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Advice for ADK Winter Trip

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Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby Hotoven » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:44 pm

So every year I go on one or two winter climbing/backpacking trips. I have yet to go on one in the Adirondacks. I only have two days for this trip and was wondering if there is anything special I should do, or a nice circuit that I could take. I have been looking at Trap Dike and really want to do that. Any advice or pointers? I have never been to ADK in the winter, and I know they don't allow campfire and snowshoes are a must. Anything else important that I'm missing?
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby mancopa » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:09 pm

One of my favorite trips in the winter was to do Algonquin from the Adirondack Loj, then descend down to Lake Colden. We then spent the night at one of the leanto's at the Southern end of Lake Colden. The next morning, we hiked out through Avalanche Pass.

( We spent the night at a hotel in Keene Valley the night before so we could be at the trail very early )

But, things to consider: Full pack up Algonquin isn't easy. The hike on both days is very long. The trail down from Algonquin to Lake Colden isn't very well used, so when we did it, we had to break trail. Which was very difficult. But, if you are up for a full on ADK winter experience, this is pretty awesome.

The good thing about this too is that there are 2 leantos when you get down to Colden, so if for some reason, another person has one, you should be ok.

my 2 cents, -Pete
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby Hotoven » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:05 pm

Thanks mancopa,

I will be up there on a weekend, and from what I heard the lean twos around Marcy Dam and the surrounding area get extremely crowded and full. Is this true? or just an over exaggeration I heard from someone?
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby rasgoat » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:47 am

If you go up the dike, check avy conditions. The above suggestion is for sure a good one and those particular lean to's are far enough from the Marcy dam area and I would suspect should be available. Even in the winter, the pine martens can get your food. If you avoid the popular trails, be prepared for some slow-ass trail breaking!!!!
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby Bark Eater » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:07 pm

+1 for Mancopa's suggestion. We did that circuit years ago (with a side trip up Wright) and it made for an awesome winter weekend trip.
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby MattGreene » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:42 pm

+2 for mancopa's suggestion - it's one of the best loops in the Daks. As suggested, with minimal extra mileage (2 miles???) you could add Wright Peak and Iroquois to your loop. Even with the extra peaks, the loop isn't that long depending on what shape you and the weather are in. You could do the whole thing in a day, or split it into two and even add on the TrapDike.

If you are a strong XC skier and don't mind the BIG hassle of crawling through pines with skis on your back, you could carry your skis to Colden and ski back to the Loj from there.

Have fun!
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby mancopa » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:02 pm

Yeah, as mentioned, the 2 or 3 times I've been in this area, both Winter and in the Fall, these leantos have been available. So I think the odds are in your favor. Plus, there are a few more leantos towards the Flowed Lands. You'll be fine.

Good point rasgoat on the Pine Martins. They are very aggressive there, and will try to get your food. So be warned.

Have fun. Hope it all works out.

P
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby Hotoven » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:59 pm

Thanks all for the help, just a few more questions.

Are you aloud to camp anywhere along a trail, or does it have to be at designated camp site areas. I rather hike back a mile or two the day I drive up and camp, instead of getting a cheap hotel.

Also, are the leantos good enough to use without a tent? I have been in a few in different parks in the past, and they often have a lot of snow blow in and build up.
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby Bark Eater » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:24 pm

General regs. are that you can camp anywhere that is something like 150 ft. away from a trail as long as you are below 4000 ft. elevation. The detail is shown on many of the ADK pages here. There are a couple of restricted areas (like the AMR around the Ausable Lks.) where you can't camp but you're not going there.

