Ascent of Mount Marcy on 2015-07-18

Climber: Cynthia Chan

Date:Saturday, July 18, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Marcy
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:5344 ft / 1628 m

Ascent Trip Report

It was so exciting! My first exposure to the Adirondacks High Peaks and it starts with the highest point in New York State, Mt. Marcy (5,343 ft) and neighboring Phelps Mtn (4,160 ft), in the heart of the Adirondacks. I joined NY Hikers & Backpackers for this journey.. the plan was to hike to Marcy Dam (~2.3 mi) the day before, set up camp overnight, then day hike Mount Marcy the next day possibly extending the hike to include Grey and Mt. Skylight. My backpacking gear, map & food (PB&J) were prepared. I coordinated a tent-share with Eric, bear canister sharing amongst others in the small group. Friday morning, Andrea, Jiyoung (Emma) and I drove up to ADK Loj and backpacked into Marcy Dam campsite with Eric, arriving ~7pm. We set up tent just in time before the heavy rain.

On Saturday, the plan was to meet the rest of the group & organizer, Abhi, at Marcy Dam at 7am to start our day hike. After quick hellos, Jiyoung, Andrea, and I decided to continue on, given I wasn’t sure how well I’d do on the trek. The morning looked as though the sun would break, but it didn’t peek out until close to 2pm. It drizzled and and was overcast for most of the hike to Marcy. Following the blue-marked foot trail (Van Hoevenberg Trail), we passed various waterfalls and sources of running water – great for me, not needing to carry more than 3L at a time for the 10 mi hike! There were various milestone markers along the rocky, muddy way. Abhi warned us not to inadvertently take the snowmobile trail (pictured) which would become very steep very quickly. Lots and lots of rocks, some scrambling towards the peak of Marcy. I will say, though we did not have much of the spectacular view folks talk about at the summit, the fogginess did create a mysterious, rather appealing feel to the summit. As we approached the summit, I started to see signs about rare vegetation and not ‘stepping off trail’. Closer to the summit, after much scrambling up wet, sometimes slippery rock, I saw massive cairn after cairn. I was so happy when I reached the first cairn! But then there was more! Then, the ever-telling sign, I spotted the summit guardian (Susan) next to the Mt. Marcy plaque and the last ‘step up’ to the summit, where I found the USGS marker, at ~11:30am. It was truly amazing! Really! Incredibly windy and rather dense fog at the summit!

Emma and I discussed options. We decided to try to continue on to Grey, noting the summit guardian’s word that part of the loop we’d take back to camp was closed and we’d have to backtrack up Marcy. I was hoping to avoid backtracking down our trek up (it looked like a dicey descent), but no such luck! The descent off the other side of Marcy was too sketchy for us, given the dense fog and lack of visibility, so we bailed and decided to try for Phelps, a neighboring 46er. I ran into Eric, Abhi, Andrea, and a few of the group on my descent off Marcy. Many, many hikers were hiking that day – I met folks from Montreal, Quebec, NJ, NY. The hike back down to the trail head junction for Phelps was long (!), really long.

Finally, ~4pm, we reached the junction for Phelps (red-trail marker). It was early and the trail-marker indicated 1 mi, so we decided to continue on (it was a fairly long commute to the ADK). The 1 mi may really have been 1.8 mi, per hiker I ran into enroute up, and it was steep climbing – rocks and plenty of scrambling, much more so than Marcy! I was ecstatic to reach the summit at 5:30pm! Luckily the sun had also broken through and we saw incredible vistas! This made the sweat worth it! Emma had a headache by then and was desperate enough to share some of my PB&J sandwich (ha!). I ate, relaxed a bit, but knew we had to get going if I was going to get through the rocky and slippery boulder terrain and get to camp before dark – I had my headlamp, but with my unfamiliarity with the routes, I did not want to take any chances. I actually did wind up asking various hikers along the way which path to follow until I reached Marcy Dam ~8pm, where I happily ran into Abhi, Andrea and Johanna having dinner and discussing next day options. I reached campsite ~8pm, ate a bit, said ‘hi’ to Eric, my tent-mate, and went to bed. It had been a long, but really good peak-bagging day.

The next morning, it was all about packing up and setting out on the ~2 mi backpacking hike out from Marcy Dam to ADK Loj where our car was parked and showers available, if desired (how convenient!). Things felt so much heavier than our day in! I was not sore from the previous day’s 14 mi Marcy-Phelps hike yet, but eventually, I am sure… we hung out at the ADK Loj, until everyone was set. I started thinking about the work waiting for me at home (ugh!). We took short breaks enroute back to NYC, arriving home ~7:30pm. I was very happy to be in the comforts of my own home, shower, bed, everything! I appreciate the mountains and escaping from work, the city stresses, but always appreciate coming back home even more
I believe we made good time, given it was my 1st Adirondack High Peak hike:

Start 7:40am (Marcy Dam)
Marcy Summit 11:30am
Phelps Junction 4pm
Phelps Summit 5:30pm
Campsite ~8pm

Weather was not optimal, but it was still an amazing experience. Though I did not see spectacular views atop Marcy, I got a second chance atop Phelps, and that was amazing! I can imagine what Marcy would have felt like! Hope to be back!
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Raining, Hot, Breezy, Overcast
Ascent Part of Trip: Mt.Marcy - Phelps (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Marcy2015-07-18 
2Phelps Mountain2015-07-18 

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