Ascent of Mount Redfield on 2017-10-02

Climber: Douglas Fortman

Others in Party:Jim Haynor -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Malcolm Kogut
Date:Monday, October 2, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Redfield
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:4606 ft / 1403 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was the final 46er peak for myself and my good friend Jim Haynor. He (age 66) started his journey in the Adirondacks 46 years ago, and I (age 58) started 41 years ago. In 2014 Jim and I decided that we should plan to finish our 46 together, sooner than later, as you never know what plans Father Time has in store. We each had about 13 peaks to finish up. Because he lives in Georgia, it's just not possible to run up to the Dak's at a moment's notice. So accomplishing this goal would require numerous trips and much planning over the next four years. We planned it so that we would finish together on the same final peak. We didn't plan that the final peak to be Redfield however. We had thought we were going to do Redfield and Cliff together last fall, but the uncooperative weather caused us to only get Cliff on our fall 2016 trip. We decided that we would tackle Allen in the summer of 2017 in order to maximize our daylight. But, before Jim returned in October for the grand finale, I still needed to summit Iroquois and Haystack, which I was able to do this summer with Malcolm.

This adventure started at 5:30am from the South Meadows trailhead. It was still dark, the sky was clear and the stars were amazing. As we hiked along the road with our headlamps on, the light reflected off the fallen leaves coated with a thin layer of ice crystals. Little did we know, or expect, that we would be hiking out in the dark as well. The trail from South Meadows leads to Marcy Dam Pond and uses an old truck road. It's a little longer than hiking in from the ADK Loj, but, it's a really nice hike, with far less foot traffic than the trail. The road is well maintained, though if you were able to drive it, you'd find that it is very narrow. It has a gentle grade on a very firm, dry, stone bed, with three bridges. As you approach Marcy Dam Pond Whale's Tail Mountain makes an appearance on the right and then the bridge for the new trail over Marcy Creek comes in from the right.

The view from Marcy Dam Pond is quite spectacular, with Mount Colden on the left, Avalanche Pass directly ahead, Avalanche Mountain and Wright Peak to the right. I can remember the iconic view from here, when the dam was intact - the water of Marcy Lake served as a mirror of Colden, Avalanche and Wright Peak. It's taking time for me to get used to the new Marcy Dam Pond since the flooding from Hurricane Irene wiped out the dam.

After taking in the new early morning view we signed in at the trail register and headed toward Avalanche Pass, reaching the pass before the sun crested Mount Colden on our left. This year there has been a lot of trail work in this section, including some new bridges, as well as the Hitch-up Matildas and several ladders along Avalanche Lake. They are much safer and sturdier now, thanks to the hard work of the trail crews. The hike along Avalanche Lake gives a closeup view of the west side of Mount Colden and the Trap Dike. When sitting there looking up at the Trap Dike, I think to myself, "I climbed that? Who talked me into that?". Onward we went, toward Lake Colden.

Part way to Lake Colden at the junction with a ski trail is another Trail Register. The trail skirts right, west of the lake, in the woods and passes the DEC Interior Outpost before it returns to the shore of Lake Colden. At this time the sun was breaching the shoulder of Mount Colden, spreading its warmth and sparkling off the water's surface. Finally, after passing several lean-tos the trail reaches the Lake Colden Dam at the south end of the lake. After crossing the dam, there is another register to sign in at. Distance from Marcy Dam Pond is about 3.3 miles and total distance from the start at South Meadows is about 6.2 miles.

The next leg of the day's journey followed the Opalescent River about 1.75 miles to the Uphill Lean-to. This section of trail is spectacular with numerous falls and flumes as the trail ascends at a moderately steep rate. At the Uphill Lean-to is the junction with the unmarked herd-path that leads to Cliff and Redfield. We stopped here for a break - some food, water and bio-break, before we set off on the final ascent of our final 46er peak.

The unmaintained herd path is very easy to follow, and before long (about .25 mile) is a herd path junction, where the path to the right leads toward the summit of Cliff. The one to the left heads to Redfield, following alongside, and at times, in Uphill Brook for a half mile before it pulls away and begins the final .75 mile pitch to the summit. Sections of the herd path are covered in gnarly roots which can be tricky to negotiate. There's no messing around with switch backs on the last pitch - it's straight to the summit, ascending 1000 feet in the final 3/4 mile. But if you stop to catch your breath and look back over your shoulder you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the MacIntyre range and Mount Colden. As it became apparent that we were about to reach the summit, our excitement kept building as we realized that we were about to finally achieve our goal. Malcolm went on ahead of us. I hung back with Jim, determined to cross that finish line together. And then, there it was, the Mount Redfield summit sign! We did it! WOOHOO!

It was 1:45pm, and we would hang out on a rock outcrop just beyond the summit sign to eat our lunch, soak in the gorgeous view and bask in our accomplishment. We took some celebratory summit pics and then started the return leg of the day's journey. Thankfully, the weather was perfect - no rain or snow to slow us down - we didn't need anything to impede our speed, as it was we were not setting any land speed records that day! Now we were just trying to be down to Marcy Pond by sunset and make it safely back to our car.

When we returned to the marked trail, near Uphill Lean-to we turned right, instead of heading back down the trail the way we had come. We had decided we would make a loop, following the Lake Arnold trail back down to the Avalanche Pass trail and then out. Unfortunately, we had to break out the headlamps as we were descending from Lake Arnold,about two miles before the junction with Avalanche Pass.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3067 ft / 934 m
    Elevation Loss:3067 ft / 934 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
A beautiful, warm fall day
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:2476 ft / 754 m
    Route:Avalanche Pass/Marcy Trail/ Redfield herdpath
    Trailhead:South Meadows  2130 ft / 649 m
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:3067 ft / 934 m
    Extra Gain:591 ft / 180 m
    Route:Redfield herdpath/Lake Arnold/Avalanche Pass
    Trailhead:South Meadows  2130 ft / 649 m

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