Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gothics, Pyramid & Sawteeth - 8/24/12

These are some great peaks, but let me tell you why I planned the trip this way.  1) I wanted to revisit Sawteeth.  It's the only high peak I haven't been on in the last three years, and in fact I can't count how many years it's been, 2) I had never been on the Ore Bed trail and I'd heard that Hurricane Irene had really ripped through there, 3) I was bringing my dog Rev, and therefore couldn't approach from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (no dogs allowed), 4) I also wanted to revisit Gothics and Pyramid.  These factors pretty much dictated my route.  I would park at the Garden in Keene Valley and take the Phelps trail to Johns Brook Lodge (JBL), then take the Woodsfall trail to the Ore Bed trail.  The Ore Bed leads up to the ADK Range trail which I would take to Gothics.  From Gothics, I would shoot over the 1.5 miles to get to Pyramid and Sawteeth.  Then I would just return the way I came in.

Quite an impressive new set of steps on the left of the slide

Leesa was away on the business trip, but her brother Rob came with me.  We started from the Garden at 6:30 on Friday.  The parking lot was about half full.  The walk to JBL is an easy walk and takes just over an hour.  The crew was just serving breakfast when we walked past, and it smelled good!  I have to remember in the future to not pass by there between 7:30 and 8:00!

Looking down the slide.  Big Slide Mountain in the distance.

Once we passed JBL, the Woodsfall trail was just a short connector for us to get to the Ore Bed trail.  At the Ore Bed, the trail began to climb at a moderate rate past the Ore Bed lean-to until it reaches the slide area.  Trail crews have just recently put in a bunch of steps along the left side of the slide where the trail breaks out onto the slide for a short distance.  From this location you can really see the damage the Hurricane Irene did in this area.  It is fascinating.

More new steps!

Once out on the slide, it easy to walk on the slide if it is dry.  The steps will definitely by helpful when the rock is wet.  Once past the slide, we quickly reached the Range trail at the Gothics-Saddleback col.  From the col, it is .8 miles to the summit of Gothics.  You first go up the cable route to the false summit, then over to the true summit.  The cables are not necessary on dry rock, but I'm sure they are quite helpful under slick conditions.

Looking back at Saddleback, Basin and Haystack from the Gothics cables

Beginning at the Gothics cables, you get an impressive views to the SW of the Range trail and to the west of Big Slide Mountain.

Rev reaching the false summit of Gothics 

We reached the summit of Gothics at around 9:30 and nobody was there.  In fact, we hadn't seen a single hiker all morning.  We enjoyed our first morning snacks (yes... Rev too) and admired the views.  Then it was time to head for Pyramid and Sawteeth.  

The real summit

Since it had been so long since I had visited Pyramid and Sawteeth, I didn't remember how impressive the view from Pyramid was.  Or the fact that it is pretty rugged between Pyramid and Sawteeth.  You have to drop 1000' from Pyramid before climbing 600' to Sawteeth.

Looking SW along the Great Range from Gothics

We had Pyramid to ourselves also and we didn't mind.  From Pyramid, you get a fantastic view of  some of the impressive slides on Saddleback and Basin.

The view from Pyramid

After we left Pyramid, we began to see a couple hikers as we made our way to Sawteeth and when we got to the summit of Sawteeth, their was a couple there having a snack on the summit.

Looking at Pyramid from the trail from Gothics

The trip back to Pyramid was steep and Rob told me to go ahead of him and just wait at Pyramid, so that is what I did.  I didn't mind sitting on Pyramid again, and Rev fell asleep!

A close up of Basin from Pyramid

She'll pull me up and down mountains, but once I stopped she stopped to!  She was really out for about 10-15 minutes on the summit.  She quickly came back to life when it was time to continue.

Rev decided to take a nap on Pyramid while I took pictures

She was really out!

We made it back to Gothic about 12:30 and just made our way back down to the Ore Bed trail.  We didn't see anybody on the Ore Bed and I was quite surprised.  There had been a person in the lean-to on Thursday night, and he was eating breakfast as we passed him on the way up.  The lean-to was empty on our way down.

Going back down the slide

We got back to JBL and refilled our water bottles and talked to 2 women for awhile and then a man sitting on the deck.  It was hot there in the afternoon sun.  Rev took another nap, this time on the deck.  The women took her picture.

The trail enters the slide for a short distance

Rob was quite tired by this point.  This was the longest hike he had been on.  He was enjoying it, but his legs were tired.  Gothics and Sawteeth were high peaks 6 and 7 for him.

The Ore Bed Lean-to

We made our way back to the Garden on the Phelps trail, and that is when we began to see people.  We probably saw 50 hikers coming in as we were exiting.  Almost all of them were backpacking in, either to JBL or a tent site.  We stopped to talk briefly with quite a few of them.  We arrived by at the Garden at 5:30.

Our route shown in blue (click to enlarge)

It had been a great day.  No bugs, no humidity and great weather.  Only saw 10 people all day until we were  headed out from JBL.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  16.8 miles
Hike Time:  11 hours (including stops)
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 5000'


  1. Pyramid's an awesome peak! I enjoyed your photos of the Ore Bed slide, I'm hoping to try the new slide up Saddleback soon, maybe this fall.

    I think your stats may be short. I beleive Gothics is 14 miles RT from the Garden. Add in your side trip to Pyramid / Sawteeth and it's got to be 18+ miles. I also think the vert is more like 5K. No wonder your bro-in-law was tired!

    1. Gothics was just sky of 7 miles one way. I was like 6.9. Then is was 1.5 over to Sawteeth. We didn't tag Gothics again on the way out, so that saved .1 or so.

      Looks like you are right on the vertical though. It might even be slightly higher than 5000'. I'll change my number to 5000 so my bro-in-law will feel better.

    2. I didn't have the map or guidebook in front of me to check, it just seemed like Sawteeth should be further than 1.5 from Gothics from my recollection. Regardless, it's a pretty stout day! Maybe you'll end up doing a second round of the 46 with Rob.

    3. I've got 10 already on round two, but I'm going to go for the winter 46. That's the next goal. Let me know when you want to do a hike. I can't wear the same people out all the time!