I've openly admitted that I am a peakbagger. I like to slay mountains and when given a choice, I'll always choose a new mountain. In terms of repeat mountains - it's a very small list (6 mountains I can think of) What helps fuel my peakbagging nature, are the abundance of hiking challenges in upstate NY (46ers, Fire Tower Challenge, Saranac 6ers, Chester Challenge, Catskill 3500, etc)
Not only do I like lists, I also like some instant gratification, so I decided to plan a camping trip up to Saranac to bag all 6 of the Saranac mountains.
It was an ambitious plan, but Joe was up for the challenge to join me, so we packed up the corolla and headed north. Our plan was to hike Haystack & McKenzie before driving out to our campsite. I had hiked McKenzie once and didn't enjoy it, but I don't remember much other than I wasn't an active hiker at the time and got my butt kicked.
It wasn't quite as early of a start as we had initially planned, but the drive up was uneventful and we we were on the trail at 10:30. While researching this hike, I couldn't find a lot of information about these two hikes together, other than they can be done together. We decided to do Haystack before heading over to McKenzie. The first 2.5 miles are a nice gradual climb. There it splits for a mile where the majority of the gain is done. It was a bit steeper than I had anticipated, but Marcy dog and I did a nice job climbing together. We reached the summit around 1:00 and enjoyed a long break enjoying the view. Haystack was the busier of the mountains (and nicer views)
Despite how steep it seemed climbing up, we made back to the junction fairly quick. Once back on the main trail, we were able to pick up our pace again as we approached McKenzie. Based off of what we had read and the topo maps, we knew we were in for a rough .5 climb. We were feeling good once we cleared the steep mark we were in for a bit of a surprise when we still had another mile to the summit, which included losing a decent chunk of our hard work to reach the true summit.
I was feeling very anti mountain climbing at this point. But true to Adirondack form, while the col looked forever away, it wasn't long before we were finally on the summit of McKenzie.
We didn't hang for as long since we still had a ways to go to get back to the car. We also still had to drive out to Rollins Campground. My spirits were up quite a bit knowing we were heading down, but it was a haul. Once we reached the intersection with the jack rabbit trail, the trail flattened out a lot. And once we passed the turn off for Haystack, the trail seemed like a nice treat after all of the large rocks. I don't totally know why I didn't like McKenzie back in 2007 but it didn't make me a fan today either. I do however think that Haystack is a worthy hike, not as long and much much better views.
Mountains: Haystack (elevation 2874) McKenzie (elevation 3,861)
Mileage: 12 ish
Time: 7 hours (not including breaks)