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Old 07-16-2019, 09:58 AM   #1
Eddie Fournier
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Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Montreal
Posts: 54
Dix Range 7/15

I had originally planned on hiking to Dix from Route 73, but since I was able to get there on a Monday, I felt it was a good opportunity to get to Elk Lake without having to worry about parking. And so my plan for the day was to go up Macomb, then South Dix, Grace and Hough.

There was a handful of cars there, evidently mostly from backpackers, as I was second to sign the register at 5:15. I set off with great expectations for this range that I had never visited before but observed from previous trips. Wood thrush and white-throated sparrow greeted at every turn. Sky was blue, bugs were few and no mud in view – my expectations were already being surpassed and I hadn’t even gotten to a viewpoint!

It’s easy to miss the turn-off to Slide Brook trail to Macomb. Some reports mention it’s just after the bridge – well that bridge is gone. But if you get to a lean-to, it means you need to go back a little. The trail goes up moderately in the woods for 1.4 miles before emerging on a slide. The portion on the slide is not too long (0.3mi) but it is very memorable. Your options here are loose rocks, looser sand or steep slabs – choose your poison. It could be tempting to follow the red-painted rocks, but that will get you all over the place as place, since they are not really painted but naturally occurring. The slide does get steep, but dry conditions made it perfectly safe this day. I was afraid that my acrophobia would kick in, but as is often the case, fear of fear is worse than fear itself (did that make sense?). This slide is a lot of fun and the views are of course fantastic.

The trail re-enters the woods at the left of the slide’s top for a final 0.3mi push to summit. This picture from the summit shows Dix (actually, the top is hidden by the Beckhorn), Hough, Pough (not an actual summit) and South Dix.

The hop to South Dix took a little under an hour. Getting there from Macomb is really cool since there is a long and wide exposed scramble (visible on previous photo) – there’s a lot of cairns to guide to you, but really any way up will do (so long as you avoid stepping on plants). This scramble is not steep, so I had zero problem with and enjoyed it almost as much as the slide. The summit itself is in a the middle of some trees, but great views are available a few steps away.

Getting to Grace Peak is straightforward and is not to be missed – no funny business, just a gradual descent then a steep ascent right before the summit. Here I caught up with the hiker who signed in just before me and we shared hiking stories en route to Grace. Highest point does not have a marker. The large treeless area affords unlimited views south and east.

After getting back to South Dix and keeping right just after the summit, the trail immediately gets you a sense of what’s in store should you go on to Dix (false summit, Hough and Beckhorn).

The elevation loss and gain to Hough is about twice the one between South Dix and Grace and for the first time of the day, I struggled for that 1.0 mile. I must say, though, that the false summit (which people have comically called Pough, as in Huff & Puff) is the best false summit I’ve seen anywhere – great views and a long walk on a ridge. Near the summit of Hough is an out-of-place formation that looks like a bunch of stairs, but the path goes around it on the left [EDIT: I've been told that the true path goes over the formation - it looks fun anyway so why not try it].

The other hiker joined me on the summit and he confirmed he intended on heading to Dix to complete the range. Although that was not my initial plan, I was way ahead of my schedule, had plenty of water left and figured I could muster the energy for that as well – even though it meant adding 1200’ elevation and 3 miles to the trip. I changed socks for good measure and set off for the beckoning Beckhorn which hides the true summit of Dix but is very close to it.

Almost at the top of the Beckhorn there is wall with a crack in it and you need to get up through it. Somehow (probably because of fatigue at this point), I overestimated how difficult it would be, so I looked for other ways – there is a well-beaten path of others who have done the same. But trust me, the crack is the way to go – you just need to jam a foot inside the crack, then the other and then you can pull up. Once on top of that interesting rock formation, I saw the path leading down (Beckhorn trail) which basically seemed to disappear after a ledge.

The summit of Dix did not disappoint – and I had some great views on the way to compare it to. Almost all of the High Peaks are visible here.

Two options were possible to head back: the Hunters’ Pass trail and the Beckhorn trail. The latter is more direct but has some exposed slabs at the beginning that I was not entirely confident I could tackle. But my new hiker friend had already decided on this trail and so I decided to follow him and he could spot me if needed. In the end, I did not find it difficult – there are painted blazers to follow and there is no actual exposition to a drop-off even though it might seem so from afar.

6.6 miles to get back to the car is not easy on tired feet and legs. Moreover, bugs finally caught up and for the last 2 hours, I had a constant buzzing from black flies and deer flies. But I escaped unscathed and with much pride for accomplish this very rewarding and also very demanding hike. More than anything, I felt that every other hike has led to this one.

RT 12.5 hours

Last edited by Eddie Fournier; 07-16-2019 at 04:35 PM..
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:27 PM   #2
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 17
Nice report. I have done the Dix Range from different trails in different seasons, but I felt like I was along for the ride on this one. You have some good photo and writing skills -- thanks!
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