Saturday, August 12, 2006

MacNaughton... A Long Day

Today I decided to head up north with my dads car to climb MacNaughton.  I had mentioned this mountain in my previous posts and my intentions to climb it before moving.  Although it is not on any of the 4,000 foot peaks list in the Northeast or NY I wanted to climb it before leaving.  All the peak lists were made 20 to 80 years ago before accurate surveying technology was developed.  Because of this there are several mountains on the peak lists that aren't actually 4,000 feet high!  On the other hand, MacNaughton which was never thought to be 4,000 feet and thus never was added to the lists was recently discovered with more accurate laser surveying techniques to be EXACTLY 4,000 feet.  Now how could I possibly climb all the peaks on the lists and then move out west knowing that there was still one more out there that was 4,000 that I missed?  I couldn't... so I decided to drag my ass north one last time to climb this trailess peak deep in the heart of the High Peaks region. 
    The mountain is very remote and requires a long hike through Indian Pass on the western side of beautiful Algonquin and the MacIntyre Range.  From there you have to follow the Wallface Ponds trailMacnaughton_81206_005
for another couple miles to the ponds.  Where I left Indian Pass there was an old dam built out of large boulders.  I'm not sure when or why it was built but it was enormous and beyond it was a good view of the cliffs on Wallface mountain as well (see pic).  I had forgotten all my printouts from the web of people whe described where the herdpaths were so I was pretty much on my own for finding them.  When I arrived at the ponds I soon came to a section where the trail literally dissapears into the water (seeMacnaughton_81206_020
pic on right) which is quite higher due to recent beaver activity in the area.  So I bashed my way through the woods following my GPS as best I could to try to find the beaver dam crossing between the two ponds which should have led to a herdpath up the mountain... Nope.  I did ironically run into a guy and a woman at the damn who had both given up and turned around on their attempts to climb up MacNaughton.  This was not a good sign.  Also, on the way up to the ponds I noticed that I had completely lost one half of my left Leki hiking pole!  I left the broken pole against a tree and marked it with my GPS to grab it on the way down. 
    I chatted with the two for a few minutes and they both seemed a little concerned that I was Macnaughton_81206_021
starting the mile long bushwack so late in the day at 1pm.  You can see the summit of MacNaughton in the pic on the right rising above Wallface Pond.  They didn't know the kind of hiking I'm capable of... haha.  As soon as I crossed the beaver dam the herdpath simply dissapeared.  I then took out my GPS, determined I was going the right way and began to climb.  The area looked like it had been slammed by a hurricane.  Hundreds of downed trees blocked my ascent and I ended up walking on downed tree trunks almost as much as the ground in some places.  I found myself on my hands and knees crawling at times and pulling my self up steep moss-covered ledges on many occasions.  I had gaitors on butMacnaughton_81206_036
where the skin on my knees where exposed I was getting slashed and cut with every movement through the sharp spruce trees and dead branches.  As you can see from the pic on the right there is no trail... Where the two before me had taken hours of struggle before turning around I had bashed through in about 45 minutes before arriving at the summit ridge.  Oddly the ridge had a very clear herdpath on it but again it disspeared completely into the moss and spruce trees when you tried to follow it off the ridge. 
    The summit had a beautiful rock overlook towards the Santanoni Mountain Range.  I walked down the entire length of the ridge to ensure that I crossed whatever true summit was up there and came Macnaughton_81206_030
to another overlook on the western side of the mountain of Street and Nye.  I was glad that after nearly 7.5 miles of climbing I had some views to appreciate at the top.  It was 2pm and I decided to start heading down which proved to be just as difficult if not more than climbing up.  On the way down it was even harder to see where my foot was coming down through the blowdown and brush so I almost crashed on several occasions.  Then I came upon something that really made my day!  As I was walking through the woods... literally with no trail within a mile radius of where I was.... I randomly came across a very nice and expensive pair of collapsable Black Diamond Hiking poles.  How odd is that?  On the same day that I finally break and lose half of my hiking poles I randomly stumble across a new pair of really nice ones in literally, the middle of nowhere in the woods.  When I got down to the beaver dam again following my, now dying from lack of batteries, gps I passed by the woman again and asked if they were hers... which they thankfully were not.  No one else had been in the area that day so I happily brought them home knowing that some unfortunate sole had lost them on their attempt at MacNaughton. 
    It was a long walk out through Indian Pass and my GPS died about halfway out from lack of power.  It had been such a beautiful day with a light breeze and 60 degree weather which kept the bugs at bay.  On the way down to Indian Pass I was able to snap a great picture of the backside of AlgonquinMacnaughton_81206_039
and Wright Peak.  I was even lucky enough to have parked for free at the Macnaughton_81206_046
Adirondack Loj because I had forgot cash and a nice girl at the entrance had let me in for free.  I got some great pictures of the high peaks on the dirt road heading out of the mountains.... check the last picture.  I got home around 8pm, had dinner with my parents and went home very sore to take a shower and sit down for a while before heading out for some drinks and to hear Richie Ortiz (who just signed a major record Label) at Baileys with Josh, Jess and Mike.   Great day, but very long and tiring all the same!


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