Where: Macomb Mountain – North Hudson , NY
When: December 21, 2010 7:30am – 2:30pm – A Seven Hour Hike
Directions: Take Interstate 87 North to Exit 29. Turn west at the bottom of the ramp towards Newcomb for 4 miles on the Blue Ridge Road.. Turn right onto Elk Lake Road and drive 3 miles to the
care takers gate. The road is normally plowed up to this point and was for our hike. Note that in the winter, Elk lake Inn removes all its signs from the access roads. The gate is open early summer and closes late fall.
What to Look for: Boreas Mountains, Elk Lake, Slide Brook Cairn
Macomb Trail: At the care takers gate, parking is on the right hand side of the road. The trail register is on the right, just before the gate. Walk 2.2 miles to a second trail register at Elk Lake. Next take the Dix via Hunters Pass trail for 2.3 miles to Slide Brook. If you reach Slide Brook Lean-To you’ve gone too far! Look for the cairn and to the trees for a yellow camping disc. They are immediately on the right after crossing the brook. Head east on the herd path for approximately two miles to the summit. NOTE: The Elk Lake trailhead is closed from the next to last Saturday in October to the first Sunday in December for hunting season.
Macomb is the 21st highest mountain in the Adirondacks and is the most southern high peak of the Dix Range. It is one the six peaks we need to achieve winter forty-six status and today marks the first “official” day of winter hiking.
Stewart and I reach the Elk Lake Road gate at 7:30Am. We sign the register and follow the rolling 2.2 mile road to the shores of Elk Lake and neighboring Dix Wilderness trail junction markers. We pack crampons for the slide but decide not to carry snowshoes. Hiking journals from viewsfromthetop.com describe several inches of snow and bare booting over most of the high peaks trails. The reports are accurate! It’s 8AM and a few inches of soft powder blanket the road and blue skies are peeking through steel-grey clouds. A perfect start to the winter hiking season!
The snow is a a few inches deeper on the Dix trail. Following a pair day old boot tracks to Slide Brook, we cover the 2.3 mile trail in 50 minutes. Crossing the bridge, to the right, we find the two foot high cairn that marks the herd path leading to Macomb. The sun is shining and the herd path looks broken. We stop to
hydrate and take a couple of pictures. We are all smiles and are feel the spirit of Alexander Macomb is guiding us today.
After an hour on the herd path we catch glimpses of the scars on Macomb’s westerly shoulder. Grey clouds are moving in from the southeast. The contrasting skies become a metaphor for the hike. Clear-moderate trails to the base of the slide and a turbulent trip from slide to summit.
Fortunately, the hikers that broke the trail were spot on in their ascent to the base of the slide. The wind-blown slide is clean of any tracks. We start climbing diagonally from north to south. Stewart is about
100 yards ahead! He is a dependably strong-steady climber and is attacking the snow covered slide. At 10am, the forceful cool-wind does not negate breaking a heavy sweat. We climb into the bottom of the cloud ceiling and push to the top of the slide. Rediscovering our predecessors trail, we continue a moderate-final ascent of .3 miles to the summit.
Before walking out to the snow covered lookout we quickly change into some warm-dry clothes. The chill and fatigue subside as we shake hands on top of the 4,405 foot peak and search for the “Macomb Summit” sign. A yellow disc, citing Macomb Mtn., 15 feet high on a tall evergreen is proof enough! It’s 11:20am, nearly 4 hours to the precipice and time for
an early lunch. We take pictures, savor our sandwiches and hydrate. No view of Elk Lake or Boreas Mountains today. Still, our souls are warmed with accomplishment while standing on the cold mountains ledge…it’s a great day for the baby boomer generation!
With a renewed bounce in our steps we amble down the mountain reaching the top of the slide in just minutes. Stewart performs a very artistic (9/10 rating) butt-slide encompassing 70% of the lengthy-stone surface. Glissading down the center of the slide
I become immersed in following Stewart’s silhouette fade into the base of the slide. It only takes an hour to descend from the summit to the Dix trail junction and we laugh all the way re-enacting “Stewarts Sleigh Ride”. We believe it’s a strong contender for the longest “High Peaks, Winter Butt-Slide” award…let us know if you have a challenger!
The 4.5 mile hike from the cairn to the care-takers residence takes 1.5 hours. Time passes quickly during the enjoyable trek out of the woods. Discussions embrace family, football, nature and philosophies of the couch. We appreciate sharing the eventful day and a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays.
Departing from the Dix Range and approaching Christmas, our spirits are revitalized. It’s always the season to be jolly and grateful…Outside, Inside the Adirondacks.