Friday, July 8, 2011

Algonquin, Iroquois, and Wright from the ADK Loj

Three high peaks in a day sounds like a tough hike, but the Algonquin, Iroquois and Wright trek is really a decent hike, taking less time than some of the single peaks that I've done in a day. I went with a woman that I met through the ADK - we had hiked several hikes with the ADK before and had decided that we would venture out on our own this time.

We met at the Loj at 8am... the sky was blue, the temperature was mild and on the rise, and the bugs had finally started to calm down. We decided to go up Algonquin and Iroquois first, and hit Wright on the way back. The warm up mile down the Van Hoevenberg Trail was quick, we spent it chatting and catching up - we hadn't seen each other since Big Slide this winter! The trail turns to the left to go to Marcy Dam, but we stayed straight to go on to the MacIntyre Range. The trail was a steady incline from there to the summit, a total of 4.3 miles. The two waterfalls that we passed on the way were little trickles, my friend said they were so much busier just a week ago!

Near the summit of Algonquin we caught up with three women, all originally from Keene Valley and back in town for a brief visit. We chatted with them all the way up to the summit where we were greeted by the summit steward and the largest fly I've ever seen. The summit steward, who climbs this mountain or a few of the other popular peaks several times a week in the summer, educates climbers on the importance preserving the vegetation on the summit. He showed us pictures of Algonquin and Marcy from years ago before the program started, and a more recent picture. Comparing the pictures side by side, it's amazing how well the steward program has worked. There are tiny little wild flowers and other vegetation now, however, years ago the rocks were completely bare.

The view from Algonquin was amazing with 365 degrees of beauty. Whiteface, Mt. Jo, Heart Lake, Iroquois, The Santanonis, Giant, Marcy, Skylight, Gray, Colden, and so many more landmarks were visible.

My hiking buddy led the five of us to the unmarked herd path to Iroquois. The trail was narrow and muddy, and at times the branches would latch on to my hair, pack, or pants snagging me back. The path heads over Boundary, a bump between Algonquin and Iroquois, that doesn't count as a high peak due to its proximity to the other two mountains. There's one tricky spot just before the summit of Iroquois, a tall rock with a small foothold but no branches or roots to grab onto to pull your self up. I gripped the rock with my fingers and pulled up on my knees only to slide down on all fours scraping up my elbow. This is where long legs would come in handy. I repeated the same maneuver a couple times before I was able to get one of my legs all the way up. We ate lunch on Iroquois and took pictures of Algonquin, Wallface, and the surrounding High Peaks Region. We had to go back over Algonquin again to head over to Wright.

You know you have hiked a lot when people start to recognize you in the wilderness! I ran into a fellow hiker that I hiked with in the Santanoni Range, and was recognized by someone who follows my trip reports.

The rocks seemed more slippery on Wright, good thing it wasn't raining! It was less than a half mile from where the trail breaks off to the summit, and we were still feeling great. Looking over at Algonquin, we could make out the trail that we had just come down. There was another steward on Wright, this was her summer job between college semesters.

Wright Peak is the site of a tragic Adirondack story. On January 16, 1962 a B-47 bomber was on a practice mission from Watertown to Plattsburgh Air Force Base when it lost radio signal and never arrived at Plattsburgh when it was supposed to. An extensive search began, and it was determined that the plane clipped Wright Peak just below the summit and its shattered pieces spread down the mountain and into the col between Algonquin and Wright, leaving no survivors. Most of the wreckage was under several feet of snow, up to twenty feet in some spots. Two of the men's remains were found about a week after the crash, the remains of a third man were found later. The remains of the fourth crew member were never found. At the site of the crash a few pieces of the plane remain, and a plaque honors the four men that lost their lives that tragic day.

We returned to our vehicles around 5pm, about a nine hour day including summit time.

All of my pictures can be found here.

1 comment:

knittingdragonflies said...

You have the most beautiful photos, I just want to come travel with you! Thanks for sharing them with us!!