Winter Wrap-up 2010: Algonquin and Iroquois

At the end of last winter Kellie told me she wanted to hike Algonquin Peak.  Most men I know don’t get requests from their wives to receive 3000 vertical feet worth of torturous hiking in sub-zero temperatures on the second highest peak in New York State–so as you can imagine I was happy to hear her request.  Keeping with tradition, 46er Eric Montz joined us on the first Winter 46 trip of the season (we did our first Winter 46 summits on New Years weekend last year), along with my Dad whom I skiied my first high peak with two seasons ago (our adhoc Mt. Marcy trip was in April, so technically not a Winter 46).  The four of us, with fully-loaded winter packs, crammed ourselves in the Vibe and started off for the Daks–all the while praying the suspension wouldn’t break on the car!

Now I’ve made some mistakes planning these types of trips in the past.  Usually I overestimate the mileage/vertical that we can handle and the trip simply becomes “too much.”  So, in an attempt to change my evil ways I planned this one as an overnight.  Basically we would hike two miles in with fully loaded packs and camp at a MacIntyre Brook Falls, a designated DEC campsite.  We could rise early the next morning with a much lighter load and have plenty of time to make the summit of Algonquin and hopefully Iroquois Peak, the second highest of the peaks in the MacIntyre Range.  The only problem with this plan was that we wasted too much energy getting full winter gear to MacIntyre Brook, only to get poor sleep as the overnight temperatures dipped below -10° F.  I got up three times during the night to reheat water bottles for all four hikers–Montz gave up his foot warmer inserts for Kellie to stuff into her down booties–it was a brutal night on the mountain.

The next morning we got up early as planned, cooked breakfast burritos (great time to experiment), and headed for the summit.  It was challenging for everyone, but we had great weather and made the summit by mid-day.  For me, making the short jaunt over to Iroquois Peak was not an option.  Hiking all 46 peaks in winter is hard enough–passing on easy peaks that are adjacent to ones you are already standing on just makes the feat harder.  So, after a short break at the summit I gave everyone the option of hanging out while I made the ~1.5-mile hike over and back–everyone wanted to go and so the group stayed together, eating Mountain House meals on Boundary Peak, Idahoans mashed potatoes on Iroquois, and drinking hot mint tea back on Algonquin before the descent.  It was a high mountain party and a great way to kick off the ADK Winter 46 season!

It should come as no surprise that we packed up camp and found a hotel room for the next night, not wanting to brave another sleepless night in sub-zero temps.  We found cheap accommodations at Shulte’s Family Lodge, owned and operated by Rolf Shulte an outstanding photographer of all thing Adirondacks!

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