The "Oh My God" Hike - Marcy, Skylight, Gray and Colden

23 July 2022

hike 🌎 Adirondacks 🥾 23.16 miles ▲ 6399 feet ⏱ 14 hours

This year’s family vacation is to the beach. Great fun, but not much in the way of hard hiking. I don’t want to take more time off of work, so what’s the logical solution? Why not leave two days early and do a near-marathon Adirondack hike the day before!

This Adirondack hike had me sleeping in my car the night before – pretty standard actually. My meal the night before was cold prepackaged meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Everyone I told said this was disgusting, but it didn’t bother me too much. I had greater things occupying my mind. The night in my car was pretty easy. After many past trips shivering or in pain, I had finally nailed sleeping in the car.

I woke up at 3 AM and made it to the Adirondack Loj at 4. Beginning the hike in the dark, I was vigilant for bears but only ended up finding frogs and campers. I arrived at Marcy Dam just as the night was fading and the campers were waking up. The sun hadn’t risen yet but the sky was still light. After enjoying the view for a few minutes, I began the climb up the northern side of Marcy. Over the course of this climb, I would pass and get passed by the same few people, making trail buddies with them. The one guy would meet me later on the summit!

On the way up to the summit I was greeted with gorgeous views of the surrounding peaks and ranges. There were a few spots on the side of Marcy that looked like remnants of tiny wildfires. Overall, the trail was not technical. Arriving at the top, I ran into one of the guys I met on the trail earlier. He confessed to me that he is summiting the highest points of all 50 states, and Marcy was his 49th! We took each other’s pictures, and I was on my way.

The descent down the southern side of Marcy was steeper and more technical than the way up, but nothing too crazy. The trail deposited me right at the base of Skylight and I promptly began ascending. The trail up Skylight was easier and shorter than expected, and the views were spectacular at the top. Once there, I met a family of hikers from Wilkes-Barre doing the same hike but in reverse. How neat!

I flew back down Skylight and nearly missed the trail up Gray. Gray wasn’t full of gorgeous views as I expected, but made up for it with the climb. The trail up Gray was steep, rocky, muddy, and required some rock climbing; it was a great break from the standard trail I had been on up to this point.

I began heading down towards the base of Colden. Now Colden had not originally been part of my itinerary, but I didn’t feel exhausted enough with Gray and I had ample water… I landed at the edge of a large swamp. Presumably, the trail at one point consisted of large log boardwalks over the swamp. Based off the fact that only some remain and they are strewn about the swamp, I predicted a large storm blew it all apart and they were never fixed. I trudged through the swamp, knee deep in water at some points. It was my only choice either way. To this day, my trail runners from this hike are stained with dirt.

At Lake Arnold, I made the final decision to summit Colden and descend the other side. The summit came faster than expected. In my opinion, Colden had the best views of any peak that day. I see why it’s so popular! The way down was definitely more treacherous, especially because of the strong winds that day. I was thoroughly exhausted once I hit Lake Colden. I didn’t realize I’d be climbing back to the Loj either – that was not a nice surprise!

On Avalanche Lake’s famous boardwalks I stopped to admire the Trap Dike. I’m obsessed with the Trap Dike. It seems like one of the most ridiculous “hikes” in the Northeast. Between there and the Loj I would have to crack out my Sawyer Squeeze water filter once at a small stream. I was limping by the time I got to my car – and almost cried – it was undoubtedly the hardest and most awesome hike of my life so far.

I ate the same cold meatloaf and potatoes and slept at the same rest stop (but the other direction). The next day, I meandered over to the coast and met my family for a much needed, relaxing beach vacation!