The McIntyre Range

Algonquin Peak, viewed from Wright Peak

Trailhead: ADKs Adirondack Loj, near Lake Placid, NY
Distance: 10.2 miles (book/map descriptions), 10.5 miles (estimated by phone)
Elevation Change: ~3776 ft.
Peaks: Wright Peak (#16, 4580 ft.); Algonquin (#2, 5114 ft.); Iroquois (#8, 4840 ft.)
Difficulty: This is a difficult hike, although with only a few very steep sections.  Mostly it is just a hard hike, rather than a scramble
Date: 7/23/2016

About 6 weeks ago, I was discussing my peak climbing aspirations in the Park with some parents at my son's little league baseball game.  Overhearing the conversation, Abrahm DiMarco approached me and said, "if you make plans to do any hikes this summer, let me know."  I fear that he is now regretting those words.  Capitalizing on this opportunity for a new hiking partner, I quickly had us set aside a date to hike the McIntyre Range - a long day-hike over three high peaks - and a hike for which my sons are not quite ready.

After a one day delay due to an intimidating weather forecast, we set out from Potsdam at 6:30 on a sunny Saturday morning, heading for Lake Placid and the Adirondack Loj trailhead. We were there by 8:15 and on the trail, signing in, at 8:22 AM (Abrahm is a military man, and is very precise about our times).  The forecast was still threatening thunderstorms for later in the afternoon, so we were glad to have gotten an early start. We were well-supplied with water, having read the tale of my co-author's ADK Death March.

We set out down the Van Hoevenberg Trail which can take you nearly anywhere in the Eastern High Peaks region.  After a mile, we turned slightly to the right to follow the Algonquin Peak Trail. The trail is rocky from beginning to end, being a great example of the damage that trails and hikers due to a landscape, but begins at a quite reasonable pitch and becomes "progressively steeper," to quote the High Peaks Trails guidebook.  The next landmark comes shortly after as the trail crosses the Whale's Tail Ski Trail, and then ascends to McIntyre Falls, which is probably beautiful, when there is water. Our hot and dry summer of 2016, however, left it quite barren, unfortunately.

McIntyre Falls (?)
After this, the trail continued to steepen towards the intersection with the Wright Peak Trail.

Wright Peak Trail Intersection

I expected, naively perhaps, that as the lowest of the three peaks on our schedule, it would also be the easiest.  We were, however, clearly wrong.  The short 0.4 mile ascent to Wright from the Algonquin Peak Trail was steep and open, with some significant scrambling. The view from the top, however, was beautiful, well, except for my hiking partner.

Panorama from Wright Peak to the North and East

Colden was prominent in our views nearly all day

Wright Peak is well known for being the site of a 1962 plane crash. We couldn't find the plaque associated with the crash, but did see what remains of the wreckage just below the summit.

We snacked in a slightly sheltered area just below "tree" line, made some boot adjustments, and also prepared ourselves for a change in plans.  If the remaining climb to Algonquin was as hard as what we had just done we might have to give up on Iroquois.  Then we were back on our way to Algonquin. From Wright, Algonquin has a few very steep and rocky sections, but is mostly more moderate.  We did, however, fall for more than a few false summits, thinking we were almost there only to see a further peak just beyond.

A steep section climbing up to Algonquin
Indian Pass and views to the west from the climb up Algonquin

Once on Algonquin, however, the views were worth it.  The summit steward was also an excellent resource and a source of positive-thinking with her contagious smile. She helped us think through our plans to go over to Iroquois, whether or not we should consider a loop hike through Avalanche Pass (following the above-mentioned Death March route - the answer was a resounding "No"), and what the immediate weather forecast looked like to her.  Following this conversation we retreated to eat our lunches and discuss our plans.  Following my statement that "If I don't do it today, I'll have to do the whole hike another time" Abrahm reluctantly agreed to add the 1.5 hour round trip hike over to Iroquois Peak, all the while being sure to blame me, in advance, for anything that went wrong.

Panoramas from the top of Algonquin

After lunch, we took off down Algonquin and across two small intermediate summits that lie between Algonquin and Iroquois.  The trail, though not "officially" maintained by DEC was largely in good shape, with a number of boardwalks across what could be swampy areas.  The trail was also almost entirely above treeline, making for beautiful scenery.

Flowed Lands and South, viewed from Iroquois
Yours truly on Iroquois, with Algonquin in the background

Once atop Iroquois, we raced quickly back to Algonquin, talked some more with the steward, this time about my upcoming plans to climb Colden with my two sons, and then after a quick snack began to race the weather back down to the Loj. With about 2.5 miles to go, we began to hear thunder, and were briefly rained upon as a large line of storms was moving over portions of the Adirondacks. None the worse for the wear, at least from a rain perspective, we made it back to the car, and were changing shoes and shirts for the ride home when the storm hit in earnest and the hail began to fall. We had just made it in time.

Deciding not to inflict our stench on unwitting bar patrons, we began our drive home, making one stop that is becoming a high peaks tradition for me - Donnelly's Soft Ice Cream outside of Saranac Lake.

Overall, this was another great hike in the high peaks.  These three peaks represent numbers 16, 17, and 18 on my slow quest to have climbed the 46.  Hopefully Abrahm will agree to come along for some more!

Algonquin from the descent of Iroquois.  Note the boardwalks on the trail on the left side of the photo


catharus said...

Great hike! Some nice photos!

Dave said...

Fantastic description, and it sounds like it went muuuuch better than that death march by the other hiker, whoever that crazy person was... ;)