Overnighter in the Adirondacks

Redfield order in ranking: 15

In all the (four) years of working on the 46, Steph and I had never had an overnighter. All of our hikes, including the entire Dix range, were done on daytrips. Last year we branched out into winter hiking (tackling first Cascade and Porter as primers, and then slogging out to Allen, and enjoying some prime butt-sliding down the slide.)

So this year, we decided that we would finally do an overnighter. We had a good idea of what items would be needed (hint: tent, sleeping bags and pads, and bear can), all we had to do was put everything into motion. The original plan was to hike in on Saturday and out on Monday, and hope to get a lean-to.

We decided to head down over the May long weekend (or rather, the Canadian May long weekend, which was May 21 to 23). We drove down Friday after work, and spent the night at the Hoot Owl Lodge to finalize our packing, and making sure all the food we had planned to bring would fit in the bear can. (It didn’t. We had to be ruthless about what we were going to bring.)

So maybe that’s the first tip. The bear can hold enough for two nights and two days of hiking – two dehydrated meals, two sandwiches, 4 peanut butter rice cakes, two pre-packaged fruit cups, two protein bars, some trail mix, carrots, chocolate covered pretzels, two pop-tarts, a mini-bota box of wine (this was cause for celebration!)…pretty much two of everything, plus toothbrushes, sunscreen, mozzie spray and any garbage we accumulated.


All loaded up and ready to go

We woke up excited on Saturday, and we in the parking lot by 6:30. We had to finangle some parking (we, um…created…a parking space.) but by 6:49 we were signed in and off on the trail.


Good morning trail

Which for some reason had grown far, far steeper than we had remembered. It started off with some rolling terrain, before hitting a steep curve at the hour mark. But we kept up our pace (slow, our pace was slow, but steady) stopping a couple of times to remove layers, and to eat and drink some water.

And that’s the second tip. We each carried a litre water bottle, full, and 2.5-litre camelbak bladders, also full. There’s enough water along the trail (and occasionally, over and under as well) that there’s no need to carry that much. In fact, on the hike out we only had water in the water bottles. (Hint three – make sure that your water purification system is handy)

Somehow between last summer, when we did Cliff, and this May long weekend, I had managed to forget about the water crossing about an hour and half in. How I did this, I don’t know, seeing as I have the balance of a three-hour old colt (bad) and always end up turtling over rocks. And with a large, heavy pack on….turtling wasn’t going to work. (I know because I tried and nearly tipped over into the water.) It’s not that the water was particularly deep, it was just deep enough for me. Steph made it over, dropped her pack, and came back to grab mine when….he appeared. My hiker in shining gaiters (I’m sure those gaiters weren’t shining by the end of the day, but they certainly were when he appeared beside me). He asked if I was having trouble, asked if my pack was heavy, then easily swung it up and bounded over the rocks on wings of gortex (or whatever his boots were made of). After that it was easy enough for me to turtle over to the other side.

(Which brings me to this: there is a high water bridge. We still have no idea how we managed to miss seeing it, other than there is no sign when coming in from Upper Works. Coming out again, there is a sign, so we took the swinging, scary, suspension bridge of doom back over, thus freeing us from relying on strangers of unusual helpfulness.)

We came to the Flowed Lands Interior Register shortly before we hit the 3-hour mark. We were bouyed by our time, and excited to be that close to our final destination. We had been aiming for the Uphill Leanto, but had readjusted to finding something closer to Lake Colden, as the extra 2.6 miles from the dam to the lean was going to cause us serious endurance problems with the packs on. (Hint 4 – those packs are heavy heavy heavy, and less is more!)


Scrambling down

We scrambled along the trail, which had gotten woolier – more large rocks to scramble up, over and around, as well as being relentlessly up. We came to the Colden Dam an hour after signing in at the interior register, and crossed over.

Where we couldn’t find a leanto. There was a sign to one, but….no lean to (possibly it was across the water.) So we headed back over the dam, and to the McMartin Leanto, which was less than 5 minutes back along the trail.

For those planning to stay at the McMartin leanto, there is water access nearly across from the leanto trail – there is a large “No camping” sign about a 30 second walk back up the trail (towards the dam), and a snaking herdpath down to the river.


