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Mt. Colden the hard way or “it’s always fun til someone pokes their eye out”

June 1, 2007

Off to the Adirondaks for the weekend! Yay! Saturday was a big day. We went into an area very famous and beautiful called Avalanche Lake to do something called the Trap Dike. You scramble up the dike, which seems to be another name for “pretty gully,” and wind up on a big slab that takes you to the top of Mt. Colden, one of the Daks high peaks, topping out at 4717′.

Other people take cameras into places like this, but you will soon know why I am happy I did not. Other people also post every step of their walk in and climb. To see such a document, including one of the pictures I stole, visit here.

The walk to the lake is lovely, through all kinds of green, and the park has done a great job of building planks and bridges over the boggy parts. At the edge of Avalanche Lake itself, the walkway is bolted into the side of the rock, so no one’s piggies get wet unless you fall in the mud. The lake’s about 5 ish miles in.

{Sidenote: Chris and Justin, discussing that 5 miles is about how long it takes to get anywhere in this place, christen it a new distance measure: one Adirondack. Kind of like a fathom.}

You enter the dike on the far side. I wish I did have pictures, since it was my favorite part–scrambling up next to a waterfall for hundreds of feet! Most of it was easy enough, and the rock seems to stay gritty enough for good traction even when wet, which made me a little happier. I’m new to water.

Jim Lawyer told us not to get out onto the slab too soon or it would be steep, and we would be sad. So up the dike we went, tired but exhilarated by the view (well I was tired). We passed a pretty big cairn, which Chris thought was hilarious, “marking the gully, ha ha ha ha ha!”

This was where we should have busted onto the slab. But we kept going.

This is an aerial of the route, marking where you leave the dike, just below circle “46.” See the mini-slab parallel and left of the circle with the “51” in it? Separated from the main slab by all those trees? That’s where we left the dike.

Trap Dike and Mt. Colden


We swam, more like oozed, through the thickest tree scrub I’ve ever seen for over an hour. Whatever we were walking on, it wasn’t solid, years of tree decay and debris making a living floor. Emerged onto the slab at last slightly below the circle with “53” in it. I got poked in the eye with a stem. Chris was punctured in the arm. No longer as enchanted, still not at the top, and still not down.

The way down was on the North side, a steep, snowy, muddy, weeping, flowing mess for 5 miles.
Welcome, knees, to the NE! That’s all that should be said about this leg. All you do is go down down down and try not to think about how much is left.

But HEY, it was perfect shirt-sleeve weather all day long, and not a single biting insect did we meet. nor bears.

In total, about 12 mi + 2000 ft up & down. Back East is kicking my butt.

bloody eyeball

It’ll get better but it’s ugly right now.


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