After spending time in the Canadian and US Rocky Mountains over the past few years, it still surprises me a little that the Adirondacks have the same appeal that they used to. In fact, in many ways, I think I like them better. Sure, the ADKs don’t have the big peaks, and super high elevation, but the great thing is that they are very easily accessible and you can get INTO them very quickly. Living only a 3 hour drive to get to them is also helpful too.
With Sara on holidays this past week, we looked at this being a good time to take care of some running goals. We had considered racing, but then our thoughts shifted to a quick trip to the Adirondacks for some mountain running fun. Perfect!
Day #1 – Adirondack Loj-Lake Arnold-Lake Tear of the Clouds-Mt Skylight-Mt Marcy:
This was a simply incredible run, possibly one of my favourite runs in my 30+ years of running and made for just an awesome loop. We didn’t really know how long this was going to take us, but planned for a big day. We avoided the most common route up Mt Marcy, which is always heavily travelled and we’ve already done a number of times. Taking this longer route around also gave us the opportunity to hit Lake Arnold and the beautiful Lake Tear of the Clouds at just over 4200ft. Then it was on to Mt Skylight. I’ve always wanted to run up Skylight, which is the 4th highest peak in the Adirondacks at 4,926ft, and wasn’t disappointed. The view from the top of Skylight was spectacular with views over the less travelled part of the mountain range, as well as very close views of Mt Marcy and Haystack. Looking up at Mt Marcy also gave us a different appreciation of what a great mountain it is. At 5344ft, Mt Marcy is the highest peak in the ADKs, however coming from the normal route, it almost looks disappointing and is a fairly gradual approach. Running up the back side got our adrenaline flowing with the fairly long and steep rocks that had us scrambling on all fours in places. After summiting Skylight and then Marcy, we took the normal route back to the Loj, with a quick stop at Indian Falls to treat more water. This route took us 6h26m to complete and included 4,800ft of total ascent. A great day indeed. After a quick cleanup back at our Leanto, we hit the best restaurant in the ADKs for dinner. Lisa G’s is the perfect place to go for hungry trail runners. Great food, great prices and great beer!
Day #2 – Garden-Big Slide Mt-John Brooke Loop:
We had planned to run a little less for our second run of the trip, but our curiosity got the best of us. Big Slide Mountain was calling. Unlike the previous day, there was no easing into the uphills with some steep climbing early on. Within the first hour, the climb up Brothers had some awesome scrambles and views. It was a pretty tough first couple of hours up Big Slide with tired legs from the previous day. The summit of Big Slide at 4199ft was nice, but a little crowded for our liking. It was actually almost a bit of a disappointment as the views up Brothers were so incredible. We decided to make this into a loop, as going back the way we came would have made for steep downhills and we knew that the final miles of this planned loop would be quite runnable instead with the loop option. Much of the terrain heading into John Brooke Interior Lodge was very technical, but the final few miles featured some of the most beautiful sections of streams that I’ve seen. Once we made it to John Brooke Lodge, it was a nice gradual downhill run back to the Garden parking lot. Another great day with 3100ft of ascent in 3h47m. The only things left to do now included lunch at the Ausable Inn Patio and a visit to the Mountaineer Shop.
A very condensed trip to the ADKs, but very fulfilling and good for the soul.
Favourite pieces of gear:
La Sportiva Vertical K’s – I was a little tentative about wearing them due to the rocky trails, but wore these lightweight shoes with no socks on day #1 and had no blisters (I wore socks on day #2 just to be safe, but didn’t need them). They were awesome and I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be looking to race any distance in them after these two great test runs.
UltrAspire Surge Pack – Incredibly lightweight and comfortable pack. We ran with 2 litres of water and then treated from lakes, rivers and streams when we needed extra.
Steripen – This mini UV water treatment system is so perfect for runs like this and allow us to keep the weight of water that we have to carry down.
Suunto T6d Running Watch – Knowing altitude is very important information in the mountains (more so than miles/kms), and GPS watches are notoriously inaccurate. The T6D has an altimeter, so is very accurate. I calibrated it on the first day and was amazed to see how accurate the various summits were throughout the two days.
Food – We mostly used Honey Stinger chews, gels, Clif Bars and the occasional wrap. S!Caps were of course used to keep our electrolytes in check in the heat.
Check out Sara’s blog for more photos.