About the Photo #4: ADK Microspikes

Since we are approaching the New Year, here is another photo from an adventure Elizabeth and I had in the Adirondacks High Peaks Region but this one is from our 2016 trip.

We set out New Year's morning at about 10am from our campsite which was located just south of Marcy Dam. It was around 20º with light snow. We opted for a late start because we wanted to get additional sleep and a few hours of hiking at night...also our Mountain Hardwear sleeping bags (Wraith & Ghost) were extremely cozy. 

Our goal for the day was to summit Mount Marcy (5,344 feet), the highest point in New York. The route we chose was to approach from the south side of Marcy, which would take us past Lake Arnold and Lake Tear of the Clouds. This put us at the foot of Marcy and Mt Skylight (4,926 feet). We would then head up Marcy, summit and then continue north east to Little Marcy and then eventually north on Phelps Brook Trail, creating a nice long loop and a great start to 2016.

December was a pretty warm month and many of the lakes and ponds were not yet frozen over. As we made our way down the blue trail which pretty much goes right through the Opalescent River for about a quarter of a mile before we would make a left onto the yellow trail and on our way to Marcy; we had to be careful not to fall into the water as we crossed little log bridges and hopped from rock to rock. The snow wasn't that deep either so you were able to clearly see where you had to be careful. We made it through without incident.

As we approached Marcy and started to make our way up, the wind started to really pickup and it was beginning to snow hard. There was a steady light snow for about an hour up to this point. The higher we went, visibility was decreasing rapidly. Near the top, the cairns weren't visible until they were right in front of you. We would eventually summit but decided to re-trace our steps instead of heading over Marcy since this route was fresh in our minds.

We descended pretty quickly as the wind was blowing harder and harder. By the time we reached the trail head that lead us up Marcy, it must of snowed several inches and we were now walking in a full on blizzard. 

All of our footsteps were gone and the snow was quickly piling up. The branches of the trees were bending into the trails from the weight of the snow. It became harder and harder to stay on course. We passed the trail that we needed to make a right on in order to head back to camp. We instead continued towards Lake Colden. I soon realized our mistake and new that we couldn't continue towards the lake because it was not yet frozen and some of the trail was washed out, making it impassable and dangerous. 

We turned around and retraced our steps, eventually finding the trail head which was completely unrecognizable because of the amount of snow that was beginning to pile up. It was around 6pm now and dark. With our headlamps on, we re-negotiate the river section of trail that we were careful earlier on not to take a misstep.

Our energy was good, as we were 8 hours into our adventure. We carefully began to make our way through this difficult section of trail. It was very easy to get off track as the trail wasn’t visible any longer and any trail markings were completely caked in snow. We found ourselves unsure as to where the trail went a few times but we took our time. I ended up knee deep in water a handful of times as did Elizabeth. 

After what felt like hours of negotiating, we finally made it though and enjoyed the climb back up to Lark Arnold. As we got closer and closer to our campsite, the snow and wind became a thing of the past.

I took this photo of my feet and microspikes at 7:24pm. We arrived back at camp at 8:15pm. 


  • Photo by Joe Azze
  • Camera - Sony RX 100 M2
  • Settings - Auto
  • Focal Range - 10.4mm
  • File & Editing - JPEG with a small amount of post processing. Payed with the shadows, added a little color and clarity.