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Great Range Traverse

07-09-2011

Submitted By Michael Virdone

The Mountains & Stats

22 miles with 7100 feet of gain
  • Armstrong (4400 Feet, NY) globe Mountain
  • Basin (4827 Feet, NY) globe Mountain
  • Gothics (4736 Feet, NY) globe Mountain
  • Haystack (4960 Feet, NY) globe Mountain
  • Lower Wolfjaw (4175 Feet, NY) globe Mountain
  • Saddleback (4515 Feet, NY) globe Mountain
  • Upper Wolfjaw (4185 Feet, NY) globe Mountain

People On The Trip

Trip Report

     Nicole and I have been working our way up to harder hikes (or going faster on shorter ones) in hopes of hiking the great range in a day.

      We left work early on Friday in hopes of getting a parking spot at the garden (the most nerve wracking part of the whole trip was the drive from Keene Valley to the garden not knowing if we would get a spot or not). Luckily the parking lot had plenty of spots available when we arrived at 8. We packed up our overnight packs before starting the hike in with the plan of camping at the top of the hill prior to the interior outpost. On the hike in we met a group of women looking to do the lower range, we hiked with them for a ways before it started to rain. Wanting to get camp setup as quickly as possible we ran ahead and setup camp. Once the tent was setup and we crawled inside (soaking wet) the rain stopped. If we had just walked the rest of the way we would have been wet, but we would have at least been able to set up camp in the dry.

      The next morning we were up early. We left camp right away with the plan to have our Breakfast on the porch of the JBL prior to filling our water. It was nice to have a real place to sit to eat and relax a little before beginning our hike. At ~6:30 we left the garden and began our hike. I was forcing myself to go slow on the climb of Haystack to conserve energy for the remainder of the hike. We climbed for a while under cloudy skies but once we reached the Marcy/Haystack junction some nasty clouds blew in (we were in the clouds from Haystack until the after the summit of Basin). After a break at the Haystack/Range Trail junction we climbed Haystack, the wind made it easy to stay cool, but the absence of views was a disappointment (though it kept us from lingering too long).

      Soon we were back at the junction and ready to head to Basin. It amazes me the speed with which the "super hikers" can tackle some of these challenging trails, we found ourselves having a hard time maintaining book time, even when descending. Eventually we reached the snobird campsite where we filed our water for the remainder of the hike. We ran into 3 separate parties that had decided to take Shorey's on their climb of Haystack/Basin which surprised me (as they were all going to Haystack first). We took our time on the climb of Basin though my ankle started bothering me (I placed my foot wrong somewhere on the climb of Haystack). We had the summit of Basin all to ourselves but unfortunately it was in the clouds as well.

      The climb down Basin was as tough as usual, on the way down we passed a youth group climbing from Saddleback, all carrying FULL packs. It never ceases to amaze me what amount pack/weight ratios kids are willing to carry (with a smile the whole time). Once we finally arrived at the col I was very excited as I knew the toughest trail was behind us (yeah I kinda forgot about the descent of Armstrong and UWJ...). Nicole and I both agree that this section of trail is our favorite in all of the Adirondacks (just because the scrambling makes it so much more interesting). The climb of Saddleback was quick and in no time we were at the summit.

      At the top we ran into tmax & topo who were enjoying the fine views (sorry we weren't able to stay over on Saturday, we got out early enough to drive home). After a quick lunch/snack we were off again. We were happy to be on some easier trail and made quick work of the descent to the Orebed trail. The climb of Gothics was another "slow and steady" but the fun of the slabs makes the climb go by a lot fast. On the way up we were slightly frustrated by 1 guy descending who was nice enough to tell us we were "almost there" when we hadn't even reached the cables yet. (I don't know about you, but if I didn't know where the summit was I'd be pretty pissed with how far I had to climb after the "almost there")

      The rest of the range down Gothics and over Armstrong was a blur because we were moving quick to make up lost time. We were making great time until the tough sections on the descent of Armstrong. The worst part about it was the trail wasn't fresh in my mind and I though we were at the bottom once we hit the ladder (NOPE!). We continued the descent before finally climbing to the summit of UWJ. After another quick break at the summit we descended (the steep) trail down to wolf jaws col.

      Here I was prepared for my biggest challenge of the day (the remaining climb of LWJ as an out and back while it is just so easy to head down). Luckily we had been doing a great job of maintaining a reasonable pace all day so I had plenty of energy for the climb. On the climb we ran into the same group of women from the hike in the night before (they completed the Got->LWJ traverse). At the top Nicole and I were both incredibly excited to have completed such a tough hike. We would have never considered a hike like this when we first started hiking. After a brief break at the summit we descended back to our tent, packed up, and headed out to the parking lot. (11.5 hours tent-to-tent, 16 miles, 6400' gain)

      Overall I think the biggest challenge (for me) was staying positive throughout the whole hike, to try and think "how am I going to get through xxx miles with xxx gain" was tough but once I started focusing on the short term tasks at hand it made it much easier to complete the hike. The one really nice thing was I was diligent about eating and drinking properly so I never bonked anywhere on the hike.

      I would like to say thanks to the resident "super hikers", without you guys and gals heading out there and doing ridiculous things I would never have the inspiration to go out and try things like this myself. I'd also like to thank Al (AJTIV); this past Winter climbed the Sewards (along with Neil and Zero-G), it was a daunting hike for me but whenever I started being negative or thinking about giving up Al was right there to motivate (and maybe yell at) me. Now whenever I start to get down during hikes I just imagine Al right behind me giving me some encouragement (or saying "10 more minutes").

      Also for all of you reading this, thinking: "my god, I could never do that", look at my username, I was (and still am) big and slow (ok, book time isn't all that slow). Go back and look at some of my posts when I first posted on this site and you'll see that even the simplest trips were an adventure for me. As long as you love hiking, and as long as you're willing to get out there and hike as much as you can, believe me, it gets easier.

      TL;DR; Did a GRT in book time. Thanks to everyone on the forum for being inspiration.

The Good and The Bad

The Good:

Doing a GRT
Meeting some fun people on the trail
Good views on some of the peaks
Not bonking

The Bad:

No time for enjoying summits

The Drive

Up and back 8, used 5 hour energy for the drive home (half a jug) and it worked pretty well

Resources

Links:
  • none
Resources:
  • NGTopo software
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