Algonquin and Iroquois are part of the MacIntyre Range, with Wright Peak at the North, and Marshall at the far South. The easiest access to Algonquin is at the ADK Loj, at Heart Lake. Algonquin is a 4 mile hike, and Iroquois is an additional 1.1 miles.
When the day starts off looking like it does in this photo, you know you’re in for a great hike. Although a big storm had just passed by, the wind seemed pretty quiet, and now there should be lots of snow on top. It’s Christmas break time, so the parking lot was already getting crowded. It’s always nice when it’s not to busy, but today, the people I met along the way, made for a really great hike! I always seem to meet some of the nicest folks, out on my hikes, and today would be no different. I guess the combination of atmosphere and shared interests doesn’t hurt.
After signing in at the trail head, it was time to put on the snowshoes. With more than 8 inches of snow, as there was today, skis or snowshoes are a requirement. Not only that, it wasn’t long before you really needed them, as the trail had more even more snow, and ice, not far from the start. The hike up Algonquin is fairly short, as far as high peaks are concerned, but it’s also very steep. You go up almost 3000 ft. in a relatively short time, so be prepared! I passed a few groups on the way up, but otherwise, it was pretty quiet on the trail. By the time I reached the junction for Wright Peak, I was ready to add a layer, to prepare for the top. The sun was just beginning to rise over Algonquin, and I could feel the day warming a bit. I met up with a wonderful couple, whom I would be following for most of the day. The final stretch was mostly deep, packed snow. There wasn’t much ice, and if you stepped off the trail a little, you went into snow above your knees. Near the peak of Algonquin, the trail itself was hard to see, as the wind blows the snow around. The rock cairns, though, are easy to spot, and almost any way you go, as long as it’s up, you’ll find the peak! The winds weren’t too bad, around 20 mph or so. The last time I was up here, in the winter, the winds were over 35 mph, and you needed goggles and a mask. The best part was how clear the day was. Picture time here we come. You don’t often get weather like this. I’m not sure exactly, but I would guess there are around 20 days of the winter that are this nice (? < 30%) at the most.
The trail down the backside of Algonquin took us out of the wind, and with the sun shining, it felt quite a bit warmer. The trail up Boundary wasn’t bad, but there were a few spots where you could go in three or four different directions. They all ended up back on the main trail, and the worst ones were just plain deep snow, complete with spruce traps and all.
I stopped on Boundary for a few more pictures, and to talk with a few people I ran into. The wind picked up again, and gave good reason to move on to Iroquois. The trail again split off, like before, but it was easy to spot the false paths. The final destination, Iroquois, overlooks Flowed Lands, and also reveals a nice view of Marshall, to the south. Another perfect view. There were some low clouds hanging over the valleys that provided some nice pictures, off in the distance.
The trip back to Boundary went quick, and a bunch of us stopped at the trail junction, going down to Colden, for lunch, and a few laughs. It’s a perfect place to stop, where it’s out of the wind, protected by the surrounding peaks. The climb back up Algonquin seemed a little longer than the trip down, but that’s always seems to be the case. One last stop for a nice shot of Colden, looking off to the east, and a chance to take in one of the nicest winter days I can remember.
Catch ya later!
Climbing Algonquin and Iroqouis, December 2010