Mt. Marshall

Flowed Lands.


Trailhead: Upper Works
Date of climb: September 21, 2012
#25: Marshall, 4360 ft.

My first venture to Newcomb was to hike Marshall out of Upper Works. I stayed at Aunt Polly’s Annex the night before – a four bedroom house renting rooms mostly to hikers and hunters. The original Aunt Polly’s bunkhouse was sold last year and sadly the Annex is for sale now, so it looks like much tenting lies in my future.

The day started off on the wrong foot.  I reached Upper Works right on schedule at 6:15 am and immediately realized I’d forgotten my food in the Annex fridge. I didn’t end up stepping onto the trail until 10 minutes to 7.

The Calamity Brook trail branched off the access road and stretched through open meadows dotted with color. The leaves here were turning faster than in the forest and the fall tones really popped out of the landscape. I broke trail for the first couple of miles, taking more spider webs to the face than I could count. After a bit I heard another hiker coming up behind me so I stood to the side and let him pass, figuring he was anxious for a turn.

It was nice to be someplace new after so many hikes out of the same few trailheads. I passed a monument on a little spur trail dedicated to David Henderson, who in 1845 accidentally shot himself in that spot while scouting the area on behalf of the McIntyre Mine company. The herd path to Marshall was easy to spot, just after a little wooden bridge crosses the Herbert Brook, and well-marked by a sizeable rock cairn.

I took the day off from work because it was supposed to be sunny and in the low 70s, in contrast to a forecast of rain for the weekend – possibly my last summery day in the woods. The morning and afternoon were just plain dreary. It was cloudy and damp, growing chillier as I gained elevation, with a handful of sprinkles here and there. As I climbed up Marshall crossing back and forth over the brook I could see the top of the mountain was socked in by a cloud that was not budging.

The terrain was incredibly rugged but not particularly steep for any length of time. The toughest part about Marshall is staying on the herd path. It’s not well defined or easy to follow except for a few sections. The herd path hugs the brook nearly the entire length, however, which does make it easier to stay on-track. I also noticed that whenever I was particularly stumped, if I took a moment to really look around, 9 times out of 10 I managed to spot a cairn tipping me off.

When I reached the summit nearly 2 hours later the cloud had not blown out.  The overlooks from the treed summit displayed vast whiteness for views. I stayed long enough to eat a sandwich and drink some gatorade, and began heading back down.

As is seeming typical lately, about an hour into my descent that damn cloud blew away and revealed a blue sky with periods of bright sunshine. Ah well – sun for the rest of my hike is nothing to be bummed out about! I had plans to walk down to the Colden dam when I got off the path, but it was foiled when I lost the herd path on my way down the mountain. I was nearly at the bottom too! I spent a good 35 minutes trying to find it again, retracing my steps to the last point where I had it and going in what I thought was every direction searching for its continuation. No dice, so I bushwhacked down with my eye on the brook until I spotted the bridge I’d crossed just before the herd path entrance. At that point I decided to head back instead of toward Colden; Upper Works is pretty remote and I wasn’t super familiar with the area, so I didn’t want to push my luck with daylight. Will return again to visit Flowed Lands and the dam, perhaps combined with a journey through Avalanche Pass.

Did I mention that all day long there was a loop going through my brain that continuously played “And We Danced” by the Hooters? This is what happens when you have a choice of one station that comes in on route to the trail in the morning.

I reached the trailhead at about 5:20 – not bad time considering the numerous breaks I took and time lost searching for the herd path on this 14 mile hike.  Despite the few missteps, it was nice to be out in the woods and I enjoyed the day.

One last thing to mention about this hike: this is the muddiest venture I’ve had to date in the Adirondacks. I knew the route followed water the entire way (first the Opalescent River, then the Herbert Brook), but still managed to forget my gaiters. I would call gaiters essential for this hike. My boots, brand new just 2 weeks ago and blue when I bought them, are now a dark brown and look like I’ve owned them for 2 decades.


