Lake George

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

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mount Colden - High Peaks Wilderness - 1/19/13

Mount Colden is one of those Adirondack peaks that I find nice to climb in all seasons.  In the summer, I did a loop hike from the High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) to Colden via Avalanche Pass up the west face of Colden then down the east side to Lake Arnold and out.

Today my wife Leesa and I stayed on the east side and went up and back via Lake Arnold.  There was very little snow down low, just barely enough to ski or use snowshoes.  We had our snowshoes, and wore them the entire hike, although they were not needed until we began to climb towards Lake Arnold.

In summer, the Lake Arnold trail is quite rocky.  In winter it's an easier hike when the trail is paced snow conditions.

On the first 2.1 miles to Marcy Dam we came across several groups of backpackers.  One group was heading for Feldspar Leanto.  Another group was headed for Lake Colden on skis.  They were going to camp and then ski out via the Calamity Brook trail to Upper Works.

We got to Marcy Dam in just under an hour.  The forecast called for 55 mph winds on the summit, but we never saw those kinds of winds (and that's ok).  We felt an occasional blast of wind, but for the most part, it was relatively calm.  Granted, we weren't ever really exposed to winds above treeline, but we didn't hear any winds whistling.

The trail continues relatively flat until Avalanche Camp where the trail splits (left to Lake Arnold and beyond, right to Avalanche Pass).  We turned towards Lake Arnold, where the trail begins to climb.  At 4.7 miles from the lodge we reached Lake Arnold which sits at about 3750'.  We got there in about 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Zoom in of Mount Colden and it's false summit as seen from Marcy Dam
The climb from Lake Arnold was nice.  There was 3-4 inches on snow on top of the hard pack base.  We weren't making first tracks, but the snow was soft at this point.  We climbed the remaining 1.4 miles in about 50 minutes.  Several groups were ahead of us.  We passed one group on the way up and saw another couple near the false summit who where on their way down.

Mount Colden from the false summit

Skies were gray all day, but visibility was good.  We stopped to have lunch under the big cantilever rock just before the summit.

The MacIntyre Range

Once on top we enjoyed the views in all directions.  We found it quite amazing how much snow melted during the week prior.  The snowpack went from 4 feet to about 1 foot.  Still it is pretty up high, and the hiking is easy.

Rev - Near the summit of Colden

The MacIntyre Range again

A pink glow in the distance below the clouds

Mount Marcy

The false summit of Colden

The Great Range in the distance
We returned by the same route.  We saw several groups on skis on the Marcy Dam trail, even though the snow coverage on the trail was minimal.

Leesa - on the way down the Lake Arnold Trail
We completed the out and back hike in about 6 hours, going at Leesa's comfortable pace.  Another nice day on the trail.

For comparison, here is how Colden looked in the summer. 

Hike Stats: 
Hike Distance:  ~ 12.5 miles
Hike Time:  6 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2800'

Our route shown in blue (click to enlarge)

Our route as shown on CalTopo

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