Home sweet leanto

Lucky for us, there was plenty of room in the leanto – someone else’s gear was neatly stashed along one side (he would in fact hike out that evening, so we ended up with the leanto to ourselves.) We dropped the heavy packs, ate some lunch, packed our day-packs with items we might need, and headed out to conquer Mount Redfield.

And this brings me to tip 5 (possibly 6 if you think of the water tip as a hint) – there is a reason that people hike in with the heavy packs on one afternoon, hike the next, then hike out on the third day. Because you will probably be exhausted from carting around that massive bag, and all that weight.

Since we were as exhausted as we were, we decided to leave the Gray-Skylight hike, and do Redfield. We have a grand finale planned for July, and Gray-Skylight-Marcy is a doable loop, but Redfield was off on its own lonesome, orphaned last year when we summitted Cliff.

We made good time to the Cliff-Redfield junction, arriving just over an hour after leaving the leanto. We had been told that the hike to Redfield was by far easier than Cliff, and was more of a hike than a climb.

It appears everyone lied to us.

It was a long slog up a river, scrambling over rocks and under fallen trees. I fell more times than I wish to count (scrapping my knee, ripping a hole in my pants, and grinding dirt into a cut on my palm) but the view was incredible – Skylight looming beside us, Marcy looming behind us, and Redfield in front. We hit the summit at 2:13, not quite two hours after leaving the junction. It’s possible that had we left the hike until the day after we could have been quicker – we were definitely feeling the strain from having hiked the packs in.


Number 43! Only 3 left

A group of guys made the summit before us, and we could hear one bragging that he was at number 39, so I felt the need to yell out “Number 43!!!” because dammit, I’m so close! We joined them on the lookout to stare out at the Lonely Mountain (aka Allen), before heading back to the summit to eat some more, and whinge about how tired and sore we were.


Allen, the lonely mountain

The hike down was a lot quicker, especially as we knew where the route was this time. On our way up we had a few moments where we weren’t sure if the trail went up the side of the brook, through the brook, or even crossed the brook. There are small cairns, but they can blend in if you’re not paying close enough attention. But tip 6: the route never crosses the brook, it frequently follows the brook, is in the brook, but never crosses to the other bank. The trail when it is on the land is very easy to see and follow.

We stopped once to refill our camelbaks (and treat the water, just in case) and to talk with a few other hikers who were heading up Cliff. We staggered over the suspension bridge (muttering pleas under our breath as it swayed over the rushing, snow-melt infused water below), and then over the dam and to our leanto, where we found our leanto mate packing up to head out. A ranger had told him there was a 20% chance of rain overnight, and a 70% chance of rain the next day, so he decided to head out early. (Great for us, we got the leanto all to ourselves!)

Our night was quiet (no bears!) and amazing – the soft rain did start around 3 in the morning, and the sound of it hitting the roof of the leanto (solid, no leaks!) was peaceful. The rain continued into the morning – going for the bear can, which had been carried out away from the leanto, kind of sucked, but we took our time, gathered up our gear and repacked, and by the time that had finished…..the rain had stopped. We got to walk out again without rain dripping down our backs. Tip 7: if it has just rained, don’t grab a tree for balance, you will shake the rain on the leaves down your back. We did slide a bit on the slick trails – they had been wet on the way in, and man were they waterlogged on the way out! Gaiters were definitely the way to go.


You know it’s a maintained trail because of the logs

My last tip for an overnighter: keep some water and food in the car. It was nice to get some filtered water and food that we hadn’t been eating for two days.

Total climbing time: 11 hours 7 minutes
Left parking lot at: 6:49, back in leanto at: 5:56
Summitted Redfield at: 2:13


Mini-Break Boston

Last year, Ross and I won a trip to Toronto, and we ended up with a $300 gift card on Porter. (The gift card came after we had already bought our tickets.) With time running out to use it, we decided to hit up Boston for a mini-break weekend.

Because I work a compressed schedule, I get Friday afternoons off (I work longer hours Monday to Thursday to make up for this time) which is great for heading out on a weekend trip. We arrived in Boston around 6 pm, and took a cab to the hotel. (It was close to $30 when you add in tip and tolls.) We could have Ubered, but I was ready to just get to where we were going, so cab it was.