28 thoughts on “Mt. Marshall

  1. Hey Pru,
    Way to go Pru!!!! Only 23 left! Finished “Wild”, it was definitely a good read. It amazes me how you do some of these hikes alone. Maybe we’ll be reading your book next. Your blog is great and you write well, think about it.

  2. Oh my I hope you’ve got trails planned for the next couple of weeks. Taking in the foliage is gonna be amazing, and I’m looking forward to some pix for the ages. 🙂 Great job on your quest so far! I just did a two hour desert hike yesterday. It was different from anything I’ve ever seen. More importantly, it reminded me how much I love to move my body out in nature.

    • Wow, will you be doing a post about your desert hike? I would love to see photos and hear more about it – not to mention experience it firsthand!

      The one planned for next Saturday is one of the nicest hikes for leaf-peeping – I am praying that autumn is in full swing by then and that the weather holds out. The problem with fall is it brings shorter days, and the ADK hikes that I’ve left to complete are very long… but if I miss out on fall colors next weekend I’ll surely do some hikes in VT to catch the season in its glory.

  3. So Pru, once again you amaze me! I took the “chicken trail” when I hiked Marshall- i.e. an ADK lead hike but you did it alone! Go girl! And from Upper Works! I wouldn’t have thought to use that approach, but then, I took the chicken trail and just followed the mother hen ( from Heart Lake).

    Marshall’s previous name was Mount MacIntyre but at some point it was decided that, as 46’ers numbers 1 & 2 the Marshall bros. needed a mountain( or maybe it was just George- # 1 who needed one) so the range became MacIntyre & they/he got a mountain. Herbert Brook was named for Herbert Clark who lead them up Marshall, just a his brook lead you up. He also lead them up all ( I believe) the other 45!

    What’s next- and when?

    • Thanks for noting the history, Karen! 🙂 Marshall was quite pretty, don’t you think? The ADK guide book makes no mention of this approach for some reason, but in doing research and talking with other hikers I’ve found it to be the most common as of late. I think it’s shorter in mileage than departing from the Loj (and perhaps a little easier – the Calamity Brook Trail was a treat), which you make up for in car miles to Upper Works of course.

  4. Your pictures are so beautiful! I love the Adirondacks in the falls, with all those gorgeous colors, just starting to pop!
    The ninth picture in the series that you posted, of Herbert Brook looking downstream, I have a similiar picture of that. I’ll have to forward to you. I also see that Marshall now has a wooden sign besides the plastic disc! Good enough reason for me to redo Marshall!!!

    • Thanks Susan. You’ll have to share your Marshall pics with me. These are pretty much all of the decent ones that I took – almost all the rest were blurry. Need a new camera! Someday (but not anytime real soon) I’d like to redo this hike with company. 🙂

      • I’ll have to dig them up…have tons of on-line albums to go through. I’ll email them to you from my hotmail account. I’m sorry to hear about the rest of the pics…that’s such a bummer! When your ready to purchase one, I recommend the Sony Cybershot (what I use now)…love it. I’m going to email you pics of the recent hikes of Deer Lick/Zoar Valley and Allegheny State Park/Mt Irvine – you’ll see what nice pics the Sony takes!

        P.S. If you want to redo this, maybe in a couple of years, I would love to join you!

  5. Beautiful pics!! Indian Pass is also a beautiful (albeit muddy in a few spots) hike. The view of Wallface from Summit Rock is awesome~

    • I just started that book… I have a feeling I’m not going to be going to bed any time soon! What is it about the ‘daks that is so captivating? Moreso (for me, you, and thousands of others) than any other mountain chain.

      • Can’t put it down, can you? It’s an incredible book. One of my favs. I don’t know what it is about the DAKS, it just gets under your skin…and into your very being…it becomes a part of you, a part you can’t ignore, you can’t let go. I used to go there and do the “tourist thing”. I was so captivated by the sheer beauty of the mountains, the rivers, the lakes, the brooks, the flora, the fauna…naturally hiking became the next step in the scheme of things. So much to explore, so much to see, to experience…

  6. Pingback: Redfield and Cliff | adirondack46er

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