Sunday, June 29, 2014

Adk 46: Haystack, Basin, Saddleback

I've been a bit intimidated by the hikes that I have remaining on my Adirondack 46ers journey.  I was questioning my endurance and fitness, keeping me away from all the hikes I have left that are 13+ miles.  I initially was going to repeat Giant & Rocky Ridge this weekend to help get my feet under me, when a friend from high school reached out wanting to do Haystack, Basin, and Saddleback.  My peakbagging nature got the best of me, and I decided to go for it, despite my reservations.

Marcy was a nightmare the night before, I had been out later than expected babysitting for friends and Marcy just wanted to play, yet it was pasts midnight.  I roughly slept for 3 hours before I was up and getting ready to head north. 
Marcy could tell something was off.
I met my friend Pete at the Park & Ride at 5:15 and we headed north.  I was thankful that he drove, only because I could imagine how trashed my legs were going to feel later that day. We got to the Garden just about at 7 and landed the second to last parking spot.  A critical win for a long day.  We adjusted and were on the trail by 7:13.  The first section of the trail to the Johns Brook Lodge is a steady, gradual climb. It is heavily traveled and therefore not very technical.  We were cruising and ended up at the lodge in about a hour. After a quick reference to our map and the not particularly helpful sign, we were on our way to Slant Rock.

When we reached slant rock, we decided to use the Shorey Short cut which which brought us up and over to the junction that connects Haystack & Basin.  Pete dropped his bag and we made our way to Haystack.  I decided to hold onto mine for water.   As we made our initial climb up little haystack, my heart was working in over drive, I was feeling incredibly warm, being eaten by black flies, and was slightly concerned I might actually pass out.  Once the breeze slightly picked up,  I felt loads better.
View of Haystack from Little Haystack

I haven't been on a rock scramble in a while, so it was fun making my way up despite desperately wanting a break.  The summit was just too close to rest yet.  While the difference between Little Haystack & Haystack seems enormous, it was about 20 minutes to get over. In just a little over 5 hours, I had reached my first summit of the day.  (9.2 miles away from the car) 

View of Mount Marcy from Haystack

On the summit were two other people, doing the same route as us for the day.  We chatted about favorite / less favorite hikes and let my heart rate return to normal.  We took a few pictures and then decided to continue on our day since we had 2 more mountains still to climb.
Haystack for 32!
The climb down seemed to go quick and less than an hour we found ourselves back at the junction.  It helped that Pete carried my bag down, it was a nice break!  I wish I could always hike without a bag. It was .7 of a mile with a moderately challenging journey up from the junction.  We had run into a lot of people heading down, which allowed for us to take small breaks as we let people pass through. Scrambling was involved as we made our way up what seemed to be the remains of a slide.  We ran into the same father/son group for a few minutes, took a handful of pictures, and headed over to Saddleback.
The descent was slow, primarily because of how tired we were feeling at this point. And because it included a lot of me sliding on my bottom.  I had read (slightly incorrectly)  that it was .5 with 600 feet of loss and 300ish gain.  (really it was a mile) There was a hill in between Basin & Saddleback, which went by quickly and soon we were faced with the big challenge of the day.

I had heard about the ledges and had been warned to take my time and hike with someone.  I had to evaluate my decisions and make sure I trusted myself a few times to hang on and throw a leg over bolders. At times I was only able to crawl because of the steepness.  Thankfully with Pete there, he could offer a leg that I could hold onto as I made big reaches. 

 It was intimidating. 

 It was also the most rewarding and satisfying climb I have had to date during my quest for 46.  
this was actually the easiest part to get up.

where we'd been all day - Haystack & Basin
view of Gothics
We were toast by the time we made it to the top.  We stood around for a few minutes and decided to go check out the other side of the Saddle.  After walking across (also not seeing any summit identification) We found ourselves descending. We were feeling tired and knew we still had a long haul so we kept the momentum going.  

Descending down very much appreciated stairs along a slide.

The trail was great, steep at first but then leveled out to a comfortable walk back to the garden.  The were stairs around for a good portion of a massive slide - and I am grateful for those that volunteered to do this type of trail maintenance.  The results of the slide were incredible to see, we compared it to and end of the world scene. Especially since we were on our own and we were SO small compared to the landscape.

We had hopes to finish under 12 hours but ultimately it didn't happen.  We enjoyed the hike down and were stoked when we finally came back to Johns Brook Lodge.  As we crossed John's Brook - I had given up on having the coordination to rock hop and took off my shoes and waded.  It felt magnificent.  Once past the junction to the outpost -- (and a small incline that we forgot about and weren't pleased at seeing again)  We headed up and out back to the car. It took us about 80 minutes to finish those last 3 miles, which considering it was miles 16-19, is impressive for me. 

After a few false car sightings by me,  we could see the parking lot and were out of the woods at 7:40.  
I have now finished climbing the top 10 highest mountains in the Adirondack park!  We sat in the parking lot grateful to take our boots off and slowly made our way to Noonmark Diner for some dinner.  It was a very well deserved indulgent meal.

 Haystack (ranked 3rd at 4960)
Basin (ranked 9th at 4827)
Saddleback (ranked 17th at 4515)

Mileage RT: Roughly 18+ miles
Total Ascent:  5600'
Time: 12.5 hours

Gear used:  Dueter Backpack, hydroflask waterbottles (40oz, & 32 oz) Nalegene (and yes I drank all 104 oz and refilled.) Asolo boots, oiselle shorts, and smartwool socks


  1. Wow, what a day and what an accomplishment Christine! You are such an inspiration. How are your legs feeling today?

  2. Holy cow. That is a loooong hike. Well done!

  3. Nice write up. Very excited to tackle this, this summer.