We had a late start to our day, which did not deter us, other than we did not see as much as we wanted, we did meet our objective (Gray Peak). We signed in at the trail head at 8am on the dot. The sky was a beautiful blue, with not much of a cloud in sight. As the day wore on this would change and gradually the clouds would role in, but not sock in the summits.
The trail was a hard crust of ice and some powder snow (less than an inch). This season has been horrible for snow accumulation. This makes hiking not as enjoyable in some regards. While the lack of snow does allow the ability to hike further with micro-spikes and not show shoes, it makes it hard on the feet wearing micro-spikes all day.
We made good time to Marcy Dam, just under an hour for the 2.1 miles hike into it. We walked across the frozen Marcy pond and continued up avalanche pass trail to the Lake Arnold and Feldspar Brook trail. The trail was solid the entire way.
Once we crossed over Uphill Brook we were able to continue in micro-spikes up to around 4000' in elevation. From this point we wore snowshoes with approximately 3-4 inches of snow. The accumulation gradually increased as we increased in elevation.
Once we got to Lake Tear of the Cloud we took a lunch break and fueled up for our final push to the summit. We started searching for the herd path to Gray Peak. The path was elusive at first, but Derek soon picked up the remnants of it, and we were off.
From the beginning of the herd path to the summit is a quick jaunt, about 5-600 ft in elevation. There are several views once above the tree line just before the ridge. We obviously enjoyed them as we proceeded upward.
Soon we were on the ridge and wandered over to the true summit. We found about 6" of fresh snow on the summit.
On our return trip we opted to go out over the lakes. This proved to be a good decision, that initially was based on our energy levels at the time. Walking over frozen lakes on the level is a lot easier than climbing back over lake Arnold and down, about 530' gain and 745' loss. Going down can be just as hard as going up. Going out over the lakes allowed us the reprieve of climbing, but also the exploration of the Mt. Redfield and Mt. Cliff herd paths that we will need to get.
We signed out at 7:30pm.
Start time: 8:00am
End time: 7:30pm
16.05 miles RT
3528 feet of elevation gain.
And then there were 9 remaining.