Dix and Hough
I had a really great day hiking Dix and Hough with some wonderful hiking buddies. We headed out from Elk Lake at 6:15 am yesterday morning, enjoying a pleasantly water- and mud-free Slide Brook trail to start off the day – my third time on this trail, and my first time experiencing it with dry feet.
We came pretty close to taking the Beckhorn trail up to Dix again. Part of me really wanted to re-do that trail and get to the top, after my unsuccessful attempt a few months back. In the end I decided that being so close to finishing the 46 I didn’t want to take the chance, so we continued on to the Hunter’s Pass trail. Hunter’s Pass approaches Dix from the north side of the mountain. It’s a little over a mile longer to the summit than taking the Beckhorn trail from Elk Lake, but there are fewer exposed scrambles on steep rock. In the end, all three of us were glad to have taken this path up. It’s the least-used trail in the range and has a feeling of stillness throughout, appearing a bit more rugged and wild. It was beautiful walking through the pass sandwiched by mountain and cliff. The long walk in was mostly flat with what seemed like more elevation loss than gain. The final climb up to the Dix summit was steep and relentless, offering a few rocky challenges for good measure. The clouds were blowing in and out when we finally arrived, but we had views off to the east and occasional glimpses in all other directions.
Going down over the Beckhorn, a rocky projection just below the summit, toward Hough had its occasional breathtaking moments. It was fun and the views were pretty incredible, even despite the fleeting clouds. In retrospect I wish I had walked over and looked down the Beckhorn trail from the top; I saw where the trail came up, but the Beckhorn is so exposed I opted to continue heading toward the left, toward the path to Hough. The beginning of the journey to Hough is more rugged than I had been picturing. There were some fun scrambles along the way, including the section requiring a crabwalk down between two rock walls. The sun came out while we were making our way to Hough, and by the time we arrived on the summit we were welcomed by bright skies and beautiful views. I was surprised at how lovely Hough’s summit was. I could have stayed there for hours, but we eventually got on our way.
Heading down from Hough was a bit scrambly, with one in particular being rather challenging – see photo below. It was tricky picking up the Lillian Brook herd path from Hough. You have to look for a path veering off to the right, which leads to a clearing. Once in the clearing if you look through another opening you can see the cairn marking the start of the path. If you miss this entrance you’ll do a bit of extra climbing before crossing it again.
The descent down Lillian Brook, steep at the top, became more and more gradual. It was a long walk out, but a pleasant one. Total mileage for this trip was in the neighborhood of 15, and it took us 11 hours and 45 minutes, which included at least 1 – 1.5 hours of breaks. I was happy to end a great day in the woods with a celebration back at the Adirondack Loj in honor of my friend’s 46th climb, on Skylight. Looking forward to hiking my final two peaks soon!