SpecificsDuration: 8/6/2010-8/8/2010 (Friday Morning-Sunday afternoon)
Total Mileage/Vertical: 26 miles/ 11,185’
Day 1: 11 miles/5,260’
Garden to Basin Slide Base: 7 miles/3,000’
Slide Base to Basin NW: ¼ mile/550’ Slide =/ 400’
Basin to Trail: 1,700 ft
Trail to Haystack/Little Haystack Dr: 1.25 mile/Climbed 260’/Descend 1,401
Drainage to Summit via Johanssen Face:3,000 feet over climb 1,600’
Haystack to Panther Gorge L2: 1.3 miles/-1,700
Day 2: 5.1 miles/2,675’
Panther Gorge to beginning of Marcy SE slide: 3,500 and 575’
Slide exploration to Schofield: 1 mile/1,500’
To Skylight: 1 mile/600’
To Uphill L2: 2.5 miles/-1,775
Day 3: 9.7 miles/3,250
Uphill to Lake Colden: 1.7 miles/+250/-750
To Algonquin SE Slide Drainage: 1.25/570
To Pond: 370 and 23’ climbing
To Slide Top: 1 mile/1,300’
To Algonquin S Slide: ½ mile/200 feet climbing
To Algonquin: ¾ mile/900’
To Loj: 4.5/-3,100
Summits: Basin NW, Haystack, Schofield Cobble, Skylight, Algonquin
Day 1: Johns Brook Lodge to Basin Brook bushwhack to Basin West Summit, bushwhack to trail (on contour). Trail to base of Haystack West Johanssen Face to summit. Summit to Panther Gorge camp.
Day 2: Trail to elevation…..bushwhack to drainage and Marcy SE (Phelps) Slide. Bushwhack to Schofield Cobble. Trail to Skylight. Trail to Uphill Brook Lean-to.
Day 3: Trail to Lake Colden and trail between Iroquois/Algonquin Col to 3100’ elevation. Bushwhack to Algonquin East (Elevator Shaft) Slide. Bushwhack over ridge to Algonquin SE (Bear Paw) Slide. Bushwhack to trail to summit to ADK Loj.
Trail Conditions: Dry. Portions sandy on trail.
Clothing: Golite Trail Running Shoes, Silk tights under Northface Rainpants, Nylon Long sleeved shirt,
Pack Weight:37 lbs.
Friday: 3 eggs, 2 packets emergenc, ½ big bar, 1 Linguini dinner, 6 starburst, 2 power bars, 1 chewy granola bar, 1 yogurt bar, 2 glucose packets, 5 litres water,
Saturday: 1 power bar, 1 chewy granola bar, 1 harvest grain energy power bar, ½ big 100 bar, 1 emergenc packet, 1 mac/cheese 2 person dinner 4 starburst, 1 chick/noodles, 5 litres water.
Sunday: 2 fruit smoothie powerbars, 1 pb harvest energy, 2 glucose tubes, 1 emergenc packet, 2 starburst, 1 chicken noodle dinner, 1 yogurt bar, 4 litres water.
Basin Brook Slide Pics
Haystack Johanssen Face Pics
Marcy SE (Phelps) Slide Set
Algonquin SE (Elevator Shaft/Zero) Slide
Algonquin S (Bear Paw/Fuzzy)Slide
This trip included, perhaps, one of the most fluid itineraries I’ve undertaken up to the point of leaving. Logistics constantly changed from those who would accompany me to the route itself. Logistics continued to be fluid even during the hike. In the end, I increased the intensity of day one, switched the starting day, changed the camping areas and starting point as well as exchanged slides and bushwhacks. I ended up soloing the route entirely. The largest wildcard of the trip was the energy required and duration of the Johanssen Face of Haystack. It had the potential to affect subsequent possibilities. I’d constructed conservative and best-case routes in hopes of the latter. Reality put me in the middle. It had been too long since I’d embarked on something really ambitious and wanted to get it out of my system for a bit.
Basin Brook Slide: Day 1This trip finally came together after a litany of changes in route, partners and starting days. I was still nursing a rotator cuff/elbow issue, but otherwise my body and mind felt strong. The mental strength would be crucial for me to maintain my focus beyond a simple day hike and day one would be tiring. My original plan put me beginning with a slide on Gothics, but I modified that with an easier trek up the Basin Brook Slide since the hardest part of the first day was the Johanssen Face of Haystack…a goal I’ve had for nearly three years. For one reason or another, I haven’t been able to make it even to the base of the route up. It was remote and always a secondary goal if I had the strength or time. This hike would hopefully change that pattern.
