Redfield and Cliff

View from Redfield summit

View from Redfield summit

Saturday was gloriously sunny and rain-free; a perfect day for our 19 mile hike out to Redfield and Cliff. We stayed at the Lake Harris campground in Newcomb in order to get an early start.

We set out from Upper Works via the very muddy Calamity Brook trail at around 6:30 am. It was nice to see this trail in the thick of summer, since the last time I walked this route was in the fall, on the way to Marshall. The walk to Flowed Lands took us about 2 1/2 hours, including a snack break at the Henderson monument.

Once we passed the herd path to Marshall, the trails were all new to me. We crossed a bridge over the Colden dam and picked our way over water, rocks and mud toward the Uphill lean-to. I enjoyed this trail a great deal. I wouldn’t call it an easy stroll, but the trail is lined on one side by steep cliffs dropping down to the Opalescent River, making for some very impressive views. At approximately 7 1/2 miles into our journey we reached the lean-to, and the cairns marking the start of the Cliff and Redfield herd paths were just a few steps beyond.

At the cairns we opted to climb Redfield first. The trail is mostly a rock hop that follows the Uphill Brook for 1.1 miles to the summit. Despite the fact that making your way over rocks for a length of time takes a good deal of energy, the climb was pretty straight-forward and not too steep until just below the summit. The views from the top are breathtaking and reward generously for the undertaking. We ate lunch and lingered for 20+ minutes, and made our way back down to the Cliff rock cairn.

The path up Cliff is approximately .8 mile one way, and is a sloggy, muddy mess for the first third of the journey. Once beyond the mud, the path turns into lots of steep rock scrambles. The first few set my heart beating but were nothing I couldn’t handle, and it felt invigorating to get to the top of each one. About 2/3 of the way up to the false summit, I was stopped in my tracks by the most massive and intimidating rockface I’ve encountered to date on my quest for the 46. I have to admit, I had a long moment where I didn’t think I could do it, and a realization that it meant I would not attain my goal. I was very emotional, partly due to exhaustion and partly due to the stress of the situation. If I can locate a photo of the challenge I’ll post it, but unfortunately when I’m in these moments, blog photos are usually the last thing on my mind.

It was quite the struggle for me to ascend it, and if you were there with me you’d know that is by far an understatement (all that comes to mind right now is “what happens on the mountain stays on the mountain” – :)). I was very lucky to have some excellent coaching from one of my hiking buddies – an accidental one at that, as we’d hiked the Santanonis with him and bumped into him on the trail just before we hit the Uphill lean-to. He directed me to two branches that hung down and were able to serve as handholds; at first glance they do not appear to be strong enough to support your weight, but in fact they are . They are spaced widely apart and it was difficult for me to reach one from the other. On the descent I made the mistake of letting go of the first one before reaching and securing the second one and found myself in a state of momentary panic, feeling stuck on the rock and unable to move in any direction. I did eventually get up (and later down) this section, and Cliff was instantly transported to #1 of my most challenging climbing experiences to date.

A lot of positives came out of that situation for me. Firstly, I might be the first Adirondack hiker to actually welcome and appreciate the false summit! It was a pleasure to reach it shortly after this section of trail, and walk on a nice, level surface for awhile while my heartbeat slowed back down to normal. Secondly, after making it up and down that rock, I was unphased by every other challenge I encountered; they all paled in comparison. I feel like I walked away from Cliff a stronger and more competent mountain climber.

The summit of Cliff is treed and without views but I celebrated a sweet victory at the top and mentally prepared for the climb down and the very long walk back to the car. At the bottom of the mountain we still had close to 8 miles to go until reaching the Upper Works parking lot, and it was a walk mostly made up of muddy, wet rock-hops. We lost daylight with nearly 4 miles to go, and finally came out of the woods at 10:30 pm – a 16 hour day!

Back at the tent, I think I was asleep within minutes – the only time I’ve ever been too tired to shower after a hike. I think I’ve finally found a cure for my insomnia…

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Beginning of the journey

Flowed Lands in the summertime... see Marshall post for Flowed Lands in fall.

Flowed Lands in the summertime… see Marshall post for autumn view

Heading down the trail between Flowed Lands and the Colden dam

Heading down the trail between Flowed Lands and the Colden dam

Crossing Lake Colden above the dam

Crossing Lake Colden above the dam

Admiring the cliffs dropping into the Opalescent, on route to Uphill

Admiring the cliffs dropping into the Opalescent, on route to Uphill

Standing in the Uphill Brook, which hugs the path up to Redfield

Standing in the Uphill Brook, which hugs the path up to Redfield

Typical of the path up to the Redfield summit

Typical of the path up to the Redfield summit

Finally at the summit

Finally at the summit

Great shot of Allen from the Redfield summit - see you soon, Allen!

Great view of Allen from the Redfield summit – see you soon, Allen!

Not the muddiest section of the herd path to Cliff

Not the muddiest section of the herd path to Cliff

Lots of rocks and cliffs on Cliff

Lots of rocks and cliffs on Cliff

This was one hard-earned summit.

This was one hard-earned summit.

Ecstatically just a few steps past the challenging rockface, on the descent of Cliff

A few ecstatic steps beyond the challenging rockface, on the descent of Cliff

Colden's summit gleaming in the sunset on the walk out... my impending 46er finish.

Colden’s summit gleaming in the sunset on the walk out… my impending 46er finish.

Okay, one more.

Okay, one more.

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17 thoughts on “Redfield and Cliff

  1. Wow, what a great report. I love all your honesty, something we are afraid of sometimes on the forum. Nice job and Colden is an excellent finish!
    HPhikingMoo

    • Thank you, Pat. I do tend to be a lot more forthcoming on my blog about the challenges I face, or rather, I often don’t post trip reports on the forum at all. Often times I suspect that folks aren’t honest about any struggles they might encounter or what kind of time they actually make. I’m not afraid to put it out there; I feel like there’s much value to be gleaned from tales of overcoming obstacles and difficulties. I could write that everything is puppies and rainbows all the time, but really, what purpose does that serve? Anyway, thank you for your kind words – much appreciated! 🙂

  2. Great report on your hike. Congrats on getting 2 more in. You don’t have that many more to go. I love the pictures, especially the ones of Colden gleaming in the late afternoon sun! Way to go!!!

  3. Conquering that vertical from both ends ought to assure that you’ll be fazed by less of the hurdles that life throws your way. What a feat!

    16 hours and 19 miles on tumultuous terrain = Holy heck that’s hardcore!

    Do you know what is the fastest amount of time someone has stepped foot on all 46 peaks? Has anyone done it within the span of a year?

  4. EarthDrifter: The fastest time for a 46 was 3 days. The fastest time for a winter 46 was 8 days (I bleieve).
    Pru: Those are beautiful pictures. Reading this almost makes me feel like I was with you!

  5. That trail should have been a “named” brook in places- & I’m not referring to the Uphill Brook part of the trail! So Allen, Dix, Hough & Colden left- any others? I know you can taste it now, Pru! (I’ll get back to you by the weekend about D & H, I might be available!)

    • Karen, that’s music to my ears…. keep me posted! 🙂 Allen this weekend, Seymour with Corey at the end of the month, and Colden will be my finish. So only two other hikes – D/H and C/B! Can hardly believe it!

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