After being completely hosed on a Great Range Traverse attempt last year (and getting 3 feet of snow over Memorial Day), I was ready to try and tackle Mt Marcy again. On this September day, the conditions were completely favorable and the hike was magnificent.
The Great Range in all of its majesty with Giant Mountain rising off in the distance and Camel's Hump in the very faint horizon.
Day: 3
Miles: 317

I love high pointing, that's for sure. After finishing my New England trips, I was ready to explore the Adirondacks and hopefully climb the highest point in the range and New York State. Some high points are easy to get to but Mt Marcy is comparable to Katahdin in strenuousness and remoteness. Come to think of it, Mt Marcy has to be one of the most difficult high points east of the Rockies. However it is in such a vast wilderness that the reasons for visiting it are numerous.

As a side note, September 3rd was the anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 which has preserved so many places that I love.
Nice view of the wilderness near the Marcy Dam
I decided to hike from the Adirondack Loj this time. Last time I tried this, I hiked from Keene, NY. That ended up being Sufferfest 2013- 3 feet of snow over Memorial Day. I learned my lesson well. I'd like to try it again some day but this trip was too time constrained for that type of backpacking trip so I had to take the dog route.

The trail is roughly 7.4 miles one-way and involves nearly 3,400 feet of elevation gain. Again, this isn't one of those easy high points! Beginning at the Adirondack Loj, the trail is actually very easy to start. The first 2.3 miles to the above Marcy Dam are pretty flat, by Adirondack standards. From here, the elevation gain becomes apparent and the trail winds up Phelps Brook, passing by the tempting 1.0 mile Mt Phelps side trail which bags another ADK 46er. At about 4.0 miles, the trail crosses just above Indian Falls. Don't get confused here- Indian Falls is about 0.1 miles away from the trail and can be reached by a little herd path. However the lack of a view of the falls themselves from the trail has confused many hikers in the past.
Great View of Algonquin from Indian Falls
The trail continues to gain elevation at a good pace but does not become a hands-and-feet scramble like other slides in the area. It comes along the saddle of Haystack Mountain and the flora becomes noticeably more alpine. I would suspect this area has not ever been logged or it has been a long time since because the growth was jungle-like. There weren't any views until just about a mile below the summit but walking though that forest was just as nice.

Getting well into the 4,000 foot elevations, the trail goes by many side trails but the route to Marcy is well marked and signed. With just 700 vertical feet to go, the forest growth became more stunted and I entered the Alpine Zone. This is always my favorite part of a high-elevation Northeastern hike. It feels very much like hiking in Northern Canada or Scotland.
Always a pleasure to walk though such a rare and exquisite environment
At this point, my hiking pace slowed to a stroll as I probably photographed every inch of the trail. There was just so much to love about it. I'm somewhat sorry to think that it may be quite some time before I hike though an area like this in the future. For that reason, I hiked at an extra leisurely pace.

The summit was, of course, phenomenal. I'm still convinced that September is an ideal time to hike otherwise crowded summits. I only saw perhaps a dozen people that day and only 3 on the summit (four if you include the dog). The constant wind was brisk but nothing that couldn't be handled by my light jacket. (I'd recommend bringing one regardless of the time of year.) Panther Gorge dropped off precipitously and I was reminded of the extensive rock climbing that exists in the area. The Great Range that I tried so hard to traverse was just northeast and lead to a view of Mt Giant and Camel's Hump. I couldn't believe how clear it was. Lake Champlain was as plainly visible as the Great Range, as was Whiteface and Lake Placid. Mt Algonquin, the second highest peak in the range, rose almost as abruptly as Mt Marcy and I instantly thought of future ways I could get back here for more climbing and hiking.

Mt Algonquin

Mt Haystack and Dix, I believe
It is always so hard to come down from such a beautiful mountain, especially when the weather is so fair. Again, I took such a slow pace back though the alpine slabs and tried to enjoy it as much as I could. Once back under the trees, I continued to enjoy the very rare old-growth forests. Thank you, Wilderness Act of 1964 and all past and future preservers of the Adirondack Park!

Back to the lower elevations, I was able to fly on though the flatter sections and I made it back to the parking lot in just about 8.5 hours. Really, it wasn't as long of a hike as I thought it would be. From here, I turned south to the Catskills and Mt Everett in Massachusetts. I do hope that it isn't too long before I return here.

Read. Plan. Get Out There!