Grandness: Sawteeth, Pyramid, Gothics and Armstrong

Another June weekend brought another chance to head to the Adirondack’s and work on a portion of the Great Range. Wow. Seriously just wow. The Great Range really offers some “Great” views!

Gothics Summit

The only thing I’m not crazy about is the extra mileage with hiking through the AMR Club. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad to have the easement through their exclusive club, but having to hike an extra four miles in and two miles out really adds to the length of the hike and the day. Someday I’d love to meet a member to (1) get a ride down the road and (2) be allowed to swim in the Ausable Lakes.

I originally planned to hike on Saturday (June 28th) but a friend’s 30th surprise birthday party that night called for a postponement. After my usual ungodly early rise (though a bit slower than usual after staying for a second glass of wine at the party), hit the road rearing to go and already feeling a bit nervous about the humidity. I always hike with more water (and thus weight) than I need but I don’t like to have to conserve my water. However, 80 degrees and 80% humidity meant that I was already drenched with sweat at the end of Lake Road. Good thing I always pack my water treatment drops.

Some nice views at Lower Ausable Lake

Some nice views at Lower Ausable Lake

Leaving the trailhead at 7:30 am and immediately set off for the first four miles to the end of the Lake Road. Took a quick break to enjoy the beautiful views of Lower Ausable Lake (a swim would have been nice but the rules and time did not allow for that).

Passing a nice view of Rainbow Falls along the way to the col with Sawteeth and Gothics/Pyramid. I reached the col at 10:45 and had to make a call on whether to try and squeeze in a third ADK 46er in. Just 0.5 miles up and Sawteeth is just so close. To come back another day would require another long, long walk down Lake Road. I decided to go for it. Mostly a pretty easy climb, steep, but nothing too bad except for one particular scramble that’s known for tricky footing (the books weren’t kidding). Reached my first view for the day (11:30am) and would be just a teaser for what the rest of the day would entail.

Pyramid Summit

Pyramid Summit

Then on to Pyramid. Yes that is some elevation change, and a few spots that I repeated the mantra “just don’t look down“. The slides give you a sense of nothing but air below you and a cliff drop off. I was fine, those moments were short but glad I was going up them and not from the other direction.

Reaching Pyramid Summit at 1:30pm with some breathtaking views. If I wasn’t going for four mountains that day I would of soaked up the views more. My only compliant – bugs. Black flies, little nats, you name it they loved my blood. I came back with the red, swollen marks dotting my face and legs to prove it. But really? How do they stay up on the summit. #lifeisnotfair

When I first began researching how to tackle the Great Range and what combination to do them in (really the options are endless) I was very, very tempted to go via the Orbed Trail for Gothics. The cables sounded like so much fun! But at the end of the day going over Pyramid ruled the day. My decision did not disappoint.

Gothics Summit

Gothics Summit

A quick jaunt over to Gothics, with some decent scrambles – but in about 30 min you are there. People don’t over-exaggerate.  It has to be one of the most beautiful views in all of the High Peaks.

I then headed over to Armstrong. A little descent, reaching the junction with Beaver Meadow Falls Trail, then a short climb with a few minor scrambles and more slight descent and finally mostly flat for a bit before one last scramble around the cliffs of the summit. I really thought I had farther to go that I almost walked past the summit.

This may have been my favorite view of the day. While Gothics/Pyramid offer the “grander” views, Armstrong is nothing to discount. Simply beautiful. Also it was windy and the very first break I had from the humidity (now down to 50%) and there was high winds so the bugs finally left me alone! I hit the summit at 4pm and enjoyed the sun at that magic hour before beginning my descent down.

Armstrong Summit

Armstrong Summit

Having not hiked up via Beaver Meadow Falls Trail I didn’t have a sense (other than what I read) on what to expect. With tired legs and many miles of hiking, the trail just kept going and going. I knew it eventually leveled off but very thankful for those ladders. Though a couple gave me the feeling that you just have to lunch yourself up and be careful to go to the left since the right is a cliff drop off. Yes continued my mantra “don’t look down”.

Beaver Meadow Falls

Beaver Meadow Falls

A quick stop at Beaver Meadow Falls, and a near mishap almost going down the West River Trail (which is different from East River Trail) but figured it out quickly. I was thrilled to hit the Lake Road and no more steep descent and quickly ran into a couple of guys that I hiked with for a good portion earlier in the day. It was nice to have the company walking the last 2.5 miles back to the parking lot. They went on to Lower and Upper Wolfjaws. After reading the about the hike between Armstrong and LWJ – I have no interest in doing that col – and certainly not in one a day. One of the two guys, this was his first hike in the ADKs, hiking Sawteeth, Pyramid, Gothics, Armstrong, Upper and Lower Wolfjaws. Yep a special kind of (awesome) crazy – but needless to say they are hooked.

14.5 miles and 13 hours later gained three more 46ers (Sawteeth, Gothics and Armstrong) and a 4th mountain with Pyramid. I don’t think I’ll finish the Great Range this summer but looking forward to returning.

Sawteeth, Gothics and Armstrong: completed 06/29/2014, total distance 14.5 miles, hike time: 13 hrs

  • Sawteeth: Elevation 4100, Order of Height 35
  • Gothics:  Elevation 4736, Order of Height 10
  • Armstrong: Elevation 4400, Order of Height 22

 

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