It was the weekend before Labor Day, and things were looking good. I was off from my job on Saturday night, so I could head to wherever I wanted to on Sunday. It was a GREAT weather forecast for the probably the entire Northeast. High pressure, clear skies, good temps, it was a sure shot! Sometimes you wait weeks for that. Or it will happen on a day you have to work. So to have a great day, and to know you're going to the mountains, well that makes everything all right.
I was really wanting to get back to NH actually. I love the Adirondacks and the White Mountains, but if I had to choose I would go to the Whites. Wait, am I saying that during an Adirondack TR? It doesn't matter, like I said I LOVE both, but I spent a lot of time as a kid in NH, so it holds more sentimental value. The Daks are a lot closer to me though, so they have grown on me a lot. The Adirondacks have that rough edge that can be missing in NH sometimes.
So I was going to drive to Brattleboro on Saturday, and stay in the cheap Motel6, and I would go to NH on Sunday. I was all set, except I guess a lot of other people were going to be out and about too on a nice Sunday with a Monday Holiday. Damn tourists! The motel was all booked up when I called them, so I started to think of other ideas. Right off the bat I said, no problem I'll go to the Daks! It wasn't in my budget to stay at a NH motel, and I could just get up early to go to NY from my house. The only question was what mountains or mountain to get in the Daks.
I did say mountains, because if I'm going to drive up there I try and get multiple mountains or one of the big ones. I wanted to go to something like Whiteface or Dix. I still had yet to pay a visit to Basin and Saddleback, but I was saving that for the fall, and I was concerned about getting to the Garden in time. I knew I was going to be arriving after sunrise, and there was going to be a lot of people because it was super nice out, and it was a Sunday. I ruled out Whiteface because the auto road was still open, and I wanted to avoid the mess of people. Dix I wanted to combine with some of the trail-less peaks surrounding it, and I had the day to hike, but I still had to make it back to NJ that night to work. So that was asking for too much. So I was thinking of what to do, when all of a sudden, it hit me. Why not Mt. Colden?
Mt. Colden, all out there by itself. Passed over for Mt. Marcy and Algonquin Peak, I could go and see the views of those two while everyone is hiking them. On such a clear day I bet the views up there would be awesome, and they were! Yes, Mt. Colden would work. So the next thing to do was the research; which way to go up? I had to see Avalanche Pass, that was for sure. I read so much about how great it was, that I HAD to see it. So I had to decide if I should go up that way or from Lake Arnold. I think I read that it would be better to go up from Lake Arnold, and come back down through Avalanche Pass, which is what I did.
When I got to the parking lot at Heart Lake, it was really starting to fill up. There was going to be A LOT of people on the trail today. I had a good feeling that few were going to be heading up Mt. Colden, and that was pretty much the case. When I was coming down from Colden there was quite a number of people coming up from Lake Colden. When I signed the trail heads at the parking lot and at Marcy dam, I didn't see anyone else with Colden as a destination, and I didn't run into anyone going up pass Marcy Dam. On a side note I saw one funny entry in one of the logs. The guy gave his name, and for destination he wrote death! Well you could find that my friend in the Daks if you are looking for it.
Mt. Marcy North Summit
There aren't any views until you start to come up to the North summit of Mt. Colden. Lake Arnold, let's face it, doesn't compare to Lake Colden or to Avalanche Lake. Once you start getting near to the North summit as you look back you get to see Mt. Marcy and Mt. Skylight. Then once you get onto the North summit, Algonquin Peak shows itself mightily along with the rest of the MacIntyre Range. You look and get to see your destination, Mt. Colden, just a bit aways. It's a nice spot to take a break before you go on to the top.
I get to the summit area, and I see a couple lying down on some rocks, just enjoying the sunshine and the great day. The views were just ridiculous! Amazing, amazing stuff. I was a bit confused where the actual summit was, there didn't appear to be any cairn anywhere. The couple looked to be sleeping right there on the highest spot. I had to be technical and touch the actual summit, so do I disturb them, or wait to they go? What to do? Anyway I was waiting around a bit, taking pictures, including some photos of a plane flying in front of the mountains, when two other hikers come up from the way I came. Good I can get a hero shot of me now in front of Algonquin Peak! So right after that I notice right in front of me a little trail into the brush. The summit! It's "hidden" in there, duh!
I knew the way back down to Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake was steep. I was only concerned it was going to be all wet and muddy, or just terrible footing on rocks, some Adirondack misery was awaiting me I thought. The other two hikers weren't going that way, so there was only one way to find out... It was actually smooth going down, if you want to believe that. It must be tough going up that way, because it is steep, but it's not all this loose rock. It's actually a trail of solid rock that had a good footing, at least when I was there.
So I worked my way down to Lake Colden, and then you get treated to some absolutely awesome hiking through Avalanche Pass. I don't know how to say it, but it is a MUST in the Adirondacks. You have to do it, and that's all there is to it! I got to see the Trap Dyke finally, and it looks awesome. If one of you regular Adirondack hikers is planning on going next year, I want to go!
I really had a great time going to Mt. Colden. On the way down I ran into many friendly hikers. There was many of our French speaking neighbors from up North. Plenty of folks went just to Avalanche Lake too it seemed, and there's nothing wrong with that. Everybody was having a terrific day in the mountains, enjoying the weather. I thought of the hundreds of thousands of people at the cesspool called the Jersey Shore on Labor Day weekend. No, No. Not for me. It was just right on that Sunday on Mt. Colden.
Take some time to view the pictures, and enjoy.
Check out these Trip Reports on Mt. Colden by some Adirondack veterans:
One by Puma concolor
One by WalksWithBlackflies