Marcy - Haystack - Basin - Saddleback - Gothics - Armstrong
Upper Wolfjaw - Lower Wolfjaw - Hedgehog - Rooster Comb
Phelps / State Range Trail: 11.0 miles
State Range Trail 2.9 miles
ADK Range Trail: 3.4
W.A.White Trail: 3.5
Rooster Comb Spur / Trail: 3.0
Total Miles: 25.0 (8,600 elevation gain)
- So what do you do a day after hiking almost twenty miles in the MacIntryre Mountain Range?? You go and do a one day Great Range Traverse!
- Backpacker Magazine rates the Great Range Traverse as America's 3rd hardest day hike. So after two days of hiking in the Adirondacks and with clear sunny skies and warm temperatures forecast I figured it was time to see how tough the Great Range was!
- I got an early start and was on the trail at 5:30am starting from the Garden parking lot, I decided to hike up to Marcy first because I wanted the best views as soon as possible and the hike up to Marcy via the Phelps Trail is a gradual 9.0 miles where I could warm up and not beat my legs up right away after yesterday's marathon hike.
- I didn't see a single person all the way up to Marcy. The final half mile is above treeline and when I got to the summit I stood atop New York's highest peak for about twenty minutes all by myself taking in tremendous views of all the High Peaks.
- I finally ran into another hiker near treeline when descending but then I was alone for the hike all the way to Haystack Mountain, where once again I was rewarded with incredible views as Mount Marcy looms large across from the summit.
- After taking a break I descended down to the Haystack - Basin col and from here is where real hiking begins! Over the next several miles I would be hiking basically steep inclines and declines. I had heard of difficult rock scrambles, steep drop offs, a cable bolted into rock slabs for safety so I was looking forward to and nervous about what lay ahead.
- The ascent up to Basin was steep but there was nothing to difficult other than the rough and rugged footing. At the summit I ran into a ranger and talked with him about doing the traverse while I ate lunch and relaxed for a few minutes.
- Next it was another steep descent to the Basin - Saddleback col. In the col there was a fifty foot section of flat grassy path, the only flat ground in the whole trek! Now I started the steep climb up to Saddleback where the last 150 feet is rock scrambling, it was a little tricky but if you stay low and do your best spider-man impression it's nothing too difficult and is alot of fun!
- After another sharp descent from Saddleback it was time to head up the Adirondacks finest mountain - Gothics. It's an incredibly short steep ascent up rock slabs, luckily for me they were dry. To help you up these open slabs is a wire bolted into the side of the mountain. There were some spots where I used the cable but if you're careful and don't lean back you don't need to use them.
- Views from the open rock slabs and the summit of Gothics were terrific! From here I knew I would be able to complete this hike with the difficult parts behind me but what lay ahead was a true suffer-fest with more steep up and downs remaining and lack of views the rest of the way.
- The hike over to Armstrong was easy and quick, at Armstrong I was treated with my last great view of the upper great range.
- Next up were the Wolfjaws (Upper and Lower) and back to hiking in the woods with temps becoming very warm so it was time to put my head down and just suck it up. Luckily I had been warned about the steep ascents up the Wolfjaws so I was ready to deal with it.
- As I stood upon Lower Wolfjaw I was hoping for a smooth walk over to Hedgehog and Rooster Comb. In spots the trail was still rugged until Hedgehog but improved to Rooster Comb, however there were some ups and downs that I didn't expect so I was starting to lose my marbles (Lincoln Woods/Wilderness Trail style).
- I also was running low on fluid, I had 100 ounces in my camel pack and 32 ounces of Gatorade. I ran out of water at the Rooster Comb spur 0.5 below the summit, so I sucked it up and made it to the top and then chugged the last of my Gatorade. From here it was 2.5 miles to the Rooster Comb Trailhead.
- The hike down to the trailhead was pretty brutal but I was in high spirits because unless I snapped my leg I had crushed the Great Range Traverse!
- Finally it was over, well actually no, I still had to road walk about 1.8 miles and 250 feet up to the Garden! Luckily enough after about a half mile a nice lady picked me up on Johns Brooks Lane and drove me the last 1.5 miles back to my car!
- It was an incredible day and one hell of an endurance hike. It is a kick A$$ hike and tons of fun and worth doing for hikers who want to punish their bodies!
Times: On trail 5:30am, Johns Brooks Lodge 6:35am, Slant Rock 7:55am, Marcy 9:15am, Haystack 10:40am, Basin 11:55am, Saddleback 12:40pm, Gothics 1:20pm, Armstrong 1:45pm, Upper Wolfjaw 2:20pm, Lower Wolfjaw 3:15pm, Hedgehog 4:15pm, Rooster Comb 4:55pm, Finished 6pm.
Pictures: Click here for all pictures
Johns Brook Lodge
Mount Marcy from Haystack
Basin, the top of Saddleback, and Gothics
Mount Haystack, Starlight, and Marcy
Saddleback and Gothics
Cables bolted into Gothics
Great Range from Armstrong