We summitted these 2 last week, for my 23rd and 24th HPs. The Adirondacks were beautiful, but i'm not sure how whole-heartedly i'd recommend our route, unless you like walking on wet boulders with a full pack. We started at Adirondack Loj on Tuesday afternoon, hiking the standard trail to Marcy Dam. From there we took the trail south through Avalanche Pass and along Avalanche Lake. This is a tough trail. Don't let the flat appearance on the topo map fool you...it's constant ups and downs, with very unsteady footing. The lake was beautiful, and the views of the slides on Mt. Colden were amazing, but very hard-earned. Our campsite was a marked area between Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden. From there we set up camp and made it about halfway up the trail to summit of Algonquin Peak, before deciding that coming down in the dark wasn't something we had the will to do that evening...so we just hung out for awhile on a nice ledge and then headed back to camp.
We had a large visitor that night. He knocked over the dishes i stacked on top of the bear canister, wrestled with it for awhile (managing to pull out some plastic that was barely sticking out, and leaving the can covered in bear slobber) and then started lumbering towards our tent. Melanie had a whistle with her, and i may have awakened the whole county blowing it, but at that point i didn't care. I did not like the idea of that bear just a few feet away from us. The whistle made the bear lumber off, and that was that. It started getting light out a few minutes later, just past 4 a.m.
On Wednesday, we took the trail along the southeast edge of Lake Colden, starting with fog rising over it, and ending with a clear, still reflection of Mt. Colden. From there it was a long, heavy push along the cascading Opalescent River, and the final incline to the top of Marcy. I got rather tired of being passed up by people with no packs on! We reached the top and of course all the struggling was forgotten. We had clear skies and views as far as Mansfield to the east. From the summit we continued north on the Phelps trail, picking our way down boulder after boulder (the ADK's remind me of Baxter State Park), and finally getting rained on as we arrived at our camp for the night at Slant Rock. There were many many people camped there.
Thursday was the hike out...Mel fell in a brook and wrecked her camera...Bushnell Falls was quite a scramble but worth it.
But, the real highlight of the week was Mt. Mansfield on Friday. What great trails we took. We parked at Underhill State Park on the west side of the mountain, and took the Maple Ridge "trail" up. It was a blast, especially with no pack. It's sort of a borderline scramble trail/route, with a few hands and feet climbs up granite slabs, but always with good hand and foot holds readily apparent. There is a rather scary jump of about 4 feet over a 10-foot deep crevice lined with rock. There were great views back to the Adirondacks along the route up. The Maple Ridge meets up with the Long Trail at the Forehead, south of the summit. The cloud level was just below that point, ending the views. The walk along the ridge on the Long Trail had a much higher feel than 4000 feet. Walking in the clouds with the alpine tundra growth... We had the summit to ourselves, and came down via the Sunset Ridge Trail, another spectacular but less technical route. I did manage to wipe out on some rocks though...ugh. Nothing but bruises fortunately. The round trip took about 7 hours, including a long summit break.