What a bunch of Dix
Submitted By Michael Virdone
The Mountains & Stats
People On The Trip
Camped at slide brook, Planned on only getting 4, got all 5 because the weather was nice and we were making great time. Surprised at the number of false summits and the amount of mud on the ridges. Marcy is the only one left for our 46!
Nicole and I only had the Dix range and Marcy remaining for our 46. This Saturday had the best forecast we had seen for the past few weeks so we decided to just go for it. We figured since the forecast was questionable we wouldn't have any problem hiking in and getting the slide brook leanto or a good campsite. Man, were we wrong! We arrived at the elk lake trailhead at around 9 and there were only a few parking spots remaining.
We hiked in on the trail to slide brook (wet in spots, but never deep mud) and made great time to the leanto (45 mins). From there we looked around for a campsite, the one on the herd path was full, the ones near the brook near the leanto was full, and I didn't go past the leanto (I now know there's another good site about 100' past the leanto).
We began to set up adjacent to the other tents at the site and we accidentally woke up one of the parties. If you're reading this, I appologize again. We set up the tent and went to bed that night without speaking a word.
The next morning we were up at roughly 5:30, we ate breakfast and were at the base of the herd path by 6:30. We began the climb up Macomb at a very slow and steady pace (knowing the amount of gain we had ahead of us). As we climbed I was very impressed by the amount of maintence done on the path. I had previously hiked Macomb, South, and East 4 years ago and we spent a lot of time hiking in slide brook. Now the path follows the bank up higher and then contours onto the slide.
When we arrived at the slide we took in a few little views and slowly made our way up to the top. We were careful not to dislodge any rocks as there was a second party climbing below us. The higher we got the less we could see until we reached the top of the slide where it was completely socked in. We kept moving and made our way past some of the tricky sections on the climb. Eventually I saw the trees thin out and more views of the sky opened up, I knew we were getting close to the summit. A few minutes later we were there (about 2 hours).
It had rained the night before and because Nicole and I were the first ones up on the range I got the honor of removing all the moisture from every one of the trees along the herd path. By the time we made the summit I was soaked. We took a quick break, ate some food, and then continued moving to keep warm. We made great time down Macomb (last time I was on Macomb there was snow on the ground in May, we lost the herd path immediately and bushwacked all the way to South Dix). At the col between Macomb and South Dix we noticed the carin for the lillian brook herd path (turns out that wasn't there 4 years ago either).
We quickly climbed up the fun ledges on South Dix and arrived at the summit of South Dix (about a half hour). We took a quick picture of the summit disc and continued on. The gentile descent of South Dix was nice until we arrived at the abrupt climb of East Dix. As we traversed the ridge the clouds began to break up and we enjoyed our first views of the day. There were some surprisingly muddy sections on the ridge, but I guess that is to be expected with the summer we've had. Something about traversing on a ridge and getting multiple peaks without a ton of elevation loss always puts a smile on my face. We climbed to the top of East Dix and enjoyed the views for a little while while refueling. The trip to East Dix took us a little less than an hour.
On the traverse back to South Dix we ran into a few more hikers including one large youth group. We continued past the summit (about an hour from east dix) to the junction of the Hough path (marked by a carin). The path down to the S. Dix/Pough col was steep as was the climb of Pough. there were some fun scrambles along the way (but I can't remember if they were on Pough or Hough). Eventually we reached the Hough/Pough col (and the "campsite") and found the other side of the lillan brook herd path. The original plan was to bail after Hough but we were making such good time and feeling really good so we decided to go for Dix as well. The climb up Hough was very rugged and steep and I definitely got my hopes up with another false summit.
We finally arrived at the summit of Hough around noon and we enjoyed a nice lunch with some views as most of the clouds had cleared out at the lower altitudes. We could see Dix looming ahead of us but both of our legs felt good and we were making spectacular time. After relaxing for a while we began our descent. On the way down I managed to find something I didn't think was possible, it was 2-4" deep mud, but on a section of trail that was very steep. Obviously as soon as I stepped in it it completely let loose and I did a good boot skiing impression for a few feet (somehow I managed to stay upright).
We quickly descended down to the col and began our climb very slowly to maintain our stamina. The first steep section went by fairly quickly and then all that was left was a handful of shoulders. Each one of the shoulders had its own set of gain and loss as well as some interesting challenges. Right below the Beckhorn there was one of the most difficult rock scrambles in all of the ADKs (for me and my stupid size 13 feet, Nicole made it up easily). The rock formation was a "V" shape with a crack at the bottom, I was able to use my foot in the crack to start the climb, but when I tried to continue my foot was completely stuck. I had to chock my other foot against both walls and pull as hard as I could to get my foot out. Once I was freed I was able to continue up pretty easily (although I was glad Nicole and I had been doing a lot of rock climbing lately).
After a few more scrambles we reached the Beckhorn and some of the finest views of the day. After a few more minutes we arrived at a clearing (which we thought was the summit. It took us a little over an hour from Hough to Dix. We spent a few minutes talking with them before we continued farther to find the real summit. At the real summit we took a quick picture descending. The Beckhorn trail was steep and nasty in the first part, then it leveled out for a while before becoming interspersed moderate and easy downhill. I must say, this 2.3 miles of trail really whooped our butts and we were very happy to be down to the Red trail.
The descent and the hike across the red trail was the hardest part of the day for both Nicole and I. The combination of sore feet, fatigue, and annoying bugs (not biting, just annoying, Nicole got 9 in her eyes over the course of the day). The pointless up and down along the trail didn't help our spirits either. After a little while we arrived at the awesome lillian brook bridge. I love the amazing wilderness engineering that goes into some of the trails we get to hike on. After a quick break at the leanto to rest our feet and fuel up we back to camp. The rest of the trail was a blur as we were simply trying to get home at this point. We got back to the campsite, packed up and were on the trail in less than a half hour.
It took us roughly 40 minutes to get back to the car from camp (as we ignored all the mud and water and just plowed straight through). We got to the car just before 5:30.
This trip was more fun than I expected it to be, I expected the traverse of the range to be more difficult. Hopefully Nicole and I will have plans for our finish soon, right now we're planning our vacation to Puerto Rico so hiking plans will have to wait for another week.
The Good and The Bad
|Tried the drive across 8, I think it saved some time. Came back via the thruway|