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Old 10-05-2009, 10:34 AM   #1
Chester
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Trip Sept30-Oct3, Part 1: Macs

The 2009 edition of the Family trip with a slight variation...

I solo hiked in to the Kagel Shelter from the Loj on wednesday afternoon after driving over from Boston. The weather in the region was dynamic--it was at times sunny, drizzly, snowy on the way to the trailhead and I heard at the loj that the peaks got some snow accumulation. Two sopping wet Quebecois hikers who just returned to the their car confirmed that Algonquin was under a whiteout.

I got to Kagel without incident, set up camp and had just enough time to eat and stow food before dark set in. With nothing to do and no one to talk to, I went to bed early.

Hit the trail early Thursday morning to do the Macs. My plan was to do them north to south then descend to Lake Colden and return to Kagel via Avalanche pass. I had considered heading up Wright's slide using Mudrat's maps and directions but given the ice and snow, I correctly decided to keep to the trails and went all the way up to the junction halfway to the loj. It was a long way to go but I was told it was faster than the shortcut from the Dam.

To save time, I took my tea and breakfast on the trail with me, walking like a commuter to catch his train with mug in one hand, cliff bar in the other. A couple of passing hikers gave me odd looks but I had a plan. At the Dam, partial views of the snowy upper elevations poked out through a heavy mist. A ranger there asked me if I had crampons for the route I was doing. I did not so he advised me to be careful. I kept moving quickly to make good time. Along the way to Wright, I passed a couple who were on a more leisurely tack who I would later cross paths with a few more times.

The trail to Wright was wet and cold but surefooted until reaching the bare slabs near the peak. From there, footing was dicey to the top. It was windy, fogged in and cold up there and I thought of the ranger and his crampon comment more than once. Absolutely no views. Summitted at 10:30 and headed back to escape the cold, passing that couple who were on their way up, one of whom commented that if Wright was that bad, how would Algonquin be?

Algonquin came soon after, I hit the summit before noon. Here the sun was out, the wind was calm and the conditions were much better--I guess an hour of warming weather made all the difference. Still no view but it was much more pleasant. I was about to enjoy the conditions when the sun went behind a cloud and the chill wind picked up as if the mountain was reminding me that it is in charge. I kept moving to find the trail to Iroquois. I thought I was on it until I realized I was heading down and eastward way too much. A brief break in the clouds with a nice view of Colden confirmed it. I turned back and found the correct trail south.

The route to Boundary was a mess. The hemlocks were snow covered and narrowed the trail to just 6 inches across in places with plenty of mud. Still, progress was steady and at the top of Boundary, I could see what looked like Iroquois through the clouds.

Heading to that next summit, I stopped to admire my achievement at this final peak. Then I noticed something was wrong--looking north, Boundary was above me. Looking south, there was no view of anything through the clouds. Then, the dark shape of a mountain taller than the spud I was standing on appeared in profile. I stood there shivering while checking the map to determine if it was Iroquois or Marshall. It was Iroquois. Damn, I thought I was there! The couple behind me confirmed it and I headed south to make it official. Once there, still no view but the feeling of accomplishment was reaffirmed mightily.

Uneventful trip back to the trail off Algonquin to descend to lake colden. The first third was more of the tight, snow covered conifers. I passed two hikers on the way up not far from the top. Upon reaching the bottom, I was glad I went down that path, not up. That's a tough 1.7 miles to ascend!

The walk from there was uneventful with limited views. The pass was fairly dramatic under grey skies but my main thoughts were on getting to camp to relax and eat. I hadn't stopped to eat a proper lunch because it was cold and wet everywhere. I subsisted on water, bars and gel all day.

Finally, at about 4:30, I reached Kagel and found my Father, Uncle and the Manster had arrived as planned. Manster greeted me with some appetizers and I changed into dry clothes to settle in for the night. Except for the ranger a few hikers at the Dam in the morning, the couple on the Macs with me and the two guys coming up from Colden, I didn't see anyone at all. A nice solo hike without incident.

Part 2 covering Phelps and Tabletop to come separately...
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Old 10-11-2009, 02:02 AM   #2
MTman
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nice report Chester, looking forward to Part 2
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Old 10-11-2009, 08:27 AM   #3
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gr8 TR Chester! I can sense the struggle as you climbed and the relief and joy to eat real fud when you were done! Looking forward to part 2. Looncry
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