The morning of June 25th was already approaching 80° at
4:30 am. I left the Garden Parking area and proceeded down the Phelps
Trail toward Johns Brook Lodge. The trail here is mostly flat and today
it was dry.
Arriving at the Johns Brook Lodge at
5:45 I stopped for a 10 minute break. Replenished my water supply and
enjoyed a calm morning. Some movement could be heard from inside the
lodge, otherwise it was a very quite moment.
Johns Brook Lodge lawn
Leaving JBL, I continued following the Phelps Trail.
The trail remained dry and dropped down to Johns Brook where it follows
the river bank for about 100 yards.
The trail ascends down along
Johns Brook where you rock hop approximately 100 feet. This is a
view from the trail.
Turning back into the woods, you
cross a small tributary and ascend a hogsback approximately 150 feet
Trail continues and soon the split to Bushnell Falls appears. From this
junction, turning left takes you down an embankment to the base of
Bushnell Falls. Well worth the trip if you have not seen the falls
Remaining on Phelps Trail, the junction with Hopkins
Trail is located about one minute past Bushnell Falls turn off. Phelps
Trail splits left and Hopkins Trail splits right. Bushnell Falls Lean-to
#1 is located on the Hopkins Trail about one minute past this junction.
Junction sign post for the
Phelps Trail and the start of the Hopkins Trail.
Continuing on past the lean-to, the trail now ascends
gradually through the forest crossing many streams. The trail is mostly
dry and easy to navigate. Views of Marcy begin to come into view.
The Hopkins Trail ends when it
joins with the Van Hoevenberg Trail.
Soon you arrive at the junction with the Van
Hoevenberg trail and turning left, you start heading toward Mount Marcy.
The trail is now mixed with dirt, rock hopping and smooth slabs.
Van Hoevenberg Trail worn
down to the slab which ascends slightly.
Soon you pass through a lawn and the ridge line up
Mount Marcy is now in front of you. There is a rock outcropping which
provides a excellent spot to relax and take in the views.
|The lawn along Van Hoevenberg Trail with
views of Mount Marcy and a resting spot.
The junction with the Phelps Trail is found shortly
after the lawn and the trail now heads right toward the ridge line.
Breaking tree line, rock outcroppings can be seen marked with cairns to
guide your way.
|Rock scrambles on the final approach and
the commemorative plaque on the summit.
Rock scrambles are mixed with smooth slab hiking. The
final climb is on open trail above tree line for about 600 vertical
feet. Soon you reach the summit zone where you will find a plaque
dedicated in 1937 for the 100 year anniversary of the first recorded
ascent in 1837.
After a brief stay on the
summit, I now headed back down the route I used on approach. At the
junction with the Van Hoevenberg and Phelps Trails, I turned right and
continued down the Phelps Trail. Shortly I came upon the junction with
the Range Trail which will take me toward the Great Range.
The rock scramble at the start
of the Range Trail off the Phelps Trail.
Turning onto the Range Trail, you come upon a steep rock scramble. Reaching the top of the scramble views of Mount Haystack
come into view.
The first views of Mount
The trail continues up and over a shoulder and
descends before reaching the base of Little Haystack. The trail toward
Mount Haystack starts at the base of Little Haystack and almost
immediately you scramble up steep rock that requires some hand holds.
Passing over Little Haystack, you descend steeply into
the col re-entering scrub before encountering the final approach to
Mount Haystack. Here I met Dave (Mountain Goat) whom I previously met on
the Escarpment Trail in the Catskills. He was doing the full Great Range
and by 11:00 this morning he had already completed everything between
Roostercomb to Haystack. That's fast! This ascent is on open rock and slab face directly to
the summit. The winds were really appreciated today as the temperature
was now approaching 90°. After 20 minute rest period, it was now time to
move onto Basin Mountain.
A view of Basin Mountain from
The trail toward Basin continues at the base of Little
Haystack and descends steeply through the forest and reaches the
junction with the Shorey Cutoff Trail. By this time, I am now filtering
water to refill my diminishing supply. The heat of the day now in excess
of 90° is starting to wear on my efforts.
I met another party of two doing the Great Range from
Lower Wolfjaw to Marcy. I recognized one person, Jim, whom I met
previously on a hike in the Catskill along the Escarpment Trail while doing a fund raiser for The Brain Tumor Society. We talked a few minutes
and off we went.
The trail soon reaches the low point and begins its steep
upward approach to Basin. There are ladders in place to assist in the
most troubled spots, but the trail is in good condition and easy to
navigate since it was so dry. On wet days, this approach can cause poor
Reaching the summit of Basin is a welcome relief with the
winds of the day not only cooling you off, but knocking the bugs away
and providing you with a few minutes of peace to eat and relax.
Looking back at Mount
Haystack from the summit on Basin.
Looking back at Mount Haystack, you can clearly see the
route taken starting right of Little Haystack and descending along a
small valley formed between Little Haystack and a small rise just right.
It makes you appreciate the effort you have put into this trip.
Looking at Saddleback Mountain
just before starting the descent off Basin Mountain. The trail
to Saddleback passes over the false summit as seen here.
Leaving the summit of Basin, you first descend steeply
and then ascend the false summit of Basin. The trail then takes a
another steep descend into the col with Saddleback Mountain.
Looking at Saddleback from the false summit, you can now
see the exposed rock face that must be negotiated. Leaving the false
summit, you descend into the col and quickly you are looking up at what
is ahead of you.
Looking up at Mount
Haystack from the col. The
steepness can not be appreciated in this image.
By this time, the heat of the day is starting to wear on
me. Some cramping has occurred even though I am taking in water,
consuming almost 4 liters, plus one liter of Gatorade.
Approaching the open rock face is done on a steep
ascending trail. Reaching the rock face you must now navigate a section
which requires hand holds and sheer strength to lift yourself up. Once
over the first section, the trail continues up a exposed steep crack to
the left of a rock outcropping. Walking the crack is done by jamming
your boot into the crack and using your hands to maintain control.
The summit of Saddleback with
Basin in view.
Once over this steep section, the summit is now in front
of you. Along my trip today I made two new friends. One friend, Sean
from Albany, I met on Mount Marcy and every summit along the way. No way
was I going to keep up with a young buck like him. But somehow I talked
with him on every summit.
On the ascent up Saddleback, I met another person from
Hartford, CT. We worked our way up the exposed rock all the way to the
summit. Unfortunately I did not write his name down.
After relaxing on the summit for a few minutes, I knew my
day was now over. Originally I wanted to continue with the Great Range
until Lower Wolfjaw, but the heat was working on me. The decision was
made to head down the Ore Bed trail and back to the car awaiting me in
the Garden Parking Lot.
The Ore Bed can be a troubling route to descend when you
have wet conditions. However, today the heat of the day made the slabs
very dry and was a good and safe route to descend.
Passing the slide off Armstrong, I am always amazed how
nature takes over. The new growth has really begun to take over these
past few years.
Looking up at slide off
Armstrong. The new growth has
really taken hold compared to just a couple of years ago when it
was all exposed.
Soon I reached the Ore Bed lean-to and a short break. The
bugs were now in a major offensive mood as evening approaches. Deet was
almost ineffective by now.
Reaching the Johns Brook Lodge, I caught up with Sean.
Took a short break, replenished my water supply and started cruising
back to the Garden. I was re-energized by the days events and covered
the 3.5 miles in just 66 minutes.
Today the full trip was 21 miles and excellent dry
conditions. The heat was a little high for me. I would like to return to
this hike again when the weather is cooler and then go for the full