Fifty minutes later, I emerged at Marcy Dam and began looking for tool-wielding 46ers. They had arrived well before me and were busy working on several projects. I learned Joe was a half-mile up the trail, somewhere near the Kagel lean-to. I recognized Mike milling around near the dam and introduced myself. He was waiting for Katey who would assign us our next task.
A few years ago, Marcy Brook washed away a section of the trail leading to Avalanche Pass. The trail was re-routed away from the brook. However, whenever the brook jumps its banks, at a sharp westward bend, water runs directly down the old trail and floods the new one. Katey showed us where to build a retaining wall in order to block the entrance of the old trail.
|John, Mike, Bill, and Gary haul a large stone to form the base of the retaining wall.|
|The stone heads for the unreinforced stream bank visible in the background.|
|John tips the stone in place to form another row.|
|Done! The stream bank is now reinforced to protect the retaining wall.|
|Autographed, limited-edition "thunder-box".|
We arrived at the parking lot shortly after 3:00 PM and said our good-byes in the intensifying rain. Joe handed out beverages and I took two bottles to tide me over the 3-4 hour wait for the arrival of the MOAC group. I joined the growing number of soggy hikers seeking refuge in the HPIC building. I chose a good people-watching vantage point, reached into my pack for a towel and dry shirt, and then settled in for the balance of the afternoon. Shortly thereafter the rain fell hard and fast.
There was an endless queue for the showers and bathrooms. The line up for the female john became so hopeless that several desperate women invaded the men's toilet. After the crowd thinned, I found an empty shower stall to change into dry pants. The last step was to buy a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Dry and warm, I could now comfortably sit and watch the droves of wet hikers seeking shelter from the downpour.
Mike reappeared and kept me company until 5:00 PM. A woman introduced herself as Celine and asked if I had finished a 46er round atop Dix and had handed out drinks to everyone. Indeed I had completed my first winter 46er round on Dix and I offered single-malt to willing celebrants. I met Celine and her father on Dix's summit and we had toasted to the occasion. She said her father was doing well and he had also finished his winter round. I extended my congratulations to him and to her young daughter who, despite the dreary weather, was ebullient.
Shortly after 6:00 PM, Gabriel appeared and indicated the balance of the group was not far behind. Over the course of the next hour, the group reassembled and was in good spirits. They had ascended the Boundary trail, skipped Iroquois and hiked over Algonquin when the rain caught up with them. The descent was slippery but everyone exited without incident. It was now after 7:00 PM, the rain had restarted and it was getting dark. Several hikers had commitments the following day so a group meal was nixed in favor of returning to Montreal ASAP. We said our goodbyes and settled in for the rainy ride home.