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Old 08-21-2019, 07:53 PM   #1
Eddie Fournier
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Cliff & Redfield 8/20

These two mountains are in the middle of the high peaks and far from any trailhead. There are 2 main approaches, one from Adirondack Loj and other from the Upper Works trailhead. I chose the latter since (1) it involves less elevation gain and (2) I wanted to experience first-hand this area of historical significance.

The Upper Works parking area is shrouded in myth and history as no other trailhead. On these premises used to lie the town of Adirondac, a bustling mining community established by business partners Archibald McIntyre and David Henderson who had discovered iron ore in the area. Henderson managed the iron works. That is, until his untimely demise. In 1845, as he was prospecting water sources slightly west from what is now known as the Flowed Lands (another remnant of the mining operations), he accidentally got shot - the rifle he was carrying was charged. A monument was erected at this calamitous site and the nearby creak is now called Calamity Brook.



Adirondac became a ghost town after the operations shut down in 1856, but a few ruins still remain including the MacNaughton Cottage (aka McMartin House). This was Henderson’s residence for nine years. This also happened to be then-VP Theodore Roosevelt’s vacation home while he was hiking Mt. Marcy in September 1901. President McKinley was dying of gunshot wounds inflicted by an anarchist in Buffalo. A guide was sent up the trail to get word to Roosevelt. The trip to Buffalo that ensued is sometimes referred as the “Midnight Ride to the Presidency”, a daring night-time stage coach ride to the Long Lake train station (p.s. there used to be a lot of trains in the Daks - they caused a lot of fires, which was one reason to build the fire towers on the mountains).



Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a trip report.

It was completely dark when I was driving up on the winding Upper Works road. I happened to be listening to an eerie podcast series entitled “Alice Isn’t Dead” when I noticed a reflection on the shoulder to my right. I turned briefly and saw the moon, completely out of place (i.e. not in the sky). This puzzled me until I realized the Hudson river (the same that graces NYC) was flanking the road and I was only seeing a reflection.

I signed in at 5:25, first of the day and assuring I would not go without fiber today (assuming spider webs count). As soon as the trail veered off from the trail to Henderson Lake (name rings a bell?), it got very muddy and I would encounter mud all day – more than I saw in the Seward range on July 1. While following Calamity Brook, I stopped to observe a beaver going about his business.

After a while, S. and G. who had just met on the trail caught up to me; we exchanged a few words and had a look at the Henderson memorial. Their pace was much quicker, so they went on ahead, but I would encounter them a few more times and learn that S. was working on the end of her 2nd round of 46 and G. was finishing up on his 7th round, including one in each season!

The Flowed Lands did not disappoint – this is a must-see. From what I hear, the dam that used to be there is in disrepair and the lake is reverting to grassland. So maybe don’t take too long if you’ve never been here.





Then off to Lake Colden which needs no introduction. Can there be more peaceful a place?





The Mount Marcy trail to Uphill Lean-To is a cool trail as it – you can peer down some really interesting chasms.



After a little over 4 hours of hiking, I now had to decide if I wanted to attempt Cliff or Redfield first. I went with the latter, since (1) it could build-up my confidence for Cliff and (2) I would not feel undue pressure in completing Cliff if I felt unsafe on its cliffs. Full disclosure, I have acrophobia, not a severe case but still – then again, it seems a lot of hikers have this too, including S. who assured me it wasn’t that bad if you just “do it while afraid”!

I enjoyed going up Redfield – it goes in and out of a river bed, allowing for fantastic views of the MacIntyre range (named, you guessed it, after Archibald McIntyre).



The grade is not too strenuous and slab-free. The summit affords a few nice views on the east side, including this great one of Allen (left on this picture).



Back at the junction. I had already logged almost 10 miles of hiking, but it made perfect sense to at least have a look at “Cliff’s cliffs”. This is how you are greeted on the Cliff trail:



The first cliff is only 0.3 mi from the junction and there is not much to it – handholds & footholds make it easy. The 2nd one is actually fun, you walk up on a ledge a foot wide. The 3rd one is a loose & wet steep gravel slide, but you can grab things to heave yourself. The 4th one (by my approximate count) is where it got tougher, but it still wasn’t anything to cry mom about. The 5th one is the serious one. There is thin slanted crack along which you are supposed to climb. I observed a few hikers descend (including S.), gathering their comments and planning my approach. I got onto the slab and started up. Sometimes, things look worse than they really are – this was not one of those times. There was a second or two where I was very uncomfortable, but I lied as flat as I could and crept up (like the hundreds that do this hike every year!). They say the slab is grippy - it’s true and I think this is what makes this climb possible.



Of course, once all that climbing is done, you are now on the false summit. You don’t lose too much elevation, about 100’, but knowing you’re not even hiking towards a view is somewhat disheartening at this point. It is a lackluster summit and I spent only 5 minutes there. Going up Cliff took me about the same time as Redfield, though the latter has more mileage and much more elevation. It must be said that there are excellent views when going down on the slabs, should you choose to look up.

The hike out followed the same route, but it felt a lot rockier. Mud was now welcomed since it was easier on my wet-anyway feet than pointy gravel. I stopped in Calamity Brook to refresh my feet and change socks, and that gave me a boost for the finish. About a dozen deer flies bothered me in last 2 miles and paid with their lives. I signed off at 8pm, by far my longest hike ever at 20.6 mi in 14.5 hours.


Last edited by Eddie Fournier; 08-22-2019 at 10:05 AM..
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Old 08-21-2019, 08:08 PM   #2
Woodly
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Nice report and photos. I always loved Redfield.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:48 PM   #3
rbi99
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Very fine report, and an honest one.
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:13 PM   #4
ILikeRocks
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Nice report. I kinda forgot how much I enjoyed Redfield the first time I hiked it.
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:22 PM   #5
Glhobday
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Great report and photos Eddie.
As I read this report, realized I was G.
My apologies, hearing is not what it once was.
I called you TERRY when ever I saw you that hike!
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Old 08-23-2019, 10:49 PM   #6
Eddie Fournier
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glhobday View Post
Great report and photos Eddie.
As I read this report, realized I was G.
My apologies, hearing is not what it once was.
I called you TERRY when ever I saw you that hike!
Hi G! Actually you had it right, Iím not using my real name on the forums. Did you know S. went on to do Marshall after R & C and finished like an hour before me, she was on fire!
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Old 08-23-2019, 11:53 PM   #7
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Great photos and trip report. I like how you included some history as well!
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