See http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7872.html

Bring a lightweight snow shovel. If there is heavy snow (questionable with the fall we've had so far) you can build a comfy shelter by shoveling out the leanto and building a snow wall in the front. The leantos are often but not always positioned to face away from prevailing winds.
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby MattGreene » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:37 pm

There's a campground right by the ADK Loj trailheads. I've never stayed there so I can't tell you much about it, I just know it's in a pretty convenient spot and open in winter. Perhaps that'd work for you on the night you arrive.
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby mancopa » Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:20 pm

I'm not 100% sure on this, but I don't think you are allowed to set up a tent inside a leanto in the daks. I've seen people do it, but I never do. Just a good -15 to 0 bag, and an air mattress does the trick. Sometimes I put the bottom of my bag inside a trash bag in case snow blows in at night. But as stated above, the leantos are usually positioned pretty well for the wind. I've never had to shovel out a leanto up there. Usually you can just kick the snow out with your boot.
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby Hotoven » Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:47 pm

cool, thanks for all the tips and information, it has help me narrow down what I want to do.
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby Bark Eater » Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:23 pm

I noticed with some interest that the current DEC regs. suspend the "no camp above 4K ft" rule in winter. On a different trip years ago we pitched our tents on top of frozen Lake Tear on something like Dec. 30th. Enjoyed a New Year's Eve climb of Mt. Marcy. That was quite the trip.
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby Hotoven » Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:37 pm

My two friends and I will be on our weekend trip Jan. 6th-9th. If anyone is in the area, let me know, I wouldn't mind hiking with a good old SPer.

Last year My group and I ran into some SP'ers and had a blast!
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Re: Advice for ADK Winter Trip

Postby woodstrider » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:30 pm

I am a winter 46r and did more then half of my peaks as 3 day backpacks. I don't know how far you have to travel, but I came from NYC. Travel time to and from the Mountains certainly will cut into your hiking time. About half of my winter peaks were done with a partner or as part of a group, the other half...

There are many great weekend trips- most of them I did as base camp style in and out trips. I have hiked with the RWMS and they tend to hump full loads up and over the peaks. It's another style and great training, but I like to save the energy and go fast and light out of base camp. Alot of my friends from that time would "base camp" in the parking lot and sleep in their vehicles, get up early and hit the peaks and go home after just one night. But I like to sleep out in the back country.

One great trip that I did was Grey with a traverse over to Marcy and then down to 4-corners and up Skylight. We based out of the uphill leanto- using tents. On the way out the next day we hit Cliff (unscheduled extra peak- the weather was that fine). We were a small group of not very experienced winter climbers and it was a great trip. That was 3 days. A stronger and faster team can do in less time- but I didn't want to.

One trip that is easy to do is the Colvin Range- approach from Ausable Clubs tote road and set up camp in Elk Pass. The lake makes for a nice flat surface to pitch the tent on-as long as it is frozen completely. ( I heard stories from friends of their tents sinking as the lake thawed during a warm spell)
We did Colvin and Blake with day packs and then packed out over Nipple top, etc on the way out. Didn't see another person the whole trip.

Trails out of upper works provide easy access to flowed lands or Indian pass- lots of options there. If you have two cars you can do a beautiful traverse of Giant and Rocky Ridge.

Of course- always carry enough stuff in your day pack to deal with the hike and emergencies. For my winter day pack I usually had a thermarest, bivy sack and stove (don't forget a pot and the hot chocolate :D!) as well as extra clothing, food, water, maps ((at least two) compass, snow shoes and crampons (used more on the trails), etc.

Remember- the best tool in your kit is your brain- always exercise good judgement and be honest about your ability. Know when to bail out and establish reasonable turnaround times for these short winter days (ok- I never actually did that, but I heard that reasonable hikers do :D).

I would also say that if you are part of a group (even a group of two) then your first loyalty is to the group and the individual members and not to your own personal goals. It can be a compromise to do so, but it is also part of the price we pay for being part of the group. Don't separate- don't leave a member behind- especially if they are inexperienced or ill. Hypotherma affects your brain and your ablity to think rationally. The few times that we ever had to turn around, well I never regreted it. I was also not afraid to be gutsy when it was called for. I would like to say that all the groups that I have been in were up to these standards- but not always. The RWMS has been a shining example of "good leadership" in my opinion. I tried to exercise the same on the trips that I led. Mostly I go it alone.
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