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Dix Mountain Wilderness Range - 09/15/2016
Macomb, South Dix (Carson), East Dix (Grace), and Hough

It had been a good long while since I hiked at all and a full 7 years since my last high peak, needless to say I was excited to be in the mountains again. My hiking partner and son Brendan (aka the Mountain Goat), had gotten busy with sports, girls, and eventually college so I was glad to hear that he had a renewed interest in hiking again and helping me finish the 46.

 We could not have picked a better day weather wise, it was in the low 40's when we hit the trail head near Elk Lake at about 7:30 AM. The forecast was calling for bluebird skies, low wind and a high in the 60's. Perfect for a long walk in the woods.

The mushrooms were colorful and plentiful along the entire trail.

Mountain Goat 2.0 would test my stamina this day

Early in the hike, the Macomb slide would test me as well

Of course the Mountain Goat would simply scamper to the top and then wait for the old man, I am definitely glad we followed the advice to take this route for our loop, I think coming down the slide after a long day would be interesting to say the least.

Pride Rock The Mountain Goat looking like Simba on Pride Rock! Waiting patiently

So, we conquered the slide and just prior to summiting Macomb, we met up with Cindy from Aspen Colorado. She was doing the same loop as us and wanted to know if she could tag along. She even said that if she wasn't fast enough and we needed to go ahead, that wouldn't be a problem. It turns out with the Mountain Goat (version 2.0) leading and Cindy following, I had all I could do to keep up with them. She was great company and didn't even complain when we added a little character building extra credit to our trip. Stay tuned for that.

# 27 for me Macomb conquered, only three more to go.

The hike over to South Dix was fairly uneventful and easy along the ridge with a minimal col between the two. Before we knew it we had two peaks bagged with plenty of beautiful day ahead of us.

From a lookout not too far from this tree on the summit, the views were getting amazing

After a brief snack and photo op, it was time to move on to East Dix (Grace Peak) for our 3rd peak of the day. The herd paths are well worn and marked by cairns for the most part, but if you're trudging along under the canopy, you still need to have your wits about you. I knew it was a decent jaunt over to Grace from South Dix and expected there to be a col in between, however at one point it seemed like when we should have been about to head back up to ascend Grace, the trail suddenly went steeply down. It was a well worn trail but in my mind I questioned it and may have even said aloud "this is pretty steep, are we still on the right trail?" Well, it went down and down and just when I was about to really question where we were going we came out into the open at the bottom of a big steep slide.

 This is when I had a moment of clarity and realized we were at the bottom of a very steep slide and the peak we were heading to was straight up there!

Moment of Clarity

After a quick check with the map and compass (and my Adirondack Trails App on my phone), it was confirmed. We had dropped to the very bottom of the mountain alright. Now the question was, do we back track up the steep trail and continue on along the ridge to the peak or listen to the Mountain Goat when he said "I think we can go straight up this slide here, it looks shorter"

It may have been shorter, but let me tell you it was steep and rugged and only got steeper as we climbed closer to the summit. Near the very top the rock faces were so tall and straight up that Cindy and I needed assistance to get to the next level at one point.

Cindy and I navigating our way up the slide as we get closer to the summit

I certainly hope that hiking stick handle holds me or I'm a goner, thanks for the assist Brendan!

A couple of tired Mountain Goats on Grace Peak after reaching the summit using the advanced character building method, well one of us was tired I can tell you that.

Fast forward later in the day when we could see what we accomplished from another vantage point.

Glad to be back on track and surprised that Cindy didn't abandon us at this point, we took a well needed water and snack break and laughed about the predicament we had just put ourseleves in and ultimately conquered. Of course now we still had to hoof it back to South Dix and then over to Hough to complete the task, before heading back to the trailhead and our vehicle (hopefully before dark).

On the way back to South Dix, we looked for an ultimately found where we took the wrong trail. We blocked it with some downed trees in hopes of helping future hikers. The trail between Grace and South proved fairly easy as well but my legs were starting to feel the miles and elevation changes. Remember I hadn't hiked a high peak in 7 years!

The hike over to Hough wasn't too bad, the peak itself is very narrow with some interesting rock formations on the eastern side.

This little cliff looked like a set of natural stairs. I went around.

So we made it to the summit of Hough, our 4th and final peak of the day. Dix Mountain looked almost close enough to touch from the outcropping on Hough's western side which I believe is the offical summit. Brendan and I reminisced about our first overnight trip together and how rugged and steep the ascent on the north side of Dix Mountain was. Of course we could "officially" break for lunch now even though it was after 4pm.

Ahh, nothing like an uncrustable PB&J on an Adirondack High Peak. Cheers! I wonder where Gary is?

Thanks again to Cindy for the company and sharing in our quest. At the top of Hough, she informed the mighty Dix Mountain that he was next.

  And she conquered it the very next day. I did not get off the couch the very next day! Congrats!

The hike back to the trailhead was uneventful however long, these are the portions of hikes that I call the death march. That parking lot can not come quick enough. Of course at the end of any Adirondack adventure, if you can, you must stop at Flannigans in Schroon Lake for a rewarding cheeseburger and draft!

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