6.1 mi to summit

14.6 mi total


1,970 ft start

4,801 ft max


4,655 ft gain


3 hr 27 min to summit

11 hr 57 min total

Dix Range – 5 peaks in about 13.5 hours total time and 19.1 total miles.
With: Jeff, Meenu, and John. The day started with a midnight leave time for our 3.5 hour drive, and a 4:45 am start to the hiking day. The drive was interrupted for a little bit when we saw some stuff in the road and then realized a person was flagging us down. Turns out he (and a younger guy who was the passenger) had fallen asleep and flipped their truck on the side of the road (which we hadn’t seen until we stopped). We called 911 and helped them a little – luckily both guys had gotten out of the truck and were walking around and seemed relatively ok although with bleeding cuts all over. I got a mylar blanket out of my emergency pack and wrapped it around the younger guy who was freezing. The state troopers showed up in not too long and we were able to get on our way. Hopefully they both were ok.
Back on our way, we were doing a traverse, so met up with our friend John at one the Route 73 end point of our hike where we left his car and drove over to the Elk Lake Road start point. Because the Elk Lake parking lot is closed we had to park 2 miles down the road at the Clear Pond lot (which was full already, so we had to park along the road). Those 2 miles on the road in the dark were chilly and a bit annoying, but we were soon plenty warmed up and the sun was up as we started on the trail about 45 minutes later. The hike started gradually but then we got to the Macomb Slide, which I had heard of but hadn’t really thought about what it meant. Which was a huge steep slide full of loose rocks and dirt. It was definitely a big challenge - and looked like it went on forever as you looked above you and all you can see is more of the same. Once to the top, the summit of Macomb (4405 ft, 21st highest peak of the 46) was close and we made our first peak of the day (and completed the biggest and steepest stretch of elevation gain) about 2 ½ hours from leaving the car. After enjoying the amazing views and refueling a bit, we headed towards Carson (South Dix) which involved descending a ways down the other side of Macomb and then a short ascent back up to Carson (37th highest, 4060 ft). Although Carson is more of a treed summit, there was a lookout and all the peaks offered great views of the whole range and surrounding mountains and it was so cool to see where we’d been and where we were going (which seemed FAR).
Then we had to take a side trail over to Grace. This was a pretty fast trip with a more gradual descent and then quick ascent to the summit of Grace (42nd high peak, 4012 ft), in about 35 minutes. This was a nice rocky (unmarked as far as we could tell) summit and we relaxed for a little while on the boulders, ate some more, and looked in awe at all the surrounding peaks. There were several small groups of hikers that we saw up there and who we kept running into at different points on this ideal (if a bit hot) day. We then had to backtrack on the same trail back to Carson to get on the trail to Hough and Dix and eventually out to the other end.
The climb to our fourth peak Hough (23rd High Peak, 4400 ft) included some really steep sections and some climbing. I’ve forgotten already all the details the next day but I remember thinking “this hike just keeps inventing more ways to go up”. Between Carson and Hough took us about 40 minutes. Looking over at Dix, our last and highest peak, was daunting as it looked very far away and impressive. The Beckhorn is a bald knob close to the summit of Dix that is easily identifiable looking at it (but is not the actual summit because when you get there, there’s still a bit more!).
It looked like this was going to be a very tough section of the trail getting to this highest elevation point, especially given how tired we were from lack of sleep and already hiking 4 peaks and being 7 ½ hours or so into this day. And there were some really steep tough sections that made me think the calves and quads were going to burst into flames or snap at any moment. But we didn’t descend too far after Hough, and amazingly the hour or so seemed to go pretty quickly and we were up on the Beckhorn (which we were saying we needed to get to and a guy said “you’re on it”) and then up to the summit of Dix (6th High Peak, 4857 ft). The summit was broad and there were several medallion markers, and there were several small groups of hikers up there with plenty of places to spread out and enjoy our own little piece of the vastness of the mountains. We could see back the whole range we had come through to get there, and the guys were able to point out and figure out many of the mountains we were looking at in the near distance (and that we were probably seeing mountains of VT and NH in the far distance.
Nine-ish hours and 12-ish miles in, we began the descent and hike out. I was almost giddy thinking about being on the “home stretch” and not having to climb any more. But that descent was killer. It was very steep and tough on the knees, and my feet were so sore from all the stepping down from boulder to bolder. When I saw a sign that said it was over 5 miles to Route 73, I really questioned my inner reserve. The tough part continued for about 2 miles, taking about 2 hours, and then it flattened out. And my watch decided it had had enough and the battery crapped out, so I switched to using Strava on my phone. At this point we were not talking, just trying to get it done and I kept thinking we surely must be getting close (but I hadn’t noted the time when we saw that 5 mile + sign so wasn’t sure how far we’d come). It seemed ominous that no one was saying we were almost there. I was really having to push to try to keep up with the group, and not doing so well on that, but determined to keep moving and not complain. When I saw the guys had stopped ahead at a signpost I knew it was not going to be what I wanted to hear. They called back to us that it was 2.3 miles to the road and I could not stop from saying “you’ve got to be effing kidding me”. Ha. I rallied the best I could because what can you do but move through it, and it just seemed eternal. Finally we saw Round Pond and it was ½ mile to the car, then we started to hear the road, and then it appeared. The exit of the trail is not right at the parking area so for a moment I thought we had another road walk to go but it was just a short distance down. We collapsed into John’s car (where he already was because he had gone ahead of the rest of us to change and be ready) and then had to drive back to the other end to get our car. We changed, stuffed some food in, and started the drive home with a pit stop for coffee to fuel us.


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Other peaks climbed on this trip