Another Columbus Day weekend, another hike. This year we decided to try our first trailless peaks. The weather was unseasonably warm and the colors were gorgeous. There were 13 of us on this hike - Hubby and my two boys, my Hiking Buddy and three of her kids, two teen family friends and our neighbors and their daughter.
We started from the Adirondack Loj at 7:40 a.m. I was a little nervous about hiking these peaks just because a fellow hiker told me he was putting these off since he heard the lack of trails may cause some confusion, and they were difficult and isolated. I was hoping that wouldn't be the case. In fact, because it was such a beautiful day, there were many other hikers, so "isolation" was not going to be a factor.
The trail to these peaks leaves from the less traveled side of the parking lot; the side away from the more popular peaks of Wright, Algonquin, Marcy, etc. This trail runs along the edge of Heart Lake for a little bit. It was still early enough in the day when we started that the mist was rising off the lake. It was just beautiful with the fall colors reflected in the water. We followed the Old Nye Ski trail until a sign that said "Trails not maintained past this point". After that it was primarily a herd path covered in a lot of downed leaves. Occasionally those of us who lagged behind would lose the trail, yell up ahead, and follow voices. Luckily, our leaders chose the right path.
Early on we paralleled, and occasionally criss-crossed, Indian Pass Brook. Getting away from the brook and climbing, we eventually reached a wide stream that took some navigation to cross. There was no bridge or even good, sturdy rocks to use. We relied on very careful footing on some precariously placed boulders. One member of our group took a plunge, soaking half of her body. This was a good place to use hiking poles to steady ourselves on the rocks and test the waters. We were passing the poles up and back as we each made our way across.
About 3/4 of the way up the trail, there was a small ledge with a bit of a view. We enjoyed it a little as we knew these mountains are known for their terrible (if any) views. At the trail junction between the two summits, someone had carved "N" and "S" into a tree, with arrows pointing toward each trail. We decided to hike to Nye's summit first, knowing there would be no views at all. There weren't. It was kind of odd. The trail just ends and at that point we looked up into a tree where a small marker reads "Nye". We took a few photos and moved on. There was literally NOTHING to see. I had read a description about this summit that said something to the effect of if you poked out both eyes, tied a bandana around your head and locked yourself in a dark closet you would see more than there is to see on Nye. I'd say that description is pretty accurate. On the plus side, it was a pretty short trek from the junction to the summit.
When we got back to the split, we headed over to Street. It took a bit longer to reach this summit than it did to reach the top of Nye. Once we got there, we at least had a slight view. If you poke around a bit, you can find a path leading to a clearing with a view of Algonquin, Boundary and Iroquois. What we could not find was the summit marker. If only we thought to look UP. We had walked right past it in search of a view, any view. As always, we took some photos and ate some food. There really isn't much space on this mountaintop to do much of anything. I would recommend dropping your packs at the junction of the summit trails before heading to either summit. It's a nice, flat, cleared spot that's good for a lunch break.
Heading down from these peaks was relatively easy. There had been a LOT of mud on the trail all day. Crossing that stream seemed so much easier on the way back - maybe because we were too tired to care at that point if we got wet (we didn't). After the stream we seemed to break into smaller groups. There were three of us bringing up the rear and while we were chatting, we failed to notice that we were no longer on anything that resembled a trail. There were just a lot of leaves. Fortunately, we were almost all the way down and we could hear the water so we knew which way to go, but it was very easy to see how quickly you can get lost in the woods.
We were back to the Loj parking lot by 4:20 p.m. The ride out of the Loj road afforded a great view of the ski jumps in Lake Placid. Also, the nice thing about having older kids with us who can drive is that they can take one car back and the adults can take the second car to the Lake Placid Brew Pub for a well-deserved pint. On this day we walked into the Pub to find a group of older gentlemen all decked out in bright yellow shirts that read "HAOA" with a stick figure hiker and hiking pole on the front. They seemed to be enjoying themselves very much. Over a beer we learned they called themselves the "Hiking A-holes of America" and each year on Columbus Day weekend they hiked somewhere on the East or West Coast. They were fun - and one of them literally gave me the shirt off his back!
Lest you think I forgot, I did not. Nye was named after William Nye, an Adirondack mountain guide in the 1800s. It is 45th of the 46 High Peaks and is one of the four that is not actually even over 4000 ft. Originally thought to make the cut, it was later determined to have an elevation of 3,895 ft.
At 4,166, Street is #31 on the list. It was named after Alfred Billings Street, a poet and New York State Librarian.