VMO: W3: Dix Range and Giant in the ADKs: Feb 2017 trip report

Posted by Andrew L. on


Matt planned yet another ADK’s winter trip for us this year and the weather actually cooperated this time. While the trip registration got up to six, for various reasons, we ended up with three of us going.

We left directly from Andrew’s place in Crofton at 8am on Friday to save some driving. We took Assaf’s car so that we could trade off drivers. We were at the trailhead in the ADK’s around 6pm after stops for food. For food stops, we found a Vegetarian Indian Dosa place right off the Garden State parkway on the way up which was tasty and ample calories. The Ambrosa Diner was about an hour from the trailhead, so worked well for an early dinner.

When we arrived at the trailhead, no other cars were present, so we were confident that there would be space at the shelter. Due to having to do two miles on the road, the total hike in to the shelter was about 4.5 miles. The trail coming in was relatively packed out despite no one having been on it since last weekend, so we made decent time for snowshoeing back to the shelter.

At the shelter, there was still flowing water if you attached a bottle to a hiking pole by a carabiner and dunked it through a hole in the snow into the brook. We got up at 5:45 am and set out along the trail at 7:00 which was within ten minutes of sunrise. Between boiling water and sorting gear, it takes longer to get moving in the winter ADK’s than it does in the mid-Atlantic. Due to an ADK avalanche warning for the slides and gullies, we stayed off of the Malcomn slide and headed for Dix instead.

We made good time on the two miles until the turn off to start the climb to Dix. After the turn-off, it was breaking trail through 2+ feet of powder, which was quite slow. Assaf and Matt did the bulk of the trail breaking until a pair of hikers caught up with us and their stronger hiker chipped in too. Due to the conditions, we were ascending vertically at 150-200m/hr, so round trip from the turn-off ended up taking about eight hours for four miles of hiking.

As we got higher on the mountain, the winds picked up. The projected winds for the summit of Dix were 55-60MPH. At the Beckhorn feature near the summit, Andrew and Assaf turned around while Matt continued on to summit with the two hikers who we met on the trail. All of us ended up quite wet due to melting snow and slipping a number of times when heading up hill, thus it was a good place for hardshell top and bottoms.

We arrived back at camp just before sunset, had dinner and went to bed at 6:30pm. The other party of two was already asleep at this point. We got up at 5:30, hiked out and headed to breakfast at the Noonmark diner. When we arrived back at the cars, the parking lot was full.

Assaf had been having some blistering on his pinky toes, we so dropped him off at the hotel in Lake Placid, then proceeded to hike Giant peak.

The ascent up Giant peak is about 3,500’ vertical feet from the trailhead. While the trail was well packed out and had relatively few tricky spots, our legs were tired, so the ascent took about three hours and about two hours for the descent. The view from Giant was nice and while there was some wind on the summit, it was nowhere near the feeling of being shoved around near the summit of Dix from the day before. We saw some people in Microspikes on the trail, but they were definitely postholing at times, which looked both unpleasant and tore up the trail, thus I can understand how the DEC emphasizes using snowshoes if there is more than 8” of snow.

We had dinner in Lake Placid, showered at the hotel and were on the road back to Maryland at 8am.

While one is sometimes reluctant to do ADK’s trips due to the lower ratio of hiking to driving than a local trip, the winter trips involve interesting conditions. After two days of snowshoeing in mountaineering boots, we were physically spent, so we aren’t in shape for another day physically even if we had the time off of work. In sum, it was another good DC UL winter outing to the ADK’s.