Exactly one year ago, Kailee and I climbed our first High Peak and she decided that she wants to be a 46er. A few months ago, I figured that Kailee and I could try to hike around ten High Peaks this year. This determined young lady surpassed that mark by far. This Summer of hiking has been an absolute blast. It only made sense to try and get our 20th before she returns to school.
Colden's massive slides dazzled us two weeks ago while hiking the McIntyre's... Why not give it a shot?
We drove to South Meadow on Sunday night and tented it at one of the many free camp sites near the Marcy Truck Trail register.
After Kailee fell asleep, I watched the full moon rise over Phelps. The handful of clouds in the sky were illuminated by it's bright orange glow.
We awoke early Monday morning and began prepping for our trek. As soon as we had everything in order, we hopped on the trail for the 2.8 mile walk to Marcy Dam. It was a perfect bluebird morning.
Unlike our previous excursions on the Truck Trail, Kailee thought we should skip taking a break at Marcy Dam. I had no problem with this.
|Colden & Avalanche Mountain|
from Marcy Dam.
It was nice and refreshingly cool as we walked in the col between Colden and Avalanche mountains.
Through the trees, we caught peeps of Colden's Avalanche Pass Slide. Signs warned that hiking & skiing on this particular slide was prohibited.
We arrived at the Northeastern end of Avalanche Lake in just under three hours. The lake is nestled between the two mountains and is absolutely stunning. Had our hike ended at this point, it could be chalked up as a win. Nevertheless, we continued forward.
It was slow going around the lake. But, that was alright. We marveled at our fascinating surroundings. The trail took us on the Avalanche Mountain side of the lake which gave us incredible views of Colden's cliffs and slides.
Two friendly guys from Massachusetts and their beagle "Hobbes" caught up with us and walked with us along the lake. One of the guys is four peaks away from finishing up the 48 New Hampshire 4000' Peaks. On this day, they were in the midst of of a big backpacking excursion to Mount Marcy.
|Hitch Up Matilda!|
We were afforded a beautiful view of Colden's massive trap dyke as we approached and crossed the first Hitch Up Matilda (a nickname for the footbridges that hover over the lake and are drilled into Avalanche Mountain's lower cliff faces).
|The early morning glare of the sun made it tough to get a good picture|
of the Trap Dyke.
The trail through Avalanche Pass and around the lake may be the most beautiful approach trail that we've taken. I can't speak highly enough of it!
|Southern end of Avalanche Lake.|
It took us 45 minutes to reach the Southern end of the lake. From here, the trail took us through the woods to another trail register. At this point, we took a snack break and enjoyed a pleasant conversation with our new friends.
Upon resuming our walk, we quickly arrived at another gorgeous body of water named Lake Colden. The vista offered a lovely view of the McIntyre Range & a Ranger cabin across the lake.
At this point, our new friends continued forward towards Marcy and we took a left and our climb began.
|Lake Colden & the McIntyre's.|
The first stretch up Colden took us up short, easy switchbacks. We actually tackled this part fairly quickly. Then the trail hooked left and things got pretty steep for the rest of the climb.
The path led us up skinny slides. There was no "give" at this point. Just a straight shot up.
Normally on climbs I feel the burn in my quads or calf muscles. Going up Colden, I felt the burn exclusively in my Achilles.
As we climbed, we were afforded a number of peeps outwards. Near the 4000' mark, we began getting views to the South in earnest. The early morning sky had given way to haze.
We hit a cool passage through carved rocks which we both thought was awesome. After this point, it was time to make our final pushes to the summit.
|Kailee leading us through the passage.|
We climbed a ladder and busted into the open. From here to the Summit, we had views in almost every direction. A small tour plane flew over us and then dropped down.
"What is he doing?" Kailee asked.
"He's going to fly through Avalanche Pass," I answered "Watch him!"
The pilot did exactly as I guessed.
"Cool!" shouted Kailee.
|Getting ready to climb the ladder.|
|Kailee watching the incoming plane.|
The final part of part of our ascent was an open rock climb which required using all four limbs. I've taught Kailee to utilize cracks in rocks as hand and foot holds. She found a long skinny crack and zipped up the rock quickly.
It took me a minute to figure out my route up. But, I soon joined her at the top of the face and we bounded to the summit. We hit the top at 1:20PM.
We were the only people there!
What a wonderful surprise!
Colden's marker is missing. All that remains is a hole where one once was with a triangle carved into the rock around it. It was a six hour walk to the top.
We were thoroughly pleased with our accomplishment and the view! We were sitting smack dab between the State's two largest peaks and had views of many peaks that we've climbed in the past year. Countless smaller peaks speckled the landscape near and far.
Whiteface (top) and Marcy Dam (Center).
"I would like to do this hike again!" announced Kailee.
|Marcy, Gray & Skylight.|
We discussed the possibility of this being our last High Peak "grab" of the season. I told Kailee that she has really impressed me with her climbing over the past year. We both agreed if this was our last "big one" of 2018... Then we surely finished on a showstopper...
(We are planning on repeating Cascade this Fall).
|Summit to ourselves!?!|
Might as well goof off!
We began our descent at 2:15 PM. Instead of an out-and-back hike, I opted for us to take the L Morgan Porter-Lake Arnold Trail down. The profile on the trail on the map appeared to be an easier grade (that was true).
Immediately into our descent, we had to climb under some very large boulders. This was really fun and added another layer of excitement to our adventure.
The L Morgan Porter Trail took us over several false Summits which offered nice vistas as well as a look back at where we just had been.
|Looking back at Colden from a false summit.|
|One of Colden's slides from the false summit.|
The hardest part of the day was well behind us. The trail down to Lake Arnold was a nice reprieve. My Achille's no longer bothered me.
|Great Range from a false summit.|
Lake Arnold is a very tiny body of water. But it's very cute sitting on it's mountain perch.It also drains down the trail in the Marcy-Colden col.
|Flowers near Lake Arnold.|
The Lake Arnold Trail back to the junction is rather long. But, we were making decent time.
I stopped and filtered some water from a stream coming off Mount Marcy.
Two and a half hours after leaving the summit, we arrived back at the Avalanche Pass Trail.
I was a few feet a ahead of Kailee at one point as we walked back to Marcy Dam.
There it was! A marten carrying a big white mushroom up a small pine tree.
I stopped and tried to turn on my camera. I hope he doesn't see me...
He saw me and scurried down the stream bed. His mushroom lunch dangled from a pine branch that was thinner than a pencil.
Very funny. Even if I didn't get him on camera.
Very funny. Even if I didn't get him on camera.
|Colden from Marcy Dam.|
Back at Marcy Dam, Kailee dunked her hat in the water. Because Kailee always loves to dunk her hat in the water at Marcy Dam!
From there it was the Truck Trail back to the car.
Every minute of this hike felt like we were walking on the set of an Indiana Jones film.
I love every High Peak adventure that we've been on over the past year.
Colden is a favorite among favorites.
|Dunking the hat!|
Total Elevation Gain: 3403'
Time: 12 hours.