There had been more than 4 inches of rain during the week, but the skies cleared out on Friday and Saturday. Sunday morning dawned frosty and clear – perfect weather for our hike. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, home fries, fresh fruit and lots of coffee served up by the Loj crew, we hit the trail by 8:45.
The 4-mile hike to the 5,114’ summit of Algonquin, with 3,000 vertical feet of climbing, took us just under 3 hours, slightly longer than I had planned. After a quick lunch break on the summit, we started out for Iroquois at 12 noon, allowing ourselves two hours for the 2.2 mile round-trip traverse across the ridge.
The route descends the southwest slope of Algonquin’s summit cone through extensive, beautiful alpine terrain to the col between Algonquin and Boundary Peak (not considered a separate peak because it lacks the required .75 mile or 300’ vertical separation from Algonquin and Iroquois). At the col, an unmaintained herd path leaves the main trail and traverses the mostly open ridge over Boundary to Iroquois. Although route-finding is not an issue on the short herd path (it can be on some of the other 20 trailless high peaks), there’s plenty of mud, spruce thickets, and boulder scrambling.
The reward on Iroquois: unsurpassed views of Indian Pass and Wallface, Avalanche Pass and Lake Colden, Flowed Lands, Mount Colden and Marcy. Algonquin’s summit towers above nearby. Solitude enhances the wilderness view from Iroquois and differentiates it from Algonquin’s summit. I would have loved to stay longer on Iroquois, but we knew we still had a significant effort ahead of us re-climbing to Algonquin’s summit and then returning to Heart Lake.
Arriving back at Algonquin’s summit we encountered two Summit Stewards talking with some other hikers. The Summit Steward program is a partnership between the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), the Adirondack Nature Conservancy and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Summit Stewards educate hikers to help preserve the rare alpine ecosystem found on Algonquin, Marcy and several other High Peaks. Many of the alpine plant species on these summits are rare or endangered, and all are susceptible to foot traffic. Leaving Algonquin’s summit for the final time, we began the long descent back to Heart Lake, arriving back at the trailhead at 4:30.
If you’re interested in climbing the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, see the 46ers at: www.adk46r.org/. The 46ers' mission is to educate the public on responsible wilderness use and to encourage stewardship in the High Peaks Region.