Friday, October 14, 2011

The Algonquin Tour- Adirondacks Part 2

Driving through the Adirondacks provided beautiful lake views along colorful tree-lined rolling and twisting roads the entire way. It really was a pleasureful driving experience. Despite the fact, that even if you are driving at the insanely high speed limit of 55mph or more (New York speed limits seem to have nothing to do with the road itself, it is simply the state maximum 55mph everywhere until you are suddenly driving through a town and it drops to 30mph instantly), you will be getting passed the entire time. New Yorkers, it seems, are some of the fastest, most impatient drivers. Then again that was probably me whenever I had somewhere I needed to be. Now that I've been able to slow down and focus on the journey, rather than the destination, I definitely tend to drive slower than I used to. Which enables me the chance to catch some of the beautiful places and find a place to stop, enjoy, and capture the moment.

This waterfall in the town of Essex was absolutely gorgeous.

This lake provided a perfect sunset picnic spot when traveling through the town of Keene.

It had a beautiful view in each direction.

I really wanted to swim out to this island on Saranac Lake.

One very cool thing about this area is almost all of it (and a lot of the other highways I drove on in New York as well) has a nice wide shoulder to bike on, making it a splendid area to cycle, even with the relatively high traffic around the northern Adirondacks and Lake Placid area. After driving through, I can see why the Lake Placid Ironman is such a popular one.

For anyone interested in some seriously good and difficult hiking (and bouldering) the High Peaks region is the place to go. The best area to access a lot of these trails is at the Loj trailhead, close to Lake Placid, which takes you down a dead end road to the High Peaks visitors center. A warning though, parking does cost $10 per day and there doesn't seem to be anywhere else to park in the area that would be free. However, it does seem to be a pretty common practice to sleep in your car here at night for the morning's hike, as it provides 24 hour restroom access, along with showers at a fee of $.25 per minute. After doing my research, the Algonquin Tour looked to be the big, strenuous hike that covered some of the best of the High Peaks region that I was looking for.

Outlined in yellow is the route I took for the Algonquin Tour which takes you through Algonquin Peak, the 2nd highest in the region, and allows a fun scramble up to Wright Peak as well. Total mileage is only around 13 miles, but it is very slow going at times with all the bouldering on slick rocks and such to reach the summit, as well as lots of traveling down streams and waterfalls as part of the trail.

This route leads past tons of cool little falls such as this one.

Unfortunately for me, visibility approaching the summit became very low. Thankfully though, I could just barely make out the next pile of rocks that marked the trail ahead.

Though I didn't get a summit view of any kind from Wright or here at Algonquin, due to what would have been whiteout conditions if there was snow on the ground, the challenging journey up each summit made it just as rewarding. And each time I was only glad to be heading back down the mountain to warmer temps.

The weather finally started to break on my way down the backside and provided one amazing view of the valley below.

An example of the general terrain to get down the mountainside. Everywhere was slow, steep, wet, and tedious. And absolutely stunningly beautiful. Perfect for the adventurous soul.

And finally, after what seems like forever of steep descents along streams and falls, likely going off trail and back on several times, the valley below opens up to beautiful Avalanche Lake.

I wonder what caused this seem here? An avalanche perhaps?
I don't really know, but if you do, post up and let me know!

And this is an example of Avalanche Pass. Easily the biggest pile of destruction I've yet to see. The whole valley in this area is debris from avalanches that seem to have wreaked some serious havoc in this particularly area.

The rest of the trip back from here is, thankfully, quite easy and fast terrain, making the hike to Avalanche Lake and back a very popular one. However, those hikers don't get the satisfaction of knowing they could have slipped and died at several points along their hike. 

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