I began at the Garden around six a.m. I held my pace back to prevent burning out too early, but still found myself at John’s Brook Lodge in an hour and twenty minutes. Water in most of the streams was very low. The deep pools in Johns Brook were still deep and harboring trout in the main current within. The lodge itself was hopping with hikers filling their bellies and readying themselves for the day as I passed and surveyed the Friday morning mob.
Bushnell Falls and Chicken Coop Brook came and went and I soon found myself nearing my first destination by 8:30 a.m.: the intersection of Basin Brook with the trail. A bit after the land flattened, two small drainages led to a third eight-foot wide dry streambed. Moss covered most of the rocks and the forest floor. The brook originated from the southwest, so that’s where I entered the woods. What began as open forest with young spruce quickly turned to horrendously tight growth and quickly vacillated back to open. The tight trees reminded me to lower the sleeves on my “bushwhacking” shirt. I’ve learned to always hike in long sleeves to keep the micro-cut collection at a minimum. These days it only looks like I got into a losing battle with a bobcat rather than a lion. Blow-down was present as expected, but not problematic.
About one half hour into the journey, I developed a sneaking suspicion that something was amiss, that I didn’t follow the right drainage. I was certain of my heading and that I was on the correct col as opposed to the one leading to Saddleback’s Chicken Coop Slide. The lay of the land just didn’t feel right. As I continued walking, I decided to strike due south for a bit and within minutes, my feelings were verified. The slide appeared, but farther south than I expected it. My mishap was actually a blessing that allowed me to snap some distant pictures of the slide through the trees. I kept walking south and eventually found the open drainage at 9:30 a.m. It was wide and clear of blow-down, at least at this elevation less than an eighth of a mile from the slide.
The southwest ascent up the drainage quickly began to veer south as I entered the slide’s rubble zone. The mess was largely composed of dirt, raspberry bushes and small birch with a narrow staircase of water-cleaned rock running up the center. I prayed for a nice harvest of raspberries for my growing hunger…I was granted only one to whet my appetite.
The slide was short (about 4,100’- 4,570’), but interesting which made up for the lack of difficulty. Its lower portion was ridden with ledges and an intrusion of rock that created another convenient diagonal staircase. Rubble, moss and small trees intermittently interrupted the slab on both the lower and middle portions. The dirtiest portion was around 4,300’. I’d guess the average degree of the lower/mid slide was around 30 degrees or less. In other words, it was an easy walk up. As a matter of fact the mid section lessens its pitch briefly before approaching the upper slabs and steep headwall. The first small pitch of the upper section was lined with small dikes and provided a nice perch for a break. As usual, the headwall was the steepest portion…about thirty feet in height, perhaps 70 degrees and spotted with moss. A walk to the left provided an exit route.
The weather forecast for the day was a toss up between a couple possible showers or just partly cloudy. This slide would have been easy if wet, but a bushwhack up Haystack was another story. I was concerned as I watched the clouds coalesce and break apart, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to summit the west knob when I was this close. It didn’t yield easily, though. It was a ledge riddled, cripplebrush-ridden push to the rounded top. Finally at 10:30, I was standing on the dual summit erratics. The immediate area around them was delightfully clear of trees. Upon looking at Basin’s proper summit to the southeast, I quickly decided to forego a bushwhack. Cliffs and a steep climb awaited and I didn’t want to sacrifice the time required. I’d bushwhacked Basin last year, so I had nothing to prove to myself. I did, however, need to get to the trail and the closest way was due south through the trees. I also needed to decide if Haystack was an option based on the weather.
The southeast side of the summit underfoot was a forty-foot vertical wall. I scurried along the top of it through the blueberries, none of which were ripe, and found a way down to the north and into the col…the very thick col. The cliff, now loomed above, composed of interesting layers of anorthosite. A particularly large fracture cave dominated one area. After a few pics, I dove into the trees, which thankfully loosened slightly as I followed the southern heading. I did, however, suddenly loose sight of the sun as I fell into a hole or off a ledge…not sure which. Ledges interrupted intermittently after the first half-hour and forced me off contour, though only slightly. I wanted to stay at the same elevation to intersect the path most expeditiously. Forty-five tiring minutes later (11:30 a.m.), I was dining on a powerbar surveying Haystack and the storm clouds just beyond Marcy.
