adirondack Life and we made our way into Lake Placid for dinner! On the way back home we stopped in Keene to patron a couple of the businesses, although we wanted to go into Keene Valley it seemed that the road was closed. We were a little nervous to go beyond the sign and into the hamlet.
Since our trip Rt 73 has reopened and so have many other trails. Our next trip is going to be next weekend where hopefully I’ll get some pictures of the colorful leaves!