Mud Madness: Mt Marshall

2014-10-11 14.42.06With daylight hours running short and few hiking days left I decided to tackle a single mountain and get another “trail-less” peak off my list. Mount Marshall probably isn’t one of my favorite hikes – but still enjoyed some nice lake views, waterfalls, fall foliage, snow flurries, mud, mud swamps, mud lakes and, well, more mud. Did I mention it was muddy?

Mount Marshall: Flowed Lands

Mount Marshall: Flowed Lands

It was my first hike at the Upper Works Trailhead and while mileage wise not that much farther from my house took an extra hour to get there. Yep that makes for a longer day and eats up precious daylight.

The Calamity Brook Trail is relatively easy and mostly flat hike in, with some less than ideal footing at various points but  a nice resting spot at Flowed Lands. I thought it would be the muddiest portion of the hike with having to balance on logs on more than one occasion. Boy was I wrong. It is then one mile in –  skirting around the lake, some elevation gain and just after crossing Herbert Brook to the split off to Mt. Marshall. Note to self: pay very close attention to not miss the turn off that is only noted by the cairns (aka pile of rocks). Now at 5.7 miles in and only just getting started on Mt. Marshall. Seriously?! 5.7miles just to start. I guess it wouldn’t be a ADK46er otherwise.

2014-10-11 13.18.54Cold Brook Trail is the most commonly used for Marshall but I went up via Herbert Brook offering far prettier views. Only 1.5 miles and 1500+ feet to go but it was slow going the whole way up. Starts out easy footing and elevation but the fall foliage and leaves on the ground made for a slow pace to keep on the “path”. Once you start crossing Herbert Brook figuring out if and where to cross took more time than I thought. Then it got real.

Steep elevation change with a muddy and slippery path which then lead to mud swamps/lakes. No joke. I used my hiking pole as a test for how solid it was and at times it’d go in nearly the full length of my pole. Yeah, I may have utilized some bushwhacking skills to skirt that.

2014-10-11 12.47.17The last pitch up hit colder temperatures with flurries flying and some limited views of Iroquois to the north. One last fun scramble to the obscured summit in the trees. But a viewing ledge on the south side gave great views – even on a snow flurry, over cast day. I didn’t have the time to linger but could have soaked it in for much longer. A quick refueling snack and a few pics and I was on my way.

The hike down Marshall flew by, as did the first few miles on the main trial. I wanted to get to 1.6 miles from the trailhead before dark. The section prior isn’t steep but required balancing on logs over mud, river crossings and the footing was filled with boulders and rocks – not as ideal for the dark. I missed it by about 20 min which wasn’t the end of the world. Yep. Glad to have that head lamp (and to see other hikers doing the same).

2014-10-11 09.23.01Mt. Marshall was one of those hikes where you experience the range of emotions: This is so pretty and great; WTF?! Why am I not to my trail yet. I’ve been hiking forever; Oh look at the beautiful lake, Where is the goddamn trial; MUD?!; Snowing?!; Steep and MUD; The summit is awesome. I love hiking; Why is the trail so far away; I hate mud; and finally Whoohoo! I’m done.

Not sure I’ll be doing this one again but I’ll sure be revisiting the Upper Works trailhead before I’m done.

Mount Marshall: completed 10/11/2014, total distance 14.5 miles, hike time: 11 hrs, elevation 4,360, order of height 25

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