Haystack Mtn. Johanssen Face and Slide, Day 1Haystack Johanssen Face Pics
If anyone has read any of Neil’s Haystack accounts (on adkhighpeaks.org), they’ll know this face is not easy. It’s over 1,700’ of ledges, downward growing trees (mostly cedar at first), moss, some slab and cripplebrush (3,281’ – 4,961’). He nicknamed the last route Johanssen’s Colon. I suppose since I was starting in the main drainage, this could be called Johanssen’s Sinus? My plan from 2007 was to descend to where the Little Haystack/Haystack drainage intersected the trail. I’d ideally begin the ascent in the stream and then cut southwest directly toward the summit via one of the extended segments of slab (and subsequent bushwhack). The slab I had in mind was just north of a small ridge.
I was still concerned, even as I refilled at Haystack Brook, that I would be thwarted again by a situation beyond my control, weather. The clouds looked dark overhead and storm clouds appeared to be building. I didn’t want to be stuck on a steep 1,700’ exposed climb in a gale this time. I desperately wanted to make the attempt, however. I knew getting out of the drainage could be a challenge from Neil and Randomscooter’s attempt that landed them on Little Haystack. Call me picky, but I didn’t want to ‘whack Little Haystack this day.
In retrospect, I made three errors that made the day harder. The bushwhack up Basin didn’t add strength. My route then took me 800’ down the ledge and ladder ridden trail from the old Snowbird Lean-to site. The steep descent is interesting, but a leg burner. I then did something that set a pattern to the day. I misjudged and started on the wrong drainage…again! As the trail leveled and became swampy, I crossed a couple little brooks and found a 6’ wide moss covered stream (sound familiar?). It converged with Haystack Brook at the trail and I assumed it was my goal. I could even see the target slide waiting for me high above. After the customary pics, at 12:45 p.m., I pushed upward into the maw of the beast.
The trees were tight and the blow-down only increased with each step. As a matter of fact, I ascended for about 10 minutes on nothing but blow-down…one log after another placed conveniently, one partially-rotten bridge after another (as long as my balance held). Actually, it was probably this situation that allowed me to correct my error. I could see an extended opening through the trees to the south down a bank. I rolled my eyes and diverted my course to intersect what I hoped would be the real drainage. Indeed it was…nice and clean to boot!
I ascended for no more than a few yards when I saw a rivulet of water coming down the steep ledges from the southwest. I connected the dots and I knew the slide was above. This was certainly draining from the slabs I wanted to find. The problem was that the way up was a near vertical small ravine of stepped and fractured rock surrounded by the normal tree growth of the area. Perfect!
This quickly led to Haystack hell. My little staircase led straight to a ledge wall too precipitous and wet to climb. I maneuvered to the right and found myself in a tangle of downward growing cedar. It was fortuitous, however, since it enabled me to climb and crawl up an area on a nearby ledge. The crawling was to become a pattern as I slowly climbed ledge after ledge broken up only by steep pushes through the trees. It quickly exhausted me. I also noticed that the trees were playing the old “how many times can I scratch the same cut game”. I broke one of their limbs as payback.
Anyway, an hour passed before I realized that I should be close to the slide. I didn’t want to parallel it in the brush and come out too high. I consulted a picture that I’d printed and decided to veer north toward an opening in the trees. My feet met the lowest portion of the slide and I breathed a sigh of relief. The elevation was about 3,850, roughly 600’ higher from when I started, yet still not as high as the Snowbird site. Little Haystack looked down from high above. I’d a long way to go and I felt small in such towering features all around.
It was good steep slab, mildly pitted from the elements and thankfully dry. It was far from smooth, but not as rough as I’d hoped. Also, an evil reddish-brown caste told me that it would be very slippery in the rain, which had decided not to come after all. Strong gusts of wind felt good with my exertion. The slab was occasionally broken by a small crack or ledge at various intervals. Most dominant, was a large flat ledge on the south side near the top of the slab. The most interesting features, though, were magnificent views of Basin’s Amphitheatre, the Great Range and a perspective of Little Haystack that could be seen from nowhere else. It was a grand day on the face, but not one I’d want to repeat anytime soon.
