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Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Great Range Traverse on 08/10/2009 19:59:11 MDT Print View

Last month, I hiked the so-called "Great Range" of the Adirondacks. 26 miles and over 9,000 ft of elevation gain in just about 20 hours. An absolutely amazing hike; I can't recommend it highly enough. I have a full report on the blog I just started (as in today!)


A view of Saddleback and Basin from the Gothics.

Edited by dsmontgomery on 01/13/2010 22:47:41 MST.

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: Great Range Traverse on 08/10/2009 20:11:58 MDT Print View

Great trip Devin. Thanks for the report and pics. I'm heading up to the High Peaks for the first time at the end of August and this has me psyched. Love the panoramic from Marcy.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Re: Great Range Traverse on 08/11/2009 13:04:40 MDT Print View

Thanks Brad! I think I may have come across something about your trip on the forum. Any specific route in mind?

b s
(smyth) - F
Great Range Traverse on 08/11/2009 18:02:41 MDT Print View

Not sure it was me, but I think some others NE BPLers are discussing a possible trip up there in September. I'm heading up to the Schroon Lake area for a vacation but want to piggy back an overnighter on to the beginning or end of the trip. I also want to get out on some day hikes while I'm up there but nothing as aggressive as the traverse you did. It is vacation after all....

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Great Range Traverse on 08/11/2009 18:43:54 MDT Print View

Right on - I've learned not to cram in too much in to real vacations. My wife and I recently aborted a bike trip from Pittsburgh to DC on the Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal one day in. We got as far as Ohiopyle, spent 2 days lazing around and rafting on the Lower Youghigeny, then headed back to Pittsburgh. It made for a far better trip!

Best of luck with your travels up there! I hope to read a report on it!

Nathan Baker
(Slvravn) - MLife

Locale: East Coast - Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Great Range Traverse on 08/12/2009 06:31:24 MDT Print View

Devin - great trip report. I have to agree with Brad, that panorama from Marcy was pretty sweet. I am headed up next week to do pretty much the same route, but I am taking it a little slower and making it a 3 day 2 night traverse. You also got me thinking about the use of treking poles on the trail and thier effect on the landscape can be. Ill still be bringing them, but I will be more conscious of when and where I use them.
My intended route is to start off at the Rt73 lot and go over Rooster Comb, Hedgehog, LWJ, UWJ, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, Little Haystack, Haystack, a possible stop at Skylight, Marcy and then a possible trek over Big Slide and the Brothers while ending up at the Garden parking lot.

Brad - when are you headed up?

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Great Range Traverse on 08/12/2009 06:44:15 MDT Print View

>>You also got me thinking about the use of treking poles on the trail and thier effect on the landscape can be. Ill still be bringing them, but I will be more conscious of when and where I use them.

I've seen quite a few people in the Dacks who put those little rubber tips on their trekking poles when they get to the bare rock.

I don't think it matters though as 99% of the damage is done in the winter and is due to the people walking across the rock with crampons on. Trekking poles wont do that sort of damage.

EDIT: This is what I was talking about:

http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/shop/mountain/trekking-poles/trekking-pole-tip-protectors

Edited by Ramapo on 08/12/2009 07:50:14 MDT.

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: Great Range Traverse on 08/12/2009 09:01:02 MDT Print View

Nathan: I'll be up there 8/26 through 8/31. Work issues will determine which end of the trip I add the overnighter to.

Devin/others: Anyone have any recommendations for maps or other resources to help planning some hikes up there? My local shop has three different versions of trail maps (Trails Illustrated, ADK Mtn Club, and another) for the Dacks but I didn't get a chance to open them up. Is one superior to the others?

Nathan Baker
(Slvravn) - MLife

Locale: East Coast - Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Great Range Traverse on 08/12/2009 09:34:56 MDT Print View

Brad -
I have the ADK map for the High Peaks region and it is ok. Not the best I have used and by far not the worst. The issue I have with it is since there are so many different trails up there the markings could be a little clearer to differentiate the multiple trails that may overlap or intersect. That being said the book that goes along with the map is very good and complements the map nicely

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
ADK maps on 08/12/2009 09:57:20 MDT Print View

I suggest that you get both the ADK and the Nat Geo Trails Illustrated ones.

The ADK maps have one crucial piece of informationt that the Trails Illustrated maps don't include: the locations of tent sites. Trails Illustrated maps mark the lean-tos, but not the tent sites. Really unfortunate, but...

If you get the ADK guide book for the High Peaks Region (a very good idea) it comes with an ADK map. Then just get the Trails Illustrated map for the High Peaks (#742) separately. You'll be all set to hike the Great Range and anything else in the High Peaks if you do that.

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: ADK maps on 08/12/2009 17:02:35 MDT Print View

Thanks for the info guys. That's an important note on the tent sites on the ADK maps. If the High Peaks are regulated anything like the Catskills, I'd be happy to know where it's safe to set up shop without having to decipher the regs on my own.

Devin, my apologies if I sidetracked your trip report.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Re: ADK maps on 08/12/2009 22:08:08 MDT Print View

Nathan - Yours is almost the same route as I took (I stopped at Marcy) and it is awesome! Do be careful descending the Gothics and Basin with an overnight pack!

