We left Montreal at 5:00 AM, arrived at St. Huberts at 7:20 AM, and signed in at the AMR trail register at 7:40 AM. Nine hours and four High Peaks later, we were on our way to knock back a few beers.
We selected the best weather day of the week and weren't disappointed. Although equipped for ice and snow we encountered none. In the bright sunshine, the mountains shed their coats of snow and offered us good ol' rock and mud. Traction aids, lulled by constant motion, snoozed all day in our packs.
We made good time and arrived at the dam in just under an hour. Ascending the Weld trail, we topped out on Pyramid around 11:00 AM and were greeted by forecasted winds of 35 mph. The conditions were outside the boundaries of my new lightweight softshell's "design envelope" so I retreated momentarily out of the wind to don a hard shell (and gloves).
|Upper Great Range viewed from Pyramid.|
Slightly less breezy than Pyramid, we spent about a half-hour on Gothics enjoying some of the best views around. Despite a recent snowfall, there was no evidence of it; the peaks were dark green tinged with the oxidized palette of post-leaf-peeping season. Shells were stowed and we began our descent to the Gothics/Armstrong col.
|Upper Great Range viewed from Gothics.|
In the col we stopped for a snack and to listen to the symphony of wind through the firs. The growth of young firs among the greying logs of old blowdown brought back a memory of stepping into a spruce trap two winters ago. They appeared to be benign today but their true nature will become evident in a few months.
I had started the hike with an inflamed tendon in my lower left leg and muscle pain in my right shoulder. I wasn't sure if these injuries would prove to be a liability so the Beaver Meadows trail was a potential bail-out route. Both Bib and I felt fine so we continued to Armstrong.
One of the disadvantages of doing this route clockwise is the views become progressively less impressive. Compared to what Pyramid offers, Lower Wolfjaw's views are humdrum. In my opinion, Armstrong offers the last good view before Upper Wolfjaw takes it down a notch and Lower Wolfjaw just pays lip service. We reached Armstrong at 12:30 PM and enjoyed the last good view of the upper Johns Brook valley under a warming sun and mild breezes.
|Gothics viewed from Armstrong.|
|Bib en route to Upper Wolfjaw.|
In the col we paused and, still feeling chipper, agreed to continue to Lower Wolfjaw. The 700' ascent went by quickly and we arrived at 2:20 PM. Referring to a map, we explored our descent options and chose to return by way of the shorter route, namely the Wedge Brook trail. Our descent was at a comfortable pace that permitted us to fully appreciate walking under a canopy of golden trees and enjoy the last bit of fall color. Although by no means a technicolor display, this last vestige of autumn splendor is vibrant compared to what November will offer.
|Bridge over Wedge Brook.|
PhotosSee all photos.
StatisticsAscent: ~5300 feet
Distance: ~16 miles
Time: 9 hours