We had booked our hotel through hotwire.com, and were pleasantly surprised. We ended up with a reservation at Omni Parker House, the oldest continuously operated hotel in the US. (The oldest continuously operated hotel in North America is in Montreal, in case you were wondering.)

Omni Parker House still encompasses the ornate decor of the 1850s – the high ceilings in the lobby have decorative woodwork trim, and large chandeliers hang over heavy tables decorated with fresh flowers. Even the elevator doors have patterned overlay (perhaps tin?) It was a little disconcerting to walk in in jeans and sweaters. But we were given a warm welcome, checked in quickly, and shown to our room.


Are you there Boston?

The next day dawned…..overcast and grey, not bright and clear, but while it threatened to rain, it didn’t. We headed out on a wander, our go-to destination activity. We briefly followed the Freedom Trail, accidentally in the wrong direction, ending up at the starting point in Boston Common. Rather than turn around, we continued on through the park, and across the street to the Boston Public Gardens.

From there, we headed into the Beacon Hill neighbourhood, back into Boston Common, and then over to the Financial District, at which point we thought ‘we should probably settle on a destination.’

So we picked Faneuil Hall. Which is probably better visited on a warmer, sunnier day. While there were loads of people popping in and out of the buildings, it wasn’t a great day for people watching. The indoor markets were crammed with people, and the outside saw people hurrying to get back inside. But the food smelt amazing (we didn’t stay to eat, as there was no where to sit and our feeties were hurting) and I could see this being a great spot to sit and relax on better days.


The best part was the dinosaur

After a brief stop at a pub, and then back to our hotel room for our City Pass vouchers, we headed back west to the Museum of Science.

Side note: If you’re trying to decide if the City Pass is it worth, the answer is yes and no. We enjoyed not having to stand in line to buy tickets to the Aquarium, but for the amount of time we spent at any one attraction….it was more that we felt since we had bought them, we might as well visit them.

Back to the trip. We headed to the Museum of Science, arriving an hour before it closed. We traded in our vouchers for City Passes, and headed into the museum, which is…a little dated. Maybe I’ve been spoiled with the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology, when it was open here in Ottawa, but this one was a little flat. The optical illusions were a little dated (and the lighting needs to be fixed) but we still enjoyed an hour of looking at things and playing with things, and watching the chicks hustle in their incubator.

On Sunday, we woke to partly sunny clouds, and we thought we might be in luck. We headed to the Skywalk, another attraction that came with our City Pass. If you’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building in NYC, or Chicago 360 (formally the John Hancock Observatory) than you’ll have an idea of what this is. If you enjoyed those, you’ll enjoy this (and vice versa, if you’re tired of panoramic city views, this is a miss.)


The only time I’ll cross this line is walking along the road trying to get somewhere else

While we were on top of the world (or at least of Boston) it started to drizzle, and it stayed that way for most of the day. We walked back to Boston Common, coming across Duckling Day (which I’m still not entirely too sure what that is, but it involved a school band and face painting) and then back to the hotel to rest in the lobby (and use their wifi).

Once we were rested (or our feet were) we walked (do you see a theme  here?) to the New England Aquarium. Which probably wasn’t the best of ideas, seeing as it was Mother’s Day, and a rainy one at that. But we went in anyway, as it was the final attraction that we wanted to visit on our City Pass. Inside was the usual hubbub of tiny humans and penguins. We meandered around the exhibits, staring at fish (including some that we had seen while snorkelling in Hawaii), slowly making our way to the top of the central aquarium. Then it was back down, over to the octopus tank, and out.

No trip to Boston would be complete without some local flavour (Ross had eaten chowder for dinner the night before, but I’m not a fan of seafood), so we went back to the hotel and ordered some Boston cream pie at the restaurant. (In the hotel history, they say that the dessert was invented by their chef, or possibly his assistant, in 1867. Although Wikipedia states that it was actually 1856.)

A whirl-wind visit, but a fun one, the weather notwithstanding. It would be fun to go back in a summer month, and follow the Freedom Trail to the end, as well as visit the North End, and The Paul Revere House.


This is a cat I found in a bookstore in Boston. It is now my favourite place.