Dave - I think I might invest in a set of those tip covers. I don't suppose you know of a less damaging way of using crampons? Do you think aluminum would be better? Would it be practical to take them off during rocky sections?

Brad - I used the ADK club maps and found them to be more than suitable, but I wasn't looking for camping sites, so I think the other guys have steered you better than I could. I just wished I had picked them up earlier so I could have copied them to waterproof paper before the trip. Oh, and sidetrack away! :)

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Rock scarring and crampons on 08/13/2009 07:36:37 MDT Print View

>>Dave - I think I might invest in a set of those tip covers. I don't suppose you know of a less damaging way of using crampons? Do you think aluminum would be better? Would it be practical to take them off during rocky sections?

In theory, proper crampon use would prevent the scarring (i.e. only use them on ice and take them off when approaching bare rock). But nobody, not even me, really does this. You'd freeze taking your crampons off and putting them back on20-30 times in rapid succession on exposed ADK ridgelines.

Aluminum crampons would not scar the rocks, but, after 4 or 5 uses, they'd be so worn down that you'd need to buy new crampons...which is honestly probably far harder on the environment.

This is what trails are for: to concentrate the effects of wilderness use in small areas. To my mind, a few scratches on the trail rock hardly registers as a harmful environmental consequence. Especially when compared to acid rain, invasive species, and fungal infections among bats - all of which are causing serious harm to the Adirondacks. If you want to offset the harm you cause while hiking, I'd suggest getting involved in activism for one of those causes rather than buying more gear.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Rock scarring and crampons on 08/13/2009 08:32:37 MDT Print View

I should start out by saying that I absolutely agree that this isn't an ecological issue. As far as even the local environment is concerned, a scratch on a rock doesn't make a lick of difference. Instead, I think this is about the aesthetic preservation of these routes.

Aesthetic preservation is, literally, a very superficial end, but one that seems to have quite a bit of traction. I would argue that much of the "leave no trace" ethic is based on aesthetic rather than environmental concerns. I'm sure there are various pieces of litter that could be left trailside and remain environmentally inert, their only sin being that they are ugly. I had the same kind of negative reaction to these scratches as I would to that litter. To a certain degree, it's worse because, while I'm no geologist, I suspect that the scratches will remain visible longer than the litter (which may not decompose, but may washed away or covered up).

One argument that I've heard is that the trails themselves are already "scars" on the environment and that this damage is no different. Here is where I must confess the most subjectivity - I just see the scarring as uglier than the trail.

Having hiked this route in the summer, I can certainly understand the need for them in the winter, but without the experience of crampon use, I just wondered what damage was avoidable. From what you write, it sounds like it may be a failure of technology that makes it impractical to prevent the scarring. I think that trekking pole caps are a good solution to possible damage from the poles and wonder if there isn't a similarly workable solution for crampons.

Do you think some kind of quick-release mechanism on the crampons would make their removal more practical? Alternatively, do think that crampons with replaceable, aluminum (presumably non-scarring) tips would be a good alternative? Would the latter still provide the kind of traction needed?

ferris jrf
(ferrisjrf) - F

Locale: New England
destined to be scratched rocks forever? on 08/13/2009 11:46:22 MDT Print View

With regard to poles, don't forget that those rubber tips wear much more quickly than the carbide ones...meaning that you're leaving lots of rubber along the trails...and that you're going to be consuming more resources to replace the rubber.

But I'd say that the large majority of the scrapes are not from poles...or from crampons...but from snowshoes. You don't slip around very much on crampons...you do on snowshoes. And most of the (on trail) winter mountain hiking done in this area is done on snowshoes.

I don't think there's any realistic way to protect rocks from snowshoes/crampons. Covering the points of the crampons is out of the question. And there are already "quick release" style crampons. You still wouldn't take them off for a 6 foot section of bare rock. And more importantly, what happens when there's 1/8 inch thick ice, and your crampon goes through the ice, contacting the rock below?

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: destined to be scratched rocks forever? on 08/13/2009 12:33:02 MDT Print View

>I don't think there's any realistic way to protect rocks from snowshoes/crampons.

That very well may be true. If so, that's too bad.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Rock scarring. on 08/13/2009 16:25:32 MDT Print View

When I hiked the Range trail from Rooster Comb to Haystack in the late 70's I didn't see that rock scarring. It's sort of sad to see that damage. I have seen it on Mt. Chocorua and was guessing that it was caused by ice axes. On my local rocky hill top (Blood Hill), it's caused by ATVs with studded tires or snowmobiles, which are pretty unlikely on the Great Range ADK trail.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
scarring on 08/13/2009 17:36:45 MDT Print View

ferris probably right. He's out there a lot more than me in the winter.

I definitely agree that you're going to have a hard time getting rid of the scarring. Just not much to be done about it if people are out there in the winter.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Great Range Traverse on 08/13/2009 17:57:46 MDT Print View

Devin,
Great report on your "little dayhike." I've only hiked in the Adirondaks once, so I didn't realize the peaks were as high as that or treeless. It looks like an ambition hike.

I agree with you on the scarring. I had heard people comment on it, but hadn't really seen much of it until my hike over the Franconia Ridge last month. I guess I come down to the same comment previously made that the trail is already a scar on the landscape, and the scratches are a small addition, with little alternative to those that wish to enjoy the peaks in the winter. I would be curiousto hear if there was an alternative option.