Algonquin Peak

Algonquin Peak (5,114 feet) is located just south of Lake Placid Village in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York State and can be clearly seen in the above photograph which I took back in 1968. The view from is from Indian Falls on the way to Mount Marcy.

The hike gave me a chance to get out of the city, into the mountains above the treeline, and experience some wonderful views of the Adirondacks.

After a pleasant drive from Toronto I was at the trailhead at Adirondack Loj at 5 p.m. A two hour hike above the MacIntyre Brook brought me to my campsite just below the summit of Wright Peak (4,580 feet) where I pitched the tent, brewed a cup of tea and ate some sandwiches.

By 7 a.m. next morning I was on the trail again and by 8:30 above the trees and on the Wright summit with spectacular views all around. Not being in any particular hurry, I spent some time there studying the map, surveying the scene through binoculars and taking a few photos. Soon a few other hikers appeared, all very friendly – from Montreal, New York and one from New Zealand.

20 minutes after leaving Wright, I picked up the main trail to Algonquin. With full pack, the going was slow to Algonquin’s summit and I stopped on the way for a welcome lunch before reaching the top at about 1 p.m. I spent a good hour there, taking in the views and occasionally chatting with the park ranger who was assigned to keep hikers on solid rock away from the meager portions of soil sustaining a delicate and fragile Alpine environment.

I then began the descent southeast to Avalanche Lake. It was steep, 2,350 feet in just over a mile, so care had to be taken all the way down, especially with full pack. Above the treeline the weather had been wonderful with just a touch of haze, but dark clouds moving up from the south gave a strong hint of thunder.

About a third of the way down, large mothball-size hailstones floated silently down from the sky. (They tasted delicious, especially as I was craving ice cream just before they appeared!) In no time, the sky had darkened and huge hailstones pelted down, blanketing the trail like snow . Sharp cracks of thunder echoed from the mountainsides and lightning streaked the sky. I quickly donned waterproof jacket and cautiously continued the descent on the rocky trail which intermittently doubled as the bed of a mountain stream – initially a trickle but now a torrent - as rain followed hail for the next two hours.

Either Avalanche Lake or nearby Lake Colden was to be my destination for the night but in view of the rain I decided to head back to the trailhead. The trail by Avalanche Lake was quite an obstacle course but the scenery was spectacular. The steep side of Mount Colden, stripped by avalanches and landslides down to bare granite, was an awesome reminder of the power of nature. At one point on the trail, piles of trees originally from Colden on the other side of the lake, lay twisted and shattered like a pile of huge matchsticks.

The sun returned as I hiked through Avalanche Pass, its heat generating a gentle mist which rose slowly from the trail to be penetrated by constantly changing visible beams of light through the trees. At the head of the pass I came across a log-cabin lean-to where I changed from wet shorts into dry trousers, made a cup of tea and had a rest before heading off.

The going was now much easier as the trail had widened out and underfoot was earth rather than rocks. A big jackrabbit jumped out on the trail in front of me and bobbed along for some time before disappearing into the bush. Cheerful birdsong and the gurgling of Marcy Brook accompanied me on my way.

Soon, the junction of the Mount Marcy trail was reached. I recalled the last time I was there - it was back in 1968 when my friend Doug Finnie from Portage la Prairie and I climbed Marcy on a fine cool September day with trees turning to spectacular golden Autumn colours.

Dusk was fast approaching as I neared Marcy Dam where I paused for a rest and the last photo of the day before hiking the final two miles back to the car (it was almost dark when I reached it). The next morning I was basking in the sun by the side of Mirror Lake in Lake Placid village with a welcome cup of coffee and apple turnover before driving back home.

I do hope you enjoy the photographs.

Lake Placid Village

Mirror Lake in the village of Lake Placid. Mount Marcy in the distance

Horse Riding in the village of Lake Placid with Whiteface Mountain in the background.

Indian Pass (the sharp notch in the centre) with Algonquin Peak on the left

View from the Wright Mountain trail

Above the treeline on the Wright Mountain trail

View from Wright Mountain to the Sawtooth Range

Cairn on Wright Mountain

Lone Hiker on the way up to Algonquin Peak

On the summit of Algonquin Peak

A glimpse of the Indian Pass Cliffs from Algonquin

Lake Colden from Algonquin

Looking towards Iroquois Peak from Algonquin

Alpine Flora on the summit of Algonquin Peak

Alpine Flora on the summit of Algonquin Peak

Hikers approaching the summit of Algonquin Peak

Self portrait at the summit of Algonquin Peak

The Sawtooth Mountain Range from Alqonquin Peak

Mount Colden seen on the way down from Alqonquin Peak

A glimpse of Avalanche Lake from the return trail

On the trail near Avalanche Lake. (Note the yellow trail marker)

Evening light on Marcy Dam at the end of the hike

The High Peaks of the Adirondacks seen from Saranac Lake on the drive home

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