The largest areas of slab ended at about 4,150 when it began to bottleneck in the grasses and trees. A narrow path of slick wet anorthosite still allowed me to avoid the trees for a bit, but it became harder and harder as I gained elevation. The same heading through the trees would eventually take me directly to the summit. To make matters worse, the drainage I was followed grew increasingly more concave with each step. This is where the cripplebrush began. Put differently, it got a good bit steeper and the trees fought hard to keep me down. A small area of exposed rock would occasionally give me some respite and an excuse to eat a snack. Only the amazing views and the knowledge that I would eventually win against the mountain distracted me. From slab top to summit, it took a full hour, much of the time on all fours. Finally, after a total of two and a half hours, at 3:15 p.m., I sat in the shelter of several erratics on the summit. The wind gave me no break and battered me if I left my little alcove. I took only enough time to eat, drink and soak in the day’s events before heading off to camp. I said a prayer of thanks that the weather cooperated.
I took my time slowly walking to Panther Gorge, my intended camp. Upon arrival at about 4:40 p.m., the lean-to was taken as were several of the tent sites. I set up my tarp and bivy in one of the southernmost sites and set to refilling my water supply and fixing dinner. The remainder of the day was really just spent enjoying the breeze and low temps that dipped into the lower 50’s by 6:00 p.m. I was hardly alone, as a junko spent the better part of four hours giving me a tongue lashing for, presumably, being too close to her nest. Darkness hushed her grievances as I settled in and solidly slept until around seven the next morning when day 2 of slide exploring would begin.
Sleeping attire for all nights was: tights, fleece bottoms, wicking top, 2 pairs of socks, bivy sack, 40 degree sleeping bag.
Marcy SE (Phelps) Slides and Schofield Cobble Bushwhack, Day 2Marcy SE (Phelps) Slide Set
I wasn’t concerned about an early wake up since I was less than a mile from my next target, Marcy’s Southeast Slide (aka Phelps Slide). I had planned to ‘whack that then descend and bushwhack Skylight, but decided to leave well enough alone and enjoy a more leisurely day. I also wanted to ensure that the sun was already on the slabs for pictures…plus I was a just plain lazy.
The SE slide was a wide swath of slides, some with unique and some with combined trigger points. The ones closest to either side were well defined while the ones in the center tended to be broken a bit more with islands of vegetation. The eastern two slides seemed to have the steepest ascents especially as they gained elevation. I wanted to ascend from the east, climb then cut across to the upper center portion and explore the top. The plan was to then cut diagonally down near the bottom of the defined slide that commenced from Schofield Cobble and bushwhack that nub.
After packing and topping off my water by 7:50 a.m., I walked a mere ten minutes to the first sweeping bend in the west trail up to the four corners. The woods were comfortably loose for the next ten minutes, though littered with ancient blow-down. I was soon on a drainage from the Marcy/Skylight col, but a little too high to see the lower drainage from the Phelps Slide. A one-minute walk down the clear drainage allowed me to see a clearing through the woods, which led in the direction of the lower wall of the eastern slide. It was now 8:10 a.m. and a quick walk through the woods put me on the correct path…a drainage about six feet in width.
I quickly met my first choice of the day when I saw the beginning of the far eastern slab. The low wall that I saw from Haystack wasn’t connected to this slab. I wanted to eat breakfast at the wall and, so, passed the entrance to the first slab. The main flow of water, just a trickle, also came from the second wider slab. The woods quickly opened and I climbed a series of open ledges to eat. Moss and small trees grew in the cracks as usual. The area was about 100’ wide and offered several choices for ascent. I chose one, climbed a bit and had breakfast…soaking in the view of Haystack’s west side and its small steep slides.
The top of the initial wall led quickly into another fifteen minute bushwhack. I berated myself for not taking the first slab as I pushed through and eventually found the rubble zone of the second slide. A set of animal prints led the way. I watched as the vibration of my own footsteps collapsed the defined sides of the tracks. I took another break on the top of the first steep pitch. The anorthosite was heavily pitted with small protruding crystals, both horizontal and vertical cracks and other handholds. In addition, it was free of lichen an moss, so it was easy to climb.
The slab the rest of the way to the top was primarily weathered and scaling in spots. This led to interesting ledges and layers that collected the morning shadows. The layering increased in the top third. I r